Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't Burn Me in Effigy

Greetings Friends,

I just finished reading this book, another 1,000 page tome by expert yarn-spinner Ken Follett. It wasn't as good as some of his previous books (in my opinion), but I enjoyed it all the same. Particularly because getting lost in a gargantuan novel soothes me during times of great distress. I find a big, hard-cover book is more comfort food than gooey chocolate cake, mac and cheese, or turkey and stuffing. Not that I would turn my nose up at any of that, but...

I was enthralled with the time period of this book: World War I era Europe, and the inclusion of the woman's suffrage movement as one of the story lines. One of the secondary characters - I do love my secondary characters - was an American female political journalist who befriends a fictional aide to President Woodrow Wilson. She's written as intelligent and strikingly beautiful, but with one permanently closed eye; a facial deformity she was born with and refused to have surgically corrected.

Since this book is the first in a new trilogy Mr.Follett is penning, no character suffers an untimely death, nor do any of them live happily ever after; so your investment of time in reading this book will progress on to the second book, whenever it comes out. At least that's my plan of action. The female reporter and the presidential aide marry, political views and chosen professions be damned. That got me thinking about the potential danger inherent in that relationship: an American writer who operates under the auspices of the First Amendment, and a political operative who could easily get burned by his own spouse while whispering sweet nothings into her ear during an intimate encounter. There would always be the chance of that relationship ending badly.

Since I have no idea when the second book will be published, I can take the speculative liberty of assuming that, at some point, those two characters will find themselves at odds because of their occupations. As a writer, you're always walking a fine line between burying the lead or sacrificing your sources. Journalistic integrity has grown somewhat ambiguous in these modern times, and clearly does not resemble the same ideals it had in the early 20th century. There are so many new and unreliable sources of information out there, they can simultaneously overwhelm and cast doubt onto whatever you might read. If you don't go directly to "the horse's mouth" you can never be 100% sure that what you read is accurate. That's always been true to some extent, but never truer than now.

About a month ago, someone took issue with what I wrote on this blog. I deleted the entry, not because I wanted to, but because it was what I felt was the right move at the time. What I've since found out is that the individual who took issue with what I wrote, never read the entry, but took the word of another party, regarding what it said. That entry has caused me significant grief, and learning that the person never read it for themselves, simultaneously steams my broccoli, twists my knickers and burns my toast. I've effectively been burned in effigy for what I wrote, and my words were never even read by the person who ignited the flames. All I can say to that is: their loss.

When you live in a country where you can practice free speech, you will sometimes take that practice for granted. Ever since I became a full-time writer, not a day goes by when I am not thankful for the ability to write and freely express my opinions. Taking that away from me would be akin to depriving me of oxygen. I am a citizen of two countries that practice free speech; albeit one is slightly more restrictive than the other, but no one will ever show up at my door to arrest me for the blog entries I've been penning. I am free to write what I see fit, and, as I've previously stated, this blog is not a democracy. Last week, I referred to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as an "imperialist dope". Prior to the US midterm elections, I accused Canadians of schadenfreude. I've taken my shots at many public figures in my short time as a blogger, and none of those shots have boomeranged back to bite me in the ass. That's as much validation as I'll ever need. And in the case of my offensive entry of a month ago, well, you win some, you lose some. If everyone loved me, I'd need to find myself an uninhabited island to live on, and another one close by to house my ego. Honestly, much as I love my solitude, I love civilization even more. I have no desire to leave it.

This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last, that will have me burning in effigy. I'm not feeling the flames; nor will I ever. God Bless America, God Bless Canada, and God Save the Queen - who, by the way, now has her own Facebook page.


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