Edward LearSince I’m on the subject of Internet bullying of authors, I should review a few examples of how this works. First example, Jenny Trout and Fionna Free Man.

Fionna Free Man is a writer of fantasy erotica who has published a number of books based on historical characters. One of these is Thomas Jefferson’s Mistress, about Jefferson and his black slave mistress Sally Hemings. The characters in the book are vampires and werewolves, which means it’s clearly not related to reality in any way.

Jenny Trout is a writer of fantasy romance and, without reading the book, apparently took offense at the idea behind using Jefferson and his mistress as subjects of erotica. She launched a campaign against the book, encouraging her fans to pirate the novel and to demand it be taken off bookshelves and out of Internet listings because of depictions of rape and racism. The campaign was successful, and Man’s book was removed. However, it turns out that Fionna Free Man is an activist woman of color; there is no mention of rape in the book, and actual readers report no indications of racism—just vampires and werewolves. Trout and her faction also engaged with other authors who tried to defend Man, including Kevin Weinberg and Ann Rice. After a backlash, Trout was dropped by her publisher.

Note: This should not be taken as support for child rape or racism on my part. I just support Man’s right to freedom of expression.

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