A couple of weeks ago, the publishing world was buzzing about the news that several major retailers are now taking a serious look at the erotica titles they have been selling. Some of these books have crossed over into disturbing territory by adding violence to the erotic mix:
The move came after news last week that these retailers, knowingly or not, were selling and profiting from self-published e-books featuring rape, incest, and bestiality. (Retailers collect a percentage of the sales on self-published books.)
According to news reports, titles such as “Taking my drunk daughter,” had been on sale on Amazon and search functions would automatically suggest phrases such as “daddy daughter impregnation.”
As part of their review process, Amazon and BN.com have removed some offensive titles from their inventory, and Kobo has (at least for now) stopped distributing self-published titles altogether.
Since my own self-published book The Twible is being released tomorrow, I've been following these developments with considerable interest, and wondering where the line is drawn. Since The Twible is based on the Holy Bible, you'd think my book would have no problem at all with offensive content, right?
But here's the bottom line: The Bible would never pass these retailers' litmus tests for objectionable content.
Consider the following:
- The "Daddy-daughter impregnation" horror from the self-published novel discussed above is also right there in the Good Book. Lot's daughters basically rape him in Genesis 19:36 ("Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father"). Maybe this is just "an eye for an eye" from a few verses earlier, when Lot served up those exact same daughters to be gang raped by an angry mob (Gen. 19:8). What goes around tends to come around.
- That story also features incest. The Bible has so many tales of incest, in fact, that I included a whole sidebar on the "top five incestuous relationships in Genesis" -- and there was actually competition about which ones I would leave off the list. Incest is usually condemned in the Bible, like when King David's son Amnon sleeps with his half-sister Tamar, but not always. If you interpret the Bible literally, for example, and believe that Adam and Eve were the first people on the earth, their son Cain's mate had to be his own dear sister, because she would have been almost the only game in town at that point. The other option would be Eve, Cain’s mom, but let’s not even go there.
- And then there's bestiality, another reason some self-published books are being banned right now. While there is bestiality in the Bible, it's a definite no-no, so that's a relief for my book's chances of being sold by fine book retailers. The Twible overview of Leviticus 20 says, "More people and animals you can’t have sex with. Death penalty for you and the cow. Though why it’s the cow’s fault we really can’t say."
- And finally, another red flag has been violence against women. Um, yeah. There might be a bit of that in the Bible. Well, okay, there's actually an insane amount of that in the Bible, the worst of which might be Judges 19, when a Levite orders his wife to be gang raped to save his own sorry skin (hmm, shades of Lot?). Then he handily Cuisinarts her into twelve pieces, one bloody chunk for each tribe of Israel. Be thankful that this story did not gain visual expression as one of the 51 Twible cartoons.
So there you have it. The Bible is smutty enough that it would not pass muster. Let's hope that the children's version pictured above has been heavily edited.