Gitta's Literary Escapades

Just another reader taking on (modern) classics, best-sellers, award-winners, non-fiction, and (guilty pleasure) chicklit armed with common sense, a brain and feminism.
"The oppressed are allowed to decide which of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them. (Karl Marx)"
The Great Goodreads Censorship Debacle - G.R. McGoodreader

[Update: The book was deleted on 14 Oct. 2013]

Two weeks ago (26 Sept. 2013) I made an account here at Booklikes, because Goodreads had made an announcement about their new terms of service. Reviews could not discuss the behaviour of authors. Seems reasonable when there are plenty of GR users who write reviews containing explicit language because they disagree with characters' decisions, think Twilight is better, or cannot distinguish between the author's personality and that of his or her characters.

Booklikes would be a back-up, a lifeboat in case things went awry. But moderating reviews is a slippery slope. I imported all my data. The discussion continued. More reviews on GR were deleted, which is when I deleted mine and gave the link on where to find them on my BL account.



Today (12 Oct. 2013), however, I came across the following article, Latest Censorship News: Goodreads Can't Take Criticism, Badly Behaved Social Network, and 'This Is My Last Review on Goodreads - Why I Will No Longer Post Reviews on Goodreads', by E (Elizabeth). Elizabeth pretty much summed up my feelings of what used to be (GR nostalgia). I became a member in 2011 and I made 17,035 edits as a librarian this year alone, but stopped cold turkey on 26 Sept. I have been a top reviewer, best reviewer, and most followed. Now, I have deleted all my reviews.


Elizabeth's article gave the example of V. S. Naipaul. I am unfamiliar with Naipaul's writing and his sexism, but it is something I completely agree with. Whose reading experience and evaluation of Hitler's Mein Kampf is not influenced by this man's actions? Not only is the Western world teaching the extent of his malice, many Europeans still have relatives who lived in a world where Hitler had begun implementing his ideology. Knowing about authors' racism, discrimination, and/or sexism is important. I will not support them by buying their books! I will not help them spreading their moral or ideological convictions. I'll leave that to others.


Goodreads was a place where I needn't feel ashamed that I love reading, where I love being critical of what I read. None of my reviews have been deleted, but now GRamazon has taken that feeling of community, belonging, and freedom of speech, and ruined it. They are beginning to enforce a consensus.


There is a difference between filtering explicit language and silencing and censoring. Just as the modern consumer frowns upon child labour and ethic responsibility when it comes to clothing, food, and other products, the same goes for books. Without information about author's behaviour we cannot judge whether a book matches our moral convictions.


Now there have been some great acts of rebellion on Goodreads (e.g. Manny's Hydra Principle), but GR just deletes those reviews. The thing about fighting against GRamazon censorship, however, is that it is pointless. They are allowed to delete whatever conflicts with their Terms of Service, which they are allowed to change. We are being ignored there and our acts of rebellion are stamped out.


Why put Goodreads in the position of the "oppressing class"? Why are we choosing to let them repress us? Internet politics are different from real life. It's easy to be a tyrant when you don't have to face who you are tyrannising.


The beauty of the internet, however, is that a site can die, and you can just leave. We have the power to take our business elsewhere! We do have to take this. I have packed my bags and left. I'll set up home somewhere else. I don't want to sit around and fight the inevitable downfall of GR. They didn't listen; I left. My question is, why haven't you?

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