April 18, 2009, 10:51 pm

You Don’t Tug On Superman’s Cape, You Don’t Spit Into the Wind….

star-trekWell, it’s been interesting in my neck of the woods, I must say.

Even Picard is speechless.

It happened.

I admit it.

I wrote a controversial post.

What the hell was I thinking?


I wrote a post that makes the ADN vs. BSN debate look like a high five.

And I did it without benefit of asbestos underwear.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Here are a few pointers so that if you choose to take on a controversial topic, you will be better prepared than I was.

  • In polite society one does not discuss politics, religion or sex.  Oh, you might be able to get away with one of those.  Two is rocking the boat.  Three causes a big KABOOM!  I took on all three! No, I’m not brave, just stupid.  Because…
  • No matter how good you think you write, and I don’t care if you think you’re the next Jane Austen, you cannot phrase the post in such a way as to address the topic and avoid the KABOOM!  Because…
  • Everyone projects their own world view and feelings on what they read.  This is not a bad thing, it’s reality.

Which brings me to the next point:

  • Know your limits! If you are sensitive or “thin-skinned”, think twice before you write. Because….
  • It will get personal.  Names of animals will be invoked.  Your integrity will be questioned. Your favorite Nascar driver will be insulted. Okay, not the last one, but you get my point.
  • If you can’t take the heat, don’t turn on the stove, you will get burned.  I not only turned the stove on, I put it on “broil”. Hence the need for asbestos underwear.  No blog post, no topic is worth coming to tears over (or whatever the equivalent would be for a guy).

So, you’ve decided you can take the heat, you’ve lit the match and you are going to hit “submit”.

  • State your case clearly and unambiguously.  Don’t try to be clever.  Don’t try to be artistic.  If you aren’t clear about exactly what you are saying, it is more likely to be misunderstood/misinterpreted/confusing.
  • If you can provide links to sources that will help people understand the issue, do so.  This was a great suggestion I received from one of my readers (thanks, Kim!)
  • Decide how you want to respond to comments.  I usually do it by email, but when I found myself addressing the same issues over and over, I added a prologue to the post.
  • Your post may lead to other bloggers responding on their own blog.  Link to these at the bottom of your post as you become aware of them.  Not all opinions can fit in a single comment.  They may disagree with you, but those posts are part of the conversation and links are the life-blood of the blogosphere.


I survived my foray into controversy, and despite a brief period of “why the hell do I bother to blog at all” and a good pity-party with a bottle of Bud Light (with Lime), I am ready to blog on.

Only I think I’ll leave the heavy stuff to the bloggers who do it best.

I will, however, take on all comers over anything Nascar.

For that, I really do have asbestos underwear!


  • DrunkBunny

    April 19, 2009 at 6:52 am

    And this is why I stopped blogging. Blogging for me is about expressing myself, but others are somehow very, very threatened to hear opinions that do not match their own. However, people only want you to express your opinions if it’s a carbon copy of THEIR opinions. Anything else is threatening. I’ve even had my address and work info published to the Web so that “someone should go out and rape that bitch” because I spoke out in favor of gay rights. Others were publishing ways to find out where I worked so they could get me fired.

    It’s not worth it. For me, if I have to censor myself, then I can’t find joy in blogging which is why I’ve given it up.

  • Duncan Cross

    April 19, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Kim – I hope you’re not taking my criticism too personally. I definitely benefited from thinking about your post, even if I disagree, so I am glad you wrote it. And I think your comments to my post were helpful – that sort of conversation is an important part of the blogosphere, and I would feel bad if I anything I had done scared you away from posting anything potentially controversial.

  • Reality Rounds

    April 19, 2009 at 9:18 am

    There are a lot of whack-a-doodles out there in the blogosphere. It would be great if only smart, reasonable people wrote comments. Alas, it is not so. My guess is Kim received some evil comments that were not worth posting on her blog. I think these conversations need to be had, and I am glad you posted on this topic. Nurses do not work in a bubble, and we deal with these issues in real life, not in a virtual world.

  • beastarzmom

    April 19, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I always appreciate the “controversial” posts best. They make me think and consider things I may not have thought or considered before. Do not shy away because people disagree…
    re: your controversial topic. I would never invoke the “conscience clause” because my responsibility to my patient trumps that for me. And I don’t mind it being repealed – because that works for me. But I think all have the right and maybe even the responsibility to speak up when something like this worries them. So please – continue – and ignore the rude retorts, knowing that you made them think.

  • Nicole

    April 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm


  • Annemiek

    April 20, 2009 at 6:37 am

    It’s your blog and you can say what you want. Not everyone has to agree. We are not saints and we come with our own set of values. We already have to push so much of ourselves aside while taking care of patients. If it is abortion or having to take care of the patient where the family wants everything done, those are the very difficult issues.

  • Mother Jones, RN

    April 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Kim, screw em.’ You have the right to your opinion. I may not always agree with you, sorry I hate Nascar, but I’ll defend your right to say whatever you want to on your blog.


  • PaedsRN

    April 21, 2009 at 3:07 am


    Don’t sweat the comments. The only measure worth a damn is this: if you feel strongly enough to write the piece in the first place, it’s worth publishing.

    I don’t know anything about Nascar, but I know that much.


  • Bo

    April 21, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Many times I hesitate to be “honest” on my blog—I’m always afraid that I will show just how crazy I really am— and then I remember what AA tells me: “To Thine Own Self Be True”….and then I punch the submit button. It’s the same thing as the Miss USA runner-up—she was asked her opinion and she gave it. In America we have a right to our opinions. I read some blogs which attempt to stay “politically correct” and they’re …. well….boring. I vastly prefer to read what honest people have to say.

  • Tony

    April 21, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Remember, if you aren’t making people angry, you’re not saying anything! Don’t let the vitriol stop you from having opinions. That is the basis of the marketplace of ideas, vigorous debate. To quote the great film The Godfather, “This is business, it’s not personal.”

  • JustCallMeJo

    April 21, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Most of why I began blogging was to replace my journalling habit.

    I dropped out because a funny thing happens when your journal-like thinking happens in a public place: people read it. Sometimes many. And you have 50 times more traffic than I ever did. (I’ve been debating whether to post a I’m-stopping-for-these-reasons article or just delete the blog altogether.)

    Blogging is writing opinion pieces for public consumption. It’s a great place to be able to deal with politics, religion and sex when you look at it in that light. Rather than take the ‘weasel’ comment as ‘Somebody called me a weasel.’ Take it rather as, ‘I wrote an article giving my opinion and someone really violently disagrees with those ideas.’ Object, not subject.

    Hopefully, that helps. Because I don’t agree with your position on opting out of medical procedures at all. I think you’re wrong, but I’m not writing here to debate that issue.

    My point here is that I respect your opinion. I respect you as a professional, as a writer, as a nurse. And I hope you continue to write bravely.

  • JustCallMeJo

    April 21, 2009 at 10:36 pm

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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