ann_r_starr: (Riiiiiight)
[personal profile] ann_r_starr

I'm not going to get into whether or not Jim Butcher is racist or not. There's plenty of room for that over at Unfunny Fandom and, since I'd struggle to find the city in question on a map, I'm not qualified to discuss the matter.

However, I don't believe that this comment from Mr. Butcher was out of line. "Why do some people not understand than I'm the real person, and that the fiction I write is... well, fiction? Fiction means make-believe. I'm not a goddamned socioeconomic historian."

As I said to my friends when I first got a hint of the oncoming wank storm, "Well he's not writing a Tours of Chicago guidebook. It's vampires, shape-shifters and ghosts. Pure fantasy." Maybe my attitude is biased, given that I am a fantasy author myself, but I find it hard to take offence to things writen in the context of fiction. I also tend to believe that anything in a fictional tale has more then a passing resemblance to reality at most. So I can see and sympathise with Mr. Butcher's irritation.

Perhaps it was overly snarky, but again I can sympathise.  "FUCK YOU, JIM BUTCHER." tends to come across as somewhat insulting, even when it's not directed at me and were I to be in Mr. Butcher's shoes, I'd be snarky in reply as well.

"Fuck you" is not a way to start a discussion.

"Fuck you" is not a way to convince someone you have an argument worth hearing out.

"Fuck you" says that the speaker has no respect for the person as a fellow human being and disrepect tends to breed more disrespect.

Maybe Mr. Butcher was racist in his writing. The blogger in question certainly seems to feel the statement made in the book was racist. But bold, caps-locked screaming isn't the way to bring this to light. From where I'm sitting, there are two ways the situation could be handled.

Blogger: "[Author's name], did you intend for [extract from novel] to come across as offensive? If not, would you be willing to explain your reasoning for writing what you did?"
Author: "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I certainly had no intention of making a rasist remark and I appologise to those who I offended by accident. Next time I'll do my research more carefully."

Or the various parties can have a "discussion" that goes like this.

Author: "Oh shit. The crazies are out in force again. Bloody hell, could someone take away their keyboards?"

Option one allows for a calm, reasonable discussion and both sides walking away with a resolution that satisfies them. Option two allows for snark, hurt feelings, anger and a complete unwillingness to even TRY and see the other person's viewpoint.

There is a disturbing trend among people to release the worst sides of their nature on the internet, safe in the comforting distance between each half of a debate. What we need to remember is the name on that blog post or that book cover isn't just text. There is a real person behind it, who can take real offence to what is being said and, when making a public statement on the web, we should be as polite as we would be if we were standing face to face with the other person.

On a text based medium, words can hit as hard as fists.

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Ann Rosa Starr

May 2012


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