When we started back in August, I told the writers I was going to fold my old site and concentrate on this one. All of the other writers have their own sites to take care of – this IS my home site. So since I used to write a lot of highly opinionated blathering on everything, including politics and current affairs, I asked the writers if they thought I should write about politics here too, or just concentrate on music, books, film, TV, and technology.
Opinion was divided, but the plurality voted to keep politics at least explicitly out of the mix for a while in an effort to avoid divisiveness. So we agreed to that. But as a news and reviews site, everyone was always giving their opinions on things here – it’s kind of the point – and people disagreed just as strongly about the opinions we did express as those we didn’t. Plus, any kind of serious review on a book, film, or even music, almost inevitably involves opinion in matters that drift into the “political”; so after a while, we realized it was kind of pointless and even dishonest to pretend we weren’t discussing politics.
We just said “screw it – let the opinions rip.” And so we do.
Jan Herman writes eloquently on this same theme today:
- Some people believe politics and art, let alone criticism, don’t mix.
….Why am I not surprised? Because just this morning I got this e-mail: “I think your comments about President Bush are entirely inappropriate. Who do you think you are anyway that you have the right to judge a great man. This is the last time I will read anything you write.”
I often get e-mail like that, and I’m tempted to say, “Good riddance!” But I won’t. I’ll quote Ebert’s reply instead. “Where did so many Americans get the notion that there is something offensive or transgressive about expressing political opinions? Movies are often about politics, sometimes when they least seem to be, and the critic must be honest enough to reveal his own beliefs in reviewing them.”
Ditto for this column.
. So regardless of your opinion, I will always encourage you to express it and defend your right to do so, even though I do believe celebrities in our culture get way too much attention for their opinions and often go off half-cocked, so to speak.
Vastly more important than any individual opinion on any given issue is the free marketplace of ideas that is the foundation of democracy in general, and America in particular. We must never take freedom of expression for granted – a woman in Nashville just got fired for expressing her opinion about the war.