The secret of training horses or dogs or anything, I suppose, is to always end on a high note. If the horse is getting cranky, you have to retreat to a place they feel comfortable and let them finish the exercise correctly. Then you heap on the praise. The theory is they remember the training session positively instead of something unpleasant.
With that in mind, you get to listen to a rant about Surrey today. In every respect but one, this was the ideal conference. I cannot say enough good things about it or recommend it highly enough aside from this one thorn.
The thorn, as you might have guessed, is politics.
Here’s my theory. If I go to a concert, I am paying to be entertained. If you, the singer, break out in a political rant mid-concert, I am going to get up and walk out. I paid you to sing, not tell me how to vote. It’s great you have an opinion, but unless you have some kind of experience governing or some pertinent degree, what you think is just one person’s opinion. Because you can sing, doesn’t make you a political expert and I resent the fire out of you using your star status to impose your opinions on me when I have paid you to sing. “Just the song, ma’am,” as Sergeant Friday might say.
One of the keynote speakers interjected his opinions in his opening speech at Surrey. “John Kennedy was the last decent president you Americans elected and I hope you will make the right decision this time.” Apparently, we Americans have made wrong decisions for forty years, but he did let us know we had an opportunity to correct all our misdeeds.
Um, yeah. I don’t tell you how to vote or voice my opinion about your leaders, please give me the same respect.
How I vote is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. If you feel so strongly about how Americans should vote, move to the US, go through the process and vote.
Needless to say, I got up and walked out, missing the program that came later, which I hated. I did enjoy some pleasant company in the bar, though and they didn’t feel the need to tell me how to vote.
Then comes the second and even greater road bump. One of the presenters was busy passing out Bye Bye Bush bumper stickers with every purchase of one of her books. I’m sure she also gave them away to anyone who wanted one.
Excuse me, let me look at the brochure again. Political rally? No, pretty sure I’m supposed to be at a writer’s conference. Once again, I respect your opinion, but this is the wrong place to be expressing it.
I asked someone if this was really appropriate and was told it’s all in good fun. All right, so if I bring my political paraphernalia of the opposite and much less popular opinion, no one is going to get offended, right?
Doubtful. I’m going to venture a guess complaints would be lodged immediately.
All right, at least she is being fairly non-obnoxious even though this is a writer’s conference and not a political campaign booth.
Saturday night arrives and she is prancing around with her Bye Bye Bush tee-shirt and a cap with dreadlocks. What the heck? Now she makes the rounds, sticking her chest out so everyone can see her witty tee-shirt, tossing her dreadlocks so everyone knows who she is supporting and grinning from ear-to-ear.
She looked like a ten-year-old walking into a room with several important guests and twirling a condom on his finger to see if anyone noticed how naughty he was being.
Frankly, this would be like someone walking in with a dimestore war bonnet, war paint and whooping to show their support for Native Americans. We really ought to be past the stereotypes. When did black people get reduced to their hair?
I asked about this later and was told it was all in good fun. So, when I show up next year with an afro, passing out impeach Obama stickers, I trust everyone will realize it’s all in good fun.
And, before you chalk this all up to me being a rabid Republican, I’m not. I’m an Independent with strong Libertarian leanings.
We were told to leave perfume at home. I would also suggest speakers, presenters and others also leave their politics at home. This isn’t the place for it. If you want to discuss politics with friends, that’s great. Espousing them to someone who paid to learn more about writing isn’t the place. While you may think you are the only one with all the answers, there’s a chance someone else might also feel their opinions are of value.
I wasn’t the only one who was offended by the antics, but I’m probably one of the few who bothered to say anything about it.
I promise the last two Surrey posts will be positive.