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A Sensitive Issue

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Many people have different opinions on censoring manuscripts

Many people have different opinions on censoring manuscripts

Lindsey Bowers

Lindsey Bowers

Many people have different opinions on censoring manuscripts

Maggie Keane, Sentry Staff Reporter

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The United States is filled with diversity, so much so that it is staggering. Our home is filled with people of different races, sexual orientations, backgrounds, cultures and socioeconomic status’, all of which strengthen our nation. It is important to have consideration for people unlike oneself when speaking, writing or using any other form of communication. With the growth of this nation and the continuous growth of education in the US, political correctness is key to understanding and tolerating one another and keeping peace in the country. This includes writing. Many authors have begun hiring “sensitivity readers” to make absolutely sure their work does not upset or wrongly represent anyone. Sensitivity readers help to keep the integrity of the writing while eliminating or fixing parts that may cause unnecessary controversy.

A sensitivity reader may be paid anywhere from $200-650 to read a manuscript and evaluate its content for bias or negative language. They help to make sure that the work does not contain any cultural appropriation or harmful language towards one group. However, hiring a sensitivity reader does not guarantee that the work will not stir up any controversy. A sensitivity reader is hired separately from an editor. While an editor may review the whole piece for clarity, flow, plot and grammar, a sensitive reader specifically works to fact check and reduce any harmful language or implications towards minority groups.

More often than not, the readers are part of the minority group that the author has highlighted. If an author is writing about a character from a different background than his/her own, then a sensitivity reader would be necessary in order to make sure that the character is rightfully represented. Sensitivity readers are called upon most for when writers write about something outside of their own experience. Sensitivity readers tend to be used when topics of sexuality, disability, race and religion are discussed. But, they can be used for a myriad of topics that may seem harmful. They must keep in mind that one person does not represent a whole community. Therefore, they focus on the entirety of the minority and look for any evidence of offensive and inconsiderate language or plot features.

Residents of the United States are fortunate to have easy access to literature and education. Since almost everyone has this accessibility, it is essential that they are not offended on account of their race, gender, sexuality or any other identifier when reading fiction. As the country continues to move towards equality and acceptance of all, written work must do the same.This begins with proper representation of all people. Many students learn from what they read making any inaccurate or offensive language damaging towards any minority. While fiction is “fake,” that does not give it the right to be wrongful towards one group of people. It is definitely a smart idea for writers to consider hiring a sensitivity reader if they are writing about a topic that they cannot relate to specifically. Sensitivity readers ensure correct representation and minimize the risk of offense or receiving negative backlash. Sensitivity readers ensure that the work is well, sensitive, to all readers. This is necessary if we want to move towards peace and unity in the United States.

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A Sensitive Issue