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Talking politics on your blog or in your books – is it taboo?

Morgan Mandel posed an interesting question in her post on Acme Authors Link today:

Because of the primary election, my thoughts turned to politics and the role they play with authors and bloggers. I purposely avoid speaking of politics on my blogs. I don’t like to force my opinion on others or alienate people of opposite tastes. I only include politics in a very general sense in my novels. 
What about you? I’m not asking you to tell us your political opinions here. I just want to know your ideas about sharing political views.

Great question, Morgan! As I began to comment, I realized I had so much to say that I’d better post it here rather than cluttering up Morgan’s blog with an endless essay. So here goes . . .

I’ve never consciously considered whether or not to address politics on my blogs or in my fiction. Yes, I try to avoid offending people, but only in certain respects:

  • I never, ever knowingly insult or criticize people in my blogs or my novels, with the occasional exception of celebrities who are famous enough to be fair game. Online, I try to follow the old adage my mother taught me: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” In person, it’s another matter. I love dishing the dirt and badmouthing people – only when they deserve it, of course. 
  • With rare exceptions, I avoid using the standard four-letter words, because I know some people are truly offended by them. In my novels, people swear when it’s in character, but not to excess. Orally, again, it’s another matter. In fact, I was once almost banned from the YMCA for use of the F word. If you want to read a poem about it, it’s on the continuation page.
  • There are areas I find too offensive to write about. Excessive sex or violence, torture, child or animal abuse, defamation of minorities or the disabled . . .

I could go on, but when it comes to politics, I have no compunctions about sharing my opinions, whether people agree with me or not. So why don’t I write about politics? Simple – it practically never occurs to me. Politics is a frequent topic in my home, because my husband is executive director of a progressive advocacy organization who deals with political issues constantly. We live in New York State’s Capital Region, and politics here is about as dysfunctional and disgusting as it gets. When Stephen Colbert interviewed Elliott Spitzer last night, it made me long for the good old days before Elliott quit – that’s how bad it is! And I’m really sad that Obama isn’t turning out to be the inspiring leader we’d longed for, although I believe he has the smarts and the good judgment to redeem himself. He’d better hurry up, though, or it’ll be too late. That newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is entirely too charismatic and presidential-looking. Be afraid, Barack – be very, very afraid.

In short, politics is a downer, and it’s the last thing I want to think about when I’m at my computer. I won’t refuse to read other writers because of their political views, but I do admit to being turned off by people who use Facebook as a forum for ranting about their beliefs. If they do it too much, there’s a simple remedy – I hide them.

What about you? Do you share your political views in your blog or your books? As a reader, if someone’s political views offend you, do you boycott their writing as a result? I’d love to hear from you. And thanks again, Morgan, for the inspiration for this post.

As promised above, here’s “Anger Management,” my poem about using the F word at the Y – continue reading if you dare!

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