Eva and I set out, quite accidentally, to write a book that would be entertaining and just maybe, a bit thought-provoking. We literally had no outline, or synopsis prepared, we went chapter by chapter, she writing one character, and I writing the other.
But along the way, it became so much more than that, and we knew that at the end of the day–after the banter between the characters had been digested, and the misconceptions that each of them possessed about the other revealed (a bit satirically) along with the mutual exposure of their individual imperfections, biases and flaws, that one common theme must ring loud and clear.
The right of expression is one of the most cherished and inalienable rights a human being possesses. And no matter where you live, what language you speak, or what God you choose to worship, you have every right to defend your freedom of speech and expression, whether it comes in the form of music, art, literature or simply one’s opinion.
As we sent our manuscript off to editing, and started the process of pre-release marketing, posting the synopsis we had devised onto the social media platforms, it became abundantly clear that misconceptions of our work, and the intent of this book’s message, had caused an outburst of angry accusations, derogatory comments, and a concerted effort to boycott it across the various channels of social media as a result.
Eva and I tried our best to clarify the book’s content, and to provide assurance that this book is not the product of some vendetta against any group for any reason, but it became clear that many people have chosen to believe otherwise–and that’s fine, that’s all part of their inalienable right to an opinion. We won’t argue that for one second.
Eva’s homeland is France. And not so long ago, she was closer than most of us to one of the most horrific attacks on freedom of expression that any of us have ever witnessed in the news. I’m speaking of the massacre of twelve people in the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, the world watched as a plethora of other nations joined in supporting the rally of “Je Suis Charlie!” (I am Charlie!) and journalists all over the globe sought this platform to defend the newspaper’s right of expression. The remaining staff at Charlie Hebdo vowed that without the twelve, they would somehow continue to go to press. And they did.
And that was their inalienable right to do so.
But there was another faction, less known at the time, who created their own ‘battle cry’ of “Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie” (I am not Charlie) and denounced the newspaper’s offensive humor and content as being pornographic, racist and asserting that in the U.S., it would certainly have been labeled as hate speech. Some news media, while condemning the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, declined to televise or print the cartoons of the newspaper, invoking their right to suppress what they felt would be insulting to various sects globally.
And that was their inalienable right to do so.
The definition of censorship is “the practice of limiting access to information, ideas or books in order to prevent knowledge or freedom of thought. Banning controversial books is an example of censorship.”
However, like expression, censorship is a two-way street. At the end of the day, it rests with an individual’s right of choice.
I want to thank those 100+ people on Goodreads who took the time to 1-star, leave comments, and shelve “Black-Balled” on one of their cleverly-named bookshelves before it has even been released, and subsequently going on to social media to spread the word, because at the end of the day, that is your inalienable right to do so.
In a way, you have given me a gift–I won’t speak for Eva, but for me you have provided an opportunity to practice restraint, something that hasn’t always been one of my strong points. I’m an imperfect individual as many of you have pointed out, and I own that. No denying it, folks. I am flawed and imperfect. I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve been judgy at times, and not always receptive to criticism.
There’s no denying that, but what you gave me over the past several days after listing Black Balled on Goodreads has been the perfect opportunity to practice restraint, and for the most part, I’ve done just that.
It’s not easy. I’m not going to lie to you.
But before it’s over, I hope that I’m just a smidgeon less imperfect, and maybe a trifle more tolerant.
So, go ahead and express with 1-stars or insults against me and/or the book if that is your desire, because how can I be a hypocrite?
Your freedom of expression is every bit as important and precious to you as mine is to me.
And while I may not like what you do or say, I will defend your right to say and express it however you so choose.
Because at the end of the day, this planet is big enough for all of us.
And no matter what, Black Balled will be released as planned.