Monthly Archives: June 2013

No to Censorship, Yes to Self-Control

Is there any single word against which any free writer would seriously impose or enforce a ban?

In certain circumstances, perhaps. Like for instance, “Undress,” when uttered by a sexual abuser to a small child. In that situation, the word itself is wrong and ought be banned. But if so, then by extension did it even become prohibited of us to write out the ban?

Mostly, we shy away from any authoritarian censorship, but only along with recognition of personal and social responsibility. Our most sacred law does not end its standard with a period after “Do what you want…” Nor is that sacred law merely a suggestion, nor something meant only for casting but not for normal life. Just because we’ve created words of hate and ill-will and just because we don’t ban them doesn’t make it right to say them.

Using racial slurs isn’t just a harmless cultural joke, nor is it ok as long as the minority uses it in “humor” about itself. It’s hateful, it’s destructive, and it’s wrong. Calling someone else a demeaning name is abuse, period, and it’s wrong. Any word so much as wishing harm to another is ill, and it’s wrong.

Maybe hate and abuse and ill ought not be banned. But neither ought it be defended or justified or shrugged off. A person who can openly announce that he doesn’t care what harm his words do ought simply be silent or keep his words private. We don’t ban any of his words, but it’s still wrong for him to say them publicly. It’s destructive, it’s irresponsible, and it’s wrong.

Some find that too absolute. Yes it’s wrong if someone else abuses them, but supposedly it’s then too absolutist to regard them as hypocritical when they openly abuse someone else, shrug off responsibility for it, then try to suggest they get to make up their own right and wrong as they go. It’s all the more abusive for them to shrug it off as just being how they are: ill will is a choice, and it’s wrong. Not excusable as being just how a person is. A malicious choice that is wrong.

No. Do as you will, as long as you do no ill. As it was from the beginning. As will always be. Not just for whoever believes that whenever convenient. It’s the standard for choosing which words to allow and which to let fall silent.

—Maggie & Dean




written for Daily Prompt: No, Thank You
at the Daily Post

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Me, Stripped Down Ugly — Notes

Background Notes — Me, Stripped Down Ugly

Sending a poem through a condenser can be an excruciating process. The art of writing a poem is getting the words right, whether for rhyme or to fit meter or for a sestina’s teleutons, or to free the freest formed poem from excess weight. If a poem had the right words after the poet has already worked it through dozens of drafts, then how can a single word be eliminated, or how can any carefully selected adjective be converted to verb?

Yesterday I worked through multiple drafts before being satisfied enough to post one of my longest recent poems — Me, Ugly — as my first response to a WordPress Daily Post prompt at Daily Prompt: Shape Up or Ship Out. Then nipping right at that prompt’s heels comes the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Papa Says Get Economical. Now I do realize that the weekly writing challenge was not meant as a critique aimed specifically at my response to the preceding daily prompt. But this was an irresistible challenge.

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Father, You Will Not Be — Notes

Background Notes — Father, You Will Not Be

Poetic metaphor is used to reveal truth, not to hide secrets.

In this poem, we respectfully use the fathers of our collaboration as our primary metaphor. One was rejected, said to be unfit to be a father despite a lifetime of loving parenting. One was mocked by those who spread foul gossip ignoring the sacred family he’d made. One has had the mother of his child insulted for trusting him to a solitary fatherhood.

But except through them permitting us to hug them by using them as our metaphor, actually this poem is not about them. It’s for and about our Father. In our love and worship of our Mother whom we know so well, it is too easy to act and speak as if He is as easily dismissed as some have dismissed the fathers of our metaphor. How can we think to honor our Mother if we have no respect for the One She loves most?

Not just today, but every day, we honor Him whom She chose.