Clean Reader app eradicates “dirty bits” in fiction


Photo: Matt Cornock, flickr.

The Clean Reader app, developed by an ultra-religious Christian couple from Idaho, claims to sanitize written works by removing ‘offensive’ swears and other ‘vulgar’ language.

“Our goal is to remove any words that may make people uncomfortable or cause unnecessary tingling in the pants,” said one of the project’s co-founders.

The idea for the software happened when their eldest child came home in distress after reading Judy Blume’s classic coming-of-age novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

“Our daughter didn’t like the swear words and we were uncomfortable trying to explain how girls used to have to wear sanitary belts when they got their periods. It’s so much easier to just throw a box of Always at her now. We don’t need those sorts of discussions in our home. Nobody does”.

A backlash from the publishing community has caused the founders of Clean Reader to remove all titles from their catalogue for the time being. Authors claim that the app infringes on their copyrights by either eliminating offensive words completely or substituting less innocuous ones that greatly alter the context of their stories. Examples range from replacing ‘damn’ with ‘darn’ to switching out ‘blowjob’ with ‘pee-pee kissing’.

“Even though we’ve pulled these titles from our software—for now—we strongly feel that there is an untapped market for the Clean Reader and we plan to include medical texts in our next update. We think it will be big in Christian universities and in the Middle East. There’s no need to have ugly words like ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’ when ‘groin’ and ‘bottom’ can be used instead, respectively”.

The written word however, is only the beginning of Clean Reader’s attempt to sanitize mass media. “Ultimately, we want to extend into TV and music. We really want to clean up rap music so that everyone can enjoy it without being offended. FUN is not spelled with four letters.”

Jennifer Bell

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