Freedom of Expression and Forbidden Reading

      FREEDOM OF SPEECH is integral to a progressive planet. Those of you who write, and by extension those of you who blog, exercise that right every time you express an opinion, even in fictional contexts. Freedom to express yourself in that respect should never be squashed. Likewise, those who express horrendously outdated ideas should be allowed to say what they want. They quickly become ridiculed by anyone with a sense of perspective and humanity.

But sometimes we can be our own worst censor. A great piece of advice is to get out of that head space if at all able: everything is possible. Your distant relatives or someone you hated from school doesn’t get to dictate your words (e.g.). Brett Easton Ellis famous for the exceptional American Psycho has a great quote in regard to self-censorship:

“Censoring yourself as a writer because you’re afraid you’re gonna’ offend an audience…um…I’ve said this before, if you’re going to do audience testing before you write a novel to see what’s going to upset people, what’s not, who’s too sensitive for this, who’s too sensitive for that, um, who can take this…I dunno…you might as well be in advertising.”

If you have a spare fifty minutes the documentary Forbidden Reading is an excellent watch showing the darker side of countries and societies less tolerant than Scotland’s and perhaps where you live, detailing how tough life is for those who want to express their opinion, past and present, with some authors living in witness protection. All for daring to write.

 

lion around 2

34 Comments

  1. One of the most significant and interesting examples demonstrating how censorship of writing can be taken to ridiculous (though perhaps not dangerous extremes) is the Papal Index. I apologise if this is mentioned on the video but I haven’t had time to watch more than bits of it. Whilst I understand – without approving – why the Vatican might want to ban books such as Darwin’s The Origin of Species and Luther’s Bible, why on earth would they ban the novels of Dumas and Hugo?
    We just have to be careful we don’t include “incitement” under the broad heading of “freedom of speech”, I think.

    1. The Papal Index serves to maintain the churchs grip, I guess due to their presence they can do as they please.
      I’ll have a look into it further ☺

      As for incitement. Well, there cannot be free speech, only to then pick and mix what is and isnt allowed.
      Incitement is horrific in its various forms. Unless actually dangerous to someones wellbeing (which words cant be) but it can lead to attacks, in which case the attackers get jailed etc.
      Generally societal shifts bring those idiots into line by the public hatred of them (hopefully!) though often not soon enough. But people getting jailed for saying anything on twitter bar death threats is ridiculous.
      As soon as free speech dies so does the country, and the UK is mighty close to going down a dark path.

  2. Paused the video to say Congrats on this one. The first lines reminded me of one of Rushdie’s quotes as well. Glad i found your blog !

  3. I think you make an excellent point that we are also victims of self-censor. I myself will always think in the back of my head, “How will (fill in the blank) will respond to this?” It can be creatively paralyzing. Thanks for bringing this into my awareness again.

    1. No probs. It really can be a barrier to writing, and paralyzing is a great word to use for it.
      I guess the aim is to write as if no one else will read the story. When I get into a flow there are no critical voices, just words appearing, but it isnt always easy to get there or maintain it.

      1. Yes, I agree with your completely. I live in L.A. in the somewhat ghetto part of the area. And many here Hispanics can’t handle criticism or the truth. They get mad at any moment and they don’t let you speak. They shut you out and they themselves claim they are right and we are wrong. Hispanics in my area live in too much pride. It’s crazy around here. I’m Hispanic myself, but I’m different and I’m not like everyone here in my area. I’m telling I’m an alien from another planet. 🙂

      2. Yeah, thats a huge part of it. And never moving out of ones community is the death knell to learning.
        Ultimately people are programmable, especially kids, and bad programmers leave glitches, sometimes for life.

    1. That’s it in one, with such sweeping access everyone is a critic. It brings the good and the bad. Reading Youtube comments is sometimes enough to make me wonder if there are different species of human.

      1. LOL I call it the Simon Cowell effect. When he started criticizing and embvarrasing people on American Idol it became trendy to be destructive when giving criticism.

        I streer away from that crap. If I don’t like a post I will ignore it. If I hit like there was something in the post I enjoyed. If I have nothing nice to say I don’t say anything.

        Like you say, a different species.

      2. I dont doubt media has an effect.
        I tend to be the same. If I dont like something I am reading or watching I discontinue, a pretty simple process lol.
        But you get the people who write a complaint about a TV show or whatever when they could have just changed channel. People love to complain and feel righteous.

  4. Bowie once said, ‘Never play to the gallery. Working for other people is when you produce your worst work.’
    He also said, ‘If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not in the right area. Always go a little further into the water, a little bit out of your depth. When you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.’
    It’s not easy, but then, who said this was ever going to be easy?

    1. Good ones from Ziggy.
      There’s defo truth to those. And starting in comfort is fine, but art forms need to push the boundaries and everyone involved can do that otherwise nothing ch ch ch changes.
      And thinking of others feelings is totally like a death knell for any creative endeavour.

  5. I’ll have to take a chance to watch that video later when I have time 🙂 I live in the U.S. and people will post anything and everything here for better or worse…

    I love the thought behind this post.There’s many times I’ve chosen not to upload certain projects or include links of my posts to certain social media sites to avoid the possibility of judgement by family and friends. After finishing my first manuscript, in which a man questions his decision to marry his fiance, I was hesitant to ask my husband to read it and give me his feedback. I worried he’d think it was a reflection on our own relationship (which it wasn’t- he’s an amazing guy!). But the concern was there. Luckily I got over that concern and he’s had some of the most helpful feedback of any of my readers so far 🙂

    Like you said- you just have to get out of that head space!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on it. I think it is a common thing in everyday life to be worried of being judged and a natural progression is to carry that over into writing, and the pricess begins to unlearn that ☺
      Also, sounds like you have a handy proofreader 😉

  6. The freedom to express I often feel is a boon and curse all the same. Jesus was tried in the Roman court for freely expressing his preachings. As for the documentary, I need some sacred time for it. Fionn. 😃

  7. I’ll make sure to watch the documentary later. You make some great points. Sometimes if I write something about a dysfunctional family or marriage I worry my family will read it and think I’m talking about them 🙂 It’s important to just write and shut out the noise.

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