Why do we need a book like "Hogg"?

Help me to understand how things would be worse if it was never printed.

You gotta give us more than that to start a debate. I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

I didn’t either, but I THINK this is what he’s on about.


Presumably also related to this ongoing Pit thread.

I’ve never read the book, and from the description given, I don’t have any particular desire to do so. If Samuel R. Delany had simply not written it, I don’t know that the world would be any worse place.

On the other hand, if someone means to suggest that the book should be banned, I would argue that a society where a book like that can be published (but no one has to read it if they don’t want to) is better than a society where someone has the power to ban books–after all, who knows what criteria will be used in the future or what books will be banned?

How would things be better if it was legal to censor books?

Censorship is one area where there is the belief that we must set no limits. Why is that?

Thanks xtisme. At first I thought the OP was probably a high-school student venting some frustration about assigned reading for English class. I have since discarded that hypothesis.

Anyway, before we get kicked over into Cafe Society, I’ll see your Hogg and raise you L’Anti-Justine, the only book that ever made me physically sick. So far. I haven’t read Hogg, though.

One must make choices in how to spend time. Is there no agreement that some things just are not worth the time?

Because censorship is a slippery slope. Who decides what should or should not be censored? Based on what criteria? To what ends? The thing is, unless someone is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read the thing then the obvious and simple solution is, don’t read it.


I paged through a book on child abuse that made me ill. That book had a purpose, to train investigators. What is the purpose of Hogg?

Yes. There is a self-limiting process: Books that nobody thinks are worth the time are not written. Therefore every book that exists is somebody’s idea of a good thing, and should therefore not be restricted.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be discerning in selecting what you’ll force yourself to read, though.

Yes ,but don’t we all agree there is no need to create new biotoxin weapons?
Could we not agree there are some things we don’t need to print?

That’s an argument against censorship: if it’s not worth the the time to read, how can it be worthwhile to censor it? Even to censor it, someone has to read or at least get a synopsis of it. To justify censorship I think most people would agree you have to show people might be harmed by the book. (Even that wouldn’t be enough to convince many people, but it’s a starting point.)

A lot of people would agree with that, but they’re being developed anyway. Some people feel there is a need for those things. And there’s not much comparison between bioweapons and books.

There are things I don’t need to read. As a result, I don’t read them.

Not to harp on you, but:

  1. No, apparently we can’t agree on that.

  2. Yes, we can agree: we don’t need to print a twenty-thousand page book consisting entirely of the repeated letter “a”. Unless of course somebody’s actually printed such a thing, in which case he doesn’t agree that it needn’t be printed.

  3. Are you seriously comparing unpleasant books with biotoxin weapons? Well, regardless, there’s still a flaw in the comparison - people make those weapons to force upon unwilling victims. Aside from in school curriculums, with books you have to dose yourself, which broadens the range of what’s acceptable.

But there’s a difference between deciding that some books are just not worth the time–everyone does that all the time, it’s normal and necessary and nothing wrong with that–and deciding to forcibly prevent other people from making their own decisions about what is or is not worth the time.

Biotoxin weapons kill people, and they don’t need permission from their victims either.

Books don’t kill anyone (unless someone publishes a book with anthrax spores incorporated in the ink, but that’s obviously not a censorship issue) and they don’t as a rule force you to read them. Whereas, again, censorship is about FORCING other people not to read what YOU don’t want to read.

I don’t see how your first sentence relates to, well, anything, so I’m just going to ignore that part. On the second, and at the danger of numerous 'dopers rolling their eyes at my obvious response (;)), here goes: That’s what the market is for, 'mano. ‘We’ all decide what needs to be printed or not printed based on whether or not ‘we’ go out and buy a given book, and we do so with our collective pocketbooks. If lots of us buy the thing, then it becomes popular and MORE are printed…even if, individually, we think it’s a bunch of scholck. Conversely, if there isn’t a very large market for a given book then very few are printed (or, possibly none at all), even if for some odd reason, a few brave soles (or complete nutters) THINK the book in question is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Myself, I’m voting on this one with my pocketbook…I won’t be buying it and have less desire to read it than I have for someone to do a root canal by starting the incision at my scrotum and without anesthetics. That said though, I’m perfectly willing to let the market decide the fate of this book, as it does the others, and would be opposed to the government deciding that it’s in our own collective best interests to ban it.


I understand the lack of agreement on what is worthwhile.
I am having trouble understanding the support for vile, disgusting, degrading works.

“I don’t think it should be banned” isn’t support. The book sounds revolting. I don’t think schools should assign it and I can understand libraries choosing not to carry it. But if people want to read it, I think they should be allowed to do that.

To be gentle (I’m trying to turn over a new leaf here), the trouble is that you don’t seem to understand that no one is supporting the book…what they are opposed to is censorship. What nearly everyone in this thread is trying to tell you is that if you don’t like a given book, the best course is not to read it.


I have no particular use for Hogg but once you let people decide what is or isn’t worthwhile, you’ve endangered a lot of material. I would rather have books like Hogg, which I can ignore, than hordes of religious prudes–don’t kid yourself, these are the people who would be on censorship comittees–decide what I can and cannot read.