Should Readers Be Able to Modify Book Content?

A company in Utah is developing an app that will selectively edit what the reader of an ebook sees, removing from their sight words or descriptions of actions deemed unacceptable.

I read the article and started ranting at the walls. As usual, the walls ignored me, so I decided if I self-censored the non-Indies Unlimited allowed words, that maybe I could turn my rant into a post.

What most concerns me about this idea has little to do with books or authors and everything to do with the reader. In my mind we’ve got three situations, depending on the reader’s age. Adult readers, who are offended by certain words or acts in fiction, young readers, who a responsible parent doesn’t want exposed to thoughts and ideas they aren’t mature enough for yet, and older teens, who are expected to be developing the responsibility and maturity of an adult.

If an adult is going to be bothered by one or two bad words, if it makes him or her uncomfortable to read a couple sex scenes and skimming past them is that difficult, then I guess that’s fine. If paying for this service is worth it to them, they’re adults and can make that decision.

For the younger child, I’d question the need. Books aimed at this age group shouldn’t have objectionable material. Books that do are aimed at an older audience. In that situation I’d expect a parent would be concerned with more than bad words and sex. Aren’t there non-objectionable thoughts and themes that wouldn’t be appropriate for children who haven’t reached a certain age and maturity level? I’d expect a responsible parent with concerns about a book their child wanted to read would want to do more to vet their child’s books than this tool would provide.

This leaves us with the teen or young adult reader which is where I see the big problem. At best, a parent seeing this as a good idea is being naïve. At worst, they’re doing an extreme disservice to their young adult. I grew up in the environment that spawns ideas such as these and I’m sure my parents would have seen this filter as a great idea. This type of parent seems to operate on one of two assumptions. The first is that their teen isn’t going to realize bad words exist, nor know anything about sex (except whatever sanitized version they’ve heard from the parents) if only they can prevent their kid from being exposed to such things in books and movies. That’s naive. I don’t think deep down those parents actually believe this, although they try to convince themselves it is true. The other possible reasoning is that by allowing the reading of books with certain content they are encouraging their child to engage in the behavior depicted in the book or is even implicitly approving of them doing so. If your teen child doesn’t already know what things meet your approval in real life, you’re failing as a parent and this filter isn’t going to bail you out.

A teen should be able to distinguish real life from fiction. (As far as that goes, I think younger readers can too. How many REALLY think Jack planted magic seeds and grew a beanstalk that reached all the way into the clouds.) Teens are trying to understand the world and prepare for life as an adult. Fiction is often a route for someone to understand different points of view and work through difficult real life issues by exploring different sides of the same subjects in fiction. I’m not suggesting that a parent load up their teen’s Kindle with erotica bestsellers. But I am suggesting that the message they’re sending if they try to expunge every mention of sex in their reading materials is that sex is always dirty (and since the teen’s hormones are sending them a conflicting message, this must mean they’re bad, too). These parents are making the decision that it is better for their son, who thinks he might be gay and has no one he can discuss it with, to not have the option to read how fictional characters with the same concerns dealt with it. Frankly, I’m not surprised that Utah (where this idea originated) has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the country (and have had since I was a young adult living there). At least thirty years ago experts were suggesting part of the reason for this was a culture that acted like the high expectations placed on those teens wasn’t that tough to meet while pretending their normal teen struggles weren’t happening. I’d suggest the attitude that leads someone to see an app such as this as a good idea is part of that problem. End of rant.

If you’re an author, you might have other concerns which (now that I’ve got that rant out of my system) I’ll try to address, starting with “is this even legal?” I’m not a lawyer, although I constantly find myself playing one on the internet. It appears the answer is probably yes. I wondered at first because I was aware of a Utah company called Clean Flicks that ran afoul of the movie studios for renting edited DVDs. Since then a new law was proposed by Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) and passed, which did a better job of delineating what was and wasn’t an infringement of copyright. A new company, Clear Play (also based in Utah – yes, there is a trend here) was formed to “filter” a movie in a way that conformed to the new law and is much like what is being proposed here for books.

