Showing posts with label censorship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label censorship. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 September 2018

#BannedBooksWeek: Nerd Church - F**k It, Let's Talk Censorship (Ft. Thirteen Reasons Why)





Warning: this post discusses suicide, suicidal thoughts, mental health problems, sexual harassment, and censorship.

Links may also discuss these topics.




(Did you notice I self-censored in the title of this post? I can't bring myself to swear without *'s because in a traditional Welsh household, the only one allowed to swear is your mam. Lol.)





Banned Books Week banner with megaphone and book: 'Banning books silences stories speak out! Banned Books Week September 23-29, 2018 www.bannedbooksweek.org'
Via Banned Books Week






Banned Books Week is back! (23-29 Sept 2018)



And, darling nerdlets, I'm here once again to ask all the goddamn awkward questions!

Cos that's kinda what this week is about!





Friday, 21 September 2018

Friday Fics Fix - Love Vs War. Freedom Vs Silence.






'He’d read all of Bucky’s letters over and over till he almost knew them by heart, and none of the phrases in the transcript were in any of those letters. There must be another letter, one that never got sent.'




fics fix title image with purple background and white lightning bolt shape




Stop the presses, Cee's back on the Stucky!

Shocking, I know.


(Fangirling notes: Stucky is a Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Bucky Barnes romantic and/or sexual relationship. You can't tell me it doesn't make sense.)


Sunday, 3 June 2018

Nerd Church - Light in the Dark











silhouette of woman on beach at sunrise or sunset, with pink-y light contrasting with shadows in scene







This week, between the sh** Germaine Greer said*, and the cr*p Tommy Robinson pulled**, it might've seemed like the whole world had had a moment of extreme bigotry.

(...and I realise those are only two examples. I could've come up with a ton more, but it's too dispiriting, honestly, so I've stuck to these two.)

But there are people in this world who are willing to point out just how jerky Greer and Robinson are (and no, I have absolutely no problem putting the two in the same sentence.)






*Link CW: rape, victim blaming

**Video in link may auto-play.

Link CW: EDL, general bigotry, Islamophobia, references to child sexual abuse case.

Background info: Tommy Robinson is a right-wing extremist and founded a hate group (the English Defence League.)




Sunday, 14 January 2018

Nerd Church - Yes, We Damn Well Need Fair Reviews

To my non-blogging readers (hi! don't leave! I neeeed you!!! 😉 Lol) and also my blogging readers who haven't seen the ripples on bookish Twitter lately, let me explain something:

There seems to be an attitude, at the moment, for authors to defame, abuse, harass, and denounce, book bloggers for giving them 'bad' reviews.





star made up of books






Now, I'm not going to go into the semantics and the 'he said, she said' of the thing. But I am going to make some comments regarding fair and critical reviews.

Because this isn't something that's new. It happens.

Unfortunately, it seems to be happening with increasing frequency, but that's another matter.

Those of us involved in the Diversity Movement are probably the least surprised. Diverse reviewers tend to be the first in the metaphorical firing-lines.




Sunday, 7 January 2018

Nerd Church - 5 Things I Learned From Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (Without Reading a Word)

'Oh scream, America, scream. Believe what you see. From Heroes and Cons.'






American flag graffiti







We are in the middle of the 21st Century Breakdown.


Unfortunately, I don't think Green Day meant their apocalyptic concept-album to be an instruction manual. *laughs slightly hysterically*



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Month in Review(s) - September 2017

September was a mixed bag.



But then, that's life I suppose! Still, it was my birthday month, so there's that at least ;)


(I ate soooo much pizza and chocolate cake!!!! 🎂🎂🎂🍕🍕🍕😁)









2017 September calendar pic





Sunday, 24 September 2017

#BannedBooksWeek | Nerd Church - On Censorship

24th-30th September 2017 is Banned Books Week, as set up by the American Library Association (ALA.)



I'm all for intellectual freedom my nerdlets; I'm against censorship in general.





book on fire picture



Saturday, 26 November 2016

Why Critique Is The Opposite of Censorship

Dearest nerdlets, I have a few things that I want to say:



Firstly, guess what? Not everyone is going to have the same opinions as you.

That's why there are countless bloggers out there instead of just one person. We all think different sh**. That means that sometimes other people are going to have completely different opinions to you.












Sometimes, hell, OFTEN, the difference in opinion is going to get awkward.

You loved a book. That's great. Someone else didn't. They have a different take on the representation, or the prose, or the characterisation, or whatever. Guess what? That's great too.

Feelings tend to get most heated when discussing representation of marginalised groups. And there are reasons for that - historic reasons that come from a lot of hurt, prejudice, and negative representation.





