Accused and Judged, But Not Guilty

This was first posted as a comment to the Obama discussion below, but is important enough that I decided it needed to be given its own post. Having been accused of something I have not done, I want to move this front and center.

Let me quickly address, by the way, the accusation by people—including the book destroyer—that I have been spreading misinformation. The quote from the article that caught my attention and sent chills down my spine was:

A crack team of cybernauts will form a rapid response internet “war room” to track and respond aggressively to online rumours that Barack Obama is unpatriotic and a Muslim.

Does that not bother you? If it doesn’t, then please define for me exactly what would constitute a rumor of “being unpatriotic”.

He’s not a Muslim, and not being mistaken for a Muslim is important to both him and to his campaign. Fine. Never thought he was, nor would his religious affiliation have been a defining choice in my decision to vote for or against him. Being a Muslim is a clear and simple fact, easy to prove. The rumor may be difficult to dispel, but it won’t be impossible.

But “unpatriotic”? Who defines that? Who defines what is a negative statement, and what is or is not a rumor of being unpatriotic?

“Unpatriotic” can mean anything the candidate doesn’t like. It is not, as Shakespeare would have said, “an ever-fix’d mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken…”

It is, instead, a wide-open field perfect for what the military would define as “mission creep.”

And THAT is where I drew my line.

You don’t like my opinion, I’m okay with that. Everybody disagrees with everybody sooner or later.

But those of you who have so gleefully piled on in accusing me of spreading misinformation may now give me a clear and precise definition of what a rumor of being unpatriotic would be, and where its boundaries lie, and then you tell me exactly how I have spread misinformation.

Or you may apologize.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

82 comments… add one
  • Katherine Jun 12, 2008 @ 12:34

    The policy section on Obama’s site is quite comprehensive. Far more so than McCain’s, actually. Many of his speeches (also on the site) include quite a bit of policy detail as well.

    Remember that Internet use, and especially social media, weren’t nearly as common even in 2004 as they are now. (Facebook was founded in 2004, YouTube in 2005.) The Dean campaign, which was groundbreaking at the time, raised less money online *total* than Obama raises in a typical month.

    But while the venue has changed, campaign rapid reaction teams are nothing new. The New York Times has a look at the George Bush (2004) war room: http://tinyurl.com/6rotn7

  • Arconna Jun 12, 2008 @ 11:29

    Kerry was a failure for reasons that had less to do with ignoring smearing and more to do with his method of trying to make people like him. He couldn’t reach the voters he needed to. If smearing were a tactic that actually worked, then why did George Bush win two times in a row? Because the Internet buzz on him was not positive at all. Hell, how did he win the second time? There were documentaries about how horrible he was! Yet he still won and I don’t recall him having a little team of Internet buddies running around trying to douse the flames.

    If Obama thinks the smearing is such a problem then he should be addressing them in a press conference, not by hiring people to protect his “good name” on the Internet. The wording doesn’t get me, it’s the intent. It will always cause a stir, regardless of wording. This is my problem with Obama in the first place. The way he speaks “inspires” and the use of such clever rhetoric (nice rhetoric with lots of hope and change and what not) has people in a stir about how awesome he his. Except, Obama has yet to show or tell us how he intends to give us hope and change and very few people have taken notice of that. Charisma and intelligence are not enough for me anymore. I want results from someone that knows what they are talking about…I don’t know that Obama knows what he is talking about…

  • Monica Jun 12, 2008 @ 11:25

    I’m almost certain that MLK would have done as many conservative blacks did when they saw the rotten direction of the Republican party under Reagan–change affiliation.

    My grandfather, who is extremely conservative, changed with a quickness. It was as if the bulk of white Americans, awed by the fantasy and glitz of outer appearance, were blinded to the reality of the man.

    The trickle-down theory was complete BS. Reagan was just for the rich getting more and indulging their greed. He also used racism against blacks as buzzwords to further his own ends. Under Reagan was when they started to use social issues such as abortion (and later homosexuality) to whip people up to an emotional frenzy and support them even though their economic policies were detrimental to those same people. Notice the Repugnants never actually did anything against the issues they chose (for instance they didn’t really give a damn about abortion–they took up issues merely a ploys to manipulate).

    In general, most blacks couldn’t stand the Reagan, no matter how conservative or Christian they were and left the party in droves if they hadn’t already left during Nixon.

    Blacks usually don’t have the fantasy that supporting the extremely rich or dissing any group of people will eventually make you similarly rich or higher class. That’s a majority thing. It really hasn’t worked out well for the average American.

