The Writers Circle: Censorship

One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Think about the privileges of living in a relatively free and diverse culture. How has your writing benefited by not having to worry about censorship? What topics have you tackled that might generate debate or controversy? Have you written about other times or places where what one writes or states could get them thrown into prison, shunned from society or even killed?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.


3 thoughts on “The Writers Circle: Censorship

  1. Living in a diverse and relatively free culture has allowed me to think the way I want, thus the way I write. I write a lot of fantasy, but it usually involves questioning morality, the nature of good/evil, and other philosophical topics that may be frowned upon in another society. As well as science fiction topics which have questioned religion and political control, then there is horror. I talk about a lot of witchcraft and religion in horror which also maybe considered “controversial”.

  2. I’m not sure I agree with not worrying about censorship etc (maybe I’m in the wrong sub-group), but on economic freedom, we are fast losing the race. We again dropped–now 12th in the world–in the economic freedom Americans enjoy–“The Index rates economic freedom for countries on ten quantitative and qualitative factors that are based on four pillars of freedom: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets”


  3. Over the centuries that books have been published, certain titles have incited self appointed morals committees to assign them a “banned” badge. It only takes a quick jog on the Internet to find lists of books deemed unsuited for public access, for reasons of “offensive” sexual erotica, salacious language, unpopular political viewpoint, cultish religious persuasion, heinous crimes, iconoclastic mores, or other “inappropriate” activities. This is especially true when those marginal pursuits are promoted sympathetically by the author.

    Salmon Rushdie’s name comes to mind when I think of censorship. His book The Satanic Verses inflamed the Islamic world so much that religious extremists put a contract on his life and he was forced to keep his whereabouts secret for years. Judy Blume, Mark Twain, Anne Frank, J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Mitchell, Vladimir Nabokov, Henry Miller, Toni Morrison, and John Steinbeck are among the many authors who have shared the honors for banned books also considered literary classics. The Bible made it too. We laugh now about many of those original judgments, but we are privileged to live in a society that mostly accepts all manner of writing. Even really bad writing gets published.

    Still, I suspect that some writers look over their shoulders to be sure that “no one” is offended by what they write, “no one” being perhaps an employer or family member or someone with an ax to grind and a wallet thick enough to threaten a lawsuit. With everyone only a key click away from public comments about anything, with misinterpretation and misinformation a frequent flag waver of rash opinions, and with the word “viral” familiar even to young children, it doesn’t take much to understand why a writer, especially a “new” writer, might exercise caution.

    Books, especially fiction, should be a safe place to present controversial material. I suggest that writers focus on good writing, whatever their topic or genre. Besides, I wouldn’t mind being on the same podium as the authors listed here. We should all be so recognized.

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