A Window to the Soul
But I’m not going to tell anyone not to read those authors. I gave my kids the first couple of Xanth books, because they are fun. In fact, I’m not telling anyone in this post not to read books by these authors. I’m asking you to examine the public actions and decide if
these are people who ought to be celebrated in our field and held up as examples. Particularly, I might point out, that they are held up as examples of gender and sexual openness. I know quite well that not all who are homosexual are also child abusers. But if you’re holding these people up? You’re fostering that perception, because these are not role models. These are the ultimate evil, the abusers of children, and those who enable those abuses to continue in the shadows, denied and ignored. Will you let that go on, or will you join me in illuminating the dark corners of our art to see what scuttles for hiding?
Matt Wallace, in his excellent blog on separating art and artist: “Yours is whether or not you can disregard the information that an author whose work you love uses that work and your love of it to enable their crimes, their horrible, irrevocable abuse of the helpless and just about the only innocents left in this fucked up world. You have to decide whether or not you can make their crime just a tiny bit okay by telling yourself and everyone else that it doesn’t matter, even in the most removed context.”
When it comes to well-known, long-beloved artists, it can be easier to turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn’t exist. Tor.com tried to do this with Marion Zimmer Bradley, and sparked a firestorm of controversy beyond anything we have seen before. Against this, the nonsense of the woman who wanted to end binary gender pales.
In an article which has since been removed, but which can be found cached here, Leah Schnelbach lauded Bradley for her life, books, and sexuality. In her bio, she fails to allude to the controversy surrounding Bradley’s husband, saying simply “She was married to Robert Alden Bradley from 1949 until 1964, and had one son. She married Walter Breen in 1964, and the couple had a son and a daughter. She earned a B.A. from Hardin-Simmons University in Texas the following year, and then took graduate courses at UC Berkeley from 1965 until 1967. Throughout this time she continued her work in fandom, and also became involved in a groundbreaking lesbian-rights group, the Daughters of Bilitis.”
“Q. And to your knowledge, how old was [Victim X] when your husband was having a sexual relationship with him?
A. I think he was about 14 or possibly 15. I’m not certain.
Q. Were you aware that your husband had a sexual relationship with [Victim X] when he was below the age of 18?
A. Yes, I was.”
The words I quote above are from the court transcript, where Bradley was testifying about her knowledge of her husband’s ongoing abuse of at least three children. Two days later, Dierdre blogged again, this time with an open letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s own daughter. I will link, but not quote, and I warn you, if you have a tender heart, prepare to have it pierced if you click through to read. http://deirdre.net/marion-zimmer-bradley-its-worse-than-i-knew/
Michael Z. Williamson responded when I asked for a citation on Samuel Delany, another author often lauded for his role in Science Fiction while the reality of his public actions is ignored, with: “The full quote is “I read the NAMBLA fairly regularly and I think it is one of the most intelligent discussions of sexuality I’ve ever found. I think before you start judging what NAMBLA is about, expose yourself to it and see what it is really about. What the issues they are really talking about, and deal with what’s really there rather than this demonized notion of guys running about trying to screw little boys. I would have been so much happier as an adolescent if NAMBLA had been around when I was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.”