But if someone hates a book you loved, people often react like it's a personal criticism. It's not.

Critique - and that's what bloggers and reviewers are supposed to do, isn't it? we're not marketing machines, we're critics - is not meant to attack anyone.

Critique is a way of discussing what is in this book.

If we all claimed that every book was perfect, firstly, it'd be boring, and secondly, it'd be lying.






NO BOOK IS PERFECT.

There is no book on this planet that is universally loved, with no flaws. Every book has good stuff, and bad stuff. Stuff you'd change, and stuff you wouldn't.

Now, someone else? They may keep all the stuff you'd change, and change all the stuff you'd keep.





The excuse that people use to bypass critique is censorship.

Critique is not censorship. Critique means someone has a different opinion to you - that someone disagrees with you, and is willing to express that.

Critique means that people are thinking about what they're reading. That people are allowing others to openly disagree. That people are not silencing the voices of dissent.





It's no coincidence, I'm afraid, that the voices that tend to be silenced are those belonging to people of colour (PoC,) LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalised groups.

Calling critique censorship is just another way to silence those voices. And that's not ok.










If someone complains about the way their identity - race, sexuality, religion, etc., is being portrayed, then don't accuse them of being unfair, or of censoring you.

Unless they have a history of personal vendettas with a particular author (and sometimes even then,) then they will have a reason for what they're saying. Listen to it. You may learn something.

And even if you don't, ultimately, agree? Their concerns and opinions are still valid.





Too often, you see people using the argument of censorship for their own purposes.

Trolls do this a lot - and, again, it seems to be PoC who get the worst of this - it's the attitude of 'I can say this horrible thing because free speech, but you can't disagree with me because censorship.'

The troll flexes their troll-y muscles by being the biggest a*shole.

Shouting 'Shut up, censorship!' when someone disagrees with you is censorship. Don't. Just don't.





People have a right to voice legitimate concerns.

Do I always agree? No. Of course not, I'm a stubborn little so-and-so.





But those opinions are totally valid.

Sometimes - and this counts especially for us white people, because we are, notoriously, really bad at this - you have to step back and listen to others.





The only way we understand is by listening.

And yes, I've changed my views by listening to people before now.

Look, we're human. We're going to disagree. There are even, unfortunately, going to be times when we can't get past* those disagreements. BUT WE'RE NEVER GOING TO AGREE WITH EVERYTHING EVERYONE ELSE SAYS.

*is it past or passed? I can never figure that out.




People from marginalised groups are not a hive-mind. And all of their opinions are valid.


But you have to listen - yes, even when there's not one opinion, but several.

It's easy to stand up for diversity and marginalised groups when the members of that group are agreeing with you. When they don't agree with you? You still have to listen.

Surely we can agree to give air-time to opinions that differ from our own? (And no, I don't mean the opinions of Nazi a*sholes.) I mean opinions about representation - from people affected by that rep.

No, it's not always going to be comfortable. But that's ok. It doesn't have to be comfortable. It just has to happen.








Because people have a right to raise their voices in disagreement. Not allowing them to do so? That's censorship.











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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Banned Books Week 2016 - Dangerous Words

As part of Banned Books Week 2016, I figured I'd look at some quotes from books that are often challenged.





So, are words really that dangerous?

I thought that I'd throw together just a few quotes from some of the books featured on the 'most challenged' list of 2015. See what you think ;)




All quotes are from the Goodreads page for that title.





















"I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God." - Looking For Alaska by John Green

Amazon links: UK - US











"Don't place some vague moral judgement on yourself based on what others might think. Don't waste your energy." - Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Amazon links: UK - US













"There is no reason that we should ever be ashamed of our bodies or ashamed of our love." - Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Amazon links: UK - US













"What would happen if we spoke the truth?" - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Amazon links: UK - US













"The Sufi saint Rabi'a Al-Adawiyya was seen carrying a firebrand and a jug of water - the firebrand to burn Paradise, the jug of water to drown Hell...

So that both veils disappear, and God's followers worship, not out of hope for reward, nor fear of punishment, but out of love." - Habibi by Craig Thompson

(Yes I chose this one because the similarity to the Looking For Alaska quote struck me!)

Amazon links: UK - US














"I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them." - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Amazon links: UK - US












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Monday, 26 September 2016

Banned Books Week 2016 - Diverse Books Under Threat








Given that diverse books make up a relatively small amount of the total books available (in English, at least,) it should be eye-opening that the most challenged and banned books are those which allow diverse voices a platform.

