The Power of Words

fahrenheit 451 graphic novel
From Tim Hamilton’s graphic novel of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

I have to say, my initial response to the Fuckwit administration’s seriously misguided attempt at Newspeak this past week by ‘forbidding’ certain words being used in reports coming from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was not one of shock and horror, but disbelief.  Really?  You’re going to go there?

My second response of course, was a tweet:

Dear GOP: I’m a writer. You’re never going to take my words away from me. Just so you know. Signed, Me

As I said with my previous post, this administration has directly targeted my parents (screwing with Medicaid/Medicare); my family (screwing with women’s health), my friends (screwing with LGBT rights, affordable healthcare, Planned Parenthood, voting, wages, the list is pretty fucking long here), and my neighbors (screwing with immigration, sanctuary cities, hatred for SF and coastal cities in general, and let us not forget their hatred of Muslims).

And of course, they’re targeting me now.  First by voting down net neutrality, and now by forbidding the use of words.  So yeah, I have a legitimate reason to get a bit cheesed off when an entire political party is trying to fuck with my life.

You’re not going to take away my words and music, hoss.  I hope you know that.  Y’all might want to be all patriotic about your gun freedoms, so fair’s fair that I get in your face about my freedoms.  Especially when they hit that close to home.

Yeah, I know, I know…they’re talking about the CDC here, but the bullshit stinks just the same.  I’ve worked in certain client-facing jobs where I was trained to avoid certain words for ‘customer comfort’ or whatever you want to call it.  Can’t use the word ‘unfortunately’ when you can’t do something for them, even if what they’re asking for is nigh on impossible for purely logical, technological, maybe even legal reasons.  You want to avoid giving the client a reason to ragequit our business agreement.  I get that.

But come on: when a science-based federal department is being told not to use the phrase ‘science-based’?  You’re making it painfully obvious that you’re fucking around with the rules, and you’re doing a piss-poor job of it.  It’s like watching your four year old toddler cheat brazenly at a game he’s playing with you,  with him fully believing you’re not paying attention.  It’s like watching a con gamer failing catastrophically at pulling a three-card monte.  It’s like…

It’s a little bit like this scene from The Dover Boys of Pimento University, come to think of it:

Seriously, though. Really?  Forbidding words?  Do you think that works in this day and age in this country?  Especially now, when you’ve got a lot of us pissed off enough that we’re starting to vote in Democrats to key places just to get you guys to fucking stop the stupid shit already?

I mean, I could just let this pass just like every other dumbass thing you’ve been doing this past year in the misguided attempt that you even understand how to run an administration, let alone a government or a country.  I could just wait and listen for the inevitable death rattle of your party until it self-combusts.  I’m less pissed off about your fuckery and more pissed off that you’re just wasting all of our goddamn time and money.  So many things could get done if you would just stop trying to kick your long-dead horse back to life.

In the meantime, we’ll be here, still making a noise.  Still being who we are.  Still looking out for each other.  Waiting for the rest of you to come to your fucking senses.

We’ll be here making that noise for as long as it’s needed.  As Happy Harry Hard-On said way back in 1990, we’ll talk hard.

“I am sick when I do look on thee.”

Hiddleston Henry V a
Tom Hiddleston as Henry V

I’ve said it before: I really don’t want to wax politic here, I really don’t.  This blog is about writing.  It’s about my love of writing, the things I’ve learned that I want to pass on.  It’s a part of my lifelong career.  I don’t want to wax politic because a) that’s not what this blog is about, b) I don’t want to bore you/chase you away, and c) I try to avoid said waxing as much as possible these days for health reasons.

So I’m just going to say this about Shakespeare in the Park’s recent interpretation of Julius Caesar:  to be honest, when Shakespeare is reworked and set in a more current context, quite often it’s bloody fantastic.  We saw a recent version of Hamlet that took place during an extremely paranoid Cold War that worked perfectly.  West Side Story (aka Romeo and Juliet, of course) is one of the best musicals ever made.  The Globe Theatre’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in present time that we saw last year was absolutely hilarious.  So a version of Julius Caesar in which JC is a very clear interpretation of Donald Trump?  Totally makes sense to me.  [And yes, it is true that the same troupe did a version some time ago using Obama, to little or no controversy.]

