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View Poll Results: Should 'anything go'?
yes 38 45.24%
no 19 22.62%
depends 27 32.14%
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Old 08-12-2012, 03:54 PM   #46
fidvo
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I'm very opposed to censorship. However, I'm not opposed to a company like Amazon self-censoring. If they want to sell erotica, great! If they don't, great! It's up to them to decide what kind of image they want their company to have (e.g. "We don't censor anything!" vs. "We're a family business!")

I agree with others here who believe that the best solution is to have some kind of categorization or rating system like they do for movies. But bear in mind, it's a very subjective concept. For example:

The Clan of the Cave Bear series. I haven't read it myself, but I've skimmed the books, and Oh My! Very explicit.

Lolita. One of the most controversial books of the 20th century, and for good reason. But that very controversy puts it on a number of Important Literature lists.

Huckleberry Finn. No sex, but satire about slavery, with heavy use of the N word.

Stardust. The love scene in that book is surprisingly explicit for a story that is otherwise perfectly suitable for older kids to read.

The Apprentice Adept series, where the characters run around naked half the time.

If I asked which of the above books should go on the "restricted" list, I would probably get as many unique answers as there are people who would answer. You could argue that there should be multiple levels like with the movies rating system (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) but that only complicates it rather than simplifies it.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:07 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by fidvo View Post
I'm very opposed to censorship. However, I'm not opposed to a company like Amazon self-censoring. If they want to sell erotica, great! If they don't, great! It's up to them to decide what kind of image they want their company to have (e.g. "We don't censor anything!" vs. "We're a family business!")

I agree with others here who believe that the best solution is to have some kind of categorization or rating system like they do for movies. But bear in mind, it's a very subjective concept. For example:

The Clan of the Cave Bear series. I haven't read it myself, but I've skimmed the books, and Oh My! Very explicit.

Lolita. One of the most controversial books of the 20th century, and for good reason. But that very controversy puts it on a number of Important Literature lists.

Huckleberry Finn. No sex, but satire about slavery, with heavy use of the N word.

Stardust. The love scene in that book is surprisingly explicit for a story that is otherwise perfectly suitable for older kids to read.

The Apprentice Adept series, where the characters run around naked half the time.

If I asked which of the above books should go on the "restricted" list, I would probably get as many unique answers as there are people who would answer. You could argue that there should be multiple levels like with the movies rating system (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) but that only complicates it rather than simplifies it.
You are spot on about ratings being subjective. I laughed when you mentioned The Apprentice Adept series, remembering reading it. The nudity is so nothing. For many years Tarzan of the Apes was banned from libraries because he ran around naked-- no descriptions, just the mention of nakedness was enough. Clan of the Cave Bear (the first book in the series) is a good point too-- the main character is repeatedly raped. This is the type of book that frequently finds itself in the crosshairs of censors.

I worry about so-called self-censorship. As we've recently seen, self-censoring can become censoring of others, such as when Paypal decided they would not allow any transactions through their service to companies dealing with what they considered unsavory topics (again subjectivity). Because they are the defacto online transaction service, it would have forced their censorship on many others, both companies and individuals. Fortunately, their customers were able to change their minds.
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:11 PM   #48
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There is talk about censorship.
Worry about freedom.
These are old arguments.

I think that there should be freedom to "tag," to "sort," to "segregate' material with simple personal choices.

You can have all the freedom you want, just DON'T try to force me to look at something I don't want to look at.
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:21 PM   #49
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I really like the "common sense media" ratings for movies and games. Far more helpful then R vs PG, they break it out in categories, and etc. If we had something like that for books that would freaking rock.
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Old 08-13-2012, 03:10 AM   #50
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I think people are affected by what they consume--like food affects your physical development, entertainment seems in some way to affect your social/moral/emotional development. For instance, Jeffery Dahmer mentioned in an interview before his execution that pornography played a significant role in developing the urges that ultimately led him to kill women.

A positive example in my own life--as a child, I never found myself inclined towards racist beliefs, but never considered racism an issue of much concern. I just thought it was something my folks generation was concerned with. Then, around age 12, I watched Blazing Saddles and found myself suddenly aware of and sorrowful over the depth of suffering caused by persistent racism. It was the scene where the elderly woman brings the sheriff a pie at night, for those familiar with the movie. It broke my little 12-year-old heart.

Speaking of Blazing Saddles, I need to go re-watch that. Such a great movie.

