As I'm working through my second draft of Love Runes, I'm thinking a lot about what erotica writers are allowed to write and what we aren't. In a perfect world, where the First Amendment was respected, there would be few limits on writers. Currently, if a story is marketed as literature, the writer can throw almost anything on the page and know that his/her publisher will back him/her up. Reclassify it as erotica and suddenly the PC police are knocking. The funny thing is that the police in this case are self-policing units from the erotica publishers themselves. Not that I blame them. A literary work can show a sixteen-year old high schooler engaged in sex. An erotica writer would probably do time for the exact same scene and have to register as a sexual offender. Think I'm joking? Read Prince of Tides and then read up on the Red Rose obscenity case. Since the DOJ has almost zero respect for the First Amendment, and doesn't care so much about successful cases as persecuting people who produce stuff they don't like, no sane erotica writer goes there. We are saddled with the unrealistic world of eighteen year-old virgins. While writing sex between minors could get us thrown in jail, in many states a fourteen year-old can get married (usually to some creepy old dude. who's the pedophile here?). The disconnect between reality and what we're allowed to write is bizarre.
Certainly with the Red Rose case, and in many other cases, the text is stuff I would never want to read and I think is in (to put it delicately) bad taste, but since when is taste to arbiter of what's legal? Probably since always, but it shouldn't be that way. Muzzle voices you don't like, and the next thing you know, there are no voices left. Text - stories made from imagination - should not be treated the same as proof (such as photos) that a crime has been committed and the marketing label - literature versus erotica - should not be the determining factor when First Amendment protections are granted or violated.
Not that I'm writing that kind of stuff, but the problem is that erotica publishers are getting nervous about mentioning all kinds of sexual play between consenting adults because the DOJ is waging a morality war against anything they don't like. First Amendment be damned. The DOJ want writers in virtual burkkas. And it really is too bad, because more than anything, Sam needs a spanking, an enema, and time in a corner to reflect on his behavior. Unfortunately, no matter how much he needs it, I can't write it.