Keeping the World Safe from Comedy.

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I know, you all think that the life of the freelance working mom means going back to bed after the kids are sent off to school, drinking pots of coffee in our bunny-feet pajamas, and, possibly eating bagels at our computers while we wait for inspiration to strike. Well, okay, fair enough. But that’s only half the fun. Sometimes inspiration is not all that easy to come by. We might, just to shake things up, go into the kitchen for more coffee. We might Google ourselves, or check Amazon for readers’ reviews. Sometimes, while engaging in the latter, we might come across a thoughtful missive from a dear reader, much like one recently posted, who felt the need to unburden herself of this, regarding my book:

 

 

“…As if her contempt for children isn't enough, she puts the cherry on the sundae by displaying her contempt for cats and dogs. Her venom is particularly strong toward cats. I came away from the book feeling as if she hates any creature under five feet tall. I feel sorry for her family, friends, neighbors, or anyone else who must endure this woman's selfish attitude toward life. Don't waste the money on this book. I'm astounded that it even got published…. Dreadful!”

 

So, well, what can I do? The books are already written, and to really put the cherry on the sundae (I love that) my family, friends and neighbors will sadly be forced endure me for longer than they can imagine. And pity the poor cats, for I accused of them of arrogance. How cruel do those words sound to me now. Forgive me, tender-hearted kitties. Oh, that’s right. Cats can’t read. But people can, and do, and even when they hate a book, often insist on finishing it to the last dreadful drop and hammering out a scathing review. Inexplicably, this same reader felt the need to read my second book, and post a similarly nasty assessment on Amazon. There is nothing to be done about those people. But then, I received the following, forwarded to me from my very nice Mommy Track’d editor:


“…I'm quite concerned to find an essay
updating the meaning of the "N-Word," or rather making
light, or ironic use of it in a recent issue of
Mommy Track'd, which I have come to love. As I'm
sure you know, that word comes with such a long,
bitterly painful history, as painful today as it was
before the civil rights movement, that I find its use
as a catchy title to call attention to the importance
of saying no to children both shocking and morally
repugnant…I know you would
take an editor's pen to "The N-Word" if you'd had a
chance to think about it - which is why I'm writing
you about it."

 

tgallagh@san.rr.com
12.18.07

I loved this piece when I read it. To me it had absolutely nothing to do with race in America. Indeed, the thought of saying "no" to our spoiled materialistic children today truly is taboo. That's why I adored this piece. The more we say "no", the better parents we are!

PoshMom
10.25.07

Being a writer, I fully sympathize with your situation. Being controversial when you didn't really mean to be tops my list of frustrations. You wrote a strong piece that deserved a strong headline and I think there is a correlation between the taboo nature of "no" and of the other "n-word." If we can't illustrate societal wrongs with other societal wrongs, then the message may get lost. Ultimately, sorry your piece got the bloody pen. Undeserved.

Kari
10.19.07

For what it's worth... I actually had to think about what other connotation the "N word" would have, besides No.

amy.lauer@sbcgl...
10.17.07

I believe in freedom of speech. I also believe that if just one person perceives a title or article or conversation as racially charged, that is one person too many. Thank you, mommytrack'd for recognizing that changing our world has to start with us. We are far from living harmoniously together. Small but necessary gestures are as necessary as monumental actions legendary heros drive.  Most of us are sensitive about something. Those who aren't probably have an easier time.

ana
10.17.07

Some people are just too effing sensitive.

marypk
10.16.07

Unbelievable...where has all the humor gone? Or is it now referred to as the "H-word"? :)

magannon
10.16.07

I guess you could call me the B-word: baffled. I think the joy of reading diminishes when we start reading too much into the author's choice of words - whatever letters they might start with.

neeks
10.16.07

I can't believe this. What has happened to our society? It was a witty title and clearly not meant to offend. The world has gotten so politically correct you can't say anything anymore. If it offends you, don't read the book. If it does and you still read the book, that's your problem. Shame on the editor for giving in to one reader. The reader's opinion may count but it shouln't make the author change her title. Please.

ExpectingExecutive
10.16.07

An interesting issue indeed. I have been part of this discussion in several different on-line forums these past weeks. The answer, I believe, depends on what Mommy Track'd is offering to the virtual community. If MommyTrack'd is going to be a "journalist type" magazine, then yes, editorial review and fact checking are certainly in order. However, if MommyTrack'd offered Christie a platform on which to post her personal blogs, then editorial review/revision that is not the author's undermines MommyTrack'd credibility as blog post forum for writers.

It is my opinion that MommyTrack'd - as a blog post forum - should have to make the hard decision here and not Christine. MommyTrack'd should have stood by the post as submitted or choosen to remove Christine as a contributor. If MommyTrack'd decided to keep Christine's post as originally offered, it is Christine who should/will have to deal with whatever comments - in praise or critical - come her way here at MommyTrack'd or in other blogs and forums which she posts.

This is not an uncommon argument for the time. Where does the unchecked freedom of blogging end and the editorial review of journalism begin? We are having a fascinating discussion over at www.blogcatalog.com/discuss/entry/is-blogging-ever-journalism regarding this very discussion if you can to review.

Very best to you all. This is complicated but important discussion and deserves valuable input and mature consideration.

My opinion; If mommy MommyTrack'd is not a journalism based ezine, Christine should not have been asked to change her title.

My question to the editor: For MommyTrack'd, is there more risk in losing readers or your writers?

MamaKaren
10.16.07

Although I am well aware of the history associated with the n-word, and I understand the editor's decision to request that the title of Ms. Melor's column in an effort to mend the hurt associated with the lighthearted use of the phrase "n-word," I don't think it's as big of an issue as it's being made out to be. I've seen multiple blogs, headlines, etc. that refer to the "f-word" only to have the topic be "fun" or "family" or many other innocuous terms. Do we associate the vulgarity with the other words that begin with the same letter? Probably not. The use of the phrase "-word" has become a figure of speech, and is not meant to actually equate the subject of the articles/blog posts/whatever with the vulgarity or slur that the actual -word invokes.