Persuasive writing can be a release of the deepest emotions. It is often cathartic and healing to share taboo topics in a public forum. This past weekend, February 1-2, 2014, there were two prominent blogs in The New York Times that featured Hollywood film director Woody Allen’s daughter, Dylan Farrow. Her open letter offers an opportunity to see how public writing can influence and incite public opinion.
The first is “An Open Letter from Dylan Farrow,” published in the Saturday issue of the New York Times. It took the place of columnist Nicholas Kristof’s “On the Ground” series, described as a place that “expands on Nicholas Kristof’s twice-weekly columns, sharing thoughts that shape the writing but don’t always make it into the 800-word text. It’s also the place where readers make their voices heard.” Kristof followed up with “Dylan Farrow’s Story” in his Sunday opinion column. Robin Abkarian of the LA Times responds to both blogs with “Does it really matter whom we believe?”
These sexual abuse charges have been around for decades. Now the blogosphere is hosting a 2.0 version. How would you respond to Dylan Farrow? Does it make you view the work of Woody Allen any differently? Are the opinion pages of the NY Times the proper venue for airing out this case? After all, we aren’t going to resolve the charges on the opinion pages. Nicholas Kristof explains his motivation:
So why publish an account of an old case on my blog? Partly because the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award to Allen ignited a debate about the propriety of the award. Partly because the root issue here isn’t celebrity but sex abuse. And partly because countless people on all sides have written passionately about these events, but we haven’t fully heard from the young woman who was at the heart of them.