Do we have a right to be offended?

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I just read a post by writer I really respect. He was commenting on another writer whom I’d never heard of and had some controversy swirling around him. I have to admit I had no idea what the article was talking about until I followed the links provided at the end.

The topic was sexism and an off-handed remark the author made about his books and writing. Apparently, many people were extremely offended. And a few got on their righteous indignation horses and rode them all around the neighborhood screaming at the top of their lungs about the utter gall of this author. Hmm…

In my opinion what the accused author said wasn’t offensive. It may have been a bit of a cop out, or maybe he was kidding or maybe he just didn’t want to answer the question but it didn’t denigrate women. If anything, the author seemed to be putting himself down for being somewhat clueless about women.

Yet, surprisingly a shit storm happened anyway. And now this author may be branded as a sexist. Sad. Really sad. Because based on the description of his books it sounds like he is one helluva writer.

I don’t think the Bill of Rights covers that

While the Bill of Rights ensures certain personal liberties the right to be offended and then to punish said offender does not exist within its confines. In fact, one of our guaranteed rights and liberties in this country is free speech. We in fact, have the right to say whatever we want in public. If it offends people so be it. If people agree with it, so be it. If people don’t agree with it, so be it. But we still have the right to say what we want.

However, what we don’t have the right to do in this country is to slander people. There are actually laws against it. You can actually be sued for doing it or attempting to do it. You could lose a lot – maybe everything – if you were taken to court for it and lost.

Still that doesn’t seem to stop some people from trying to stir up a shit storm and turn the masses against said offender. It doesn’t stop people from starting whisper campaigns and attempting to bully people out of existence. It doesn’t stop anyone from trying to destroy a person. God bless the Internet.

And in the end, this type of incident only serves to scare other writers and public figures from saying anything or writing anything of substance. Because they fear retribution. Because somebody might get offended and try to ruin them.

Small things are never the problem

There are many many things in this world that are truly oppressive, vile, disgusting and downright evil. And I believe as human beings we have the right and the duty to rail against them and if possible stop them. And oppression of women is on that list. There are cultures in this world that:

  • Treat women as chattel
  • Buy and sell them for sexual gratification
  • Mutilate their bodies
  • Stone them for having been raped
  • Kill them because it somehow restores honor
  • Beat or otherwise abuse them for fun

These things are wrong. Very wrong. Yes, we should try to stop them. Yes, we should try to help women in these situations. Yes, this needs to change. However, this author did none of these things. He simply said he was clueless about women.

And while there are many good examples of women being objectified in literature, 50 Shades comes to mind (a book written by a woman and read apparently widely by women) this author’s books (based on their descriptions) don’t seem to qualify. But apparently an absence of women now qualifies as offensive and God help the author who doesn’t include them.

Sorry but this doesn’t make sense to me. And in the reverse would we even be talking about this? For example, all of the thousands of books that explore and discuss and illustrate the trials and tribulations that women go through, are they sexist too because there is a sparsity of male characters? Or the male characters are bad, shallow, stereotypical? I haven’t heard one peep about such a notion. In fact, in modern literature, film and other entertainment venues male bashing, shaming and joking is not only okay, it’s expected.

The problem with this sort of situation (aside from the obvious) is that it’s not really the problem. Yes, there is oppression of women but this isn’t an example of it. And maybe it’s easier to fixate on this very tiny incident than it is to actually go after blatant, obvious real acts of oppression. Because it’s safer. And maybe you don’t think you’ll suffer retribution from it. Or maybe something else. And the problem this type of situation creates is that it doesn’t solve the problem you’re railing about, in fact, it ends up marginalizing it. It ends up having the opposite effect that you are shooting for, it ends up making the real problem disappear and killing the wrong horse, so to speak.

It’s like when a couple has a huge fight over the fact that the garbage wasn’t emptied. Now is the fight really about the garbage? Probably not, it’s probably really about the fact that one partner feels the other partner doesn’t listen to them, doesn’t respect them or care about their feelings. But that’s just too big a bite to chew. That’s too dangerous a topic to broach, so instead they have a knock down drag out about garbage for cripes sake.

Be the change you want to see

There is so much in this world that should be changed, could be improved or even brought to some ideal state. But bitching and moaning, complaining and attacking others does not bring about change. It only brings about fear. It only lathers up others into a feeding frenzy. And no one ever feels good afterwards. We all just feel crappy and then more crappy about it.

Beating up somebody about a negative real or imagined rarely changes anything. If you want change, real change, then you have make that change. If you see something that is wrong then change it. If we as authors want to change the perception of women in literature then we have to change that perception (and in fact, thousands of women authors are doing this everyday). As the saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world.

