Saturday, August 21, 2010

Censorship For Fun and Profit

By way of Pat Scales comes news that Give A Boy A Gun has been rated by a company calling itself Common Sense Media, whose slogan could easily be "Why waste your time censoring when we can do it for you?"

For a fee CSM will come to your home or library and "rate" your books, letting you know which you can keep out when company comes, which you should hide, and which you should immediately use for roasting marshmallows.


Okay, they don't really do that because it would require leaving the cave.


But their service does extend beyond those who do not wish to read books themselves -- to those who have never quite mastered literacy in the first place.

By using a highly sophisticated system of icons (bombs for violence, lips for sex, #! for language, and martini glasses for drinking, drugs, and smoking) CSM makes it possible for even the illiterate to find out just how "juicy" those darn books are.

I was particularly interested in the three #! rating given to Give A Boy A Gun for "mild to moderate [language] with more extreme swearing suggested by substitutions."

Apparently, one no longer even has to use "extreme swearing" (whatever that is) to be subjected to censorship. You only have to use words that "suggest" it.

For instance, if a fly comes in the house and I say, "Get the fly out," the clairvoyant raters at CSM would assume that I'm really suggesting the use of "extreme swearing," right?

The job description at CSM might read something like this: "Applicants must be telepathic and have dirty minds."

Since I myself was not aware that I was suggesting the "extreme swearing" they say I used "substitutions" for, I've decided to write to the company to find out:

Dear Common Sense Media,

It has come to my attention that your company has decided that in my book Give A Boy A Gun I used substitutions to suggest extreme swearing. I hope that, at your convenience, you will send me the list of extreme swears that you felt I meant to use, so that I may endeavour to familiarize myself with them for future inclusion in my works.


Todd Strasser

PS. I'm also curious to know just how vast is the range between mild and moderate?

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