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I am disgusted by the way users have been asking disgusting questions about slavery. Something that should not be considered as a means or concept of any monstrous ideas as it has been explored here!

People were tortured, mutilated, arrested, separated from their families, when they didn't die trying to get their freedom.

It's the same thing as me coming up and saying: "What do you think of the idea of torturing, mutilating or voluntarily curtailing someone's freedom?", or : "What do you think about voluntarily executing Jews?".

Why does this platform accept questions about slavery?

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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure why you would believe that there are subjects which cannot be explored in a work of fiction. For example, the Brazilian telenovela Escrava Isaura was a smash hit worldwide. And it is entirely about slavery. You do realize that this site is about making up fictional worlds, right? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 11, 2023 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP this area is for fictitious things?? I took a look at the questions and they seemed strange to say the least LOL. If so I apologize, but it's the name's fault, I didn't know that area, and suddenly I see a question in an absurd concept within "world building" ... XD rly.. sorry for all ! Angry Muppet sorry !! $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2023 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ One purpose of fiction, especially fantasy and science fiction, is to explore the human condition. Decrying oppression in any form using academic language is not nearly as powerful as a story that shows the impact of that oppression on the lives of specific individuals that the writer has imbued with energy. It is often said, that, a million dead is a statistic, a single death is a tragedy. The writer must embrace that tragedy in order to guide the reader to understand the ramifications of that tragedy. It is not enough to merely look away. $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2023 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ There have been some prior meta discussions about different kinds of potentially controversial question topics, which have yielded some helpful points; see answers to worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/2697/627, worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4982/627, and some of the linked discussions. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Feb 12, 2023 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you Mods for migrating! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 12, 2023 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ As a side note in bold: you are allowed to disagree or to discuss what goes on here, but you are supposed to do so in a civil manner and following the Code of conduct. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Feb 12, 2023 at 5:38

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Even though the earlier form of this question was more a way to vent, it remains a valid concern people will have. So against my better judgement, I'll attempt to give you an answer.

To quantify these kind of questions, ask this alternative one:

Why do writers who write detective stories research how to commit the perfect crime?

The answer should mostly be simple. Not because they want to actually commit the crime, but they want to construct a believable and engaging narrative about it. And for that they need research.

If I wanted to reach the current youth, who have no first or even second hand experience with the topic, with a story displaying how truly horrible slavery was, then setting it in a realistic and relatable modern time could be a powerful way to do so. But for that I would need to know what is realistic and what isn't. And this site is exactly the place to ask these questions.

True, slavery is disgusting. However, not talking about it doesn't make it go away. And including it in a realistic story isn't necessarily a bad thing. Have you seen the movie django unchained for example? Or any historic movie containing slavery? Do you think these movies are pro-slavery? Do you think the writers did not do any research similar to the questions asked on this site?

Talking about something isn't inherently bad. It's your intentions and actions behind it that could make it so. And if we find someone on this site asking questions for nefarious means, their questions will be shut down swiftly.

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    $\begingroup$ Just as a heads-up, I've moved both the question, comments and answer to meta! Not sure whether that notifies you or not, in case you want to edit the first sentence. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Feb 12, 2023 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ If you look at the comments under the question, you will see that the original poster did not know that Worldbuilding SE is about building fictional worlds. They believed that the question which raised their ire was introducing slavery in the real Europe. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 12, 2023 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP Once I was discussing with a friend the latest instance of a celebrity doing something controversial. Neither me nor my friend liked it much. A third friend overheard our conversation and chose to fly into a rage, about how we shouldn't even think about this celebrity, how they were evil, and how they should be cast from our minds altogether. Whether people are mistaken as OP was, or not, some people do have these opinions. So they do deserve an answer. If only to show we are not savage madmen, but have valid reasons for what we talk about. $\endgroup$
    – Plutian
    Feb 12, 2023 at 1:18
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Slavery is bad.

So is fascism. Now imagine Avatar: the Last Airbender, His Dark Materials or The Hunger Games without any references to fascism at all because we don't want to talk about it. Suddenly those stories are not enjoyable anymore.

War is bad. Imagine Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or God of War... Without a war in any of them.

Evil is bad. Imagine any DC or Marvel comic book or movie without villains doing evil things.

So... Slavery is bad. But writing fiction with it is not the same as glorifying it.

Also if we absolutely don't talk about it, we actually make the world a worse place. Slavery still exists in the modern world and just last decade politicians even tried to make it legal in my home country. Given your username I think you're from there too. Remember? Worker rights reform, a company would be allowed to pay an employee with food and quarters, but they would also be able to charge the "employee" for working materials so the worker would fall ever more in debt with the conpany and could be sued if they didn't keep working for basically no pay? Remember how about four years ago federal police was barred by law from investigating farms accused of enslaving people? We need people to write about slavdry so that it can be brought to light and dennounced.

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905.

And even when we remember the past we occasionally repeat it. But if we refuse to remember it because it offends any one or more people, then we not only will repeat it.

We'll deserve it.

If you search for "slavery museums in the U.S." on Google you'll get a list of 27 museums throughout the U.S. There are undoubtedly more. Why do we have museums dedicated in whole or in part to slavery when it's "disgusting?"

Because people who voluntarily choose to ignore humanity's distasteful past are only helping to set up humanity to find it morally acceptable again.

  • There might be a few people who use this Stack to ask questions that I or others find disgusting for their personal pleasure. I find that more disgusting than the question itself, but the nature of freedom is that people can think about, and therefore write about, anything they want. It's one of those necessary evils of having freedom (just as you have the freedom to complain about it).

