How Far Should We Go to Support Writers We Know?

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I’m a writer so it probably won’t come as any great shock that I know other writers. People I’ve studied with, people I’ve worked with, people I’ve been published with, people I’ve been shortlisted for awards with. Some of these people I know better than others. Some I know only a little. But at some point in the past, our paths crossed.

Whenever these writers I know release a new book, I’m the first in line at a bricks-and-mortar book store to buy a paperback if they’re being physically published or online if they’re only being released as an ebook. Sometimes I’ll buy more than one copy and give them to other people I know. I always read them and I always review them honestly (I’m probably very lucky that none of the writers I know have ever written a terrible book so I haven’t been faced with a difficult decision in that respect.) Continue reading

The Completely Different Viewpoints of Men and Women on Domestic Violence

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At the end of October 2018, I went to the monthly meeting of my local branch of the political party I’m a member of. I’m not hugely political, mostly because talking about politics is a good way to lose all your friends when you realise they think in a fundamentally different way to you. If you think joining a political party and making friends with the other members resolves this problem, then you’re wrong. I’ve yet to meet a single person who thinks exactly the way I do. Continue reading

Euphemisms: The Politics of Words

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One of the first pieces of advice given to writers is to write from the heart, to write honestly. Most of us take it. Because it’s good advice. Honesty helps readers relate to the writer and to what is being written.

But, of course, just like anything else, words can be used to manipulate. Through the omission of facts, the selective use of facts, the use of emotive language and, perhaps the most insidious, through euphemisms.

According to the Macquarie Dictionary, a euphemism is “the substitution of a mild, indirect or vague expression for a harsh, blunt or offensive one”. Sometimes it’s to soften the blow as in the case of saying someone has passed away so that we don’t have to say that they died. More often these days, though, euphemisms are being used to protect the writer or speaker rather than the recipient of the words. Continue reading

The Cultural and Historical Context of Words

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Last week, Senator Fraser Anning of Katter’s Australian Party gave his maiden speech in the Australian Senate. In it, he called for a ban on Muslim immigration and a return to the White Australia policy (actually a collection of policies barring people of non-European descent from migrating to the country – the policies were effectively dismantled between 1949 and 1973 and officially legislated against in 1975). That was bad enough in itself. But he then went on to say that the “final solution to the immigration problem” was a plebiscite, a non-binding and hugely expensive opinion poll of the entire Australian voting population.

The speech was widely condemned for its racist overtones and blatant lies but the two words that reviled people the most were “final solution”. I read an article about his speech only hours after he had given it and before the outcry began in earnest. As soon as I saw that he had used those specific words, I was shocked. I am by no means a Holocaust expert but even just from watching a couple of documentaries years ago, I knew that “final solution” was the euphemism used by the Nazis to that they didn’t have to call it “our plan to kill six million Jewish people”. Thus, those two words, as innocent as they are when used separately, become something to be avoided as a pair regardless of what they are being used to describe. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Tony Abbott

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Dear Prime Minister Abbott,

Let me begin by assuring you that in penning this letter I mean no disrespect and do not intend to simply contribute to the “electronic graffiti” that has previously dismayed you. In fact, I have great respect for anyone who chooses political office or public service, especially those who do so as a means of effecting positive change. Although others may disagree, I like to think you are someone who falls into this category (and I will continue to think so until you provide obvious evidence to the contrary).

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