Should There be Disclaimers on Books?

I read an article this morning that the right wing government of Hungary has ordered books with LGBT characters/themes to have disclaimers on them so that “consumers aren’t misled” about books that don’t depict traditional gender roles. The books in question are fairy tales written to encourage respecting everyone with different backgrounds.

As someone born in 1991 I’ve never once understood the animosity so many people seem to have toward groups of people different from them. I understand that my worldview isn’t going to be shared by everyone. I also understand that different areas of the world progress at different speeds. But just reading this made me think of some of the actions of Nazi Germany regarding books. Books were banned that didn’t fit their narrative. Books were burned and destroyed. That doesn’t appear to be happening now, but what’s the actual point of these disclaimers? If a consumer decides to buy a product (such as a book) they have every opportunity to decide if it matches their values. If if doesn’t, then they won’t buy it. There is no misleading going on.

I don’t see this as anything more than a shameful attempt to alienate a group of people who have done nothing wrong but try to live honestly.

5 thoughts on “Should There be Disclaimers on Books?

  1. I think the only time I would appreciate a disclaimer on a book would be if the book contained something vile or possibly triggering such as child rape, sexual assault, etc. Otherwise, I think it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not to read a particular book based on the synopsis. LGBQT is so common in fiction these days, they’d have to put disclaimers on just about everything.

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    • Agreed. And the book in question was an actual kids’ book. Not young adult or middle grade, so there was nothing alarming about it. The other thing for me is any parent who may have questions about a book for their kid can very easily scan the barcode and see what others are saying about it before buying. Labels in this case just serve no purpose.

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      • I agree. It’s up to the parents to decide what’s appropriate for their particular child in my opinion. It’s easy enough to find out about the content of a book, like you said. But anything above middle grade/teen fiction I don’t believe ‘needs’ a disclaimer. At that point I feel that a reader is probably mature enough to figure it out on their own. However, there are those times when content is very unexpected. I read a book this summer that had some pretty hard topics (child abuse/torture/neglect) that I maybe wished I’d known about. But stuff like LGBQT, eh.

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  2. I agree with this. I feel like its such a personal choice when you’re reading a book and really most books, once you read the synopsis you know what it’ll about and if you don’t enjoy it while reading, you can always leave it.

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