Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Because everyone has one (an opinion and an asshole, yadda yadda)

I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion. I don't need to have an opinion just to have an opinion.

I do have an opinion, dammit. (Dammit for me not being able to tell the difference, not dammit because I'm extremely het up about the topic). And it's not just in order to have an opinion. It concerns free speech, and the US Government's definition of child pornography. Which does *not* include written material unless that written material is an advertisement for a film or photos containing images of children or people purported to be children, engaged in sexual acts, or filmed in a sexual manner. It definitely does not include written fiction.

Title 18 Section 2256

The story in question, which is not posted anywhere that I could link to, or I would, for fairness, is "The Memories of Monks" by Jenny Crighton. Badly written, yes - the characterization is questionable for Spike, and awful for Dawn. (Matter of opinion.) Illegal by US law, no. (Matter of fact.) Illegal by some state laws, possibly. (Too lazy to look it up at the moment.)

The quality of the writing does not decide whether something deserves to be protected under free speech laws, people. It doesn't. Neither does the subject of the writing, when it doesn't describe a real person, or otherwise fall under current laws of child endangerment. (I.e., reading the story aloud to a child might very well be illegal. Posting it on an age-restricted mailing list is not -- or at least it would be very difficult to prove, and *everything* on the list that was NC-17 would fall into that category.)

When you accuse someone of writing something *illegal*, instead of simply writing about an illegal act, (which would include all stories that discuss rape, murder and theft, as well as any fiction written about Angel having sex with Buffy on her 17th birthday, since the age of consent in California is 18), you're playing dangerously loose with the truth.


2002-02-15 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

What you said!


2002-02-15 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, you may or may not find this amusing (I find it kind of terrifying myself) but the new child pornography law in Canada does *just* what you are talking about, determines whether a piece of written fiction is considered child pornography (and therefore illegal) on the basis of whether it does or does not have artistic merit.
The Canadian Supreme Court Definition of Child Pornography -- specifically Section 7.

And yes, currently there is a case in the courts where this new law is being tested.

Anyway, this really isn't meant to be a comment on the debate over the Dawn/Spike story -- I have no involvment in that at all -- just a note for the enjoyment and edification of non-Canadians.


2002-02-15 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

D'oh. I meant Section 6, to wit:

(6) Where the accused is charged with an offence under subsection (2), (3), or (4), the court shall find the accused not guilty if the representation or written material that is alleged to constitute child pornography has artistic merit or an educational, scientific or medical purpose.


2002-02-15 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yeah. You're right, i do find it scary. I think Tham posted on something similar recently, and it freaked me out then, too. The "Am I someday going to be tried on porn charages, and have it come down to the quality of my writing" idea.

As to the Spike/Dawn story -- I don't read hetfic, for the most part, unless it's something by a slashwriter I love, that she happens to have posted in her journal, etc. I would never have read it had I not been lj-hopping and come across a couple of blasting indictments of the author for things that I don't think it's ever fair to accuse an author of.

I've got nothing against saying bad writing is bad writing, or a particular story is creepy and disturbing and makes one wonder about the intent of the author. There are definitely slash series I feel that way about, too. But I get worried when slash authors start saying that certain things aren't okay in fiction because they're not okay in real life, whereas certain *other* things that we show in our fiction all the time (rape, murder, issues of consensuality) are. Because it opens all of us up to accusations from outside, that our stuff is just as sick and depraved and we shouldn't be allowed to post it either.


2002-02-15 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

It's still sort of wacky that people get so hysterical over Dawnfic. She's the same age as Buffy was when she met Angel, people!


2002-02-15 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Buffy was 16 when she met Angel, though she was most likely 15 when Whistler showed her to Angel.

The argument I've seen made was that Dawn is emotionally less mature than Buffy was at that age. She acts younger. I don't deny that -- but I think it's a thin line to base judgement of a shipper subgenre on. It's not the "I don't want to read this" people who bother me. I don't want to read it either. It does squick me, aside from hetfic not really floating my boat anyway. But people who say "No one should *write* this, mystify me.


2002-02-15 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

well, that *particular* Dawnfic was written in ways that exaggerated her childlike qualities, to the extent that it was clearly intended to appeal to a paedophile kink of some sort. Or possibly it was just an attempt to be shocking.

