Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wanna read grown-up books, but grown-up words upset you? There's now a [freaking] app for that.
Halleluiah, Brothers and Sisters!! I bring you glad tidings! Jared and Kirsten Maughan of Twin Falls, Idaho are gonna’ save you from having to read any of those awful dirty words depraved writers put in their goshdarned books.

Mr. and Mrs. Maughan have come up with Clean Reader, a free app that you can use to cleanse every single naughty word from your e-books. “Read books, not profanity,” is their slogan.

There are three Clean Reader settings: clean, which “only blocks major swear words from displaying”; cleaner and squeaky clean, which “will
block the most profanity from a book including some hurtful racial terms.”

Ron Charles pointed out in The Washington Post, 3/6/15, that, “At that extreme setting, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is bleached to ‘One Shade of Ecru’.”

The Guardian Photo
And, of course, for you truly perverted on-your-way-to-heck readers, there’s also a fourth setting: off. This will allow you to see all the filth there is to see – just as the author wrote it.

With this app, some words are simply blanked out. Others are replaced in the author’s text with “more acceptable” ones. Anatomically, breast is automatically changed to “chest,” penis to “groin” and vagina to “bottom.” Bitch is “witch.” Jesus Christ becomes “geez.” And that most-used one (which made its earliest written appearance in 1503 as “fukkit,” according to the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary) becomes “freak.” Thus, “freak,” “freaks,” “freaking” but not “freaker.” No, he who freaks is not a freaker but an “idiot” in Clean Reader Land. There’s more but you get the idea.

Joanne Harris, author of CHOCOLAT, led the charge of outraged authors, explaining that the filter was, in her view, “censorship, not by the state, but by a religious minority,” that it “misunderstand[s] the nature of fiction writing” and gives a “toxic message” that “indoctrinate[s] children into thinking body parts are bad, and sex is wicked.” (Alison Flood, The Guardian, 3/27/15)

The Society of Authors said it was concerned “that the app contradicts two aspects of the author’s moral rights, namely the right of integrity and the right of false attribution,” with the former “the right of an author to object to ‘derogatory treatment of a work,’ and the latter ‘the right not to have a work false attributed to you as an author’.”

Huffington Post Photo
Novelist Chuck Wendig tweeted: “Personally I think #CleanReader is a bunch of HOT JEEPERS MCGEE and a bucket of MONKEY FLOPPING CUPCAKE BATTER oh gosh they got to Twitter.”

As a result of all the uproar, Mr. and Mrs. Maughan have stopped selling any books on their websites and plan unspecified changes to the app.

Until then, I think we should all try our hands at using their preferred “nice” words when we write. Why, I’m working on a scene myself, using Maughanspeak:

I backed her against a wall in the foyer of the first building we came to. She smiled and slowly raised her hands above her head. One of her creamy white chests popped out of her low-cut sweater.

What the freak? I thought. Did she do that on purpose? Does the witch want to have love right here?

She smiled and my groin rose up, hard as stone, as I moved toward her.

“Freak me, you idiot,” she cooed. “Freak my bottom right now.”

Jeez, she was hot. And the love was great, maybe the best I ever had for only a hundred freaking bucks.

See? Not a single naughty word! I’m sure the Maughans and their friends will be pleased!

But, let’s give Ian Rankin the last word:

“People seem equivocal about the Clean Reader app, but I’ve just installed Dirty Reader and it has done wonders for the Miss Marple books.” (The Telegraph, 3/24/15)


  1. I think this app is way better than Clean Reader:

  2. At first I thought it an April Fool's joke. Alas no. Still, it may get more books read by more people and that can't be a bad thing... Think of all the subversive ideas one can squeeze in between 'dirty' words.