What Are Your Thoughts On Author Responsibility - Page 2


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Thread: What Are Your Thoughts On Author Responsibility

  1. #11
    I'd say there's a slight responsibility on the part of the author. I don't want to go around glorifying and/or promoting things like racism or pedophilia or something. But that's just me. Some authors might be okay with things like that. To each their own.

    Which is why, for the most part, I say the responsibility falls on the part of the reader. It's up to the reader to make up their own mind about what they read. Just because you read something, that doesn't mean you have to agree with it or adopt the mindset it promotes.

    In the case of young/impressionable readers, the responsibility falls on the parents to educate and/or supervise their child's reading material.

    In regards to fiction, I say the only responsibility the author has is to write the most compelling stories they can. After that, the ball is in the reader's court.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fantastical View Post
    The idea is that responsibility doesn't actually get in the way of writing, my question was aimed at those that do promote ideas that are racist and or sexist. If you are one of the few who writes with responsibility then cool... but people do see it as an either or, so I am forced to ask what is more important to them to gain attention for the issue.
    But it's pretty rare for someone to actually think they themselves are sexist or racist. They think they're right. They blame others for being too sensitive, they complain about the Thought Police or PC Culture or whatever. They don't think "I'm a racist and I'm going to write something that reflects my racist ideals."

    So everyone (almost everyone?) thinks they're writing the truth, and what society needs to hear. How do we know who's right?
    Last edited by Bayview; September 3rd, 2017 at 08:47 PM.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle R View Post
    I'd say there's a slight responsibility on the part of the author. I don't want to go around glorifying and/or promoting things like racism or pedophilia or something. But that's just me. Some authors might be okay with things like that. To each their own.

    Which is why, for the most part, I say the responsibility falls on the part of the reader. It's up to the reader to make up their own mind about what they read. Just because you read something, that doesn't mean you have to agree with it or adopt the mindset it promotes.

    In the case of young/impressionable readers, the responsibility falls on the parents to educate and/or supervise their child's reading material.

    In regards to fiction, I say the only responsibility the author has is to write the most compelling stories they can. After that, the ball is in the reader's court.
    There are a number of reasons why you are wrong in thinking that the readers are responsible for an author content -

    1. They didn't write it.

    2. To use your comments on racism and pedophilia - they are not ok, never are they ok, not in real life and not in fiction. If at any time a person justifies either of those things they are in the wrong, end of. The responsibility for putting such vile things in the world does not fall to the reader but to the author.

    3. While parents should always know what their children are reading, those most affected are not the young but rather adults who will read anything. So open to new ideas they lack a filter, they lack that ability to say 'no'. These new ideas, so sweetly poisoned filter in and yet they think themselves free and clear... it was just a book, but ideas... you can't kill ideas, they are always there, every word you read, every line you hear they stay with you, they affect you and for some, not all, but enough it will change for the worse in some subtle way. So who then is responsible? The reader who trusted the author or the author for abusing that trust?

    4. Putting the responsibility for what you say on another person is passing the buck to end all passing the bucks. No one else makes you say anything, you and you alone are responsible and you can never pass on that responsibility and say that they did it to themselves. The world, she no work that way.

    5. Compelling stories have been at the heart of many an atrocity. Compelling is fine, as long as what it is selling is not wrong. No-one starts out thinking that they will drink the coolaid, but give them a compelling enough story? They just might anyway...

    6. There simply needs to be some responsibility put upon authors. They are somehow exempt from the normal calling out that other medias have. Comic books, movies, online games, they all have had at some point people calling them out for the themes, ideas, or issues that they have promoted in some form or another. So why are we supposed to just let authors have a free pass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    But it's pretty rare for someone to actually think they themselves are sexist or racist. They think they're right. They blame others for being too sensitive, they complain about the Thought Police or PC Culture or whatever. They don't think "I'm a racist and I'm going to write something that reflects my racist ideals."

    So everyone (almost everyone?) think they're writing the truth, and what society needs to hear. How do we know who's right?
    Oh I dunno... I have seen and heard plenty of people that are knowingly and openly racist and or sexist. They see no issue with either very much wish to pass on those ideas. I also think that people who claim to not know that what they are saying is racist/sexist are not THAT unaware of current political and sociological ideas on both subjects. They just ignore them or justify it to themselves enough to 'forget' that they are actually wrong. Which again brings us the question of responsibility. If we are what we read, should we not expect some form of awareness from authors? Movie makers are often called out on what they put in their movies... so are game makers. So why are authors exempt from this?