And the debate itself: in theory I agree with you, Amy. But I find it telling that Donna and Jonquil, the people who protested the fic on Nightblooms, are both mothers. My guts go with them. That story was just *wrong*


2002-02-15 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think it was going for the shocking, myself, (and succeeding only in a negative, rather childish, sense) but even if it *was* going for pedophilic tones, the fact remains that

a) the writing or posting of the story isn't illegal in the US
b) the rules of the list (well, of spikenangelfic) don't preclude that story from being posted there
c) the rules of that list are so vaguely written that people who've joined it to read fic there might do well to worry about what they're going to be getting. "Spike/Angel. Or other het. Or other slash. No flames." Arrgh -- all I can remember, and I can't find the FAQ on the site, of course.

The protests basically went along the lines of "How dare you write this, how dare you post it, what the hell were you thinking."

The author dared write it because the internet is still pretty much a free speech medium, she dared post it because it isn't against the rules, and she was thinking god only knows what.

The point is that it's a piece of fiction, and there's a difference between being offended by the content, and saying the author doesn't have a right to make the content public, or that doing so is irresonsible. To whom? Are there readers on nightblooms who will now go out and commit child sexual abuse from having read that story? Are there children reading on nightblooms who will think it's okay for an adult to have sex with them, from reading that story? Is the author doing irreparable damage to readers on an adult list who chose to read past an underage sex warning, and are now shocked and disgusted because the underage sex in question squicked them, when they wanted it to turn them on, or tug at their emotions?

I agree -- the content is disturbing, and not in a good "Made me think about my own life/morals/emotions" way. Maybe it's "wrong" in that sense. But what is being protested here? The author had every legal right to write and publish the material in the places she did. The author had every right as described by the FAQ's of the lists, to post them in that posting community.

I have no issue with people saying the story was disgusting, or badly written, or that it makes them worry about the state of the world today, that people think it's okay to be turned on by this. But... Donna's original post to spikenangelfic included the phrase: "However, when the subject matter is a clearly a CHILD, played by a CHILD ACTOR, shared in a public forum, there are laws and morals that transcend anyone's fantasy life."

I don't agree with the moral part -- because if we conflate the character with the actor in this case, we are in grave danger of saying that all characters written about in compromising situtations should be associated with the actors who play them -- and that we're all writing RPS fic. Oh, I agree that the actions in the fic are immoral, but not that writing or posting the fic was an immoral act, or that some people's morals (including my own) about real life situations, apply to fiction. They don't. They just bloody well don't.

I don't agree with the legal part because it's just plain not true. Not in this country, which is where yahoogroups is based, where I live, and where Donna lives. It is not illegal to write fiction depicting a child being abused, even if that story is written with an obvious attempt to arouse a select group of readers. It's disgusting, but it isn't illegal. And to state that it *is* illegal, is incorrect.

I'm sorry. I don't agree that the author was in some way "wrong" to make the post. I don't like the story, I don't like the writing, I don't like the subject matter -- but I'm a librarian by training and censorship on subjective moral grounds, that can't be backed up by showing what sort of damage the story would do if not censored, bites my ass like nobody's business.


2002-02-16 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)

well yeah, i agree that legally there is no case to be made, and ethically it is impossible to make any kind of rules that prevent that kind of thing from being published. But the author knew that most people on that list would not want to read that story, and on nightblooms at least she has actually led to any kind of mention of underage sex (including flashbacks) being banned from the list. I agree with you that the story was written in a childish attempt to be shocking, and succeeded only in being shocking in the sense where it's disturbing that someone who appears not to have ever thought about *any* moral issues deeply at all is prepared to wade into waters like that... my god I'm getting snobbish,and shall continue with the snobbery later and elsewhere. I think I just discovered the right-wing git inside.
I don't agree with Donna that the story broke laws. I do agree with her that the story should never have been posted to those lists when a big part of the *intent* behind it was to be offensive, however hard that charge is to prove. And I have every sympathy with her being enraged by it. Especially, I think, since there is nothing else to be done *but* to get angry-- the tightening of the rules on nightblooms was probably a bad move, not a good one. Though possibly it would have been a good idea for listowners to boot that member off for sheer thoughtlessness.


2002-02-16 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)

I agree with you that the story was written in a childish attempt to be shocking, and succeeded only in being shocking in the sense where it's disturbing that someone who appears not to have ever thought about *any* moral issues deeply at all is prepared to wade into waters like that...