  • But the vast majority of people who use this Stack to ask questions that I or others find disgusting are doing it because they feel exactly the same way that you do. They feel it's disgusting. But rather than hoping humanity can magically (and I mean that, "magically") never experience slavery again by sticking our communal heads in the sand, they want to actively explore why it's disgusting, so that people remember the past and never do it again.

People who want to ignore slavery or other forms of moral evil are not doing the world a favor

It's absolutely true that I don't want to hear about slavery. Or racism. Or gender issues.... I'm not at all in favor of slavery, nor do I believe I'm racist or harmful toward humanity's complex sex and gender characteristics. It's simply that I like my happy and comfortable life and those discussions make me unhappy and uncomfortable.

But I'd give my life defending the right of people to present me with the opportunity to look unhappily and uncomfortably at the morals of my world.

Because there will always be evil people who want slavery, and racism, and every other form of moral decay. They want to feel superior and to control others. And the only way to stop them is to help as many people as possible to remember that it's disgusting.

Your choice, my friend, is to not read the questions. My choice, my friend, is to remember the past. And that's why I vote to allow questions about slavery.

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Fantasy and Realism in Art


Worldbuilding is, first and foremost, a creative and artistic Q&A forum. Our purpose, specifically, is to help solve any problem a worldbuilder might come across in their creative endeavour (of course, within the scope of SE and forum rules, customs, etc). Our querents are often writers, but we also have game developers, hobbyists, composers and others whose projects involve understanding and manipulating complex concepts ranging from orbital mechanics to sophont social behaviours to cosmology and theology.


We accept queries about slavery, just as we do about torture, reproduction, abortion, imprisonment, dark magic, and a whole host of other creepy concepts, simply because these are legitimate areas of study for the worldbuilder. Not every story will involve such things, and not every world will need them. For example, Tolkien got along with his story pretty well without dwelling on the minute aspects of a torturer's or a slave's every day schedule or condition of living.


That said, some stories do dwell on the conditions and lives of slaves. Off hand, stories such as Spartacus or Gladiator do. Movie franchises like Saw require knowledge of torture (instruments and their uses and effects), dark psychology and so forth. Other stories explore various aspects of the human condition, and often the bad ones at that, in order to speak out against a contemporaneous or historical evil. In order to do this well, the author needs to know what actually went on, how life carried on, and the nature of the phenomenon being written about.


As an art form in and of itself, and as an adjunct art that informs fictional writing, movie production or game development, worldbuilding needs to be free to explore these concepts so that the artists who produce fictional worlds can understand how these concepts come to be and how they function within society. It's our job to help the worldbuilder solve those kinds of issues, taking into consideration and tailoring our responses to the specifics of the worlds, cultures, histories, and biologies of their particular settings.

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I think it's a fair worldbuilding question because quite a lot of worlds may well have some form of slavery. It has been common throughout human history and still exists today. Slavery is repugnant, but then, so is genocide, and we get questions about wiping out a species (especially ourselves) all the time.

I do think there's a fair question in "where do we draw the line" and mostly I think that's just tackled by whatever the community decides is too much, at that moment. I can't imagine how we would come up with a firm rule on this. e.g., the slavery question hit some modest success in getting answers and upvotes but this question on facial hair being attractive across genders got slammed pretty hard, presumably because the community was more offended by potentially upsetting the gender discussion apple cart than they were by pricing modern slavery.

I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with either question. Terry Pratchett actually handled the facial hair question rather precisely in his Discworld series (where male and female dwarves were visually identical enough that the dwarves themselves couldn't tell gender on sight), so it's a valid worldbuilding question, just one the community apparently found to be...in poor taste. Perhaps gender discussions are simply more on our collective mind these days, in terms of offensiveness, while slavery is something that's very distant to most of us and thus, easier to talk about.

I think you'll find that distasteful questions tend to be skipped over, and what the community considers to be distasteful is probably an interesting area of study for some psychology major trying to come up with an idea for a new paper.

We could come up with a list of topics that we, as a community, simply agree not to talk about, with slavery perhaps being one of them, but I dislike that idea, and where it could end up going. I favor "downvote and move on" if it's something you find distasteful. If the wider community agrees, then the question will end up buried pretty fast.

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A different answer to the question:

Why do we tell stories in the first place? The best stories are told because they reveal something that is true about the Human Experience. I don't mean True in the sense that you can test for it in a Laboratory, but are none-the-less true in a practical sense.

The Mono-Myth, which is derived from stories from across cultures set out a blueprint for what it means to be a Good Man (I say man, because the Hero's journey for Men, in a classical story sense, is different to the story for Women) - that is, to go out into the dark places in the world, with a group of friends, to confront evil and deal with it, and return the riches to your village.

Therefore, in order to tell a story about going out and confronting Evil...

We must have an Evil to confront.

Now, there are many types of Evil - and as you rightly point out, Slavery was a very evil practice. Therefore in a story about the individual that confronts Evil, having a system of Slavery in place in the world is entirely appropriate.

Slavery can be used as a literary tool to evoke the very disgust that you have outlined against a particular faction in a story or to drive home the brutalist and capricious nature of the setting that you want.

One of my personal favourite fictional universes - Warhammer 40K could have the Human faction summed up as an Authoritarian Theocratic Xenophobic Genocidal Dictatorship - and the fact that despite that, they are the 'good guys' in 40K (not really, long running meme) - is used to show just how bad everyone else is.

Finally, Slavery can be used to give a period-correct feel. If we are going an Alternate history story - where perhaps the British Empire never banned Slavery or that the South had won the American Civil War - we might have questions about how an aspect of Slavery might play out with different contexts.

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