Authors Behaving Badly Episode #3: Jan Butler

Hey, a special Saturday edition of Authors Behaving Badly. We did our level best to simply ignore the rantings of a small minority, but with the recent post by Ms. Butler, we had to send our letter of commiseration. For those who aren’t in the know, Jan Butler is a member of RWA and an inspirational author. Last month she called for RWA to take a stance against romances that feature homosexual or polyamorous relationships concluding that those romances are responsible for pedophillia and other sexually deviant behavior. Bloggers like Kate Rothwell, Sybil, and the Smart Bitches responded. Then Ms. Butler responded to the bloggers accusing those who disagreed as attempting to stamp down her constitutional right to free speech. Karen Scott, the Smart Bitches, and others blogged but I sense that they just don’t get poor Jan. Thus, our special Saturday edition of Authors Behaving Badly.

Dear Ms. Butler:

I understand where you are coming from. I really do. But the problem in your argument is that you failed to take into account all the other moral deviants that are within the RWA. Because religion, err faith, is apparently what you are using to determine the guidelines of RWA, I can’t help but notice that in excluding those insidious romances featuring homosexual or polyamorous relationships that you forgot some huge categories that are considered to be sins in the Bible and by definition are leading to moral decline.

As a Christian, one of the first precepts is no sex before marriage right? Correspondingly, we should eliminate all those books where the characters are engaging in sex before their vows. I would include books by Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I know that their characters are constantly sexing it up before marriage. Those harlots.

The stories that feature men having sex with prostitutes are out. Also books which portray heroes who only sleep with married women (particularly those rakes). I say any book featuring a rake, by the very definition, has to be excluded. We should revoke the membership of Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Mary Jo Putney, and Jo Beverly.

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:16 )

Let’s not forget the golden rule: love your neighbor as yourself. Christ said that was one of the most important commandments. I think that Harlequin should be pushed out of the RWA for having the audacity to continue to publish those books that feature the secret baby because those babies are being born out of wedlock and in secret. Those are two violations of the Bible, for sure. And those bosses who are constantly sexually harassing their secretaries? That can’t be loving your neighbor as yourself, can it?

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NAS, Mark 12:28-31)

Oh, and I was just re-reading this story published by Harlequin called Teller of Tales by Laurell Ames which features a woman masquerading as a man who has sex with a man out of wedlock. And she has no intention of marrying him! Holy cow. The sins in this book. It was published in the 90s. I can really see the link between books like this and the rise of the liberal majority.

The seemingly sweet and innocent Harlequin Presents are rife with heroes lusting in the hearts after the heroines. We both know, Jan, that is SIN. Those books featuring sinful acts and sinful people need to be pushed outside the RWA umbrella.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28).

I am not certain what is left. Oh, your books? Wow, I have to give you some major props here because originally I thought your opinion was just the crazy thoughts of a Fundamentalist who has spent too much time in the tent. (I should know. I grew up in one). Now I see it is a clever scheme that you have concocted to get the RWA to approve only your books. I hate to break it to you, though, because RWA has very little influence on the reading habits of “actual” readers in the “real” world, even though the majority of those readers may be termed “conservatives.”

See, Ms. Butler, people are eviscerating your argument, not because they hate you, the person, but because they hate your arbitrary arguments. You should understand this concept. After all, God is all about hating the act and not the actor. Your argument is specious because it lacks consistency and supportable facts. By arguing for the exclusion of just one type of romance on the basis that it is sinful or leading to the moral decay of our society, it ignores all the other romances responsible for the high divorce rate, adultery, abuse of children, spousal abuse, and the like.

If you would just frame your argument correctly, there would be no cogent rebuttal. To wit: RWA should only include inspirational romances that feature no cussing, no sex, no mental lusting, no negative thoughts, no envy, no gluttony, no treating your neighbor poorly, no haughtiness, no liars, no one with a wicked heart. Have I forgotten anything? Anyway, like I said before, I know where you are coming from. I don’t agree with it, but I get that you want to impose your definition of morality on the rest of us romance readers.

Oh, and regarding your accusation that the individuals who disagree with you are children (ad hominem attack, btw), you should know that the hallmark of a child’s actions are that they believe that they can do things without regard for the consequences. Ultimately that is what you forget in your post. No one says you can’t say what you want. We just reserve the right to call your opinions hateful, exclusionary and wrong. See: Action = Consequence. Let me leave you with one last biblical quote:

“When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Cor. xiii. 11.

