You can find the story here: http://www.roughtrade.org/
This started as as series of dribbles
For what seemed like the millionth time, Merlin questioned his sanity.
Why, he thought to himself, was he going out of his way to make sure Arthur had everything he needed for the day? It wasn’t like the big pillock would notice.
Well, maybe he would. Notice, that is. If something wasn’t quite right.
And really, it was Merlin’s job to see that all his clothing was in good condition, his chain mail and armor in good working order, and his weapons polished and sharpened.
That last bit was a necessity, really, in case of attack at any time.
Still, as Merlin worked the last bit of polish into breastplate of Arthur’s armor, he yawned and grumbled to himself. He’d have to be up early, again, to get Arthur out of bed and ready for his day.
A day which, Merlin knew, would be just as long and activity-filled as Merlin’s own. For all that Merlin whinged about the list of tasks Arthur had him complete in a given day, Merlin well knew that the Prince’s own day didn’t revolve around eating grapes in sunshine.
Merlin got Arthur up and dressed, but then Arthur spent his morning in training, his afternoon in court, and many moments in between seeing to the details of running Camelot. It wasn’t mucking out stables, but it was definitely work.
The last bit polished, Merlin manhandled the armor into its place, hung on the rack in the armory, ready for Arthur to don before training in the early morning hours. He rolled his shoulders to clear the tenseness that had built up while he finished polishing the armor, and stretched his arms and legs out. He’d put Arthur to bed an hour ago, and it was time for Merlin to find his own. But it was time for his own favorite ritual.
Merlin crept back to Arthur’s room, silently slipping into his space, to make sure Arthur slept.
Arthur sprawled over his massive bed, limbs askew and lax in sleep, hair mussed, eyes shuttered. A full day of training in preparation for tomorrow’s visiting dignitaries had kept him up and working, wearing that full set of armor that Merlin had just finished polishing, its weight forcing Arthur to work harder than if he’d just worn chain mail.
In sleep, Arthur’s battered muscles could heal, strengthen, and rest, getting ready for more abuse the next day.
Merlin looked at Arthur, and realized he had another reason to keep going.
He cared. He cared that Arthur had the right equipment, and that it was taken care of properly. His prince needed to be ready at a moment’s notice to do his duty to the kingdom.
By keeping his armor in good working order, Merlin made sure his prince would be well protected during those days when protecting the kingdom meant dealing in blood. He protected Arthur from the potential consequences of his role as the kingdom’s protector. He cared that Arthur would stay safe.
And if in his caring, Merlin added a little magical protection to armor itself, no one need ever know.
Arthur waited for the warm glow of magic to fade, and for the soft click of the door behind Merlin’s leaving, to open his eyes.
Of course he knew that Merlin peeked in on him every night. And of course he knew that Merlin added a bit of his magic to shield and protect his prince.
Eventually, Arthur knew he and Merlin would have to lay bare all the secrets between them.
But in the Camelot that now existed, Merlin could not be safe from the law if his magic was revealed.
Arthur snorted. Merlin somehow thought that he, Arthur, wouldn’t notice the soft gold glow of Merlin’s eyes when he used magic, or that he, Arthur, remained oblivious to the machinations of Gaius, Merlin, and the others who occasionally wandered into the kingdom, lost, and in need of assistance. Magical or otherwise.
Arthur had known, from the moment Merlin saved his life for the first time, that there was more to young man than was evident on the surface. Arthur watched, silently observing Merlin’s struggles to balance his new work as Arthur’s manservant with his covert study and his need to help others. When Arthur realized that Merlin was gifted with magic, he had, indeed, struggled to accept that the brave, kind, occasionally snarky, and--it must be said--truly beautiful man had the power to bring down Camelot, if he so chose.
But Arthur also saw that within Merlin lay great compassion and strength, strength that Arthur relied upon more than Merlin himself knew.
Together, eventually, they could build Camelot into a worthy place for all.
But as long as Uther lived, Arthur was stuck, hiding his true self, his true motivations, and his true feelings for the manservant who so quietly went about his duty.
Arthur turned over, muscles aching, and closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be another full day of protecting his people. And though Merlin might not have known it, it was he who gave Arthur the strength to get up and face another day wearing the mask of Uther’s son.
