On Reader Requests and, Also, Iran
From a commenter named Greg:
My only comment would be that you tend to wear out certain topics…By now, we all know how you feel about Bush (utter contempt!), the Patriot Act (hate it!), Intelligent Design (hate it, too!) and gay marriage (love it!)
These predictable topics give you the ability to post the kind of opinions that your predominantly liberal audience loves to hear. They are red meat for the following you have built up in recent years.
I would be curious to see your take on some more diverse topics…Take religious extremism, for example: not Christian, but Islamic. Why aren’t you more concerned about Iran’s president, who is now banning Western music, and claiming that the Holocaust never happened?
To address the first two paragraphs first, I couldn’t possibly care what people are tired of me writing about here, or (alternately) whether what I write about here serves to sate the liberal needs of my audience, because I don’t get paid here and I don’t write here for anyone else but me. This is a free buffet, people: Eat as much as you like, but what you eat is what I choose to serve up. If you don’t like the menu, either wait until I get bored with a subject and write about something else, or just move on. The basic philosophy of the site is the same now as when I started: I write whatever I feel like writing. It’s right there in the title.
Having said that, if you are bored with me yammering on about Bush or gay marriage or writing or anything else I yammer on about on a regular basis, well, I do take requests. I do this formally during the Reader Request Weeks I’ve been doing annually for the last few years, but there’s nothing stopping you from asking my opinion about any particular subject at any particular time. Heck, I like taking reader requests because then I don’t have to spend much time wracking my brain wondering what the hell I’m going to write about today. Now ,you run the risk of me opining on something I don’t know jack about, but per the site disclaimer, I’m not going to let a little thing like complete ignorance stop me. And besides, me making an ass of myself makes for a lively comment thread. And isn’t that what everyone wants?
So, please: If you ever find yourself saying, “Christ almighty, I wish Scalzi would yabber on about something else already,” now you know what to do: send in a request. E-mail is best, but you can drop it in a comment thread if you like. Don’t be shy.
Now, as to religious extremism: Generally speaking, I think it’s no good, no matter which iteration of God one is being extreme about. As to why I’m not concerned about Iran: Who says I’m not? Is concern not a responsible position to take when a nuke-acquisitive country is being led by a Jew-hating Holocaust denier? And I think that Ahmadinejad’s cute little game provoke-and-deny is profoundly obnoxious; really, when one is walking about saying Israel should be wiped off the map, or that the Holocaust didn’t exist, it’s not exactly credible to goofily backtrack a day later and play some variation of the “it was taken out of context” card, especially when you’re back at it a few days later.
I have some suspicions that some of this is a ploy of some sort, a variation of the North Korean gambit in which one acts insane in the hope of extracting placating foreign aid of some type (in this case, involving nuclear power). Unfortunately for Iran, their variation of the North Korean gambit involves poking Israel with a sharp stick, and there’s only so long Iran will get away with that before Israel takes that stick and jams it hard right back into Iran’s eye. Israelis are prepared for the moment to let diplomacy do its thing, but if you don’t think they don’t already know how they’re going to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, I suspect you’d be wrong on that.
Personally, I’m also inclined to see where diplomacy leads us, but then again if one day I woke up to find Israel had launched a multipronged air attack on Iran, I would be neither surprised nor unsupportive of such an action. Israel is a small, tough, paranoid guy in a bad neighborhood, and you don’t mess with small, tough paranoid guys without expecting to pay for it. It’s a measure of my confidence in Israel that I’m not as concerned with Iran as I perhaps should be. I expect that if things get to a certain point, it’s going to be Israel who takes the initiative, not anyone else, and certainly not the US. The military has enough going on as it is, and I don’t think that even Bush can make an argument for us opening up a third front in the Middle East.
Whether any of these assumptions have any relation to reality is another subject entirely. I welcome corrections to my worldview, and also, more requests of entry topics.