STATEMENT OF INTENT
According to the edit history WordPress and several other applications I use to write, I’ve attempted to edit this piece somewhere around twenty-five times. I have at no point come close to saying everything I want to say, or put my words beyond the power of a person of ill-intent to distort, and I am increasingly aware that such an end goal is impossible. By way of apology, for any shortcomings in the expression of my opinion, I will say only that I wish neither to present myself as a one-dimensional hero, nor the people I find in need of correction as one-dimensional villains. Life is obviously more complicated than that, and we are all at times in need of correction just as we are all, at times, in a position of responsibility to provide such correction.
Punishment, properly idealized and implemented, is a gift. The right to belong to a group of people, to balance the scales, and restore proper order to that which has foundered, is precious. Punishment is the greatest social invention we have ever created to rectify our errors, and it’s especially cost-effective when it’s just in the form of words. When I contemplate the fairness of punishment, I ask myself the following question: Were I the offender, and made suddenly aware of the knowledge I have now as to my mistake, and could give voice to those insights, what would I request be done to stop me and to make me understand?
After two months of asking myself this question, I have written this essay as a gift for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a subset of what is called Fandom, or people who attend Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions. While I myself have never been to a convention as I am a touch agoraphobic, and have no intention to change this in the future, as a lover of books I have found myself an interested party.
If I had done what SFWA has repeatedly done, I would desperately want someone to correct my mistake.
Most people are lazy and willfully blind, myself included. We go to incredible lengths not to see things that will make us uncomfortable, let alone acknowledge things that are likely to cause us serious inconvenience or harm. Life has infinite possibilities for us to explore, our energy is limited, and so our attention and abilities must be conserved. So when it comes to considering problems you’re in no position to solve, a voice inside my head even insists that willful blindness makes a sort of sense.
“What else are you supposed to do?” that voice asks, “Throw your life away for no good reason and not even do the smaller good you could have done? Some wolves are too big to fight. Go home. It’s a waste of time. Someone else will get this one. Nothing you could do anyway.”
There’s something to that, probably.
Except it’s not quite right, is it?
The very least thing you can always do, even if you can’t do anything else, is to know the truth. If you can’t fight the wolf, at least you can remember it’s a wolf. You can keep your mind clear about the way the world should be. That way, if the opportunity ever presents itself where the wolf is vulnerable, you’ll be ready to act.
In a free society, our responsibility is still greater. In a free society, the least we can do is to tell the truth.
Recently, I had an experience reading a book that was a bit like being transfixed by the mouth of hell. Every page hurt to read, I couldn’t put it down, and by the time I was done I just stared at the wall for a bit and brooded. The hell described in the book was, unfortunately, a hell I recognized from my own life. It brought to mind a picture of myself at five years old, alone in a basement with a wicked man, in a house where the nicotine resin on the walls was so thick I once wrote the alphabet in it with my finger.
The hell described in the book and the demons who ruled it were human. Then again, I’ve found that humans are the worst demons because we can only become demons by choice. Likewise, a human hell is the worst kind of hell because it has the offensive property that it could be heaven if people would just be a bit more honest with themselves and try a little harder.
The book was “The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon” by Moira Greyland. I felt a moral obligation to read it as a survivor of childhood sexual assault, and that is as much warning as I can give you to stop reading if you’re not in a productive head-space at the moment. I’d ask you to read on if you think you can, because in the last few months I’ve failed to create an argument to satisfy myself that it was not important to say what I have to say, or for you to read it.
The book describes the childhood and formative years of Moira Greyland. In doing so, it describes the repeated abuse, molestation and rape of Moira Greyland by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Walter Breen, and a pantheon of other demons. For those of you who don’t read Fantasy novels, Marion Zimmer Bradley was a popular feminist writer and icon who wrote the best-selling “The Mists of Avalon.” Walter Breen collected coins, and apparently had a high status in that field, or whatever amounts to high status in the world of coin-collecting. They were also both the kind of people where you wouldn’t have to listen to their stated opinions on sex and consent for very long before you might suspect that something was seriously, seriously wrong.
