The RavenSpeak column has become one of the most popular sections of Raven's Rants. Despite initial fears of not "fitting in" with the rest of the site, the column has gained a great deal of popularity and sparked some powerful and interesting debates.
In that regard, I consider it a smashing success.
However, what I've found most interesting is watching how people respond to my opinions. Through comments and email, I hear, pretty much every day, what others think about my work and my opinions. I hear the good, the bad and the ugly loud and clear.
Some of the comments praise my thoughts, others criticize them, some defend me, and some threaten to kill me. However, a select few point out issues that I missed or make me realize that there's a need for clarification on a point.
Though, to date, I haven't reversed my opinion on any of the subjects, there have been a few I wish I could revisit in light of the feedback I've gotten. So, rather than create a series of sequel columns, I'm answering some of the charges and questions here.
So, with no further ado, I'll get into the columns in question.
No "Fat Chicks" Allowed (link)
I've heard more back about this column than any other. Though it lags way behind in terms of comments, the bevy of email I've gotten regarding it has blown me away.
However, there's been a constant criticism based on the theory that I'm completely ignoring America's obesity problem and that I am somehow encouraging unhealthy behavior.
I grant, I didn't make this very clear and I didn't come right out and say as such (I didn't think it was needed) but I do believe that obesity is a major problem, especially in the United States.
However, look at the very first sentence of the piece, the average dress size, pretty much all over the industrialized world, including nations without major obesity problems, is fourteen.
That's a bitter pill to swallow, especially for people who have starved themselves and worked out to fit the American standard of beauty, which is in the low single digits, but it is true and it's a figure that stands in nations that are practically devoid of obesity AND eating disorders.
The truth is that, by birth, every woman is different and some women, no matter what, will never be "thin". Medicine is growing to accept the idea of different body types; it's the world that lags behind.
If you need proof, someone very close to me had a battle with anorexia when she was a teenager. She starved herself so much she made herself ill and was almost put into a hospital. It's one of the saddest stories I know, but even at the lowest point in her disease, she never dropped below a size 12.
Now, are you going to tell this girl that she should aspire to be "thin"? That she's not healthier at a size fourteen or sixteen than she would be at an eight or a six?
If I'm insensitive to the obesity problem it's because I'm very sensitive to the psychological and physical damage a bad body image can do to someone. Yes, obesity comes with medical problems, but so do depression, anorexia, bulimia, social anxiety and all of the other side effects from a negative self image.
Yes, everyone should strive to be healthy, but some women will never be thin and telling everyone that they should aspire to be as such nothing short of a psychological browbeating on a nation-wide scale. These women need to know the truth that they are beautiful and society needs to accept that.
Because, until it does, we're not going to fix ANY of our weight problems…
The Legalization of Marijuana (link)
Very few people have said anything negative about this piece.
However, those who have have never been able to attack my logic. My fundamental argument, which is that keeping marijuana illegal while cigarettes and alcohol remain available is hypocritical, has never been attacked.
Instead, in my opinion, the biggest threat to my argument has come from my fellow supporters. One of the biggest problems the marijuana community faces is a public perception that it's filled stupid, disrespectful and foul-mouthed youths who lack morals, ambition or intellect.
Yet, if you read the comments to the piece, they go to great lengths to further that image. A vast majority offer little of value, many contain obscenities and several promote risky or just plain asinine behavior. Though there are many great and thought-provoking comments to the piece there, they are drowned quickly in a sea of all caps and obscenities.
In the end, I feel as if I've done the marijuana community a great disservice. Though my arguments are valid and I stand by them, I also gave a forum that furthered the negative images others have of pot smokers. Though I initially deleted these comments, I realized that it violated my own TOS to do so and now no comment that doesn't outright violate my TOS isn't removed, even if drives another nail into my argument.
Still though, I always cringe when I get another comment for this piece in my inbox. It's rarely pretty and even now, following my TOS strictly, I have to delete many of them.
Sometimes, what you see is only the tip of the iceberg.
Why Telemarketers Are Evil… (link)
This one hasn't generated a lot of comments nor has it carried much weight in my inbox. However, it did get me the one letter that has stood out in my mind the most.
Many weeks after posting it and just a few days before the do not call list was to take effect. I got a scathing three-page letter from the wife of an owner of a major telemarketing company.
The letter, by in large, failed to address my arguments at all. Instead, the main thrust of her letter was spent accusing me of taking food off her family's table and detailing her celebration for when the "Do Not Call" list was stricken down in court.
Luckily, she was very wrong.
The one comment she did make that stuck was her accusation that I was betraying the notion of free speech. In her mind, my support of this restriction was tantamount to treason against free press.
I do have to admit that, as a Libertarian, this is a bit against my principles. After all, I consider myself a true freedom fighter and I oppose government regulation whenever it can be avoided.
However, a free society depends on personal responsibility. Telemarketers have shown a great deal of irresponsibility not only to their advertisers by wasting precious dollars on people who don't want to hear any messages from them, but also to the populace.
Furthermore, where we can avoid other forms of advertising by not picking up the magazine, driving a different way to work or turning off the TV, telemarketing calls are intrusive, reaching into our homes, and can not be avoided.
Nonetheless, if telemarketers would have honored their own lists, like the one published by the DMA, I never would have supported this initiative. But despite being on the DMA’s list for years, I still received telemarketing calls almost daily and it was painfully clear that self-regulation wasn't going to be enough.
Because when you're dealing with an industry that has no respect for the advertisers it serves or the populace it's trying to reach, government interaction becomes a necessary evil. All I'm doing is choosing the lesser of the two injustices.
There's nothing complicated about that.