    Reagan was merely a not-too-bright puppet, a photogenic actor who uttered his lines well, put forth by people way too evil to die, and if there is a hell, is certainly burning in it right now.

    Heh.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on just about everything you’ve said here. — Holly

  • hollylisle Jun 12, 2008 @ 9:33

    Monica—Or charismatic conservative ones, either. Both Ronald Reagan and Martin Luther King Jr. were Republican, and both were charismatic as hell. Reagan was simply lucky that he survived the assassination attempt made against him.

    FWIW

  • BookLover Jun 12, 2008 @ 4:21

    I think we agree on the basics, Katherine. I also think think that the use of violent rhetoric and framing as political tools to send a message that is not spelled out but is in the “dog whistles” and the “buzz words”; that writers can stir up a response that may seem extreme looking at the wording but is actually exactly what the writer aimed to accomplish.

    In other words, for the Times to use “crack team, rapid response, Internet War Room, respond aggressively” is to beg readers to understand they are talking about a SWAT team! It is an example of violent rhetoric – using extreme and violent images such as would describe a SWAT team, in order to a. pump up the news or b. discredit a political opponent or c. both.

    But then, if they had simply said that Barack Obama has hired people to visit internet blogs and respond to attacks with his platform, I guess it wouldn’t have caused such a stir.

    But as I said, I think we agree on the basics – I emphatically agree with you that ignoring the problem is not the answer.

  • Katherine Jun 12, 2008 @ 2:15

    Arconna, Shawn, I wish Obama could just ignore this kind of sludge, too.

    But Kerry tried that, with the Swift Boaters. He lost.

    You can’t change diddly until you win.

    BookLover, I think my whole point has been that the article *doesn’t* say anything about “thought police,” and so the outrage in the original post just contributes to the rumor problem.

  • Monica Jun 12, 2008 @ 1:32

    Well, I think it’s ignorant to worry about an author’s politics when judging their fiction.

    Sigh. I’m just pulling for Obama to make it through to election day. Our country doesn’t have a good record for charismatic liberal-type leaders, especially minorities, to keep breathing too long.

  • BookLover Jun 12, 2008 @ 1:11

    Glad I could give a giggle, cherylp! I second your recommend – to vote according the candidate’s platform.

    Although if it mis-understood as sorely as the voting record and legislative agenda that has been cited in other comments, I lose hope for our democracy. I looked up the Durbin/Obama mortgage relief bill, and there was nothing there to scare anyone except the scammers who have caused the largest series of foreclosures since the Depression. They have reason to be afraid of Obama. The rest of us? Not so much.

    My motto: when in doubt – go to the source!

  • cherylp Jun 12, 2008 @ 0:07

    I’m sitting here laughing my ass off.

    If this isn’t the same knee-jerk reactions I’ve seen from both sides time and again during numerous elections, I’ll pour ketchup on my hat and eat it.

    By this time, unless you all are under the age of accountability, you know what your personal politics are, so vote according to each candidate’s PLATFORM.

    Forget voting for the PERSON. You’re heading for extreme disappointment and disillusionment if you persist in believing any candidate can walk on water.

    Trying to subdue anyone who doesn’t agree with you that your particular candidate is the nearest thing to God is like flailing your fists in a dark room. You never know what you’re gonna hit but one thing you can bet on, it’s gonna hurt.

    There aren’t any platforms I agree with this year, either. I have nowhere to go. —Holly

  • BookLover Jun 11, 2008 @ 21:37

    I recommend “Don’t Think of an Elephant!” by George Lakoff, to find out how the Times article caused everyone here to conclude that Obama is for “thought police”.

    Consider these words from the top of the article: “internet war room”; “crack team of cybernauts”; “internet war room” repeated from headline; “track and respond aggressively”. If that doesn’t say “thought police” without saying thought police – I don’t know what would.

    What the article does not say is that Obama is setting up ‘thought police’. They didn’t have to, did they?

    Just to correct another mis-conception: mortgage brokers used to all be mortgage bankers. All bankers, down to the tellers, are fingerprinted for background checks because of the obvious reasons, and have been since before I was twenty and applied at a bank (forty-one years ago). All mortgage brokers are NOT fingerprinted or background checked because they worked “outside” the banking industry – even though what they do is handle the largest financial asset of most people – their home equity. I was fingerprinted and background checked when I was a licensed real estate agent (in 1989) because real estate agents handle people’s money and assets in a position of fiduciary trust. Mortgage brokers are not fingerprinted, and unlike real estate agents and mortgage bankers, they do not have to pass a test or obtain a license to handle people’s money and major assets. When I was a mortgage broker (in 1994) I worked for a reputable company, but I despised the people, some of whom had criminal records, who crept into the industry and sucked innocent and trusting people into the kind of mortgages that are now causing wide-spread misery and foreclosures. I have no personal knowledge of Obama co-sponsoring a bill to fingerprint mortgage brokers but if he did so I would, from my personal knowledge and experience and as a homeowner, fully endorse him for doing so.

