Censorship: it’s one of the ugliest and most evil words in the English language, but particularly objectionable to writers.
There has been a lot of it in world history, often under totalitarian regimes – Hitler’s Germany, Chile under Pinochet, Cuba under Fidel Castro, and in Iran, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela…well, the list is long, but the reason is short: If you speak out against the current government, you are targeted, censored, and in some countries, arrested and killed.
Book banning, of course, has a long and ugly history. The Harry Potter books are particularly interesting. According to the American Library Association:
In an interesting twist, the Harry Potter books changed the focus of book challenges in schools and public libraries. Prior to 1999, most challenges had to do with sex, the human body or “inappropriate” language (Dunne), with most of the books themselves falling into the realistic fiction genre. Rowling’s books shifted the censors’ attention to fantasy with challenges asserting that Harry Potter glorified magic and the occult, confusing children and leading them to attempt to emulate the spells and curses they read about. There were some concerns over the violence and the increasingly dark tone of the later books in the series. But most of the censorship attempts aimed at Harry Potter were for religious reasons.
From 2000- 2009, the Harry Potter series topped the most frequently challenged list of 2000-2009.
But suppose, in the current climate of the U.S., the censorship isn’t the government, per se, or religious zealots, but social media platforms like Facebook?
I recently put up a post on Facebook that appeared initially on the blog. It was called The Playbook and features the book cover of Mein Kampt and compared Trump to Hitler. About 4 hours after it went up, I received a notice from FB that it violated community standards and has been removed. I realize that FB may be overly cautious now because of the flack they’ve gotten from congress over the election, but c’mon, Hitler is one of the darkest pockets of world history. Since he and trump share some of the same characteristics, how does that violate “community standards?” Figures like Hitler and all his cronies throughout history need to be remembered and condemned.
Facebook also owns Instagram, which has its share of porn. How is porn okay for the community standards? I no longer follow people on Instagram with private accounts who follow me because all too often I then get a direct message from the person, which includes a naked photo and: click here for more naked pics of me. Or: Venmo me for a private view.
In the 21st century, here in the U.S., I find this type of censorship frightening.