The issue here is not using a sitting President (a term I presently use with a bitter taste in my mouth, natch) in a play in which a major plot point is that he snuffs it.  I mean, come on — remember Primary Colors (the book and the movie), which was supposed to make Bill Clinton look like a moron?  LOLs for days from the right wing, as I recall.  I saw the movie myself — it was pretty bad quality, but its ham-fisted attempts at cleverness didn’t give me the vapors.

The issue here, at least for me, is the willingness to be so incurious, so impassive, so willing to blindly idolize a person to the point that logic flies out the window.  Or as Darrin Bell’s comic strip Candorville put it so wonderfully yesterday, “I’m starting to think you’ll say anything just to win an argument.”  The vocal backlash was boggling.  Blessedly short, but boggling.

On the plus side, it’s ridiculous situations like this that empower me even more to keep on writing.  I don’t need to fight against pointless agruments like this.  These voices may be loud and have a network megaphone, but they’re also a shrinking base.  The longer this play goes on, the less comedic it becomes.  There’s the unfortunate byproduct of all this, in which certain people will find this claptrap as God’s Truth and hurt someone, and I do sometimes fear that will escalate if this keeps up.

BUT — I refuse to lay down my quill because of it.  More to the point, I want to pick it up more often.  To keep sanity alive and kicking.

What I’m not writing


It’s probably obvious by now that I don’t write about politics in my fiction, at least not as a major plot point.  [Governmental shenanigans do make a few cameos in the Bridgetown Trilogy, but they’re not used for political intrigue.  It’s used to show how bureaucracy and adherence to rules over logic can cause a hell of a lot of headaches.]

That isn’t to say that I haven’t come close to writing a few politically-tinged stories.  The close I ever got to doing so was an short story idea I’d called “Noah and the Schoolyard,” in which the titular character witnesses a breakdown of order during recess, in which several cliques are formed and eventually start to fight each other.  It’s a too-obvious allegory of the present political weather and I found myself really not wanting to write it after maybe a few hundred words.  An interesting idea, but something I know I’d hate writing, let alone reading later on.  Lesson learned.

This also ties in with my decision during the last election cycle to disengage myself publicly from the peanut gallery.  I’d be contributing little except more white noise to whatever was already out there.  I have my opinions (and they’ll still leak out occasionally on Twitter if I’m all het up about something in particular), but for the most part I keep them offline now.

Are there any other subjects I won’t/can’t/would rather not write about?  Sure.  That’s not to say such things are beneath me, of course.  My main reason for not writing about certain subjects is simply a lack of interest in wanting to do so.  [This does not include stories or plots about gender or race — I’m interested in them, I just don’t want to write them half-assed.  I haven’t used them as plot points, but I have tried to be inclusive to some degree.]  I don’t often write what I love reading.  I’m fascinated by hard SF like Cixin Liu’s current trilogy, but I can’t write that genre to save my life so I’m not going to try.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I know my boundaries.  I’m not beholden to them, and if I so chose, I could figure out how to move beyond them.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I taught myself early on not to hold back, either.  There are a few scenes in the Trilogy where I pushed myself past my normal comfort zone, because it was needed in the story.  But I wouldn’t do it if there was no reason for it.

Now–on that note, I’ve already voted via early ballot here in San Francisco this past weekend, so all I have to do now is wait out all the damn robocalls that are flooding my answering machine and the fliers that I’m sure even the mailperson hates at this point, and let Tuesday do its thing.  I’m not sure if I have the stomach to sit through the coverage tomorrow night (or to read all the live-tweeting for that matter), but we shall see.

[And for the record, if it isn’t already obvious, I’m definitely 100% With Her.  I have some…issues with Trump, which I’d rather not go into here.]