Hello Kitty link of the day: Hello Kitty’s blog
Jade wrote a very restrained post on the general mockery of American voters (specifically of the 51% who voted for Bush) in fandom blogging circles. Since I live in Boston, I get to hear that sort of thing all the time. If people don’t know you’re Republican, they’ll say all sorts of things about the evil of the W and the poor fools far away in the Midwest who voted for him. It doesn’t surprise me (much) to see it on LiveJournal, too.
Here in Massachusetts, only 13% of voters are registered Republicans, so the casual attitude that everyone is anti-Bush has some statistical backing. No one expects my state to go red, ever. It’s socially acceptable to mock Bush and to make dire predictions about his second term that, back in Peoria, would play like the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind. Such is life in Boston.
But when addressing Americans in general, the basic assumption should be that 51% of us are pro-Bush (or at least 51% of those responsible enough to go out and vote). So it’s odd to see people talking like they’re in a virtual Massachusetts when really, they’re in a virtual Ohio. There’s no way to tell which sort of voter you’re talking to online without prior knowledge of their political opinions.
Even if fandom is itself a virtual Massachusetts, the assumption that one’s audience are all in agreement on extremely divisive political issues is not restricted to fans. George R. R. Martin’s latest progress update, aptly named Mourning for America, is typical of the minority attitude: “this was a victory for bigotry and fear, a mandate bought with lies.” In other words, 51% of his fans are fearful, gullible bigots.
I understand that the minority are upset, but as a writer I wouldn’t say such a thing in a public forum any more than I’d say it in a cowboy bar in Texas. What possible good can it do him to insult half his fans? I don’t see any reason to assume all fantasy readers are anti-Bush. A little insult may not stop me from reading A Feast for Crows, should it ever come out, but say I’d just heard of this George Martin guy and I googled him to find out more, and the first thing I read was that I’m a fearful, gullible bigot—what would the chances be that I’d go out and buy his books?
It’s not just a matter of PR, either. It disturbs me when writers say they can’t comprehend what happened, they didn’t see it coming, or that they don’t understand the 51% of the country that voted for Bush. It’s fine to disagree, but if you’re a writer it’s your job to understand how the majority feels. You can’t just toss half the population into a box labelled “fearful, gullible bigot.” For one thing, they’re not, but even if they were, nobody feels like a fearful, gullible bigot. People vote for reasons, and they can tell you those reasons if you actually want to know.
If you don’t get Republicans, try talking to one instead of tossing the insults over the fence. If you can’t comprehend libertarians, go read Atlas Shrugged (and don’t skip the 60-page political speech). They’re not hiding; they have magazines and think-tanks and talk-radio shows, not to mention husbands and neighbors and dogs and religions. If you keep on asking “who were those masked voters?” you’re the one with the problem, not the majority.