Recently, Deirdre Saoirse Moen–a SF/F writer with a blogosphere presence–has done a wonderful job blowing the top off two of the most scandalous figures in the history of science fiction: Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband Walter Breen.
Here are the links to her relevant posts on this topic:
- Marion Zimmer Bradley Gave Us New Perspectives All Right
- Tor.com Pulls MZB Tribute
- Marion Zimmer Bradley: It’s Worse Than I Knew
- The Importance of Books and The MZB Timeline
- Breendoggle Dommuntation Now On a Wiki
- Robert Heinlein On The Breendoggle
While Deirdre and I are not on the same page with our worldviews, I do provide a tip of the cap for her coverage of MZB and the “Breendoggle.”
Moira Greyland–the daughter of MZB and the late Walter Breen–confirmed what Deirdre reported, and offered her own input on that site. Others who had suffered catastrophic abuse also spoke of their experiences and struggles. I wish them all the best. Again, I thank Deirdre for her solid coverage.
On one of the threads, I had an exchange with Barbara, who herself–like Moira–suffered horrific abuses as a child. Here is one of her comments:
I just finished reading the Breendoggle document.
I am aghast. You know, generally the sexual revolution was a positive thing, (it helped us recognize that homosexuality isn’t a perversion, that women deserve sexual autonomy, that birth control is a good thing and that rape, incest and sexual abuse happen, and are bad and victims of same should be supported) but reading this document showed me the dark side of it all.
To have fully grown, adults who are obviously rational, discussing whether or not the publicly displayed sexual activity with a three year old harms the child—it blew my mind. BLEW my mind. Completely.
But, with all of the sexual experimentation that was happening, with the sexual openness–and with the fact that people still didn’t really talk about incest or sexual abuse openly, AND that there was a dearth of research into these matters, I could see this happening.
But it still made my heart stop. To listen to the author arguing with himself over the entire issue, and then seeing that he finally came to the conclusion that Breen was hurting kids, mostly based on his own moral conviction and going against that “free love” philosophy at the time was astounding.
That is the dark side of the hippie culture. And it affected and still affects SF/Fantasy culture, Geek culture, Gaming culture, Neo-Pagan culture and SCA–I know because I have been involved in all of these cultures at one time or another, and I swear that is part of where the whole, “But it’s evil to exclude someone! We’re all freaks, it’s just that so and so is a little more freaky!” excuses and fallacies came from.
In trying to include those who had been rejected by mainstream society, in trying to build a culture based on openness and love, in trying to be tolerant and understanding, these people–many of whom, like the author of that document–were trying to do the right thing—they collectively sacrificed the most vulnerable among them–their kids.
I wish I could go back in time and shake some of them.
But it was chilling to read people saying similar things then about banning a predator from a con that have been said about predators at modern cons. For God’s sake, have we not learned anything in the intervening decades?
Once more, Moira–my heart goes out to you. To have grown up with both parents being so sick was a horrible experience. I am sorry your childhood was so unsafe and I want you to know that even though you don’t know me, as another commenter on another thread said–I’ve got your back.
First, a word out to Barbara and Moira: over here, we have your backs, too. Same goes for Jay and Deirdre. While I am going to challenge you on a few things, Barbara, none of those things–in whole or part–take away from the fact that we empathize with your experiences and otherwise want the best for you. In fact, I am going to challenge you for that very reason.
Now, about the Sexual Revolution (SR)…
Barbara: what you call “the dark side” of the SR is actually its logical conclusion. By removing social restraints on sexual expression–which required repudiating the basis behind those restraints–the SR proponents created a whole new basis, which provided no objective, moral compass against which to restrain expressions that we would dismiss as abhorrent.
The SR was the culmination of a number of things: the hijacking of academia by progressive elements, the onslaught of the Kinsey Reports, the American Law Institute’s use of the Kinsey Reports to re-write common law and undermine the severity of sex crimes via the Model Penal Code, and the counter-cultural rebellion of the 1960s.
I find nothing positive to say about it.
Many will argue about the double-standards and hypocrisy of Victorian-era sexual mores; in so doing, such critics forget that every era and epoch of history is fraught with double-standards. The elites, however, were not merely attacking Victorian-era prudery, but rather the Christian foundation for which the Victorians, whatever their shortcomings, stood. And make no mistake: the Bible was always the real target. Undermining that foundation was the aim of the SR.
The problem, invariably, becomes this: if you remove the Christian foundations that served as the basis for social mores–as well as law and justice–then that foundation will be replaced with something else. Over the last 50 years, we have seen what that something else is, and the future does not look particularly bright.
The SR is the product of a progressive model that Thomas Sowell called the “unrestrained view of Man” in his book A Conflict of Visions. In layman’s terms, the thinking goes this way: if we remove all cultural and religion-based restraint on society, then Man can reach the heights of human potential.
