As a relative outsider to the world of speculative fiction, I have found myself confused by an underlying divide. Why are speculative genres split between two opposite world views? And how do those polar opposites manage to co-exist without more friction?
I was reading John Scalzi’s post on Kirk Cameron’s homophobic comments and the resulting controversy (also known as a shitstorm), and as always I find myself in general agreement with Scalzi. That’s because he always makes sense to me, at a level that is sometimes a little unsettling (get out of my head etcetera).
Meanwhile, there are many speculative fiction authors and editors who would not only disagree strongly with Scalzi’s opinions, but may in fact agree rather strongly with Kirk Cameron’s viewpoint.
How is this even possible? How can an author writing in the world of ideas or an editor receiving submissions from a diverse field of writers stick to outdated notions regarding homosexuality and other social issues? Doesn’t the whole notion of speculative fiction require some kind of thoughtful progression of ideas?
Many people love Ender’s Game but say they disagree with Orson Scott Card’s desire to see homosexuals thrown in prison if they do anything, you know, homosexual. I haven’t read the novel or any of the series specifically because of how I feel about OSC’s beliefs. Just as I won’t be looking to read any L. Ron Hubbard and I won’t be participating anymore in the Writers of the Future Contest because of my utter distaste for the Church of Scientology (fun fact: Scientology has a number of successful actors and musicians as members, but very few writers). I will also not submit stories to Flash Fiction Online because of their previously stated (though not necessarily current) dislike of GLBT fiction. My personal list is longer than just these authors and publications, and there are always a bunch on my Not Sure If Bigoted or Just “Socially Conservative” list.
Maybe that makes me the bigot; I’m not sure. By not listening to the “other side”, am I being just as close-minded? But for now, I agree with Harlan Ellison on this matter: “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
Like most people who think they are pretty smart, my beliefs are a moving target. At the moment, I will avoid the work of authors and editors who I believe are actively promoting bigotry or hate. However, it is not my role to tell everyone else who they should and shouldn’t read based on my beliefs. So when I compile a “Free Fiction” list on SF Signal, I leave my personal “boycott list” out of the equation. It’s up to every individual to decide who or what they will read or listen to, whether it’s Battlefield Earth or the morally bankrupt Beware the Hairy Mango (yes, I believe I was joking right there).
Note: I did ask Scalzi about it for his Reader Request Week, but there is a pile of topics there that should be infinitely more enjoyable to read about.