Thursday, April 13, 2006

Shut Up and Sing?

The news rocketed through the mystery/crime blogosphere like an electric current: Barry Eisler, author of the excellent John Rain series, has a blog. Barry being Barry, it's a fine blog, a thoughtful blog, filled with Barry's incisive dissection and analysis of current events. Since those events tend to involve hot-button issues, the discussion in the comments section has tended to be, ah, lively. And it's caused some other bloggers, such as Sandra Ruttan, to ruminate on the question of whether writers, who are after all in the business of selling a product, should be overtly political in their on-line discourse, lest they offend potential readers.

Should we just, in the words of the abominable Laura Ingraham, just "Shut Up and Sing"?

Here's my answer: If I offend anyone here, if you don't want to read my books because you don't like my politics or the way I express them....well, I'll just have to learn to live with it. As I posted in the comments section on Sandra's blog, I was a columnist before I was a novelist. I'll most likely continue to do both. In fact, the reason I picked up the pen again after a fifteen year hiatus was because I saw things going on in the world around me that red-lined my bullshit meter. Those things have increased, not decreased.

On the other hand, don't be too disapponted if you've read the columns or blog entries and pick up the books expecting them to be overtly political. That sort of thing makes for cardboard characters and lousy fiction.

I also find it strange that the only people who are being warned "oh, don't write political stuff on your blog, you'll alienate readers" all tend to lean liberal. Nobody, to my knowledge, is telling Orson Scott Card to keep quiet because his conservative views might alienate readers. Why is it only the Barbara Streisands and Dixie Chicks being told to "Shut Up and Sing", and not, say Toby Keith?

Finally, I have to say that, before I was either a columnist or novelist, I was and I remain a citizen of this country, a country that I love with a deep and abiding passion. If I see it being taken down the wrong path by charlatans, mountebanks and fools, I'm not going to just "Shut Up and Sing."

I'm going to stand up and raise hell.


Kim Harrington said...

Here, here!!

Sandra Ruttan said...

I completely agree with you. I won't repeat all I said over in the comments elsewhere, but here's something else that I found fascinating.

Yesterday's blog post just inferring that I might occasionally blog on politics was my second-highest hitter yet, since I pointed out Ms. Snark made a boo boo.

I'm surprised. I didn't make any grand statements. And from time to time I have blogged on "political" topics, like the seal hunt. It's no different.

One thing I have to say (generalizing a bit here) is that Americans are far more involved in politics than Canadians. At least, so many of the Canadians I know are apathetic and content to be so. And the Americans are far more inclined to say, "This is my country and I'm not going to stand silent and watch it go to hell."

I also figure that if one political statement turns someone off a book of mine, the books would've likely done that themselves.

I think it's wonderful that people like you and Barry are delving into the tough issues, not evading them.

And Dusty, you just wouldn't be you if you weren't calling a spade a spade. Your candor is one of the things about you I appreciate most.

David Terrenoire said...

Politics? Oh, the horror!

Last year, some asshat stuck a finger in my chest and said, "You wouldn't be able to say that if brave men hadn't picked up a rifle to fight for your rights."

I gave him the news, politely as you could imagine, that I was one of those men and when I looked around, I didn't see his ass in the line.


Oh, was I rude?

Unknown said...

Give 'em hell, Dusty.

JD Rhoades said...

David: I'm sure you were, as always, exquisitely polite.

I've never really understood this "people fought for free speech, so shut up" argument.

JD Rhoades said...

Bill said...

Give 'em hell, Dusty.

Oh, all right.

Anonymous said...

I'm logging in as anonymous, but mainly becuase I'm new to theis blog thing- I came here after one of those wild, let's-click-here-and-see-what-happens-frnzy's -- but i'll be back. I'll also look for your books at the library / bookshop FOR THE VERY REASON that you have views I may agree with. If I don't like the books I won't read them, if I do, I will. That simple.

But the chance to support someone whose views I do agree with is one I appreciate - please don't become silent, those of your side of politics need articulate spokespersons.

An Australian against war