Last week, I watched in horror as a pedophile’s guide to whatever gross thing that scumbag had put in the title created a firestorm on twitter. The ensuing debate, however is what’s caught my attention.
A couple of weeks ago, I got into a very interesting discussion on authors and censorship with Mike Cain on twitter. It was interesting because while we didn’t necessarily agree, I went and did more research and guess what? I changed my mind.
My argument was that some content should be censored whereas Mike’s was that no matter what the content, it should not be and authors should never stand for another being censored (I hope I’m paraphrasing that correctly). My position was that some is so objectionable – take that pedophile’s book for instance- that it should never be sold.
But I saw a comment in one of the ensuing twitter debates last night that caught my attention. It was something to the effect of good, at least we’ve got this guy out in the open where we can shine the light of day on it rather that push him into some dark internet chat room where we might never catch him.
So I’m looking at where I stand on censorship from an officer’s point of view and from an author’s point of view. One of the things we learn as commanders in today’s fight is that you have to influence the media. The constant bad news coming out of Iraq was enough to turn the opinions of the American public against the war. The constant drum beat of rape and sexual assault of women in the military is enough to have every non serving citizen thinking that every women in uniform has been pinned behind a hesco barrier. So failure to engage the media results in failure to win the campaign, regardless of the truth on the ground. Is that censorship? Maybe. I definitely feel underpinnings of Brave New World and 1984 in that paragraph.
On the other hand, as an author of a potentially controversial young adult novel, I can honestly say I don’t want it to be censored. I want parents to know what their kids are reading. I want people to read it for themselves and decide if they want their children reading it. But seeing how I look at the issue of parental readjustment coming home from war from a kid’s point of view and how that kids deals with his father’s war crimes, I can understand how folks might be uncomfortable with it. But putting a lid on it only allows us to pretend that these things aren’t happening and its better to discuss in the light of day rather than ignore the issue.
So I think pulling that scumbag’s book might have been a bad thing. If Amazon allows the FBI to look at people who are buying the Turner Diaries and the Anarchist Cookbook, then maybe allowing the cops to look at who is buying this book would help us catch some of these monsters before they do more harm. Its shining the light of day on a problem rather than hiding it in the dark.
That said, I’m still not comfortable with the idea that anyone would want to do anything to encourage sex with children, even so called ‘ethical’ sex. So I’m not going to protest Amazon’s decision to pull the book. As a parent, I’ll sleep better. But, I also know that these dirtbags are back in those dark corners of the internet, masquerading as 12 year old girls in chat rooms, where we can only hope to catch them.