of progress and regress

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Let’s talk about censorship, theft and becoming better people.

A lot of talk this week has centered around the literary world. Some people are claiming that the estate of Dr. Seuss, you know the people who control the books and legacy of the writer, has no right to stop publishing six of his works that no longer serve the society in which we currently live. Some have even used the word “censorship” in regards to this.

We can start there. Censorship is defined as the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security. The person who wrote the piece, or in this case, those who have charge of curating the piece after the author’s death is not suppressing or prohibiting anything. They are not gathering up all the copies of those books and burning them. They are not telling anyone that they can no longer read the books. They simply will no longer publish new copies of them.

Another thing I’ve seen talked about this week is this idea that authors should not be bothered by having their work stolen and made available for free on various piracy sites. I’ve seen this same argument for music and movies/tv. I’m the first to admit that there have been times I have acquired content with less than honorable means, but usually only as a stopgap measure until I had the money/ability to acquire it legally.

But many are not as diligent about the subsequent legal acquisition, particularly where it comes to books. There seems to be this idea that somehow an ebook should be free, as though it isn’t the same amount of work as a paperback or hardback. The content is the same, it took the same amount of time and effort to create, so why should it be available for free?

As a society, we seem to need to be dragged forward into our next iteration, into a better society, and for every two steps forward, we seem to retreat a step. For every acknowledgement of racism, ageism, sexism, etc., there is a knee-jerk reaction from those who refuse to acknowledge the harm that these -isms cause.

This makes our progress slow, but it is still progress. Keep pulling, Readers. Keep pulling.

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