We get three newspapers on Sunday, so often I don’t get around to reading them all until later in the week. But Monday morning I noticed that a new novel was getting a lot of press in the New York Times. It received front page in the Book Review section, and front page treatment in the Style section.
I’m not going to give you the name of the novel because I don’t want to give it additional publicity–frankly, two front page pieces in the NYT is enough.
Anyway–this novel is about a fictional American president’s wife . . . but the character’s background just happens to be identical to Laura Bush’s. The novelist, who happens to be a “liberal Democrat”, says that she “loves Laura Bush,” but then her novel goes on to detail the fictional wife’s randy extra-marital affairs, etc., and portrays the president husband as an idiot.
All right–I’ll just say it. This is rude. This is wrong. Fiction is one thing, but dragging real people through fictional mud is something else. We celebrate free speech, but there’s a limit. We are not to use our freedom of speech to infringe upon the rights of others.
How would others feel if someone wrote a “fictional” book and portrayed Michelle Obama as a primly-dressed slut? How would the Obama children feel? How does she think the BUSH children feel?
You may have read that within the last month, a novel written about one of Mohammed’s wives has been pulled from the publication schedule of a major publisher–for fear of offending Muslims. I’m having trouble understanding why it’s okay to ridicule the American president’s family but not publish a historical novel about one of Mohammed’s wives.
I think it’s telling that the writer of the NYT piece reports that as she left the author’s house, the author called out, “Be nice to me?”
I can think of only one question: why should she be? Common courtesy? Kindness?
The irony runneth over.