Fandango’s Provocative Question #204

How do you feel about book publishers altering the language in classic books to “sanitize” them by eliminating or changing words, phrases, and sentiments that some readers might find upsetting? Is it wrong to rewrite the words of a published author, living or dead, without the author’s permission?

Censorship is censorship. You can call it something else, but that doesn’t change what it is. I understand that many books are offensive to many people these days, though often for the wrong reasons. Quite a few of these were offensive to many people long ago, but few people noticed. Also, back when, being offended wasn’t a national cause celebre. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to read it. Or recommend it. Or give it to your children.

That’s the simpler solution. Skip censorship. You don’t have to read the book. Don’t buy it for your kids. I never like Roald Dahl because of how badly he treated his wife, Patricia Neal.

I was selective about the books I bought for Owen until he was old enough choose his own books. Like my mother before me, I never forbade him to read anything. I trusted him to make sensible decisions and he always has.

I don’t like censorship. I don’t like the concept and I don’t think anyone has the right to do it. What special qualifications give you the right to censor books you didn’t write?

Cleaning up books to make them more acceptable to modern readers is a terrible idea. To me, the concept alone is entirely unacceptable and the act is appalling. We are going to be living out Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” in short order, if we aren’t there already. Since we seem to be busy mutilating, banning, and censoring books, how far are we from book burnings?

If you haven’t already read “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, it’s a good read. Consider today’s climate, it will give you chills because that’s where we are heading. It’s not a good place to go.

“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is available in print, for Kindle, and as an audiobook. You can get it from Amazon and the audiobook from Audible.com. Not only do I recommend it, I think it should be mandatory reading.

Categories: #Books, #FPQ, Audiobook, Author, Book Review, Provocative Questions

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18 replies

  1. Here in Florida, book banning/censorship is alive and well, and DeSantis needs to be stopped. The teachers here are angry and confused by this entire book banning nonsense. Some books are on shelves, but covered up by sheets. Some books have been removed. Some books have been removed and then reinstated on the shelves. Helluva time to be a teacher in Florida. DeSantis wants to make the US like Florida. God help us all.


    • I used to think that our founding fathers never imagined having a leader like Trump or how much damage just ONE of him could do and in such a short time. Ironically, they DID know. They were painfully familiar with corruption. That was what the revolution was all about. They ALSO knew that there was no way they could prevent people from electing corrupt and immoral people to office. They just hoped they wouldn’t, that they’d remember the revolution. And ultimately, most of them — including those who actually held slaves –knew allowing slavery while preaching “all men are created equal” was so badly flawed that it would catch up with us.

      It did. I’m not sure it ever went away. We have a lot of hate, bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, corruption, selfishness — and sheer stupidity — in the country. We haven’t been around long enough to work our way into a better country. Even nations that have been nations or some version of a nation are still dealing with the same crap.

      When you start off wrong, it’s very hard — maybe impossible — to set it right. This is something my parents always understood, but I couldn’t believe they were right. They were. I was bedazzled by all the music about peace and love.


  2. so infuriating, and I love roald Dahl’s books. exactly as they are.


    • Even if you hated him, censorship is BAD. It’s totally NOT what we are supposed to be about. I think the bottom line of this is that one’s opinion of the book is not the point. The point of the first amendment and many other amendments and clauses and laws is that freedom means that you will not like everything you hear, read or see — but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you shut it down. It’s not about personal taste.

      It’s about freedom.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. I have read Fahrenheit 451. Actually read it for high school English. I was actually thinking more of 1984 where Winston’s job was to constantly rewrite history to suit the government of the day. I don’t think anyone does have the right to alter a writer’s words either by rewriting their book or as a movie. Artistic licence is one thing this is something else altogether.
    I’m not familiar with the Roald Dahl books myself. I’ve heard of them but never read them. I don’t think that they should be white washed. It would change the whole sense of what the stories were about.


    • What most people don’t seem to “get” is that this isn’t about personal taste or what you believe OR what the government du jour likes. It’s about freedom. You may hate it. Your religious leader may hate it too, but that’s neither here nor there. If books are not free, then WE are not free. And that is about as scary as anything that has happened in this country or really, anywhere. When you start banning books, you’re on the road to tyranny.

      And so many people just don’t GET it. You won’t get them to read “Fahrenheit 451” because they don’t read. Maybe that’s the problem. They live in terror that they or their kids might LEARN something new — or worse, discover there are other ideas and ways to look at an issue.

      Are we REALLY heading towards a world where you have to write in secret lest the government find out you don’t think they way they want you to think? How appalling is THAT?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼


  5. You’re right. Whether it’s removing books from school libraries because they make some kids feel uncomfortable or removing or changing words in books because they may not be politically correct in 2023, it’s censorship. Democracy in America is already in peril. Banning books or altering language in books is all to “1984” for me.


    • We are on a very perilous road. First they ban books, then they will ban the internet and blogging and newspapers. Everything we supposedly stood for is on the block. NEVER did I imagine this country could come to a point like this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think anyone of us could have imagined how quickly this would happen.


        • John Adams was right. He predicted that we would ultimately throw away our freedom and put up some kind of “king” or other tyrannical leader. Our founding fathers were both altruistic and deeply cynical. They KNEW what tyranny was because they lived under a tyrant. And they also knew that a lot of people liked it that way. I think we tend to forget that before we had a revolution, we had a king and to many people, that was okay. If he hadn’t tried to tax us to death, we’d probably STILL have a king.

          Liked by 1 person

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