So they signed a petition saying he’s bad. But the petition itself is so vague as to be virtually meaningless. Aside from the very first clause—“Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power;”—it’s mostly a laundry list of criticisms of Trump we’ve heard over and over again for the past several months. (About that semi-colon: The only really notable aspect of the petition is that it’s written in an entertainingly inept faux-legal style.)
This is, I think, a missed opportunity. Trump has made very clear threats to free expression. He wants to loosen libel laws, for instance, to make it easier to sue journalists. In a world where Peter Thiel—a Trump delegate—is funding an attempt to bankrupt Gawker by lawsuits, this is a very big deal!
Similarly, Trump’s entire worldview is one in which art and the arts do not have much value. Fiction is one of the best vehicles we have for making sense of difference and difficulty, but Trump’s approach is to steamroll diversity of thought and opinion. There’s an argument to be made for the writer’s view of the world as an antidote to Trump, but it’s not one that’s being made here. Stephen King’s statement to BuzzFeed regarding why he signed the petition makes a much better anti-Trump case:
But the biggest problem with the petition is its naked self-importance. There is nothing brave or noteworthy about signing a generic petition saying you’re against Trump. Which may be why this is being framed as an attempt to speak not just for writers, but for real hard-working Americans. This tweet, from the group that organized the petition, is meant to be triumphant, but its bid for universality only makes the whole effort even more pointless.