I read an article today on Vulture.com entitled The Toxic Drama of YA Twitter.
In this article (linked here) Kate Rosenfield explored an interesting trend happening on social media.
Laurie Forest wrote a book called The Black Witch, ARCs or Advance Review Copies were sent out to different reviewers to create buzz for her book. Everyone loved it.
Everyone except for Shauna Sinyard.
This is an excerpt from the article:
The hype train was derailed in mid-March, however, by Shauna Sinyard, a bookstore employee and blogger who writes primarily about YA and had a different take: “The Black Witch is the most dangerous, offensive book I have ever read,” she wrote in a nearly 9,000-word review that blasted the novel as an end-to-end mess of unadulterated bigotry. “It was ultimately written for white people. It was written for the type of white person who considers themselves to be not-racist and thinks that they deserve recognition and praise for treating POC like they are actually human.”
What follows in the article has to be one of the most chilling tales of an attempt at censorship that I’ve ever read.
In this age of Trump, Fake News, rising accounts of racism, homophobia, antisemitism, anti – religious bigotry concerning Muslims, Russian involvement in our elections, and just generally shitty behavior by adults (a term I use loosely) the world has become a terrifying place.
With all eyes on Washington, the media, the majority of Americans, and entertainment has been wringing their hands ready to jump at the slightest totalitarian movement out of this current administration. The first being, censorship. If you shut down the media that’s a deaths blow to democracy.
Thank God for them.
Yet, this article shows us another group of people. Readers. Yet they’re more than that. They’re readers turned social activists that lead campaigns to have major (and minor) publishing companies pull books off shelves. They ‘drag’ people, these authors, on social media. There are even threats on their life as well as they tell these authors to ‘kill themselves’.
We seem to have found ourselves, lately, in a world of extremes and it’s terrifying. On the right, in our government, we have out and proud fascists who would clamp down on this country if they found any headway.
Yet this group of people who are doing this, are just as fucking scary and I am not sure if these people are doing what they’re doing out of a desire to do good or a desire to become the next INTERNET superstar.
Social Media has become a fertile ground for radicalization.
I am a lover of the 1st Amendment, am a card carrying member of the ACLU. I do not believe in censorship. I believe in the marketplace of ideas. The free flowing exchange of ideas. To me, and to most rational people, it is in this place where debates rage and freedom of the press, freedom of ideas, freedom to express those ideas in a peaceful way, is at the very heart of a healthy democracy.
Some would say these people are just passionately participating.
There’s a difference in actively participating in a forum of discussion and bringing a bomb to it.
Silencing your opposition out of fear, is not advocacy.
Shauna Sinyard’s review reads like a manifesto. It’s 1/6th of a novel’s length which, quite frankly after reading all the glowing reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, people pointed out that the book was ultimately about a young woman overcoming societal views on race.
That’s a good thing and quite frankly, something we need in the world today. The detractors have said that, “Well, it just enables white people who treat POC good like they should be rewarded.”
Well, this white girl just go the Rachel Dolezal award for, “Trying too hard.”
That being said, even if the book was the equivalent of Mein Kempf part 2 – it still has value. Even if that value is negative.
The marketplace knows how to deal with it.
That’s a free society.
Despite this groups efforts, it’s done nothing to curtail the sales of this book. As the article points out, it was 1 on Amazon. Also, the Young Adults have all left whatever social media groups these people have taken upon themselves to protect and have disbursed leaving a bunch of harried, angry, and foolish people all alone.
Most people would think that was a win for Laurie Forest. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?
Ask George Tiller how that worked out for him.
As the term ‘political correctness’ is now a political football used by everyone today, mostly by people who want to have the freedom of using the “N” word without repercussion, similar to adding ‘gate’ to everything that is politically scandalous, Australian Comedian Steven Hughes describes where we are perfectly, “….the age of political correctness which is actually intellectual colonialism and psychological fascism for the creation of thought crime.”
Silencing authors or the written word is nothing but fascism. I don’t care if you voted for Barack twice, are a card carrying member of the ACLU, and lead your local PFLAG meetings – shutting down authors, starting write in campaigns to publishing companies to get them to pull books, telling authors they should kill themselves, is nothing more than a mob mentality.
There are other people who are out there who want fiction ‘cleansed’ too. The Holy rollers. Advocates of ‘clean fiction’. Then there are those on the right who burn books.
At some point it no longer matters what boot is on your neck, be it right or left. You’re still choking.
This is chilling and it ought to scare the fuck out of lovers of a free press, free exchange of ideas, and free thinking individuals anywhere.
We’ve got to start standing up to this.
“The Black Witch is the most dangerous, offensive, book I’ve ever read. “
The only ‘dangerous thing ‘ here is banning books.