No More Heroes

It has been a rough fucking week for the SFF book community.

Twitter has been an absolute dumpster fire these past few days. Accusations of sexual misconduct against author Myke Cole, which prompted him to do nothing more than to repost an apology he made in 2018 for similar allegations, not even bothering to make a fresh apology for fresh accusations. Author Sam Sykes also getting accused of sexual misconduct. The discovery that both Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon have said some incredibly transphobic things. Mark Lawrence, the guy instrumental in starting the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off that has helped so many self-published authors find a larger audience, encouraging fans to harass an author who criticized the portrayal of sexual assault in fiction. And that’s just what I’ve seen this past week!

To say nothing of the news of other authors doing similar things to people. I don’t know any of those authors well enough to speak on the subjects, but… sweet holy fuck, I am just so blown away. And exhausted.

Mostly exhausted.

I’m not stranger to discovering that people I once admired have some terrible things, but to be completely honest, there’s only so much of that a person can take before they start to wonder if there’s a point in even liking anything anymore. It sounds hyperbolic, but it’s legitimately how I feel. I can’t tell who is safe to like, who is safe to associate with, who won’t betray me and others down the line when the inevitable revelation comes out that they’ve been little shits the entire time, but were just able to hide it or pressure people into silence for longer than others. I’m seeing the dirty side of so many people whose work I’ve admired and promoted in the past, people whose work has inspired me to want to create wonderful things of my own, and every time it happens, I feel increasingly like there is no safe space to be creative, to try, to enjoy things, because chances are you’re surrounded by people who are privately mocking you for being queer, sexualizing you for being a woman, and ignoring you for not being white.

Rarely on the surface. Not until the shield slips and somebody sees just a little too much and then all the pieces fall into place. The odd comments. The things you overlooked, handwaved as just being “that person being a little weird.” The stories come out, again and again, and you start to think to yourself, “Is anywhere actually safe? Can I even enjoy this hobby without fear that I’m enabling someone else’s bigoted power trip?”

People make mistakes. People learn. But the thing of it is, a lot of these people have had plenty of opportunities to learn, have associated with people who have openly talked about problems in the industry, problems they’ve faced with representation or fair treatment, people who would likely cheerfully give further education to those asking in good faith… and it seems, again, like all of these opportunities have been overlooked, ignored, and the perpetrators of injustice stand there begging for people to give them a second chance, swearing they’ll do better, they’ll try harder, they’ll be stronger allies next time.

You had your chance. You had lots of chances. You have so many opportunities to not do the things you did, to understand why those things were wrong… and you did them anyway.

Why should you be given another chance? Why should people trust you to do better next time when you had so many chances to do better last time, and just didn’t.

Some people do change and improve. I’d love to be able to say that the current batch of accusations, of truth being outed, will lead to a safer and more understanding community.

But the horrible reality is that all it’s done is highlight just how safe it never was, to convince people that it’s not worth it to put their safety on the line, and to crowd out people who might have thrived, were it not for abusers and the risks they pose.


It’s at the point where I’m just hoping that somebody makes a list of safe authors, because right now, I can’t fucking tell who’s safe. People I once thought were safe, were decent, were maybe even friends, aren’t. Weren’t.

And I can’t, in good conscience, keep supporting them.

Arguments always get made for separating the art from the artist. And to a degree, I agree with that sentiment. But only insofar as it means that, say, an author who writes about a rapist isn’t necessarily condoning rape, anymore than an author who writes about a thief is condoning stealing. Authors don’t necessarily share the mindsets of their characters. Hell, just look to Orson Scott Card for a great example of that one. Speaker for the Dead‘s moral lesson was that you can’t judge one culture by another culture’s standards, because everyone has different ways and reasons for doing what they do, and we have to understand that before we pass any judgment. Great lesson. Card, on the other hand, has long worn his homophobia on his sleeve, calling gay people degenerates, pedophiles, the victims of pedophiles. Apparently his own story failed to make much impact on him, since I don’t see a whole lot of, “Don’t judge, because you don’t necessarily understand the truth of the matter,” going on here.

But I can’t stretch that mentality to continuing to read and review and enjoy an author’s books when I know that author has done terrible things, because every book I buy is a royalty payment, or one step closer to a royalty payment. Every review is publicity. It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy a story when I know that the mind who wrote that story is also a mind that thinks harassing or abusing is justified.

I don’t know who’s safe anymore. And every one of you that has been named in this post, every single fucking one of you, has contributed to that.

As I said, I’m no stranger to this sort of disappointment in people. When I first wanted to get into making videos on YouTube, I was heavily inspired by JonTron. Then came the news that he was a racist douchnozzle. I was later inspired by the work of ProJared, who legitimately seemed like a feminist ally, one of the good ones. Until word spread that he cheated on his wife, lied about their open-relationship status, and eventually claimed that it wasn’t cheating because the husband of the woman he cheated with was okay with it. (No comment on the accusations that he exchanged sexual messages with minors, because when last I checked, a lot of that stuff turned out to be without evidence. Also no comment on his ex-wife’s role in the subsequent divorce, because everyone may have flaws but that still doesn’t excuse what Jared did.)  The gaming community has been rocked by racist and sexist scandal after racist and sexist scandal these past few weeks too. Enough disappointments have come from people whose work I was inspired by that I am already afraid for other creators I enjoy, because with the way all this shit is going, they’ll all turn out to be abusers and bigots too. This sort of thing can only happen so many times before you start to doubt yourself, doubt your own judgment and taste, and you wonder if there’s even any point to continuing with the things you love, because, as I’ve repeatedly stated, nowhere feels safe.

Not the places you go. Not the people you associate with.

I can’t blame people for thinking that the only way to keep themselves safe is to back away from everything and to not bother anymore. Time and again, that’s what communities are demonstrating. That’s the message that the marginalized get, over and over and fucking over again.

There are no more heroes.

You can’t trust anybody.

This is the world you have fostered.

One comment on “No More Heroes

  1. Pingback: June 2020 in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

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