In an idiotic move that seems unreasonably low-stooping even for U.S. politics, Virginia Senator George Allen has sent out a press release condemning excerpts from his rival Jim Webb's fiction writing. Yes, that's right. Lines of dialogue, taken out of context. Notions of character. He seeks to prove that Jim Webb is a misogynist because his characters - his CHARACTERS! - mention things like "knocking the bitch up." And there are - gasp! - graphic sex scenes. And mentions of breasts. He's also making much of an excerpt that portrays pedophilic sex.
Now I've yet to get political on this blog, but I can say in all seriousness, give us a fucking break here. Are we really going to judge men and women who run for office in this country by nasty (or merely sexual) things that their characters say and do? I guess that rules out pretty much anyone in the entire crime fiction community from running for public office. I know I've written some particularly graphic things, sometimes words in the mouths of characters, sometimes in point of view or free indirect discourse of a character, sometimes in the tone of a narrator who - newsflash - is not me. It's not just those of us who write crime fiction who could be called to moral task here - it could be anyone who's ever written about, uh, conflict. Or assholes. Or racists. Or misogynists. Let's just not portray those people at all. In fact, let's not write about these topics. Allen's campaign is now judging literary themes, and sensing "patterns" in Webb's portrayal of women. So I guess Joyce and Hemingway are screwed too. And Christ - what to do if someone catches Dianne Feinstein reading Sanctuary? A U.S. Senator, exposing herself to a book with a graphic corn-cob rape scene? Surely a human such as that wouldn't be fit to hold public office.
This is clearly a calculated absurdity. There's no question it will prove effective, but I hope it's roundly condemned in thinking quarters as well.