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fantastical View Post

    Oh I dunno... I have seen and heard plenty of people that are knowingly and openly racist and or sexist. They see no issue with either very much wish to pass on those ideas. I also think that people who claim to not know that what they are saying is racist/sexist are not THAT unaware of current political and sociological ideas on both subjects. They just ignore them or justify it to themselves enough to 'forget' that they are actually wrong. Which again brings us the question of responsibility. If we are what we read, should we not expect some form of awareness from authors? Movie makers are often called out on what they put in their movies... so are game makers. So why are authors exempt from this?
    Can you give an example of someone who thinks they themselves are racist? I mean, the term itself suggests being wrong about racial characteristics, and nobody thinks they're wrong. Like, If I think A, and then realize A is wrong, I'll accept that I used to be
    wrong, back when I thought A, but I don't think A anymore, so I'm not wrong.

    I'm trying to think of another way to express this. Like, if I believe and say that white people tend to be paler than black people, that's just true (as far as I currently know). So I don't think it's racist. If someone else thinks white people tend to be stupider than black people, that's just true, in that person's opinion. So while I think it's racist, that person doesn't think it is.

    When we say "racist" we're essentially saying "you hold wrong ideas about a group of people based on their race". And nobody thinks the ideas they hold are wrong. Do they? Do you have examples of people saying, "Yeah, I'm racist?"

  5. #15
    I am responsible for every word I write. All authors are. After all we did write them, didn't we? What makes this discussion a bit of a quagmire is the application of the word 'responsible'. Responsible to whom? Responsible for what? For actions taken by others? For ideas? Asking about responsibility is very vague without some idea of what we are supposed to be considered responsible for.

    The idea of 'what we put out into the world' is also far too broad to discuss reasonably. My opinion about authorial responsibility will be one thing if we are talking about an incendiary manifesto inciting violence and another completely if we are discussing a novel which contains violent and controversial scenes.

    Years ago Stephen King wrote a novel called, Rage. In that book a student assumes control of his classroom at gun-point and kills his teacher. Subsequently several incidents of students doing very similar things occurred and, in a number of cases, the perpetrators said they were influenced by King's book. Is King 'responsible' for those acts? No. Of course not. The people who committed those acts are responsible for their own actions.

    The only responsibility an author has is to their own conscience. In King's case, he asked his publisher to pull Rage from the shelves, and it has not been reprinted since.

    I'll close by asking the same question I did at the start: Who should we consider ourselves responsible to? Responsibility and accountability are very closely linked concepts. If I am responsible to someone (the government? society?) how do you propose I be held accountable?
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  6. #16
    Member Fowly's Avatar
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    I hope that this world does not get to the point where thought crimes are a thing. Or where we are not allowed to write in a certain way due to political beliefs or how someone might "feel." I see writing as an outlet of not only communication but we paint a picture of the world with words. It's truly beautiful. It would be sad if someone wanted to erase certain parts off famous paintings because the viewer might find it offensive.
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  7. #17
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    Every time I read the thread title I feel that it is the author's responsibility to edit their own work, in particular, the spelling thereof...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  8. #18
    Member Fowly's Avatar
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    I like your pic Winston xD
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  9. #19
    I believe in an authors social responsibility to not put out books that in any way condone, however subtle it may be, sexist/racist/law breaking behaviour


    Sexist and racist by who's standard though? The writer's or the audience's? And which part of the audience? The Liberals? The Conservatives? The side or group that gets the most offended?

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fantastical View Post
    There simply needs to be some responsibility put upon authors.
    I get your overall point (or what I believe is your overall point)—that authors should be held accountable in some way if they go around spreading negative messages. But I also don't view readers as gullible sheep that need to be protected from the evil, malevolent authors of the world. Most readers (from what I've seen) are opinionated, quick to challenge/question/criticize authorial decisions, and usually quite stubborn in their world-views.

    Put more simply: readers are nobody's fools.

    Are there lines of defense to protect these readers from toxic messages in writing? I'd say so. Critics, agents, publishers, reviewers . . . there's a whole gamut of people out there who spend their time commenting on the books that people are reading. And they, above all else, seem to be the quickest to point out any and all flaws—real or imagined—in the books that are being put out there.

    So, yes, I agree with your overall sentiment. But I'm also not worried. As long as the critics, the agents, the publishers and the reviewers care enough to talk about the merits and the pitfalls of specific books, the ones that require scrutiny will get scrutinized, and the ones that deserve to be flamed will get flamed.

    Literary Darwinism at work.

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