[Freaking] [heck] what a [crappy] idea!

This week on one of my regular sessions browsing The Daily Mail while feeling oh-so-dirty, I came across this story:

Choose a life. Choose a career. Choose a freaking big television (and an app that cleans up all the swear words from your e-books)

Now, I can see what they’re trying to do with this app but this really does make me uncomfortable. Essentially this is censorship. When did we decide that we’re not all adults who can read profanity if we wish, and can simply close the book if we don’t?

Firstly, all this seems to do is highlight the bad language - literally - and makes it more obvious. When watching the example video I couldn’t actually see the terrible swear on the page they were showing (which turned out to be ‘damn’). But after this app (I won’t actually name it here so it doesn’t gain any more free publicity) had its way the gap where the word was was the only thing you could see on the page, leaving your imagination to run riot with what the word could be. And my imagination can come up with far worse words than ‘damn’!

This app seems to assume that all the swearing put into a book was put there by the author almost frivolously. From the app description you can see the makers actually thinking “oh these writers, putting in these terrible words just to sell their books”. Like they’re imagining them in boardrooms together, plotting to sell their filth and bring down decent society.

Dr Evil Meeting

“You used how many different swear words? It’s guaranteed to be a best seller!”

Yes I know I am assuming a lot there, but take a look at the DM comments if you dare (there be Middle-England monsters) and you can see people making that exact argument. I’m not denying that perhaps some authors may do that. But in most of the books I have read, the swearing does not seem out of place, it’s merely there to show a character’s temperament, or to emulate natural speech. It always seems to be there for totally legitimate reasons, and it rarely seems to be gratuitous swearing for the sake of it. An author’s work should not be tampered with for being ‘distasteful’ especially if it encourages discussion. (Which is why I also disagreed with this)

Secondly, I’m afraid my second argument is going to be the oft-used slippery slope argument. Because if we’re going to block swearing, why not block any idea that might upset someone? Why not block any argument that goes against the common consensus? Why not block anything that speaks badly of religion, royalty, the government? I know I am going to extremes slightly here, but after reading about things like this I get very wary of censorship in any form.

I’m not saying that this app is evil, and it’s going to destroy free speech forever. I’m not even saying don’t buy it, if that’s truly what you want to do and that’s the conclusion you’ve taken from my rant. I’m merely exercising my right to free speech while I have it and saying, to me, this app to me is fucking awful. There, that’ll give the censors something to edit!

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