Attack of the Crack!

The Writer in the Politician

We can’t simply record facts and experiences objectively because everything is tainted by our subjective lens.

This is a continuation post to Tyranny of the Minority.

If Ford is smoking crack do we attack is actions or his person for engaging in such activities? If he is able to reduce the deficit, do we praise his actions or his determined, efficient self? We don’t know his character. In both instances it wouldn’t be fair to associate his personality with his actions. We have no problem divorcing the executioner from the act of execution in writing, so why not with public figures? The words on pages, and images created speak on their own. The identity of the writer doesn’t, or shouldn’t, affect the analysis of a work.  The words of the writer speak for themselves, and are separate from the person who created them.

Or maybe it isn’t that easy to separate the man from his actions. As writer’s we write our experiences, experiences that are essential to who we are. We can’t simply record facts and experiences objectively because everything is tainted by our subjective lens. Sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing – these things colour our narratives, no two people will describe an apple in the exact same way. We put ourselves in the text, so do we not open ourselves up to criticism?

So maybe it is fair to bring the writer into the work, maybe it is fair to criticize a politician for her/his actions. Maybe it isn’t. While writing this piece I went back and forth, considering both sides, and I still don’t have a conclusive answer.

What are your thoughts? Should the personal lives of politicians be publicly discussed? Or are the lives of politicians exempt from criticism? Is it fair to shoot the messenger? And what about the writer, do you bring writers into criticism?

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4 thoughts on “Attack of the Crack!

  1. I have this question myself. When Clinton was running for president and admitted (as there was a photo of him doing it) to smoking MJ, he also said he “…didn’t inhale.” This comment was revelatory. 1) Anyone who surrenders to peer pressure to the extent that they FAKE doing something they don’t believe in has ethics and integrity issues, 2) anyone who puts a joint in his mouth and DOESN’T inhale is an idiot, 3) anyone who says they didn’t inhale is most probably a liar. There’s nothing good there… Down the road, of course, the guy was guilty of perjury. The perjury issue was buried in “A guy has a right to his private life,” the issue the (prurient) press picked up and ran with. Two separate issues – getting a BJ in the Oval Office is one thing. Lying about it is another. While I believe the sex life of the president is his business, lying to Congress is mine. But these two events were predicted by his statements about his MJ usage as a young man. What I found MOST disturbing was that the people in the US were more upset about Clinton’s extramarital pecadillo (private life) than about his lying (public life and law breaking).

    • That is true. Rob Ford smoking crack is one thing, but repeatedly denying it on multiple occasions is another. Clinton, as well as Ford, should be held accountable to some degree because the act of lying is a public matter.

  2. I think the personal lives of politicians should be publicly discussed, should their lives affect the lives of whom they govern; the whole Rob Ford/Crack controversy is such a touchy subject, but if his personal life is making him unable to/ affecting the choices he makes for Toronto, then it’s the people’s right to know.

    In terms of writers… ahhh, I don’t have an answer either, lol. On one hand, I try to separate the writer from his/her (fiction) work, because the writer and the narrator aren’t necessarily the same thing. But I’ve seen in some other cases where readers would boycott an author’s book simply because of the author’s personal views, actions, etc. (See: Orson Scott Card). I personally try to separate the author’s life/ personal views from his/her work completely, because at the end of the day, we are all human and we all have our own personal views and lives.

    This is definitely a question then poses multiple answers, haha.

    • You have such compelling arguments, and I agree with what you’re saying that’s why I tried to make the post indecisive.
      I don’t agree with people banning Ender’s Game because Orson Scott Card is homophobic. Or if people do they need to be consistent with what they use as a basis for criticism. Either we keep the writer out of it or we don’t.
      However, I have to disagree with you on the last point. There are instances where it may be appropriate to bring the author into the work. Memoir writing and other forms of biography allow for criticism of the author, as they characterize the writer.
      Again, I may be wrong. And if you ask me tomorrow my opinion may change 😉

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