In recent months, author Anne Rice has been a vocal critic of what she considers to be an attempt to censor, entirely in the name of political correctness, what is being published. Based on my own observations over the last year or two, I think what is happening is more of an attempt to keep certain books from having any success in the marketplace than it is an attempt to keep them from being produced. But, of course, that really does amount to the same thing in the long run because, in a period like this one during which publishers seem willing to take on less and less risk all the time, books about topics that don't sell well are not likely ever to hit the shelves.
Those of us who regularly submit book reviews to sites know how easy it would be to create multiple identities on those sites...identities we could then use to submit a dozen or so very negative or very positive reviews of the same title. And if you take a look at Amazon, you will see bunches of books that have lots of five-star or one-star reviews that are about three sentences long and really don't say a thing that makes much sense. So there is no doubt that it happens.
In this Guardian interview, Rice has this to say:
“There are forces at work in the book world that want to control fiction writing in terms of who ‘has a right’ to write about what,” Rice said. “Some even advocate the out and out censorship of older works using words we now deem wholly unacceptable. Some are critical of novels involving rape. Some argue that white novelists have no right to write about people of colour; and Christians should not write novels involving Jews or topics involving Jews.”“I think all this is dangerous. I think we have to stand up for the freedom of fiction writers to write what they want to write, no matter how offensive it might be to someone else. We must stand up for fiction as a place where transgressive behaviour and ideas can be explored … internet campaigns to destroy authors accused of inappropriate subject matter or attitudes are dangerous to us all.”
I have, at times, felt that Ms. Rice was a little oversensitive about some of the online reviews she criticized. But in this case, I have no doubt that she is onto something that is a real danger - and not just a danger to authors and publishers. It is a danger to our very right to free speech.
The interview specifically addresses what is happening to a novel by Kate Breslin called For Such a Time that:
imagines a relationship between a Jewish woman in a concentration camp and an SS Kommandant, and her eventual conversion to Christianity. Critics called it “deeply offensive and insensitive”, as well as “antisemitic, violent, and dangerous”, with the widespread online debate prompting the appearance of dozens of one-star reviews of the novel on Amazon.
I am willing to bet that very, very few of the bad reviews are coming from people who have actually read the novel. Maybe none.
So please consider joining with me and defying the Goon Squads. I plan to mention this book many times in many places, and I just might read it so that I can give it an honest review. I am so damned sick of political correctness that I could spit...
Entire Interview Here