Checking the referrer logs for my site I found several visitors who had come via the F&SF discussion board, on foot of a discussion of what sounds like a very silly story about a same-sex marriage between President Bush and Osama Bin Laden, in which my account of a usenet discussion a while back on “macs”, by Terry Bisson, was brought in as evidence.
Slightly stunned by a comment from none other than Ellen Datlow to the effect that
“Boy, the initial poster of the “macs” discussion completely missed the point–that it was against capitol punishment. Another person in the discussion had to point it out to him. I’m surprised anyone could read it as an “endorsement” of CP. I find that really depressing.”As the the initial poster of the “macs” discussion, I certainly did not read the story in that way – it is and was pretty clear to me that it was satire and an anti-capital punishment story, and I completely agree with the political message. I obviously failed to make that clear to some of the people who responded, and to Ellen Datlow.
The message of the story is, in my view, fatally weakened because of Bisson’s lapse of taste in using real people from a real mass murder as the butts of his satire. Using public figures like President Bush or Osama Bin Laden is fair game, but “macs” went too far in mocking private grief. (Probably Bisson has not had any personal encounters with victims of mass murder, which explains but in my view does not excuse his insensitivity.)
I admit I have an additional cultural problem in trying to understand why there is even a debate about capital punishment in America, but that’s a different matter.