If you are worrying about your medical providers finding out about your writing, your worries are well-founded. Apparently, medical providers are extremely worried about their patients’ online activities, including whatever we do on Facebook. They have their feelers out. They laugh, nervously, over Mad in America all the time on their online forums. They seem to see Robert Whitaker as the Devil and many of us former patients as semi-Devils. I know many of them demand that their patients stop speaking to MIA activists, telling them that “those human rights people are paranoid.” I think they’re terrified of Tina Minkowitz! Their claims of paranoia won’t really work, but they try.
A group of dentists started making their new patients sign statements they would not write “disparaging commentary” on review sites such as Yelp or anywhere in the media. Unfortunately this has caught on and many businesses, fearing the bad Yelp review phenomena, are doing likewise.
What does this all mean for writers? Is this infringing on our Freedom of Speech? Is it gagging? Are these non-disparaging papers we’re made to sign even legal, and if we asked to sign them, and then, break such agreements, what happens, beyond the providers refusing to provide further services to us? A new California law states that such papers are not legal in any realm, whether medical, psych, or in regards to any business or service.
As for publishing, it is the responsibility of the publisher to ensure that what is published is aligned with local laws and any laws that may apply. When you submit a piece to a publisher, you state that are submitting in good faith, that you are following the laws to the best of your knowledge. Some have you sign paperwork to that effect, or you submit with that understanding. That much is the writer’s responsibility.
This means that you’re not copying anyone else’s stuff. This is the absolute worst writer’s no-no you can do. Be very careful with this. Most of the time, it won’t be an issue. However, be careful what you link to and be careful about quoting other people’s stuff, especially poems and song lyrics. Innocently quoting a published song, even if you are doing it as a way to honor the musicians, will get you into boatloads of trouble. Instead, embed a YouTube or provide a link to another site where lyrics are provided. For whatever reason, doing it that way is the “okay” way.
Another thing: We should tell the truth. Period. Telling the truth means you can say how you feel about what happened. This may change over time. You have a relationship with your readers and you have an understanding with the readers, too. Readers know you are human and you have the right to change your mind.
So you can say, “They put me in restraints for five hours and yelled at me. I feel terrific about the care there, which was so compassionate and loving.” You can say that in April for instance.
Then, in October, you can say, “I was in restraints for five hours and I am now feeling the traumatic effects. I have been having nightmares about what happened. I can’t believe I ever called that ‘loving care’ when it was actually torture.” Your readers will understand. Why? You are human. You have not changed the facts. You have only changed your perspective to a more realistic viewpoint. You have distance on it, so you aren’t worshiping the staff anymore. (this is just an example, of course…).
More next time!
Julie and Puzzle