Censorship within the book publishing world is something I’ve wanted to discuss for awhile and I’ve finally put together a post explaining my thoughts as simply as I can. Catch up on previous posts in the Topical Talk series here.
Topical Talk: Censorship & Publishing
There have been many events brining up censorship specifically related to publishing since I joined the book community in May. However, there was one event in particular that, in my mind, kicked off my need to discuss what should be published – and what shouldn’t.
This was Simon & Schuster’s decision to publish a book written by Milo Yiannopoulos, someone widely known for generally being a horrible person, a white nationalist and member of the ‘alt-right’. To say it provoked controversy is an understatement. I don’t want to get too political here, nor state the obvious, but I never have and never will have any respect nor love for people like him.
Amongst the outrage were many calls for the book to not be published. Here is where it gets tricky. It’s situations like this where I try to distance myself as far as possible from how I personally feel, and look at it from another angle.
The definition of censorship is: the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security. Essentially there is a fine line between disagreeing with the content of a book and pushing for it to be restricted.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want any book published that is going to stir up more hate – and yes, the situations is going be messy – but do I agree it should be pulled from release, or Simon & Schuster be boycotted? Simple: no. Protecting free speech is important regardless of how much I personally disagree with what someone is saying.
This isn’t a post in defence of Milo Yiannopoulos. Do I need to say that? As Philip DeFranco argues, trying to out-shout someone, drown out their voice or generally trying to prevent them being heard only focuses more attention on them. My form of protest is, other than this post, refusing to give this man any more publicity than he already has.
Free speech is important because it gives people the right to disagree with others and to share their opinion. If you believe in free speech like I do, you can’t pick and chose whatever you agree with.
Have any thoughts? Let me know in the comments! I think this was quite a controversial one and I hope I expressed myself as clearly as possible. I understand the reasons for the outrage, I really do – it’s justified – but I don’t find it ethically right to try to censor anything or anyone.
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