    This is a forum for writers, and I must apologize for sucking up so much space on these issues, however, due to my personal knowledge of said issues, I could not allow the concerns expressed here to go unanswered.

    In this election, the issue of patriotism is married at its root to the false notion that Obama is a Muslim, and that rumor needs to be addressed in an appropriate manner, by people concerned with stopping rumors before they defeat him like the ‘cowardly’ rumors defeated Kerry. That is not intimidation, it is common sense.

    As writers, we all care deeply about words and meaning, and about the meaning of a collection of words, the ability to push ideas not explicitly stated in a story. We also care deeply about what people are saying about us as writers! In fact, I had a visit to my blog from a first time novelist of a science fiction book, after I gave her book a review (positive, in this case). She, like any caring novelist, searches the Internet regularly to see what is being said about her and her work.

    Of course Obama cares about what people are saying about him in this, the Internet, America’s living room (and my living room, your living room and Holly’s living room – or office, or den, or whatever). If he didn’t know, and respond, to slurs, he would end up the same as Senator Kerry, who was horribly slandered in the last days of his campaign, as being a medal seeker, and a cowardly one at that – a scurrilous lie that was totally debunked by the men who served in his boat with him – but too late for his election.

    Because of the concept that has been pushed out there by Time, I now find it necessary to state that I am employed by no one (sob) including Senator Obama or anyone representing him.

    If you visit my blog, you will discover that I support Obama for President – and that is a new thing, as I didn’t have much of an opinion until after mid-February in this election. I did a lot of catch-up reading and watching of debates, and speeches, to come to a strong conclusion. I also haunted blogs for both Clinton and Obama. I will also say that I was for McCain in the 2000 primary.

    Holly – you know where I’m coming from because by now you surely have read my last comment at the bottom of your original post of June 10th. For the rest of the participants here, I will say I’ve been out of the dialog on this site for sad personal reasons, barely able to keep up my blog and little other writing, for the past year and a half. I love Holly’s work, and will continue to read (and re-read) her novels regardless of her political opinions, because I agree with Senator Obama – you don’t throw someone under the bus who you respect and love just because they disagree with you or say something that hurts your feelings.

    Thank you Holly for Talyn, and your entire backlist, and Hawkspar (which I have on pre-order). Be well, and keep on writing!

  • Arconna Jun 11, 2008 @ 21:03

    Katherine: I probably misread. In that case, for me it wouldn’t. Because it wouldn’t be a big surprise to me and why they need their own war room to learn that those things happen in every single election is silly. Instead of catering to the “crowd”, Obama should do what Shawn is saying: ignore it and prove to us that he is the best candidate. I won’t vote for Obama until he can actually prove to me that he can actually change things and change things in a way that is actually better, not worse. So far he hasn’t done that for me, and in fact things are working against him in my book (the fingerprint thing is almost an instant no vote for me).

  • Shawn Hansen Jun 11, 2008 @ 20:54

    Katherine,

    If Obama’s campaign slogans include “Vote for Change” and “Change We Can Believe In,” he needs to PROVE he’s got the balls to fight the current and make those changes.

    That means NOT worrying about what has been “the kiss of death” in the past or the consequences of smear-tactics.

    It means NOT showing that like everyone else he has a knee-jerk reaction to being perceived as a member of one or more maligned groups.

    Ignoring the words of liars (i.e. those passing the bad information along) is far easier than, say, uh running the country and fighting the uphill battle he’s chosen to take on.

    Of course, since I can’t cast my vote for Senator Clinton, and lengthy torture couldn’t convince me to vote for a Republican who wants to rob me of what few rights I have, I will gladly vote for Obama.

    🙂

  • Katherine Jun 11, 2008 @ 20:49

    Sorry, Arconna, I wasn’t clear. My question was whether people’s opinions of the Obama war room would change if the war room discovered an organized effort behind the smears.

  • Arconna Jun 11, 2008 @ 20:34

    I agree, that’s sort of what I was trying to say, but it does send a mixed message when someone who is portrayed as this open, hopeful, changing candidate is showing, even lightly, an aversion to being attributed to a particular group.

