Badly Behaving Authors

Authors Behaving Badly: New Hope Gay Marriage Saga

Authors Behaving Badly

In the past few years we’ve heard a great deal about authors behaving badly. There’s even an acronym…BBA…badly behaving author. But this following list mentions a few alleged BBAs who aren’t new authors, or even self-published authors, and I found the comments fascinating.

Here are just a few names mentioned. There are fourteen mentioned altogether, twelve of which are showcased in detail.

Jonathan Franzen:

While we love Franzen’s work, he doesn’t seem to be the friendliest guy in town. First, he insulted Oprah. Who insults Oprah?! When Oprah wanted to make “The Corrections” one of her book club picks, Franzen was insulted. He notes, “I think she was surprised that I wasn’t moaning with shock and pleasure.” Um, why wouldn’t you be? Oprah is about to make you rich. Jonathan Franzen thinks he’s too good to have suburban housewives reading his books. To make matters worse, he wrote that horrible piece about Edith Wharton in the New Yorker that basically talked about how she hated other women because she was so ugly, so she only created tragic beautiful female characters. Yeah, Jonathan. We’re sure that was the reason. Just totally undermine the first female author to win a Pulitzer for her fiction. Good job.

I’ve loved everything Franzen has ever written. But I do marvel at his luck sometimes. And while I do believe that we create our own luck for the most part, I also think there’s something working in the metaphysical background for some people that most of us can’t figure out. It’s not every author who can write one book with bad sex scenes and annoying characters every ten years and make millions.

James Franco:

James Franco likes to call himself a part of the literary community, but unfortunately for him, they don’t really seem to want him (in fact, it might be a stretch to call him a “famous author” in the first place. He’s more “famous” and, in addition, an “author”). The LA Times recently ran a post called Will James Franco Please Stop? However, Franco insists that his undertaking so many artistic projects and trying to look like a renaissance man does not, in fact, make him a jerk. He told E! “If anyone wants to say that my doing these things makes me a jerk, that’s not about me—that’s about people reacting to me.” We see both sides of this coin. However, we think it’d be one thing if writing poetry and novels was just a hobby of Franco’s and he wasn’t pursuing getting them all published. That’s just obnoxious.

This one is tricky for me. Franco has done so many things I admire I just don’t get him being called a BBA. In 2006 James Franco went to UCLA to get his degree. He took 62 credits a quarter, where the normal load is about 18 or 19. And for some that’s even pushing it. He received his degree in 2008, and he never stopped acting during his time in school. He wrote his thesis under Mona Simpson, an author I’ve mentioned here before (she was Steve Jobs’ sister, who didn’t meet Jobs until many years later because Jobs had been put up for adoption…and she also wrote one of my favorite novels of all time, Anywhere But Here). And this is only a partial list of James Franco’s credits. So I personally don’t find him anything but inspirational. And I think calling him a BBA is really reaching too far.

As a side note, the author of this article made a few fundamental mistakes, which are all updated at the bottom of the post. I couldn’t actually find a byline anywhere. You can read more here.

New Hope Gay Marriage Saga

I’ve been following the story of gay marriage and the Mayor of New Hope, PA, where I live, and it continues to devolve. I posted about this early last week. The gist of all this is that Mayor Keller of New Hope believes it’s more important to follow the law than it is to question ethics and inequality. And even though a clerk in Montgomery County, PA, a few miles away from New Hope, has been issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples illegally, Mayor Keller refuses to honor those licenses and he refuses to perform same sex marriage ceremonies in New Hope because same sex marriage in Pennsylvania is illegal. Most legal analysts claim there is limited risk if Keller were to perform same sex marriages, and right now a judge is about to rule on what the clerk in Montgomery County did.

In any event, this was a recent article I read in a local newspaper about Keller.

On one side is the four-term Republican incumbent, Larry Keller, who supports legalization of same-sex marriage and recently declined to perform a wedding ceremony for a gay couple, citing Pennsylvania law, his oath of office and the legal advice of the borough’s solicitor.

On the other side is the Democrat challenger, Donna Deely, who had said she would, if elected, perform such ceremonies and now says she would respect the decision of the state court system, whatever that might be.

At the end of the article, a very clever little small town journalist adds this:

A recent poll by Franklin and Marshall College found that 76 percent of respondents disapprove of elected officials ignoring laws with which they disagree.

The journalist must have looked for ages to find that piece of information. And, there is no mention of the types of laws. In other words, Keller is upholding a law that’s not only unethical, but it is as steeped in US history as segregation laws and slavery laws. In other words, if there were a law in PA that stated people of African descent could not use the same water fountains or public bathrooms that white people use, would Mayor Keller be a hero for upholding that law?

I have the highest respect for the law. We need laws and we need to follow laws. But every so often a law comes along that needs to be challenged, and in this case it’s same sex marriage. What is going to be most interesting out of all of this is whether or not Keller is relected this fall. New Hope has a large gay community, but it’s not all gay. And if Keller is relected it’s going to speak loudly about where the straight community in New Hope stands on the issue of same sex marriage. Because it’s one thing to say you support same sex marriage, but it’s a completely different issue to actually support it.

Here’s a letter to the editor from one local paper.

New Hope Mayor Keller brought disappointment and sadness to me this week. My life is peppered with many amazing and happy times in New Hope. I shake my head. One of the friendliest places to gay people in Pennsylvania has a mayor who refused to marry a gay couple. Amazing!

Why would someone support a law that is obviously unethical? I remember my father telling me the Army (he served in the Korean War) gave a soldier the option to not follow an order if the soldier felt the command was unethical and/or immoral. If Mayor Keller is for gay rights, then why would he morally or ethically uphold the current marriage law?

As a local official, Mayor Keller should call Gov. Corbett and ask him to stand down and bring down the state marriage law. He should be an advocate for gay rights and not against gay rights.

I was married in New York in July the week of the Supreme Court DOMA decision. My wish was to marry among my family and friends in Pennsylvania, but I could not. Mayor Keller of New Hope was given the chance to stand up for equality and change. He sat down and supported the current law. Amazing!

Now this is an interesting spin. In the same article I linked to above, this is mentioned.

Keller said he is one of about 350 mayors nationwide who have signed a letter by Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and this week sent a letter to Governor Tom Corbett that said although he always will uphold his oath, ” … in my heart, I strongly believe same-sex marriage should be legal.”

And this is how the New Hope Council responded. It’s an online version of the newspaper, and I couldn’t find another link. But I wanted to add the link becuase I know several of the people on the list are openly gay, and in long term relationships. One I’ve met at parties and she and her partner recently married on Cape Cod this summer, in Provincetown. In other words, she’s legally married in MA, but not in New Hope, where she selflessly gives her time to work for the town of New Hope as a council member.

The following members of the New Hope Burough Council want the public to know that we support marriage equality and will do all in our power to put pressure on our state senator, state representatives, and Gov. Corbett to change the biased unconstitutional law banning same sex marriage. We are proud members of a town that supports diversity and equal rights for all. We will not stop our pro-active role until Pennsylvania supports marriage equality.