Weeks passed, and it seemed to Arthur that Camelot herself was being stalked by beings of magic. He acted, reacted, fought, rested, and fought some more as his future kingdom was threatened.
He watched as Merlin fought with spellcraft and instinct to help Arthur keep the kingdom together. And he watched as Merlin started to lose control, the pressure of his lonely secret consuming him.
The situation -- lack of understanding and trust -- was becoming too dangerous.
It was time.
"Merlin," Arthur panted out, barely conscious in the wake of the Great Dragon's "slaying." "Don't be an idiot. I know very well that I did not kill the dragon."
Merlin paled. "What do you mean?"
Arthur heaved himself up. "I know that you have magic, Merlin, and you've been using it to protect me and Camelot almost from the very beginning of our acquaintance. It was rather obvious to me, actually, and the only reason I haven't said anything to this point is it was safer for you--and me--if I didn't let on."
Merlin stumbled, half falling on to the ground. "What?"
Arthur shook his head. "We need have no secrets between us, Merlin. I'm not blind. I'm also not my father. And this--unleashing the Great Dragon? This just proves that we need to start working together." He drew closer to Merlin, and held out his hand. "Come up. And tell me what really happened."
Tears shone in Merlin's eyes. "I don't know what to say."
Arthur snorted. "Start at the beginning. It's a long way back to Camelot. And you and I? We have time."
Merlin took his hand, let himself be hauled up, and drew a shaky breath. "This is not how I imagined you would finally know about...about my magic."
"I expect not," Arthur said softly. "But it's too dangerous now for me not to know, and to let you know that I know, given that ... well, that I think we're probably stronger as a team than we are separated into these boxes we've slotted ourselves into." He drew Merlin in closer, letting go of his hand to press him gently into his arms. "We will be a formidable team, Merlin. If you'd let us be."
The tears Merlin had been holding back started to fall, and Arthur tightened his grip. "Let it all go, Merlin," he crooned softly. "We'll face whatever comes together."
And Merlin let himself be comforted.
Harry Potter/Mary Poppins crossover
Mary Poppins-Perkins looked up from her mending at the spin of her weather wheel. “The wind is changing,” she said softly.
She got up from the rocking chair she kept in her office at Wizarding Family Services to get a closer look at the central glass, and she tapped it. The glass resolved itself to show her a screaming green-eyed toddler with a blazing red lightning-shaped scar pulsating on his forehead. “Harry,” she breathed, a tear forming at the corner of one impossibly blue eye.
Strictly speaking, Mary was not to be concerned with the protection and placement of pureblood wizards. In her role as the Muggleborn Child Protection Officer, Mary had wide authority to investigate, intervene, and introduce muggleborn children to the wizarding world, and that included, if necessary, obliviating parents and placing such children with carefully vetted wizarding families. Rarely, a pureblood family needed placement services, but pureblood families were normally careful to spell out lines of succession, placement, and fosterage. Especially with peerage on the line, or wealth.
But the Potters …
Mary watched as Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid took the screaming child from a wild-eyed Sirius Black, presumably to take him to Hogwarts. Mary knew that Sirius was Harry’s godfather, and thus, his presumptive guardian. She’d had many conversations with Minerva about it. Why, then, was he surrendering Harry to Hagrid?
Mary’s glass followed Harry to Hogwarts, (“On a motorcycle? Honestly.”) and watched as Hagrid dismounted from Sirius’ bike to be met by Albus Dumbledore. Harry, exhausted from crying at this point, allowed himself to be taken by the bearded wizard without protest. Mary watched as Dumbledore brought him to Poppy Pomfrey, Hagrid following close behind.
Mary engaged the recorder as Poppy examined Harry, pointing out the magical residue in the slash on his forehead as she scanned him for other health problems. Finding none, Poppy called a house elf for milk while Dumbledore ran a scan of his own on Harry’s scar, and Mary watched as Dumbledore’s eyes lost their twinkle. He said nothing, though, as Poppy handed him the milk bottle and healed the skin of Harry’s forehead.
“Hmmm,” Mary said. “I think a specialist would be wise, Albus.”
But Dumbledore did not call for a specialist. He simply fed Harry, and told Hagrid that he would be needed to bring Harry to his aunt’s home the following evening.
