Skip to main content

Reaction, Twice Removed

First off, this post is not an argument for or against the death penalty.  This post is not arguing that criminals are products of society.  This post is not making any sort of statement about the incarceration systems in this country.  This post is not holding up death-row inmates as martyrs.  This post is not denying or glossing over the heinous things that have been done to innocent victims.  I just want to make all of those things clear before I begin.

If you have any inkling of current events you know that earlier this week a convicted felon, scheduled for execution, died in unintended circumstances.  These circumstances are currently under investigation, so I will not dwell on them.  Suffice it to say, witnesses to the execution report that it was uncomfortable and unsettling to watch, and that this felon was not sedated when he should have been, resulting in an inhumane death.

That is still not what this post is about.  This post is a reply to the vitriol that I witnessed in my social media feeds on Wednesday.

I am referring to posts that read something along the lines of "he got what he deserved," "he got better than he deserved," "karma's a bitch," and "bring back the firing squad and gallows."

This is what this post is about.  I would like to state that this topic is difficult for me to speak to, because it is so easy to agree with some of the above sentiments, especially when considering the crimes for which this man was being punished.  It is difficult to argue for fair treatment of those that have done wrong.  But we absolutely should.

The social contract roughly states that, in order to coexist as a society, we give up some of our individual rights and in exchange get some benefits.  I trust your ability to click the link and read further if you are unfamiliar with this concept.  When a person breaks the social contract in our nation by committing a crime, they are held responsible by society, for the protection of society and the social contract itself.

Criminals in our country are still protected by some parts of our social contract - accused are protected by half the Bill of Rights alone!  Why is this protection important?  Because it keeps those in power from abusing those not in power.  Because it keeps us as a society from acting on whims that we feel we can justify.  Because it is a reminder that we as a society keep to our social contract.  If we did not, we would be no better than the criminal we are punishing.

We can't say that we are glad that someone died a terrible death at our hands.  We can't say that we wished it was worse.  We can't thump each other on the back and be glad we aren't the only ones that hold these opinions.  When we do this, we nullify our part of the social contract and make way for any number of terrible acts, the same ones that have been committed by societies that felt they were justified in their actions.  History is rife with them.

That doesn't even touch on arguments I could make because I define my morality based on a deity.  However, not everyone does, and if you can't agree on your premise, you aren't having an argument, you're having a shouting match.

So, what does this have to do with writing?  Speculative fiction has always explored the question, "What if?"  The more I grow as an author and a reader in this genre, I see that we have a responsibility to ask this question not just with strange new worlds or mystical old ones, but with social issues in our present day.  Discussing troubling topics through the lens of speculative fiction is a long tradition, one I try to honor in my writing.


Popular posts from this blog

Non-Traditional Plot Structure

Happy Friday friends!  This post is about plot:  what we traditionally think of as plot, and what other options exist in the world.

For starters, let's define the difference between plot and narrative structure.  Plot is (loosely) the events that happen in the story.  Narrative structure is the order readers experience the story events.  Ingrid Sundberg does a good job of differentiating the two here.  (May as well open that up in a new tab and leave it open, I'm going to be referencing her blog a lot today.  She's pretty much already done what I wanted to do with this post.)

If your public education was like mine, you were probably introduced to a figure similar to this somewhere in your English classes:
This is the standard plot that we can fit most stories into.  This describes a plot centered around conflict that follows a traditional three-act structure.  It's very popular.  In the Middle reviews a book that discusses using this structure as a form for your story, an…

February Post

Give me a break, I hate coming up with titles.

And the FCC spoke and said, 'Verily, I say unto thee, Verizon and their ilk shall not throttle the bandwidth of those they despise, nor shall they profit from the favoring of entities with greater bandwidth therein.' And there was great rejoicing.  And by great rejoicing, I mean that the internet blew up arguing about what color a dress was.  You go, America, exercise that freedom.

Girls and boys, it's the last Friday in February and I haven't posted anything this month, so here goes.

I'm so glad I didn't try to keep posting weekly, because school owns my life nowadays.  I approve of the once-a-month plan so far.  We'll see if I can do more posts during my summer break (i.e. the month of May).

As you might have guessed, I have not done any editing on Om Nom Nombies.  I haven't written anything more on the first drafts of The Neif or Spitfire.  I haven't even made any progress beta-ing a manuscript for m…

Head Games: The Next Project

I am ecstatic to announce my next project, Head Games!

 The origin story on this one is a bit mussed.  I've been sitting on this idea since before I started writing Spitfire, so, a few years.
I was contemplating the Hulk one afternoon, as one does.  It makes sense that he gets giant and violent when he's angry (unless you buy that he's always angry), but I never got why he turned green.  I started thinking about what emotions would look like as superpowers.  I imagined a little girl literally glowing with joy, reading a book by her own light under the covers long after her bedtime.  And it kept going from there.  But most powers were painful in their first showing.  For example, a flash of light from a burst of joy would blind anyone close enough.

So I have a group of people with emotional superpowers.  But they're also super messed up because of what happened when their powers first showed.  And anyone who is ever been told to smile knows that you don't get to t…