All the time, energy and effort that goes into attacking somebody for being a certain way or not being a certain way could be used to change the perception or even reality of a situation – and too there is less hate mail.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

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Anne R Allen kicks some politically correct butt and other good posts this week

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Actually, I’m a little late on the uptake here. Writing book blues has got me a bit down but it goes with the territory I guess.

But I did manage to get in some reading:

Artistic Freedom vs. Crowdsourcing, Censorship, and the Dunning-Kruger Effect
Anne writes a takes no prisoners post on the whiners, censor-crazed do-gooders who feel compelled to tell creatives what they can and cannot do and more. Excellent read.

100 Words for Facial Expressions
Mark Nicol gives us a nice, tied up in a bow, cheat sheet that writers can print out and keep near by for those moments when you can’t think of the darn word for a facial expression.

Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors
Variety gives us the scoop on who the writing power gods are in Hollywood. Not a lot of surprises but still, good to know.

Lessons from a great book jacket designer
Very helpful and insightful post on book cover design, which cuts through all the crap and tricks and gives good solid advice.

Writer Chick

Gratitude – Personl Liberty

lib•er•ty
–noun, plural -ties.
1.
freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
2.
freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
3.
freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

One thing that most men have in common is the desire to be free. Whether he lives in the western world, the third world or, behind a government-erected wall, man’s most beloved freedom is that of personal liberty.

Perhaps that is why America has been a most prominent and envied country since her beginnings. Our founding fathers were forward thinkers who believed that personal liberty was something that every man, woman and child was entitled to and in fact was divinely endowed to every person on Earth.

This week I am profoundly grateful for my personal liberties. For my freedom. For the fact that I had the good fortune to be born in the United States and not in another country. That in that respect that fate has treated me well.

It is easy as an American to take for granted what so many men have given their lives to provide. And what men and women still fight to provide. When we turn on a switch, we have lights, when want to go some where we have transportation and freedom of movement, when we have an opinion we voice it. This is the way of life in America and ‘normal’ for us. We rarely, I think, stop to consider that it is not normal for millions of others. We rarely consider that loudly voicing our opinion in another country might result in a prison sentence or even death. We rarely marvel at the fact that if we are hungry we can simply go to a store or a local eatery and satisfy our hunger.

We walk down the street without fear of marauding bandits, rabid and predatory animals or being thrown in a gulag in which no one will every find us.

We are too busy and too stressed to notice that we live in the greatest country in the world. We are too angry about the issue of the moment to say a small prayer of gratitude for the glory of daily life in America.

And I am as guilty as anyone else for taking it for granted. For not thinking of it often. For not contemplating how very rare and unusual our country is. How very much I have to be grateful for just by virtue of the fact that I am an American.
And so I say now – thank you – I am grateful.

What are you grateful for this week?

WC

Copyright 2011

Liberty and the 10 Cannots

Perhaps more than ever, we have liberty and freedom on our minds. Between the economy, current events and burgeoning political movements it’s hard to know what to believe and what direction to go in. Although, the following strikes my fancy. It certainly is food for thought.

The Ten Cannots by William John Henry Boetcker (1873 – 1962)

An outspoken political conservative, Rev. Boetcker is perhaps best remembered for his authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots. Originally published in 1916, it is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln. The error apparently stems from a leaflet printed in 1942 by a conservative political organization called the Committee for Constitutional Government. The leaflet bore the title “Lincoln on Limitations” and contained some genuine Lincoln quotations on one side and the “Ten Cannots” on the other, with the attributions switched. The mistake of crediting Lincoln for having been the source of “The Ten Cannots” has been repeated many times since, most notably by Ronald Reagan in a speech he gave at the 1992 Republican convention in Houston.

There are several minor variants of the pamphlet in circulation, but the most commonly-accepted version appears below:

* You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Boetcker also spoke of the “Seven National Crimes”:

* I don’t think.
* I don’t know.
* I don’t care.
* I am too busy.
* I leave well enough alone.
* I have no time to read and find out.
* I am not interested.

I don’t know about  you, but I think this is something to really think about.


WC

Does Anyone Want a Solution?

