There’s a “story” on Breitbart entitled “SJWs Are Purging Politically Incorrect Sci-Fi Authors From Bookstores” that several people pointed me to that is so wrong and so laughable that I was going to include a do-not-link to it and do a little dissecting. But I don’t have to do most of the dissecting, because Jim C. Hines has done that part for me: Fact-Checking for Dummies. And Breitbart. The tl;dr summary: a “journalist” at Breitbart takes a single comment off of a post on the sci-fi blog File 770 and represents the comment as a news story claiming that bookstores in Toronto are removing books from their shelves written by Sad Puppies because of pressure for Social Justice Warriors.
It’s a comment, not an actual post. And even as a comment it is presented as an anecdote, “Last month someone told me…” Finally, others have gone to the bookstores in question and confirmed that books written by the specific authors mentioned in the comment are still on the shelves available for purchase. So, the entire premise of the op-ed piece on Breitbart is false.
But there’s more to it. The op-ed mentions specific authors who supposedly have been purged for making homophobic remarks, and then gets all upset claiming that several of those authors have done no such thing. Breitbart grudgingly admits the John C. Wright has made a statement about homosexuality being an aberration, but that barely qualifies! None of the others have said anything homophobic at all!
Here’s where my eye-rolling begins. Wright hasn’t merely said that homosexuality is unnatural. Wright has said, “I have never heard of a group of women descending on a lesbian couple and beating them to death with axhandles and tire-irons, but that is the instinctive reaction of men towards fags.” In fact, he’s said several variants of that: “…the natural reaction of real men confronted by fags is to beat them to death with axhandles and tire-irons.” For a while it was his go-to joke. Until midyear last year when he went through his blog and purged most of the occurrences of that particular phrase. He also rewrote a passage where he had said, “I feel no more personal animosity toward lesbians or other sodomites than I do to termites, but when they invade my house, it’s time to exterminate.” He changed it to instead compare the artist and the writer of The Legend of Korra to termites for the crime of representing two women in love in the final episode of the series, and that artists and writers who positively portray homosexual characters are the ones who deserve to be exterminated. And somehow he thinks that is less homophobic.
But Hines’ take-down of the Breitbart article falls short on a couple of points, so I want to deal with those.
The Breitbart op-ed, as I mentioned, claims that none of the other named “politically correct” authors have ever made any homophobic statements. That’s not true, at all. Brad Torgersen has said things such as: “we didn’t decide that homosexuality is wrong, God did”
No matter how sincerely held a religious belief is, it can still be bigotry. Bigotry is obstinately holding onto a belief in spite of evidence to the contrary. Medical science has concluded that homosexuality is not a matter of choice, it is an innate trait. That’s a fact. Sin has to be a matter of choice, that’s part of sin’s theological definition. Innate traits cannot be sins. Torgerson and Larry Correia (another author Breitbart insists isn’t homophobic, despite repeated statements that “homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle choice”) and their friends are perfectly within their rights to insist—contrary to the facts—that homosexuality is a matter of choice, yes. But that they do so for religious reasons doesn’t change the truth that the belief is a bigoted one. They are anti-gay bigots.
And more importantly, straight people, like the author of the Breitbart piece, don’t get to decide what I or any other queer person feels offended about. We get to own our own feelings. As Irish drag queen and gay rights activist Panti Bliss said:
“I have been lectured to by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and about who is allowed to identify it. Straight people have lined up—ministers, senators, barristers, journalists—have lined up to tell me what homophobia is and what I am allowed to feel oppressed by. People who have never experienced homophobia in their lives, people who have never checked themselves at a pedestrian crossing, have told me that unless I am being thrown into prison or herded onto a cattle truck, it is not homophobia, and that feels oppressive.”
I could spend a little more time using Google and the Internet Wayback Machine and I would not be surprised if I could come up with similar statements about gay people for each of the other authors that Breitbart thinks have been purged from Toronto bookshelves. I say that because I vaguely recall reading statements from all of them along those lines. And I’m sure that it is a bit hypocritical of me, after lambasting Breitbart for failing to fact-check, not to finish the job.
But unlike Breitbart, I’m not being paid to report things. It took me only a few minutes on Google for each author to find two homophobic Torgerson quotes and four homophobic Wright quotes and a couple of Correia’s homophobic statements. It takes a little longer to track down old blog posts that some of those guys have deleted or revised after the Affair of the Melancholy Canines became big news last year. Frankly, it is exhausting having to constantly re-explain to people that there really are bigots out there still trying to silence, oppress, denigrate, or deny rights to queer people. They can make their off-handed, unproven attacks in seconds, and it takes us much more time to fact-check them and track down the evidence.
So I’m going to stop here and just roll my eyes once again at the straightsplaining and the false accusations and the bigot apologists. And frankly, even rolling my eyes is more effort than the haters deserve.
Edited to add: the original draft of this included a digression about the fact that stories like the Breitbart op-ed are intended, among other things, to stir up animosity toward queer people and our supporters. Just as all that talk about how sinful or unnatural homosexuality is—it is intended to stir up hatred, while claiming to be the opposite. That’s why I included the Stephen Fry quote and graphic originally. Haters want other people to agree with them and hate us, too.