13 August 2017

Last week, during one of those nights when I couldn't sleep--not unusual--I fell into a conversation online with a couple of fellow insomniacs. We've all had blogs for over a decade, and we've all noted a sharp decline in the number of posts we create each month. Granted, blogs are not the thing they used to be and most of the ones I looked forward to each day are long gone, but none of us foresaw a time when we would let the dust gather in the spots where we shared the stupid chit that tumbled through our brains.

Across the board, it's been in the last year that our posting has seriously declined. And across the board, it all boils down to politics.

We're all writers. None of us are A-listers; all of us are part of overwhelming majority of writers for whom a sales month that breaks $500 is pretty freaking good, considering our biggest chunk of income come from page reads laid out at $0.0042 per page read. No, seriously, that's what Kindle Unlimited pays, roughly.

But that's beside the point. We're writers, so we need readers. We need readers who are not ticked off at us, angry at us for having opinions, offended because we don't think the way they do. We don't have the kind of power that comes with an A-list name, and can't get away with the political commentary that people like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King manage. Those who are paying close enough attention know where we stand, but we can't afford to be pushy about it.

We all lamented that; we all live in a country where free speech is a constitutional right, yet we all understand the fundamental point that having that right doesn't protect us from the repercussions of exercising that right. And it shouldn't; you can't yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater and not expect to get your asterisk arrested when there is no fire. You can't hold a sign up outside someone's home proclaiming them to be a coke-sniffing whore without verifiable proof that they both indulge in a lot of cocaine and take money for sex. You can't stand in the center of a shopping mall with a megaphone and announce that Jerry from the customer service stand has crotch worms.

We have free speech; we have libel and slander laws. It's a necessary balance.

We also have freedom of choice, and a reader who despises the political leanings of a writer has every right to never again read, much less purchase, any product that writer offers for consumption. So we tread carefully, lest we offend a part of our base.

I have avoided the Cheeto-coated elephant in the room for over a year, lest I offend. I have mostly steered away from the political, lest I offend. I have have deliberately avoided allowing anything political on Max's official author page on Facebook, because it doesn't feel like the place for it, but I have also restrained myself on mine to the point where some days, I feel like choking on the things left unsaid.

I thought about that conversation a lot yesterday while watching news from Charlottesville unfold and reading the reactions online. Little bits of it pinged around in my brain as I tried to comprehend how, in 2017, there are still people embracing the Nazi party line, so brazen in their stance that they showed up with torches, chanting Nazi slogans, that they didn't bother covering their faces. I stewed in it as I watched video of a car plowing into a group of counter-protestors. It gutted me to learn that a woman was killed.

Her name is Heather Heyer. Her last Facebook post: If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Here's the thing about that late-night conversation that feels like a grain of kitty litter stuck to the bottom of my foot three miles into a ten mile walk: if my sales suddenly stop, if I never sell another book, we'll be just fine. Max's annual claim that his royalties go toward buying things for Toys For Tots isn't an exaggeration. His musings about spending his money on events to save the boobies isn't a joke. By design, the money I make writing generally goes toward our annual charitable contributions. It would suck, because there is some ego involved in seeing the royalty statement every month, but if I stopped selling what I write, we're not in danger of losing the house. We'll still eat. We'll still be able to afford toys and a gym membership we rarely use. The Spouse Thingy does a fine job supporting us. The only thing that would suffer would be what we contribute.

So I allowed Max his outrage on his personal FB page. I'll survive any repercussions. His furry little asterisk gives voice to my embarrassment: I don't get it. There is nothing special about being white; there is nothing cultural that needs to be rescued from the tides of change. It doesn't matter if white people continue on; give it a hundred years--presuming we don't backslide so hard we wind up with a collective national concussion--and there won't be anyone truly white. That's not losing anything; that's gaining a common culture, and it's taking steps forward.

1992 in Gainesville. Clearly, not much has changed.
The fact that there are people who believe in White Nationalism, and shout Nazi slogans while they march with tiki torches in hand?

We should all be outraged; that the KKK still exists in America is an embarrassment. That anyone feels safe enough to march with torches in hand, screaming to take back something that should never have been theirs in the first place, is morally repugnant. This shouldn't be White America, people. It's just America. The United States of America. The melting pot of the world, bastion of freedom. We should be the foremost example of equality, diversity, and freedom, yet we're stumbling backward and turning this country into a land of which most of the world will be--if they aren't already--afraid. If they're not afraid, they're mocking us.

And we deserve it.

We only need to take a look at the current administration; the people elected to govern this country are a symptom of the problem. We have at the helm a crude, ignorant, misogynistic racist, and those with greater control of Congress aren't any better. They're stuck in a rut of party-over-country and they don't have the balls to do what's necessary to correct the course that we're on.

No, this didn't start with the election of Trump; this has been going on far too long, led by right-wing fundamentalists who were incredibly open about doing everything they could to stonewall the operations of the country, all in the name of putting the Republican Party on top. We all saw it happening. It's still happening.

And yet, we elected to this nation's highest office a man who does not have the temperament, personality, or intelligence to get the job done. He was open about his misogyny, he freely mocked the disabled, he couldn't string together a coherent sentence, and yet people voted for him for no reason other than he wasn't her.