Censorship is not the answer, but as already mentioned, better tagging and labeling would be a great help for all involved. Anyone remember search engines in the mid-90's? You couldn't click any search result without a 50% chance that it was a pornographic website hiding under a title like "50 Ways to Win at Chess" or "How to Fix Your Transmission."
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:11 PM   #51
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Flag it, rate it, post warnings, etc. But don't censor it.
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:34 PM   #52
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Anything that claims to be common sense probably isn't.
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:48 PM   #53
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People that are unbalanced can be influenced by any media (books, art, movies, photos). As others noted, don't dumb down what we have available to us just because some people claim inspiration for vile deeds from it. Whatever it is that you hold dear can and probably has been used as inspiration for vile deeds (Crusades, Inquisition, etcetera). Don't throw stones.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:57 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by djulian View Post
I think people are affected by what they consume--like food affects your physical development, entertainment seems in some way to affect your social/moral/emotional development. For instance, Jeffery Dahmer mentioned in an interview before his execution that pornography played a significant role in developing the urges that ultimately led him to kill women.
Dahmer didn't kill women, he was convicted of murdering 17 men and boys. He wasn't executed either, he was sentenced to life in prison, where he was murdered. In any case, I'm skpetical of the capacity for self-assessment of someone as maladjusted as a Dahmer.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:28 PM   #55
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Dahmer didn't kill women, he was convicted of murdering 17 men and boys. He wasn't executed either, he was sentenced to life in prison, where he was murdered. In any case, I'm skpetical of the capacity for self-assessment of someone as maladjusted as a Dahmer.
Accept my apologies, I made a mistake. (This is the second time recently I have confused these two men, but both predate me and their details remain a bit jumbled for me.)

The man I was thinking of was Ted Bundy. I saw some clips once of an interview he gave to James Dobson--a less-than-reliable "Christian psychologist." But in reviewing his article on Wikipedia, it appears that most people consider Bundy's claims in this interview to be generally false and another attempt at blame-shifting. So, I retract that.

Regardless of my error on that anecdote, I still hold that people are affected by what they consume. I'm not even saying that what they consume is to blame--people are to blame for what they do. I'm just saying that people are affected by what they view, listen to, read, etc.

Some simple examples: the affect that Uncle Tom's Cabin had on the debate over slavery. The burden for protecting written literature that Farenheit 451 seems to inspire in many. The impact of Dickens' books on the reform of England's social programs. And so on and so forth.

Just limiting it to books here, something that we love about literature is that it actually can impact people. Hopefully for the better. But if for the better, can't it also impact them for the worse? If a book can incline us to care about people, can't a book also incline us to dehumanize people?

I think a concern is that if someone soaks themselves in books that glorify men/women who treat other men/women as sexual objects who exist only for the protagonist's sexual satisfaction, that reader may be inclined to begin thinking of other people as objects to be used for their own sexual satisfaction. Or if someone soaks in books that glorify abuse of children, they may be inclined to consider such abuse a good thing.

The books aren't to blame--the people who hurt others are to blame--but it's important to consider how what we consume affects us. I frequently ask myself as I read, "Does this help me love my family more? Does this help me be a better citizen? Does this help me understand my neighbor better?" Etc.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:35 PM   #56
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I personally believe that what you read DOES effect you, and I think this dude...

You’ll be the same in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read. -- Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones.

Got it right (even though I know nothing about him). I think reading engages your mind far more then watching TV and has a greater long term impact then TV. But that is my personal opinion and I am not claiming and scientific soundness behind it.

BUT I also believe that censorship is over all a bad thing. So I am against censorship, but strongly for companies like Amazon giving its customers tools to pick and choose what they want to see and read.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:53 PM   #57
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BUT I also believe that censorship is over all a bad thing. So I am against censorship, but strongly for companies like Amazon giving its customers tools to pick and choose what they want to see and read.
Agreed.
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:14 AM   #58
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I think a concern is that if someone soaks themselves in books that glorify men/women who treat other men/women as sexual objects who exist only for the protagonist's sexual satisfaction, that reader may be inclined to begin thinking of other people as objects to be used for their own sexual satisfaction. Or if someone soaks in books that glorify abuse of children, they may be inclined to consider such abuse a good thing.
That's certainly possible. However, the basic topic of a book doesn't tell you whether it "glorifies" people as sex objects, or the abuse of children, or murder, or any other crime or depravity. And sex carries such a negative stigma that books that feature a lot of it wind up getting tagged "erotica" regardless of what themes or story tropes they also have.

"Books that encourage poisonous mindsets and inspire messed-up people to commit atrocities" aren't limited to any one or two genres, and they can't be identified by their marketing tags.

"Erotica" isn't the problem. "Hardcore explicit erotica" isn't the problem. Nor is "explicit erotica focused on kinky practices that most people find disgusting." "Books that treat people as sex objects" might be the problem... but doesn't that include books for teenage girls that tell them they'll never get a boyfriend if they don't learn how to apply eyeshadow correctly?

Objectifying people has nothing to do with explicit descriptions of body parts. Condoning abuse has nothing to do with descriptions of sex. There is no way to separate out "books that are bad for society" based on objective content descriptions. The books that are toxic are so because of context, because of their meaning in today's cultures, and there's no computer program that can identify those problems.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:04 AM   #59
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Amazon does indeed have a category for erotica, so I'm not sure what the issue is here.
I presume this screenshot is from Amazon US? Even if I put 'sex' or 'erotica' into the search box for Amazon UK, it doesn't bring up an 'erotica' category.

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Old 08-14-2012, 10:12 AM   #60
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There's a substantial legal difference as well. Father and child cannot marry, no matter what happens to them later in life; a step-parent who gets divorced can later marry the step-child.
Don't think that's true. I'm pretty sure there are some states in the US (Massachusetts and Michigan, I think) that don't allow it. It's only allowed in the UK if both are over 21 and they didn't live in the same household before the child was 18.
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