Although it may be legal, this raises some valid questions an author might reasonably have. If some of the words are filtered out, is the reader actually reading the book you wrote? Instead of a review complaining that, using an extreme example, Fifty Shades of Grey has too much explicit sex, is someone reading the same book with filtering going to complain that they thought they’d bought a novel and received a short story instead? If your book is being filtered by a program like this your work is being misrepresented, yet you’re being judged based on this modified version. How do you feel about that?

Author: Big Al

Big Al (who insists he only has one name, like Cher, Sting, and Madonna) spends his days writing computer programs that are full of typos, homonym errors, and incorrect verb usage. During his evenings, he writes reviews of indie books for BigAl’s Books and Pals and has recently taken over The IndieView, a website founded by indie author Simon Royle as a resource for indie authors, indie reviewers, and those who read either.

87 thoughts on “Should Readers Be Able to Modify Book Content?”

    1. First, an apology for being so slow joining the conversation. I was hanging out at the doctor’s office for a few hours. 🙁

      Felipe, thanks for the comment. I suspect a lot of authors might feel the same way.

  1. I understand your disapproval. But this is a reader modifying the content of their OWN book that they bought, right? They cannot edit the book for other readers. So how is this different from someone buying my book in a bookstore (yeah, like my book would be in a bookstore.) and ripping out the pages they didn’t like.
    I think I’d be satisfied if the reader bought my eBook and read some of it, even if they wanted to hide some content. I frankly don’t see the point of hiding content, but if they bought the book, so what?
    The APP sounds gimmicky. I wouldn’t pay it much mind.

    1. Timothy, I tend to agree. If a parent read the story aloud to a child, they might change certain words depending on the child’s age. The thought of an app doing this doesn’t thrill me. But at least they BOUGHT the book, and as long as they don’t distribute it altered, they can use it as a doorstop when they’re done with it if they want. 😉

    2. If a reader changed the content of a book you wrote, would it still be the book you wrote? If not, is the reader stealing your intellectual property?

      1. Thanks for the comments, Timothy, Kat, and William.

        My understanding (which involved a little bit of reading between the lines) is that they aren’t changing the actual ebook file – the legality of that is, at best, suspect. This wouldn’t work on a typical e-ink ereader (any of the Kindle line other than the Fire, Nooks other than possibly the Color Nook). It will probably be designed for tablet computers, smartphones, and such. The way I imagine it working is it runs in conjunction with the ereader app and modifies what is displayed based on rules stored somewhere online and also in the cloud. The key is it is filtering – modifying what the reader sees, which keeps it within the law.

        The modifications they’ll see will be based on what the company that provides the app/service defines (some of this will be default logic such as deleting all the words the EM wouldn’t let me use in this post), some will be specific modifications for the book defined by the company. It mentions that a user can also do additional edits, which means some member of the family is editing for other family members, or in order to suggest additional edits to the app company.

        What it appears someone coming along long enough after the fact would see is going to be controlled by a lot of different people with their own ideas of what is and isn’t acceptable.

        The positive, as Kat says, is they’re still reading your book (or something roughly like it). I think Mr Pish is going to be safe, but I’m currently reading another of Kat’s books that would likely have the majority of some scenes redacted.

        And William, at least according to that second law I mentioned Orin Hatch pushing, this is perfectly legal.

        1. Thanks for the detailed response, Al. I can understand a language filter but to redact the majority of scenes is pretty ridiculous (and yes, I knew that would be the case with a few of my books). In that instance, I have to agree with some of the other commenters – what’s the point of buying a book that someone clearly won’t be happy with? That’s what the look inside feature and the book description are for – to help the reader decide if that book is or is not right for them.

  2. If someone wants to type in a book from scratch, they can change anything they want, we have no control over that.

    If they want to export an ebook and change it, more power to them.
    But to be able to change the document they purchased, slaved over by the author, editor(s), and whomever else, leading to it being published?

    NO. That is the author’s domain.

    Even aside from that, I disagree with anyone changing an author’s work, or a director’s, if it is a film, I even question the author or director making changes (Yes, George Lucas is going to burn for his indiscretions lol). Indeed, future editions are for correcting issues, obviously. That’s one thing. Don’t publish it to begin with if you didn’t like it. But then, I’m a purest. 🙂 I also think it should be illegal for a network to broadcast a film in other than original form, I even think they shouldn’t be allowed to show commercials as it’s not the original form (Good luck changing that one though).

