Sunshine and Reputation

I have been thinking about reputation, both in real life and in fiction.  I’ve always thought I’ve gone through life angry and defiant about reputation, my basic approach was “If you don’t like me, then the hell with you,” except when I look back, it wasn’t anything of the kind.  I worked really hard to build a reputation as a good teacher and then as a smart, original writer.  I didn’t care about the superficial stuff, people telling me I was no lady (really?  when did you notice?) or sneering at what I wore (except for the shoes, I had a shoe thing), or laughing because I wrote romance (most popular genre in publishing, laugh all you want, Monkey People), but I cared a lot about my professional reputation as a teacher and a writer. I think that’s where Nita’s coming from, too.  She can handle being Odd Dodd; she can’t handle being thought of as a crazy, lousy cop.  

Of course, the reason I’m thinking about this now is American politics.

We have a Supreme Court nominee who has just been accused of an attempted rape when he was in high school.  Setting aside the details and the validity of the accusation, I looked at that and thought, “This cannot go on,” the constant, varied, and  unsavory revelations connected to the current administration, the graft and the lying and #MeToo accusations, so that even if people can dismiss each one that comes along as a political ploy, the repeated violations of public trust have so colored the White House and Congress that at some point, that whole structure has to collapse.   

Or maybe not.  At what point does reputation matter so much that it destroys an entity (person, place, thing, administration, whatever)?  There used to be laws against disparaging a woman’s virtue, making it a misdemeanor to slander any woman older than 12 by uttering “any false or defamatory words or language which shall injure or impair the reputation of any such female for virtue or chastity or which shall expose her to hatred, contempt or ridicule” (NYT), the idea being that woman’s virtue was her most valuable commodity.  I think that’s a key component of the reputation: how much is this aspect worth to you, and how much assault can that aspect take before your entire rep is worthless?  It is irrefutable that I’m a lousy gardener, but it’s also irrefutable that gardening has nothing to do with the way I make my living, so people stopping by to jeer at my weeds are not a threat to my livelihood.   If the idea that I’m a lousy writer becomes widespread, though, I’m in deep trouble: there goes my reputation, my good word of mouth, and my career.

The only way to survive an attack on reputation is to make sure the truth is out there.  Johnson and Johnson not only survived the 1982 Tylenol poisoning but were lauded for their handling of it because they got out in front with the story and their fix: a sick person did this, not our factories but we’re taking responsibility; we’ll replace any Tylenol you’ve bought; and the bottles are now tamper-proof.  Turns out honesty is great for reputations because sunlight is a great disinfectant.

Which brings me back to American politics and Nita’s reputation.  This administration has been so slimed by events–cabinet graft, unfit nominees, sexual assault and harassment complaints, botched responses to disasters, illegal separation of children from their parents, secret meetings with foreign governments, and general cruelty, bigotry, and ineptitude–that they are in desperate need of sunshine.   That’s why I’m finding the supreme court nomination process especially fascinating right now.  The choice is coming down to sunlight or darkness: delay the confirmation and let the accuser testify in the light or rush the confirmation through and hold the vote in the dark.  

The problem with the light, of course, is that you can see everything if you’re willing to look.

The “willing to look” is Nita’s problem.  The sunshine path is to hold an island meeting and say, “Look, a big chunk of our population is demonic and somebody is killing them.  We need to band together to stop the murders and while we’re at it, stop demonizing demons because they’re our neighbors.” Her problem is that people will not want to look, will prefer to think she’s crazy, even odder than they thought before, and will hold onto their firm convictions that demons are evil, all of which will kneecap her reputation as an honest, effective cop.  The dark path is to work behind the scenes, trying to find the killers and end the group that supports them.  That’s smarter and possibly more effective, but it’s not as efficient and it fails Nita’s goal: to make her island a place where nobody lives in fear because of who they are (she’s fine if they live in fear because they’ve done something illegal, that’s what she’s there for).

The reason that’s important for this story, I think, is that it makes it personal.  Nita’s not just fighting for Good, she’s fighting for her own reputation.  It’s easy to say “A good person would sacrifice her reputation to do the right thing,” but if that sacrifice means she’ll no longer have the power to do the right thing, then shouldn’t she be taking the long view that she can do more good if she consolidates and protects her power?  Except that kind of thinking is what gets governments into messes like the ones our leaders are in, so no, that doesn’t work.  At some point, I think, Nita has to just say, “This is the right thing to do, and I’m going to do it, even though it’s going to destroy my life as I know it.”  And then show that it really does destroy her life; actions have no meanings without consequences.

