On scaring people with writing

The Atlantic notes with alarm the bizarre saga of Patrick McLaw, a writer and teacher put under medical evaluation seemingly for the violent story lines of his self-published novels, to media reports wholly absent of reminders of the right of free speech. Although subsequent reports hint, weirdly, at greater issues, Ken White nicely states the concern that not only do governments overreach, the media often serves them as “obliging stenographers.”
I’m curious about the more general notion, that an imagined horror is somehow more threatening when the person imagining it is somehow related to the situation. Is it really so much worse if a teacher pens a novel about a school-shooting? If a colonel penned a novel about a rogue officer, would it affect the colonel’s career in a way Stanley Kubrick never had to worry about? Can an air-traffic controller not write about a disturbed pilot, or a lawyer write about a corrupt judge?
Must we outsource our dark sides to disinterested parties, absolved of ill intent by the condom of “research”?

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Anthony Dobranski Posted on

Novelist, writer, game designer, skier.

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