Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm Not Afraid To Use The N-Word: Character VS. Writer!

I occasionally love a long title, and My intended title for this article was I'm Not Afraid To Use The N-Word, Or The G-Word, Or The M-Word: The Character VS. The Writer, but of course it was way too long to put for a post title, and I can only imagine that the title alone would not fit into a tweet.  I know I've been silent for a little while, since My somewhat public disassociation with Lushstories.Com, but again I assure you that I have been working on one level or another.  Over the past several weeks I have had a chance to go back and look at the things that I had written years and years ago and compared them against the things that I have written over the course of the past year to post online.  I knew all along that I had been holding back for the sake of online publication, as so many sites adhere to a set of general laws that are acceptable internationally, but I had not realized really how much.  Touchy subjects became outright taboo on erotic sites, while the same subjects had always been addressed in printed works.  Many sites censor their submissions even if those touchy things are only mentioned and not presented as sexualized.  Rape, molestation, incest, murder, and teen sexuality are several subjects presented to us almost daily in some cases in print media, television and the movies, but end up being taboo if they are given a single line mention on some erotic sites, and sometimes they are the stuff that will get you banned from some sites.  It was the fact that erotic sites take a narrow view of broader subjects and stories that in part made Me decide to abandon Lush and site submission in general in favor of publishing for eReaders.  Although I can write quickies and fluff with the best of them I much prefer to write stories of substance and grit.

Then there comes the treading into the realm of Political Correctness.  For My part I feel that Political Correctness only belongs in a few places such as (and for the most part) in Politics and the workplace.  In literature Political Correctness has no place.  The reason is quite simple, human beings (probably a good 99.9999999999995% of the population), are not Politically Correct.

I guess it goes without saying that if you're one of these 24/7 PC people who just couldn't wait to get a copy of the N-Word Free Editions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn then the works of Michael C. Laney will not be for you.  I'm from the South, a native Floridian, a large percent of My lineage Cherokee, raised by Southern white people, so I'm about as Southern US as you can get, location-wise and in upbringing.  So yes, going through middle school I became aware of the argument and controversy over some of Mark Twain's works, which at the time were required reading and a bone of contention with people who felt the works racist over the use of the N-Word.  Now in the 21st Century I have to say it was just brilliant that someone had the insight to go through and replace the word "nigger" with the word "slave".  I know that this really smoothed things over with the African-American Community and that African-Americans are buying Tom Sawyer like it's going out of style, and are just praying that their children will find that novel as part of their required reading in middle and junior high school.

Like Hell!

Only a white person could have though replacing nigger with slave would make the story any more inviting to people of color.  Right?  I mean how many of you are going to work tomorrow and saying, "Hey slaves, what up?", to your black co-workers.  I'm sure the police are going to the basketball courts in Auburndale late at night and saying, "Alright, all you slaves got to go home now."  I'm also sure that when someone has a black person blocking the door to the Metro-North Rail when they reach their destination are going to say, "Hey, slave, get out of my way!"

No the above scenarios aren't happening because for one people do not talk that way.  In fact in most cases they're not going to assign a racial marker at all to any group, and if they are it's going to be derogatory one way or another.

As I was growing up I used to hear people say, you don't have to be black to be a nigger, a bad person is a nigger no matter what color they are.  And I can't help but believe that whoever came up with that term was whiter the a brand new KKK hood and robe.  I've never in my life heard a white person call theirself a nigger.  The closest I've ever heard was "nigga" and it was always some wanna-be thug that listened to a lot of Vanilla Ice or Eminem.  Nope, Caucasians in general have no concept of what it is to have someone put you down due to their skin being anything other pure white.

Recently My oldest son, Alex, graduated from high school.  The lady vyle had never been to where he lives in Missouri and she was appalled that the high school's mascot was the Savannah Savage, and that the local NFL team was the Kansas City Chiefs.  As we headed back to the airport on the day we left she started talking about how bad it made her feel to see that they used such derogatory names for the sports teams in the area.  I told her that there were several Native Americans that could care less, and from what I had seen over the years a majority of the people who were out to have sports team names changed to mascots more PC were usually white.  It had never bothered Me that the teams were the Savages and the Chiefs.  I bought a Savage Pride t-shirt when I lived there.  And to this day many of the people I've worked with have given Me the nickname of Chief, mostly due to the fact I am so demanding as a majority of the people I've ever worked with have assumed I am Hispanic and have no idea I'm Native American without being told.

