A comment from Monday's post inspired me today and I'm glad for it. The last was a light post, but I like meaty posts too, so this should be a fun one.
Moral responsiblity for your writing: How much do you have?
Let's say you write a murder mystery and someone gets ideas from your book and goes out killing people, should that give you pause in publishing such a book? What if they started blaming you, and the killer, once caught, named you as an accomplice, and later they found the victims buried under your floorboards?
That one's a bit extreme, and wildly fabricated (and also an episode of Psych, I believe). Here's a better one. Let's say you write a purely fictional book about a horrible government which so happens to resemble what you think the United States would look like in twelve years (providing your villain were in control, etc) and it becomes wildly popular. But some people get up in arms over it and start boycotting your novel, saying you're anti-government, anti-authority, etc. Would that stop you from writing and trying to publish the book in the first place? Should you consider that when writing the book?
If you said 'no', I'd have to agree with you, and if you said 'yes', I'd love to hear your reasons in the comments. I said 'no' because, for one thing, the 'evil government' concept is big in dystopian books. BIG big, and most people don't bat an eye, especially if they read a lot of dystopian and are familiar with the genre. They understand that, while the idea is inspired by real fears and concerns, it's still fiction. Besides, the real fear and concern is what made the book so compelling and entertaining to read in the first place and isn't that a writer's goal?
People like to blame books for bad behavior and in regard to that, I'd like to say it is not Twilight's fault if your teenage daughter has a violent, jealous boyfriend. It is also not Water For Elephant's fault if your wife has an affair. It isn't even The Hobbit's fault if your staff writer decides to take a long walk and blow off work. There are extenuating circumstances in all of these situations and blaming a book for the outcome is as bad as blaming your credit card when you run the bill up.
Writers should consider two things when they write (and want to publish successfully): that they tell the story their heart/muse is telling them to write, and that they consider their audience. Beyond that, it's up to the reader (or the reader's parents) to be discerning.
I'd love for you to weigh in.