Clean Reader – A Tool For Subversion

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle about a computer application called Clean Reader that has the slogan, ‘Read the book, not the profanity’, and replaces swearing and the like with words more acceptable to the narrow of perspective.

Many authors see this as a slight on their parentage and take great offence at the idea of their text being altered by anyone except them… or their editor, or translator, or screenwriter, or television adapter, etc.

But what seems to have been missed is that the people who’d use such a tool would be very unlikely to have read their work without it; or let their children, wife or servants read it.

Instead of walling themselves into a ghetto of like-minded souls they should instead welcome the chance to get their ideas across to an otherwise inaccessible audience who might just decide for themselves that they want to read the original version.

Shakespeare survived Bowdler after all.

Elderly Man River- Stan Freberg and Daws Butler

What’s notable about Stan Freberg’s satire of petty censorship in this context is that he made it on mainstream radio and reached the largest audience possible. He didn’t swear about it to a small group of people who all had that opinion anyway.