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Censorship or evolution? 'Sensitivity readers' divide publishing world

By Inès Bel Aiba

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If authors want to self-censor or ask advice about their book, that is their business. If it is enforced, then it is censorship and unacceptable. Altering the text of an adult work simply because views change is disgraceful. The author has the final say, and when they expire, the text is fixed. Rights holders have the right to choose not to keep it in print or put a warning on it, if they wish. There will always be second hand copies out there. But rewriting the book for 'sensitivities' is wrong. All of Voltaire's work would have been banned for offending clerics.

If my last one was translated into Japanese, I would want the translator to flag anything that they felt was clumsy or if they believed a Japanese audience would receive it in a very different way to the way it was intended and received by a Western reader. I would be happy with technical tweaks for a Japanese audience, to maintain the characterisation and events. But if it was intended to push the envelope, it still would. Breaking taboos across cultures is an important way of mashing them up, and that's how most cultures evolve. British culture absorbed heaps from the Empire over the years and changed in response. It's a healthy process. Carefully staying within one's safe little bubble is reductive, insular and ultimately, an act of cultural cowardice. Artists break rules and cause aggro. It's what we do best and it is a good thing.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Messages you don't like are best challenged with counter-arguments, not with authoritarian censorship.

The job title of sensitivity reader shouldn't even exist when it comes to rewriting old works ostensibly to avoid upsetting the emotions of some readers. If those readers are upset by a book, stop reading it! It's not that hard to do.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

These edits are are immature and regressive and assume people are too daft to understand the circumstances that they were written. People and life changes and so does the way people speak and write.

Whitewashing and censoring used to be route of the extreme right wing religious types now it’s the left who find offence with everything.

Its unhealthy and leads to the further dumbing down of society.

1 ( +4 / -3 )


Too late, it’s already happening to the detriment of all sections of society when there’s more important things to focus on.

0 ( +3 / -3 )


As GBR48 put it, if the authors chooses to write a certain way and it's voluntary, that's fine. If it is being forced, that's censorship.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Nothing new here at all. There always have been strange history epochs or eras when it has been usual and common sense to censor books and art or even destroying or burning it to ashes if it was not mainstream. And again we are entering or already are in between such a weird new era of brainwashing and violent propaganda measures or let’s say cutting freedom dead into small pieces, by correctness, wokeness and such. My theory is even such that we humans in fact have so far never completely left those eras and archaic behavior. We just can’t stand it seeing someone else in more freedom, love , wealth, health, peace etc. than we have. No , we always envy that in an extreme way and want to end it once and for all if possible, even if the cost is very high and results in own less freedom, love and peace. That we humans don’t care so much, as we only want the main problem fixed, to destroy it all for the others immediately.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is no such thing as 'wokeness'.

LOL. It's just a word to describe the changes that have been going on. "wokeness", or whatever you wanna call it, is not a grassroots movement.

You seem way too over sensitized to be commenting and giving opinions on this topic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To quote a famous old English song,

"Do the Wokey-Cokey and you clown around;

That's what it's all about."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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