Okay, I started with a joke, of sorts, but I’m going to say something serious.
I normally don’t mix politics with my writing, in so far that I don’t preach or push my political views on this blog.
I have the right to free speech.
I have the responsibility to to use that right wisely.
Recent events have shone a light on the toxic dialog employed by certain sectors of the political machinery in the United States (and sadly mirrored in the politics of Puerto Rico, my home.)
No, there is no direct, bright line connection between this particular act of violence and any one person’s words.
But at the same time we can not honestly say (or at least I can’t say it and remain honest) that our words don’t have an impact.
Advertisers spend billions to push us to buy their products.
Politicians spin a million words in search of our support.
Artist (including writers) work tirelessly so that their works connect with their audiences.
A continual search to elicit basic emotional responses from those on the other side of the message. To buy, to consume, to convert, to convince, to entertain.
We have an impact.
That I don’t know. However, the influence is there.
As a writer I have a responsibility to be true to my words, in the fullest extent of the meaning of the phrase. That is, not only do I claim the freedom to write whatever I want, but I also must assume full responsibility for said words. I can not pass my slice of it to someone else. Just like parents can not pass off their duty to monitor their children or schools from educating.
This is not a call for censorship. This is a call for courage. If you say something, don’t hide from it, if you write something don’t ignore it or deny it. Stand by it. Otherwise the words are meaningless. That means, at least in my chosen profession, that if I write about violence and sex, I have to make sure that it is marketed to the right age group. I can’t go after every single parent or child who might want to read my books, but I will not hide from the content and meaning of my words/works.
It is just the right thing to do.