    The unpatriotic crap is just stupid and anyone who takes it seriously is idiotic. Unpatriotic would be running around blowing up government buildings and lighting flags on fire and waving them over the graves of soldiers. Simply saying “I don’t like what the government is doing” is called Freedom of Speech, and if adhering to the very rules that founded this country, the rights that make this nation wonderful, is unpatriotic, then I must be the most unpatriotic person ever…cause I’m not going to shut up just because someone thinks I’m a terrorist for speaking my mind.

    Yes, I agree, he is smart to be concerned, but he also has to be careful how he deals with it. By showing his concern he is also adding credibility to the idea that something is wrong with being Muslim, even if he doesn’t intend to do so.

    My opinions on any sort of smearing is the same no matter the party. The fact that Democrats accused Republicans of fiddling with votes and intentionally disenfranchising voters who had names similar to criminals is just as disturbing as Democrats doing the same thing. All that that proves is that no party has the interests of the American people in mind, just their own. I’m absolutely sick of this divide between parties. It’s unnecessary and causes more damage that it purports to fix. And it pits regular people against each other, when we should be sitting down and discussing things like rational human beings. But I guess when politics gets into the mix rationality goes out the door.

  • Katherine Jun 11, 2008 @ 20:17

    Unfortunately, Shawn, I’d say that being seen as unpatriotic and/or Muslim would be pretty much the kiss of death for any national campaign. The “unpatriotic” smear in particular is one that the Republican party has used quite often and quite effectively, even against decorated war veterans. And since 9/11, being Muslim is probably worse. Sad, but true. Obama’s campaign is very smart to be concerned about these rumors.

    (Past history also reminds us that there is plenty of historical precedent for smears against one candidate being launched by allies of the opposing campaign. Would people’s opinions change if it turned out that a Republican-allied 527 group was distributing these emails?)

  • Arconna Jun 11, 2008 @ 20:08

    Congrats to you Shawn! I’m so glad they overturned that stupid ban :). I’ve been hoping for it for a long while!

    I do think it’s really interesting that there should be any concern over being called “Muslim”. It does send a mixed message: “I am not a Muslim” and “I don’t want you to think I am, because that could hurt my campaign”. Granted, I don’t doubt for a second that being referred to as a Muslim would damage his reputation. This country has a love/hate relationship with Muslim people and it would definitely earn him minus points with a lot of people, but perhaps his unspoken condemnation of being mixed with the Muslim people is an unspoken acknowledgment of its negativity.

    *shiver* I hate politicians. This is why I’m studying to be a teacher…

  • Shawn Hansen Jun 11, 2008 @ 19:26

    Setting aside for a moment the price of gas, the state of our economy, the amount of money being spent by all the candidates, etc., the policing of words—any words—is frightening, and anyone who fails to see this has been blinded in one form or another.

    Beyond that is something I haven’t read in comments: why would Senator Obama, his staff, or his supporters care whether or not a certain percentage of folks believe he is either “unpatriotic and [or] a Muslim”?

    Unless these terms are perceived as being so damning his campaign is threatened, there is absolutely no need for anyone to respond.

    It frightens me to think one’s religion might be an issue, and it frightens me to think one being unpatriotic is cause for alarm. (As has been pointed out, the term patriotism is elusive at best, and as far as I am concerned, the good people of this country ought to all be feeling a bit “unpatriotic” given our nation’s current state of affairs.)

    Of course, I am finally going to get to be legally married out here in California, so I’m certainly not an authority on freedom. . .

  • heatherwrites Jun 11, 2008 @ 19:26

    FWIW, I want to thank you for directing us to the article in the first place. You offered an opinion, but gave us the opportunity to make our own.

    I’m still bummed over Hillary’s loss. (And equaly as suprised that I have feeling about it.) I’d hoped for Obama to gain experience as a VP and give us a better picture of who he is in that time frame. Now, my vote (if I make one) will depend on each candidates VP choice, which is sad and scary.

  • Tech Jun 11, 2008 @ 18:31

    Holly,

    I rarely enter into politics on my blog. It’s a calm place for the most part, and I cheerfully delete comments that I think will disturb that peace. (Usually for bad language. My site is rated G and PG for the most part, and I delete rarely because it’s not a site that attracts trolls.) I admire your courage — and maybe that bit of foolhardiness — that led you to put your beliefs out there for all to see and disagree or agree as they see fit.

    I did support Hillary because I thought she was the best out of a bad three. I will be voting for McCain because I think he’s the best out of a bad two. I do this reluctantly. I’d sure like to have an election someday where I get to vote FOR someone instead of AGAINST someone. And maybe as the election progresses I’ll see something or read something that will change my vote.

