Our Prerogative: an editorial fireside chat

Hello, Trump’s America. Hello, Brexitville.  It has been awhile since I have blown the cobwebs off this site and Chris and I have blown the cobwebs off this publication. It has been awhile since I addressed you all. A lot has changed for me, for IYR, for the genre fiction scene and for the world at large. Much of it makes it seem like we return to a world on the brink of collapsing in on itself. Much of it makes it seem like we shouldn’t have bothered and in the future, we shouldn’t bother again.

Imperial Youth Review has been committed to showing various perspectives and various aesthetics, some of which even I disagree with. And this might make me seem like a hypocrite. Those who know me know that I am a proud SJW. I have started identifying as a feminist, I believe in Quiltbag rights. I believe that black lives matter and that this country would be impoverished by the absence of any of the faiths and races that make up its melting pot. I believe that humans are humans and those that think otherwise should be engaged. The W in SJW matters. And this social climate, my darlings, is nothing short of war.

So, how does this work when SJWs are the ones calling people on using racial slurs, sending dick pics, harassing women, stalking and generally being dicks? How does this work when the left is center stage for needing safe spaces and trigger warnings and for pulling Shakespeare off curriculums? How does this work when the left wants to deprive bakers of the right to bake wedding cakes for whoever they choose and to boycott companies that show bias against gay and trans people?

The answer lies in a commitment to progress. I do not believe that progress means scrubbing schools clean of Shakespeare, pulling books off shelves or shutting down businesses that one disapproves of. But I DO believe that a person should be tough enough to deal with the consequences of their speech. If, for example, your hatred of black people is so strong and so ingrained in your character that it cannot be compromised, then you should be prepared to endure the dissatisfaction of people who don’t want a racist working for them or black customers who don’t want a racist making their meal. If you get to turn away gay couples from having a wedding cake made, then they should get to say “I don’t buy cakes from bigots.”

As a writer and an editor, I believe in the glory and the power of speech. I believe it matters what you say. If speech has no consequences or purpose for you, then shut your fucking trap. Why speak? Why write? If it doesn’t matter, then why bother? I believe we should make statements and choose the work of authors we can stand behind and that authors should be ready to throw down in defense of their shit. So, I think that picking words that are worth it and understanding that being told you’re a fucking idiot or a racist isn’t censorship.

In The Giantsized Sex Issue, I publish never before seen scans of work by William Burroughs. Burroughs’ work was the subject of an obscenity trial. A federal judge had to decide that this work should be available at all. Someone with the authority to do so actively tried to suppress and negate speech at a level at which it mattered and prevent the public from having access to this book. Not a publisher. Not some guy on the internet who thought he was offensive. A JUDGE. The federal government. This magazine features work by a gay junkie who the federal government didn’t want you to read. That suppression, that was censorship, and censorship is bullshit. We had to change our cover because magazine distributors in Europe didn’t want a magazine with nudity on the shelves at the stores they supplied. All you racist, sexist motherfuckers who think that “no, I won’t go out with you” is suppressing your free speech might want to consider that there is still actual damn censorship in the world and pick their battles.  The Right and the Left agree that free speech matters, though both sides have failed to walk the walk on that. (Tipper Gore’s auto da fe against gangster rap for example.)

Imperial Youth Review is committed to the glory of speech and to  badass work by badasses. We are committed to bringing it to you curated but uncensored. This blog has always been uncensored and I hope to keep making it so as we ask the Imperial Youth Review, Bizarro and Weird Fiction community to contribute their thoughts and ideas. I will censor none of them but you’d best be prepared to be a badass. Being a badass means standing up for what you say and getting that it has consequences. Burroughs knew that he might be facing an obscenity trial and he did it, I knew our distributor might not want a cover with nudity on it but I tried anyway and sat across a table from the couple who were going to be the cover models and explained to them that we would lose our chance to spread people’s words if we didn’t play ball, shitty though the decision had to be.

The Giantsized Sex Issue is here. It features work by pornographic ventriloquists, burlesque queens, William fucking Burroughs, polyamorists, weirdos, people’s moms, Buddhist monks, perverts, performance artists and babygirl poetesses and, save for the cover (which Adam has done an awesome job of replacing), it is uncensored, as this blog shall be, even if your opinions or work aren’t in line with mine.

Glory to the Scarlet Woman, glory to the future and Nazi punks fuck off.

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