Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pop!

by Kathleen Bradean

We live in bubbles nowadays. Social media makes it so easy for us to silence voices that annoy us. I am so guilty of this that I can't point fingers. The band director of my high school friended me on FaceBook a while ago. When I was tempted to reply to one of his diatribes about opioid addicts being weak by reminding him of the bottle of vodka he kept in his desk in the band room, I decided to block him rather than engage. Friends continue to speak to him, to try to soften his dogmatic view of the world and fact check all the nutter memes he posts. I don't know if they have more patience, lower blood pressure, or a sunnier view of humans than I do. Although, bless them, at least they have the stamina to keep the channels of communication open.

Bubbles are meant to be fragile. Easily pricked. But what I'm seeing is a calcification. Flimsy, transparent walls are becoming fortresses.

One of the most troubling turns in recent years - for me - is how the left responds to the right. Speakers at university campuses are either uninvited or met with violent protests. Weather or not the protesters are part of the campus community or not is a different discussion.  Freedom of speech is under attack from all sides. And to be clearly biased about it, after years of watching science and health education under attack in schools, I expect that sort of thing from the right, but the left was supposed to embrace and protect free speech. How could they betray that idea so easily? How can they be so intolerant and not see the irony of it?

I guess the answer is "two sides of the same coin." The sins of one extreme are reflected in the other. People are people. No matter what tenets they follow, some will chose to express it violently, many will blindly report memes without fact checking, and some will gradually grow quieter as they wait for all this ugliness to blow over. The last group includes me. Unfortunately, sitting it out isn't really an option anymore. I was in short-selling for a good swath of my professional career, so I definitely have a streak of "Let's wait to see how bad this can get while we eat popcorn" gallows humor, but even I know that mindset leads to such dire circumstances that dramatic implosion ends up being the only remaining option. While that's interesting to watch when it's a stock, when it's your country, it isn't so amusing.

This matters to erotica writers. The right has been trying to shut us down on moral grounds for decades. Heck, Utah recently declared porn to be a public health crisis, which is the new spin on "We consume more porn than any other state, so we know what we're talking about when we say we have to control your access to it." But there are stirrings on the hard left about safe spaces and trigger warnings and appropriation that are just as effective at silencing speech and art.

FaceBook isn't the only enabler. Google uses its logarithms to bring up search results tailored to my previous choices, so I see less of the whole world with every click. I'd love to chat with their programmers about what they're doing. It's fine to figure out that I like a certain type of shoe and change suggestions accordingly, but politics should be treated differently. Instead of showing me further extremes, how about pointing all of us to the middle? Even that isn't enough though. When we meet there in the middle, we have to start listening, even if we vehemently oppose what is being said.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." ~~ Evelyn Beatrice Hall

"...Especially if it's smut." ~~ Kathleen Bradean

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