If you’re thinking “Surely, the warning signs couldn’t have been that blatant” Walter Breen literally wrote a book in defense of raping children called “Greek Love” and Marion Zimmer Bradley served as his editor. Oh, and the book about child rape is literally dedicated to Marion Zimmer Bradley.
When you look for red flags in Walter Breen and Marion Zimmer Bradley, they’re not hard to find. It says something about human psychology that they went unnoticed for so long. “Greek Love” is just the surface of the warning signs. We’re talking about a number of red flags equal to the total human production of red flags since the beginning of the ability to make red flags.
The story of Moira Greyland is as sadly beautiful as watching a flower blooming through the cracks in sidewalk concrete. I sometimes wonder if it would be easier if humanity was as fragile as people claim, and if it were simply destroyed when the hard times came. If that were true, there would be two kinds of death, but no true suffering. Yet the book demonstrates the fact, at the center of all our stories, that there is nothing at all fragile about humanity. Humanity persists even in the face of darkness, despite suffering, despite loss, despite everything else that is stripped away, and that is certainly true of Moira Greyland.
The book is filled with Moira Greyland’s poetry, jokes, and insights about her parents. As much as I wanted to appreciate those things solely for themselves it also made me angry to read them. This was no story of a cardboard cut-out, abused as plot-motivation in a revenge movie. In real life, survivors are people, complicated, flawed, and inwardly infinite, the same as everyone else. With every little witticism, creative insight, or kindness shown to her abusers I thought, “Those motherfuckers did this to a person! They did all of this to a kid! They treated her like a thing and they made her feel like that’s all there was to her and that is the worst of all crimes!”
After closing the book, I concluded that in a more primitive time, I would have been compelled by my own history and unfulfilled rage to throw Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen into a volcano. More, I realized that such crimes and the natural abhorrence of them was the very reason human beings ever sought fit to throw someone into volcanoes in the first place. Finally, that the immense satisfaction of meting such a fitting punishment may be one of the best possible arguments for the existence of volcanoes. I was deeply regretful to remember that justice must be proportionate and considerate, that throwing people into volcanoes is frustratingly wrong no matter what that person did, and also that Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen have both been dead for a long time.
Despite my desire for an ignorance of the manifest superiority of the rule of law, and a time machine that would allow me to watch her parents scream while burning alive in a lake of molten rock, I find that I like Moira Greyland. Oh, she’s a bit theatrical and certainly a performer through and through, and not at all like the cautious engineer types I generally prefer in my friends, but there’s a good soul there. Someone poured horror and monstrosity into her, and music came back out. That says something good about her character. Anytime someone finds the will to survive and summons the sheer grit to take ownership of their life, I have no choice but to respect it, because that’s the essence of what it means to be respectable. She also wrote a book that carries with it a heavy stigma, and I can’t fathom the courage that took. It’s very hard to tell the world something that you know will make it more difficult for people to look at you as an individual person and not just a bunch of terrible things that happened to you. It takes guts. I can see through the terrible things to see the courage, like stars in the dark of night, and I appreciate it accordingly.
I don’t agree with her at all on the subject of gay marriage, and I have enough respect for her volition to mention the fact. I also have too many gay cousins to pass over the subject, entirely. Yet when I balance my compassion with the need for exactness, I find that while I disagree with her opinions, I understand them in the same way that if I met a Holocaust survivor I’d understand if they weren’t super on-board with the idea of hosting an Oktoberfest in their neighborhood. It would not be something I’d agree with, but I also wouldn’t presume to pull out that thorn unless the relationship was very trusting and longstanding. If you’re wounded not only by a certain ideology but in the name of that ideology, however perverse the interpretation, it makes perfect sense to me that you’re going to hold an extreme distrust of anything that remotely seems akin to it.