    But to allow someone to dramatically make changes (or any changes) or to allow some possible yahoo reader to do so? No, I don’t think so.

    Censorship is bad.

    1. JZ, your last sentence summarizes my thoughts. But then I started thinking about what exactly is censorship, does this apply, and are their exceptions.

      People often use the term censorship to be much broader than the actual meaning, Generally speaking, I think of it as the actions of a government entity. But I looked up the definition and it indicates someone or something in a position of power. That could be a church or a parent, maybe other people or organizations fit that I’m not thinking about. But is it okay for a parent to censor and, if so, are their exceptions? My issue with this isn’t what is legal so much as what is right.

      1. i understand. I just take a strong stance on this kind of thing. I see it as artist creates something and no one should alter that. Once you do you have destroyed that piece of art and it is now something new that you have created. I raised my children in the way I’m professing here. It is harder than how my parents raised me but I suspect my children are having an easier life because of the difference. They can handle things easier than I could in getting out into the world and dealing with it.

        I admit I’m not religious (though raised Catholic) and I do feel I need to go on about this one. 🙂

        IF one doesn’t want a product, don’t buy it, go elsewhere. Or, write your own, or simply buy another author. I know it’s a hard line, but I feel we need that with how things have been going in the world. If we give a little, we may give too much.

        I also reject religious notions on this subject. If you don’t want your child knowing certain things, use another book. If you want your child to know this book but you disagree with parts of it, this is an opportunity for you to educate them. The issue is that too many parents don’t want to take the time to learn because they may have to learn too much, enough to counter what the child is learning and that’s too hard for them, or dangerous (in possibly destroying their faith, the biggest reason for avoiding letting your faith deal with difficulties of the real world),

        If need be, wait till they are old enough for the book. if you wish, educate them away from what the author is saying. But don’t hide it by altering it. It’s a kind of reverse blasphemy. Face things, discuss things. God gives us our faculties, use them. Don’t hide from the world.

        I resent the religious who hide from the world behind their religion when they should be strengthening their children to bare the world’s heavy weight against their faith for one day the parents will be out of the picture and the kids will be on their own. And these people wonder why religion is on a down slope. God’s Soldiers? Not if they are hiding from the difficult things. What soldiers train to fight only the easy battles, or no battles at all, or go to battle and only fight the easy fights?

        Perhaps they will find that their faith isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. As parents we have a responsibility to teach our children a religion (if one at all) that makes some sense and most will agree that some simply do not and should be abandoned. We need more people IN the world, not hiding from it. 🙂

        If it’s not a religious issue but one of decorum (like, bad words), then skip the word in your mind (or again, get another book). But to create a business that alters art in this way (and this will expand into other things, mark my word), I find it a rather beastly, slippery slope.

        Have a nice afternoon! And, good luck.

        1. Excellent comment on how religion fits into this discussion, JZ. I completely agree. Utah can be very insular, which gives some of the religious majority an ostrich with its head in the sand point of view sometimes, and I think is why this kind of thought process is common there. But I also know that the other ideas still exist there and think you’ve hit the nail on the head in your theory that by helping their children understand they’d have to have to learn themselves, with the risk that might entail.

          1. If I understood what I read, they are talking about using a filter on books? Someone creates a filter, then the book is read through that filter that you can download and nothing in the original file is altered. Even then, I think it shouldn’t be allowed.. However, I don’t see how that could be illegal. I just don’t think it’s a good practice in general. It does fill a desire that is fairly old, to have a good book but filter out what you find distasteful. I guess I just find people who think that way as sad. Like covering up nudes in classical or even modern, art. It’s the opposite of what they mean to do, celebrate God, when he supposedly gave that all to them. From a subculture view, it makes sense, but from an over all point of view…what if it caught on, what if it was at some point, imposed? How easy then to move from filters to “1984”? DoubleplusGood for them, right? And TripleNegaiveBad, for Humanity. Seems a bit overwrought possibly, to project to that, but vigilance for freedom is necessary, throughout history.

