Okay. Awards, plague, and censorship are a lot to get through. Let’s start on the easy stuff, how my work’s been going this week.
Still have very little faith in myself, but the faith of others has done a bang-up job of keeping me afloat. And, more to the point, towards a reasonable wordcount this week, for the first time in awhile. (Although it’s on a short story set in the prehistory of The Pirate’s Beard. … Still counts?) Also, I managed to finalize a comic script for something that will, hopefully, prove to be of interest when something starts happening with it. (Hopefully soon!)
Also, my novella Dangerous Jade had a reading by Kyell Gold at Furry Fiesta last night. (I know, I was surprised too. It’s okay, though, I was in the wrong country, and Kyell knows a thing or two about thylacines, if you know what I’m saying.)
So. On to the provocative headline.
The Ursa Major Awards -> http://www.ursamajorawards.org <- are currently taking nominations for 2011’s awards, and nominations close on the 29th of February. You should care, because works nominated by you, the reading public, become eligible to actually vote for shortly thereafter. I have left my blogpost on the subject until this late specifically to encourage those of you who (like myself) thrive on short deadlines (yuk) and will now find yourselves motivated to get it done right this second. (I’m doing it right this second.)
In terms of what’s eligible for the 2011 period from me, you have the option of everything on my FA gallery between ‘Mice Before The Wedding’ and the comic script for ‘Maybe’, excluding City Mouse and Wedding Mouse, because those were reposts, and in print you have the options of my story in Heat Magazine #8 – Jill’s 49th, and my story in the ‘The Fortune Teller’s Poem’ anthology – Tuesday’s Child. You can find links to both somewhere else on the page with links to all the print stuff.
Also, my webcomic, Askazi Myths –> www.askazimyths.com
In terms of what I’m nominating:
Mongrels, for dramatic short work or series. (Great comedy series, miss it so much already. ;_;)
Isolation Play, by Kyell Gold, for the novel category. (Naturally, although I did read the book in draft form so I could bitch to Kyell about it.)
And that’s it. Because I am slovenly and have not had much else that’s eligible thwack me over the head with such passion I remember it in the frantic few minutes one has to nominate stuff for the Ursas.
Now, quickly, members of the Furry Fandom, leap forth and nominate the one or two things you remember as being cool from 2011!
Okay. That’s awards. Now plague.
Everyone I know seems to be developing some form of cold. ;_; I am petrified that it is my turn next, although for the moment I seem to labour in safety from dire sniffles. *Slams vitamin C out of the common modern ritual of illness avoidance.*
So this morning I wake up, check my e-mail, and discover one in my inbox from the good folks of Smashwords — where I maintain a more or less unused account, after my not particularly successful adventure trying to sell a short story on there — about incest, underaged sex, rape and bestiality.
Oh ho-ho! A promising start to the day, we might think! But no. No, gentle reader. No.
You too may read the letter, here –> https://www.smashwords.com/press/release/27
The condensed version is, basically, that Paypal are utilizing their position as preferred payment provider of the internet to shape elements of that internet. By cracking down, weirdly specifically, on incest, underaged sex, ‘rape-for-titillation’ (that’s all rape in all fiction, viewed by the correct mind – there are many of us who find no element of any kind of rape titillating) and bestiality. (Do fuzzy animal-people who are not animals but just anthropomorphic people with a funny shape count? Many furry authors of erotica, like myself, would love to know.) And it’s not just Paypal, either. It’s every e-book press that relies on Paypal and systems like it. Amazon’s been pulling shit like this on and off, too.
(More on this via Selena Kitt, linked to from the smashwords release -> http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/19/slippery-slope-erotica-censorship/ and http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/24/slippery-slope-part-2-why-frogs-boil/ — both worth eyeballing.)
Paypal? Guys? Can we just, like, agree on a couple things here?
A couple things signed by the United Nations General Assembly on the tenth of December, 1948?
A couple of, you know, elements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Now that doesn’t say, hey, we’re all allowed to publish explicit smut wherever we like, not at all, and neither does:
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
But if you think about it. If you sit down, and you really think about it, there’s a trend there. A fairly important trend.
Now, nobody’s saying that private companies have to act one way or another way. Nobody is saying that at all. But, y’know. I’d like to know why these companies are making the choice to limit the publication of people’s works in the same cultural environment as other works based on issues of legality which have nothing to do with the expression of ideas.
It is illegal to fuck people within a given level of cosanguinity. It is illegal to fuck people under the age of majority. It is illegal to sexually assault people, it is illegal to fuck animals. It is illegal to commit murder, it is illegal to commit suicide, it is illegal to steal, it is illegal to take certain drugs, it is illegal to drive drunk.
Why the fuck is it unacceptable to write about illegal sexual acts, when it’s entirely accepted to write about every other illegal act known to man? Why, praytell, is sex different? Why is sex no longer a set of ‘information and ideas’ worthy of protection? Why is sex no longer an element of the cultural life of my community? Why is sex suddenly something which is unprotected in the context of ‘In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.’ ?
Does someone writing a story about a boy fucking his dog impact the recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others, and fail to meet the just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare of a democratic society when compared with, say, the kidnapping and confining of a woman in secret until she grows ill with neglect and malnourishment and dies? A book which was found in the possession of serial and spree killers, kidnappers, rapists, etcetera? (The Collector, by John Fowles. Great book, creepy as hell, messed up. Look it up on Wikipedia.)
It’s clearly describing illegal actions. It has clearly been found in the possession of people of a mindset to perform illegal actions. The book itself is not advocating these things, nor is the production or printing of such a book something tied to the illegality of the content involved.
People are messed up. They do things which are bad, and violent, and by the law of the land illegal. I may not like the things people do, or any of the things being hammered by this little censorship issue. (Although, as I write furry erotica, I might be getting slippery-sloped into the bestiality category.) However, I recognise that someone penning his story on how brother and sister rape each other, the dog, and the postman, is not in and of itself criminal. It’s artistic expression. And maybe I, and you, think it’s a foul thing to express. But I happily choose to read works dealing with other illegalities — murder, theft, warfare, bloodshed, prejudiced hatred. Maybe you think those are foul things to express. They can be. But as someone of sound mind, I find that these things have artistic resonance for me. Nobody else can determine that for me but me.
No one else can determine what has artistic resonance for you, but you.
No one can determine what has artistic resonance for Paypal, but Paypal.
But just because something doesn’t have artistic resonance for me doesn’t mean I’ll refuse to work with it in my professional capacity on an equal footing with other material, either.