Writers condemn UK book censorship order




Ooooh, banning books! That always works!


The front-page summary (“a UK court decision that banned publication of a memoir because it revealed that the writer’s child has autism and ADHD”) is misleading. The book wasn’t banned because it disclosed that the kid has ADHD/Asperger’s. That would raise some interesting questions about privacy. (Why would disclosing a minor’s relatively nonobvious medical condition be considered okay? Cory presumably wouldn’t be okay with it if the condition were, say, HIV, or were something like a history of being sexually abused, so what is the principled difference between that and disclosing less severe but still potentially private medical details about a minor?)

The judgment was on the ground that the kid might find and read the book and be disturbed by learning about his parent’s harrowing past, including that the parent was abused as a child, and because of the kid’s delicate psychological condition, that disturbance would be more likely. That seems a lot less defensible.


I’m going to bookmark this for the next time a Brit declares that all Americans are horrible because some redneck cop did something stupid.


Logical thing to do would be to change the names and places and dates, use pseudonyms … Delay publication until the kid is an adult? Who is trying to block the publication?


Yeah, I suspect BB’s reaction would be different if a corporation/hospital/school/whatever revealed that a specifically identifiable child had autism, ADHD, and/or Asperger’s. And while it could be suggested that disclosures by institutions are not consented to while this disclosure was consented to, I don’t think this is the reason why we would think of these privacy violations as different than this one (partly because the child is not consenting to the invasion of his privacy in the memoir, and partly because I don’t think institutional privacy breaches are cured by giving consent to them to use/disclose your information however they want).


I dunno, I can see merit on both sides here. I mean, when kids are victims of crime, or even perps, the press won’t print their names. Is this a violation of freedom of the press? Or a protection for the privacy of children?


I can’t wait to see how many Boingers endorse prior restraint!


As somebody who is autistic, I wish the UK government a hearty “FU”. Reinforcing the idea that psychological medical conditions are somehow shameful just makes things worse.


But don’t you think a person’s psychological status is their own private business?


Looking at the documents, linked below, it seems to be the kid himself. That makes so little sense, that it must be a legal formality and that the actual plaintiff must be the boy’s mother. It seems that they agreed to not talk about the father’s past in their divorce proceedings:

19 The parents were divorced in the UK in 2009. They agreed terms contained in a schedule to an order of the High Court dated 15 June 2009. Recital K provides:
“And Upon the parties agreeing to use their best endeavours to protect the child from any information concerning the past previous history of either parent which would have a detrimental effect on the child’s well-being.”



I have to add: If you don’t want prior restraint of your memoirs, don’t agree to it in your divorce proceedings.



Unless there is something I’m missing, this is basically about contract/divorce law, not censorship. The author agreed in the divorce settlement not to talk about X in public, now they want to talk about X in public.

Seems pretty straight-forward to me, it’s about a disagreement over how to interpret a prior agreement not to publish this information. At issue is whether the release of the information would breach that agreement, the mother says it would, the father says it wouldn’t.

Also, this is a pre-trial injunction, not a finding of fact.


If that were the case, then nothing would be able to be written about anyone else ever.


Why limit yourself? There are so many to choose from.


Sounds like this has nothing to do with censorship, because the author already agreed not to write such a memoir before the High Court. In which case he’s arguagably a fool to have agreed that, but he should be bound to his word.

The answer is to either re-negotiate with his estranged wife, or to wait until the child is an adult.


They are very different. Parents make decisions for their children. That’s part of being a parent. That includes who we reveal our children’s medical conditions to.

The state interferes in our parenting decisions when we cross a serious line. The only reason for this ruling is if the court is saying that revealing a mental illness (ADHD) and neurodiversity (Asperger’s) is child abuse. As someone with a mental illness who knows that my children have an increased chance of mental illness, I find that idea completely insane and insulting.

Going to the bathroom is a person’s own private business too, but I’ve talked to many of my friends about my daughter deciding to poo on the floor - if I were inclined to do so, it would make sense for me to post an internet parent’s group or on social media for advice. Children are still children.

That makes the ruling much more understandable. It is the child who is objecting (through a parent, but seriously, as I said above, parents make decisions for their kids). If the child is the one disagreeing - rather than the state - the it’s not really censorship.


If I couldn’t talk about my kids’ poop, I’d be left with nothing but javascript and commenting in #gamertaint threads.

However, my wife and I have talked about what should and should not be posted publicly. An amusing potty anecdote today will remain available until the heat-death of my kids’ adolescence. I did not have to live through something like that [digital “permanence” of public discourse], so still have some trouble internalizing the potential consequences.

Not nesc. this scenario, however.


I’m sure there will be a few pyrrhic adolescent battles fought over that kind of thing, but potty training stories sound like exactly the sort of thing that will teach someone a lesson about glass houses and stones and whatnot.


I have thought that – any kid who doesn’t have a story online opens themselves up for some other sort of taunt. Still, best not give them cop[r]ious ammunition.