Marion Zimmer Bradley was a horrible writer who embodied the (idolatrous) ethos of her time, and also a child molester

Some eras are corrupt.

Some cultures simply have a lot of pederasty.

This does not excuse individual pederasts, it merely explains them.

People who idolize actual graven images don’t do a lot of harm.

People who idolize principles manage to do horrible things.

Sharing wealth is good. Idolize that wealth-sharing as a principle and you get Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot.

Economic individualism is good. Idolize that economic individualism as a principle and you get Bernie Madoff.

Sex is good. Idolize that sex as a principle and you get Josef Fritzl and Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The idolatry of principles is when you take a limited good and convince yourself that it is an absolute good that will ennoble anything you do for it.

Recently metafilter linked to somebody called Deirdre.

Deirdre posted evidence that MZB was not just an accomplice to child molesters, but also MZB molested children.

It’s a little late for mortals to be alerted to this fact, because it’s not easy to take revenge on MZB or her partners in crime – they’re dead already.

Of course, MZB was associated with pro-sex activists like the Daughters of Bilitis:

So it’s not very surprising that MZB aided and abetted a lot of sexual extremism.

What came as a surprise to many is that MZB was a child molester, and apparently worse than her child molesting husband.

The relevant letter to Deirdre was as follows:

Hello Deirdre.

It is a lot worse than that.

The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was twelve, and able to walk away.

I put Walter in jail for molesting one boy. I had tried to intervene when I was 13 by telling Mother and Lisa, and they just moved him into his own apartment.

I had been living partially on couches since I was ten years old because of the out of control drugs, orgies, and constant flow of people in and out of our family “home.”

None of this should be news. Walter was a serial rapist with many, many, many victims (I named 22 to the cops) but Marion was far, far worse. She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls.

I wish I had better news.

Moira Greyland.

I don’t think it makes sense to try to weigh

Obligatory hat tip – a lot of discussion can be found at:

but I think it mostly ignores the larger issue. MZB was loyal to her culture. Her individual actions, good or bad, took place in a much larger environment.

MZB was a “sex positive” voice in a “Sexual Revolution.” And obviously, revolutions usually entail a lot of violence that usually gets swept under the carpet later if the revolutionaries win.

No matter what you do, even if you manage to avoid sexual violence, you’re probably going to promote violence somewhere. Even if you had an “Sexual Restoration” that replaced modern sex-idolatry with chastity, celibacy, and denial of the flesh, you’d probably produce violence, suffering, and injustice.

Social changes will inevitably happen, including changes in socially acceptable sexual ethics. This is often horrifying (especially to the losing side in the social struggle) but as far as I can see it’s inevitable.

Sexual ethics present MANY interdependent problems that are “difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.” C. W. Churchman called these sorts of problems “wicked” to indicate how difficult they are to solve.

It doesn’t do any good to speculate on whether MZB is burning in the seventh or eighth circle of Hell.

It doesn’t do any good to speculate on whether MZB’s mental violence was worse than her physical violence.

It doesn’t even do any good to criticize the offal that MZB published as fiction and to point out that it lacked all literary merit.

If you want to do something good about the problems created by people like MZB, you will confront many interdependent problems, with difficult-to-recognize, partially-unspecified, mutually-contradictory, and rapidly-changing requirements.


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