Yes, I think you hit it there. That's what disturbs me about it too. That the author doesn't seem to have really thought about what it means. There really only seem to be two choices in analysing her behavior -- one is "I did this on purpose to piss people off" in which case she'd best not be surprised that it worked -- or "I was trying to be artistically shocking and *please* people at the same time" in which case she really doesn't seem to have thought about the issues she's using, or the reactions they'll provoke.

In case it seems that way, I don't think there was anything wrong with Donna and whomever else protested, saying what they did. At elast Donna's message didn't descend into flames


2002-02-16 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Argh, fucking enter button.

Donna's message didn't descend into flames, and I haven't read the others, is what I was trying to say.

I don't disagree with her right to be enraged, or her right to say she's enraged. Don't have a problem with her saying what she said. I just disagree with some of her specific points. The legality, and the idea that it was somehow dangerous or irresponsible to post the story.



2002-02-16 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)

yeah, I'm pretty much a live and let live kind of girl in terms of what is *acceptable* in fiction. Or, heh, maybe like you say I'm more of a pot and kettle kind of girl.

better late than never with a response, right?


2002-05-31 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

from Wajoma(not really anonymous, just not a member)

well..i read this fic... and thought that it wasnt sooo bad as people seem to be thinking it is.
the legality question amuses me, because where i live (australia), the legal age for consent is 16 for girls .. and there isnt a legal minimum for boys ..
add to that, that in one state in my country, homosexuality is illegal .. and you start to see that the question of legal Vs moral is an interesting one indeed.
i really felt that the aim of the 'monks' story was to question just how dawn would view sex, as she was given all her information from a group of men, and therefore wouldn't view sex from a female perspective, even tho she did have female desires, and that those desires normally start to surface before the age of 18.
I dont think that jenny is a bad writer, infact i'm loving her current story which is a S/G fic enormously.

Re: better late than never with a response, right?


2003-01-07 09:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Wanna talk about better late than never... ;-)

I don't necessarily think Jenny is a bad writer, but I think that this story was badly written. Dawn doesn't behave like a real teenager of the intelligence level that Dawn has been depicted onscreen as having, and Dawn doesn't behave like *Dawn*. Spike behaves like someone might imagine Spike behaving in this situation if the writer hadn't met Spike after Season 2. He's mentally crude, he doesn't reflect the honest liking of Dawn that Spike has shown onscreen, or the love for Buffy that would, if nothing else, make canon Spike *afraid* to do this sort of thing, because she'd hate/kill him if she found out.

I think the *idea* of Dawn having the memories of monks, yet the sexuality of a human girl, is interesting -- though I think it's also flawed, because canon!Dawn has the memories of someone who grew up with Buffy. She knows all about Buffy's Slayer history, she reads modern books and magazines. She goes to a California high school, and has friends and crushes. There's no way she could have this information, no way she could have been given the memories necessary to pass as a 21st century teenager in a cutthroat atmosphere like that, and not know about sex. The most telling thing for me about why the 'memories of monks' idea doesn't work is that the most logical source of Dawn's memories would be Buffy herself. "They made her from me," after all.

Whether it's flawed or not, interesting or not, though, doesn't really matter in terms of this story, because the execution was so... not good. I didn't believe that was Dawn, because she didn't talk or think like Dawn. I didn't believe that was Spike, because he didn't talk or think like Spike of that era. He spoke and thought like the wishful-thinking Spike of an Angel/Spike shipper who still can't really deal with chipped, Buffy-loving Spike. And that didn't work for me at all.


2002-02-15 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

This is me heartily banging my "Freedom of Speech" drum in agreement.

This question comes up *constantly* in the Smallville realm-- people go to preposterous lengths trying to prove in some way or another that Clark is actually old enough that it wouldn't be illegal. In that case, it almost seems like they are trying to ease their own guilty consciences for thinking sexual thoughts about a teenage character.

For what it's worth, I don't have a personal issue with it, for the sheer fact that I heartily doubt that simply engaging in fantasy material of this kind will inspire anyone to go out and do something illegal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am constantly astounded about how a community that should be rather open-minded is constantly attempting to censure itself. For god's sake. Realize your squicks and move on. Trying to bend the *law* to back one's self up seems a little drastic.



