I’ve had two recent free speech issues to consider. The first involved the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA), which I belong to on Pete’s behalf. They are having a conference in Nov. and the banquet speaker was to have been the President of the Humane Society of the United States. TRAPPED is entered in the Children’s Book category of the Cat Writers’ competition, and I had planned to attend the workshops and the awards banquet. I had looked forward to the conference, and to hearing this speaker.
CWA came under pressure not to have this speaker, even though he had been invited months ago and was already announced as the banquet speaker, because his organization was in favor of some pending spay/neuter legislation in California, where the conference will be held. This seemed to me like censorship, and I felt strongly that it would be wrong to remove this speaker from the conference program.
The CWA board disagreed, and voted to uninvite him. I have changed my plans, and will not be attending the Cat Writers’ conference.
The other issue involves Amazon.com’s sale of magazines and books that promote dog fighting and cock fighting, both of which are cruel to the animals involved and are also illegal in most states. Many animal welfare groups are urging their members not to buy from Amazon as long as they sell materials which instruct people how to harm living creatures. Amazon says this is censorship.
So where do I draw the line? While I believe people should be allowed to read whatever they want, I also believe it is wrong to promote cruelty. In this case, I am choosing not to purchase anything from Amazon as long as they continue to encourage dog and cock fighting by selling these publications.
I realize that I could be harming my own career by speaking out against the decisions of an organization, CWA, and a business, Amazon, with which I would like to maintain good relationships. However, I think it’s important to speak up for what I believe is right.
The kids who read my books often wonder what they can do to help animals or to correct an injustice. One thing that you can do at any age is to speak out. Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper or put your views on your on-line journal. Talk to your friends. Point out an injustice and explain why you think it is wrong. Words have power to instigate change.