There is a lot of stuff happening in this country and the world today. I suppose that is always the case, although in the last several months it seems worst than it has been in the past. And honestly, much of what is happening I find personally scary and alarming. The deficit, the apparent disinterest on the part of our leaders in what the average citizen is concerned about, states going bankrupt, no legislative body showing any real concern about approving a budget much less making budget cuts, giving unelected officials the right to rule and regulate our personal lives, making the EPA part of a shadow government and in the future will tax us for exhaling, politician’s accosting private citizen’s and being defended for their actions, dissention being targeted as hate speech and terrorism, government taking over entire industries, the blame game left and right…..

In my opinion anyone who isn’t alarmed by such actions and much more is either delusional or has been living in a cave for quite a while.

But I for one, would really like to stop the blame game, the partisan rhetoric, and the gotcha games and pose a very simple question: Does anyone really want a solution? Seriously, let’s consider this shall we? In private life, most people when they encounter problems whether large or small tend to want to solve the problem. They may not always succeed but there is certainly an effort to find solutions to those things that work against us. Whether they are created by another person, a circumstance or a natural disaster. For example, last year we had horrible fires at the end of the summer in my community. In fact, I posted many pictures of the fires, some of which were literally down the block from me. I’m proud to say that my community, the firefighters, the police and so forth focused on the problem and did everything in their power to solve it. It did take a while and not everything tried work but I can truthfully say that a solution was everyone’s focus. And in the end, solutions were found, used and the problem was handled.

So, when it comes to larger problems, national problems, international problems, etc. why then is not a solution the focus? Why is the American public by and large satisfied to just let our leaders lay blame. It’s so and so’s fault because he did this and now this is why I can’t do that? A person elected to be a leader is supposed to be a leader and a leader is supposed to be the guy or gal who knows how to solve problems, right? Whether it is the president of the United States or the local city council member. But rather than solving problems PR damage control is the focus. Anecdotes about conversations with children are offered rather than finding solutions, nice speeches or not so nice speeches filled with excuses and finger pointing.

And all the while, while our leaders fail to solve existing problems they legislate more rules, regulations and attempts at taking over parts of our personal lives. Laws now exist that say American citizens must buy certain products or be fined or imprisoned. The government now must decide what we may eat, breathe, think, say and do. Those are not solutions those are impositions upon personal freedoms.

And then the causes….don’t get me started on those either. When was the last time you saw any cause that was for something rather than against something? In my mind being for something is much more likely to bring it about than being against something is likely to stop it.

I admit that I am a bit of a political junkie and I find the field interesting, fascinating and somewhat nauseating – and I love debate because I think it is debate that brings about different views, and can in reality if done sincerely can bring about real change. However, most political debate is about hating the side you are not on. About smearing and belittling people and degrading them in public forums. And I’m not talking about satire I’m talking about venom, hatred and vitriole.

I wonder if some of the most popular people to attack were on ‘the other side’ if they would be so hated. If Bill Clinton had been a Republican and gotten sex in the Oval Office while he was supposed to be doing the people’s business would he have remained in office? If Sarah Palin were a Democrat, would the ladies on the View be fawning over her left and right? If Al Gore had been a conservative would anyone have gone to see An Inconvenient Truth? If George Bush had been a liberal would his bailouts, prescription medicine initiative, and budget and deficit fall-out been hailed by the media? If Maureen Dowd spewed her venom about liberals would she even have a job? If Chris Matthews loved Chris Christie and got a tingle down his leg every time he spoke, would MSNBC issue his pinkslip?

The point I guess I am trying to make is maybe if we stepped back and viewed any leader whether public or private on the merits of what they were actually saying and doing from the standpoint of truly wanting to add to the solution to the given problem, rather than adding to turmoil would things change?

Personally, I think the time has come for Americans (at least) to stop and think. Forget what ‘side’ people are on and really evaluate if that person is trying to solve anything (particularly those things for which they are responsible for solving) just trying to get you worked up into a lather about something so you won’t notice that they are solving nothing.

No one would accept that kind of behavior in their private lives. Bosses who seek to bring the company down and fire good and effective workers are hated not revered. Co-workers who goldbrick and get paid for doing nothing and resented. Businesses that treat their customers with resentment and condescension don’t long remain in business, pastors and priests who exploit members of their congregations soon find their churches empty, criminals who steal, harm and injure other citizens are thrown in jail. Why do those who supposedly lead get a pass?

At the very least, it may be something to think about.

WC

Want to help cut spending in Washington? Here’s your chance

That’s right folks, you too can have your voice heard. Go to the YOUCUT website and have your say.

How it works:

YouCut – a first-of-its-kind project – is designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact. Vote on this page today for your priorities and together we can begin to change Washington’s culture of spending into a culture of savings.

