Saturday, 20 February 2016

Harper Lee has died

at the age of 89.
My father gave me "To Kill a Mockingbird" when I was 13. 
     "You will find it interesting," he told me - and I did. 
It wasn't a book I went back to the way I went back to some books. I did see the film some years later - on television. Yes, another interesting interpretation.
Then there was all that fuss about "the second book". I think it might have been better not to publish it. I suspect it is what other people wanted, not what the author wanted. 
I hope she finds some quiet now because it seems she was a private sort of person. 
Authors live in other worlds as well as this one. They have to move between worlds. It's not easy.
Journalists on the other hand are supposed to live in this world. They are supposed to write about the facts, to give the rest of the world information. 
I am more and more of the opinion that they are confused about their role. Do they now believe they are authors in some parallel  universe where things are just ever so slightly different? Do they believe it is their role to create news? Do they believe it is their role to tell people what to believe?
I wonder what Harper Lee would have made of the lead story on a news service last night. It started out with a statement of fact - but the statement of fact was completely wrong and they knew it. The story was very carefully worded. I e-mailed someone I know who works there and had the response, 
      "Yes, I know. It was deliberate."
It was deliberately designed to make people believe something that was not true. It  isn't what was actually said. It was just the headline - because many people do not listen or read any further.
There is a similar story in this morning's paper - about another issue. It has been designed to do maximum damage to a public figure. Go a little further and the story is carefully worded. It doesn't make the accusations implied in the headline but the editor knows that  it will do damage. It doesn't matter that some of those allegations are years old, have been investigated and have been found to be baseless. They are intended to do damage. They are intended to influence people's judgment. 
I wonder whether publishing "the second book" was also designed to damage Harper Lee's reputation - at a point where she could no longer answer back. She was growing deaf and blind. There were questions about her ability to handle her own affairs. Those responsible could claim, "Oh she wanted to publish it" or "She gave permission".
The question has to remain though, "Why wait all those years?"
 Why this desire to damage other people?


Allison said...

Miss Lee made it very clear for many years that she did NOT want to publish it. And while I have no inside knowledge, I suspect that it was published not to do her damage but to make a bunch of money for the publisher.

Anonymous said...

They wouldn't care whether it damaged her or not. Ros