Friday, January 30, 2009

The Responsibility of a Writer

I was listening to an interview with an author a few days ago and he mentioned briefly the responsibility that writers have to tell the truth.

This struck me.  I don't think he was referring to some sort of cultural or societal obligation or expectation.  It was more of a moral obligation that a writer should feel to tell the truth about the subject.  I thought about this, and wondered if it could be taken a step further.

The historical and cultural value of writing is huge.  We can study past civilizations and cultures through their writings.  Through their writings, we can learn about how their society functioned and what their values were.  In modern times, we learn through writings.  We learn from reading the newspaper, novels, textbooks and (of course!) blogs.  Perhaps some of the things that we learn from these sources are not "true" per se, in that the facts can be proven or disproven, but all of these writings serve as a way to hold our society together and advance as a civilization together.  

So this led me to think about the responsibility of a writer to tell stories as they truly see it - without holding back.  And the responsibility that you and I have to write, as much as we can.  There is a distinct value in everything written, and it should not be discounted.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When Rape is "Misconduct"

I originally heard about this news story on NPR (January 28, I believe).  The article that I am referring to for this blog posting can be found on LA Times:

The CIA Chief in Algeria has been accused of using a kind of date rape drug to drug two women and rape them at his residence.  If that were not bad enough, he is also accused of taking many photographs of the women (allegedly found at his hotel room in Washington, DC).  

According to the NPR news story, one of the women was actually married and was friends with the CIA Chief.  The shock, shame and humiliation that she must have felt when she awoke in his bed the next day is hard to imagine.

The reason that this story infuriates me is because the US CIA spokesperson issued this statement:  "CIA would take seriously, and follow up vigorously, any allegation of misconduct." 

"Misconduct".  The female reporters on NPR actually used the word "impropriety".  We have a huge problem here when rape is described as misconduct or impropriety.  All of the women across our country should be outraged upon hearing this language used to describe one of the worst violations of human rights that a woman can experience.

If this were a homeless man accused of multiple rapes outside of Underground Atlanta, or some other downtown location, he would likely be in a jail cell waiting for his trial.  But, when it comes to a high ranking government official accused of "misconduct" and "impropriety" outside of our borders, he gets to remain comfortable - and hope that the various agencies involved won't be able to figure out who has jurisdiction.

Does anyone else find this outrageous?