In 1993, a clownish remnant of the Klan marched down Main Street in my college town. The authorities bussed the marchers across state lines and kept them safe from attacks. Jeering locals lined the street, and community groups held a more positive party a few blocks away. The march was pathetic, but it was heartening to see liberal American ideals put into action. No one believed that a few scruffy losers said anything worth hearing, but everyone made sure they were able to speak their minds.
“Quid Plura?” is not a blog about current affairs. It chronicles medievalism in the modern world, and occasionally there are posts about books, photos of pseudo-medieval places, and a little light, gargoyle-inspired verse. I don’t write about politics. I don’t care how you vote. I don’t light my torch and wave it for the new moon on Monday. I’m John Denver at the PMRC hearings. For cripes’ sake, unless it’s in a quotation, you won’t even find profanity on this blog.
However, I wrote a book in which Muslims guzzle wine, Jews own slaves, and Christians kill in the name of religion—so even when the spotlight is on some inept, ne’er-do-well “filmmaker” and a loony pastor, I don’t find it hard to imagine myself in their shoes. As I wrote in 2010: “If doodles can incite worldwide riots, how can I know that my 20-page depiction of a liberal, even libertine, Baghdad won’t light a madman’s fuse?”
Should that happen, I hope I won’t be condemned by diplomats, denounced by the Secretary of State, investigated by the Department of Justice, or blamed by the White House. I hope the government won’t ask publishers and distributors of my work to consider shutting me down. I hope my supporters won’t get phone calls from generals. I hope I won’t be encouraged to hide. I hope artists, writers, and scholars will realize it could be them next.
After the 1993 Klan march, everyone wondered whether the government had provided too much protection. That’s a debate I wish we were having now. As it stands, the message I’m hearing is this: If you say, write, or draw something that riles up the wrong people, you’re on your own. That’s disturbing, but I guess it’s useful to know.