  3. I am confused here. If parents feel this way about certain books, why buy them in the first place? Why tamper with an author’s work? If you don’t approve of the book then don’t bother with it at all. Cutting out words and scenes may lead to bad reviews that authors don’t necessarily deserve. I can’t think of any book I’ve read that would have been just as good if I’d cut out words and/or scenes. I am a parent and honestly cannot see any pros to this app at all. It is ridiculous.

    1. LOL, Terri. I haven’t read it, but based on what I’ve heard and read in some quarters, it might be an improvement. I doubt it would sell as well if that was the version people had to buy though.

  4. Readers can skim, interpret things according to their understanding, highlight, white out… I have no problem with this. And if it means somebody would be more likely to buy your book, or to enjoy it…what’s the problem?
    It’s editors and publishers modifying your work that’s evil

    1. I knew someone would eventually argue the other side, Lin. Thanks. 🙂

      You’re right, readers can skim, skip, interpret (or misinterpret) to their heart’s delight. But what is it that editors and publishers do that this app isn’t also doing? Both are modifying what you wrote to be something different as viewed by a large number of readers (who will then be able to skim, skip, etc based on the new version).

      I’d argue against your blanket statement of editors and publishers being evil. The evil comes in when an author is forced to make a change without being able to argue against the change or even knowing about it. Not unlike what this app would do to your work.

      1. The difference is major. Readers buy the books, they can do with them as they please…and it’s for their own consumption or taste. For an editor to modify content denies anybody you original intention.
        An analogy might be to say that people picking the raisins out of their cookies is no different from a store taking all the raisins out.

  5. I totally disapprove of censorship of any type. Sure, as parents we have a duty to monitor/supervise what our children below the age of majority should or should not have access to, but for the ‘age of majority’ to mean anything at all, it must include ‘freedom of choice’. As an adult on planet Earth, no-one has the right to decide what I can see, watch, listen to or read. We have nation states who in the not too distant past have re-written history and we have rightly condemned them for that. I was born long enough ago to have been at school at the time of the trial of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. Thank goodness the judge had the common sense to rule in favor of the ‘freedom of expression’ when others wanted the book condemned as obscene.

    I read the book and one or two others by D.H. Lawrence. They bored me to tears. Let’s just say that they came nowhere near to fulfilling my prurient teenage desires. “Lolita” was just as bad. I sneaked in to the cinema to catch the film when I was 15 and it carried an ‘x’ rating. I was asleep within 15 minutes.

    With those experiences behind me, I never bothered again. The books were much over-rated but should I have the right to edit them? If so, then what does the ‘Freedom’ of expression mean?

    One last point. The Roman Catholic Church monopolised the printed word until 1986 when they stopped using the ‘Index’. The Church held back civilisation in the West for two thousand years by denying the publication of certain works. I think editing them without the permission of the author would be even worse.

    1. I think you hit on something there, Ian. Making a big deal out of some things is only going to make kids of a certain age make a point of checking it out. Unless you literally don’t let your kids leave the house for anything (including school or interacting with other kids) they’re going to find a way if they’re motivated enough. Often they’ll find it is no big deal or be bored to death. I’d think a parent who was more open about it and kept the lines of communication open would be in a better position to impart whatever wisdom they might want to share than one that just forbade everything.

      Thanks for the comment.

  6. As a couple of people have already said, so long as they can ONLY edit the specific copy of a book that they have purchased, fine. Then it is indeed the equivalent of ripping out pages or taking a Sharpie to the text to blank out whatever bits offend them ( personally I think either thing is sacrilege but that’s just me ). What would concern me also are people who indulge this ‘reader’s selective editing’ and then write a review of the book, especially if their own edits have in any way altered the narrative. However, it does seem to be something of an hysterical reaction. What’s the big deal about skimming over the stuff you don’t want to read on a Kindle much as you do in a paperback? Isn’t it just drawing your attention even more to the offensive item by taking all that time to actually edit it out rather than just moving on?

    1. Thanks for the comment, Devon. I get your point about a reader editing for themself. But this definitely goes beyond that as I explained in one of my early comments.

