Thursday, 13 August 2009

Author John C. Wright goes off on an anti-homosexual rant

John C. Wright is an author I'd never heard of until I opened Songs of the Dying Earth last month. His story in the collection is entertaining and vaguely amusing, and when I heard some good things about his Golden Age trilogy of novels I resolved to pick them up at some future point.

After this blog post was brought to my attention (by a rather horrified SF editor), I decided to drop that resolution.

The post starts off with Wright complaining about the problems of tokenism in fiction, the politically-correct demand that every book or TV show has a gay character or some other minority in it. He was skirting around something beginning to be a point there, although it's a dangerous game to be getting into as based on that logic, why bother having any black or Asian characters or smokers? Therefore, QED, having an all-white, all-straight cast should be totally believable, even in a futuristic setting (when demographic logic tells us the overwhelming majority of the world's population will be non-Caucasian). The only problem with that is that reading an SF work set in the future where the entire cast is white would be pretty ludicrous and send up the bullshit flag pretty quickly unless there was some overtly convincing reason why this was so.

Where the blog posts enters a more disturbing arena is where Wright basically outlines his views on homosexuality. In effect, he equates it with bestiality, necrophilia and pederasty and as being considerably worse than incest. He states that it is a sexual-psychological malfunction and is contributing to the 'moral decay' of society. It's nonsensical hate-speak, plain and simple, particularly unwise when espoused by a new author who is trying to build a career and fanbase in a genre which has a lot of LGBT readers.

This does potentially lead down the road of, well, do an author's personal views matter when all you're really concerned about is if their books are any good? And I would say yes, since the buying reader is contributing to their lifestyle and enabling them to go on doing the things they want to do. As such, I am not inclined to give money or publicity to someone who indulges in hate-speak and takes such an obsessive interest in what goes on behind the closed doors of his neighbours (seriously, what is up with that?). In addition, there is way too much good stuff out there to read, so removing his books from my 'to read' list does reduce the pile somewhat as well, which is an acceptable situation.

Wright's mistake here was that the more profitable career-path is to establish yourself as a huge, best-selling author first and then make the crazy ultra-con statements that alienate most of your fans but simultaneously bring in the extremists who'll keep your sales ticking over later on. He went down the bile-rising route way too early (the Internet's current reaction to the controversy: "Who the fuck is John C. Wright?"). Maybe it'll blow over and people will forget about it and he can go on to have a huge successful career, but this is going to be one of those things that's going to keep coming up in the future.

Interesting rebuttal of the original post by Hal Duncan, for those who have an afternoon free to read the whole thing ;-)

And another from Catherynne Valente.


Neth said...

As I've said elsewhere, Wright has joined Terry Goodkind, Orson Scott Card, and Michael Crichton on my blacklist now.

Aidan Moher said...

Heh, take a look at his Wikipedia entry:

John C. Wright (John Charles Justin Wright, born 1961) is an American bigot and author of science fiction and fantasy novels. A Nebula award finalist (for the fantasy novel Orphans of Chaos), he was called "this fledgling century's most important new SF talent" by Publishers Weekly (after publication of his debut novel, The Golden Age).''

Adam Whitehead said...

Good old Wikipedia. I daresay someone will change it back. Eventually.

tyer said...

Ulike others here, I'm openminded to not allow a person's political views stop me from enjoying their work.

Marduk said...

What has Orson Scott Card done/said? I know about Crichton's views but not Card's...

Salt-Man Z said...

Basically, Card (being a devout Mormon) thinks homosexuality is a sin, and he also supported George W. Bush. Those two taken together means every liberal he once had (and plenty that he never had) vehemently hate him now.

He does have some interesting points about gay characters in SF/F, though (which a number of his own books feature). Of particular note is his lambasting of J. K. Rowling for declaring Dumbledore to be gay after the HP series was over. (His point is basically that Rowling did the character a disservice by ignoring his sexual preference in the text, and saying "Oh yeah, and he's gay" after the fact is a cop-out.)

Adam Whitehead said...

I don't believe Wright expressed any political views. He just unleashed a torrent of hate-speak against a sixth of the population (arguable figure but what the hell) for no logical reason.

Card's views are a bit odd as he claims to have many gay friends and points eagerly at his positive gay characters in his books (one of whom in the HOMECOMING series was pretty miserable until he married a woman though, but okay). He also claims that he objects heavily to the use of the term 'marriage' for the description of same-sex civil unions. However, I get hazy on whether he's okay for the unions themselves to go ahead. That's where his 'hate the sin, love the sinner' thing comes in.

I get the impression he isn't keen on homosexuality, but doesn't want to come out in a frothing rage of invective against it for fear of damaging his bank balance.

Neth said...

