Let’s Just Say No to “Sensitivity” Readers and Other Forms of Censorship

I’ve been reading a few articles lately about a disturbing new trend, particularly in traditional publishing–using so-called, “sensitivity” readers.

Wow. When did we, as a society, become so thin skinned that we now need, “sensitivity” readers to ferret out so-called, “trigger” words in our manuscripts?

Here in the United States our constitution includes a wonderful thing called, the First Amendment. This amendment guarantees our right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. There are, of course, some exceptions, such as slander and libel, but those exceptions are few and far between. And while the First Amendment guarantees your right to free speech, it was never intended to protect you from being offended by someone else’s free speech.

Oftentimes what is and isn’t, “offensive,” is subjective. For example, a vegan may be offended by your photo of a hamburger, while a chef at a gourmet burger restaurant will not. But because the vegan took offense at your photo, should he or she then have the right to prohibit you from posting it on social media, or even publishing it on your website or blog? Even worse, should the vegan be allowed to force the gourmet burger restaurant to close just because he or she finds it offensive? I fully support that individual’s right to choose to be a vegan if he or she wishes, but I draw the line at that individual telling me what kind of photos I can take, or what restaurants I can patronize, just because he or she is, “offended.”

So-called, “sensitivity readers,” pose a real threat to a writer’s ability to express him or herself freely. I’m a woman who writes romance novels, therefore I have plenty of male characters in my books, even though I’ve never been a man. I also write in a third person narrative, which means some of my chapters will be written from a male character’s point of view. I’m simply trying to tell a good story, but to the so-called, “sensitivity” expert, I could be, “stereotyping” men. And because the “sensitivity expert” has determined that I’m stereotyping men I’m no longer allowed to write anything from the male viewpoint, because it could possibly “trigger” some reader. And by the way, the word, “trigger” is the new politically correct word for offend.

I guess maybe I’m just too old school. If I’m reading a book, and for some reason I find one of the characters offensive, I simply stop reading the book. I don’t go off on a tangent because I was, “offended.” I don’t demand the publisher pull the book because I was, “offended.” And I most certainly don’t go on a hate campaign campaign against the author, or demand the book be banned, just because I was, “offended.” As I said, I’ll simply toss the book aside and read something else. How’s that for a concept?

“Sensitivity” is the new, politically correct word for CENSORSHIP,  and censorship goes against everything The First Amendment was created for.

Well, guess what? The “sensitivity thought police” can go straight to Hell. I’m protected by the First Amendment, therefore I will write what I wish to write. Period. If you don’t like my books then don’t buy them. How hard is that to understand? This is yet another reason why I choose to remain an indie author.

GM