The recent Amazonfail mutancy got me thinking about how labels can drive our behaviour, even though we aren't necessarily informed about where those labels come from.
It's amazing how many times one hears comments to the effect: "I won't read Author X, because I have it on good authority s/he's a homophobe/racist/bigot/[insert species of socially mutated idiot here]".
Uh huh. You know what? Fine, don't agree with them. Don't condone their behaviour. Don't buy their books if it makes you feel better not to give them royalties. But isn't refusing to read them on that basis and that basis only merely exposing yourself to just the kind of cultural censorship and brainwash that made that author the repellent person they are?
Rather, refuse to read them because their books suck.
I happen to find anti-Semitism repulsive, for instance. But I don't care if Mel Gibson is or isn't an anti-Semite. It won't stop me from watching his films. Tom Cruise apparently does weird Scientology stuff, and jumps on couches on national tv. That makes him an amusing spectacle and a walking commentary on the price of fame. But it doesn't make him a bad actor.
His bad acting does that :) nah. Just kidding. Actually, I rate the baffling Mr Cruise as an actor. But you get my drift.
Certain authors tend to rant on the internet, to many fans' disgust. That behaviour makes them ranters, not bad authors. Only bad books make you a bad author. And reading those books doesn't mean I agree with everything the author believes.
Same goes with writing and critting. I'm a fiction writer, not a social commentator. Writing a murder mystery doesn't mean I condone murder. Nor does reading one.
And if I'm reviewing or critting a story, I talk about fiction. Not about the author's values or lifestyle or experiences. Frankly, unless I know you personally -- and sometimes even then -- I don't give a damn about any of those things. And I flatter myself that I have at least a small clue about what makes readable fiction. If I suggest a story's broken, there's at least a slim chance that it is, in fact, broken. Even if the broken part is dear to your heart, some point you're just dying to make.
I don't care about your point. I care about good fiction. Sigh. Why do people take things so personally?
Read. Watch. Consume information. Know your enemy's failings. Pretending they don't exist won't make them go away.
And neither will delisting them on Amazon, apparently.