Day 7. 51 pages, 23,873 words. Did some cutting, did some rearrangement. Probably more to come.
So back in 2014, I had a little chat with you guys about opinions, beliefs, and who has a responsibility to respectively air or shut the fuck up about them. It was fun. We all learned something and came away as better people.
I’m kidding of course, it achieved nothing.
I recently ran into this interesting and strange little bump in the information superhighway, and have been examining my responses and feelings about it. I’m not entirely sure where I stand, or even if I should bother getting out of my car. I mean, I’m policing myself – I haven’t been pulled over.
This metaphor is overburdened.
A while ago, I stumbled upon the cute little webcomic Strange Planet by Nathan W Pyle. They were shared around a lot, and seemed like a fun and harmless gimmick with a cool surreal flavour to them.
And then it was revealed, through the wildly popular medium of Digging Up Old Tweets, that Pyle didn’t like abortions!
I mean okay, let’s keep it real. Nobody actually likes abortions, right? I’m sure if we could arrive at some happy place where they weren’t necessary because nobody got pregnant with a baby they didn’t want to have, that would just be ideal for everyone.
But that’s not the point. Pyle made comments (a couple of years ago) in support of the March for Life, and planted his flag fairly unequivocally on the anti-abortion side of the field. Minds were promptly lost and takes were hastily heated up in the social media outrage microwave.
The above does sort of seem like a sensible and rational approach, but there is something the young people call “Big Mood” involved here now, and the concept’s similarity to Big Tobacco and Big Pharma cannot be overstated. It’s basically the all-powerful monopoly of the Internet.
Anyway where was I? Oh yes, the takes:
…And yes, even my own weird sleep-deprived meta statement:
Now, all snidery aside, I really have no stake in this. Mrs. Hatboy and I had the kids we wanted to have, and then we stopped, and now I am safely sterile. We’re lucky. And as I’ve said before, when it comes to someone facing the question of “abort or keep”, all I can do is stand back and offer my deepest sympathies for a difficult choice, and support whatever decision the woman in question makes.
If the father of the child is also involved in this decision, then I support him too.
But that’s about as far as I can go. I disagree with anti-abortion ideology because (unlike the stance it is opposing) it seems to be set on legislating a choice away. If it was just about the idea, leaving the choice ultimately in the hands of the affected parties, that would be something else. But they seem to be removing that choice, and I am opposed to that. Pro-choice legislation doesn’t force women to have abortions, but anti-choice does seem to force women to either have babies or perform illegal and dangerous abortions like we’ve rolled back the 21st Century.
The thing is, this really has nothing to do with Pyle’s comics. It’s all about how much – if at all – you want to separate the artist from the art. Which is an old question and the answer will be different for everyone.
As far as I’ve seen, Pyle hasn’t worked anti-abortion sentiment into his comics. He tweeted and instagrammed about it once or twice, but he also said this:
There’s a lot of really good points and discussion in the thread connected to this specific tweet, but also it’s Twitter so … wear waders and a helmet, is what I guess I’m saying.
And this takes us back to the question of whether or not you should air your opinions and politics if you are an influential and well-known person. Of course you have a right to them, and you have a right to share them. The nonexistent right to having a global platform notwithstanding, Pyle can make his whole comic about banning abortions if he wants to. And people can stop reading and subscribing if they want to. And they have been.
If you are an influencer on Pyle’s level, do you have a greater responsibility to think carefully about the message you’re putting out? I think so.
And is Pyle’s message – well-hidden as it was until Twitter dug it up – wrong? Should he not use his platform to spread it if he thinks it’s right? Can we assume he didn’t think carefully about the message he was (sort of, kind of, but not really) putting out? And how much outrage does it deserve, as long as it’s not really a part of his art and he’s voting for parties that support women’s health? Does his vote outweigh his contradictory and unfortunate announcements?
Does anyone care?
I was just out of steam briefly on my little story so figured I’d fling this up and philosophise a bit over the weekend. I’m still examining my own reactions. Since I find Pyle’s apparent views a bit disagreeable I admit I’m put off somewhat and no longer find his comics so charming. But if I’d never found out, or if the tweet is revealed to be fake, or whatever else … I mean, is it really my business? Am I really upset?
No, not really. Just … intrigued. The Internet is, after all, a savage and amazing place.