Of course, I also think people are eventually rewarded for doing the right thing.  I’m a big believer in karma.  And sunlight.

84 thoughts on “Sunshine and Reputation

  1. I am the Programme Director of an MBA programme that has strength in the Reputation area. One of the things that fascinates me with respect to reputation and trust is the “tipping point”. Many organisations can weather bad news while managing to keep their reputations; but at some point something will happen, sometimes a small thing, which will suddenly tip everything. Reputations can go downhill very quickly once this point is reached. What fascinates me about US politics right now is that there doesn’t seem to be a tipping point. Every time we reach a new low I think “surely this will be it” but it doesn’t happen. It’s pretty scary to think what it may take to shift perceptions.

    1. I think that’s because of the investment some people have in that reputation.
      That is, if you like Kleenex and you’ve always used Kleenex, then multiple studies showing that Puffs is a better brand will have no effect on you; you’re invested in liking Kleenex because it’s YOUR brand.

      But I agree absolutely with the tipping point, and I think we’re reaching it here in America. The polls are definitely moving that way, especially if you poll women, and this could be big with women since it’s so evocative of the treatment Anita Hill got. The proof will be in the midterms.

      1. From your lips to the goddess’s ears. Please let it be so. I’m beginning to be afraid that no matter how vile things get, nothing will change. But I am holding on hard to my belief in sunshine.

  2. I think the trade off of reputation for right thing depends on the circumstance. If she’s in a jam where she’s the only one who can save it, that without her action, we’re definitely going Wrong, then yes, I think you sacrifice your reputation. Especially if you have the peace of mind that other good, capable, honest people are there to step in and keep fighting the food fight. But if there’s any other option, why would you sacrifice your reputation? Nice gesture, but dumb. Or, if there’s no one left to keep handling things, then also dumb.

  3. I think i-zombie actually does this really well, as the characters keep walking the line of “can I do more good in the dark, or if everyone knows?”

    As for the political tipping point, I think it comes back to politics is local. Trump supporters will keep supporting him until he does something horrible on the topic that most a matters to them.

  4. When it comes to supernatural stories, it never bothers me when characters dealing with those threats keep them a secret from the general public. Like in Buffy, when everything that happened at the school was “a gas leak” or “gang-related, PCP.” Or in Grimm, when they tell people those criminals were wearing masks, they definitely didn’t have animal heads on human bodies. It becomes a problem when they keep it a secret from people close to them (Grimm sucked at this for a long time; poor Wu). So if the most effective way for Nita to find the murderers is to pretend demons don’t exist, I’d be fine with that. If going public takes away her credibility AND that means no one will be left to investigate the killings, then I don’t see how that helps anyone. If no one believes it, is that really sunshine? If she can show enough proof to convince even a plurality of the island and her boss, then that would probably help. But I don’t really know the context of this going public stuff; maybe the threat is so immediate she just has to do it no matter what? The best way would seem to be to show people somehow, like with a demon corpse they can see vanish back to Hell or something. Just saying it doesn’t sound like it would work.

  5. If you lose your reputation AND then the brave thing you did didn’t work, then it’s life, and not a good story. Nita -knows- these people and knows they don’t -want- to accept demons as real and thus they can’t accept them as neighbours because that threatens their entire belief system. I think she’ll work dark until she can see the probability of success is greater than 50% at least. From what I’ve seen, she’d prefer 80% just to be sure. No point in throwing away one’s rep on a Quixotic crusade when you know it’s unlikely to have the result you need. And she needs the result long term (one neighbourly island) as well as short term (stopping the killing). She’s pragmatic.

  6. One of my favorite books is The Eight by Katherine Neville. I think we all being held hostage in this insane coliseum fight to the death chess game. It’s about wealth power and money and no one gives a major crap about we the people. There isn’t a tipping point because it’s not real. It’s a delusion that it’s about women or rights or truth or honor. We are hostages. I’m with justices Kagen and Ginsburg. They think this guy is highly qualified and enough is enough. If I can’t believe them then I’m over it. Hate trump or not, DC is a swamp of evil freaks.

    1. I don’t think the question at this point is if he’s qualified to be a justice based on his judicial record. What people are looking at now isn’t even a history of sexual assault. It’s if he’s a liar, which there seems to be some question about and which should be pursued especially since his answers at his hearing were evasive to the point of incredulity. I think this is very real, it’s about the character of a permanent position on the highest court we have.