  7. Really you can skip scenes/words if they make you unhappy, or stop reading. As a reader check out the sample/synopsis and if you think the book will contain something “objectionable” then don’t buy it. Who is to say what is objectionable – I am sure I read books as a teen my parents weren’t keen on, but that was my choice. Besides doing things which your parents disapprove is is part of being a teen. That is how you learn to be an individual. If needs be the parent can read the book. Censoring it or banning it is going to make it infinitely more desirable.

    I wonder how much sense a book would make with scenes edited, or partially edited.

    1. You got it, eranamage. I think part of the issue is they want to have their cake and eat it too. Read the books all the “cool kids” are reading, without actually reading them. The story about this (the first link in my post) started with a story of two adults discussing a book that one of them said was good, but was embarrassed because it had a couple sex scenes. (They found these objectionable due to religious reasons.) Then they started brainstorming for a solution to their perceived problem (books that are good other than the parts they don’t see as good).

  8. I’m not crazy about the idea behind this, Al, and I certainly wouldn’t buy it or use it myself.

    However, the tradition of altering one’s own copy of a book is long and storied. In one famous example, Thomas Jefferson took a razor blade to the Bible and created his own “good book” of Jesus’ teachings by editing out all the miracles and other supernatural stuff — including the Resurrection. You can buy a copy today, if you like. But it’s not called “The Bible”, nor did Jefferson himself call it that.

          1. Hmm. I’m sure it is in the public domain and I’m guaranteed selling 2 copies. If I do this right I might be able to hit #1 in in the
            Kindle books/ Religion/ Bastardized Scripture category.

  9. Oy…what’s next? Thing is, this app addresses a non-problem, because if you don’t like the profanity, sex or violence in a book, DON’T BUY THE BOOK.

    Tres stupide.

      1. Al, what does it actually look like when the app is used – blank spaces? ” Oh you _______! He was so _______. Every time we ______ he never could ________. What a waste of _____.”
        This reminds me of Mad Libs. Just fill in the blanks and have fun!

        1. I don’t know, Lois, and I’m not sure they know yet either since the app is still under development (maybe not even that far since the story was about a Kickstarter campaign that was going to be used at least in part to hire developers). I believe they could make it appear seamless, or they might choose to indicate in some fashion (like a blank) that something was modified/deleted.

  10. Should this be allowed – No. No matter how you boil it down, censorship is bad. Simply saying “But it’s for our children” does a disservice to our children for not believingthey are capable enough to make their own decisions, a disservice to ourselves for not teaching them to think on their own, and a disservice to society for creating programmed automatons. If one thinks about it you could rationalize and justify almost any action, even some truly heinous ones, by saying “it’s for our children”. I mean I’m sure Hitler and Stalin were able to justify their actions in the same manner.

    1. I feel the same, BC. Although this same kind of thinking pervades other areas of the US (for example the Texas Republican party’s 2012 platform opposed teaching of critical thinking in schools ) this specific story is from Utah where a company is already doing good business “filtering” movies for the same kind of content. The predominant religion there has a cultural issue with questioning, they actually want to create “programmed automatons.” Do a Google search of “the thinking has already been done for us” (with the quotes) and Mormon, and you’ll get a ton of examples of what I mean.

  11. This moronic endeavor is the first thing that’s ever made me want DRM in books.

    You think a book has something objectionable, don’t read it! If you want a book without something objectionable in it, then write it yourself, you pretentious idiots!

    It’s the 21st Century, people. Keep your outdated religious views to yourself and your book-burning, slave-owning, woman-depowering, gay-hating brethren, okay?

    1. I’m not sure DRM would help, Rich, at least not if this is intended to function in the way I think they’re doing it. As for the rest of your comment (especially the last paragraph) that’s exactly how I feel.

    2. I feel the same way. Personally, I would question the SANITY of anyone who bought a book for the purpose of having parts of it cut out. Second, I sure wish some of those people in Utah would get some new hobbies and stop being stupid. I mean, surely there are exorcisms to perform,

    1. Thanks for the comment, Timothy. I doesn’t seem to constitute censorship in the case of adults who sign up for this specifically so someone else will protect them from the bad words.

  12. I never, ever post here, I mean NEVER!

    But I so appreciate and agree with your point of view. Will these same folks break out their black Sharpies and line out the offensive words in paper copies? Why buy the book at all?

