Sex; Politics; Religion - Forbidden Subjects?

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 28th Mar 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Should sex, politics, and religion be forbidden subjects for any writer? Certainly there is a potential minefield to be crossed when covering any of these subjects. How you do it becomes a delicate choice, but it must be remembered that there is so much scope to offend.

One Viewpoint

As a member of Toastmasters one of the cardinal rules is that in performing a speech you should never cover sex, religion or politics. Toastmasters is a learning organisation and was founded with the idea that members learn from each others and assist their growth.

The coverage of these three topics is considered highly controversial and the danger is that your speech will not be evaluated on the merits of a speech, but upon the viewpoint presented. If you think about it from the viewpoint of Toastmasters International they want people to join and learn how to speak more effectively. Sex, politics and religion touch on some of the most emotive subjects in humanity and are felt to be divisive for the organisation. What you do with your speaking skills outside your Toastmasters club is entirely up to the member.

When it come to writing however there are different rules, and many writers touch on each of these subjects to one extent or another.

The Gag Order?

Should there be a gag order on these subjects?

This is an interesting question of which I can only explore through the use of a personal perspective; probably the only way to do it. Ultimately though every writer must make their own choice.

It is the emotive aspect that can challenge the writer more than for these three subjects than anything else they are likely to cover in their writing lives. Should that stop you? Maybe not, but it certainly should make you think twice before publishing.

Sex

Overall I would have to say that society is today still very prudish when it comes to the discussion of sex in public. Of course it is important here to distinguish between sex and pornography; the first should be a natural part of our lives; the second tend to be more about exploitation, or at the minimum making a profit from the sexual act.

Sexual experiences, no matter how explicit does have a place in writing, they offer something we can all learn from - no matter what age the reader is. I have always believed that you should never tell lies to children about sex. When a child asks where does a baby come from it is better to answer with genuine information than to tell them a baby is delivered by the stork and that mummy is just a little overweight right now.

We should get rid of our prudish nature regarding the subject of sex. But at the same time we should never be vulgar, or graphic, and should always maintain decorum when writing on this subject.

It must also be recognised that some people do not read articles that are explicitly sexual in nature, so it is probably best to mention how far you will go in the introduction.

Politics

This is probably the most emotive subject on the planet. Yet one wise man once told me "Remember, EVERYTHING is about politics!" He demonstrated this by taking a newspaper and showing me that every article had a political perspective about it, this may be hidden, but it was evident.

Wikinut writer Steve Kinsman often writes on political subjects and he often challenges the status-quo, yet he does so in an interesting, humorous, and thought provoking way. Others tend to be more blunt and as a consequence can all too easily offend.

Causing offence is perhaps the primary reason Toastmasters recommends that its clubs do not cover the world of politics. Yet many people at my club have covered political topics and have yet done so in a way that takes the audience on a journey of understanding and that is vital.

Politics is about convincing people of your viewpoint and there can be many devices to achieve this in life. Politics very much has a place in the writing world. We should never hold back from challenging the wrongs in our society. It is by challenge that we grow. Sometimes humour carries more weight than tub thumping in this arena.

Religion

At the beginning of this article I said that this was being explored entirely from a personal perspective, so please bear with me.

In looking at many writing sites I find too many articles about religion. Some authors consider it their faithful duty to regurgitate the Bible, Koran, or any other holy book. That is all they write about! This makes me wonder about the value of such writing. I will pass such articles by, they hold little relevance to modern people and really should not even be considered as a sermon, from a religious pulpit.

Peoples faith is very much a personal thing and we should always respect that. Lecturing others about religious belief I often think is on the border of being offensive. I know many Christians, many Muslims, many Hindus and a smattering of those from other faiths. What brings us together is work or other interests but not religion. The topic of religion has come up during conversation as has their belief that I would be a better person if I converted to their faith. but there the topic normally stays.

Religion is certainly the touchiest of subjects. There are many groups that want to convince us that their way is the only righteous path. Of course writers will cover religion and their particular faith, it is only natural, but remember that there are many viewpoints, including atheist ones, that all have relevance to modern man; which makes writing on faith or religion a tough path to take.