A look at the 2015 list of the 10 most challenged books should show you the truth of this.

Except for The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, each of these books either has an author from a diverse community, and/or has diverse characters.

(Even Looking For Alaska, I'm told (by Wikipedia,) has a PoC character.)















This year's Banned Books Week from the American Library Association (yes, I know I'm not American - but dudes, when America sneezes, the world catches a cold,) is focussed on celebrating diversity.

And the banned-books-flag is starting to be flown over here in the UK too.














Diversity is not a threat. Diversity is under threat.

Diversity is vital. Diversity is wonderful. Diversity gives you the opportunity to hear other people's voices.

Why would you think hearing the voices of others is a bad thing?





And a little food for thought...









All graphics & infographics are from the ALA/Banned Books Week Coalition







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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Censorship - Are We All Hypocrites...?

...and I mean that in the nicest possible way ;)

This post is going to be more questions than answers I'm afraid, but feel free to give your opinions in the comments - because I'm trying to sort out my own feelings on this!










Cee, what are you blathering on about?





Well, it's like this: I'm currently reading 'And Then There Were None' by Agatha Christie (UK - US) for Ely @ Tea & Titles' Mystery-a-thon.

I didn't realise that And Then There Were None wasn't actually the original title of this book. The original title was something extremely racist.





Would I have read this book with it's original title and racism? No. Will I read it now? Yes.

And therein lies the beginnings of my ethical problems.





I've always been completely against censorship, and for free speech. Yet changing the title is a form of censorship which I support... Help!

Does this make me a hypocrite? Very possibly. But can anybody honestly say they wouldn't feel the same?











If that book was published today with its original title, I would be appalled.

I'm seriously uncomfortable with the fact that it ever had that title. And, as I said, would not read it if the title hadn't been changed.






But would it be right - in this hypothetical scenario where this book was published today, with it's original title - to ban or censor it?

I would certainly complain to the author. I would not buy it, not read it, not support it. But would I ask for it to be banned or censored?




I honestly don't know. If it was in my library, would I ask for it to be removed? Would I ask the publishers to recall the copies? Would I take my pen to copies and eliminate the racist words?

Part of me says yes. Part of me says that I should get rid of those words by any means possible. Because, and let's make no excuses here, that kind of language is wrong.

But part of me also says no. That's the part that says that people have a right to say what they want - even if you don't like what they have to say.

Because it's only when you let people speak that you can defend your own position.

It's only by hearing opposing opinions - no matter how vile they may be - that we can shape our own attitudes... But there's also the danger that those vile ideas will take hold, and that's the last thing we want.













In the first chapter of 'And Then There Were None,' there is anti-Semitism.

If it was straightforward, then I would've stopped reading. As it is, it's hugely uncomfortable, but it's in the POV of a dodgy character (although, literally all of these characters are highly morally suspect,) so I don't know what to make of it.

It's not right. But does that make it wrong, in this context? I don't know.

Would I support that part being removed, given that this book has already been censored by changing the 'n' word throughout? Again, I have no easy answer.






And that's without even touching on the rights-and-wrongs of Huck Finn.

Because I read Huck Finn with the 'n' word intact.

Just like Agatha Christie, Mark Twain was writing in a time where that word was (unfortunately) socially acceptable.

But I think - and I may very well be wrong - that there's a difference between the 'n' word in the original version of And Then There Were None, and the 'n' word in Huck Finn.










Because, whatever your feelings on Huck Finn, slavery, and Jim's role as an escaped slave, is main theme of the story.

There aren't any black people in And Then There Were None - the 'n' word is used purely as a gratuitous metaphor, in the form of a racist nursery rhyme. The story makes perfect sense without it.

You remove the 'n' word from Huck Finn, though, and you change the entire dynamic and meaning of huge sections of the story. I'm not saying it's right - I have mixed feelings about it at best, but I'm saying that it's a different situation to And Then There Were None.





Should censorship depend on context then?

Again, I have absolutely no idea.

Would I be less disgusted with Donald Trump if his language was gentler? Possibly a little, but his vile outlook on life would remain.





So, am I a hypocrite? Possibly. I am human, after all.



What about you? Does anyone have an answer for these questions?











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Saturday, 23 April 2016

Conversations - Is 15 Years Old Too Young To Be Reading Fifty Shades of Grey?

Conversations is a meme from Geraldine @ Corralling Books and Joan @ Fiddler Blue.

Basically, 'Conversations' is a bunch of topics to discuss at set times - and you know I me, I like a discussion.