    2. Actually, DC is not.

      DC is a city of roughly 700k people, 49% black, 43.6% white, some of whom are Hispanic (8.3%) where 75k of us are immigrants and a much larger group are the children & grandchildren of immigrants. It is a city with the extremes of both wealth & poverty, a city with more native borns than any of you imagine – I myself am 2nd generation native Washingtonian and I work with two other native Washingtonians, and went to school with a lot more.

      Every day in this city, people go to work to do all the boring work that keeps us safe from bad food, disease, scams, makes sure the lights come on & the mail gets delivered – oh, and provide retirements to old people and healthcare to the poor and that the funds for your local highways & parks get delivered to your state. You drove on a road today? The IRS & the Treasury Department made sure that there were the dollars for the FHA to send to your state for that work.

      You go ahead and believe what you like about our government – but remember every two years people vote in the government EXCEPT DC where we only get a nonvoting representative & a shadow senator – even though DC residents pay federal taxes at the same rate as everyone else. EVERY TWO YEARS you vote for these people.

      People in KY vote for your evil freaks. People in CA, OK, NY, LA – you send us your evil freaks.

      You want a different government? Don’t blame my city – vote smarter & better.

      1. I live here, too. But I need to clarify that by dc I mean Congress. Washington DC is a very pretty city. I love flying in at night and oh how it glows. But politically, it’s more exhausting than rush hour traffic.

        1. Yeah, “DC” as shorthand for “government” is common, but DC the city is gorgeous, at least the parts of it I’ve walked through.
          I think before this past two years, the government worked. Not always efficiently or without corruption certainly, but things go down like healthcare and banking reform and rules to slow climate change. And then . . . .

      2. As an ignorant foreigner, the fact (have I understood you? It’s incredible) that you don’t have any parliamentary representation is outrageous. Have you heard the slogan, ‘No taxation without representation’? I should go for it (my current version is ‘No world domination without representation’).

        1. As I understand it, Congress also controls the DC budget, so if they don’t approve of what the city council and residents want, they won’t pay for it. It is ridiculous. I don’t live there, but I still get annoyed every time I think about it.

          1. Congress has approval over the DC budget – part of which is funded by Congress (since DC can’t collect real estate taxes on any of the Federal properties) but part of which is raised by income & property taxes on DC residents.

            Yes, it annoys us when someone wants to prove their conservative bonafides by blocking locally passed laws for abortion funding or needle exchange – which are specifically only using DC funds.

            More annoying is the fact that both Maryland & Virginia congressmen sit on the committee which oversees DC – so that when the city tried to pass a commuter tax to fund Metro & road repair, it got killed.

            The license plates say “no taxation without representation” but they have for 30 years.

        2. That very slogan is in fact on every DC license plate (unless you choose another). It is outrageous, but DC reps or senators would be Democrats, which would upset the “balance” of Republicans losing the popular vote but nonetheless maintaining their majorities, so…

        3. The same happens in the Speaker’s constituency in the UK, Jane – there’s a ‘gentleman’s rule’ (ha!) that the major parties will not stand against the Speaker, so effectively we have no choice in major elections (it’s Bercow or the monster raving loonies who can’t spell or punctuate on their leaflets). Grrr.

  7. I’m so glad you wrote this post today! I’ve been thinking deeply about Kavanaugh in the context of what is disqualifying to be able to be appointed to the Supreme Court, especially since my excellent local NPR station had a call in show today about the topic with many interesting and enlightening comments moderated by the amazing Colin McEnroe. (I invite people to check out the podcast of the conversation if this has been something they’re grappling with too:

    I have so many thoughts…

    First, and I’m a little afraid people might call on me to turn in my feminist card after this…but from what I know about this incident so far, I don’t necessarily think it would have to be disqualifying on the face of it. From what I understand, a drunken 17 year old was aggressively pursuing a 15 year old to the point that other guys had to call him out on it and pull him off of her. This is horrifying. I don’t excuse it. BUT, I think I could be able to give the benefit of the doubt that if this was an isolated instance of bad behavior, maybe it was a life changing experience for him too and maybe it’s not irredeemably damning.

