Writing dialogue for racist characters

My rational side screams at me to leave this one well alone. But one thing that spoiled Skinheads by John King for me was the way the writer seemed to go out of his way to give all the skinhead characters left wing credentials. Now it might have been different in that there London where Skinheads was set, I wouldn’t know.

I grew up in the arse-end of Yorkshire, a town that’s probably most famous now for the British Nazi Party getting more votes than both the Conservatives and Liberals at the last election. Read that again — the British fucking Nazi Party. Now okay, the N doesn’t actually stand for nazi, but fucking hell it might as well do.

Now not all skinheads were raving nazis, of course. Not even in that cesspit of a town. A few were, sure, but there was also a few raving left-wingers too (not sure what the left wing equivalent of a nazi is). Most skinheads, however, didn’t give a fuck about politics either way. They were just out for a good time like any other teenager throughout history.

But get a raving nazi and a raving left-winger in the same room and there was a lot of fun to be had. Even more so if you mix in a bit of Ska versus Oi banter. Just wind them up and watch them go.

Trouble is, this isn’t the 70s any more, and attitudes towards racism in fiction have changed somewhat. The last thing I want is some twonk thinking I am one of my characters, or getting my website closed down for promoting race hatred or some bollocks like that.

So, going against all my anti-censorship principles, I’ve toned down the language that particular character uses. Am I right to do that, or is it just a fucking cop out? I haven’t decided yet.

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About Marcus Blakeston

Ex-shouting poet, ex-fanzine writer, ex-angry young man (now growing old disgracefully). Living in sunny Yorkshire with his wife, children and motorcycle, Marcus still has a healthy distrust of all forms of authority.
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