Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It’s a Free Country – Except in Publishing

Attention aspiring writers: Gatekeepers exist for a reason. You know them: The people who wade through a bazillion submissions of books, essays, short stories, poems and articles to find that gem they’re ready to publish. They are commonly known as an “editors.” But when you are a self-publishing writer, you are (usually) your own editor. In fact, when it comes to having no gatekeeper at all, the same self-publishing writer may assume they have the right to publish any old thing they want to publish. And that’s where things can get dangerous.

A writer self-published a book through Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing program that promotes a crime: Molesting children. The person committing this horrible act against a child is known as a “pedophile.” Remember that word because it’s part of the title: The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure.

I was first alerted to this yesterday when I got an email from a cousin about it. “Boycott Amazon!” the email blared. Huh? I thought. What’s that about? I may devour news items on the Internet every day and read as many newspapers as I can get my hands on, but this was unknown to me. I did some checking around on the ‘Net. Then I realized there’s one place to go to get the information I needed: Blogs. I checked the list of “Blogs I read” on my Palms to Pines blog and, thankfully, Jenna Glatzer blogged about this. I read her post and, needless to say, the whole situation made me sick.

What’s worse is that Amazon.com was apparently not giving a crap about it.

Their reasoning is that they cannot censor what people publish through their site. Oh, it may be a free country, Amazon, but it’s not so free in book publishing!

See, this is what the gatekeepers are for: To filter out the garbage. I suspect the author may have tried (and failed) to publish his book through a traditional press, only to self-publish it after it was (rightfully) rejected. Sometimes, there’s a VERY good reason why a book is rejected for publication.

And it should have been rejected by Amazon, but it wasn’t.

Fortunately, there is strength in numbers. It would seem that enough people on the World Wide Web made such an outcry about the sale of this book, that Amazon finally came to its senses and removed it. Good riddance!

A writer who will try to enter a contest or submit a short story to an anthology will often see this warning in the submission guidelines: “We will not publish anything that promotes racism, violence, crimes against children, rape and hate crimes.” Or, something to that effect. That kind of writing promoting that kind of activity will only encourage readers of such material who do such things to think that, gee, that stuff must be a pretty good idea if there are other people promoting it!

But, no. That sort of thing is NOT a good idea. Neither is molesting children. I have no sympathy for a pedophile. They are sick and predatory. I know people who were molested as children and they still struggle with the nightmare of it all. This book was probably written with the warped and twisted POV of a pedophile, which makes it even more dangerous. Apparently, the author has no qualms about sexually abusing a child, and thinks encouraging other pedophiles to keep doing what they’re doing is something worth writing a book about.

But no book like this should ever be in print. Not ever. There shouldn’t be books promoting the “fun” of rape, explaining away the reason why more people should be allowed to commit hate crimes, or even encouraging a pedophile in their attacks against children. And, yes, that’s the kind of category this book falls into. It is just one more thing promoting something that is wrong in this world.

We may live in a free country, but it’s not so free in the publishing world. You are not free to promote your hatred, your poisons and your twisted logic over committing a crime. There are gatekeepers who will refuse to allow hateful and criminal material from seeing print. We need more of them.

UPDATE: This may be helpful to concerned parents.

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