Best regards,



0 comments on “Authors Behaving Badly Episode #3: Jan Butler

  1. WOW. Well said.

    One very positive thing that has arisen as a result of the ravings of a dull libertine: romance writers are showing their very vibrant and breathtaking colors in responding.

    Thanks for sharing your views so articulately!

  2. Thanks all. I wanted to write Candy’s article, but she did it first and better than I could. I am glad all my religion classes are good for something.

  3. Wonderful post.

    Though on some level I almost feel sorry for this woman, almost but not quite. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, her views are so narrow, who would actually stand up for her.

    The sad thing, she’s whining she’s entitled to her opinion, but forgets so is everyone else.

  4. “See, Ms. Butler, people are eviscerating your argument, not because they hate you, the person, but because they hate your arbitrary arguments. ”

    So is that why she has been called a right-wing bitch, a whacko nut job and other various assorted insults? That doesn’t seem to be hateful of just the arguments, but hateful of the person, as well. Irregardless of what stance I take on the subject, I have found the comments from those who oppose Ms. Butler’s opinion to be nasty, tasteless, and all around uncalled for.

  5. “I have found the comments from those who oppose Ms. Butler’s opinion to be nasty, tasteless, and all around uncalled for.”

    I’ve opposed Ms. Butler’s opinions, but you’ll have to point out to me where I’ve been nasty or tasteless. I don’t think I could be pursuaded that my arguments against her statements and opinions are uncalled for.

    I disagree strongly with her statements and opinions, and her demands that an organization of which I’m a long-time member define itself and the genre it represents by her standards. When I disagree strongly, I’m going to speak out, and hopefully, express my own opinion clearly.

    She, otoh, indicated that those who disagreed were shrill, fringe and children. I find those statements insulting.

  6. I should have clarified my remark. Many of the comments have been nasty and tasteless, not all (and I am speaking here on the comments in general on this subject, scattered across the blog-o-sphere – Kate Rothwell’s, for one). I think you would undoubtedly agree with me that those who have called Ms. Butler a “psycho right-wing bitch” among other assorted insults, is not the best for any of us in the romance-writing community or, for that matter, as a human race. It further separates us, creates even more anger, and does nothing for either side’s agenda. I would much rather read a calm, well-thought out, respectful argument than a blistering tirade of insults and degradation. This is a fine balance to achieve, but I do believe it is possible on both sides.

    Of course I agree with your right to speak out – I am FIRMLY of the opinion that we all have the right to express our opinions. But I fervently wish that we could do it in a dignified manner which you, Nora, have accomplished quite admirably. I thank you for that. Others have also done so, and I also give a heart “thank you” for achieving that balance. But it disturbs me to see this vitriol. I really hope I am not alone.

  7. But there isn’t any vitriol here, so why the comment/accusation, here, anonymous? Seems odd. But hey, unlike Ms. Butler, we don’t moderate the comments here and anyone, even insulting comments (not yours, but others in other posts) are allowed because we do believe in free speech, no matter what the opinion is.

  8. The word irregardless is a double negative. It does not exist in standard English. It makes the person using it look like an idiot, regardless of their attempt at snottishobbery.

    Anyway, at this point negative responses ARE being leveled at Ms. Butler. They are the result of her own behavior. She threw a public hissy fit and did it in a weak, poorly thought out manner. When the world decided to respond, she disabled comment responses on her blog, ran around in the blogosphere pitching more hissy fits (anonymously… wink wink), and proved herself to be just as ugly and distasteful a person as her silly diatrabe was.

    Holy exposure, Batman! I think your true colors are peeping through your super-tights!

  9. I’m not defending Jan Butler. It appears as though she can do that on her own (or not).

    I merely wished to express my opinion on how this matter has been handled. I’m sorry if my use of the word “irregardless” makes me look like an idiot. I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

    I wasn’t making an accusation – merely an observation. If you read it otherwise, I do apologize. I posted here because I saw the letter and wished to make a comment. If I posted the same question on every other blog that has discussed this issue, well, let’s just say the boss wouldn’t have been too happy with me ignoring the day job duties.

    I’ll ask one final question and I am genuinely curious to hear the answer: is it okay for those who don’t agree with Ms. Butler to call her a “right whing whack job bitch?” On the flip side, is it also okay for her to call those who disagreed with her a “shrill, fringe, children”?

