The debate whether censorship should be allowed in literature is ongoing and not only prevalent in today’s world, but all throughout history. For example, in certain countries, journalists and bloggers can be arrested for saying bad things about their government. In Egypt a man named Kareem Amer even was arrested for insulting Islam and calling the Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, a dictator.
There are five reasons or guidelines that editors follow when deciding whether it’s okay to censor a piece of literature or not. These guidelines include:
- Moral censorship: When content has certain information that may be generally inappropriate for their audience. For example, many countries limit who may see pornography.
- Military censorship: During a war, news reports may be censored. These news reports are censored so that during the war the enemy can’t get information that might be used to plan an attack.
- Political censorship: A political party might withhold certain information to avoid rebellions or embarrassment.
- Religious censorship: Often, there is a dominant religion which removes or changes certain kinds of information. For example, in Romania schools don’t teach evolution anymore, and many schools in the US and UK don’t allow discussions of Creationism, or the belief that the universe and living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation.
- Corporate censorship: Usually businesses cease a publication of material because it shows their business or even their employees in a negative manner.
So, what would the reasoning behind the censorship of Shan’s book? We could probably knock out Military, Political, and Religious censorship, but what about Corporate and Moral censorship? One could possibly argue that the corporation where the editor worked would be portrayed negatively if they allowed Shan to publish content that focused on the life of an African woman, eventually censoring her work under the idea of corporate censorship. But to me, I think that this involves moral censorship. How I understood it, the editor didn’t want to publish certain information in Shan’s book because they thought that “race [should be a] brew best served mild, tempered with other liquids, otherwise white folk can’t swallow it.” Meaning that they censored information to be appropriate for their white audience. The problem is the editor’s perspective of what is appropriate or inappropriate can be bias.
The editor’s point of view can be subjective to their own backstory and history regarding topics like race. This doesn’t allow readers of literature to grow in their knowledge of others and the world around them if others are censoring the information given to them. This seems unfair to me. I think we all deserve to have access to the information around us. Just because one person believes that the information isn’t exactly right for us, doesn’t mean that we should be censored from it.