All of us want to be able to do something and this is about as easy as it gets. Vote on the cuts you want and make your own suggestions while you’re at it. You aren’t even required to register as a ‘member’ before you can vote. So quit your bitching about the budget – speak up and vote.

If we have any hopes of ever changing how things are done in Washington by our leaders, then we have participate too. Try it, you may like it.

Writer Chick

For those of you who missed it

Since the media is fond of under-estimating the numbers of interested and concerned citizens about the direction of the country… I thought I’d share some pics sent to me by a friend. These pictures are of the recent tax day rally in D.C., our nation’s capital for those of you who don’t know. Of course you wouldn’t have seen these in the MSM because, well after all…showing the real numbers is a little frightening even to them. Or perhaps especially to them.

As you can see it was several more than a few thousand. What do you think – are they all angry white guys? I think not. Nothing wrong with political dissention, right? I mean our Constitution guarantees it. Of course, according to some anyone dissenting from the right must be some sorta nut. Well otay then, count me in.

WC

Oh yeah, and one interesting note – unlike those who attended the inauguration of our current president – the Tea Party activists didn’t leave a ton of trash for the city to clean up. In fact, they left no trash whatsoever. Unless of course you include the politicians and they’re working on that one too.
😉

Hey Kids, Let’s Have a Sing-Along!!!

Okay, I’d like to say now I’ve seen everything but something tells me that the hits will just keep on coming. How ironic that it is strictly forbidden to sing songs in school that directly praise God (God forbid) and there are plenty who either don’t want the Pledge of Allegiance said at all (or at least to remove the ‘one nation under God’ part – so wrong don’t you know) but yet it’s A-okay for kids to sing songs praising our new leader Bama-Hero. Don’t believe me? Check out the video.

Nice, eh? And since the vid quality isn’t so good and in case you missed some of the lyrics, here they are:

Song 1

Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

Yes!
Mmm, mmm, mm
Barack Hussein Obama

Song 2

Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say “hooray!”

Hooray, Mr. President! You’re number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country’s economy number one again!

Hooray Mr. President, we’re really proud of you!
And we stand for all Americans under the great Red, White, and Blue!

So continue —- Mr. President we know you’ll do the trick
So here’s a hearty hip-hooray —-

Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!

And before any of you out there say, ‘oh it’s not so bad, or it’s kind of sweet’ imagine what you’d be saying if the songs were about George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan and then hold your tongue.

Aside from this being completely weird and somewhat reminiscent of a previous leader who liked school kids to sing about him and wear brown shirts, it’s an obvious ploy to indoctrinate kids before they even really know how to think. Talk about trying to develop a voting bloc early – it’s just so wrong.

Fox News got this feedback from the school system and if you follow the link, you can read the whole story.

The commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Education ordered a review on Friday following the posting of a YouTube video depicting school children singing the praises of President Obama.

In a statement to FOXNews.com, Education Department spokeswoman Beth Auerswald said Commissioner Lucille Davy has directed the school’s superintendent to review the matter. Auerswald said Davy wants to ensure that students can celebrate Black History Month without “inappropriate partisan politics in the classroom.”

“In addition, it is our understanding the teacher in question retired at the end of the last school year,” the statement continued.

Auerswald declined to indicate exactly what the review would entail or possible ramifications.

As critics of the video claimed it amounted to “indoctrination,” the tension at B. Bernice Young Elementary School escalated to such a degree Thursday that the school was placed temporarily on lockdown after its principal received death threats over a YouTube video that showed nearly 20 children being taught songs lauding the president, though back-to-school night events continuing as planned Thursday night at the school.

Boy when that dude said change, he wasn’t kidding, was he?

WC

Something to Think About

Regardless of your political alligiance, I’d urge you to listen to this speech given by Ronald Regan in 1961. I found it rather chilling that it is so applicable today.

And, so pretty good quotes from President Regan as well:

“You and I can do a great deal… If you don’t, this bill will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until one day… we will awake to find that we have socialism.” – Ronald Reagan, U.S. President 1981-1989

“The one thing our Founding Fathers could not foresee…was a nation governed by professional politicians who had a vested interest in getting reelected.” – Ronald Reagan, U.S. President 1981-1989

“We do not face large deficits because American families are undertaxed; we face those deficits because the federal government overspends.” – Ronald Reagan, U.S. President 1981-1989

“Many Americans today, just as they did two hundred years ago, feel burdened, stifled, and sometimes even oppressed by government that has grown too large, too bureaucratic, too wasteful, too unresponsive, too uncaring about people and their problems.”
– Ronald Reagan, U.S. President 1981-1989