    However, it will never be changed by anyone accusing me of being unpatriotic or attempting to stifle the free exchange of ideas — even idiotic, stupid ideas — for the sake of their political agenda. In fact, that’s one of the surest ways to get me to vigorously support their opponents.

    Take care.

  • Katherine Jun 11, 2008 @ 16:00

    I just put a long post about this on my own blog. Short version: I don’t think the article supports the conclusion you drew, and certainly not the inflammatory language you used. But it doesn’t support the more benign conclusion I drew, either, and so our respective responses say more about us than about what the campaign might actually have in mind.

    Comments are still down on my blog due to spam, but if you’d like to email a response I’d be happy to post it.

  • TJ Jun 11, 2008 @ 15:53

    I haven’t read the links because I can’t right now, but from the posts and the comments, I can’t help but be concerned. Chasing down every little corner of the internet to find a comment about this topic or that is downright scary. Who cares? People stay stupid crap all the time. It almost sounds like an ego issue, and we don’t need that in the office.

    What I would like to see in a candidate is someone practical. Who sees the important issues for the country and for the world. Who knows that it shouldn’t be a popularity contest and that doing the right thing is often the least popular option. Someone who doesn’t twist words for political favor from others in the party.

    But, alas, my idealistic self will go hide behind my cynical, pessimistic, or as I like to call it, realistic self.

  • Arconna Jun 11, 2008 @ 14:47

    If he stops being a moron he can save his campaign. Anyone could have told him that banking on Bush-style politics was a bad idea.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 14:22

    Arconna—I’m one of the some who think McCain is toast.

  • Arconna Jun 11, 2008 @ 14:11

    I think only about 1/3 of Americans actually vote, right? The thing that bothers me most about that is it’s not like there are only 300 people in the country…there are 300 million. That’s 200 million who don’t get up off their butts and vote. What’s even worse about that is you don’t even have to get off your butt anymore, except to put your blasted absentee ballot in the bloody mail. The amount of work that requires is negligible.

    I actually was on the Clinton camp for a while, only because I liked the way she spoke and the way she presented herself as a strong Democratic front. Granted, I wasn’t going to vote for her based on that, but that’s why I liked her. I don’t like her politics much. She’s too liberal for me. That’s when I sort of fell off the Democrat wagon and I started liking McCain, and then he went and committed political suicide and started acting like Bush…I mean, I know people didn’t like McCain when he first started really proving to be a strong candidate. We all want out of the war, but he wasn’t offering an immediate solution, just a logical one (you can’t just waltz out and say “well, sorry we screwed up your country…have fun!” and expect the Iraqis to be all well and dandy). But now he’s just jumping right on the Bush train and driving straight into a concrete barricade. McCain still has a shot, contrary to what some might believe, but I think at this point we’re going to be left with a race to see who ends up looking worse than the other. Sadly, painting Obama as a Muslim would drastically change the way America views him. We’d like to think that isn’t true, but it is. A lot of Americans get a little shiver at the very idea of someone being Muslim. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to all the terrorism hype after 9/11. I know we hope that we’re all able to look past such a thing, but a lot of Americans can’t or won’t. That might explain Obama’s thought police concept, but it doesn’t excuse it.

    Yeah…scary times ahead.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 14:03

     
    Jess—Oh, my agenda. In the past, I supported:

    1. Carter but was too young to vote him in,

    and voted:

    1. Reagan,
    2. Reagan, (was still a registered Democrat for both of those)
    3. Dukakis,
    4. Perot,
    5. Bush,
    6. nobody (missed the vote by just moving to a new state, but would have voted Bush over Kerry),
    7. and would have voted Obama this year had I failed to do deeper research.

    As a voting record, you can certainly cringe in a few places, but I’ll be impressed if you can turn it into an agenda. I’m the one who voted, and I can’t pin down a theme.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 13:51

    The sad thing about all of this is that I wanted to believe. I wanted to think Obama was a genuine chance for positive change, someone who could unify the country, someone who could be a breath of fresh air to overcome the dismal state of politics as usual.

    I wanted him to be everything the hype said he was, and I actually let myself hope.

    I should have known better.

    As to the question, is it winning if most folks stay home, or if most folks are just voting against the other guy? Well, it’s winning for the person who gets the power.

    It sure isn’t winning for the voters.

