55327_girl-writing_mdFollowing up on the analysis of bullied authors, what was it that triggered the attacks on Man, Breslin and Foyt? Are some ideas dangerous? More specifically, are there some ideas that we do need to suppress? Some that are too perilous to allow out there, even in fiction? Ann Rice calls this transgressive fiction.

I have to think this is the issue with the attacks on these books. There are certain views that have been established by political pressure groups that are carefully defended. For example, the views challenged in these novels are: 1) Thomas Jefferson as a racist and child rapist, 2) Nazis as irredeemable monsters and 3) current views of what constitutes racism in literary expression. Once these views are established, then they have to be maintained, so proponents watch like a hawk for any slippage of the ideology. Any infringement offers a new opportunity to drive the point home. Blackface is a prime example, as large segments of the public persist in failing to understand the racist significance of wearing makeup that’s darker than your skin. Angelina Jolie was vilified in 2006 for her appearance in the film A Mighty Heart, for example. The trailer for Save the Pearls showing the character in blackface was one of the prime motivations for labeling Foyt’s book racist.

Ideas are curious things. I’ve been discussing the importance of ideas in hard SF—that someone has to predict the future in order for us to build it. If you look really hard at it, reality is something humans construct for ourselves. On a basic level, we understand that it’s a fragile construct. This means we will always defend against ideas that challenge our vision of reality. The question is whether we can make reality fit our specifications.