Sunday, January 11, 2009

Would You Boycott Science Fiction Writers Because Of Their Politics?

From IO9 blog - who loves to live on the edge - comes a really interesting poll. The poll has one question - "Would You Boycott Science Fiction Writers Because Of Their Politics?"

Made ya stop and think didn't it.... Would you not buy or read a writer's work because you disagree or dislike their political ideology?

For me it is more or maybe less complicated. My choice would be a bit more than left right independent, republican, democrat or what have you. At different times, I know that I have abandoned a writer when their belief set or religious beliefs ran counter to my own. It really is more to it as you might suspect. When this set of beliefs bleeds into the writings, when the income from those writings help support them and when finally aggressive and negative tactics are used to control public opinion as such - when something along those lines takes place then yes, I would "boycott" a writer. But then, I may have added to many qualifiers into the mix. Because I think "politics" tries to simplify the question. It is in truth, it should read, if you found a writer's ideology objectionable or repellent, would you support them through purchasing of their writings?

Still - you might read it different. Take a trip over to the IO9 questionaire and weigh in.


Dave Tackett said...

No! I've enjoyed reading both Heinlein and Le Guin, both of whom represent very different ideological extremes and have a tendency to occasionally beat their readers over the with those ideologies. If I haven't boycotted their works, whose could I fairly boycott.

Paul, I respect your not wanting to give money to certain writers based on "their aggressive and negative tactics are used to control public opinion" but I hope that doesn't go so far as to refuse to read a library book or creative commons story.

I am however very concerned with increasingly common attitude of "I'm open minded and I'll read any author unless their viewpoint is hateful or offensive" which sounds good until you read more and realize that they consider virtually every contrary opinion to be hate speech. (I know this isn't you Paul)

I'm loath to discuss my personal politics but feel I must for the example I'm about to give. I actively support gay rights, including gay marriage. So naturally I completely disagree with Orson Scott Card on many social issues. However, I understand that his views are not an extreme and represent not only a legitimate religious belief system but also the majority viewpoint in the US and almost other country in the world.

If so many people are willing to boycott, and vilify, an author who is merely saying vocally whose views are very mainstream, what will these same individuals do when the encounter an whose views are not only antithetical to theirs but also truly out of the mainstream? Isn't some SF, at its best, supposed to shock us and present ideas that are alien to us? If we place an ideological litmus test on authors than we are not going to be shocked by new ideas; we won't encounter them and it is us, not the boycotted author who is truly being hurt.

(Damn, I'm long winded anymore)

Beam Me Up said...

No, sometimes you just have to make a point with enough words that don't sound like your carbon copying or rubber stamping another opinion. I really wish I could find more to argue about with your answer, but it would seem that I agree with you in most areas. I know about Heinlein and Le Guin's beliefs and politics and I do read them both. From my end I may have made it sound too general when I had really only one person in mind who really made a point of using science fiction as an ends to a means. A decision made 40 plus years ago that has mediated a bit with age. The one thing that is still a constant is that I detest cults, I have tried to never knowingly contribute to these organizations. So did that drive my choice towards boycott if the views were hate etc....very likely. The flip side is your comment ".... they consider virtually every contrary opinion to be hate speech...." all to true. Left unchecked such a boycott would no will become hopelessly mired in P.C. (and I know Dave....your reply in no way was or should be considered a personal indictment) My comments following the question was based not on the writings of the one person who came to mind. No, the fiction was mild and honestly not really all that good. But I am not talking about would I boycott a writer if I found his or her writing malicious, offensive or whatever other word for non-pc you want to apply because I wouldn't. I might just stop reading if it really didn't appeal, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't read other works. So that makes me I boycotting or am I just saying...I don't like the writing and the writer is a pig to so I am not reading them anymore. But then that is my choice and I would be horrified if this was taken as policy or mandate. I certainly would not take up the mantle of telling others what to read or not... if the question had been, would you consider banning a writer if you felt their views were abhorrent.. I can tell you honestly the answer would have been VASTLY different.