    If I heard something like this from Kavanaugh, I could potentially get past it: ” I don’t remember the events as described, but what is described sounds sickening to me. I do know that when I was in high school I was immature, and dumb. I didn’t know what I was doing when it came to alcohol or with women at the time. My friends helped me understand that what happened that night was not in keeping with my character, and I can promise that I became much more careful about my intake of alcohol and my reading of cues from women after that night. I apologize for any trauma I caused. It is a night I made mistakes, it is a night I regret and I welcome a full review of the facts.”

    To your point about sunlight – I feel like, if he owned the drunken stupidity and aggressive obnoxiousness, and in the absence of a pattern of accusations, I could look at this and say bad behavior, but maybe not disqualifying behavior. Like, I would also think he was a jerk if that night instead of hornily going after a girl and his bros pulling him away fro her, he had angrily started punching at a guy and his friends pulled him off of him before it became an assault…I wouldn’t necessarily think something like would be a disqualifying display of behavior if it was an isolated and never repeated incident, and to me it’s a similar situation. (from the “facts” we have so far…)

    HOWEVER, the revelation absolutely requires a further investigation of his record and for us to pump the brakes on the nomination process. That’s the point of these hearings – if something comes up, it gives us a chance to learn more BEFORE we’re stuck with a life long appointment of him.

    Second, more troubling than the incident for me may be his reaction to it. It seems like she has contemporaneous witnesses and written records. If he lies about this under oath, that IS problematic and disqualifying to me. Even the fact that he has so stridently denied it even while NOT under oath is troubling to me in light of the evidence it appears she has. The cover up is potentially worse than the initial crime, so to speak.

    Third, whether or not the event itself is disqualifying – it certainly gives me pause when I consider how it reflects on the respect he has for women and his sense of his ability to exert control over women’s bodies. This attack shows disrespect of a particular woman certainly, but what I know of his record and beliefs seem also to suggest that he believes in controlling women’s bodies more globally …and anyone claiming to actually believe that dodgy “existing precedent” answers when it comes to Roe it means women’s choices are always going to be safeguarded by him is seriously deluding themselves. (I’m looking at you, Susan Collins). Supreme Court gets to set (and therefore potentially change and determine new) precedent. There’s a reason he’s on the Heritage Foundation’s list.

    Now, I personally think that women’s health and decisions regarding procreation are between her, her partner and her doctor – but I understand intellectually that abortion is problematic, and I don’t think disagreeing on abortion is disqualifying. (I mean wouldn’t be able to give a vote for someone who I thought would overturn Roe, but I could understand others having a different view) BUT I am interested in learning more about how he treats women generally. Because if he’s making monumental decisions on behalf of half the population, he needs to show proper respect for that half. ..and no matter what you think about abortion, I think how he regards women is a legitimate question when it comes to qualifying him as a Supreme Court judge.

    Fourth, I am trying hard to understand my own bias on this. I am a liberal Democrat worried about getting stuck with a conservative court for potentially the next 30 years or more that will revoke many of the rights I value – like Roe, and same sex marriage and voting rights, and uphold decisions I find abhorrent – like Citizen’s United, etc. And I’m pissed off about Merrick Garland. So I’m trying to think he was a liberal judge, if I would be as concerned or would I be brushing this off.

    Here’s what I think – we’re still finding our way in the #MeToo era and it’s hard because there’s so been so few consequences for so many. I think Al Franken was probably pushed out unfairly – there should have been a hearing or something to put sunlight to it to better assess that. I think Bill Clinton should have had to answer for Juanita Broderick. I loved President Clinton at the time – I thought he was a cad and a womanizer, but that his problem was that he loved women TOO much, not that he disrespected or forced them. (In my mind, I decided he and Hillary probably had an understanding about infidelity in their marriage…so he wasn’t being disrespectful to her) But I want to believe I would not be ok with him being a nominee for President now, not without a more complete vetting of Juanita Brodderick’s account. But would I rather have him still be President than the current one -yes. So am I a partisan hypocrite when it comes to this…? Maybe?

    Fifth – I wish everyone just behaved better and among the many good things that #MeToo has accomplished, I look forward to the fact that the conversations that are being had around the topic is leading to an evolved understanding of interactions between men and women regarding what is appropriate and acceptable. We’re raising more evolved kids because of this. There will be less room for “I didn’t know better” type excuses in the future, and hopefully just better behavior as a result of more understanding and awareness in general.

    So all these words to agree with you, Jenny. More sunlight = better results.