The abuse of Moira Greyland, her siblings, and the other youths unfortunate enough to find themselves in the same orbits, went on for the course of decades. Marion Zimmer Bradley was never punished but instead died rich and celebrated. Her crimes are still not widely known, although mainstream press picked up the story a few years ago. It’s not hard to miss why it was allowed to go on for so long. In fact, the pieces of that protective machinery are still in place. That’s what I want to talk about, and that’s what I think is important.
Imagine my surprise, when I saw the following on twitter, from a five-time Hugo award nominee in regards to discussion of the “Last Closet” which again is about children in her community having been raped. The image below is excerpted from a longer conversation, where the person quoted was attempting to recount the initial discovery of the abuse and why nothing was done. It ends here, with an assertion that those hurt most were not the children but those whose friendships were destroyed.
Or this quote, from an officer of SFWA, implying that the major reason any person would be concerned about decades long abuse of children in her own community is because they’re a member of the alt-right.
I’m anonymizing quotes as I’d like to think the people quoted simply misspoke and did not think through what they had said, although in this first case those who attempted to correct her met with a bewilderingly intense defense. I’m not trying to blame individuals, but rather show a self-reinforcing pattern. These quotes in themselves would simply be an example of very poor form, but they unfortunately do not exist in isolation.
You read a lot about rape-culture on the internet but the rape-culture I’ve encountered in my own life has amounted to a culture of Silence, which I see as enacting itself in a three-stage process:
1. People are so surprised at witnessing the initial action, or seeing the first obvious clue, they go into shock and don’t say anything right away. The more egregious the offense, the more likely this is as it will blow the witness’ sense of scale and they won’t have any instinctive sense of what to do.
2. People slowly start to unpack the full scope of the witnessed action, then feel guilty and complicit they didn’t do something right away. They choose to feed the guilt and take ownership of the secret instead of facing their part in keeping it.
3. People keep on saying nothing forever because they identify themselves as partially guilty, until it starts to eat them from the inside out. In a state of shame, people stay silent forever.
It took a long while, long after it ought to have happened, but Walter Breen was eventually thrown into the modern version of a volcano. After claiming what was probably something like his hundredth victim, Walter Breen was locked away in prison where he eventually died. He died delusional, feeling that he was the victim of some crime because his supposed right to have sex with children had been infringed. What is more surprising, he only went into that volcano because Moira Greyland was brave enough to call the police and report him, alongside several other brave souls who were his victims. In all probability, that means those survivors saved some non-zero number of children from his clutches. How many people can say they’ve done that, whatever their politics? Have you ever been the body standing between a monster and a child?
Why wasn’t Marion Zimmer Bradley punished? There’s actual, publicly available, testimony where she dismisses the rape of teenage boys by her husband as consensual. Not to mention, the aforementioned book justifying child-rape that she edited and is literally dedicated to her. This testimony is from 1999, and you can still find pieces praising not only her work but her on major publishing websites as late as a few years ago. It’s not that no one knew, it’s that the people who knew either didn’t make a point of saying anything about it until very recently, or else didn’t make much of a fuss when they did. All you have to do is glimpse Marion Zimmer Bradley’s answers to those questions to affirm that she was a woman who never missed a morning dose of her evil dip-shit pills. You don’t have to be a master statistician or ace detective to think that if you scratched her lottery ticket you’d probably uncover something worth uncovering.
Why then, did no one make a fuss until a few years ago? When the alarm was raised, why did it fall to a single individual to take the responsibility to raise the alarm? I’m very much of the opinion that if that article I just linked had never been written, Marion Zimmer Bradley would still be getting away with it and Moira Greyland’s story would never have been told.
The answer, I think, is as I stated above. We’re all lazy cowards to some extent and if something is inconvenient, as in the case of a woman who carved out a niche for herself as a feminist icon actually being a rapist and no one in those groups spotting a single one of the infinite red flags she was attempting to flood the world with, we are very good at not thinking about what that means.
