Re: RARA-AVIS: Surprise Endings

From: Tony Burton (
Date: 13 Nov 2005

Granted that racism, sexism, and most other nasty 'isms' are terrible things, if you sanitize the speech, attitudes and behavior of the people who existed in the 1800s, early 1900s or even the 1950s, are you really giving a true representation of the time at all?

I must admit I am bothered by the attitude that somehow racism, sexism, or homophobia expressed in historically accurate terms are much worse than violence, sexual license or any other sort of non-socially-acceptable thing. I cringe when I think of someone saying, "Oh, did you see? That person put the word 'nigger' in a book! How awful!!" But that same person will say nothing about the rape scene, or about political corruption in the novel, or about the villain strangling a woman to death with her own stockings - any of which is just as morally repugnant.

Why are so many in our society worried more about those things that seem to have politically-incorrect overtones? Granted, I find the use of the word "queer" used in a pejorative sense to be repugnant, but is it any more damaging to society for someone to say that to another person, that it is for a senator to be on the take from commercial oil interests? I would argue that, in the grand scheme of things, that comment about a person's sexual preferences has a pretty small bearing on life, even for the person against whom it is addressed, compared to the possible impact of the dishonest senator's corruption.

In other words, why is it OK to write about some morally offensive behaviors, but not OK to write about others?

<pant, pant, pant> OK - off my soapbox.

Tony Burton Editor, Crime and Suspense ezine

--- In, DJ-Anonyme@w... wrote:
>Mark wrote:
> To varying degrees, I can put those traits in vintage books into
> context. What really gets to me are contemporary writers who set their
> books in the past and use it as an excuse to revel in racial, ethnic and
> homophobic slurs. It too often seems like an excuse to spew those vile
> sentiments, whether because they agree with them or just to shock, while
> retaining the easy out of saying, Hey, it's not me, it was the times. I
> found that excuse less and less compelling from Ellroy, finally had to
> stop reading him, well, that and his increasingly slack writing.
> Mark

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 13 Nov 2005 EST