Tuesday, November 21, 2006


It must be so easy to write op-eds for a living. Because when you finish your piece, you send it to your editor, and … voila … your work is published. By contrast, when you’re writing blogs on the side – meaning when you’re not doing your day job or your main avocation (novel writing) – you can’t afford to post on the same day you write. So you write a bunch at a time, then store them … like Joseph from the Bible stored grain.

Well, this practice finally came back to bite me yesterday. Attached, I will show the blog post that I wrote yesterday, November 20th. Then, I will supplement my post with some fresh material.

November 20th Blog Post --

Like everyone else, I was amazed at the chutzpah at one Orenthal James Simpson for the idea that he can (a) murder his ex-wife, (b) create a new meaning for the phrase “your waiter will be with you shortly,” and then (c) write a book explaining how he committed the two murders … if it is assumed that he really did commit the murders … and then got away with it. What didn’t amaze me is that given OJ’s willingness to write the book – an act of depravity that would make Charley Manson jealous –a mainstream TV network would be willing to hype its publication.

But isn’t it particularly delicious that the network happens to be Fox News?

That’s right. The “conservative” network, the one that caters to the family values set, has decided to run a two part interview with everyone’s favorite killer-confessor-halfback-escape artist. This is the same network whose talking heads couldn’t handle Murphy Brown having a baby out of wedlock. But apparently they can handle giving tons of free publicity to a man who wants to be rewarded, and rewarded handsomely, for brutally ending the lives of two innocent young adults. No doubt, the network has a rationalization; I’m just not sure I have the time to hear it.

That the OJ “confession” – to quote his publi$her – is coming out now may seem like innocuous timing to most, but to me, it is a grim reminder of the hurdles that I personally face as an author. I expect that his magical publicity tour will take wing right at around the time that I begin the process of doing book talks/signings in the D.C. area for my own book. In my case, though, there’s no publicist willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on publicity, let alone a TV network preparing a two-part interview to discuss the book. In other words, there are books, and there are Books. And for reasons that can’t possibly have anything to do with literary quality, OJ’s is about to go to the head of the class.

Each of you must decide for yourselves whether it’s appropriate to tune in to OJ’s interview or read his prose. But consider this: to stay away, even if you’re curious, sends a message to the publishing industry and to the “fair and balanced” TV network: those who control the publishing, distributing and marketing of literature have a sacred trust to consider values other than the almighty dollar. This can be taken both in the sense of fostering virtue (which was what I had in mind when I wrote a novel about education, politics and religion) and in refraining from encouraging vice (e.g., pay a man handsomely to describe how he got away with multiple murders).

Personally, even if I weren’t an author, I’d feel duty bound to avoid paying attention to OJ’s latest venture. Given that I do write, I am doubly passionate about the issue.

For those of you who are looking for an alternative to the twisted crap that Fox News apparently views as “literature,” my first D.C. area book talk will be at Olsson’s Books and Records, 418 7th St., N.W., at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28th. That’s a couple of blocks south of the Gallery Place Metro stop, between D & E Streets, right smack in the heart of downtown Washington. Even if you don’t live in the D.C. area, if you know people who like to read, please let them know. I can’t promise that The Creed Room will satisfy their passion for depravity. But it might provide an example of how school teachers can inspire their students, how a divided society can unify on behalf of important political objectives, how the modern soul can fall in love with “God” without deluding ourselves, and how a romantic person can identify his or her soul mate.

I know, I know. That kind of junk won’t sell. People told me when I started to write it that I would never even get it published. They were wrong, but perhaps they knew more than I did. It’s one thing to get a book published, it’s something else to create a work of literature that is well known throughout the land. To do that, at least in this society,

you need lots of luck … that and a knife and some gloves.

November 21st Blog Post –

Wouldn’t you know it? Fox came to its senses. OJ might still get to share his story with the world, but it won’t be care of Fox. And do you know the “hero” in all this? Mr. William O’Reilly. That’s right, every liberal’s favorite neutral talk-show host put his foot down. No, he didn’t threaten to leave the network – where would else he go? Goebbels’ propaganda ministry is no longer hiring – but he did threaten to boycott Fox’s interview with OJ as well as all companies that advertised on it.

Honestly folks, you’ve got to give O’Reilly some credit for that one. He took a stand against the hypocrisy of Fox News. Good for him. It might be a stand on a narrow issue, but at least it’s a start.

People like me love to note the hypocrisy of the religious right. We love to laugh at the idea that people who don’t care about universal health care can be “pro life,” people who don’t care about economic equity can be disciples of Jesus, or people who leave their spouses on their death beads can be supporters of “family values,” etc. But in this one situation, we have to applaud the rank-and-file right for taking a principled stand in favor of the values they claim to uphold.

I still won’t defend Murdoch and his company. Clearly, those executives willing to go ahead with this disgusting idea until they experienced a sharp backlash. They were dealing with this issue from the type of bottom-line standpoint that I discussed in my post from yesterday. But the reaction they received gives me hope that someday, in the not so distant future, cultural conservatives and liberals can find some common ground on an issue with a whole lot more importance than the publishing aspirations of OJ Simpson.

I’ve always thought that “values voters” on the left and right have a lot more in common than they currently admit. Perhaps, with the encouragement of political leaders who are genuine students of moral and religious philosophy, spiritual leaders of all stripes can come together in some sort of ecumenical summit. At that summit, they can address the issues that divide the religious left (I'm including secular humanism as a religion) from the religious right, as well as ways to bridge that gap. Perhaps such an endeavor would prove a waste of time; then again, perhaps it would spark a few deep areas of agreement.

We once had a civil war that was quite hot and bloody, and lately we’ve been living through a civil war that's bloodless and cold. Thankfully, Lincoln steered us past our first civil war. I pray that, soon enough, other politicians will steer us past our second.

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