Friday, May 16, 2008

The Right to Write

When I started my blog almost a year ago, I had no readers. I didn't start my blog with the intention of garnering a huge following. I started it because I was reading some various blogs and thought "I could do that." So I did. I didn't start it to make money or have 500 daily readers. I did it as a place I could post my thoughts and feelings.

Now, having no readers (that you know of) sometimes makes you think you can post about anything. However, as Dooce says "be ye not so stupid." Boundaries are a good thing to have. My life was not going well at the time I started the blog, and sometimes I would just write a stream of consciousness venting about my current mood, but then I would delete it. This is the intra-web you know, Google can turn up just about anything.

That all changed when I replied to Dana's post about what I wanted for Christmas. Suddenly there was a lot of traffic on my blog, and my blog did not have the anonymity it once did. Of course, neither did my life. Now there is even more traffic coming from people visiting my daughters' website.

I was even more aware of what I should write and not write. There are topics I will not post about on my blog. I won't post things that I know will come back and bite me in the ass, no matter how tempting it might be. Those posts will never see the light of day.

However, what I do post are my thoughts, my feelings, my perspectives, my stories. Note the word MY in that sentence. I do try to not offend, but I've learned over the years that you cannot make everyone happy all the time. If I try not to offend one person, I will probably wind up offending another. My road to hell is paved with good intentions. My mouth has gotten me into more trouble, and it's mostly unintentional. I'm not a mean spirited person by nature. Oh, I admit, I can be a bit of a bitch. However, I do have a disclaimer on here - I apologize in advance blah blah blah. And I mean that.

Where am I taking you with this multi-paragraph lead-in, you may wonder? Well, it has come to my attention that a certain post from over six months ago offended someone. I used a real name. The story was not meant to be demeaning, however - see Hell, Road To (mentioned above). So, the post has been edited for future readers. The title of the post previously contained a derogatory term for women - however, it was a quote from The Breakfast Club, it was not used to describe the person. I was looking for a catchy title.

I was asked to take down the post, and I refused. I explained my position - that it wasn't written to be intentionally hurtful or insulting. However, after further thought, I will edit it to take out the names and amend the title. I won't delete it. The story still works without the names.

I stand by my blog and I will defend what I write. Quite frankly, that's a right I enjoy by virtue of being a citizen of this great country *cue the flags waving and the swelling crescendo of patriotic music*. However, I don't have a right to hurt someone, intentional or not.


Jaelithe said...

Tricky waters to navigate. I'm sorry someone got offended by something you did not mean to be offensive.

Jaelithe said...

Oh, and by the way-- I came to offer condolences. I stayed because you're a good writer, and a good person. (And because you're a Trekkie. And you share my love affair with hardware stores. Weird people like you and me need to stick together.)

Jeannette E. Spaghetti said...

It's your blog. You can say what you want, within the boundaries you establish. I think you did the right thing by not deleting the post, instead just changing the names to protect the innocent.

I've written a disclaimer based on an episode of the Three Stooges:

Any resemblance found between the characters in this blog post and an actual person, is a dirty shame.

MamaB said...

I'm with Jaelithe, I came to offer my condolences and stayed because I found relavance to what you wrote. I felt connected to your story and especially the area you live. I agree that you should be able to post what you want and you did the right thing by changing or deleting names in the former post. You don't owe it to anyone but yourself to be honest. This is your therapy and your way to work through what your feeling, nobody has the right to take that away from you!

My Life My Life My Life said...

I'm came because of your daughters but have stayed because I am geniuinely interested. I love to read blogs but I did start my own and I do feel worried about things said taken out of context so I dont write as much as I would like to write about which sucks because that is how i get through this tangled mess of life....totally sorry someone got offended.

MP said...

I came to offer condolesces and stayed cause I like your dorkiness and cause I like you.

I choose to not name names..but that is me. I think I would have done what you did.. I would not have deleted the post but maybe came up with a nickname of sorts. It is your blog.. but I guess "real people" have a right to privacy too..

Lynn said...

I say it's your blog, but I agree we don't have an inherent right to hurt people. I think you've handled this perfectly. The story is still yours. And quite frankly, if I was the one in the toilet, I'd be laughing my rear end off about it. Oh yeah, and I would have recognized the Breakfast Club line. But then again, I'm cool like that. Love you!

jess said...