Well, Card has been had pretty harsh words for homosexuality. In one of his essays he actually supports an armed rebellion against the government if gay marriage is legalized.

Not a position I can support.

Jamie said...

Good post and agree 100% with regards to not contributing to the career of a homophobe.

Wilfred said...

To play devil's advocate for a bit, but Wright of course is right when he says that homosexuality is the same sort of thing as bestiality, necrophilia and pederasty.

They are all sexual preferences who throughout the centuries and cultures have had different levels of acceptation. Though he should have added hetrosexuality and metrosexuality to the list. :)

Anonymous said...

Wait , so people are entitled to opinions(in this case an authors view of gays) as long as it fits the PC view on the world ?

when he fuck did it become the case that your not allowed to have issues with homosexuality , call me a homophobe , but me and my buddy nature have issues with homosexuality

Angelo said...

We can not tolerate lack of toleration. We must hate haters! If you don't see homosexually as a good and natural thing, then shut up and hide it. Don't you dare say anything agains't!


Adam Whitehead said...

"me and my buddy nature have issues with homosexuality"

With the number of animal species that engage in homosexual activity, this is a REALLY stupidly ignorant thing to say.

As for the latter point, nice try but it doesn't work. Follow that logic and black people should still be slaves and women should be non-voting second-class citizens.

Christopher Donald said...

As a gay man ( a black gay man I might add) I am cool with Wrights view, news flash guys, we don't need all you middle class white people to feel sorry and rush to the rescue of us minority's .

Christopher Donald said...

Sorry double post, I should ask, are you gay yourself Adam ? If not then why do you feel the need to bring to the worlds attention this authors view on gays ? Do you think we the gay people need saving from 'opinions' of people who don't agree with our way of life ?

I mean I think religion is a sham and people who live their life around religious teachings are batshit crazy . Should someone somewhere write a blog rant about how evil I am for not going along with the status quo ?

Or maybe you are gay, and you did take exception to what he said.

Angelo said...

Adam, I think you're taking things to the extreme. We're not talking about not respecting every individual's rights. We're talking about opinions. And the moment someone wants to "snuff" certain opinions, that person should stop a minute and take a serious look at himself.

Adam Whitehead said...

Oh, he certainly has a right to say those things, and I would defend that right absolutely. The fact that it makes him look like an ignorant bigot to vast numbers of people and that is now his reputation in the field is also the consequence of his action. What opinions someone holds behind closed doors is up to them. If they want to come out and voice that opinion, then they should also be prepared to face the inevitable response.

Adam Whitehead said...

@ Christopher Donald

Interesting point. No, I am not gay, so I do not have a personal stake in the matter. Whilst I have gay friends, I am pretty certain of their ability to speak for themselves on the matter.

Why did I think it worthwhile mentioning on the blog? Because the blog's remit (as much as there is one) is reviews and news on the SF/F field. When a promising up 'n' comer utilises his (limited) fame to unleash hate-speech, it is worth bringing to widespread attention. If I'd started the blog a few years earlier I'd have done the same when Terry Goodkind went off on his infamous "Canada is a totalitarian state!" spiel as well.

You raise an interesting point though, although I'd be interested to hear where the lines are drawn. It's a no-brainer that non-Jews can voice their disgust of the Holocaust, but should then Whites have not supported the cause of civil rights back in the 1960s since it did not directly impact them?

Chris said...

@ Christopher Donald

Do you really want to live in a world where only LGBT folk can say pro-LGBT things, where only racial minorities can say anti-racist things, and where only women can say pro-feminist things?

I know I don't. Such a world strikes me as very dark, very cold, and very lonely. And absolutely antithetical to any sort of change for the better.

Christopher Donald said...

Of course not , but lets not deny there is a liberal brigade who tries to ride to the rescue after every perceived slight against a minority .

And lets not try to pretend people not agreeing with homosexuality is the same as slavery or women's right to vote.

Christopher Donald said...

Double post again,

@ Chris , now you make a point where people not pushing their views on others is detrimental to any sort of change, now while I am gay I ask the question to you :

Who are you to decide what should be changed, now there are a lot of people who don't like homosexuality , who are you or any of your liberal friends to say that those peoples opinions are wrong

If others opinions do not equate to your own, then they must be wrong , right ?

I have and never will condemn a person for having issue with my sexuality

Chris said...

now you make a point where people not pushing their views on others is detrimental to any sort of change

Hmm, no. That's not my point at all. Not even in the ballpark of my point.

But first off: "pushing their views on others"? When and whence did Adam get this mind-controlling widget that a) forces people to read his post, and b) forces them to agree with him?

Now, on to your misinterpretation of my point. Parts of your previous comments boil down to "mind your business, hetero." That's the sort of thing that, if it were to come true, would be detrimental to securing and safeguarding rights.