The problem with this thinking–from a purely worldly standpoint–is this: human potential works both ways.
While I would contend that the upside of human potential is maximized when God is honored–and I will provide an explication of that some other time–I also would contend that, removing God from society results in a world where there is no limit to the evil we can accomplish together.
We see this, at the basest level, in our understanding of sexuality.
I’ll sum up the Christian perspective in one paragraph:
To the Christian, sex is the act of the marriage covenant, a covenant heritage that extends all the way back to Creation. Marriage, in turn, is a covenant that represents a witness to the love of Christ for the Church. Marital faithfulness speaks to God’s faithfulness. The pleasures of sex speak of what God has done, is doing, and will do. This sexual expression often results in procreation, and that is also of theological importance. While childbearing–and child-rearing–are painful and challenging, the building of families speaks of a God who redeems and fashions for Himself a people who love Him.
This is why (a) marriage is between a man and a woman, (b) sex must be reserved for the marriage bed, and (c) any other expressions of sex are short of the glory.
Some will argue, “What about polygamy? Doesn’t the Bible endorse polygamy???”
That something is permitted does not mean that God endorsed it as a good thing. It is instructive to note that every instance of polygamy in Scripture was a case-study in severe dysfunction. When God created woman, He said, “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. (Notice the use of the singular.) In the pastoral epistles, Paul requires of would-be elders that they be “the husband of one wife.” (I.e., polygamists need not apply.)
That Christian perspective also rules out sex between members of the same sex. In fact, every instance in the Scriptures where it is mentioned, homosexual/lesbian sex–as with all sex outside of heterosexual marriage–is ALWAYS given negative coverage. I say this not to demonize homosexuals, but rather to point out that same-sex sexual relations are Biblically wrong, just as heterosexual sex outside of marriage is wrong.
Because sex is exclusively for marriage, that excludes children from sexual relations, as marriage is between a man and a woman. While there is no hard command as to the threshold for adulthood–and this varies from culture to culture–the Biblical position is clearly one that requires both parties to be of sufficient maturity to handle the challenges of marriage and family life. Simply-put: marriage is for grownups.
Now proponents of the SR will look at that and dismiss it as “narrow-minded” or “old-fashioned” or “Neanderthal” or “Medieval” or “Bronze Age”. Dismissing those boundaries is not so much a war on sex, but rather a war on the God who provided those standards for sex. That is what the SR was all about, and that is why the SR is so corrosive.
You see, if we take God out of the equation, then nothing–and I do mean nothing–is off the table. This is why–in the Breendoggle matter–so many SF/F writers and fans were so conflicted: while some had personal moral outrage, they had no objective basis for dismissing Breen. Breen and MZB would epitomize the rejection of all objective morality; in marriage, they took sexual license with their own children, and the children of others.
If you take our Christian foundations off the table, then pederasty–a common practice in the Greek culture of the New Testament era–remains on the table. It doesn’t matter that you and I otherwise find it objectionable, as it would not be our place to impose our morality on anyone else.
This would also explain why a fair share of SF/F writers and fans–such as Deborah J. Scott–continue to defend Marion Zimmer Bradley in spite of the objective evidence that Bradley was a child rapist and also covered for one.
Today, we live in the aftermath of the SR. No part of society–secular or religious–is unaffected. Our society has been inundated with sex, and this has been true for all age groups. Prominent clothing firms have even used sex to market products to girls and pre-teens. Whereas 30 years ago, one had to go to a book store, or a certain type of video store, or a certain section of a video store, or have cable television, to get pornography, today anyone is a mouseclick or smartphone away from the hardest-core pornography. Feminism has given us the “hookup culture”, which is fast-tracking many a sorority girl into a lifestyle that damages her chances of marrying well.
The SR has handed us a society in which more than 70% of black children and 40% of white children are born out of wedlock, thus forcing them to grow up without fathers. This, by the way, is one of the largest indicators of criminality. Cohabitation, the new “marriage”, is actually a very high indicator for child abuse.
And no discussion of the SR would be complete without mentioning the abortion holocaust, which has killed over 50 million children in the United States alone. And if you object to the use of the word “holocaust”, then pick a different name. Holocaust, genocide, or democide, you decide. What I won’t permit: any attempt to call that slaughter anything other than what it is.
But in an SF/F world where sexual license of all types is celebrated–and where more conservative authors (Vox Day, Larry Correia) are declared persona non grata–it is no surprise that Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen present such a conundrum to many fans and writers. The Breendoggle documents chronicle a stunning lack of moral clarity among the SF/F crowd, and yet–in a twisted way–they are aware of the dilemma even as they reject the solution.
Because the SF/F world is dominated by those who look at the SR as a good thing, the objective moral clarity is nonexistent.