In Which Some Arguments Are Ruled Out and Our Heroine's Fingers Remain Intact

23 March 2004

I'm wondering -- how many Americans see The Middle East as a monolith? Excluding Israel, I mean. I saw a blog comment about how the Middle-East was a threat to the U.S. and that's why we had to go to war in Iraq, and I thought, huh, I'll bet they don't know they're all one critter over there in the Middle-East. And then the penny dropped: is that really the problem? (Or at least a problem?) "All them [racial slur deleted] are the same anyway?"

Oh dear.

I was also upset because one of the pro-gay-marriage editorials in the batch of articles my folks sent from the Omaha paper was comparing it to interracial marriage, and it proudly stated that while most Americans opposed black and white people marrying each other in the '50s (had some specific statistic, sorry), by 1997, 77% were all right with it. Seventy-seven percent. This means that at some point within the last decade 23% of Americans thought that skin color was a reasonable barrier to marriage. Aaaaaaaaaaack. It's just depressing.

I've also heard people claiming that the Massachusetts courts "shouldn't be allowed to make laws!" True. And, in fact, they are not. They're interpreting laws. Judicial activism starts the minute you disagree with a judge, but everyone knows that, so for heaven's sake just disagree and get on with it. Say you don't think that law applies in that way and say why. Don't harp about judges making laws, because both sides of every issue do it when they don't get their own way, and it's tiresome and unconvincing. The phrase "judicial activism" should be banned from argument until you people show you can use it properly.

Also on my banned list "negative campaigning." Here's why: negative campaigning, in itself, is not a problem. Dishonest campaigning, yes. But negative, no. Say that the ad is, "My opponent is the president and founder of Granny-Stomping Politicians of America. He wrote the bill Stomping Your Granny With Taxpayer Money. In fact, he is at this very moment driving to your granny's house, yes, you, [your name here], to stomp her with his government jackboots." Obviously no good. Unless all the stomping allegations are true. Then it's a valuable and informative ad. Just being negative isn't enough to be bad. You have to be negative and either lying or wrong. (And I don't care who started it, either!) If your opponent is lying or wrong, say so. Don't yammer on about negativity, because I don't care.

And finally, we live in a representative republic. Our system is not set up for people to vote on every issue directly. You don't get to suddenly holler that the congresscritters should "let the people decide" every time you're afraid they won't go the way you want them to, but that others should "let the system work" if you're afraid your fellow voters won't go the way you want them to. You can object to the representative republic structure in general -- feel free. But wanting to trade off whenever you're worried about the results is not "more democratic." I promise.


I got a little sidetracked from The King's Name because of Rilla of Ingleside: I was working on "Michael Banks, Home From the War" and thought maybe a little more WWI reading would be timely. I haven't reread Rilla in years, for all that it made my head explode about history. And it's interesting. It was published in 1921 originally, according to my edition, so it doesn't have the hindsight of most of what I've read about WWI. Specifically, it doesn't have the WWII hindsight. I think this is pretty valuable in its own way, more of what the author and people like her were thinking at the time and less filtration. It makes the moments of melodrama easier to stomach.

I'm enjoying it. But oh, there are moments. Like this one about the main character's favorite brother: "A Canadian lad in the Flanders trenches had written the one great poem of the war. 'The Piper' by Private Walter Blythe was a classic from its first printing."

The one great poem of the war. In World War I. Riiiiiight. I have a hard enough time with "our character is the bestest ever with no competition" in fantasy and science fiction settings, when I can't start naming other names, but to claim that there was only one great poem of WWI or, failing the existence of our character, zero...bleh. No. No no no no no.

Also, her treatment of the sole pacifist character leaves a bad taste in my mouth that didn't occur to me when I was 11.

Anyway, despite all that, I'm enjoying myself and getting good work done on the short story and the book and other tasks that need doing. So there's that.

And I got my supplies from Stella. Supplies! Yay, the mail! I forgive you, mail, for containing no response letters, in light of the new Guy Gavriel Kay surprise! (We were at Uncle Hugo's when Pamela et al had their signing, and I was going to buy the new GGK book. "I'll break your fingers!" hollered Stella sweetly. So now I have a signed copy. Wheee!

I think the reason I didn't relate well to other women in the past is that too few of them threatened to break my fingers when provoked.

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