If You Don't Have Something Nice to Say

Of late, I have oft had to ask myself  "Is this funny?" or "Is this offensive?" Usually, the answer is a resounding BOTH. Being raised in the South, I have heard the phrase, "If you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all" my whole life. And at dinner parties and family functions and such, I  try to abide. Despite the fact that I don't shy away from controversy, I don't run toward it either. Like most sane people, I don't enjoy conflict. I prefer peace. I believe in choosing kindness and that love is the answer.

But, I also believe in art. And if the words, "If you don't have anything nice to say..." were a law, not a suggestion, then there would be no stand-up, no political cartoons, no restaurant reviews, no social satire sites, no documentary films,  no Rotten Tomatoes, and no sketch comedy. I don't want to live in a world without Saturday Night Live.

People often declare that I have no filter and ask if there is anything I won't write. As a matter of fact, just the other day, I curbed myself. It was on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the social media sites were burning up with rhetoric from both sides. My first response was to write and publish the following:

"Abortion is a gray issue. I cannot begin to definitively know when life begins. That is why I'll stick with infanticide. Put a basket containing a fully-formed, cooing infant clothed in Baby Gap on my doorstep with a note saying that I have to keep it, and I'll club that thing like a baby seal."

However, with emotions running hot, I chose not. Now,  it won't get me any babysitting gigs, but I think it sums up my views on the right to choose in my typical over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek way. Of course, I would never harm a baby or a seal, nor believe that anyone else ever should. And, I feel that abortion is the weightiest and most individualized decision that any woman must make regardless of their political leanings. And I know that we, as women, have responsibilities and options, starting with reproductive  health education and birth control and ending with adoption.

BUT, I also know that disagreement, discussion, and debate are the first steps toward understanding, compromise, and positive change.  Therefore, as an artist, I feel it is my responsibility to say, "Bring on the hate if it will start the debate."


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