and if I had, maybe I would not have chosen to write this. For those of you reading this post who do not know what I am writing, my paper is a legal brief written in support of using the music collection of an alleged rapist as evidence against him in court. I got the idea from a paper I wrote freshman year about rape culture, and from a case I talked about where a perpetrator’s actions mirrored the lyrics of his rap idol, DMX.
I have been having a hard time writing this because at first, I did not have the details of the case, and had to make something up, which is repugnant for a variety of reasons I suppose you can imagine. I looked up more articles, and found many because the perpetrator was recently in the news because he was going to be deported from Britain after his prison sentence but was allowed to stay in the country because of his rights to family and culture or something. Because this happened this year, there were a variety of articles with different levels of information about the original crime. I finally found one that outlined exactly what happened, and seriously, using the real information would be so much worse than making up a story. The account literally made me cry, as did information I have gathered throughout my researching Michigan’s sexual assault laws, and the controversy surrounding sexual violence in popular music.
As writers, sometimes we distance ourselves from the reality of what we are writing about. I definitely did when I wrote the paper freshman year. This is necessary for crafting an evidence-based argument. However, finding yourself faced with horror, the horrible things people can do to each other, say about each other, use as a defense in court, and be idolized for, it can be difficult to write a balanced, no-nonsense, academic paper. Distance can make for a good paper, but it can also numb the writer to the truth, to the pain of the real people involved, to the insensitivity of trying to write someone else’s horror story for a grade and to the desperate, desperate need for change in the world.
I am going to finish this paper, because even though I am finding that I am far from a lawyer at this point (who knew you should probably know where to find Michigan laws before writing a paper about law?), I want to become one in the future in order to join the fight for change, and to get down into the real world where I cannot distance myself. Distance may provide the cool attitude needed to write eloquently, but proximity gives you the passion to create change. And I am not going to be able to cry if people come to me with their stories and ask to be represented in court. This is difficult, but it is still what I want to do with my life, for better or worse. I have to buckle down and finish, keeping in mind that I cannot become distant to the pain I am writing about, but that I also cannot let proximity keep me from writing something that could help alleviate, in any small way, that pain.