    1. As I understand it, her story is that nobody pulled him off, another drunk boy jumped on top of them and they fell off the bed and she was able to get away because he wasn’t pinning her down anymore.
      And definitely more sunlight.

      1. AND turned the music up louder so no one could hear the interaction. That’s premeditation, even while drunk.

          1. Which is why we need the sunlight…cuz yeah, from the additional details here, it’s sounding less and less like “clueless drunken 17 year old misreading cues and being crass and overly aggressive but stopped before it gets to the point of prosecutable assault” and more like “predatory attacker taking advantage and barely thwarted from his evil plan”.


      The WaPo had a little piece on the guy who’s supposed to have been in the room that you might find enlightening.

      I love the fact that he ran around scrubbing his social media posts after this story came to light – a little oblivious to the fact that nothing ever disappears on the Internet.

      1. Thank you for the link – enlightening, although infuriating. I read that article and then immediately looked up the gym’s kickboxing class schedule so I could figure out how soon I could go and punch at something. Jesus wept.

  8. Ooh, this is a great post, I want to think about it more. But in the meantime.

    Here is Dylan Moran (Black Books) on a tirade that is worth the 60 seconds.

    And has anyone watched the 74 minutes of Black Mirror’s The Waldo Moment? There’s a line in it where a less-than-shiny politician says: “…then whole system looks absurd. Which it may well be – but it built these roads.”

    And then there’s this piece of dialogue:

    Jack: Look we–we don’t need politicians, we’ve all got iPhones and computers, right? So any decision that has to be made, any policy, we just put it online. Let the people vote–thumbs up, thumbs down, the majority wins. That’s a democracy. That’s a–that’s an actual democracy.
    Jamie: So’s YouTube, and I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but the most popular video is a dog farting the theme tune to Happy Days.

    Actually, it’s full of great lines. It’s a great episode, right up until the last few minutes. And it’s pre-Trump, with a prescience that is scary when you watch the other episodes (they’re all stand alone). Like here’s a bit that could be a Trump rally:

    Jack: Only an idiot wouldn’t vote for me! So, question the status quo! Kick ’em where it hurts and–
    Jamie: [attempting to destroy the monitors on the truck with a nearby sign]
    Jack: The first man to hit him gets five-hundred quid! Yeah, that’s right, knock him down! Knock him down! Smash it! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
    [several members of the crowd start to assail Jamie until he is beaten unconscious]

      1. I love Black Books too. Dylan Moran is such a grumpy bollocks, but he loves books, so how can we not love him? And Bill Bailey is great value.

  9. I think Nita’s situation is tough because she’s a Jenny Crusie heroine. Many Crusie heroines are out to save some part of the world, ranging from a child to a community to a cause. My feeling at the end of each story is that I’m redeemed as this woman is freed to passionately uphold family, education, whatever.

    But the situation you’re describing now takes a step beyond past heroines as exemplars. Now the island needs to have a new reality revealed and then the islanders need to adjust successfully to that new reality. Nita has a responsibility to bring the people of her island along with her. They need to permanently change their ways of thinking. One way to convince them to change is if they are a part of the process of exposing demon-destruction. From tidbits you have dropped, I suspect that there are increasing examples of islanders who have unconsciously made accommodations for demons.

    I’m not being very clear here.

    1. No, you’re clear and that’s an interesting point.
      The accommodations are usually in the other direction. As in, “I’m against killing teenagers but he was black and wearing a hoodie, so he was obviously a thug.” I just re-read Pratchett’s Men at Arms, which is excellent on so many levels, and a lot of it is about species bigotry, arresting a troll because “he must have done something.”
      But the accommodations to help people we like that we haven’t realized are a different species . . . . Keres definitely accommodates disappearing bodies. Phronsie runs a demon clinic, but she knows there are demons; Keres just suspects people she knows have secrets she doesn’t need to know as long they pay her. Wasn’t there some story/novel/TV show about a different race loving hot sauce? Damn, I can’t think of it, but that would be another accommodation: Sandy buys twice as much hot sauce as any other diner in America and never mentions it. That kind of adaption wouldn’t be based on “They’re different, but they’re good people so I’ll help them,” it’s more “I know they’re good people, and that’s what they want, so that’s what I’ll give them.”

      Really must cogitate on this one.

