Thursday, December 15, 2016


I never consciously thought that a literary work of mine might be censored even though I sometimes feel self conscious about what I might be unintentionally revealing about myself in the content of my writing, and even though I often have to struggle to resist censoring myself, and even though every rejection from a publisher might be considered a kind of censorship--figuratively if not legally.

So when I got a message from Facebook saying that my $20.00 boost was rejected for "sexually suggestive" content, I was shocked.   It was first accepted and $5.14 was already spent on early boosting. Another post I had boosted just the week before was accepted and completed, and it contained the very same image that was deemed to be "sexually suggestive" in the rejection. Click here to read the post with the "sexually suggestive" mage. By now, thanks in part to the first accepted boost, that image has reached more than 1000 viewers according to Facebook Insights. The art work was approved by the publisher for the cover of a forthcoming chapbook of poems. To see details of that book click Chance & Choice at Finishing Line Press or my Facebook Author Page.

The art work in question is an image of Adam and Eve with the Serpent. I would post it here,  but I want to boost this post. By the criteria used by Facebook for censoring, the Book of Genesis and other books of The Bible should be censored as well as innumerable interpretations of the Adam and Eve story and other works found in public museums and galleries.  If a respected museum wanted to use such an image to advertise, would Facebook reject it? Maybe so because it is likely an algorithm, not a discerning human being, that decides. But is it right?

Once over the initial shock, I went into defensive mode. I got on some of the writers groups I have joined, posted a summary of the situation with the image, and asked for comments and suggestions. So far I have only gotten 3 responses. Only one was encouraging: "Ask for a bump to another level of JUDGEMENT. By NO means at all should this be censored in my opinion." One said "This is fake news." I can't fathom what she meant by that. The 3rd said, "Can you change the picture for the ad and get on with it? Why waste energy on opinions, they always vary and run the spectrum." 

Relative to all the injustice in the world, my defense of this image must seem as trivial as the comment above suggests. Why should I fight this insult (only personal to me) when I have plenty to keep me busy in my fight for a clean environment, universal health care (including mental and social healthcare), universal income security, peace, etc. You can see many posts relating to these issues by clicking here. I could and maybe will remove the offending image and resubmit, but not before a fight. I have appealed. Facebook is not just any opinion; it is a very influential opinion. 

I have been looking for a  book about the interrelationship among Art, Religion, and Politics to teach  to a Senior Education class, and I think I have it in Blasphemy by S. Brent Plate which I just this morning found in a Google search and ordered. Hopefully, that book will give me a better handle on what I am getting into in adding one more cause to my social justice commitments: freedom of expression and of the press are values dear to my soul. Doesn't every writer feel that way? Apparently not. My shock is just another indication of my naivete about what it takes to be a professional writer.

This post will likely be continued when I receive the reply from my appeal.

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