I’ve heard it said, and think I believe, that there is no such thing as neutrality on this issue. There is a danger in attempting to present “both sides” equally, and that danger is making it seem as if both sides are equally legitimate.
The idea of representing both sides left a bad taste in my mouth, and you’ve explained why in more eloquent terms than I could have. Prejudiced views do not deserve to be given an equal platform.
- you lean the story/commentary the way reality actually leans (and in so doing preserve the truth of these matters at the expense of the appearance of neutrality) or 2) you present something like neutrality or balance and in so doing distort the reality you are aiming to provide some commentary on. I think that, when viewed this way, which one is the bigger problem is pretty apparent.
Right now I think my story is leaning toward solution #1. My story (as of now) is basically saying: “Unjust, racially-motivated killings in the hands of law enforcement exist. The only problem is what should we do about it?”
I think this really is how reality leans. There is no point in denying that unjust, discriminatory deaths related to law enforcement exist when there’s video evidence of it happening in modern times. It’s only the solution to the problem where I think it’s polarizing and where I find myself questioning my own beliefs.
This is mostly where I draw the line when I write characters whose politics go against mine. I have to ask myself “Does this argument answer what my story is saying?”
By going with this line of thinking, I will tolerate arguments like “Not all of us are like that. There are bad people in every occupation. We just need to kick out bad apples.” I don’t agree with it, but it isn’t denying the existence of unjust killings and it offers a potential solution to the problem.
This also disqualifies legitimately "yikes" arguments like “If you don’t want to get killed, don’t act suspiciously!” This is because such an argument denies the existence of unjust killings by implying that all police-related deaths are justified. Arguments like these are best kept off, and if they are in the story, it has to make it clear that it’s dumb.
If you wanted to write a story where there was a law enforcement-based conflict and have it be a reasonably balanced issue, then you could construct a world where law enforcement was not built directly on foundations of racism, slavery, and oppression.
I was actually considering this at one point. I was planning on making it take place in some “Uncanny Valley” world where it feels like Earth, but something is off. It’s Earth but with different countries, continents, and alliances.
I mainly dropped it because it strayed way too far from the story’s roots. I was a bit scared of making such a drastic change, especially with so many reworks being implemented. I mean, it transitioned from an action story to a detective story and it went from a futuristic to a grounded one, this story was almost completely built from the ground up with all of these reworks.
However, you did give me some food for thought. My story did incorporate some alternate history in it and transition it into a 100% fictional world to prevent issues like historical inaccuracies from forming.
A 100% fictional world will also allow me to bring up other issues more effectively. I wanted to comment on other law enforcement issues from other countries, such as the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines and police brutality in Hong Kong. A completely fictional country with a blank canvas history and political landscape really has endless possibilities.
But if what you want to do is write a story that takes place in a relevantly-similar world to this one (albeit with superheroes), then I think the propaganda piece’s worry is unfounded. The truth is the truth, even if some people don’t like it.
That’s what I always had in mind. However, I’m not exactly omniscient. Who knows? What if something that looks like the “truth” to me may be an opinion to someone else, and perhaps that “someone else” knows more than I do.
This is mainly why I wanted to show both a conservative and progressive perspective in the story, with some lines drawn, of course. I have beliefs but I’m always paranoid about the possibility of my story being biased, especially when it comes to politics.
I mean, if a story has the message that police racism is bad, who’s going to be annoyed at that? Racists, obviously. And should they get fun games to play, where their lousy views are respected? Don’t think so.
My main issue with the story just saying “Racism is bad” was that it was too broad. I just wanted to add more to “Racism is bad” and address more specific issues.
I sure as hell want to piss off racists, but I don’t want to sound like I’m labeling an entire ideology as “racists.”
Addressing issues really gets tough when you’re dealing with the moderate side of the opposition. For example, a conservative who’s against defunding the police but still wants racist police officers to be punished. A person like that isn’t a racist or a white supremacist, and I don’t want to sort them alongside actual racists, hence the need to represent some arguments of the opposing side.
However, rest assured I will not glamorize legitimately bad takes. I am able to determine if some “argument” is legitimately racist propaganda, and I will do my best to make it clear that it’s stupid.
Thank you for your input. You helped me think through some of the more controversial parts of the story I’m writing and that thinking has helped me organize how I want my story to portray these problems. Thanks!