There’s been a big uproar this week over the creation of a new app to blur out and/or replace profanity in books. A couple designed it because their child read a book but was sad about the cuss words in it. (Why is a fourth grader reading a book with any cussing in it??)
The idea is that if you buy a book from their site, then you get an app that will clean up dirty words. It’s important to note that they do NOT change the book in any way. This app is an overlay on the text and the reader can turn it off at will. The customer can choose the level of “cleanliness” they want and then it goes to town.
As you can imagine there have been some vehement opinions: (Be advised- there are many curse words in these two articles)
So there’s the argument.
I’m on the fence.
On the one hand, I understand the artist’s objection to someone manipulating their work without their consent. I get that, I really do. I don’t want people changing the meaning or the tone of what I write. What I’m having trouble swallowing is the impending disaster that is sure to happen if this is allowed. This app is such a censorship, it will ultimately end with book burning and banning. Hmmmm. This tool does nothing directly to the written work and they are not impeding it being sold in any way. It could be argued that a person who is careful about reading books with no profanity might choose a wider variety if they had something to “bleep” out those words. It’s a personal preference.
The other thing that was said almost immediately was that it was a “Christian” thing. I disagree. I have Zen Buddhist and Hindu friends who avoid all profanity to the best of their ability because it disturbs their balance. Again, personal preference.
The owner of the app wrote an article about the discourse and his stance is that they don’t believe they are infringing on any copyright laws and they are not taking anything away from the author. He also goes on to say that as a consumer, once the item is bought they have the right to consume it however they see fit.
I do have a problem with him mentioning an author he likes to read because he “writes well enough” to avoid resorting to profanity. Whoops. You could sway me on most points, but this is where I draw the line. An author has to be true to their character. A special ops alpha hero will just not say, “Gosh darn it.”.
I know this is an emotionally laden issue. I’m not sure where I stand. Are the rights of authors who haven’t given their consent for the book to be read in a different way being violated? Does Clean Reader have the right to create something that changes nothing of the original work, but makes it far more palatable for some readers to consume? Are there copyright laws being massacred? Do they have a point with- “I bought it. I can read anyway I want.”? Sheesh! I don’t know the answer!
Help me wade through this topic. What are your thoughts whether you are a reader or writer?