Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Write Beyond Sensitivity Police Jurisdiction

North Americans often assert they want to learn from other cultures, but travel writing is still expected to fit into the politically correct box of ideas that don’t shock sensibilities. This is contradiction. Authentic travel writing must journey outside that box, both to accurately report culture and to protect the free speech rights authors and readers depend on.

A recent study suggests that North American children are developing more allergies to certain foods because of protection from exposure during the years when immunities develop. Likewise, political correctness has shielded North Americans from encountering a rich diversity of global perspectives that conventional media deem offensive to their sensitivities.
The result has been a weakening of intellectual rigor, both in the willingness of writers to express (or be exposed to) unconventional ideas and their ability to explain conventional ideas to those who disagree with them. This is one reason why so much internet "disagreement" is just a hurling of insults.

It's also why the world must witness the logic-free hate-fest of East Coast Kong versus West Coast Godzilla. I mean business bully Trump and artsy bitch Streep. Neither the guy who perfected bankruptcy as a business model nor the gal who led a standing ovation for rapist Polanski should be the moral voice of America, but our new motto seems to be "Let those with the least shame for their sins and the biggest stones cast them." (Streep gave a memorable performance in the film Doubt condemning religious people for overlooking the corruption of teens just as Hollywood absolved fellow artist Polanski.)

If liberal Meryl Streep could get in a bathtub naked with conservative Clint Eastwood and nearly blind all of America just to construct Bridges of Madison County, surely she could attempt some private conversation with the new caveman prez to build bridges between left and right and bind all of America to civil rational discourse. Instead, the two divide America between the Sodom of Hollywood and the Gomorrah of Wall Street, while decent people who aren't using the platform of the presidency or an awards ceremony aren't even allowed to gently and rationally contemplate forbidden ideas.

Political correctness has many writers working in fear and deprives readers of controversial ideas that may turn out to be kooky or brilliant. In some ways, travel writing is a last bastion of free speech. If you can’t say something outside the box of American culture when you’re literally outside the box of American culture, when can we ever discuss such ideas.

I believe many moderns have merely replaced colonialism over the sea waves with intellectual imperialism over the airwaves, internet, and print media. I believe travel writers should take a stand for revealing the world as it is, not as someone thinks it should be or as someone thinks we can handle it. For example, some societies hold taking global injustices seriously means always being serious about them. Other societies jest freely about tragedy, believing laughter is the best medicine.

Authors of integrity must push the boundaries of conventional safe speech to achieve captivating provocative communication. Still, they should do the hard work of research and word craft that ensures maximum impact with minimum offense or even misunderstanding. Travel writing can have a significant impact in promoting human understanding and preserving human rights. 

If you want to read or write travel lit that’s more than been there, done that, stayed there, ate that, this website is for you. Browse the hundreds of fine articles written by global authors and posted here over the last few years. Consider sending a fresh fearless story to Sacred Ground Travel Mag. Don't worry, the sensitivity police are all bark and no bite. They don't even carry tasers or handcuffs. Ignore them and they lose all of their power, leaving you to read and write in a bigger and freer world than many folks even know exists. Write on. Right on!

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