      1. In the show Roswell, the aliens liked hot sauce. As a campaign to get it renewed, fans sent the network minature bottles of Tabasco sauce

  10. Interesting thoughts. Your description of Nita’s dilemma is something I do in real life (gather community members together, try convince them that we should stop dehumanizing marginalized people through public policy/practices). I agree 100% that there’s absolutely no point in trying to consolidate and protect one’s personal power in that context…it just means slowly becoming part of the problem.

    FWIW, I don’t think people who do good things get rewarded, but I do think it’s important that people do good things anyway. And telling stories where good people get rewarded is part of that.

  11. Lots of miscellaneous thoughts here:

    I think the situation as described with Kavanaugh is more than drunken stupidity and aggressive obnoxiousness. He covered her mouth so she couldn’t scream. That’s a pretty clear indication that he knew she didn’t want it and went ahead. (Also it’s not clear to me at all that the other guy meant to rescue her. It sounds like he was joining the attack. He didn’t unlock the door and call for help, he didn’t say stop, he didn’t pull the guy off her, he piled on.)

    I think if this was something Kavanaugh acknowledged and regretted and there was evidence he changed then I’d be willing to consider giving it a pass. We know from brain scans that male brains don’t have fully developed judgement centers until their late 20s (and if that doesn’t scare you…)

    But he is absolutely denying it. So then if I believe her (and I do) I really think he doesn’t belong on any Judicial bench much less the Supreme Court.

    I’m also disturbed that apparently someone else has been trying to get other information to the Senate about Kavanaugh and Kosinski on behalf of a whole bunch of federal court employees and all the senators he approached including Grassley and Feinstein ignored him. So I’m about to send a round of emails to everyone on the committee.

    I hope the decision to have a hearing means they will shine light on it but right now I’m worried they will hold the hearing announce they believe Kavanaugh and move ahead….

    I think the sunlight may come too late.

    About reputation. I decided a long time ago that I only care about the opinion of people whose judgement and values I respect. So Jenny do you mean your general reputation or your reputation with those whose judgment you trust? And did you work hard to be a good teacher or to have the reputation of a good teacher?

    1. I don’t have time to read your post. I just dropped in to say Happy Birthday Jenny!!! It is today, right?

      1. Yep. And I had lovely day, like most of my days, full of dogs and great neighbors and a really beautiful summer rainstorm that I walked in. (I do not live in a flood plain and it only lasted an hour; apologies to the Carolinas). And then my grandchildren sang Happy Birthday to me on my voice mail and were in tune THE ENTIRE TIME. That’s a great birthday.

    2. I think both, general and those whose judgment I trust. But the people I paid attention to were the people I trusted.
      I worked hard to be a good teacher. I know I wasn’t always successful. I think the reason I had a good rep (if I did) was because I liked the kids and listened to them and I didn’t give them grief about things that didn’t matter. We talked with each other about the stuff they were learning. It was really a great job.

      One of my favorite moments teaching was when I pulled down an AV screen and it came off the wall, and I pinned it in place with my shoulder and then looked out at my class of seniors and said, really exasperated, “Could I have hand here?” And they applauded. And I laughed so hard I almost dropped the screen and then they came and helped me, but I loved that applause so much, the idea that they felt safe doing it and knew I would laugh. Great bunch of kids.

      1. Oh, I love this story. Bad teachers are all a blur in my memory bank, but the good ones stand out like beacons, even after 40-50 years.

      2. I only taught English for one year. I didn’t like teaching because I felt inadequate – you can prepare lessons as intensely as you wish, there’s always the feeling that you should have done more. But after I quit, I got a lot of reactions in the line of “we miss you, you were always fair and treated us with respect, you made us want to go abroad where we could speak English”. I wish they’d told me that earlier because I’d been working so hard for that kind of rep.

        There were some good moments in class, but mainly it was a stressful year. I wish there was a kind of team system where I could prepare the lessons and someone else went to class to teach them. I’d even volunteer to grade the papers. But alas, it doesn’t work that way.

  12. We need more sunlight. Thanking you for many hours reading terrific books. Your reputation is good here.

  13. Reputation is important, but I think you’re also talking (in Nita’s case, not Kavanaugh’s) about a person’s own ideas of what is acceptable in their own behavior. Internal reputation, if there is such a thing.

    For instance, I don’t lie. Ever. It’s a thing for me. I might tap dance around something, like if you ask me if I like your new dress, and I don’t, I might say (so as not to hurt your feelings, because that is also anti-internal-reputation for me), “It’s definitely unusual!” But if asked point blank, I’ll answer truthfully, even if it causes me problems.

