|The Famous Mr. Clean Himself|
All concerned parents have to do is run an e-book through something called Squeaky Clean in order to make themselves feel good about their parenting skills a little while longer. As a consequence, their children just might be sheltered from the harsh realities of living in the 21st century - or of even growing up - for another few days or weeks.
According to NPR, Jared and Kirsten Maughan came up with the idea for Squeaky Clean when their daughter came home from school one day all upset about some of the words she was being forced to read as part of a school assignment. This Washington Post article notes that the little girl was in the fourth grade at the time, and that she had borrowed the book from the school library (which means it may have not been required reading, after all). The article points out what happened next:
...the Maughans quickly learned from a lawyer that republishing books with the offensive words changed or removed would violate authors’ copyrights. So they partnered with a Chicago firm called Page Foundry, which altered its general book-reading app to create Clean Reader — a profanity-filtering program. The Maughans earn a small commission from books purchased through the app.Not so fast, Maughans. Before long authors were fighting back and demanding that the Maughns not sell their books on a website suggesting that they be censored before being read. Says NPR:
Arguably, the leader of that angry response was author Joanne Harris, best known for her novel . In several scathing blog posts, Harris decried what she called "censorship, not by the State, but by a religious minority."Joining Harris in the fight were authors like Margaret Atwood - and the Society of Authors. As of last week, the Squeaky Clean website no longer sells books, but it continues to offer the free app to those wishing to play censor for a day with their children's reading.
My favorite paragraph from the NPR link shows just how ludicrous this whole thing is:
Blogger — and romance novel aficionado — Jennifer Porter has drawn up a rundown of the common replacements for words the app deems profanity. Among some of the noteworthies: from "whore" to "hussy," from "badass" to "tough" and, somewhat confusingly, from "vagina" to "bottom."
Jennifer Porter's piece includes a list of common "bad words" and their suggested replacements. You have to see it to believe it.