That he sits in the Oval office--when he isn't indulging in one of his far-too-often golf outings--blustering utter nonsense is tacit permission for the lowest of our low to take to the streets and demand for themselves something no one needs.

Come to grips with it.

Your need for cultural identity ends when it infringes on someone else's right to live without fear; your symbols of Confederacy are not necessary for you to live in freedom, especially when they say to an entire segment of the population: you are hated, and we will win. No, you won't. Your monuments to men who fought to hold onto slavery are little more than participation trophies. You should have grown up by now; most people get rid of those once they reach an age where logic wins over ego.

Your fear of infiltration by others is unfounded. Your worry that white people are being displaced is nonsense. Do a blood test, check your ancestry. I guarantee it's not all white. You are a smattering of everything, encased in a skin that makes life incredibly privileged right from the start.

And seriously, don't tell me on one breath that you condemn the actions of yesterday in Charlottesville, and in the next tell me you still support Trump. Trump is a symptom of the disease, and people, you don't cure the disease without treating the symptoms.


gael mueller said...

YOU ARE MY HERO!!!! We must stand up and speak truth to power in whatever form we can. And you just did!

Anonymous said...

OMG woman you are so freaking brilliant and can put your words together to make such an impact on my soul. Thank you.Thank you. Thank you.

honeybre Me said...

Yes yes and YES!!!

Conny Warren said...

Anyone who would be offended by what you say (which is what most of want to say) probably can't read anyway.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! Garrison Keillor recently published a column about his high school reunion, where no one discussed politics because it wasn't important. WRONG! No one discusses politics because we don't want to learn that a close friend or blood-relative is one of those who elected the Orange Menace, and who still support the twisted beliefs that put him in office. Tolerating the intolerable by not knowing it's there?

Thank you for putting words to my feelings. And, by the way, I buy your books and will continue to buy your books, and Max's!

Mr Keillor's article can be found at

Susan Saavedra

p.s.: I choose an "anonymous" identity because I don't know what the others are. :(

caircair said...

Thank you for saying it. You have just put into words why I am, now, ashamed to be an American. The 25% who elected His Royal Heinous are holding hostage the other 75% who are looking for a more moderate way of doing things.

Random Felines said...

agreed.....hopefully we can all stop being help hostage by silence and regain the majority where kindness is the letter of the day. I have never feared being outside or driving my car or whatever due to the color of my skin. And it saddens and angers me that I have friends that have to fear those things - now more than ever.

debzy said...

Yes, brilliantly stated as usual. I am, frankly, speechless at the hell that is thrust upon us on a daily basis. Half the time I can't read the news because it is so horrific. I keep asking how we got here. I know the answer but it is still incredible to me. I know we need change and it isn't that people aren't trying to say what they feel. It's that nobody is listening to reason or logic. The day that orange menace walked into the White House was the day I thought I had seen everything now. I did my part by voting against him but it didn't work. I just don't know what it is going to take to wake these people up. I'm afraid to even contemplate what that might be. It frightens me to think about how many people will die because of it.

You keep talking Karen. You keep writing. You are a breath of fresh air in this smoky, fetid, unkind world we find ourselves in. I sincerely hope that we get past this god-awful time we find ourselves existing in soon.

Sleepypete said...

Yep - me too with posting a bit less lately.

Ideas spark off with what's happening in the world but I don't want to write those ideas into posts. I'd much prefer to talk about the imaginary world with the internet spaceships and the pretty pictures.

Same with me wanting to write a book, too many of the "How horrible can the world get to make people want to leave ?" ideas are actually coming true and quite possibly much worse than anything I could have imagined.

World is scary at the moment.

Kitty said...

Bravo! More people need to speak up. If we don't, we're as bad as the Germans when the Nazis rose to power.

Lynn Delage said...

That is so right, Kay. Much of my family voted for 45 and I am just struck wordless. The best reason they could come up with was they really did not like Hillary. I voted for her but I did not want her to run as I knew the unwarranted hatred felt for her and felt it would go against her. But I just could not fathom how anyone could vote for the Donald. I have disliked the man since he first came on the scene and he never did anything to change my opinion of him. I am so ashamed of most of my countryman at this time.

LMoore said...

I now make comments like I guess I need to check the news to see if someone has started to blow up the planet, and the sad part is I am afraid that one day that is what will happen. I wonder how much longer this administration can go on. Any other would already be in deep trouble. Why are we allowing this?

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

I read you. I write short stories that will never be published. You matter to me.

But there are so many forums for discussion these days. If I want to talk atheism, there are atheism forums. If I want to talk history, there are history forums. If I want to talk science there are science forums.

There aren't many for just general discussions for mteurs to talk without some "experts" jumping in from all opposing sides. Meaning, you can't just talk anong people of vague ideas of something without being overwhelmed by "talking heads".

I miss the days when I could talk about something in a very general way without some specialist/fanatic attacking you for the least bit of difference of fact.

Mention evolution, someone has a newer detail and goes crazy about it. Mention history and the same. Mention enjoying some nature show and the fanatics will spend an hour why that was all wrong.

You can't discuss much anymore unless you are THE expert and then others will scream a dispute at you even then.

I used to know "something" about a lot of things. Now, apparently, I know nothing about anything!