    In my opinion, neither attitude is right. But again, that’s my opinion.

  10. Ack! Apologies for the grammar error – it should have read “who disagreed with her “shrill, fringe, children”? and not ‘a’ “shrill fringe children”

    BTW – I can safely assure you that I’m not Jan Butler. I wouldn’t want to be that woman for any amount of money in the world right now.

  11. I’ll ask one final question and I am genuinely curious to hear the answer: is it okay for those who don’t agree with Ms. Butler to call her a “right whing whack job bitch?” On the flip side, is it also okay for her to call those who disagreed with her a “shrill, fringe, children”?

    I really dislike name calling, but I think that sometimes people get so frustrated that they can’t articulate themselves and instead resort to easy, dismissive jabs. I haven’t given much thought to whether there is any real difference between imperiously declaring that someone is a “shrill minority” or responding with an equally disrespectful missle of “right wing psycho,” although the context in each situation might be worth considering. I tend to get pissed off at different things, incidents like the Wallace fiasco of a few weeks ago, while Butler’s comments basically made me dig in and figure out how I could craft a response of which I would feel proud. Because I went to school for a freakin’ long ass time to gather as many tools as possible with which to do that. But I also think I can distinguish between exasperated outrage and condescending dismissal, and while I don’t recommend either, one tends to offend my sensibilities more than the other (although I don’t condone unprovoked meanness under any circumstances). And I also think people have different ideas of what constitutes a “personal” attack, which may make a difference, as well.

  12. I actually don’t mind some name calling, i.e., you’re a big poopyhead, and will often think or say to a friend: So and So is a big poopyhead. It makes me feel better. However, I object when someone says: You’re a big poopyhead, and so’s your Ma. Why is Ma a poopyhead? Just because she gave birth to one? Unless Ma has exhibited poopyheaded tendancies, she shouldn’t be dragged in to it.

    I can understand why some pointed at Ms. Burke and cried: ‘psycho right-wing bitch’. It’s not my style to do so, but I get it. Her statements kind of opened her up for this response in certain quarters. However, I’d strongly object again, if someone said: ‘she’s a psycho right-wing bitch and so’s her Ma–and so’s anyone who agrees with any portion of anything she said.’

    Generalizations annoy me. Generally.

    Just as it annoyed me for Ms. Butler to state that anyone who objected to her particular viewpoint was shrill, was on the fringe–and later claimed all who disagreed were children. As I am in the disagree camp, I object to the labels, very much.

    Mostly, I believe that reasoned statements and debate–however heated–have more impact than vitriol (which is a word I’ve seen used throughout this discussion, and like the sound of).

    But when you start by tossing out insults, by making demands and claiming anyone who doesn’t agree is pretty much leading the march to perdition, you’re just asking for big, heaping piles of vitriol.


  13. I thought alot about the name callling thing last night. Name calling is not a good thing and generally, if the rebuttal is merely an ad hominem attack, the argument is weak and easily dismissed.

    And while it might not be “right” to call someone names, I do think that Butler set the tone by accusng those who write romances featuring homosexual or polyamorous relationships as encouraging pedophilia and the moral decay of society. While maybe Butler wrapped her name calling up in pretty words, those were very provocative and hateful statements and she cannot be surprised that the response she received was hateful in return. Further, the language that she used in describing the demographic of the RWA reader appeared racist, another vitriolic (for NR) stab. If the debate was to be civil, Butler should have set a different tone. Yes, I am making the childish “she started it” argument.

    If she expected civility in response, she should have started with civility in the first place. Here’s another biblical term for her: You reap what you sow.

  14. Re: people calling Ms. Butler nasty names.

    Like many, I wrote a reply to Ms. Butler. I did not call her names and I pointedly stated she has a right to express her point-of-view (no matter how wrong-headed I might personally find it). I rarely get involved in online kerfuffles like this one for various reasons, but I felt strongly enough about this to say something publicly.

    So, I didn’t call Ms. Butler any names, but I can see how some were moved to do so. That there are people out there with attitudes like this scares the absolute SNOT out of me. These people frighten me to nauseousness. Fear breeds anger, which I definitely experienced while writing my response and fought to keep under control. I can see how easily tempers were lost since I almost lost mine.

    I don’t think that excuses it. Ms. Butler painted everyone differing with her opinion with a fairly wide, distasteful brush. That doesn’t mean we should stoop to her level.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s