A Ranty Waste

Midsummer bonfire closeupI’ve been noticing that more things than usual are pissing me off lately. Most of the time when something pisses me off I write a book. Say, like when I watched a documentary on child sex trafficking and was so appalled I had to set the anger free by writing Bad Traffick. Or when I learned about the escalating violence of drug cartels and how they’re pretty much ruining life for a whole lotta folks in Mexico and beyond and all they really care about are how they look in a selfie on Facebook. And, of course when women perpetuate the whole “I need a man to become complete” myth, or, better yet, when one of us sets feminism back hundreds of years in one fell swoop (Fifty Shades of WTF anyone?).

But lately, there’s just been too much and really people, I can’t fucking write that fast.

Rant #1: Here in the US our politicians can’t figure out how to be politicians, or, you know, grow up and actually govern the country. And, they get paid a lot of money to act like schoolyard dickwads, not to mention enjoying paid-for-by-the-government health care (cue the irony theme). When I look at the leaders for both parties I can’t help but get a mental picture of two spoiled little white boys with snot running down their noses and sucking on their bottom lip in a pout because the other side won’t play by their rules. Waaah.

Rant #2: How celebrities like Miley and Kim and Paula Deen can suck the life out of the headlines when there are people in the Philippines who don’t have any clean drinking water or medical supplies and how hundreds are dying because we can’t get supplies to them fast enough.Or when people are selling their kidneys so they don’t have to live underneath someone else’s squalid shack.

Rant #3: And, the ever present fact that the only thing large corporations are concerned with is the bottom line, e.g. profits, screw being honest or neighborly or even giving a rat’s ass about their customers. Don’t get me started on how most corporations treat the environment, not to mention a whole lotta people who either just don’t get it, or don’t care. One earth–capiche????

And yes, I’ve been a daily meditator for several years now and should be able to relax and be all ohm and shit, but some days I. just. can’t.

The latest thing that set me off was an article about how a percentage of writers in the US avoid using the Internet to research certain subjects because of fears of the NSA spying on them. Seriously? What the hell happened to the proud tradition of writers bucking the system? Of being subversives? Of fighting back? When I read that article it pissed me off to the point that I had to do something, so I went to the pool and swam laps. Hard. I stopped (mostly) self-medicating years ago and swimming is now my go-to release. It took the edge off, but as I sit here at my computer I can still feel a flame of anger flickering in my gut when I wonder, if what these writers were doing was legal and for research, why anyone in the US would remain silent because they were afraid of a government agency watching them?

That’s so unbelievably scary, I can’t tell you. That tells me that Americans are becoming afraid of their government. My first response to the article, other than anger, was to assume these writers were wimps–scaredy pants, namby-pamby (insert wussy word here) milquetoasts who would jump if someone said boo.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized my knee-jerk reaction (love the ‘jerk’ part of that saying) of calling these folks whom I don’t know wimps was wrong. I’m a HUGE proponent of fighting back: if you’re being attacked, however that attack is being carried out I believe it’s your responsibility to fight back with all you’ve got. Yes, there are some times when you need to pick your battles, but in general, fight the asshats trying to keep you down.

But this is different. This avoidance of using the interwebz goes deeper than that. Now we all know the NSA has overstepped its bounds, and has done so probably since its inception. But it hasn’t really affected most law-abiding citizens in a quantifiable way. However, when I hear or read that writers in the US are modifying their behavior because of fear of retaliation from the government, that makes me sit up and take notice. Mainly because I consort with a lot of writers, and almost every one of them has a least a modicum of rebelliousness in their bones and will do whatever in hell they want to. Some are nice about it, some aren’t. Some go the passive-aggressive route and act nice but end up doing some seriously un-nice things. But I’ve never heard one of them say they were afraid of what the government would do to them, unless what they were doing was illegal. But here’s the results of a poll of 520 writers where 16% admitted to curtailing their online activities because of fear of the NSA.NSA-square

My friends will tell you that yes, I’m opinionated, but am certainly not given over to hyperbole or conspiracy theories. I understand writers/journalists in China, or Iran, or Mexico being afraid–death or torture is a real possibility in those countries. But the US is supposed to be different. Americans are supposed to be different. It’s a slippery slope to censorship and clamping down on freedom of expression. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but it does give me pause.

I’m really interested in what people think about this. Is this some paranoid delusion rearing its ugly head in response to me killing all those little brain cells so many years ago, or do we need to be a little more vigilant, a little more aware of what’s happening in our world?As the article I mentioned above states, “It’s not the surveillance, treacherous as it is, but that some writers, at least, already appear willing to capitulate.”

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill: “…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu161337.html#edW4oJ51UtLXA8k3.99
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu161337.html#edW4oJ51UtLXA8k3.99
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu161337.html#edW4oJ51UtLXA8k3.99

About dvberkom

Bestselling author of the Kate Jones and Leine Basso thrillers. View all posts by dvberkom

19 responses to “A Ranty Waste

  • Jill James

    I think we’ve already started sliding down that slippery slope and we didn’t even see it coming.

    Like

  • jimdev7

    Berkom, that was an awesome post. I agree with most of it, and I too have been taken to the verge of ranting. As for the NSA bit. I guess I’m a little to naive or just have a “F*&$ them all” attitude.

    I will never surf in fear. The government of this country has built a culture of fear over the last decade and a half. It’s what keeps the “little people” in line. It frosts my ass when I hear about how I need to be protected.

    I do not own a gun and I don’t live my life in fear. I refuse to believe that this is the way of the world. Human nature is better than that. Sure, corporations aren’t, religion definitely isn’t but in the end, I believe that if you do good things, good things will happen to you.

