I admitted yesterday that the one thing my husband made me promise not to blog about was politics.
As any of you who’ve been regulars here know, I can be a bit opinionated. Stubborn. Verbose. And you don’t really want to get me started on a rant, unless you’ve got all day.
Evilkev made me promise not to blog politics because he said it was one of the quickest ways to cause controversy and stir up arguments. He’s probably right. That’s why the odd time I touch on a politically sensitive topic, it’s the odd time, not the norm. And I try to be careful here to express my opinions without intentionally offending the regulars.
But occasionally, one has to decide where they draw the line between being the face of a product and being a real person with opinions that they have a right to express.
I’ve been thinking about this, in part, because of Barry Eisler. Actually, you can add Terrenoire and JD Rhoades if we’re making a list.
What am I talking about? Authors who aren’t afraid to talk politics.
I mentioned to a few non-blogger friends that there were some authors talking politics. “Are they insane?” my friends asked.
Why? Why should it be such a risk – such a concern that my husband will tolerate me discussing oral sex and porn and all manner of things like my obsession with eating M&M’s in their colour groupings* - to discuss politics?
What automatically comes to my mind is something that happened in the country music sphere. Natalie Maines, lead singer of The Dixie Chicks, openly spoke out about the present US government and the backlash was fast and brutal. The received death threats, their music was banned by some radio stations and records were burned en masse.
The Dixie Chicks, it seems, were not entitled to freedom of speech to express their political opinions.
The extent of the backlash was even documented in Wikipedia. It was definitely not something that came up one day and blew over the next. Type in the words “Dixie Chicks political backlash” and you’ll come up with numerous articles scrutinizing their fall from grace.
It’s funny, because most people seem to fall into one of three political categories.
1. Very political, very passionate about their views.
2. Not interested in politics at all.
3. Generally indifferent, occasionally get rattled by tax increases or talk of war or something extreme, but usually pretty apathetic.
I have a number of friends who fit in the #2 definition. Their minister tells them who to vote for, or they may not even bother. They don’t watch the news. They don’t concern themselves with politics at all.
And then there are a number who do watch the news, know a bit but don’t tend to get too rattled unless it means more money out of their pocket.
I’m a #1, through and through.
I’d been living in Europe when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It was an interesting time to be there, instead of here, because I’d seen so many things happen. I’d witnessed the Berlin Wall coming down. I’d been through a bombing scare in Spain, when they actually did find several tons of explosives in the town I was in, set to blow the forthcoming Easter parades to kingdom come. And then, that August, there were the murmurings of war looming on the horizon.
And I remember being in Canada, visiting a friend, the TV on when the news broke.
We were at war.
I don’t understand how people don’t have an opinion about something like that. How they don’t care enough to find out what’s going on.
I can’t be indifferent. Any decision to go to war is one that is complex and important, and not to be taken lightly. I can’t shrug dismissively about Afghanistan – but then, I have friends over there wearing Canadian uniforms. I can’t be so dismissive of what a long-term war could mean, not when my husband was in the reserves.
But I digress. You all know I’m political. You all know I’m opinionated. And, as I recently stated on DorothyL, “anyone who has a goal to try to make me see the error of my ways off-list would have better luck trying to overthrow the US government.” (This was because I stated that I don’t read reviews, by the way. Who knew it was such a contentious topic? Okay, okay, I read The Great Russel McLean’s reviews, but don’t tell the DLers. So I make one little exception. I still prefer reading author interviews to reviews and…
Never mind. Not here to rant about reviews.
Getting back to the point, I wondered how it is that I can read blog posts by Barry, David and JD and not be offended. Not feel the need to raise the flag and lead the charge. Even if I disagree with them.**
I think it’s because, like all things, there’s a way to do things with tact and discretion that people will respect, even if they disagree with you.
And there’s a way that involves getting in someone’s face, which people won’t be so likely to respect.
These gentlemen have shown that there is nothing wrong with expressing opinion, even political opinion. Done in an intelligent, insightful manner, it can actually be a stimulus of great debate and interesting discussion. And I’m confident JD*** will catch up to the other two in that regard.
A blog will be what you make it. And the blog environment of the commenters and readers will also be what you make it. I hope everyone feels free to comment here. I mean, if Terrenoire and I can discuss acts of a sexual nature and Boy Kim can say… well, all the stuff he says, everyone should know that just about anything goes. I have been fortunate thus far. People have not abused each other in the comments. The only time someone insulted me, they did so as ‘anonymous’, which showed me just how much they believed in their post, since they weren’t willing to stand behind it. Water off a duck’s back.
Oddly enough, as I was typing this up, Bonnie, a blogger with a wicked sense of humour, posted, “I like Barry's site also! Love discussing politics!...and religion! Both no-no's in our world...”
I think it’s time to trash the taboo list.
While on the one hand, the example of The Dixie Chicks demonstrates that there can be swift and severe retribution for taking a political stand, there is one thing I really respect about them: They didn’t put money ahead of honesty. I watched them be interviewed and they said right out they doubted they’d ever sell 5 million albums again. But there was no bitterness about that.
I do believe that perhaps with a bit more tact and discretion that the consequences of stating an opinion don’t have to be so extreme. But regardless, I don’t think someone should sell their soul and become a shell simply in the hope that they’ll sell a few more albums or books.
This doesn’t mean you’ll drop by every day and find my latest political opinions. I know some of you were surprised at the nature of my post on Sunday. But there will be times when I feel political commentary is warranted, and I may dip a toe in the pool.
Although, having given you all fair warning now, this isn’t going to be any more my soap box than it is already. I blog on my life. On my writing. On things happening in the business, and things happening in the world.
In short, whatever catches my attention.
But I have a question for you. How do you feel when people from a different country comment forcefully on your politics? Does it offend you? I’ll tell you truthfully, there isn’t as much political commentary in Suspicious Circumstances as there is in my Canadian series, because I didn’t feel I had the right to stand in judgment on a country I’ve never lived in. I stuck only to small-scale local politics, not anything on a national scale.
But now you know why all the Canadian publishers that saw Echoes and Dust were scared to death. It just doesn’t keep with our nicey-nice image.
If you’re off for the long weekend, have a good one. See you next week. And if you’re around, I’ll be here too. With a mix of the humorous, bizarre and slightly irreverent.
*There is an explanation coming this weekend about why I eat so bizarrely, by the way. But I wanted to wait for Sunday to put it up.
** So it hasn’t really happened yet, but I’m sure it will…
***Not holding my breath though. But I’m playing nice.