Sometimes, reality feels like that, lately. We've got fifteen year-old girls killing nine year-old girls 'just to see what it feels like,' mass shootings at army bases, people stabbing each other over subway seats... in short, human life seems to be cheaper than ever. As a crime writer, I wonder sometimes if I'm contributing to this, by writing murder mysteries. Has anyone else ever had this thought? Of course, justice triumphs at the end (at least, in my books it does), but are we contributing to 'violence porn' in our culture? Your opinion and thoughts, please...


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It's not troubling if they're right (and they almost certainly are), or if the "skeptics" are really just trying to disrupt the discussion and put the brakes on public policy.

You may be right about the WSJ: it's always been a pro-corporate rag.
Two years of improvement!
No matter how strong the case may be one shouldn't ever treat science as a religion, and that's precisely what these so-called scientists were doing by refusing to share data with researchers they disagreed with and by trying their best to silence minority voices.
It depends on their motives, and the motives of the people who were the "minority voices" in question. If said "minority voices" were really just shills for the oil and coal and electric power industries, say, they're a)not really "minority" at all, and b)they're disingenuous in the extreme when they claim to be conducting legitimate research--so one might in fact be justified in telling them to piss off with their "requests" for information, etc. The energy industry has had its say on this subject and then some--it's not up to the scientific community to provide the cloak of legitimacy for big coal/oil/electric's bullshit "science."
Yes, D.R., I agree we seem to be living in a time of hysteria, in the media and throughout all communications. We seem to be increasingly security minded, full of hatred and outrage. Atrocities are atrocities -- I would never aim to belittle the suffering of victims of violent crimes.

It does seem, though, the current stream of consciousness we are swimming in is one of heighted mania, always on the lookout and living on code red. It's hard sometimes to put our own corner of this in perspective. We're writers. Future generations will count on us to have been true to our art.
The media's biggest problem is repetition. They get a "breaking story" and the bang on it all day, whether they have anything new to say or not. Psychologically it's like the event is happening again, and again, creating the constant anxiety we all live with today.

I wasn't belittling the suffering of anyone, but the media's tendency to exacerbate bad news.
I use violence sparingly, and only when it's called for. Besides, the setting of my books removes it somewhat from current events.

My feeling is that crime novels must not shirk violence and the outcomes of violence when these are required by the situation. But I draw the line at books which exist only to string together increasingly horrible scenes and scenarios, building toward a climax based on these rather than on dramatic developments. Such books feed into the addictions of sick minds.
We all get down in the dumps sometimes when we see how inhumane humans can be. But you know, the most trivial of gestures from the least expected venue can change our outlook on life in the blinking of an eye.

I have a two year old grand daughter living with us--and the small things she does which are vast and exciting new discoveries in her young life are clearly written all over her face and in her eyes. It's the little things that she does in our household that gives me reasons to hope.
I'm with I.J. on the use of violence in fiction, but each author has to draw his own line. My own preferences are to use violence when it tells the story properly, and to leave it out when it feels gratuitous to me. Of course what I think is appropriate to the story may be wildly graphic and unnecessary to someone else.

As a writer, I do not want to fear words or stories.

If we look at domestic violence, for example, especially against children, some people argue it seems to be on the rise. My own unresearched opinion is that we are currently speaking more openly about this issue, and writing more openly about it. Doing so raises public awareness, and may actually decrease this type of violence in society.

Having said all of that, Minerva's point is valid. Violence/porn for its own sake is distasteful to me. Does it contribute to increased violence? I just don't know the answer to that. I do believe, though, suppressing stories of violence has in the past contributed to increased violence.
Exactly, Dan, I whole-heartedly agree. You may have noticed that the issue of domestic violence, expecially against children, is a very important one to me. I remember a couple of months ago a major celebrity came out with a story of her own childhood experiences. One of my dear friends and colleagues was outraged -- saying "How could she say such things about her own family?" My friend felt that the celeb was merely sensationalising and profiting from her dysfunctional family.

Silence is not golden. It aids only the peretrators, never the victims. But this is in the case of true-crime, naturally.

Fiction, on the other hand, is art. As such, it should be a reflection of the artist's view of 'life'.
The title of this discussion is interesting. Last night I saw the play Stuff Happens and in one scene George W. Bush and Colin Powell are talking and Bush says he's heard all the comparisons to the fall of the Roman Empire and Powell says, "Yes, sir, but the last time I checked the Constitution we were a Republic."

I think one of the roles of literature is to present the world as much like it really is. We can't deal with things we don't understand.

Jon's feelings about climate change are probably right, that's what's going to happen and Dan is probably right that more and more of the world is going to look like Hong Kong - lots of people and not much space for them.

Well, how are we going to deal with those things? Depends how well we know ourselves. When I read Dan's line about things changing in the 60's I think, yes, that's when the 'tipping point' was reached when everyone wanted in on the good thing that only some had - and it wasn't handled well by anyone.

We nee anything that helps us see ourselves as we really are.


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