2002-02-17 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)

I, personally, don't like Spike/Dawn fic. I don't begrudge anyone the right to like or dislike it, however they choose. I don't have a problem with anyone *voicing* their like or dislike... but I have to wonder, if whoever read it thought of Spike/Dawn as "wrong" somehow... *why* even read it in the first place? I dunno about anyone else, but if a fic with a pairing I happen to disagree with is posted on a list, I'm not going to waste my valubale (*snort*) time reading it.


2002-02-17 11:15 am (UTC) (Link)

I can't speak for D., but I suspect she doesn't think of Spike/Dawn as necessarily wrong, under certain circumstances, or at least not as something so wrong that it's worth complaining about vs. just passing on by. It was the way it was treated in this particular story, as something that seemed *meant* to convey child abuse of some sort, and meant to turn us on at the same time, that people reacted to.

I understand the reactions to the story. I do. I just don't agree with some of the points that have been made as *part* of those reactions.

s/d fic - D replies


2002-02-17 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)


Yes, youre right. It's not illegal to write the fic. I was wrong on that argument, and I can only cite my own personal level of rage and contempt. You are also right that I dont necessarily find S/D "wrong" or morally harmful, or whatever the terminology you prefer is. In fact, someone once wrote a fic in which Dawn was manipulated by Angelus in S2 postBuffyhappiness, and was willingly (as willingly as possible, considering her age at the time. I stand by the assertion that young teenagers simply do not have the emotional and cognitive wiring necessary to make sound decisions re sex, particularly sex with an adult) engaging in sex acts with him, in order to "have something buffy doesn't." The fic was horrifying, but in no way made me want to claw the author's eyes out. In fact, I sent her positive feedback for having the skill to elicit such strong emotions without descending into badfic parody or shock-shlock (er..for hebrew impaired, shlock is trash). I have no desire to revisit the "why did you read it then?" argument re Memories, but it seems so prevelant an argument, Ill sum up: I read it cause it was on the frigging list and I try to read anything that looks interesting, even if it may be squickworthy. HOW squickworthy this one was was my issue here, obviously. Telling someone not to read your stuff if they dont agree with you is tantamount to saying "because I cant handle anyones opinion which may differ from my own". IMO, if you are indeed that emotionally immature, dont post on a fucking public list. CONT because I cant write a short ANYTHING to save my own life...

CONTINUED s/d fic - D replies


2002-02-17 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

My replies onlist, (while admittedly innacurate re the legality issues, which I shall acknowledge in my blog) were just as appropriate as anything the author chose to post. I consider lists a community, and as long as basic civility is utilized, disagreements are not what fracture a community. What fractures a community is selective, and collective silence around things which bother us on a deep level. I was bothered on a deep level, and I chose to share. I received many emails of support, and I belong to a private list where this fic was reviewed and reviled. But very few were willing to come out OPENLY and say they were disturbed. Maybe because we fear others saying " you write SLASH! THATs morally reprehensible too!" Well, I have my boundaries, they are clear, and I will not shy away from stating them loudly. And in public. I will also accept the consequences which accompany this choice, such as being disagreed with, or taken to task, in an equally public forum. Thanks for sharing your opinions in such a thoughtful and straightfoward manner, and for allowing me to do the same on your blog. I am sorry for taking up so much damn room. *g*.



Re: CONTINUED s/d fic - D replies


2002-02-17 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yeah. What you said.

When I make the "Then why did you read it" argument, I don't make it in response to someone saying a fic contained disgusting things, or was horribly written, etc. I only (I hope) make it in response to a reader saying that she was somehow harmed purely by aspects of a fic that she was warned in advance about. I.e. if your objections were merely that it was Spike/Dawn fic, I would've, so why did you read it. But those weren't your objections.

Me, I can't take character death fics. Can't, can't, can't. They depress me for hours, sometimes days, depending on how well-written they are. So if I read past that character death warning, and I have, I don't feel justified in upbraiding the author for including character death. Duh, I was told beforehand. I'd feel justified, though, in saying that the character death/rape/torture was disgusting, that the character who abused the other character would never do that. That we seem to be intended to get off on the character deaths and intense graphic, fluid-and-bone-snapping-and-testicle-removing violence, and that disturbs me greatly.

