Well folks, this is bound to get me into hot water with certain segments of the group again, but this story puts me in a “If-you-don’t-like-it-then-don’t-read-it” sort of mood. I could blame the fact that it’s my birthday and I’m feeling selfish, but really it’s just been a while since I got to read any really good crit mail, and that seems like it can’t be a sign of anything good (or maybe people started believing me when I said it was just a silly little blog after all).
Some of you have been following the story about Google China and their voluntary censoring of certain search terms at the insistence of the Chinese government. Google isn’t the only one of course, but if search terms yield different results depending on which restrictive area of the globe you happen to be surfing from, the implications are dangerously serious. For instance, imagine a search for “Tiananmen Square” washed clean of any pictures like the famous one above.
And I just find an interesting correlation here to another sort of “censorship” that goes on within a supposedly free market. I’ve got a bone to pick with parochial bookbuyers, stores, reps, and publishing execs who impose their narrow prejudices about potentially offensive elements on the artistry of Christian books. I’ve said it so many times before: Sanitized art is no art. Comfortable gospel is no gospel. Benign beauty is no beauty. Half truth is no truth.
But now this debate about censorship has me all riled up again. Check out the familiar-sounding arguments on either side of this debate. It’s spooky. I suppose part of me can see how the Google China censorship debate resembling the one going on in CBA shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But the more rational part just can’t believe that in 2006 it’s still necessary to defend the value of freedom to some of the very people who fight the most fiercely to honor our ancestors’ sacrifices. The same ones who supposedly know something about the truth that sets you free. It’s just untenable to me.
What Google is saying about their “unfortunate” position sounds like so many authors who take on the lesser evil of filtering their art for the market in which they publish. I wonder what you all think about this. Is there an excuse for softening the content? Should we be striving to make small advances with the hopes of making larger ones later?
Christian publishing will be different next year, like it was again last year. What do you think your part in that will be?