    I think maybe you’re talking about Nita’s own ideas about what is and isn’t appropriate or acceptable behavior, beyond what other people think about what she does.

  14. So one of the ways to mitigate the risks of Nita doing a town-hall sunlight moment is for her to do the leg work to make sure she has enough people who will be on her side. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing in terms of secrecy. She can slowly tell people she trusts/ thinks would be on her side until she’s built up enough people that she can go into a meeting with a firm, supportive contingent she can count on. It doesn’t have the drama of all or nothing though.

    1. She does that with both the demon reveal and her heritage. She tells Sandy first, and then her family, and eventually Captain Mann. And through her investigations, she finds people who already know. The problem with keeping it on the down-low is that there’s a war going on behind the scenes and there’s going to be collateral damage if she doesn’t sunshine it. I think.

      1. So, it’s been a long time since Buffy, but weren’t there a few moments where it came out there was something supernatural going on and the reality is they knew or at least heavily suspected? The graduation episode? Arc? When she gets something like the homecoming award? I can’t rememeber.

        Point being, enough knew or suspected that it wasn’t as a big a deal as walking up to a random group of strangers and announcing demons are real.

        If the convincing person/act is there to show proof, then you’re probably good, especially if it explains weird things recently occurring. But I also know it would get the very anti-demons who were ignorant of the situation suddenly awake and involved. Less a current problem, more of a future issue, I guess. Also, the stalwart deniers would be fodder, presumably.

        1. She got the umbrella as the Class Protector Award because their graduating class had the lowest death rate in years. I cry every time I see that episode.

          1. Actually, that’d be interesting – if a lot more people know, or at least suspect, than Nita realises. I always love the big reveal moment in various comedies when the hero says “Hey! This is happening!” and someone says “Yeah, we’ve known for ages. Keep up.”

  15. Definitely more sun but we have thunderstorms and dark skies today.

    I’m making my own sun baking and listening to Shelley Berman’s phone skits.

    My declam piece in high school was Berman’s department store; every day after school I listened to his album and typed the speech.

  16. I was so focused on the political intrigue I forgot to mention a Nita thought I had. One unintended consequence of a sunshine-y town hall style meeting could be “outing” a bunch of demons who might not be ready to let people know who they are. I would think that Nita’s nature to be protective, and her own demonic heritage, could have her concerned about putting people in a potentially uncomfortable position when they’re not all gonna be ready for that to be known.

    1. I think there’s a difference between saying “Demons exist, they’re good people, and if you’re anti-demon you’re a bigot,” and saying “Hey, Rab’s a demon.” You can argue for gay rights without outing anybody. And some demons will want to come out because living a lie is just exhausting.

  17. I’ve had several experiences where a long time friend made a big deal of coming out to me and I had to resist the temptation to say “well I knew for years so what helped you figure it out?” …not that I would be that rude but often the coming out is bigger to the person coming out then the person they come out to.
    (Sadly not always which seems to be a big factor in the number of LGBTQ homeless teens.)

  18. I don’t know. In fiction, a lot of times the story is about One Hero, who stands up, opens her mouth, and expresses the truth that a lot of people know. She becomes the courage and the symbol of the other people, and the support seems to come naturally.

    But in our modern day, it’s like people are living in different realities. Several realities have “truth-speakers” who lead the people in their group in indignation. And there’s a huge clash.

    On top of everything, there’s politics, which likes to think they are playing the long game. “You have to smash some eggs in order to make an omelette” — which is a terribly cruel thing to say to the mother of the egg.

    That’s one thing I really like about Parks and Rec — the short game is based on kindness and respect and getting along, and the long game naturally follows from that. But if Pawnee and Eagleton got into a shooting war, when the stakes were actually life and death and not just something like reputation and honor . . . well, I think the short game could get pretty nasty very quickly.

    Politics today are skirting very, very close to life and death. One side wants to prevent babies from dying; the other side wants to prevent women from dying. Skirting? No, clinics have been bombed. There are deaths on both sides of the fight.

    And, in your town, deaths are also happening. It has moved from civilized politics into something more immediate. I don’t know if people have died on both sides, but that shouldn’t matter. Demons who have been good citizens have (almost?) died, and demons who haven’t been the best of citizens have died.

    So, who is going to stand and speak for the dead demons?

    All rhetorical questions, but there it is.