To be blunt, the unsettling truth implied by the examination of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s crimes is that there is no such thing as an infallible symbol of “All-Good” and that there is no “All-Good” group identity either, because people can decide to be whatever they want and people are very good at pretending to be other things, sometimes without even realizing it.
In this context, we know why Marion Zimmer Bradley got away with it. She said the right things to the right people. She kissed the rings of her peers and kept her crossed fingers behind her back, out of sight, and it was more convenient to pretend no one knew that. She identified herself as a feminist. She proclaimed the right politics. Nobody wanted to fight her because she made sure she didn’t look like the kind of monster the people around her wanted to fight. She was part of the “team” and made sure to put on her sheep-skin in public after she was done being a wolf in private.
Most times, when I see some wolf in sheep’s-skin causing trouble, the pangs of my conscience are eased by the discovery that other people are talking about it, and that they are talking about it with more ability than I can muster. That’s the benefit of society, so I am able to go back to my quiet life of reading books, occasionally writing, and watching more videos on Universal Cosmology than is probably healthy. Remarkably, when I saw this most recent wolf, I could not find better voices than mine. Which leaves me as some wannabe writer dude who looks like Al Borland had a kid with Shrek, who has written some weird shit, to wonder who the hell am I to say anything?
I’m nobody’s father to be telling someone how to live their lives, and even if I was you’re not a child. But what do you do when that is your circus and those are your monkeys? When you can see what everyone else seems to be skirting around? You’ve got a responsibility to try to put things to right, don’t you? If you’ve checked with yourself and the people you trust? You’ve got to do what what you have to do to live with yourself, don’t you?
For about two months I’ve asked myself those questions. Then, I remember myself at five years old in that basement with a man who should never have been left alone with a child. Then, I remember exactly who I am to say this to you, I’m an adult that knows better.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, are as group still the same willfully blind people who turned their eyes away from Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen. They still haven’t learned anything. They still award and celebrate people who have openly expressed sympathy for pedophilia.
I know this because as recently as 2013, Samuel R. Delany was named the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by SFWA, and as recently as a few weeks ago credentialed people in the organization were joking together on twitter that a list of perverts from 4chan did not include his name.
You may be wondering why that is shocking to me, in light of what I said before.
Well, Samuel R. Delany is a quite brilliant writer from what I’ve read of his books, apparently quite polite and cordial from the way people talk about meeting him in person, an accomplished academic who built himself up out of a difficult childhood, a biting social commentator, and an activist who has no doubt helped and inspired thousands of people… and he also unfortunately seems to be of the opinion that NAMBLA might not be so bad. Please read this interview and please read the comments from the other Survivors, who also saw what I saw.
“I read the NAMBLA [Bulletin] 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.” — Samuel R. Delany, Queer Desires Forum, New York City, June 25, 1994.
These are Samuel R. Delany’s words, in context, and the interview linked above reads quite a bit like the interviewer is trying to offer him opportunity after opportunity to make a more reasoned approach, and each time Samuel R. Delany refuses to take it.
