Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Irony and the Identity Issue.

NPR played Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech yesterday and I turned it up loud. And on the news that night came a march of demonstrators at the state house in Honolulu, and I thought it was a demonstration in recognition of Dr. King's life and achievements. No, within moments my head had exploded.

They were demonstrating against a bill before the state legislature that would give gay people the right to civil unions in the state of Hawai'i. Yes, I said against. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

So I stopped shouting at the people on the television and scraped my brains off the walls. And the more I thought of it, the more the irony started to crush me. Hawai'i, which has the highest racial diversity in the nation. Hawai'i, where the President of the United States was born to parents who would not have been allowed to marry in other states.

I doubt these protesters would come out in favor of miscegenation laws today, the non-existence of which allowed them to be a part of families they love and value, but they want to deny the same rights and basic human dignity to homosexuals. You can appreciate the irony.

Here's where this intersects with writing: your characters had better not understand themselves any better than these folks. Not at first, anyway. They can have, probably should have, a brain-splattering enlightenment somewhere along the line. And if you're writing drama, it will probably come after they've done some enormous damage along the way with their idiocy.

I wish they were not, at present, damaging my lovely state and her residents. All of them.

Tomorrow, perhaps we will talk about why your family would like you to read less.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Ever read Robertson Davies?

"When irony first makes itself known in a young man's life, it can be like his first experience of getting drunk; he has met with a powerful thing which he does not know how to handle."

I stand stunned, drunk with awe, at the protesters.

There's another quote about the 'ironist', but it's maybe a little long for a blog comment.