Both of Mary’s eyebrows rose as high as they could go. Lily had been very specific in her wishes. Harry was not to go to her sister until or unless there was no other capable wizarding family to take him in. And Sirius Black was to have primary oversight in this case.
The glass glowed briefly red. “Guardianship interference? Dear me,” Mary murmured, watching more as Dumbledore settled Harry down into a conjured cot in the infirmary for the remainder of the night.
This situation would bear strict watching, Mary determined, and started a case file.
She went home briefly to sleep; her husband, Bert, was out as part of the investigating team dispatched to Godric’s Hollow with the news of the Potters’ deaths. Mary woke in the morning to a pair of letters on her table, their well-behaved messengers waiting patiently for a treat.
The first letter came from Wizarding Family Services, noting the death of the Potters and verifying the start of the case plan Mary had filed last night.
The second came from her old friend, Minerva McGonagall.
I’m quite afraid that Albus has completely lost the plot, old friend.
You know by now, of course, that our poor Lily and James were killed last night by You-Know-Who. Harry survived, by what means we do not know. I cannot get Albus to stand still for one moment to tell me anything. One thing did become perfectly clear, however, in that Albus does not intend for Harry to stay in the wizarding world. He is adamant that Harry will be placed with his muggle Aunt Petunia Dursley.
I’m quite certain he has no authority to do such a thing, but Albus does tend to get his way. Our dear friend Euphemia would be quite apoplectic. And I know that things were strained, to say the least, between Lily and Petunia.
I plan to go and observe Petunia today. I’d hoped you would join me. The Dursleys live at Number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
“We shall see about that,” Mary said emphatically, and she rose to dress. Carefully, and without hurry. A flick of her wand sent her patronus to Minerva, the parrot winging its way to Hogwarts with an “Of course” ready to speak.
A second Patronus went to Bert. “Be ready for anything, my dear.”
A horse galloped back to her. “Always with my Mary.”
Mary set her flowered cap on her head, gathered her umbrella, secured her wand to her wrist, and turned a heel.
She popped into the secured Wizarding arrivals area in the Surrey train station, then turned into a robin and flew toward the map in the central terminal. She found Number 4, and flew there to join a cat perched on the walk outside Number 4.
They’d agreed, on a bit of a lunch break, to allow Albus an opportunity to explain himself and change his mind. But it really became clear quickly that he intended to leave the young Potter heir on the step in a basket, for goodness’ sake, with only a letter and nary a warming charm.
At Albus’ last admonition that they should go and join the parties, Minerva dropped her chin in Mary’s direction. Mary tipped her beak down, and she watched them go. As the lights from Albus’ little device returned and the wizards disappeared, the robin became a woman again. One who’d seen quite enough. A note would make its way to the case file to keep an eye on the Dursleys and intervene if necessary on behalf of their son. She hoped, however, that noninterference from the magical world would make it unnecessary to intervene in the Muggle world, too.
Mary grasped the handle of Harry’s basket. Apparating with a toddler was not a good idea, so she unfurled her umbrella, and caught the east wind, the basket in tow.
Bert, predictably, rolled with it.
“Ah, my Mary,” he said gently, peeking in the basket as she set it down in their bedroom. “I take it we have a guest?”
“And one that might be here for some time,” Mary admitted, taking her hat off her head and setting it on its stand in the corner. “There’s something dodgy about the entire thing, Bert. My office was notified of the orphaning, of course, but the will didn’t pop into place as expected, the presumed guardian left his ward with someone unauthorized only to run off and get himself arrested, and Albus Dumbledore still thinks he can subsume the authority of Wizarding Family Services and place children wherever he sees fit.” She huffed. “I’d have thought he’d learned his lesson after the Riddle fiasco!”
“To be fair, poppet, the war made placement of magical orphans terribly difficult at the time,” Bert reasoned, even as he gently picked up Harry, who was sleeping quite deeply, and brought him over to the emergency cot they kept on hand, freshly made up with a snap of his fingers on the way. He tucked Harry in with a conjured plushy dog, and set up the child-monitoring ward with the ease of long practice.