  19. You know, it’s funny that I should remember reading “Wild Ride” and think to look here on the very day you choose to post this.
    Because I’m in philosophy, and in philosophy, we don’t call this “Reputation.” We call it “Integrity.” And the place where Integrity steps in front of doing the Right Thing is one of the hardest and most intractable problems in all of ethics. So hard that many, if not most, modern ethicists choose to disregard it because it makes their answers easier.
    So I’m quite serious when I say I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you do with this (and to forcing my classmates to read it afterwards >:) ).

  20. “This administration has been so slimed by events–cabinet graft, unfit nominees, sexual assault and harassment complaints, botched responses to disasters, illegal separation of children from their parents, secret meetings with foreign governments, and general cruelty, bigotry, and ineptitude–that they are in desperate need of sunshine.”

    I wonder, though, if some/all of these things e.g. botched responses to disasters affecting primarily Hispanic/Black people, illegal separation of Hispanic children from their parents, secret meetings with foreign (white supremacist) governments, and general ineptitude (thus minimising the role of government in providing services people need), are actually considered to be welcome and reputation-enhancing by some people. If that’s the case, more sunshine won’t change their opinion.

    1. I think you’re right.

      For some of their largest donors, government incompetence is a feature not a bug.

    2. Oh, definitely, but those people are in the minority and that minority is getting smaller according to just about every poll out there. The midterms have me worried, but I think that old arc-of-the-universe thing has gained so much weight that it’s inevitable. If you look at the poll numbers for women and the under-thirties in particular, that whole mindset is doomed. Especially given the cluster-fuck that’s currently happening in the Senate hearings. No matter what happens, a lot of women are already enraged because it’s a bunch of old white guys protecting another white guy and casting doubt on a woman who has nothing to gain by sharing her story. News programs are airing film from the Anita Hill hearings and there’s a reason those hearings sent so many women into politics. The Anita Hill comparisons are everywhere. No matter who’s telling the truth or what happens, the optics are horrible. We have midterms coming up very shortly here. Joe Biden gets up every morning and apologizes to Anita Hill again. And Republicans are either staying very quiet, which is bad, or explaining that there are gaps in this woman’s story and their buddy has already said it didn’t happen so obviously we believe the man.

      The closer we get to Nov. 8, the more I need popcorn and amaretto milkshakes. I don’t think this is an election day I want to face sober.

  21. In the longer run, demographically speaking, most people will be people of color and politically they will influence the presidency and the House because those are basically Representative—gerrymandering can only get you so far in the house and while I don’t like the winner take all Presidency system the big states on the coast will be more liberal more people of color and have more electoral college votes. But because the senate gives two seats to every state no matter how small and a lot of smaller states will remain dominated by white conservatives , the Senate will probably continue to be controlled by old white men.

    1. That’s if the electorate votes on basis of skin color which is not uniform: all people of color are not young and liberal.
      It’s also not the only factor: try gender and age, which cuts across all states.

  22. Oops. I underestimated you, Jenny.

    In Welcome to Temptation, the “town’s” mood is an active, swaying character, and it’s especially acknowledged by the Town Council meetings and the Town Meetings. Even beyond that, Sophy and Phin’s backgrounds are publicly (therefore socially) defined from their childhoods, and they carry that baggage in how they’re perceived in Temptation, how they perceive themselves, and how they perceive each other.

    The labeling that small town society inflicts on its members is a theme throughout the story: it provides the reason for manipulation (faked pregnancy and vasectomy, pay off and blackmail, hidden disease and fender bender) and, ultimately, murder. Simultaneously, community pulls together when all sides are shocked by public (therefore social) sexual exposure (the porn movie).

    You might think that making someone respond to attention and flattery is a cheap sales trick. It also might be a truth if you switch “flattery” with “understanding and action on his/her/their behalf.”

    All I’m saying here is that you, Jenny, have already solved this puzzle successfully.

  23. I’m on a roll here.

    A crucial point you make in Welcome to Temptation is that individuals from opposite sides of the tracks are attracted to each other. Therefore, overall, society prefers integration to segregation.

    1. I think that depends. If you’re a teenager, rebelling against assumption is attractive. If you’re older and just want a settled relationship, you’re looking for shared values and goals, which can certainly cross the tracks but are more likely to be within your own tribe. And then there’s chemistry which has no rules at all.

  24. I just want to point out that Kavanaugh is toad who among other things is anti-any kind of gun control and anti-environmentalism.

Comments are closed.