What a world this has become.
I've just poked through a thread on these here message boards wherein the opening poster wondered aloud why one of King's recent novels contained so much profanity, disturbing themes and blasphemy. Wouldn't it be possible, the poster asked, to place the equivalent of a warning on the cover (the OP had received an e-version of King's novel) that would announce that these sorts of things were to found inside. Going one better, the OP asked if a sanitized version of King's novel was available, wherein all of these things were edited out.
So far the response of the message board's community has been predictably balanced; kudos to all for not blowing their stacks after having their lids flipped.
I guess we all realize that there are folks who love their "litterachure" sanitized: No use of the term 'nigger' in Huckleberry Finn; no reference to slavery in 'Roots'; no reference to war in 'War and Peace' and so on and so on. More often than not, these same sorts of folks believe an author like J.D. Salinger was out to corrupt the morals of American youth, and therefore it made perfect sense that his books ought to be banned in all public schools; that Salman Rushdie ought to be put to death for offending Allah and Islam by mentioning an inconvenient fact of history; that Alexander Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, ought to have been shot for questioning the excesses and insanity of authoritarianism (and even today, in Putin's Russia, journalists that attempt to expose the excesses and corruption of government are considered fair game for execution by Putin's ultra-nationalist allies). Just like me, folks who see merit in sanitization are entitled to their opinions. Just like me, they can exercise their choice not to purchase (and read) things that are likely to upset their sensibilities. Unlike me, however, they *believe* they're absolutely and unquestionably justified in dictating to others what that range of choice ought to be.
King himself has addressed this sort of issue a long time ago in an essay titled, 'Book-Banners: Adventure in Censorship is Stranger Than Fiction'. It makes worthwhile reading, and I'm certain it's posted somewhere around here. Whether you agree with any of his observations or not is likely a moot point. But his closing comment pretty much sums up what the real situation is. It reads: " If there's one American belief I hold above all others, it's that those who would set themselves up in judgment on matters of what is "right" and what is "best" should be given no rest; that they should have to defend their behavior most stringently. No book, record, or film should be banned without a full airing of the issues. As a nation, we've been through too many fights to preserve our rights of free thought to let them go just because some prude with a highlighter doesn't approve of them."
Freedom of thought is inextricably linked to the freedom of expression. You cannot have one without the other. True, you may not always agree with what others think and feel, and sometimes the opinions of others will prove themselves downright inane, if not offensive. But herein is the challenge of being a thinking human being and a responsible citizen. We're all attempting to make the wisest choices possible when it comes to moral, ethical and legal issues, and there's no offense in making a suggestion that's entirely based on one's own faith. But perhaps instead of putting the cart before the horse, one should attempt to exercise better judgement by *thinking* before acting.
Looking forward to reading the responses of others!