    So come after me NSA, because if you do, the jokes on you.

    Like

    • DV Berkom

      Absolutely, Jim! As writers I believe we’re tasked with the truth…we can’t start modifying our behavior out of fear. When the writers fall, so does the country. I also believe that if you do good things, it comes back to you. This country is so much better than what appears to be happening…

      Like

  • charlieray45

    I recently retired from government service. During the entire time I wrote fiction that was often critical of the ass holes in politics and government. If I wasn’t stopped when they were paying me every two weeks, I’m damned sure not gonna let some jerk tell me what I can read, write, or think now. If the NSA wants to monitor the web sites I visit, I hope they enjoy them as much as I do. You tell ’em, lady – and I hope that doesn’t come across as sexist, because I was tempted to write, ‘you go, girl,’ but that probably would be sexist, right? Oh, hell, you know what I mean. Writers gotta write, and anyone who gets in our way will get skewered on our red or blue pencils.

    Like

  • CM Skiera

    Nice rant! And no, I don’t think you’re being alarmist. Though government has always been nosy (Nixon & J. Edgar, wiretaps, etc.), technology is allowing it to be bigger, better, faster.

    Like

  • CM Skiera

    Bigger, better, faster at snooping, that is. And not much else, unfortunately.

    Like

    • DV Berkom

      Thanks, CM. It’s good to know I’m not being just another crazy-assed writer. And yeah, technology is a gigantic part of the machine. Too bad they don’t use it more for the greater good…

      Like

  • Ruth Ross

    Magnificent Post. You should get het up more often, you achieve a level of catharsis for all of us.

    Should you be paranoid about government surveillance? Depends on what you’re doing, I suppose. But if you really want to ride the ragged edge topic-wise, try using your library’s databases. Librarians are paranoid by training. We’re required to take “Freedom of Information” as our Confirmation Name the day we graduate and join the Guild.

    As for the pompous, self-serving, miserable excuses for Congressmen, now might be a good time to fire 85% of them. OK, 90%–but I’m not sure the rest of us have anyone willing to enter that den of iniquity without serious Angel wings backing our play.

    And as for Media being the watchdogs of a free society, what the hell happened to investigative journalism — has it all been licked clean by Miley Cyrus’ tongue? I don’t care how you bat, somebody needs to tell that little girl she’s ugly when she doesn’t keep it in her head.

    Phhhewww. I feel better now. Thanks.

    Like

    • DV Berkom

      Mark keeps mumbling something akin to “Step away from the machete–you’re scaring me…” so I’d better keep writing🙂

      As you well know, there’s a special place in my heart for librarians and I am comforted by the idea of Freedom of Information as a confirmation name. And a guild (!) I’m envisioning a dark, cavernous room filled with flickering candlelight and hooded initiates taking the sacred oath to uphold truth and freedom at any cost ala Dan Brown…sans hair shirts and metal celices.

      And, as has happened all too often, if a person of integrity and honesty actually braves our political gauntlet and gains purchase, there’s an insidious spectre lying in wait to tear them apart and use them for toilet paper. Most humans with political ambition aren’t capable of resistance.

      Like

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    As a Canadian we watch what goes on in the U.S. and sometimes shake our heads. There seems to be a growing paranoia about a lot of things. I think it stems from that old ‘cult of the individual’ right along with the ‘right to bear arms’, and many others which, in most countries are thought excessive. This latest is just another symptom of that growing paranoia. The political climate in the U.S. is rife with it.

    That said, I will be the first to say’ speak out and fight’ if I see human rights being violated. Silence is the best weapon enemies can use against us. So often we remain silent until it is too late – as in WW2.

    Our best defense is to stay well-informed, and then to act accordingly. Who was it that said “the truth shall set you free”? Hiding and avoiding only make us look guilty, even when we aren’t.

    In the meantime – I have nothing to hide. So I have no fear of being spied on.

    Like

    • DV Berkom

      “Our best defense is to stay well-informed, and then act accordingly.”

      Well said, Yvonne. But when so many choose to become informed about trivial shit like which celebrities are schtupping whom and whether someone unfollowed you on Twitter, then people’s priorities become severely misguided, no one acts, and a society crumbles, becoming easy pickings for the power hungry and corrupt. I don’t think this is limited to the US, although it is certainly at the top of the list in that respect.

      Like

      • DV Berkom

        And yes, I agree with your comment about the rising paranoia in the US, which I believe stems from the misinformed and uninformed. Which is kinda what I was trying to get at in the earlier message.

        Like

      • Yvonne Hertzberger

        I wouldn’t call those things being ‘well informed’. lol That stuff drives me crazy, too. Mass propaganda is a very dangerous thing – and one of the things that fuels the paranoia. Our job is to find the wheat among the chaff – and to use it well. It’s not an easy task.

        You are correct that it is not only the U.S. that suffers from this. It is growing elsewhere, too, unfortunately. That’s the stuff that prevents good relations between diverse peoples.

        Like

  • Jenni

    You are right, writers need to research and should not be afraid of who is watching them. We live in a rare country that allows us to do this. I think its a cop out if you do not go after the facts. Well said! And here’s to the rebel writers! I’m on someones watch list.

    Like

  • chriskarlsen

    I agree totally with you DV. No American should fear their government. No writer or journalist should fear conducting research or speaking their minds. Many of us have veterans in our family or have had. A government we need to fear is not the one my family vets fought for. This is shameful. Coincidentally, today on Publishing Pulse online, the article you refer is posted.

    Like

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