“And we’d have found some place for him eventually, had Albus not interfered with my counterpart,” Mary grumped. “Children need kindness to grow, Bert. I really doubt that Tom Riddle got any. And here he was about to just leave Harry with his Aunt Petunia. The weather glass changed, Bert! It actually changed to show me just how bad that idea was! I haven’t seen the like since the Banks!”
Bert grinned. He loved seeing his Mary worked up. “Well that worked out in the end, too, didn’t it?”
“It wouldn’t have without my intervention,” Mary said, pulling off her gloves and setting them aside. “There wasn’t any way Mr. Banks would have accepted a magical child without a little bit of help.”
“And he did, didn’t he?” Bert soothed. “Proud as punch when Jane graduated Hogwarts and got a top placement at Gringotts!”
“Yes, alright, that’s true,” Mary allowed. “Michael, too. I do miss him, still.”
Both stayed silent for a moment, remembering young Michael Banks as he was, before he was killed in the course of his duties as the Ministry liaison to Scotland Yard.
Bert sighed deeply. “Well, that’s that, then.” He took his wife’s hand. “What shall we do with Harry?”
“He’s supposed to go to Sirius Black. Whatever possessed the man to give Harry to Hagrid, I don’t know, but I suspect compulsion charms. I don’t know what game Albus is playing here, but he can’t go round my office. Minerva alerted me straightaway, though the glass, too, let me see what was happening,” Mary said. “If Sirius cannot be guardian, and he can’t go to Petunia, then I’ll have to see who’s the next living wizarding relative and go from there. And frankly, I need to see the will. I know there is one; last time I had tea with Lily she said she’d filed it at the Ministry and at Gringotts.”
“I know you promised Euphemia you’d stand as Harry’s grandmother in her place,” Bert said. “I promised Fleamont that I’d be his grandfather. We have as much claim as anyone else, Mary.”
“Perhaps more so,” she said quietly, thinking. “I think we need to see the will, Bert. If we’re named as guardians or alternate guardians, then I can take stronger measures to protect Harry’s placement with us. Right now, I’m well within my mandate to have him placed here temporarily.”
“That’s settled, then,” Bert said, laying a kiss on her palm. “He’s safe for now. I’ll raise the emergency wards, and we’ll all get as good a night’s sleep as possible with a traumatized toddler. I’ll mind him in the morning while you go off to see Jane at the bank about the will. If the Ministry copy didn’t pop into your office correctly, that’s a problem, as I see it.”
Mary nodded sharply. “Interference in the reading of the will of a Peer is a high crime, Bert, as you know. I have cause to get the Gringotts copy and have it read.”
“There you are, then,” he soothed. “Let’s to bed.”
Jane Banks-Marshfield welcomed her old Nanny with a smile. “Mary Poppins-Perkins! How delightful to see you!”
“Always good to see you, too, Jane,” Mary said, drawing off her gloves with a smile. “I do have some rather pressing business today.”
“Of course,” Jane said. “How can I help you?”
“I need the Potter will,” Mary said firmly. “I’m invoking my right to see it as a representative for Wizarding Family Services responsible for placement of Harry James Potter.”
A glow settled over her as she said the key phrase, and Jane nodded solemnly. “I’ll find it for you. One moment.” Jane left for the filing area and tapped her wand on the desk there. “Wills, James and Lily Potter.” Two piece of parchment, rolled and sealed with the Potter crest, appeared on the desk. “Will you invoke right of execution on behalf of the orphaned child?”
“I do so invoke the right of execution on behalf of the orphan Harry James Potter.”
Both parchments glowed, and the seals broke. “One moment, Mary, while I call in the required witnesses.”
Within five minutes, the room held Mary, Jane, the Potter account manager whom Mary did not know, and the bank president, Ragnok. Mary started a recording orb, and Jane took her place behind the desk. Jane cleared her throat, opened the first parchment, and skimmed the will, skipping to the section on guardianship. “As expected, this is the will of James Potter, who died first, leaving everything to his wife. In order, he lists his wife, Bert and Mary Poppins-Perkins, Frank and Alice Longbottom, Sirius Black, and Minerva McGonagall as Harry’s potential guardians. An official reading will need to be held within five business days.”
