Writing and Editing in the No Rant Zone
By Daniel Rigney
To rant or not to rant? That is the question.
In an earlier post I pledged to try to stay in the "No Rant Zone" in my writings on Open Salon. Now I'm reconsidering my initial "rant stance." During this time of progressive mobilization for the 2012 campaigns, we face the grim possibility of another Republican administration far to the right of Obama's. Rethinking is in order.
So far I'm attempting, in this space, to remain within the bounds of good-humored civility, and to be considerate toward those whose political views are
-massively delusional-sharply different from mine. It's not my intention to offend the right wing know-it-alls- deeply committed conservatives among us. I value civility and moderation. But there has been precious little civility or moderation from the right in recent years. Instead there have been rants and more rants.
I’m finding that it’s hard to participate authentically in today's highly charged political environment without responding viscerally to the -
propagandists- persuasionists of the right. I have in mind, of course, the manipulative and intellectually dishonest influential commentaries of the Wall Street Journal , Fox News, and other media in the Murdoch – empire- family of -tabloid- communication enterprises.
Tentatively, I’ve resolved to strike a balance between rant and manners -- a compromise that will satisfy the spirit of my initial no-rant pledge, if not its exact letter, and yet allow me to say what I have to say.
I’ll first write freely on a given subject, and then I’ll tone it down for public presentation
, using "strikethrough,"* before clicking the “publish” button. This is akin to the sort of editing or self-censorship that we all practice in ordinary conversation every day, in the interest of avoiding conflict with those with whom we privately disagree.
Self-censorship or self-editing is a form of free expression -- We're free to think so long as we keep our thoughts to ourselves. Our publicly expressed thoughts are more restrained and sanitized -- "nicer" -- but also less courageous. More civil but less honest.
Yet these "lean forward" times seem to call us to speak up and speak out against
right wing bullies conservatives in ways that civility discourages.
I'm wondering: What's the next notch up from civility, short of a rant, or worse, violence? I wonder what Gandhi and King would say if they were here now to see this turning point in American history? What counsel would they give? Should we take it up a notch? Or two?
To rant or not to rant? That is the question. It's a question not just for me, I suspect, but for many other progressives who have remained quiet in the past, and who want a stronger democratic voice in the future direction this country takes, but who don't want to become
left limbaughs ranters in the process.
[Text to self: Remember to delete all strikethroughs before publishing.]
*Similar effects are achieved in comic strips through the use of "thought bubbles," or in film through the use of voiceovers or same-language subtitles, as in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall." Onstage we have the sotto voce, a mumbled or whispered aside audible to the audience. In political theater we also have the "dog whistle." Wink wink. Nod nod.