Writer and editor Jeri Walker of Wordbank Writing and Editing was kind enough to post an essay of mine today, on censorship and Salman Rushdie.
What effect does censorship, or the threat of it, have on your writing?
I often find myself holding back for fear of alerting the NSA.
Not really, although maybe I should.
But I do hold back for fear of offending. For instance, I just visited the beautiful island nation Vanuatu, where alcohol and the local drug kava are OK, but marijuana is considered a devil’s potion, in a class with heroin. Absolutely forbidden. Do I publish a series of essays on the legalization of marijuana in my state and my maybe-maybe-not experience with it? At the risk of offending new friends in Vanuatu who I am also writing about? Or anyone else who considers marijuana evil?
I also do not want to bring myself to the attention of trolls.
Writing on the internet is tricky. People say things to each other they’d never say in person. Is it because we equate public, which everything on the Internet is, with published?
Published means open season for pot shots. I feel free to berate David Brooks or George Will in a way I wouldn’t scold a friend. But when a friend puts something I don’t like on the Internet, is it OK to criticize equally openly? In a series of recent e-mail debates for instance, I wrote that it’s frightening to fight manufacturers of automatic weapons, who in effect “murder for a living,” and was warned by a friend “not to let my hair down” in public.
Some accused Salman Rushdie of writing shocking material for publicity, and blame him for the deaths of people killed or injured because they sold his books. I consider him a hero who paid a price unimaginable to most of us, and I don’t care if he did it for publicity.
Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.
Thank you Jeri for publishing new writers. Hop on over and check out Fatwa and Free Speech