Jane picked up the next parchment. “This is the will of Lily Evans Potter.” She skimmed it, too. “Everything is left to Harry James Potter. She lists the same guardians, in the same order, with her husband first should she die before him, and notes that her sister Petunia is to be considered a last resort because of her stance against magic.”
“Right,” Mary said. “That’s me in a conflict of interest at this point.” She drew a deep breath. “With your permission, Ragnok, I will call for my colleague to witness these proceedings.”
“You have it, Dame Poppins-Perkins.”
She nodded her thanks, and sent her Patronus to Mafalda Hopkirk. They waited, quietly, for ten minutes as Mafalda made her way to the bank and was escorted inside to the waiting filing room.
“Ms. Hopkirk,” Jane said in greeting. “You are here to be a witness in the reading of the Potter wills as your colleague, Mary Poppins-Perkins, has been named as a potential guardian to Harry James Potter. Will you stand ready to record?”
“Of course,” Mafalda said, and pulled out her wand and a recording orb. She tapped it, and it lit up. “Please proceed.”
Jane formally read the will of James Potter, followed by the will of Lily Evans Potter. Mafalda and the rest of the participants listened quietly, and when Jane was finished, Mafalda stood. “With the power vested in me by Wizarding Family Services, I hereby place the orphan Harry James Potter with the guardians chosen for him by his parents, Bertram Perkins and Mary Poppins-Perkins. So mote it be.” The orb flashed and a heavy silver ring appeared on the table in front of Jane.
Within the Ministry, the case file updated with Harry’s placement and sealed itself.
At the Poppins-Perkins home, Bert stumbled as a heavy silver ring appeared on his right ring finger.
And Petunia and Vernon Dursley went on with their days, unaware of events in the Wizarding world.
Having read the books and watched the movies (and played in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, and bored my students with HP anecdotes), I think Keira and Jilly are on to something there. I also think it relates to something else Keira alluded to in an earlier show, which is how fandom and fanon can take over meaning and original source material. Keira was referencing the Sentinel fandom at the time, but I think Snarry has a toehold in Harry Potter fandom because of this issue, too. Writers of Snarry normalized the pairing.
It made me think about my own work. One of my first stories upon my return to writing fan fiction was an adult Harry paired with an adult, redeemed Snape. I had been reading a LOT of HP fan fiction--glutting myself, actually--and I wanted to write a story where they came together as adults after Harry had some life experience. The result turned out pretty well. It's got some minor issues. If you want to read it, you can find it on AO3 or ff.net. It was my first experience writing slash, and dealing with readers who had issues with slash. My give-a-darn about what readers think broke years ago (I started my professional life as a reporter), but it gave me some interesting insight into the fandom that I didn't have at that point.
Keira's points about Snape, however, made me think about why I wrote that story, (see the normalization of Snarry when one gluts on HP fan fiction) and how on earth I could make it work. She's utterly right: In order to redeem Snape, I had to completely rewrite his back story and add information in that the reader (Harry) didn't have as he was growing up. I also had to ascribe a level of insight to Harry that the character, in canon interpretations, really doesn't have and perhaps is incapable of having, given his age and life experiences. I also had to add a soul bond trope in order to make the pair take a second look at each other, because neither would do it with out some sort of dramatic reason to. I had to give Snape an ugly, tragic past as a Death Eater, too.
Wow. The sheer amount of effort that takes.
So, yeah. I agree. Book canon Snape is virtually irredeemable.
Some things, though, I accepted as my personal head canon when I wrote that story. First, Ginny and Harry were not meant to be together. Screw the epilogue. Seriously. In that first story, they married too quickly, then realized they had a mess on their hands. Later stories I've written don't even go there, though I'm not into Ginny-bashing, per se. It's fun to read, though.
Second, the Malfoys could be redeemed. It's not hard to see that most of their motivation in the later books was the survival of their family, and that can be sympathetic. I'm not always convinced that Draco is the best romantic pairing for Harry, either; I've never written that pairing. However, I do know writers who can make it work beautifully without a lot of canon tweaking (cough, Keira, cough).
