The question is, can we separate our opinion an artist from our opinion of his art? And should we? Do we refuse to buy beautiful books, paintings, whatever from an artist because the artist is repulsive, a criminal, or belongs to the KKK?
I have a two-part answer. If the artist is alive, and will profit from your buying his art, then don't buy it. Encourage others not to buy it. But if the artist is not alive, or will not profit from you buying his art (a second-hand book, or maybe he's donated the proceeds to charity) then go ahead.
The specific case which brought this up is Harlan Ellison groped a woman's breast at the WorldCon Hugo Awards ceremony last week. Lots of people are saying they will toss his books as a result of this despicable behavior. As far as I'm concerned, the woman who was assaulted needs to file charges, and the rest of us need to stop buying any more of his stuff. What you do with any of his stuff you already own doesn't really matter, since he's already pocketed the profits. I don't feel good about throwing away a good book, no mater how big an a-hole the author is/was. Book burning has severe bad vibes for me. I won't throw away my Poe volumes because he was a drug addict, or my Lewis Carrol because he was a pedophile. I will, however, throw away a book that sucks on its own, regardless of how pure the author.
What do you think?
Will you be getting rid of your Harlan Ellison books?
Will you be buying any new Harlan Ellison books?
In general, does an artist's behavior bear on your purchasing his/her work?
If you were a famous author, how would you behave?