I agree, hurting someone is not a right. I think you did the right thing.

I chanced across your blog from Dooce's comments. I'm so sorry about your daughters. I can't begin to imagine what a devastating loss that must be. I hope you find some peace in the months to come.

Jenjifer said...

Like Jess, I came here via Dooce. I've spent a fair bit of time reading your history and want to offer my profound sympathy on the loss of your daughters.

I hope you don't mind if I kick off my shoes and stay a while: your words and your story beg me to sit for a spell and listen more.

Diane said...

I also found your blog via Dooce and for the last hour or so have been reading your story and hurting so much for you and for Maddy, but also enjoying your writing and storytelling talent.

You should be able to say what you want on your own blog, but to avoid hurt feelings you did the right thing.

I have a nephew, Travis, also in Iraq and will add your brother to my good thoughts list.

Hang in there!

She who said...

My Blog Pal Kim,

I too, came by you from Dana. I saw the accident, live really near there and felt the need to connect with you.

You and your content are what keeps me coming back.

Keep true to yourself and continue the course you have set.

And, keep reading me.

I'll take you to places in Europe, that you and Maddy will find so enticing, that you will come and visit.

Anonymous said...

Found your blog from Dooce. Cannot imagine the nightmare of losing two of your children. Loved reading your blog. Hang in there.

CRB-H said...

I love to read your blog and will continue. I agree there is a very fine line there and I have crossed it once and regretted it, BUT, I also view my blog as if I was an actual author and people we are writers here. These are OUR words. I often feel I might offend and usually write in book journal things that will probably not be read until I'm long gone and it won't matter. My favorite saying and is attributed to Voltaire, "I disagree with what you say but will defend until death your right to say it."

LisaS said...

I'm a lurker who came from Dana's place, and when I realized who your daughters were I gaped with horror and disbelief. I felt like a thief almost, reading your thoughts on the whole situation. But like the others, I continue to read, and I'm glad to see you & Maddy doing so well in the aftermath ...

I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible to write without occasionally offending someone. I wrote a post in early January that basically transcribed an argument with the Husband. He was not happy. I didn't delete the post, but edited pretty harshly. I couldn't do a graceful hack job on it. So, in the end, we have to decide how far our right of expression flies with the rights other people have to privacy ... it's a tough line to draw.

Michelle said...

Tricky waters to are doing a great job. The learnig curve is steep for me too.
*Something that I 'thought' was personal, venting and ALL mine - that clearly is not always the case.
Keep writing, and I'll keep reading.

e.darcy said...

Louise Erdrich said that writers must write as if nobody will read what they are writing...That is the only way to write.
Nearly a year in to my own blog and I find it so difficult to deal with what I can and cannot write. Then there's the telephone ring from across the ocean... great.

'To be honest with the world, you may need to be honest with your mother; if you cannot face your mother, perhaps you are not ready to write for the world.'

So this is what runs through my head every time I click the 'Publish' button.

Lori Ann said...

I picked you out at random from your comment on Dooce's blog. It was a good comment.
My condolences to you, I can't even imagine, but I hurt for you and your daughter.
I have bookmarked you to read some more.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

I also came to your site because of your comment on Dooce. I can not imagine the pain that you are going through, but I will keep you in my thoughts and prays.

Lisa said...

Never ever apologize for what you write. I do agree that respecting the privacy of others is important for they didn't ask to be outed. Good for you for modifying. But! If that post was in the early days of your blog, of course you had no idea where this blog would go. Don't apologize. Write and live free!

Kelly said...

I've had to deal with this issue myself. I think if you blog from your heart, you will eventually displease someone somewhere. It's the nature of blogging.

Gregg said...

I started by blog with my own internal "blog guidelines." The predominate one was that I was going to stay positive. It's possible I've broken that, though It wasn't intentional! I can sure see the appeal of using a blog to blow off steam, but I just decided to ban that...or anything close...for me personally.

That reduces the chances of offending someone, but the other thing I try to do is if I write about someone that I don't know personally and close, I'll email them and let them know. If the somewhat humorous tone of the blog causes them to misinterpret my comments, I want to know SOON!

I think you handled your situation well, though.

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