Political Writing: A Little Clarification

I want to clarify something. Maybe this is simply a way for me to think ‘out loud’, but …

As a patriotic American, I certainly recognize the legitimacy of the President-elect. Donald Trump will wind up being our next President. I will obviously show the proper respect to the office of the President so in that sense, he is ‘my President’.

But me, along with many others, can also rightfully claim that he is ‘not our President’, in the sense that, by his own words and statements in regard to his plans as President, Donald Trump does not even begin to represent our beliefs, our goals, or even seem to care about our basic rights to happiness, freedom, and human dignity.

It’s simple, perhaps, to look at my profile picture and assume that I’m simply a white cis guy who has no dog in the fight. But I may be white and I may be a guy, but I am not ‘cis’ or ‘straight’ or ‘heterosexual’ or whatever word you want to use.

So there, for those of you that might be wondering how people can say that Trump is ‘not their President’ and still be patriots who respect the republic of the United States, that’s how.

Writing Is A Bad Habit: A Place Where Everyone Is Equal (But Isn’t) a.k.a. Zootopia and Fantastic Racism

We writers often like to examine real life issues through the lens of fiction, as a way of entertaining and educating at the same time.  From religion to today’s topic, prejudice and persecution, there are few topics that can’t be examined through the lens of creative writing and other media.  To cut to the chase then, this past weekend I saw the movie Zootopia and was struck by how it approached societal issues in such a nuanced and ‘real-feeling’ fashion.  It’s something I think we writers can examine to help us approach examinations of prejudice and racism in our own works.  So, yeah, SPOILERS AHEAD!


We’ve All Signed It: Authors and the social contract

I mentioned in a previous articles, as an aside, that writers are judged by what they write and how they write it.  At the time, it was merely a small comment relevant to the topic of the article but I realize that I want to revisit that and expand upon that.  Really, it goes beyond a simple matter of image, with authors judged personally by what they write.  I believe that authors, as much as anyone else who creates things for the public consumption, have a duty to their readers and to themselves to not spread certain harmful social constructs.  That sounds all academic, but it’s really something that should be common sense.


Books have many purposes: education and entertainment are foremost among them.  One can certainly argue that authors, like any artist, should have unlimited freedom to pursue their creative goals.  While I would argue we do deserve a huge amount of said freedom, at the same time, there is such a thing as harmful speech and what, if nothing else, is a book but written speech?  The point being is that books, like speech, have the power to spread ideas and emotion, both for good and for ill.


Going forward from that idea, can we not agree then that it is important for us as the generators of this speech to be held responsible for its effects?  Certainly, good works and enlightening works should be held up and respected.  Likewise, those who write harmful or slanderous tracts need to be looked on with scorn.  It is sadly easy for fictional works to be dismissed as ‘harmless’ when instead they spread harmful notions and ideas.  Sure, it may ‘just be a book’, but all books, fictional or not, plant the seeds of thoughts and ideas.  Maybe that harmful seed is ignored, expunged from the soil of the mind like the foul thing it is, but just as often it can take root and spread, plunging the garden of thought into a dark, weed-filled, and decaying morass.


Just as with the ideal government, authors too sign, whether they wish to or not, a social contract with the public.  I think it’s important for us to realize this and keep it in mind always.  While I certainly don’t wish to suggest that there shouldn’t be books that look at the negative parts of life, they should be handled factually and appropriately.  There are things that shouldn’t be glamorized or put on a pedestal.  There are cultures and activities around even today that, when brought to life on the page, should be cast in the dark shadows that they rightfully should be.  Rape culture, sexism, racism, injustice, slavery, any violation of human rights, murder … you may not be able to avoid them coming into your works, especially realistic ones, and there is good reason to confront these things … but it’s important to avoid the temptation to sensationalize or elevate any of these things into something to be tolerated, admired, or even loved.


No matter what you write or how you write it, remember what you signed before you even began to put a word on the page.  Remember your fellow man and the involuntary impact your word can have on his or her life.  Be responsible.

Friday Night Blogging – Peace and family

So, to give my blogging more structure, there will be more semi-regular articles going up.  We’ve seen Looking at Character, now it’s time to roll out Friday Night Blogging.  FNB is going to be my off-topic blog of the week, which is to say it won’t directly deal with writing or writing analysis.  Most weeks, it will probably be a look-back at the events of the week, both in my life and in the world, and touching on the points that interest me.

Though a lot of things are going on in the world right now, I have found myself mostly fixated on the events in Ferguson.  I don’t feel as if I have to really say more than that to identify it: it has been scrutinized and watched by people outside the U.S.A. as much as we Americans.  It brought a lot of events into the public eye in a dramatic fashion, things that had been stewing both in the public consciousness and in the policies of our government for some time.  The continued ethnic and economic tensions (often so intermingled they cannot be easily separated), the rapid militarization of our citizen police force, and the common injustices that plague us have now been laid bare.  While I’m glad to see that the violence has curbed and peaceful protest reigns, I only hope that, in that return to peace, that the need to see these massive problems dealt with is not forgotten.  All too often, when the crisis is over, the general public seems content that the problem has passed and doesn’t press to see the root cause of it fixed.

Personally, the past week, well, two weeks, has seen me finally make a reconnection with my biological family.  After my father’s death during my one and only year at college, I splintered away from my family.  I won’t go into detail.  There isn’t any need to do so and, besides, at the end of the day the causes were everyone’s fault and no one’s fault.  What matters is that, for almost twenty years, I didn’t speak with my mother, my brother, or my sister at all.  I had found a new family of choice, close friends who had become more than that over the same twenty years.

Last week, I decided I was being kind of an idiot.  Oh, not that I didn’t have my reasons, but in the past months, my mother, brother and sister had all started trying to make outreaches towards me.  I was being stubborn, trying to ignore it, clinging on to old grievances.  Finally, I realized I needed to cleanse myself of it.  My mother wasn’t getting any younger, none of us were, and there was no good reason for me to act the way I was.  So, I sent my brother an email and told him I wanted to talk to him.  From there, it was only a few days before I talked to my mother.

You know, for something I thought would be so hard, it was so easy.  None of us wanted to worry about the past.  We had all come to the conclusion in the past decades that it was all just foolish things anyway, aggravated by my father’s untimely death.  So, well, I added a new old family to the people I love and love me back.  It’s great to have one family, to have two?  It’s a miraculous thing.

When I sit back and think about it, I wonder if it was meant to be.  Was it fate that broke us up, connected me with my dear friends to be there and support them through their own rough times, and then for everything to be reforged into a larger, stronger circle?  I don’t know, but I’m just glad it ended up as it did.