Monday, December 14, 2009

Censoring Blogs--Book Burning

I recently joined a literary site for authors, writers, artists and generally anyone within an artistic field. I posted a poem, or perhaps several poems. I'm truly not sure the exact post. Yesterday I received a somewhat disturbing, but nice email informing me that although the moderator had the greatest respect for me, and in fact referred to me as Dear Sister (excuse me); that she had deleted my blog because she had never been there and therefore could not connect with the feelings expressed therein. She went on to say that abuse was a legal issue, not appropriate for writing. Abused people needed to just stop the abuse and stop whining. She invited me to write something more appropriate for the literary world.

First I was appalled that any literary site, which started it's headline and title with Literary would censor any blog as long as it wasn't offensive and it was well formatted and free of blatant typos. This reminded of the days of book burning. I wonder how many people burned C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters without ever reading it, and understanding that it wasn't the work of the devil, but was instead a wonderful book, funny and entertaining, which clearly glorified God.

I wrote a nice letter back to the moderator, and kindly informed her that on behalf of the thousands of men, women and children who suffer mental, emotional or physical abuse daily, I felt that I needed to educate her on a few things.

First of all, abuse is not just a legal issue. I know, as I worked in courtrooms for many years, and yes, the legal system can lock up the abuser--but the damage done to the abused is out of the judicial systems purview, and out of their control.

Secondly, there is not a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health professional that would EVER tell an abused individual not to talk about, write about or somehow try to deal with the emotions and trauma that abuse has caused them. This is not whining. In fact, it's far from it. It is the abused's efforts to take charge of their emotions, their lives, and therefore never allow themselves to be a victim again. And what better way than words?

Words have power, and words can be powerless. We use words every day in one context or another. We use words that are powerless and that have no meaning. We say things to people that we don't mean, don't feel and truly don't care about. Over a period of time our words are powerless, because they have no feeling, no emotion behind them, and we start to loose that power in other areas of life. Victims of abuse, many times are powerless to stop their abuser. Powerless to change their lives.

I have been fortunate to work with many young people, mostly young women, who have lost their power. They've given in to their abusers, and simply given up on themselves. Addictions. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. They can never change their lives and come out of the victim stage without some sense of power. We've worked on creative writing. Using words to express the internal emotions of pain, frustration, anger, hopelessness and moving on to joy, hope, faith and future. Mastering words that have feelings, emotions and life gives power to the word, thus power to the writer. Power to take charge of their feelings. Power to take charge of their addictions. Power to take charge of their future. It doesn't happen overnight, but with words, therapy, and guidance every victim can change their life. I know this too, because I did.

Deleting a blog, because you can't connect with the emotions and feelings of the blogger, is like throwing out the cake, because you're allergic to chocolate even though there are going to be 30 other guests at your table. Where would our literary world be today, if every publisher or every literary site had decided to censor material? What happened to freedom of expression? And what happened to just good old courtesy from the moderator who could easily have written and said, "I'm sorry, we have a site policy against blogging about these subjects: (and listed the subjects) and therefore I would ask that you please rewrite or remove your blog."

Censorship. Book burning. I felt I woke up forty years in the past. And as a final note, I asked the moderator to remove me from their site. It clearly was not the proper forum for me. Not because I hated having my own blog removed, but I hated the idea that I might be missing some great articles by other contributors that this particular moderator had not experienced, or could not connect to.

1 comment:

  1. Amen. Of course, you're a whole lot more polite about this than I would have been.