If there’s one thing we know about author Stephen King, it’s that he is not afraid to speak his mind. Well, that and he can scare the bejeesus out of us. Sometimes both at the same time.
In January of 2013, King wrote an essay called “Guns” that created a wave of anger among ammosexuals. God forbid that the man air his opinion if it differed from theirs. Which it did. But that didn’t faze King at all. He stated that he wrote the essay to “provoke constructive debate” and he did.
King was awarded a National Medal of Art on September 3rd “for his contributions as an author.” He received the award with his usual pragmatism, calling it a sort of “Miss Congeniality thing.” He was, nevertheless, honored to get the award.
In a new interview for the L.A. Review of Books, King spoke with Angela S. Allan about his work and, at one point, his politics. This will, naturally, provoke those who feel that the popular author is not allowed to have his own opinions on politics and social issues. Too bad.
Quite often, righties will write to King or post on his message board, complaining that he disses the right. He allows that he probably does. This is because, aside from voting for Richard Nixon in 1968 — he believed Nixon’s promise to get us out of Vietnam — King has been “left of center” all his life. Vietnam, he says, “radicalized me.” Not to the point of blowing up buildings but he did understand that anger.
King says that some things about the American right-wing “make me crazy.” One of these things is people who “profess to be Christians.” King, raised a Methodist, no longer attends church but he does believe in God and reads the Bible.
But what really makes him angry is the priorities on the right. Especially when it comes to the environment:
What makes me particularly crazy is that you’ll see these Republican candidates, and Ben Carson is the worst. He talks about the national debt and he talks about how our grandchildren are going to inherit this debt. All of these guys talk about their grandchildren when it’s about money. None of them talk about them when it comes to the environment and how their grandchildren are all going to be wearing fucking gas masks. That makes me crazy.
Nice to know we’re on the same page, there. King notes that he does not set out to be political in his fiction; that comes out of the characters, when it does happen. The character of Big Jim Rennie in “Under The Dome” (the book, not the TV series) is a good example. Big Jim was based, partially, on Dick Cheney, so that character’s politics grew out of that.
When it comes to his non-fiction, however, King doesn’t mind being political and saying what he thinks ought to be said. He doesn’t care if he gets flamed, gets nasty Twitter or Facebook comments or gets nasty posts on his message board (as a Moderator on said board, I can say that dealing with them is how much we love Stephen). He doesn’t care about that:
I don’t want to be afraid of those people. I want to say what’s in my mind. The gun control thing is just one of those issues. I’m like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills, because nothing really seems to change. Like John Lennon said, ‘We’re all doing what we can.’
Indeed, we are. And having a bully pulpit, as Stephen King does, helps one do quite a lot. As long as he has that platform, he will continue to speak out on issues that are important to him. King says he is “blue-collar.” He comes from blue-collar people. He never forgets that. He is, in his own words, “a proletarian novelist.” Thank goodness. And thank you, Uncle Stevie.
Featured image via National Endowment For The Arts