I figure I'll just put in my two-pennies if/when I feel like jumping in on a topic. Because that's how I roll guys ;)


This week's topic is:

Is 15 Years Old Too Young To Be Reading Fifty Shades of Grey?


My first response to this question was a knee-jerk one, and it was this:

15 YEAR OLDS SHOULDN'T BE READING FIFTY SHADES. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD?!?!?!



 
 
Then I calmed the hell down and decided to think about things logically.



Now, I haven't read Fifty Shades, so this is going to be a general erotica/sexy-times-related discussion.

I'm pretty sure the points will also relate to Fifty Shades - because I haven't been living under a freaking rock, and I have a basic understanding of what Fifty Shades is about.

Just to be clear - what we're dealing with here is graphic sex scenes and BDSM.



15 years old is below the age of consent in most countries.

I would never EVER actively encourage 15 year olds to read erotica.

Because that would be giving porn to a minor, and apart from being hugely creepy *shudders*, it's probably bordering on illegal.

Well...maybe not. I don't know - it ain't right to encourage you anyhow! So I'm not going to.







What is erotica?


A difficult one to define - but let's be honest: erotica is a book that is written with the sole purpose of sexual arousal.



 
 
It always has graphic sex scenes. Usually more than one sex scene, dependent on the length of book.

I'm sure the argument can be made that a lot of romances border on erotica, or even are erotica. But there's always going to be fuzziness between genres.

I think intention is important - sure, you can have a steamy romance, but if it's more focused on the relationship than the sex then it's probably still a romance.

If the only reason for the relationship stuff is clearly to get the characters (ahem) together in the bedroom-sense, then you're probably dealing with erotica.

Again, there's no definitive here - but if you're dealing with a lot of graphic descriptions of the (ahem) mechanics of the bedroom, then it's probably erotica.



Why do people read erotica?

I'm sure there a lots of reasons - but at it's heart, erotica is a way of exploring sex, sexuality, and ultimately what (ahem) appeals to you... without placing yourself in dangerous or inappropriate situations.

For a discussion on the appeal, and the pros and cons, of erotica in general - and BDSM erotica also - take a look at Hans M Hirschi's excellent blog post.



The 15-year-olds perspective...

Remembering back to the dim and distance time in which I was fifteen, I'd say that the majority of fifteen-year-olds believe they're mature enough for this, but actually aren't.

At the same time, you aren't going to stop kids from getting hold of Fifty Shades and the like if they really want to.

Obviously, don't encourage them.

But, if they are reading this stuff, then hopefully their parents/relevant adults are approachable enough to make sex a topic that's not forbidden, but not so approachable that it starts to get a little weird.

(Talking to your parents about sex is uncomfortable at best. Let the kid know you'll talk about it if they want, then wait for them to come to you. And try to give off the general aura of believing in safe, sane, and consensual, sex.)






The Internet exists, and the genie's out of the bottle

Ignoring the sheer amount of live-action and 'traditional' porn on the Internet, there's also a lot of pornographic fanfiction and fanart.

I know this, because I read fanfiction. And there are some things I just will never be able to un-see *fanfiction flashbacks here.*

What worries me the most though is that most fic writers, and readers, are under 16. This is some pretty heavy sh** to be writing and reading when you're so damned young.

And how do you even know this level of detail at that age?!?! I didn't know about lube at 16, but apparently the teenagers of the Internet are experts in the subject. (*Further fanfiction flashbacks.*)

Fifty Shades of Grey actually came from Twilight fanfiction, on the Internet. Yes, this is the typical level of sexy-times that is available to most movie, book, and TV franchises and fandoms on fanfiction sites.




 

To be honest, Fifty Shades is tame compared to some things I've read *more flashbacks.*



So, what was my point again?

In an ideal world, no 15-year-old would be reading erotica.

We don't live in an ideal world - we live in the real world (*sigh*  I'm gonna find Narnia someday, honest.)

In the real world, teenagers are curious about sex, and porn is readily available. You do the metaphorical math.

The way forward, my dear friends, is not to expect 15-year-olds to be angels, but to be ready to talk to them if and when they have questions.

And to place emphasis on respect, safety, and consent.




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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Nerd Church! - A Little Retail Therapy

Sometimes, you need window shopping - or, in this post-digital age, windows shopping. I'm a nerd. We have established this. We shall move on.

church image courtesy of debspoons at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I found The Literary Gift Company when faffing through the intricacies of the interwebs - and I like their style. I particularly like the Banned Books Bracelet. I am sooo tempted!!! If only I had more moneys (drat!)