My best advice is to avoid this subject it is too thorny a ride.

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Tags

Emotional Connection, Emotions, Emotive Subjects, Forbidden, Forbidden Subjects, Politics, Religion, Sex

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar David Reinstein,LCSW
28th Mar 2012 (#)

Before visiting the deep south for the first time many years ago, I was advised to avoid certain subjects. These included: Race, religion, politics and sex. I did so. A lot of quiet time passed while sipping mint juleps :-}

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
28th Mar 2012 (#)

Very cogent and interesting analysis Peter. These indeedare touchy subjects for many people, and we must tread somewhat carefully in these areas. I know, because I have crossed the line a few times and have been thoroughly upbraided for it. Thanks for the nice mention in your article. I appreciate it.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
28th Mar 2012 (#)

Steve, you crossed the line? No surely not ever! But the way that I have seen you handle it is with a bit of (often self defecating) humour, which seems to make it OK as the person you offend will see you as the court jester or village idiot, which you certainly are not.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
28th Mar 2012 (#)

Very good points Peter.

Most subjects which might be taboo in a conversation are worth writing about, as people may search for information they need (especially in regards to sexual concerns).

Of course when writing on certain topics, such as religion, or politics, a person must expect that somebodies views will be different.

I personally also feel the articles that are little more than Bible verses offer little value over all, and wish people would expand on them.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
28th Mar 2012 (#)

Mark, There is certainly more than one writer here that gives sermons straight from the bible, with no interpretation of modern translation. Put the word "God" in the title and chances are I will not be looking at their article.

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
28th Mar 2012 (#)

I understand not to discuss sensitive subjects, i.e., politcs, religion, race and sex when confined in a small space, i.e. on a plane, in a car, in a small boat. The sight of red, anrgry faces, shouting at each other, can be intensified and there is not anywhere to go.

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author avatar Don Rothra
28th Mar 2012 (#)

It's amazing to me how some people shudder at those 3 words. They're real and they art common, but they are no-no words. Nice work.

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author avatar M G Singh
29th Mar 2012 (#)

An excellent post Peter on a touchy subject

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author avatar Floris56
29th Mar 2012 (#)

I worked in academia and when at meetings with administrators there were about 40 stop topics there, and, of course, you were expected to know all the latest meaningless admin-speak words.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
29th Mar 2012 (#)

My view is that we might not talk about SRP while teaching or lecturing as it might hurt another. In other words, the perception is very a few people are rational and listen to different opinion or thinking. This is as if there is a fear of losing something.

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author avatar Neha Dwivedi
29th Mar 2012 (#)

Interesting analysis Peter.

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author avatar Jack Vorster
29th Mar 2012 (#)

What a clear picture you've given of "The Living and the Living Dead". http://nut.bz/6tb90x3x/
The Living will read it but the Living Dead will be offended by it.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
29th Mar 2012 (#)

Pity I had not seen your article before publishing this, It would certainly have enhanced my discussion.

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author avatar Buzz
29th Mar 2012 (#)

Pertinent subject to discuss, Peter, that is, avoiding these 3 topics. Congrats on the star.

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author avatar Tony Barnes
30th Mar 2012 (#)

Christians have a responsibility to share their faith as directed by the founder...Jesus Christ.
Your statement "they hold little relevance to modern people" is a silly statement. There is little peace in this world...but, millions find the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ and have their lives transformed with the gospel. You certainly have a right to your opinion...but, in doing so...you are missing Truth. I will continue to write faith based articles in an effort to reach that one that recoginizes their need for the Savior.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Apr 2012 (#)

Tony I think you are taking this phrase out of context. I said that there are some who regurgitate words directly from their holy book without giving them any relevance to modern mankind. It is the ancient texts that often have little relevance to people of today. It is better to state lessons in modern terms. That is the point that I was aiming at.

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author avatar Dave
12th Oct 2013 (#)

You're wrong , Alla is the only God.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
5th Apr 2012 (#)

Super Peter, thank you!

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author avatar Melissa Dawn
5th Apr 2012 (#)

Great article and thoughtfully done. If things aren't discussed things cannot progress/change/alter in any way. I believe there is a place to do it here on Wikinut

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