Here’s an excerpt from that interview, in Samuel R. Delany’s own words:
Samuel Delany, 6/30
Will, I never met or knew Walter Breen (and only two or three times met Marion Zimmer Bradley, in the last two or three years of her life). And this is the first time anyone has ever suggested to me that Breen had anything to do with NAMBLA. The only person I’ve known who knew Breen personally was the late Paul Williams, who, early on, I’d heard had spent a few months living with Breen, around the age of 13 or so. I met Paul when he was a 17 or 18-year-old-child prodigy editor of Crawdaddy Magazine, for whom I wrote three or four articles. We never particularly spoke about Breen. I never knew there was anything to speak about. My friendship with Paul continued throughout his life, until his death several years back. But I got the impression from others who knew him that the gossip about Breen, especially in the first years I knew Paul (well before Stonewall), whether Breen was gay or straight, was a tempest in teapot. Currently it sounds like it’s not. But, again, I never knew Breen or saw him in my life.NAMBLA had a number of women members, including my good friend Camilla Decarnin, who died a few years ago. She put me on the mailing list for the NAMBLA newsletter, sometime in the early 90s. At that time, it was a smart, well-written, and well thought-out gay rights newsletter. Eighty percent of it was sensible analysis of the lack of children’s rights, especially when they were apprehended by the police in sexual situations. The way children were treated in these situations, immediately removed from their homes, placed in public institutions, given no counseling when they were most vulnerable and most in need of emotional support, was not a pretty picture.My all too frequently quoted comment in support of NAMBLA was made c. ’95, I believe. I have no idea what NAMBLA has been doing for the last twenty years. At the time I made my comment, c. 1995, NAMBLA was soliciting comments from people familiar with what their organization stood for—which included sane treatment of older male offenders, and pleading for courts to take into consideration what harm or coercion had been done—if any. (I had my first sexual experience with an adult when I was six, with a local Harlem building superintendent. And nothing hurtful happened at all. It would have been cruel and unusual punishment to incarcerate him for it.)I commend to you the comments the late gay activist and gay porn actor, Scott O’Hara, made at about the same time I made mine:
When I was 12 and 13 years old I would have joined NAMBLA in a minute, because I knew I was gay and I wanted to go out and get laid, not just read The Gay Mystique all my life; I needed personal contact.
We have a million gay children out there right now who are in the same boat, who know their sexuality, and aren’t getting any support. Most of our supposed gay leaders are afraid to do anything with them. … That means we’re leaving the sex education of our youth to angry heterosexuals who don’t understand.
That’s one reason NAMBLA is so important. They are willing to take the risks that no one is willing to take… . They’re the only ones willing to acknowledge that adolescents actually do have sex lives.
There is also a more basic reason why I support NAMBLA. They are the voice of dissent in the gay movement today. They’re the whipping boy, the fashionable group to condemn. … I say, watch out, tomorrow that whipping boy could be you… . In the efforts of the gay establishment to suppress NAMBLA I see the seeds of tyranny.Where or what NAMBLA is today, I haven’t the foggiest notion, Will. I said and still maintain that 20 years ago it was an intelligent and highly thoughtful institution.Samuel Delany, 6/30Since I spent eighteen years of my life as a child, and nine years of that life as a pretty sexually active gay child, my complaint against the current attitudes is that they work mightily to silence the voices of children first and secondarily ignore what adults have to say who have been through these situations. One size fits all is never the way to handle any situation with a human dimension. Many, many children—and I was one of them—are desperate to establish some sort of sexual relation with an older and even adult figure.Today, all such relationships are so completely demonized as to destroy souls and psyches on both sides of the purely arbitrary 18-year-old divide. All you have to do is talk to people on both sides to see it. Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurrit, wrote the Roman poet Horace more than a decade before the birth of Christ. Drive nature out with a pitchfork, and she will hurry back, and break through your barriers (the next line goes on) the victress.The current attitude toward pedophilia is a tragic attempt to drive nature out with a pitchfork, and at this point it is a self-reinforcing tragedy, encouraging the worst and punishing the best by making no distinctions at all, as such enterprises tend to become. Centuries of Childhood, by Philip Aries, which is a French-authored scholarly historical study from the late ’fifties about European attitudes toward (and definitions of) childhood (published in 1960 and for many years available as a Vintage paperback, but not any more—probably it would be burned today) is a good place to start. I give my graduate students Chapter Five when we are doing anything about the history of sex, and their mouths fall open. I think that’s a very healthy astonishment, too.Adults hurting children is my notion of a bad thing, whether it is through corporal punishment or in any other way. Children hurting children is equally bad. Pain is not a good teaching tool. So that’s where I tend to stop. But if someone is hurt, I think they have to be able—child or adult—to identify the pain involved.I read Bradley’s daughter’s account, and it sounded ghastly. But Paul Williams—as heterosexual a young man as you could ever want to find—ran away from home at 13 and stayed with Walter Breen for three (?) months, and though we never discussed it personally (because at the time I never knew there was anything to discuss) apparently, when accusations would come up, because Breen was openly gay, Paul would claim that they were absurd and that Breen was a responsible and concerned adult, who got in touch with Paul’s family and even met with them, and arranged for Paul to spend some time there to ease the tensions that had developed at Paul’s home. And nothing else happened.I got that part of the story from David Hartwell and other mutual friends; I could tell a similar story of a young woman who was a friend of my daughter’s in her first two years of the Bronx High School of Science who, many years ago, stayed with us for a week when she fled to our house and to her friend with bruises on her neck from where her father had tried to choke her. As I said back then, “I don’t care what a fourteen year old kid has done. Even if they have robbed you blind, you don’t choke them.” (In that case, it was because the divorced father disapproved of a boy she was seeing, and it turned into a physical fight between father and daughter.) And they were real bruises, too! I spoke to both the father and the mother on the phone, and all agreed that the young woman’s spending a few days with me and my daughter would be good for everyone. I think her father had scared himself to death, when he realized what he had done. He consented to her staying with us for a week with no argument. And parents do and did scare themselves sometimes.To expand just a little on the tale I told you in the last part of this, when I was six, my own father who used to beat me regularly and very hard, also scared himself out of physical punishment, and stopped it cold right then and there. He was one very frightened man, and never hit me again. But up until that time, practically weekly he had, and he was the kind of man who, the more he hit you, the angrier he got, and the harder he hit—especially if he was hitting someone weaker than himself who couldn’t fight back. Even as I kid, I had the impression that he started out spanking me for what I’d done wrong, but ten seconds later, he was beating me for every bad thing that had ever happened to him, and taking it out or me. That was simply the way his personality was set up.Well, that’s more than you probably wanted to know, Will. But kids need to be protected from things like that. I mean, listen to the late comedian George Carlin: “Which would you prefer? To be punched in the jaw? Or have your dick sucked until you came?” I don’t think they’re the same crime. That’s turning it off with a joke, but like so many jokes it holds its truth.
NAMBLA for those who don’t know, is/was a pro-pedophilia organization. Which, if you’re thinking you must have misunderstood that last sentence, means they advocated for the law to be changed so that it would be legal to have sex with kids. If you’ve got the stomach, try this documentary on for size if you want to know more.
When I finally decided to confront the emotional bullshit that had, in most senses of the word, destroyed my life because of what had happened to me, I went to a survivor’s support group. As part of the group, we spent a few sessions learning about the thought-processes of abusers. “Adults can help children to learn about sexuality!” and “Children should have the freedom to choose to have sex whenever they want!” and “That adult didn’t seduce that child, that child seduced the adult!” are such huge fucking red flags that they should be visible from several star systems away.
Again, please read the comments in the interview from the other survivors. I didn’t have the guts to comment there directly at the time, and they should be read. They deserve that much.
When the Marion Zimmer Bradley abuse stories came out, and I saw this interview, I shared it with some other survivors as well as a few friends trying to make sure I wasn’t crazy and to see if the lack of response to the interview made sense… Every single person I sent that interview to who doesn’t know who these people are, or the other smaller dramas that seem to swarm the science-fiction community like a bad high school, responded with some variant of: “What the actual fuck?”
Still, no one said anything.
This was not the moral standard I had imagined from the people who wrote the stories I loved as a kid.
