You’d think that a nation that mentions freedom of the press in its constitution, a nation that likes to refer to itself as the “leader of the free world,” might actually have a freer press than, say, Botswana, or Ghana. But, nope. We don’t. We rank just below Taiwan and Comoros. We don’t have a functional news media anymore, and this ridiculous gossip mongering and hatefulness is the result of sometimes unqualified bloggers stepping in to fill the void with nonsense. It is dangerous and sad. Mamiverse: How are you able to open up and be so honest in your writing? Are you ever scared of people’s reactions? Valdes: Writing and honesty go hand in hand for me. What is the use of being a writer if you’re not honest? I didn’t used to be afraid of people’s reactions. I had a naïve sense that people were reasonable and could understand nuance. I now think I have grossly overestimated the ability of many people to think for themselves. The herd mentality among hate mongering bloggers is terrifying to me now. Writing is my one great love, but the level of pure extremist crazy out there is so high, and the polarization of our nation so massaged and manufactured and necessary for the ruling class to perpetuate, that my having stepped out of the predictable “liberal” or “conservative” boxes, and having done so with writing I believe is clear, good and compelling, is just too dangerous, perhaps. I’ve actually posited moderation—moderate thought, moderate ideas, open-mindedness. I’ve been crucified for it. Everyone in American media seems to want a fight these days, instead of a respectful dialogue. It’s depressing as hell.