    1. But MsC, you should post here. All the time. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment and the kind words. I’d have been surprised if you didn’t agree with me on this. I think we agree on most things.

  13. Big Al: I am not tech savvy so I don’t understand how the app would work. A reader downloads a book…activates the app…which must have a list of words and phrases loaded into it else how would the app know to delete or black out those words? Mmmm. A Person can own an ereader, own the app and edit an author’s work on a single unit? Can we turn the tables and make the app benefit an author who publishes an original and a second edition touted as clean? Would there be enough sales to make it worthwhile? I am recalling how vocal non-smokers were back in the day about smoke-filled restaurants and bars. Restaurant owners who went smoke-free lost 80% of regular clientele or went out of business altogether–and the Feds still subsidize the tobacco farmers. I’ve had editors who deleted ‘oh, geez’ because they thought geez meant Jesus Christ–when in fact it’s slang for gee whiz. The list of deletes would be relative. OMG! might be deleted but damn or hell allowed. I’ll check back because I want to learn what the consensus is.

    1. Jackie,

      I think you’ve got a fairly good idea as to how it works. But I believe it not only has a list of words and phrases. It can also have editing available for a specific book. As George Carlin pointed out years ago in his seven dirty words routine long ago ( – link is NSFW) there are some words that usage depends. For example, ass is okay if you’re riding it on a religious feast day.

      Your idea of a second version might work as a marketing ploy. That would have the advantage of the alternative saying something that you were okay with.

      Thanks for the comment.

  14. How is this not censorship? For myself, I skim those parts of books I find objectionable (which is not often). To remove words and passages from an author’s story means simply that the story isn’t there. If someone did that to my books – chances are there would be 5 pages left, because to some most of what I write is objectionable. Don’t want to read my story – don’t buy it.

    1. It isn’t censorship if it isn’t being imposed, Kat. In the case of adults who signup for it, I don’t think it is. In the case of the teenager whose parents demand they read the edited version, I think it is, but then you’re into a discussion as to whether it is okay for a parent to censor the reading material of their offspring.

    1. That’s essentially what the law says, Timothy, and why this method is legal. That’s why Clean Flicks that I mentioned in this piece got in trouble, they were selling editing versions of movies. Clear Play hasn’t, because they are just “filtering.”

  15. Interesting topic. The problem isn’t so much this app as the long reaching implications. What happens when Amazon starts running things through this app BEFORE they sell it? It seems like a great censorship tool.

    For those of you shaking your heads saying, “I still think it’s a great idea,” consider the effect an app like this would have on…for example…The Bible. There’s plenty of sex and prostitution and torture (putting a guy on a cross is torture) in The Bible. Would you want an app that would just black all that out?

    I guess before we could say too much more it’s important to know effective the app is. Does it just black out words, or does it infer inappropriate meaning through context?

    My guess is that it doesn’t work all that well.

    1. Walter, I suspect the automatic part is going to cut out obvious words (George Carlin’s seven for a start). If they go much beyond that they’ll start running into automatically censoring word sequences that are not objectionable and if missing make interpretation of the story problematic. But, as I mentioned in a couple other comments, the app company will also be applying book specific edits. Presumably bestsellers will be done by people they hire plus users will be able to suggest edits of their own (essentially crowdsourcing for the long tail). Whether those suggested edits get any scrutiny, is a question I had when I read that part.

  16. For me the bottom line is that i don’t want to see my name attached to something that has been altered by someone else. I don’t object to someone criticizing my work – but only if it IS MY WORK. Once someone alters it it no longer is mine. And then I do not want my name associated with it. Period.

    1. Yvonne, great point. If someone needs to black stuff out that is fine, but you changed my words now so you don’t get to review what you “think” I was trying to say.

      1. I agree! I don’t see how authors cannot be bothered by this. The readers have a right to review your book based on the app-edited version. I’m telling you now; we’ll all suffer for this in one way or another.

    2. haven’t real all the comments, though trying to! 😉 but like yvonne’s take a lot

      also, i register my copyright for a lot of my creative work with the library of congress and i believe that should protect my rights against derivative renditions of my work without my permission

      and, i doubt, though i’m only guessing here, that creative corporations like disney etc would not allow this either without their permission

      well, technology’s a blessing, but also challenging!

