So, if you haven’t heard of Clean Reader you’re probably not an author and there’s a high chance you’re sane. It’s an app that removes offensive words from a text so people who can’t handle reality can still enjoy reading. The backlash among authors was, to say the least, pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, once a book is out there it’s in the hands of the readers and there are always people who will like the general story and the writing but the occassional use of “fuck” or “shit” or “goddamned mother fucking shit eaters” is just too much for them to bear.
Sure, it smacks of censorship, but it’s really no worse than an edited for TV version of “The Terminator”; clean to be sure, but insipid as all get out.
The app kind of got me wondering; sure, you can remove the offensive words but can you remove the offensive content? Will reading about about a man’s groin moving into a woman’s buttocks still turn you on? Strangely, and this may just be because that’s how Americans think, the app apparently did nothing about an axe running through a person’s heart.
Which makes you wonder what’s worse: a little cursing or a lot of killing? Henchmen doesn’t have an enormous amount of cursing in it but it does have no small amount of violence. Plus there’s that whole “trying to kill Congress” thing going on. When you get right down to it, if you want to censor a book to make it more palatable for you by all means, go for it. I’ll kind of feel sorry for you living in your limited little world, but if that’s how you want to live, that’s how you want to live. Clean Reader is, after all, self-censorhip and I’m basically okay with that. If you decide it’s time to start outright censoring a book because you don’t like the contents, then we’ll have an issue.
Until then, if you want a cursing free copy of Henchmen or Arise, you have my blessings. Just realize that even though you removed the curse words it won’t necessarily make the rest of the story palatable for you.