Then, as now, I felt obliged to speak and left a pseudo-anonymous comment on the blog of a SFWA member and Hugo winner. Who wants that kind of shit attached to their name? I won’t reproduce the comment here, because I was angrier than I ought to have been, but I presented the same interview and quotations as above. The comments on the blog were promptly closed, and although the author in question was kind enough to email me, they were not willing to to look at the information I had provided about the interview other than to say they had only heard conservatives repeat what I was saying, which was reason to doubt the validity of these “rumors.” An officer of SFWA mocked me on twitter for my comment, a SFWA member and Hugo winner I had named in my comment announced on their Facebook page that Samuel Delany had the true and most interesting take on homosexuality, and then a bunch of super positive media came out about Samuel R. Delany and apart from a couple other attempts to explain it to people in that community that also fell on deaf ears, I decided to let it slide.
People who I had noticed speak positively of Delany seemed to stop doing so, and what comments I did see anywhere focused on his work. I felt satisfied that either the interview itself had been spread through a back-channel, or that some part of what I had said had gotten through, and I figured that was enough. If my pride was bruised, who cared? I just don’t like kids to be in a dangerous environment.
Two months ago, Moira Greyland released her book and the shit floated up again. People seemed to be of the opinion that the only grounds someone could object to SFWA (or this party they have called WorldCon where they give away Hugo awards) was if that person was some kind of Nazi Trump-Supporter. Also, they didn’t much care for the publisher of her book.
I left a comment on another blog, a five time Hugo winner this time, linking to the same interview. I expressed my concerns politely and without anger. My comment was never published.
For those who don’t know, I guess I should say that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America really pride themselves on not being racist. Like, they get really, really proud of it. They’re like the vegans, or Crossfit gym member, or that-person-you-went-to-high-school-with-who-is-part-of-a-pyramid-scheme-now of not being racist. They want the other side of the universe to know they’re not racist. And y’know… good. I’m from a mixed-race family and my brother and sister aren’t white. That’s awesome. I’ve even seem a lot of helpful things they do in that one particular area. Awesome. But there’s no such thing as living a single virtue life.
Here are several people on twitter, many of whom are legitimate industry professionals, Hugo Winners, and members of SWFA joking that a list of perverts from 4Chan did not include Samuel R Delany.
I’d like to follow that with an excerpt from the introduction to Hogg Samuel R. Delany’s erotic novel about underage sex, which was widely read enough to get reviewed on a major publisher’s website.
Okay. These are words only. No one needs to throw anybody into a volcano. That’s wrong. But this ain’t nothing, either.
I don’t know of Samuel R. Delany having committed any crime and that is markedly different from many other unfortunate cases. Punishment must be proportionate, and forbad words and bad opinions I give back my own best words and best opinions.
I would love to discover these fantasies have only ever existed in Samuel R. Delany’s mind, but at the very least I have to say what I know is true, which is that this is very fucked up and not at all the same as simply being gay or enjoying sex outside the missionary position. You should probably acknowledge that as well, because it is fucked up and it is NOT the same as being gay or enjoying sex outside the missionary position or whatever.
If you’re in SFWA, I’d like you to consider my own experience trying to raise this concern anonymously, ask yourself why it is Moira Greyland chose the publisher she did, and then ask yourself why she didn’t feel she should just immediately take her memoir to someplace more mainstream. Is that a fault of hers or of the organizations? Did you ever know about these things and not say anything about them?
This is way too long, I’ve written this way too many times and I’m sorry if I said something that was unfair along the way. Believe it or not, this is hard shit to talk about and I really did not want to write it. But if you’re honest with yourself, I have some doubts you could read all of this and not see a bit of your own complicity. I’ll close with my three-step process for how to be a better person.
1. Realize you fucked up, and it’s already happened and you can’t take it back. You. Fucked. Up.
2. Get off your cross, take the wood, build a bridge, and get over yourself. Everyone fucks up. Shame can be a helpful motivator, but guilt is a selfish, stupid emotion and it helps absolutely no one and all it does is make you feel less responsible to go try to do the right thing because you’re equating kicking your own ass with moral action.
3. Be willing to settle for a rightness level less than 100% but above 0%. Just because you didn’t do something good right away, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything good right now. Something is better than nothing.