      1. I like Yvonne’s take, too. But the law seems pretty clear on this. Disney, et al did object when what was being sold was edited versions, so Orin Hatch found a way to “clarify” what was okay while finding a way to mess with your IP.

  17. Censorship is akin to book burning, just the sister sitting by the brother.
    At thirteen, i was a voracious reader and i read everything, books for my own age as well as for adults. I remember reading the Godfather and a certain scene about a wedding and two of the characters having sex against a wall. Honestly, i was unable to read the rest of the book; i haven’t read it after forty years. I never will finish it. Yet it’s considered a major book, with movies that are rated high on the list of best movies ever.
    However, now i’m an adult; you grow up; sex is a natural part of life; it’s how we all got here. It’s good to want to protect the young from experiencing adult activities before they are ready. It’s wrong to give youth the impression sex, in its proper setting is evil, dirty or wrong. But there is a relaxed atmosphere verses a restricted atmosphere. Being excessive in either choice is where the problem arises. Some people are uncomfortable about talking about sex; it’s something that should be discussed tactfully, and preformed privately, and be done only by consenting adults who are in a bonded relationship, preferably acting due to mutual love, with the sexual act the means to express love in its most intimate setting. Sometimes, life isn’t this pure; there are people who don’t play this way; they have base desires and want to hurt and they use love and sex as a means to control and abuse. that’s when violence occurs; that’s when something beautiful turns ugly. That’s when children can be hurt for a lifetime, mentally, physically, emotionally, even spiritually. And what can be done to stop it?
    Well, even today i heard the TV running an ad fora TV show and the clip was a very ugly remark that dealt with a slur and was sexual as well. Blasted out to homes everywhere…to all people regardless of age. So what can be done about it? You never know when TV or radio or a magazine, newspaper, people on the street, wherever are going to blurt out something inappropriate.
    Are you to censor the entire world, monitor every second?
    As to a book being censored? OK, say it’s done. Will it still read sensibly?
    Mr. Stephen King uses curse words in his writing, sometimes, a bit too much; ask him about it and he will say, “If it’s the first word that comes out, why change it to something weaker?” I’m paraphrasing, not a direct quote, but you’ll find my source in his memoir ON WRITING. I think he’s correct. You can sit in a car at the grocery store, and a car will pull up beside you; rap music thrumming; cuss words galore, or at the post office an angry mother with a spoiled brat, cuss words flying, as she tries to control the kid. Both incidents I experienced.
    It’s everywhere.
    In conclusion, I disapprove of this censorship; and think it’s a breach against author’s rights to publish what they were muse-driven to write. Take away the realism in books, you are only blinding yourself to a fantasy of purity; but you can’t block out the truth prevalent in the world every day.
    Being protective is good, but as hard as you try…children have bad experiences and most never are told their parents; they are the last to know. And why is that? BECAUSE CHILDREN KNOW MOM AND DAD WILL DISAPPROVE and they fear it will be them in trouble, them who are bad. And isn’t that usually the way it goes?
    So censor that book, but you can’t censor life.

    1. Wayahowl, well said. You can’t censor life and parents who try become the last people who their kids will come to when life happens. Thanks for the comment.

  18. It’s censorship, plain and simple. You’re removing content you find “objectionable” or “controversial”.

    If folks don’t read about interesting or even pleasurable things, then the people that are controlling them won’t have to explain why they aren’t experiencing those interesting or even pleasurable things. They don’t have to explain concepts beyond the milieu of their own limited teaching circle, and they can remain safely in control of the sheep.

    And considering it’s based in Utah … well, I think we all know what the prevailing philosophy is here. Don’t read that sexy stuff! Let us tell you about our magic stones! You can’t see them though! Uh-uh! No way! That’s Joey’s shtick!