Er, yes, I am talking about a specific series, one about which it seems de rigeur these days to say "oh, *that* series" or "insertbadficauthor'sname here." I don't feel justified in bitching about the *fact* of the character death/torture/abuse, but I find the execution to be disturbing, disgusting, and just plain badly written, and I'll say it. Have said it. Don't feel strongly enough about it to bring it up when someone's not already discussing it, but I can perfectly understand people who do.

So I get what prompted your response to the story, and I don't argue with you having the right to respond that way. I disagreed with a few of the things you *said*, but not that you said 'em!


(how was LA? Posting Board Party, right?)

Re: CONTINUED s/d fic - D replies


2002-02-18 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

It kicked ass! I shall post in my blog about it when I can form full sentences again.
I'm afraid my reply to your reply took all the brain cells I have left after LA. But check
Tink's blog for a bit of review. I GOT TO FONDLE GUNN'S HEAD. (er..not THAT head). That's all
I have to say. ;}



Re: s/d fic - D replies


2002-02-17 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

CONT because I cant write a short ANYTHING to save my own life...

LOL. I'm with ya there. me neither.


2003-06-22 02:13 am (UTC) (Link)

It's been a year and a half, and don't ask how I got to this post. Just know that I love you for it. I don't have an MLS, but I've been a book geek my whole life, and working in libraries for ten years now, and over time have become fanatically, slavishly, worst-stereotype-of-the-ACLU-ishly devoted to the idea of free speech never being bad (save for the old 'fire in a crowded theater' canard). I haven't read the story in question, but I've had the kiddie-porn argument a zillion times, and I don't think at this point in the game anyone could convince me that posting the story, or writing it, or having a fantasy that is in some way similar to it, is in some way wrong. Wrong is that which hurts other people, end of fucking story, and stories do not do that. Personal issues, fine, then it's unfortunate that you read it and I sincerely hope you don't have flashbacks or need an extra year of therapy for it. But YOUR bad reaction to my thoughts do not make my thoughts de facto wrong. Further, the majority opinion that my thoughts are wrong does not mean my thoughts are indeed wrong.

Whew. Rant over. I'm friending you b/c you rock.


2003-06-23 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)

It's been a year and a half, and don't ask how I got to this post.

It's in my memories, I think? And/or still linked on the sidebar of my rpg journal. Or it's infamous throughout fandom. ;-) (I'm betting not on that one; my rants don't tend to piss enough people off to be widely remembered. I'm working on it, I'm working on it.)

over time have become fanatically, slavishly, worst-stereotype-of-the-ACLU-ishly devoted to the idea of free speech never being bad (save for the old 'fire in a crowded theater' canard)

[Nod] Same thing's cropped up in Buffy fandom recently on the subject of teens *reading* porn, and oh god, the world's going to end, and it's going to cause them emotional damage and and and and and ... and it's a bit trickier than just writing porn that features fictional teens, but I still have to go with "Bullshit, ideas cannot hurt them. How they act on those ideas, which comes from how you worried parents raise them to act, may hurt them, but information, whether in fictional or nonfictional form, is not going to." The hue, the cry, the "if you were a mother/if you were raised right/if you understood things my way you'd feel differently" hurts my brain. No, really. Really, I don't think I would.



2003-06-23 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)

I found the post linked from Kita's writing about the controversy. How I got to her is a bit more round-and-round.

And teens READING porn? They've been doing that for years!! My big concern with people of any age reading Buffy porn, and anything else with supernaturally-endowed characters, is that they don't remember that you might have to judge things a bit differently when you have such physically gifted characters. But again, that's a matter not of porn only, but of fiction in general--some people aren't smart enough to realize you can't necessarily apply what you learn there to real life, and keeping those people from porn won't make much difference. Besides, if we self-censor in an effort to protect teens, that doesn't mean they're not going to see sexy things, it just means they've going to see it elsewhere. Better, I think, that they see it in a milieu where people also discuss the ethical issues, and are knowledgeable enough to answer questions should they arise. Most places where a young person could experience sexually explicit material do not have the background information that helps one enjoy it safely.

And big word on the mom-baiting. "If you were a mom you'd understand" is incredibly insulting. It's a very convenient argument, a way to dismiss your opponent without ever having to seriously acknowledge their views. And never mind that surely there were moms out there who didn't have these sorts of issues with the story.