Bring It On!

This isn’t a big deal in my mind.

October 27th, 2006 | by Craig R. Harmon |

The latest controversy is over some works of fiction written by Jim Webb, they way women are portrayed in those books and over one scene in particular where we find the following:

A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy’s penis in his mouth.

This is described as a sex scene with a small child. Somehow, I don’t think so. The guy has oral sex with his four year old son on a mud pathway out in the open in the light of day?

I can’t pretend to know what cultural practice this might portray but it isn’t portrayed as sex. I’ve read sex scenes where persons of one gender or another place a penis in their mouth. None of what is usually described in those scenes is described in Webb’s book, at least as it is quoted from and, I have to believe that, if the book went on to describe the fellation of the man’s four year old son, that would be described or at least mentioned. It’s not.

Nor does it appear that it is being celebrated. Whatever it is, it’s being mentioned rather matter-of-factly, neither approvingly nor disapprovingly. If this were the protagonist of the book who was portrayed approvingly as performing fellatio on his four year old son, without consequence, judgment by others in the book or otherwise portrayed in a negative light, Allen might have a case. I don’t think he does.

So if this is not a sexual act, what is this that’s being described in the novel? Webb himself tells us this:

“It’s not a sexual act,” Webb told Plotkin regarding the “Lost Soldiers” excerpt. “I actually saw this happen in a slum in Bangkok when I was there as a journalist.”

“The duty of a writer is to illuminate the surroundings,” he added.

So this is would appear, if Webb is to be believed, to be some cultural act that is not sexual in nature in the culture being depicted in the novel and the novel doesn’t appear to depict it as a sexual act. So what’s the problem?

I’ve never read any of Webb’s novels and I don’t intend to run out and buy them but this wouldn’t prevent me from voting for a candidate if I were generally in favor, otherwise, with his political positions.

The rest of the allegations, that Webb’s novels universally depict women as weak and frequently in degrading manner would be reasons for me not to read his novels. They shouldn’t keep people from voting for the man…unless there is evidence that Webb fellates young boys or actually degrades women sexually in real life. Nobody’s suggesting this.

Webb and Allen are not running in my state and I don’t know enough about either of them to say which I’d prefer in the Senate representing my state if they were but this seems…unseemly…as a campaign tactic — not the novels, which I don’t believe will make it onto my reading list in any case, but the publicizing of portions of Webb’s novels. It’s fiction. Whether they are good fiction is irrelevant to whether he should be elected.

It will be a shame if this is what derails Webb’s campaign.

That’s my opinion, anyway.

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  1. 3 Responses to “This isn’t a big deal in my mind.”

  2. By Christopher Trottier on Oct 28, 2006 | Reply

    Not to defend Webb, but there are crazier things that have happened.  I just wrote abuot a man who is now banned from coming into contact with a minor because he keeps asking them if he can touch their muscles and do exerceises.  This, even though he was not found guilty of any sexual charges.

  3. By sam sherwood on Oct 29, 2006 | Reply

    you might actually want to pick up at least one of his books - “fields of fire” is on the marine corps professional reading list for the ranks of corporal through sargeant.
    http://www.usna.edu/Library/ Mari…Marineread.html

    or how about what these “pinkos” think of it:

    NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW: “The sound and smell of combat permeates FIELDS OF FIRE with a completeness that is extraordinary and a realism that is almost eerie. … at the end the reader is disappointed only because there is no more good reading. … While the reviewer has not read all of the books about Vietnam, he has read most of them. FIELDS OF FIRE is unquestionably the best. The rest aren’t even close.”

    SOLDIER OF FORTUNE MAGAZINE: “If a grateful government wished to extend a meaningful GI benefit to the infantrymen who fought in Vietnam, it could simply send each a copy of FIELDS OF FIRE. They would then know that their suffering, courage and seemingly limitless endurance will be forever recorded. James Webb has immortalized them. …certainly a classic war novel, among the best of the past 35 years.”

    these are serious books written by a serious man for serious (adult) readers. george allen is the one who’s plastering the airwaves and newspapers of virginia with stuff that was never intended for a family audience.

  4. By Demon Princess on Oct 30, 2006 | Reply

    Interesting!  Thanks especially for the book reviews.  Nice to know that his work is so well respected.  Allen is a moron, blindly following his marching orders from Roveco, I suspect.  (THIS is the kind of “public debate” we have over who we employ to run our country?!) 

     

    If we fall for it, we get the government we deserve.

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