  • Jess Jun 11, 2008 @ 13:34

    I read the OP and clicked through to the comments trail and was SHOCKED to see the negativity. Whoa! I don’t get how you pointing out the downside to this and the possible effect of it on the future is having an agenda… but… people are entitled to their opinions. It’s sad when they resort to libel to enforce it, though.

    My favorite in arguments like this is when someone says “You started it! You called me names!” and then you reread the posts and the “you” in question has been nothing but civil. But then, I’m just one of your flunkies coming out to throw fodder at the cannons, right? *eyeroll*

    I hate politics. I think we’re all doomed and have been for a long time.

    I’ve heard Obama and McCain both speak and while McCain had more heft to his speech, I don’t know that I like either one the more I learn, the longer the campaigns go on. On one hand, I’m glad voting isn’t until November so we don’t all vote without as much information as possible – all of it, of course, slanted, but we do our best – and on the other, will anybody be left to vote? Does it really count as “winning” if half the nation stays home, or if half the nation is voting “against” one person instead of “for” you?

  • Arconna Jun 11, 2008 @ 13:22

    Holly,
    All I can say is that you are awesome. I’m not an Obama supporter and I never was. The thing about Obama is that the vast majority of people I have seen support him (which has been college students, since I’m a Uni person myself) haven’t a clue what he actually stands for. They hold up their signs that say “hope” and “change”, but without knowing what any of that means. What kind of hope? What kind of change?
    If electing Obama means we get one step closer to a totalitarian state, then I’m out. A national fingerprint registry is a huge step in that direction. The more I see what Obama stands for, the more I realize that he’s just another politician. There are no good candidates anymore. There isn’t a politician that represents my interests or the interests of the American people. We just have politicians, who will weasel their way into power to do whatever it is they think they can get away with. I won’t be voting for Obama. I can’t vote for him. As much as I don’t like McCain, I can’t bring myself to vote for a candidate who is just as bad. Obama is not our savior. He’s not going to bring this country around. He’s going to drive it into the ground, just like McCain, just like any other politician who has been running. America is about to make a horrible choice and it is going to pay for it.

    This country is too divided and not smart enough to make a correct choice. A good choice would be a moderate, someone who can see both sides and make logical compromises, but such a person would never get voted in. The division between parties is too great. Both sides are too stubborn for their own good. We’re in for scary times, if these times aren’t scary enough as it is.

    Thanks for posting this stuff, Holly. I appreciate it and keep it up. If people burn your books over it, just shake it off. That’s like free publicity anyway :P. Hope they ban it from public libraries, then you’re in for huge sales :P.

  • dianacacy Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:49

    I don’t normally respond, but I just have to let you know my feelings. I don’t agree with you on everything, but I don’t expect you to think the same way I do. And neither should anyone else. We’re all unique and each of us have a right to express our own thoughts.

    Myself, I haven’t quite decided one way or the other fully about Obama. I only knew I favored him over Hillary. In some ways, I agree with your assessment … in others, I’m still saying “hmmm… I need more information yet before I’d agree.”

    But this ‘task force’ of his really concerns me. Not because of the definition of what patriotism is, but what freedom of speech in other circumstances it will lead to endangering if he goes through with this. People will use the fact that he was able to do this as an excuse for their own actions.

    And what does being aggressive about it means?

    There’s no clear definitions, no set rules of what can and cannot happen. All kinds of things can go wrong with this.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:34

    The current administration’s civil liberties record is abysmal. No argument there. I see the candidate’s choice here as a very negative step in the wrong direction, though.

    The possibility exists that the news source, The Times, got it wrong. But the candidate and his people haven’t protested the presentation, and the news source hasn’t retracted, corrected or amended anything, and The Times is about as reputable as news sources get these days, so I have to think all those involved find the information acceptably close to the truth.

    The candidate’s current record as a civil libertarian unfortunately involves his co-sponsoring a bill that creates a national fingerprint registry and could require the fingerprinting of all mortgage lenders—a serious anti-civil-liberties move.

    Folks may not like one of my sources for this, but amazingly, the story didn’t get much coverage by major media outets (some sarcasm intended).

  • vanity Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:32

    Thanks for the link. That is well scary. But it confirms my initial suspicion that this person was just waiting to blow up.

    You couldn’t have prevented the meltdown, if it hadn’t been a political thread, some other event would have done it.

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much, although I foresee a bit more drama from ghost’s side.

  • Katherine Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:24

    I guess I’m more concerned by the overtly facist past behavior of the current administration than by the hypothetically facist future behavior of a candidate with a long record as a civil libertarian. Until smacked down by the Supreme Court, the current administration claimed the right to imprison US citizens indefinitely, without charge, trial, or meaningful oversight. The candidate wants to debunk demonstrably false rumors. Big difference.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 12:09

    And for those following this thread, I went into my comment filter after I read the personal attacks posted by Ghost at the site linked above. I was going to okay whatever comment she’d made, simply to get it out in the open. However, nothing was caught in my spam filter.