  19. What a truly horrible idea. Everything else I’d like to say has been self-censored, something all sane people should be capable of doing – either to themselves or to the movies, music or books they let into their lives. Horrible, horrible, horrible.:(

  20. I have to say, I’d like to see this put a stop to. I guess if it’s completely obvious that it’s been changed and where, then maybe, as one can write in a book and make changes.
    But if it’s not noticeable, then no. I don’t like the idea that a kid would read a book and grow up to find it different on a re-read. If the kid shouldn’t be reading words in the book, they shouldn’t be reading it in the first place.Otherwise, let them grow. And if there are religious reasons to censor, dumbing people down isn’t a good idea, censor by not reading the book at all until they are mature enough, not by changing it.

  21. How did it happen that just a few people can dictate what is right and what is wrong? No, I don’t want my words changed. Parents need to stand up and take responsibility for their kids if they don’t want them to read something. Surely, they don’t need an APP for that.

    1. I’ve been wondering the same a lot lately while observing some of the political discussion in the US, Sandy. (I’ll leave it at that to hopefully prevent a tangent.) 🙂

  22. Yes, wayahowl said it very well, parents of that religion need to figure out how to censor life before they censor books. I agree with Yvonne, dont want my name on it if they get away with changing it or get to leave a review based on the way they edited for them.

    Just have to say that having lived and worked among people of the religion, they have some pretty interesting views. I was also a member of a romance author’s group and the majority of the women writers were members of that church and could write some of the best sex scenes you’d ever want to read. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it is probably the men of the religion telling the women and the world what is and isn’t appropriate to read or teach their children. Just Imho. But yes the app is wrong and dangerous in the wrong hands.

    1. Jacqueline, I definitely think what you’re saying has a lot of merit. Was this when you were living in the town with the Mormon temple? If so, I think you’re 100% correct. However, when you get outside of areas where they are the dominant religion, you see a lot less dogma and strange behavior masquerading as good religion. The other places I’m aware of that you’ve spent time, I’d expect more reasonable behavior from both genders.

  23. You are very right, Al…very respectful and tolerant of others outside the big temple city. The two brothers I worked for in IF were very tolerant of me, a very non-religious person. They treated me like family and I was the blacksheep who at the time smoked, drank and cussed, but I was loyal to their company and kept it running in their absences and they rewarded me handsomely tor it. I keep in touch with them and their families, they know I’m a writer and what I write though when I told them many years ago that I wanted to write about a serial killer, one brother said I scare him.

  24. First off, filtering never works the way you expect it to. It’s designed to scan the file and basically redact certain words and phrases based on a key – a list compiled by people, but taken out of context these words or phrases that are removed, may have been perfectly innocent.

    Two, there is no way to filter out a person’s interpretation of what is happening/what is being said, and in the words of Tom Lehrer, “when properly viewed, everything is lewd.”

    One of my favorite exercises is to take a perfectly innocent phrase such as: “He reached into his pocket and pulled out his pen”

    Now let’s beep out a few words.: He reached into his and pulled out his

    The very act of blanking things out has turned something simple into something risque

    Aside: I remember one of the early web filters for libraries… one of the key words for filtering was “breast” that then prevented anyone from reading up on certain cancers and many chicken recipes.

    I understand that some parents want to protect their children, but the best example a parent can set is to pay attention to what your child is reading. Don’t expect software to do your job for you.

    Finally, no one wants to be censored, but once someone’s bought a book, it’s up to them what they do with it.

    It’s the exact same argument when someone buys the movie rights to your story– unless you have a *really* good agent/legal team going over the contract, they can do pretty much whatever they want to the story.

    Me… I want something that will filter out the boring parts.

  25. There was a blog post in the New York Times recently about a woman who wanted to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with her 5-yr-old, but she didn’t think a lot of it had the right message so she added and deleted plot points as they read. She calls it “pinkwashing.”

    While there’s been a huge backlash against this (why read a book with your kid if you don’t think it’s age appropriate?), she received a lot of support too.

    I don’t agree with this app at all, just as I don’t agree with abridging classics to make them more age-appropriate and accessible for kids. Either trust that your kid can read something and discuss the book with them – for example, how it doesn’t fit with your values, bad choices made, consequences of actions, etc – or don’t let them read it. When it comes to adults, either suck it up and read the book as written, or don’t read it.

    Changing the text changes the intended meaning and turns the book into something completely different from what the author intended.

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