Friday, May 16, 2014

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

By Keith N Fisher

I know what you’re thinking. Judging by the title, Keith is about to get on a political soapbox, right? No, I still think this blog is not the place for that. I’m going to write about something else.

Back in the early nineteen-sixties, and before, journalists kept a self imposed muzzle on what they reported. They all knew President Kennedy was a womanizer, but they chose not to write about it.

Authors wrote stuff that reflects the best of our society. There were exceptions, like Kurt Vonnegut, Sol Stein, JD Salinger, and others, but even in their societal exposé there was a certain purity of heart. Perhaps censorship made careful writers out of them, perhaps the muzzle carried over in all aspects of media, I don’t know, but they were innocent times. Maybe the naiveté made life better, but covering sins like abuse, prejudice, hatred, and persecution, only propagated them.

Do you suppose our society would be different if Woodward and Bernstein hadn’t exposed the Watergate cover-up? Do you think they could’ve written All the President’s Men without witting the graphic language?

There was a time when those words wouldn’t have been published in the national market. As a young idealist, I applauded Wood/Stein (as their editor called them). Like many in my generation, I hated being lied to. In my opinion, All the President’s Men, changed everything.

Today, we live in different times. Writers are quick to spread the word about scandal. Presidents no longer enjoy the privilege they once had. Journalists are now free to pursue and pester everyone, and it gets printed. Authors have freedoms they never had before. Subject matter is myriad. Between LGBT issues, teenage sex, and raw abuse, authors can insert those subjects into their plots. What they choose to add or not, is entirely up to them and their readers.

While watching The Love Boat reruns, I thought of this, the other day. Can you imagine if they made that television series today? Sex would be more open, not implied, gay and lesbian plots would be part of the normal fare. Our society in its raw form would be exposed.

But should we do that? As writers we must reflect life, or we won’t be believed. As LDS market writers, we must abstain. How does a writer decide? Are we selling our souls, (so to speak), if we write about those things? Can we look back on a career of writing sexual adventures and be proud. How much money would it take?

Good luck with these questions and your writing—see you next week.

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