    So I’m left thinking the accusation that I’d blocked her is not Akismet acting up, but an intentional attempt at a smear.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 11:52

    I still don’t see why what they’re suggesting is so radical and scary.

    Katherine, I suspect it’s because you are more willing to believe the government and those in power are benevolent (or at least benign) than I am.

    You see a reasonable response to misinformation from any source, no matter its size or credibility. I see potential abuse of presidential power and a foothold for censorship and fascism.

    Intentional misinformation and personal attacks come in a lot of forms. Presidents even more than private citizens need to be careful about how they choose to respond.

  • Katherine Jun 11, 2008 @ 11:50

    Went back and read the rest of yesterday’s comment thread. Apparently things got a bit more heated after I went on with my day.

    If anyone is spreading misinformation here, it’s the Times, for not explaining exactly what rumors the campaign is talking about. The emails that are being spread don’t just say, “Obama is unpatriotic,” or even “Obama is unpatriotic because of [questionable policy position]” They say, “Obama hates/wants to destroy America!!! [Ludicrously false or distorted “evidence.”]” Barring evidence to the contrary, I’m assuming that’s the kind of stuff the campaign is worried about.

  • Katherine Jun 11, 2008 @ 11:42

    I think the campaign is entitled to correct false rumors of all kinds. The “Obama is unpatriotic” rumor comes in many guises, from ludicrous (flag pins) to outrageous (radical Islamist plant). I still don’t see why what they’re suggesting is so radical and scary.

  • Jessilynn Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:36

    Holly,
    I’ve never posted a comment on your blog before, but I’ve been reading it for quite a while now. I really appreciate all that you do to support new writers and all the advice you have put on your site.

    I just wanted to come out of lurker mode for a minute and offer my own support for what it is worth.

    I could not beleive some of the things people posted and the person who threw your books away (what kind of person throws away a book? I could never) just because she disagreed with you shocked me. Maybe it shouldn’t. Politics seems to bring out the ignorance in some people.

    Anyway just wanted to let you know, the fact that you stick by your opinions even when you are attacked for them just adds to my respect and admiration for you as a writer and as a person.

    As someone above said, Don’t let the negative people get to you.

  • vanity Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:29

    “I may not have the common sense God gave rocks, since I am sticking to my ground here.”

    As you should. In the long run, I think this is the sensible position.

    Someone who would throw away books and then has the cheek to suggest that you are responsible for their childish behaviour would have tossed your books on a whim anyway.

    The rest of us appreciates people, who actually hold informed opinions and don’t topple at the first signs of trouble.

  • rcyork Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:27

    Sorry, my brain did not interpret what my eyes thought they saw. I didn’t notice the “n’t” on the end of “have” in your comment.

  • PolarBear Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:18

    I suspect the unpatriotic charge stems from the ridiculous lapel flag pin issue and his negative stance regarding military action in Iraq.

    Judging someone’s patriotism by whether or not they wear an American flag lapel pin is shallow and misguided — even in a political campaign.

    Senator Obama’s view on the Iraq war is well-known. His approach to resolve the matter inexperienced and misguided indicating a failure to understand international politics. That’s not unpatriotic, but it is grounds for significant concern.

  • tkeller Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:12

    I find it incredibly ironic that in your recent article series you addressed that when writing, you cannot write something worth reading and have everyone agree with you.

    “You can please some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.” -President Lincoln.

    I am a social studies teacher who loves to teach politics, but absolutely hates the current political mindframe. I vote for the person whom I believe is best suited to run this country-not necessarily the person I most agree with.

    One of my favorite authors, the one who got me into fantasy in the first place, has made a clear point in her books that she supports abortion, and other things that I do not necessarily agree with. Does this make her books less enjoyable, knowing her viewpoints? Certainly not. I make myself aware of where the author is coming from, and make a conscious decision to enjoy the book regardless of whether or not I agree with the author. If everyone agreed with me…well, what would be the fun in that?

    To address the person who decides to trash books, and encourage others to do so…I am appalled. It is indeed as much like the Nazis who burned books that disagreed in any way with their ideals, or the idiots who perpetually seek to ban and censor books. There is no difference. The only books I have ever thrown away were done so because they were falling apart at the seams-literally-from being read so much.

