A new app, entitled ‘Clean Reader’, has recently been released. It goes through a book and takes out any profanity, replacing it with more family-friendly language. As a writer, I find that horrifying – I choose the words I use with great care, and I use all types of language to express my ideas. However, as frustrated as I might be by ‘Clean Reader’, Jack Hunter was absolutely infuriated. He’s a character from Bucket of Blood, and true to form, he has a few words to say on the subject, not all of them safe for work. I figured it was best just to let him speak, so Jack Hunter is today’s guest blogger….
Now, let me start by sayin’, I was born in the year of our Lord 1864, and right from the get go, my life weren’t much about book-learnin’. But my momma taught me to say straight how I feel, and when I heard about some fancy contraption that strips out the words from a book and sticks in fancy preacher language, I felt I had to step up and speak my piece. The fact of the matter is, I ain’t a man what likes to be censored. When I say fuck, I mean fuck, god damn it.
I’m sorry if that offends any of ya flashy toffs and fine prissy ladies. If talkin’ nice is the way for you, then I respect that. It’s in your character. It’s who ya are. The words ya choose are the bones of your soul, and how ya say what you gotta say tells folks all about your background and your personality. But when someone strips that out of your vocabulary, making claims that what you’re saying ain’t worthy or valid, then they’ve gone and changed your history and devalued your experience, right there.
And god damn, once you start putting words of your own choosing into the mouths of other people, you’re just reinforcin’ your own ideas, rather than learnin’ from the experience of others. You’re shuttin’ yourself off from broadening your view of the world.
And that’s a god damn fucking shame.
Language lifts us up from the animals. The god-given miracle of speech allows us to share ideas one-to-th’other; y’ain’t gonna find no dog able to tell the other yappers ’bout complex ideas like arithmetic or philosophy or even just chin waggin’ about their maffickin’ the night before. To quote Jeremiah 1:9, “Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth.’” Speech is precious, and that means all speech, with its endless variations and permutations and levels of divergency.
The very foundation of this contraption rests on the premise that someone chooses what is right and what is wrong for people to read, and I don’t know about you, but that scares the ever-lovin’ shit outta me. Who gets to pick and choose which words are worthy? Who decides how much we’re allowed to share? Who strips away the rich tapestry of jargon, and decrees which scraps are allow to remain? Ain’t no one got the right to place a hierarchy on communication. You don’t need to agree with everything you read, but I figure you got a right to see it and make up yer own god damned mind.
Besides, when someone starts to censor out words, it’s a short hop to realizing it ain’t the words they don’t like, but the ideas they carry. And god damn, as many a yellow-livered fart catcher’s discovered, you can’t suppress a good idea quite so easily, no matter how high and mighty your station.
I may not be real, I may be work of fiction, but I still have a right to express myself fully and completely, using whatever fucking words I choose. ‘Cause at the end of the day, the written word is all I got to tell ya who I am, and if you change my voice, you change me, as well.