It comes down to numbers. Short of massively-armed rebellion, there is no way that a minority of -- generously estimating -- 20% can secure and safeguard rights on a large scale without sympathetic heteros.

And lets not try to pretend people not agreeing with homosexuality is the same as slavery or women's right to vote.

In the grand scheme of things, you're right. They aren't the same.

What is the same, though, is the underlying source of those things. Homophobia is on a level with considering Africans livestock (from which sprung slavery), and on a level with considering women subservient and of no importance (from which sprung the lack of women's suffrage).

Underlying homophobia can and has led to systematic oppression (see the imprisonment of homosexuals during and after the Nazi regime, deaths in Iran, crowd-pleasing threats of gay beheadings in Gambia, etc).

I get a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I hear a straight guy doing some variant of "Dude, not cool" to some homophobic tripe. Had I the money, I'd buy them all a beverage of their choosing.

I don't need them to speak in my place, but it's awesome to know that they're there to get my back, socially or politically.

Adam Whitehead said...

"When and whence did Adam get this mind-controlling widget that a) forces people to read his post, and b) forces them to agree with him?"

Actually, I did get get this from Blogger, but had to send it back when people insisted on continuing to buy the new KJA DUNE books after my blog post. Obviously it wasn't working ;-)

Angelo said...

I wonder if people here know what really means "homophobia". It's so easy to pick up the word to throw at people who had other views, that it lost its true meaning.

marduk said...

errm a bit late and off the point now but thanks for answering my question re Orson Scott Card. I do not want to get bogged down in the debate that ignited after ;-)

Mark Zamen said...

The question is asked as to whether or not an author's personal views matter when deciding if one will read his work. Yes, they do. For example, I will never again see a movie in which Mel Gibson is involved in any capacity: Not one more dime of my money will ever go to a man who is well known to be vehemently anti-Semitic. In Wright's case, the hate and prejudice are directed towards homosexuals and serve as reminders that such sentiments are very much alive. It is a sad fact that a large segment of society still regards gay men and women as second-class citizens - or worse. That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others). More information on the book is available at

Mark Zamen, author

Anonymous said...

Has anybody here read much of Wright's writing? I have, and I'll tell you it's not populated entirely by white people. In fact, he just adopted a Chinese child, if you want to read between the lines.

And as far as his argument being nonsensical hate-speech, read it for yourself if you have a problem with what other people have said about it. My personal opinion is that, although you might not agree with his logic, he spells it out for you. Plus, he's a whole lot nicer than all of you seem to be.

MsGoblinPants said...

To the Anonymous person at 16 October 2009 03:52:00 GMT:
John C Wright's adoption of a Chinese girl does not make me feel better, given that he calls multiculturalism a "sick dogma", compares teaching Native American culture in schools to zoophilia, mocks the existence of Native American studies, wants to deport all Muslims out of America, and is basically just completely unable to deal with anyone who is not a straight, Christian white man.

Nor am I all that convinced by your assertion that he's a nicer person than the commenters on this blog, given that he calls modern women "unpaid whores", thinks rock'n'roll music is sinful, thinks having sex with a consenting adult of the same sex is the same as sex with corpses, animals, and chidren, etc.

Basically, he's crazy.

steve said...

Too bad. Love his books though

mahasamoot said...

I may still check out one of his books... tho, now I'm not sure.

On another note:
WTFO--Is the term LGBT the best branding we fabulous folks can come up with? Seriously, aren't there any gay marketers out there?

Dancing Yven said...

Wow. I haven't seen this many strawmen since my nephew's highschool scarecrow competition.

Goblin Pants is the real scream since she/he pulls what he says about music, the plight of women in the work force, multiculturalism and Native Americans so out of context that it's almost like (gasp!) she/he purposefully misrepresented his views in some impotent attempt to disparage someone she disagrees with (but lacks the chops to do so honestly). Sorry honey, try again.

Look. I don't agree with Wright on many things (I am gay myself, and am from the MCC, a church which doesn't exactly fly with Catholicism, not to mention the fact that I am about as Liberal as a human can be). I've argued with him before and I've lost my cool with him before.

But I would never go as far as to misrepresent his position or behave as petulantly as some of you have.

The fact is, he is a brilliant author and he is an intelligent individual who I generally enjoy debating/discussing with, even when I disagree with him (many times, that is).

Now if you'll excuse me...I've just been inspired to buy "Count to a Trillion" by this post. Thanks!

AM said...

Well, you're free to enjoy whatever work you like. But really, don't brag about how much more openminded you are for being able to ignore bigotry. People who are members of the groups he is attacking don't have that luxury, so please get off your smug high horse and STOP acting like you're better than them for not being offended by things that do not personally affect you.