A Blog Not Far Enough
I recently discussed which blogs were my favorites and which ones I regretted. It occurred to me that one blog needs a special mention. This particular one stands out as a topic I think about often.
In this blog, I discuss how my personal ethics hinder the kinds of stories I allow myself to write. Let’s take a second look at this topic. Some real-life people are racist, sexist, closed-minded, or overtly offensive. Most of the time, we ignore these people, but sometimes we confront or even celebrate them. For example, the obnoxious talk show host Howard Stern has a large following.
Am I afraid of offending my four blog readers with offensive material? Yes, and no. My four blog readers have stuck with me this long, and I am sure they would accept one offensive statement. However, that is not the issue. I cannot stand the idea of intentionally offending somebody, especially somebody I have never met. To me, that is the mark of a poorly raised individual.
Let’s examine my mental block logically. I write funny offensive statement X. From my perspective, there are four likely outcomes. A percentage of my readers will like X. A portion will not care, and a portion will dislike X. Lastly, a portion will take great offense. Given equal people, that means I could lose two of my four readers.
However, this is not the central issue because there is an additional argument. In real life, people are offensive. There is a perception that if we pretend this class of people does not exist, they will multiply in the shadows. As a good person, we take on confront offensive material and adequately react to it.
This is not my core issue, but we are close. I do not permit myself to write offensive material. Let me explain. Let’s invent the character Sally. As a writer, I can write Sally into every situation and make her any type of person. Of course, I avoid lots of territory because of my ethics. For example, Sally’s dialog will never contain racial slurs. Granted, I might write, “Sally made a racially insensitive comment about Steve.” That statement completely covers the topic, and the reader understands exactly what is going on. In my mind, Sally can be a racist character, but I do not need to offend my readers with offensive statements.
We are now closer to the core issue. In the actual world, offensive actions have happened, are happening, and will happen. The argument is that unless we explore offensive material, it will continue its hold on society. If I write an offensive scene, my actions will help people understand and confront offensive people.
There is another part of this issue. Sally can be offensive, understand her problems, apologize, and grow. Also, Steve can confront Sally and put her on the right path, or he can learn to ignore Sally. This kind of writing should be acceptable.
And there is my dilemma. I disagree with the concept that presenting offensive material is honorable or morally needed. Yet, as I have seen in actual life, offensive actions can lead to positive outcomes.
Here is the heart of my issue. Does not violating my ethics make me part of the problem? I want to scream, “NO! I am a good person and want to improve this world.” Yet, if we think about this logically, a tiny part of myself contributes to the pain associated with real world offenses.
I have explored this moral dilemma ever since I wrote that blog. Of course, I will not be writing offensive material. So, the point is moot. However, a small part of me thinks about being part of the problem, and a different small part of me wants to explore offensive material in my writing.
A larger part of me has reacted to the criticism my work has already generated and never wants to offend another reader. Yet, I know people will occasionally get offended no matter what I do. I also know that offensive work has a large niche in the entertainment world and has been responsible for significant positive change.
My mental argument is not going away. Yet, I like that I understand and confront my own beliefs. This is how people grow.
You’re the best -Bill
December 08, 2020
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