Won't Somebody PLEASE Think of the Children?!

Dave over at the very cool Blogography writes about a complaint he received from a parent of a fourteen-year-old boy:

Apparently, her 14-year-old son was searching for cartoons on the internet, stumbled across the “DaveToons” here on Blogography, saw a cartoon image of me being Janet Jackson at the SuperBowl, then became “traumatized.” To this I can only reply: what the f#@&?!?

He expresses disbelief over the fact that a fourteen-year-old could be traumatized over a cartoon rendition of a five second “wardrobe malfunction” (and I share his disbelief. How sheltered is this fourteen-year-old?), but he decides to look into getting a parental rating for his website. And his disbelief mounts:

then I took a look at the RSACi web site to figure out exactly how I am supposed to rate my site, and am even more dumbfounded. I mean, take a look at what your options are! How am I supposed to choose? I’m thinking I would go with this: more follows.

I have an ICRA (the acronym stands for Internet Content Rating Association) label on my websites as follows:

  • Nudity and sexual material: 0-1. Passionate kissing is all that’s likely to appear on this website (and, really, that’s not very likely), although my characters may cautiously skirt the issue of sexuality in their conversations. They’re teenagers, after all. They even have one implied nude scene.
  • Violence: 1. Fantasy characters get hurt and die in my stories. Sealwife is a story about child abuse and sexual abuse, but the whole story will not appear on this website.
  • Language: 1. Mild expletives. I say darn. Possibly damn and hell, and occasionally bullshit, but nothing worse. The f-word does not appear at all on this website, but “f—-” does (only in relation to Microsoft).
  • Other Topics: 1. Creepy scenes may disturb young children. I wouldn’t recommend my site to kids under 10. Can’t think they’d be very interested.

This label is to cover me in the event somebody feels that my website is inappropriate for young children. It doesn’t seem to have an impact on my web traffic, and I take heart in the fact that I’ve received no e-mails of the sort Dave has received. If people complain, it’s about my political views, not inappropriate content.

I’ve had cause to think about how my blog might be viewed by the outside world in general and children and young adults in particular. After all, I’m now in my third year of struggle to get a young adult novel published, and I think I have a decent shot of it (maybe). If and when this happens, I intend use this website as much as possible to promote my book and my other writing. The ultimate goal is to make this domain the official home page of the Rosemary and Time series. The blog entires on the writing process, the sample scenes, et cetera, should be excellent promotional material.

My material is for older children and young adults. I’m not afraid to try and creep people out with scary scenes. So, you have been warned. But there is the not-so-small matter of the hundreds of other posts I’ve written that have had nothing to do with writing. Thoughts on urban affairs and politics and even religion. I’ve tried to be rational and forthright and to back up everything that I’ve said, but I’ve said some controversial things in the past. I’ve criticized the Bush Administration, and I’ve said that homosexuality, if it was even a sin, was no greater a sin than adultery.

That’s got to rattle a few chains. Perhaps especially some parents of children arriving at this site expecting to read more about the adventures of Rosemary and Peter, but instead coming upon criticism of religious fundimentalist thinking. They might be a little upset and may complain.

A part of me hopes that I make some waves. I could use the publicity, and frankly I’m okay if I rub certain people the wrong way. As Terry Pratchet once said, he regretted that his publishers edited his manuscript to remove such words as “damn”. They were just trying to make sure his books weren’t banned an Alabama, but on reflection he felt that being banned in Alabama was actually quite a lofty goal to strive for.

No offence to average Alabamans who don’t fit the stereotype.

But Erin has received hate mail because of her religious poetry, and it wears her down. I doubt that I would enjoy similar treatment. So, in some ways, I’m censoring myself. You know, there’s a lot of things I could say, including about whether or not homosexuality is a sin, but I pull back and wonder if talking about such subjects is appropriate on the same website that will hopefully promote a series of young adult novels?

In the end, I think the best policy is just to be honest and careful. When I say “careful”, I mean that we should blog as though we were speaking to our friends in a public restaurant. That carries with it a responsibility to be polite and tactful, for you never know who might be listening. But, at the same time, you have to be honest. This is me I’m talking about on this website. This is my life, these are my opinions, and I know how to defend those opinions. You want to disagree with me and say so in a tactful manner, that’s your perogative, but I won’t completely hide away what I think. The folks who think that Bush is God’s appointed president and that homosexuality is an abomination akin to pedophelia will just have to get over it.

I will make one comment about the fourteen-year-old traumatized by Dave’s cartoon. Just how sheltered is this boy if the mother thinks he can’t handle the glimpse of a woman’s breast on television or (presumably) art nudes in galleries, much less a cartooned rendition on a blogger’s website? And I’d hazard a guess that this same fourteen-year-old has witnessed at least a couple hundred murders on television, not to mention heavy sports violence, war, car crashes, etc.

The American media’s fear of sex and sexuality, and their acceptance of brutal violence strikes me as being completely the wrong way around. There are far less shameful and wrong things about seeing a naked body or thinking about sex than there are about shooting someone. Here, I think the European and the Canadian television viewers have a much better attitude.

Weirdest. Spam. Ever.

Anybody else receive this unsolicited e-mail recently?

From: NeatEye #########@aol.com
To: Recipient List Not Shown
Subject: Gouranga

Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ….
That which brings the highest happiness!!

To which I ask: “just what the heck is gouranga?”

From the Urban Dictionary:

1: gouranga

A word that appears on moterway bridges in north west UK. It’s only purpose to annoy drivers who are left with a nagging curiosity for the rest of their day until the next day when it ceases to become important ever again.

2: gouranga

A feeling of happiness stemming from running down an entire column of Hare Krishnas in your car, as first invented in GTA1.

Splat! splat! splat! splat! splat! splat! splat! GOURANGA!

> 3: gouranga

A name of the 15th century mystic and theologian, Sri Krishna Caitanya, the founder the Gaudiya Vaishnava religion, which later gave birth to the Hare Krishnas.

The followers of Caitanya consider him to be an avatar of Krishna who came to this world to bless everyone with the highest form of happiness.

The names of Caitanya and his companions are often connected with “kirtan” (singing together) and “japa” (solitary meditation on a mantra).

shri gouraanga nityaananda shri advaitachandra |
gadaadhaara shriivaasaadi goura-bhakta-vrinda ||

6: gouranga

is a word that is used by Hare Crishna monks meaning be happy!

10: Gouranga

A word written in large letters on motorway bridges in NW England to alert ambulance drivers to the sites of traffic accidents caused by drivers being distracted by the true meaning of the word painted on the bridge.

Various bridges in the Manchester region have been gouranga’d

My sympathies to the drivers in northwest England.

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