Of course I know there may be those of you who think that, well from what you've written here it doesn't seem like you understand the subject because it sounds like you've never had a problem with racism in your life.  Well let Me assure you it's something that I've dealt with for most of My life.  As the only Native American in my family, and in nearly every community I've lived in it's something I've dealt with almost every day.  Once you reach about the 5th grade everyone finally begins to realize that anyone who is not like them is different, and when you're the sole representative of your race it begins to be a fairly lonely existence when no one really wants to associate with you and you have no idea why.  Combine that with repressing the fact you're bisexual, although it seems that everyone around you senses you're even further different, and it truly does make you into a country unto yourself.

As recently as five years ago I was in a direct confrontation that was racially motivated.  I had walked home from work and found Myself accosted by a neighborhood "good old boy" as I stopped at the community mail box to get the mail.  Apparently he and his equally good old boy and equally drunken friend had passed Me on the road and yelled at Me, asking if I needed a ride.  I can't tell you if that happened or not, as I was usually in My own world whenever I walked home, either thinking about writing or thinking about bills, so maybe they did offer Me a ride, and if so I never heard them.  Well, good old "Bobby Joe" wanted to know if  "...I thought I was too good for decent white folks".  I responded that I was sorry, that if they had offered Me a ride I hadn't heard them because I was off in My own thoughts, but what I really wanted to say was "No, but you aren't decent white folks."

So, I've had My share of being made to feel less of a person because I was different.  It's not a white only club either, because I've had some experience with people of other races as well.  One of My cousins was married to a Mexican and it just so happened that I rode the same bus with one of his cousins.  He quickly let Me now that I wasn't one of "them" (a Mexican or a member of his family) so never talk to him.  Another incident I will never forget is walking in on a conversation between a black couple, the boyfriend at the moment I was headed in their direction proclaiming his hate for white people.  I said hello in passing and had the guy going off saying, "Can't you hear?  I said I don't like white people!"  Of course he got one of what has become one of My standard responses over the years.  I held out My arm and said, "Hey, man, I ain't white!"

PC in the real world?  If you work with a diverse group of 20 to 30 somethings PC does not exist until someone gets mad enough at someone else to want them gone or in trouble.  Chief, Apache, Mexican, Puerto Rican, homie, chupacabara, brotha, nigga, whitey, pale face, sheep fucker, Joe Dirt, and Chico are but a few of the endearing terms that have flown back and forth between My co-workers and Myself over the years at various jobs, with the exception of the St. Joe Frontier Casino because it was a well known fact that the graveyard shift manager and the vaunted Missouri Gaming Commission have no sense of humor.

Oooops!  Did I say graveyard shift?  For those yet  unaware that it no longer an acceptable term and is being replaced with the more PC third shift.  I suppose graveyard is not acceptable to zombies. vampires, the dead or otherwise "living challenged" individuals.

I Love This Picture Because It Is So True
So what about the character vs. the writer?  Some say that every character is an extension of the writer, and to an extent that is true, although not always is the character a personal extension of the writer, but sometimes is a creation based on people they have experienced in their lives.  Yes, just as I've been discriminated against and had derogatory things said about Me I've been on the other side of the fence as well, especially when I was younger.  I feel it's a natural part of the human condition.  At some point in our lives we've all either hated or discriminated against others because they were different.  Even in communities where everyone is the same color human beings find some basis to hate someone else because of where their ancestors came from or what their religion is.  I like to think of it as the Star Trek Principle.  In Star Trek the human race had abandoned prejudice and hate amongst themselves because of a series of wars.  However once they head into space they found new people to hate.  Star Trek has always been kind of a filter for looking at contemporary issues, so it is only natural that racism was often an issue during the original series, although sometimes disguised.
The character, in fact each character, has to have a life of their own to be real.  They have their own way of presenting themselves and their own thoughts.  If every character was a mirror image of their creator, or if they were all PC it would make a story dull and boring.  Even if each character has similar feelings about everyone else in a story it becomes pretty static quickly and has no life to it.  Let's face it if every character has empathy for every other character in it the story will not ring true.

