Your Fiction Can Come Back to Haunt You

The whole flap over the revelations that Virgina Democrat Senate Candidate Jim Webb’s fiction contains some things that don’t sit well in a political campaign may seem at first glance bizzare, but they are not.

This is something that I, although certainly not comparable on a circulation level, took into consideration when writing The Island Chronicles. The notion that Webb is floating in the face of George Allen’s charges that his fiction is irrelevant to the campaign is simply wrong.

If one takes to writing fiction and having it published, that fiction is a) an expression of something inside of you and b) a part of your public record. Both of these make it a legitimate topic for discussion. Liberals may find this distasteful as it cramps their freedom of expression, but that’s just tough: if you don’t like how bourgeois our society is, don’t advocate gay marriage. (Click here for an explanation of that.)

Moreover, in the past fiction has been used as a way of expressing political opinion in a subtle way. Examples in Western literature abound, but it explains, for example, why Wu Ching-Tzu wrote The Scholars as if it took place in the Ming Dynasty when in fact it took place in the Ch’ing Dynasty. It was not a very flattering view of the current system, so it was safer to do it this way.

I don’t know if Webb’s fiction had that kind of political purpose to it, but what he writes is relevant to his seeking of public office. Perhaps everyone would be better off if he would do what Wu Ching-Tzu’s hero did at the end: “… I shall stay by my medicine stove and Buddhist sutras, And practice religion alone.”

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