    I either donate unwanted books to the library or sell to the used bookstore. People who censor, trash, and burn books only encourage illiteracy.

    In response, I think I shall go out and buy a bunch of copies of your books, Holly, and distribute them around.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:07

    To rcyork: Dude, I didn’t delete the posts. They’re both still here. I have the courage of my convictions and faith in the process of logic I used to arrive at them.

    (I may not have the common sense God gave rocks, since I am sticking to my ground here, but that’s another issue.)

    But I’m not going to take them down. And thanks.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:05

    Geekomancer says:

    “I’ve been saying for years now that anyone who WANTS to be president shouldn’t be :)”

    From your lips to God’s ears.

  • Geekomancer Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:03

    I think it doesn’t bother people because most people don’t really look at things. The rest of us… well… I think most just don’t think we’d make a difference. Maybe that’s wrong, I dunno. I know I don’t like where my country is going, haven’t since 2002. But again, what can we do?

    For the record, I don’t think you’re spreading misinformation. That’s silly. You never said he was a Muslim. You expressed concern at the article. Which last I checked was perfectly legal.

    Heck, my MOM thought he was a Muslim, just because of his name. *shrug* Perception is everything in today’s society, and I don’t think you can take anyone at face value.

    I’ve been saying for years now that anyone who WANTS to be president shouldn’t be 🙂

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 10:02

    No apologies necessary for not jumping in on my side yesterday. We’re good, and I do appreciate the support today.

    I would have gotten around to refuting the whole “spreading misinformation” crap sooner had we not had a LONG power outage following a thunderstorm yesterday.

    By the time the power came back on and the Internet started working again (not simultaneously), it was late, and I had time to read my mail and the later blog posts, but not the energy to deal with them.

  • rcyork Jun 11, 2008 @ 9:59

    Holly, I’m sorry to hear that you have deleted the posts. I see you are already succumbing to the rhetoric.

    I know you have to sell books, but your opinions, tour conflicts and your life experiences are what go into making your stories so real. Please don’t be bullied…not even by close friends.

  • hollylisle Jun 11, 2008 @ 9:54

    Generally, I avoid both politics and religion, in discussion and in life. Can’t stand either one.

    I thought this particular point was important, and assumed (bad mistake there) that I could point my readers at the article and they would see what I saw without me having to spell out in step-by-step detail why an aggressive “war room” response to rumors of the candidate’s “unpatriotism” was in fact opening the door to Orwellian blog thought police.

    I figured the folks who read my weblog would realize on their own that there is no clear definition of “unpatriotic,” and that aggressive response to that vague undefinable word by a crack team of hirees of the probable next president of the country was a scary thing indeed.

    I was wrong. It didn’t bother people at all—including one person I’ve known for something like fifteen years now. That person made the first accusation that I’d spread misinformation, in fact.

    I still think this is important, though. That’s why I haven’t deleted both posts and returned to my overall no-politics-zone stance.

  • rcyork Jun 11, 2008 @ 9:53

    Holly, I want to apologize for not writing to support you in the midst of the attack you received yesterday.

    You and I probably disagree greatly on some issues of politics, religion, etc. But the fact that we can publicly disagree with each other and with our government is what has kept this country strong for over two centuries. The day that freedom is taken, along with many of the other freedoms that have already been compromised, is the day our constitution dies.

    To “the book burner” – if I vowed to destroy every book, movie, CD that was produced by someone I disagreed with, I would be left to play tiddly-winks with myself. And, honestly, I don’t find myself that entertaining for very long.

  • Geekomancer Jun 11, 2008 @ 9:51

    Yeah, everyone’s got their opinions. For the book tosser, at least give ’em to a reseller. I don’t care how angry you are. Tossing books is just wrong.

    Anyway, I *hope* its as innocent as people want to think. As the first potential minority candidate, he should kinda know better. Of course, going to the extremes could be entirely this commission’s idea.

    Who really knows, anyway.

  • vanity Jun 11, 2008 @ 9:17

    Politics, guns, religion – best to stay clear of those. The following is imho, ymmv:

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for an apology – the person who claimed to be a long term supporter that threw away your books is too entrenched in his own opinion to reflect on things.

    It definitely ranks up there with book burning in my opinion as well. Quite frankly, I am a bit shocked that anyone of your audience, which for the most part should be long out of puberty (Ruby Key notwithstanding), would throw a tantrum like that.

    Even if you were guilty of anything, how can an adult think that “I am your #1 fan, but now I am going to throw away all of your books, unless you change your opinions to match mine” is an acceptable position to hold?

    Anyway, don’t let the negative voices get to you.

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