And finally, I don't think Harry Potter had time as a teen to figure himself out beyond his role as "Savior"--and what an terrible title to have following you around--and in my stories, I like to think he gets that time before he commits himself to a romance that will work. My exception to that, Unexpected Help, follows the Sentinel trope, and Guide Harry meets his Sentinel Tony DiNozzo at 17, but later installments will explore how Harry finds himself in the wake of the war with his Sentinel's support. We are, none of us, exactly who are going to be at 17. We all need to do that exploring and soul-searching.
Anyway, Keira's radio shows have been inspirational and entertaining. Go, listen. I'll be here when you get back.
When I notified my boss that it was finally, finally official, he gave me parental leave! I'd forgotten I was even eligible. I could have used it two years ago, when they first showed up.
But I'm gladly taking it now.
This morning, I brought elder child to her new "school"--the three-year-old room at my accredited campus day care center--left my younger child with my husband, who had a full day of play planned, and hit the coffee house to write and drink coffee.
I did not know how much and how badly I needed this leave.
Yes, I've got some paperwork to do. New socials for the girls, for example. Applying for MA for them to supplement their new insurance.
Deep breaths, Prof. Deep breaths.
We had a great trip as a family this past weekend to visit family, attend a wedding, do some stamping, and generally play. If you've never been to Green Bay, Wisconsin, I recommend it--even if you don't like football. The National Railway Museum, in particular, was a lot of fun, and our girls enjoyed climbing all over the big trains and riding on one.
Posted some new fiction on the Wild Hare Project, including a second episode of Last One Out. I'll have to sit down and really plot out more for that work. It's a rich world to play in that I've created, and I want to create episodes that make sense.
Enjoy the summer sun!
I've got competent help with the toddlers this month, so I might be able to work something out!
I'm not working on Rough Trade in July because I just don't have a concept I like well enough to commit to for the Battle of the Five Fandoms. I look forward to reading all the contributions, though!
I'm finally inches from finalizing the adoption of the babies, though. We're waiting on one piece of correspondence. When it arrives, we can put our petitions through and get a court date to finalize. Even the judge who has been following this case is looking forward to it. My girls are all blooming this summer. Eldest is managing her new baby, and she's staying sober. I'm proud of her. New baby is thriving! I love being a grandma.
My two toddlers are growing so much that we're going to have go on a clothing shopping spree again soon. They're very into the newest Disney princess, Elena of Avalor. I like her, too; she's absolutely in charge, and that's a refreshing change from the traditional Disney princess.
I've got two nonfiction papers to write in July, too, so I'm hoping to make things work in such a way that I can get a lot of writing done over the course of the month.
Have a lovely summer!
I'm not a throwing-things type, but I was tempted.
So It makes me wonder why I was so pissed that I don't get to go?
Frankly, it's the end of term, I'm tired, and I'm stressed. Fantasizing about going to "Hogwarts" (the movies were filmed at Alnwick) was doing a lot for my mental health.
Oh, well. I'm told there may be future opportunities to go. I'll cross my fingers for that.
And maybe write a little more HP fan fiction.
I'm feeling challenged by our new circumstances. Her older two sisters are mine to raise--my husband and I are adopting them--and this little peanut will be staying with her bio mom, my oldest adopted kid, as long as bio mom stays in her sober, safe and sane space. She's been doing great, and I have high hopes.
All babies are blessings, but the timing on this could have been better.
Still, with spring comes optimism, and sunshine, and growth.
On the writing front: The battle to produce continues. I really need to write another non-fiction piece by a June 1 deadline, and I still don't have a clue what that will be about. And I'd much rather be working on my "Harry Potter and the Apocolypse" (PATENT PENDING) ;) piece--I'd like to get another episode done this month. The entire series is called "Last One Out", and the first episode has been posted on the Wild Hare Project site: http://wildhareproject.com/author/
I think it’s important, amidst our discussion of fake news, cultural capital, and politics, to also discuss the role of the free press in U.S. history from an historical perspective. Thomas Jefferson, in written discussion about the U.S. Constitution as it was being debated and written, said:
“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” TJ to Edward Carrington, 1787.
There’s a lot of ideas packed into that couple of sentences, but essentially, Jefferson places a a free press above a working governing body. He also, in the same space, advocates for education and literacy as cornerstones for government.
The point, it seems, that a free people should be able to freely share information about those who would prefer power for themselves, that is, those who would govern.