But Cee! You're all thinking. This is Nerd Church! It's supposed to be stuffed full of moral sh** that you've dug from the pages and slapped into a blog post. Ah yes, erstwhile blog-hopper, but every religion and marketing company in the world will tell you that symbols are powerful things - and so jewellery and gifts with a literary theme are a fantastic way to spread the bookish message(s.) And maybe start to think about Xmas shopping for your fellow book nerds... or just windows shop, because sometimes you need it. Retail therapy is a powerful thing, even if you don't have the money to treat yourself.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Banned Books and Censorship (or, To #@!% or Not To #@!%)

Warning: In the spirit of anti-censorship, I'm going to swear like a sailor with no symbols to protect your innocent eyes.

This week is Banned Books Week 2015, and while it's largely an American thing, the rest of the world are often more than happy to jump on the proverbial fucking band wagon and celebrate books which have been banned and challenged. Intellectual freedom is a founding stone of any society that's worth its shit.

Book banning is something which still happens alarmingly regularly - and we need to be more aware of it. Unlike in the US, where the ALA attempts to keep record of fucking challenges and book-banning, there are very few such records kept in the rest of the world. I have no idea when, or if, book banning happens in the UK, having to rely instead on bloody anecdotal evidence.

I know, for example, that at my old school (I'm in my 20s, and finished school in circa 2013... or was it 2011? It might've been 2011. Maybe. Time's never been my strong suit,) every Dan Brown book was marked as 'Sixth Form Only.' Presumably because they didn't want parents coming back at them about the religious/controversial aspects. 'Naughty,' books with sex etc were often confined to these shelves. And sometimes books would have one copy on these shelves, and one on the shelves of the main library (e.g. The Book Thief.) I have no bloody idea why the fuck this was, and neither did the librarian.

So, why ban books? I have no fucking idea. But the reasons given are often about religion, violence, sex, nudity, and swearing. Basically, fucking reasons. Except that kids do not live in a shitting bubble - they know that the world is a complex and shitty place in which people fuck with everything - themselves, each other, and people's minds.

If you want your kids to be good people, they've got to come to that decision by themselves, not because you've prevented them from accessing other opinions. And sometimes, it's just fucking ridiculous. You don't like gay penguins? Fine, go be fucking bigoted on your own time. Just don't stop your kids from realising there's a world out there. And don't even get me started on the religious narrow-mindedness. You can believe what you want, but please allow others to make up their own minds. And don't ban vampire books just because they scare you.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Reviewing the Evidence - Ban this Filth!

Title: Ban This Filth! Mary Whitehouse and the Battle to Keep Britain Innocent (US Link)
Author: Ben Thompson
Genre: non-fiction

A few starting notes:

This was picked up in a library haul and seemed pretty interesting. For those who don't know, Mary Whitehouse was the leader of the National Viewer's and Listener's Association and the Clean-up TV Campaign from the 1960s onwards.

Premise:

This is a selection of the letters and documents from the Mary Whitehouse archive (yes, there is apparently such a thing,) and a running commentary by Mr Thompson.

Best bits:

This is quite an interesting book - I only had a sketchy knowledge of Mary Whitehouse before reading (her peak was a bit before my time,) and am always interested in the issue of censorship and the issue of offensive material in the media.

Ben Thompson's commentary is chatty and engaging, and clearly thought through, making the book charming enough to keep you reading. He also does well in framing the many paradoxes of a complex character who became a symbol of right-wing censorship while raising some fundamentally important points along the way.

Not so great bits:

I have to admit that at some points I found Thompson's defence of, and sometimes admiration and affection for, Mary Whitehouse a little wearing. Yes, believe it or not, she occasionally made some good points, but I would've liked a bit more of an acknowledgement that whatever good points she made cannot excuse her blatant homophobia (not to mention other statements made by herself which were more offensive than the stuff she wanted censored.) 

The structure of the book - with chapters focussing on a them - could've benefitted from said themes being more juicy. I would've far rathered reading more about the objections she had to things which have since become national treasures (Dr. Who, The Beatles,) than reading about her in-fighting with other Christian organisations such as the Anglican Church. A bit more social context for those of us not born at the time would also have not gone amiss.

Also, and this is not really the book's fault, the jacket was covered with quotes from British reviewers who clearly need to get out more. Yes, the book was amusing in places, but in no way was it 'hilarious' or 'shockingly funny.'

Verdict:

A fair effort to discuss the paradoxes and life of Mrs Whitehouse using the incredibly interesting resource of her own archives. There were minus points to this book, of course, but at the end of the day it is a competent portrait of the work of a woman who was trying (forcefully) to get back to an innocent, idealised, version of this country that never really existed - except perhaps in the minds of people like her.