This sort of thing is precisely why all the outcry over visual pornography without similar outcry over words disturbs me. It's as if people think that everyone knows images are bad, whether this be due to assumptions about how they are produced or assumptions about how they induce particularly Pavlovian sexual response, yet everyone also knows words are fine.Ladies and Gentlemen: The US vs Karen Fletcher…
However, unlike Walters there, I do think we should be afraid, thanks.
Now, guess what? I have no desire to read anything Karen Fletcher ever wrote, and yep, the idea of her fiction squicks me out big time…but you know, it was words. Writings. Fiction. No real people, digitally altered or otherwise, involved at all. And let’s look at Ms. Fletcher, really…a woman without any real means, living at home, writing as her sole source of income, for a web site with minimal subscribers. And the government picks her to arrest. Now, see, people boycotted American Psycho by (wealthy) author Brett Easton Ellis. People love the best-selling George R.R. Martin series A Song of Ice & Fire, which has spawned merchandise, a role playing game, a card game, and is full of the rape, torture, imprisonment and murder of people of all ages, including children, a lot of violent sex, incest and all kinds of unsavory stuff…yet no one is arresting Ellis or Martin for their fiction…instead, they go after an unknown, unpopular, not wealthy small time smut writer…I wonder why?
Easy prey, maybe? You think maybe that has something to do with it? The Gov trying to Fight the Obscene Smut!... but taking on someone who really had no chance in hell of actually being able to, oh, fight them back?
And while yeah, I have no desire to read Fletcher’s stories, you can bet your ass this pisses me off and I will defend her right to write them. And of course, sure, some folk are likely to just, once again, accuse me of being some vile, appalling, sadistic, rapist fuck who doesn’t give a shit about anyone because my soulless, male identified self is just so obsessed with my vicious orgasms, but see…you’d be wrong. I do care about something, at least one thing…you gotta give me that…
I care about our 1st Amendment, and how shit like this affects all of us…or a whole shit load of us anyway…
I mean, check the nets, people. Fan-Fic, slash, from manga based to Harry Potter based, there is a shit ton of it out there, and a shit ton of every day people writing it, and a lot of it involves sex with underage people, violence, and even things like rape and murder. I know some of you out there write it, some read it, and a lot of people do other kinds of writing; their deep, dark fantasies, epic level fiction with a great many unsavory or disturbing themes, horror, smut, yaoi, sci-fi, high fantasy, so on, so forth…and it’s likely you, like Fletcher, could be considered easy prey…
And get arrested and tried by the big bad US Government because someone was squicked out by your BDSM fantasy, or hero/heroine in peril tale, or the written evolution of your monstrous, amoral villain. You could get completely hosed for writing things other people find disturbing or don’t like. Even if it cannot be accessed by minors, even if it is only out there for a select crowd…and the way some of this stuff is plastered all over, all public like, on the net…well gee, so many attractive “obscene” targets to chose from, eh?
For writing words….words! No pictures, no real live people, no images…words! And funny that, but I thought one of the things we here in the States were supposed to be real big on and all over was a persons ability to speak and write words…even if other people don’t like them. So see, yeah, something I do care about…a person’s ability to write and speak words, even if other people find them horrific, disturbing, and terrible…because we are supposed to have that right. Even if those words are about sex, or violence, or sex and violence, or rape, or murder, or all kinds of shit that can generally be pretty damn offensive to a whole lot of people.
As a writer this scares me. As a big time fan of free speech, it scares me even more. Being arrested for writing something someone else doesn’t like? Well, that shit should scare you too.
I've never understood this distinction, and always felt that unless it was grounded in actual facts about the production conditions of filmed visual pornography that uses live performers, the distinction was untenable. I figured that, culturally, we'd never bother to go after words, but I've still been saying for years that I don't see a big difference, if we leave production conditions out.
And this just says to me that no, there isn't one. That free speech might make us think quickest of words (since "speech" is in the name), but that whatever counts as "speech" is fair game. If certain kinds of pornography are to be erased, then that erasure can and will extend to words as well -- despite that so many of us do see differences between industry-made rape porn (which I gather there's actually little of, from what people actually in the industry say) and our little pet "non-con" Draco!Harry slashfic.
It's all the same, people. If this alarms you -- and I think it should -- it shouldn't alarm you because they finally got to print/text. That was always coming.
And that's why I think a post about this belongs here too.