Encouraging news: Society of Authors chair Joanne Harris has seen off a campaign by a handful of hasbeens, bigots and whinyarses to have her compelled to stand down. Despite a lifetime of writing, I’ve never actually been a member of the SOA but I am now quite tempted to join, not least on the grounds that it’s nice to see a large public organisation firmly slapping down a vocal minority of smallminded losers and crybullies. (A similar shoeing administered to similar rightwing whinyarses by the National Trust’s membership was equally encouraging.)
There have always been right-leaning authors, some fairly successful and many pretty readable despite being unable to keep their contentious views out of their stories, and I for one am perfectly OK with reading fiction by people I disagree with, and very much in favour of them being allowed to write and publish whatever the fuck they like, in general. But the new ‘freedom of speech’ so touted by the sort of people who went after Harris is far less about making room for a range of views and far, far more about certain people being able to air their bigotry without any criticism or disagreement at all.
The new culture warriors cannot bear the idea that others reject their opinions or are simply not interested in reading or listening to them: they take even indifference as a personal attack which must be punished. If they stuck to writing bad novels where all the liberal snowflakes and LGBTQ people and their allies and everyone who isn’t white suffer ghastly fates unless/until they acknowledge the superiority of their ‘betters’, fair enough: write what you want to write. But that isn’t enough: all dissent must be attacked and suppressed.
A common trope among bigots is that they represent a silent majority, who are just as bigoted, just as resentful and scared as they are. The Society of Authors has just gone a long way towards demonstrating that the majority actually considers them losers, which is all to the good.