Governance ought to be a public service. The free sharing of information about those who would govern is meant to keep it so. The will of the people can only be enacted when the people act on good information. And the press’s role is to provide that.
I grant you, in 1787, the free press meant, literally, the freedom to print information on a press and distribute it. And, as the old adage goes, speech was only free to those who could afford a press.
But the concept here relies on the bedrock principle that free information remains a critical component in a functional democracy. Media free from censorship or external influence provides people with information they need to make good decisions at the polls.
The media landscape today includes more than just news media, but professional news media, in my opinion, have been doing an excellent job of reporting on those who would govern. I’m tickled every time I read or see a piece that outlines evidence of lying and other falsehoods on the part of the governed. But then again, as a reporter almost twenty years ago, I considered that my duty as a journalist. It was literally my job to call out those in power. When Wisconsin’s then-Governor Tommy Thompson yelled at me during a press conference for asking questions he didn’t want answered, I reported it.
Why just say someone’s a jerk when you can show evidence of it?
Jefferson’s position relied on a couple of things: The Lockeian ideal of the information marketplace, and the assumption that an educated people would read as many sources of information as possible. The end goal in that scenario was that all news -- the hoaxes and the gossip as well as the verified -- would circulate, and the people would be smart enough to see “truth” rise to the top. It also could not imagine an era when everyone, potentially, could publish their views. The sheer volume of information and misinformation projected to the people today requires that we limit our reading and information-gathering.
And the bigger problem today is that, with that limitation, consumers tend to consult media sources that agree with their perspectives, ideals, or points of view. There’s media theory to suggest that embedded ideology, in particular, is difficult to challenge. Individuals who have firm political beliefs rarely change their minds, even faced with evidence that their perspectives are wrong. And today’s media consumers don’t have to consult a media source that might provide contrary evidence to their ideological belief structure. They feel comfortable with their same sources, which often build, back, and reinforce their ideologies. They see no reason to consult other sources, and become entrenched in their points of view.
In a society that relies on the free exchange of information, such entrenchment is dangerous. Democracy relies on free exchange, critique, and discussion, and such must cross ideological borders in order to be effective.
Achieving that is the challenge.
In my research, I’ve examined ideological discourse in farming and in mainstream magazines between 1910 and 1960, looking for commonalities and divergences. During that fifty year period in the United States, the population shifted from 90 percent rural to 90 percent urban. By 1960, I found that a significant disconnect existed between discourse in rural America and discourse in urban America. The two populations were using the same language, but they often did not mean the same thing.
I believe that gap in ideological discourse has only widened with time, and that might be the root of our current problem. By focusing only on media that agrees with our personal points of view, we miss the point of engaged and critical discussion with those who have differing points of view.
This isn't really related to writing. My life has gotten enormously complicated--I'm in the process of adopting my two granddaughters, ages 2 and 1, after having cared for them since they were 11 months and four weeks old, respectively. The process is taking an inordinate amount of time and driving me crazy.
We adopted their mother when she was 16, along with her fraternal twin, and that was several years ago. My kid keeps struggling to straighten her life out, and some days are wins, and some days are not. The push-pull of mothering her and the babies, especially when the kid struggles with her mental health issues, is enough to make me want to run and hide.
Well, I'll likely bury that impulse, but writing and reading have always been my key way to dissociate from life stress, so I need to make time for it.
I'm going to keep working on my fiction that I've started, but I won't post anything on public archives until it's complete. I think I've learned that lesson.
This has been a free-writing, free rant, from PF.
I've written two other S/G stories, one of which fits into that universe, with Merlin and Arthur. How would the Battle of Hogwarts gone with that legendary pair on the side of the light?
At minimum, I think I need to expand that part of the story.
The original is here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/
However, I've got a lot more to say. I don't know how often I'll use this, but it feels kind of good to have a public journal. So much of my life has to be kept under wraps for legal reasons (and no, not the nefarious kind), that I kind of need a venting space.
So here it is. Spouse has the toddlers this morning at the mall; I'm at work trying to prep, and having no luck. Wish someone would send me flowers because winter is truly abysmal. Looking for some sunshine. It's the time of year that I always start browsing job posting in warm places. But do I really want to move to Australia?