Saturday, 25 March 2017

Freedom from social repercussion - When Authors Go Bad Part 3


This is Part 3 of the "When Authors Go Bad" feature article.

If you'd like to read Part One:
 
If you'd like to read Part Two:
 
I decided to write these posts because they are topical and as a fiction author  I often take what is topical and speculate on what might happen if that practice continues unchecked. It's the basis of many of my novels. What happens if there is a global one child per couple policy? What happens if people continue to spend too much time in virtual worlds? 

In Part One and Part Two of this post, I spoke about click baiting as a lure to engage people on social media sites, and I looked at how social media has become a platform for those with opinions - good or bad - to share while waving the banner of free speech. When I say opinions, it's often a rant and rants have repercussions in any public forum.


This blog post is about the fallout from social media rants.

 
Is it really freedom of speech some authors are seeking, or is it freedom from social repercussion?
 
Simon and Shuster came under fire for paying US$250,000 for a book deal to Breibart News tech editor, Milo Yiannoppolous, a  man who five months earlier was permanently banned from Twitter for his racist abuse on Twitter to Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones. He claims his racist and sexist comments on Facebook and Twitter are waved under the banner or free speech, and he also claims that he's attracting fans with his freedom of expression.

Reading the comments on one particular news feed about this book deal and there were a lot of anger, a lot of debate, a lot of agreeing with the principal, but nobody was agreeing with his words he posted, just that he had the right to post them. Milo didn't mind the comments. He saw it as boosting his profile. There would be plenty of people who saw this as boosting the profile of 'hate crimes'.

Ever since the walls went up in communist countries, freedom of speech has been a much-waved flag. As writers, we understand the need for freedom of speech and freedom of thought. It's essential to our way of life. Writers have exposed the truth, conspiracies, brought evil to justice. Words have the power to evoke and to incriminate. Words can elevate the status of a person or lower it. Words are powerful. But where does the right to free speech end and the right to a public platform to spill hate and anger start? And should it be allowed to spill over? And is 'authors going bad' even a surprise?

It could also be seen as ironic that this entire three piece article has taken one person's rant and turned it into another person's discussion piece under the same banner of freedom of speech. The irony is not lost on me. This post is about questioning, right or wrong, we must question what we see, hear, and read.
 
It's this constant questioning that drives me to write science fiction and fantasy and speculative fiction.  As I writer I ask the question: "Can we do this?" and the answer is usually of course we can. But we need to ask the second question: "Should we do this?" And therein lies the discussion.
 
I hope you've enjoyed these blog posts. They are meant to provoke thought and discussion. If you disagree, then I respect your right to disagree. I hope we can continue to have deeper conversations.
 
Best
D L
 
 
 

 

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