My mother was probably My first critic, although not a welcome or invited one.  She has a habit of snooping where uninvited, and she's a very single minded and Southern.  Whenever she went into My room in the last few years I lived at home and helped herself to a preview of whatever I was writing she would eventually come to Me and tell Me that I wrote really well, but she did not appreciate the language I used (fuck, queer, asshole, bitch, cunt, etc.).  I told her that that was they way people talked in the real world.  That everything was not sanitized and nice.  It was fiction and fiction was a reflection of life.

That was My beginning.  That was when I decided I would never hold back and always write so that it was real to Me, because if it pissed My mother off then I knew I was on the right track.  And I held true to that, until I began posting stories online.  Then I had to hold back, for what seemed to Me stupid reasons due to the fact that a majority of everything I had read since middle school would have never made it online, and I'm talking authors who were #1 Best Sellers, had written classics or had huge fan followings.

I'm not afraid to use the N-Word in fiction because it is a word that people use, sometimes in everyday life and sometimes in private, or even in thought.  In Heather's Journey: The Sound Of her MASTER'S VOICE the term "nigger lover" comes up more than a couple of times as Heather discusses her interracial fantasies with Kitty and even in her own fantasies.  In My latest project, an expansion of the short story A Day In The Life Of Abagail King into a novel the titular Mrs. King uses the words nigger and nigger lover as well as several other racial and racist terms because it is the language she grew up with, although for the most part she is an accepting Southern woman who realizes she is living in the late 20th Century and that things are always changing.  In dozens of other stories characters use the N-Word for various reasons, sometimes deliberately to hurt others and sometimes thoughtlessly.

I'm not afraid to use any of those other words that make the PC people cringe, like the G-Word.  Although it is the latest on the list I have no problem using gay, or associated terms like faggot, queer, gayford, fag, butt pirate of the Caribbean.  Yes, I know I'm in the in crowd there (at least somewhat), and I am sure like Russel T. Davies before Me I will catch some flack, but again it's fiction, the world isn't pretty and seeing the reflection is usually what helps bring about change.

The M-Word from the intended title?  That would be molestation, a subject hard to deal with out in the open period.  No I don't write pedophile or molestation scenes, but it is important to reveal the aftermath of such events in a character's life.  The R-word rape, another that will get you kicked off some erotic sites as an unmentionable, is another I have no fear of using.  Again it is another unpleasant fact of life, and I have and will continue to write stories that contain somewhat graphic rape scenes that are not written as points of titillation but to reveal the horror of the act and the impact it has on the victim for the rest of their life.  Having survived sexual violence I often write stories that revolve around characters who have lived in the aftermath of molestation and rape, and for Me for the longest time writing was the only avenue I had for working through the anguish of feeling I had no one to talk to about it.

I can go on with a list of words I have no fear of using in a story all day long, but I think you get the point.  I know there are people that will say, well if you use those words at all that makes you a  racist.  If you happen to be that small minded please don't bother to ever read another word I've written.  When I write a character full of venom and hate and you find that you don't like them chances are My intention was to write a character you would not like.  Sometimes I write characters who causally throw out racist remarks who think nothing of it because it was the way they were raised or they're following what everyone they hangs with is doing, and usually those are characters who will grow into better people over the course of a story or a series.

With people I've worked with over the years I've joked around, usually doing a little hazing when someone is  the new guy, but I've also never had a problem letting people who've been around longer than I have or managers have it as well.  I always say, "Michael Laney is equal opportunity."  Which means just because I'm helping you make fun of that other guy right now doesn't mean I won't be busting on you 30 minutes from now.

In fiction I'm equal opportunity as well.  People hate, so I write characters who hate.  People are kind, so I write characters who are kind.  People do selfless things, so I write characters who do selfless things.  People so cruel things, so I write characters who do cruel things.  Outside your door and outside your workplace the world is made up of many different kinds of people, some good and some bad.  And inside the pages of what a writer has created you will find many different characters, some good and some bad.  It takes many different people and ideas to make up the real world, and by that same token it takes just as many to make up a fictional world as well.

That's why I'm not afraid to use the N-Word, or any other word for that matter, in fiction.

Master Vyle

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