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Discussing Politics in the SF Community
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My local writers group met the other night, and as we always do we had dinner beforehand, this time at a little Italian place called Cafe Roma.

We talked about lots of things (some of which you don't want to know about), but eventually rolled around to politics.

Since we speculative fiction writers are in an artistic community, the politics tend to lean toward the left, oftentimes very far (see my blog on the "Petition Against the War with Iraq"). So it's kind of odd holding a minority position in a traditionally ghettoized group.

I'm not conservative (though people often try to pigeonhole me that way). I wouldn't label myself moderate either, since I often hold particularly strong views on issues. The best categorization is independent, I suppose, though I don't really like that designation because it doesn't really signify what your views are very ends up simply sounding like you don't agree with either major party.

Conservatives think I'm liberal because:

--I think handguns should be banned
--I'm pro-choice (though I think abortion is a repulsive enterprise)
--I'm an agnostic, in favor of strong separation of church and state (no "god" references in public institutions, on money, etc.)

Liberals think I'm conservative because:

--I support military action as a last resort
--I'm in favor of free trade, and laissez-faire capitalism in general
--I believe Social Security should be abolished

I want a flat tax. I don't think homosexual marriages should be legal because I don't think the government should even define what marriage is (e.g., I don't think there should be such things as polygamy laws). I think marijuana and all other drugs should remain illegal.

Anyway, the point is, these core stances aren't represented by a particular political party, as far as I can tell. This election, I'll be picking the lesser of evils, not voting for people I really believe in.

But when I end up discussing politics with other writers, especially on-line, I'm invariably pigeonholed, usually as a conservative. People usually want to jump to label others (and while this prejudging is an adaptive trait, it obviously has its pitfalls).

I enjoy political discussion, but in many venues it's like walking into a hornet's nest of tribal loyalties to one party or another, where people leap to jam you into one camp or the other so they can either defend you or declare you the enemy in order to tear you down.

I've then wondered if even discussing politics with others in the field is even a good idea. It seems like one. We're some of the most intelligent people around--imaginative, bright, and innovative. Our work is inherently political, whether we're overtly polemic or not. We want to envision the future, so our political views are an intrinsic part of that vision.

But I have to admit that most of the time I've been ultimately disappointed with such discussions. If there's disagreement, the dialogue tends to degenerate into name-calling and sniping. The people who should be the most forward-thinking often tend to be the most reactionary.

And some of these people are extremely influential in the field--established writers, editors, and agents.

So what to do?

Keep your mouth shut? I'm a writer. I obviously have a strong inclination to say what I think about damn near everything in the written medium. I suppose if it ends up alienating me, so be it.

I'm not going to stop sharing my poltical views.

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