Brian Keene is an award winning novelist and comic book creator who once turned down the opportunity to write Future's End for DC comics, showing he also normally has good judgement. That judgement may have failed him this weekend, however, when he actively requested news coverage of his controversial newsletter post decrying the political divide in America and laying the blame for the divide not on one side or the other, as is typical practice, but on both sides.
In the wake of the U.S. presidential election that saw Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in a shocking upset victory, we've seen a lot of comics and entertainment personalities make political statements, providing a full week of fodder for Bleeding Cool articles with no end in sight. Keene, however, may be the first to condemn both sides, leaving no one to defend him in the comment section war that is likely to ensue. In the newsletter entry titled "And I'll Look Down And Whisper 'No,'" Keene writes:
Now, whether you voted for Trump or didn't vote for Trump, you can't deny there are a lot of scared young people in this country right now. The reasonable thing to do might be to engage them in conversation, and talk through their fears. Unfortunately, we can no longer do that in this country because of the divisions on the Right and the Left. A young person on the Left says, "I'm scared." A person on the Right points and laughs at them. But if a person on the Right did try to engage them in conversation, and said, "Hey, let's talk about your fears. Help me understand what you are afraid of" the person on the Left will immediately point their finger at the person on the right and accuse them of being a racist or misogynist simply because of how they voted. And this vicious circle goes on and on and on. I see folks on the Right castigating those on the Left who are unhappy with the election results, but those same people on the Right seem to forget that they themselves did the exact same fucking thing when Obama was elected.
My name is Brian Keene. I am not on the Left or the Right. I used to be in the Middle. Now…?
Now I am outside the circle.
And I am beginning to hate anyone inside of it.
Keene's decision comes in response to the reaction to a Facebook post he made the morning after the election:
Keene says the Facebook post prompted a hostile response from fans and fellow authors:
Two people say it's racist. Another says it is misogynistic. Three say it's typed "from a place of privilege" and therefore, must be disregarded. Seven see it as an attack on Trump. Two of those seven are incensed enough to make threats over it. Three think it says I didn't support Clinton, and ALL of those three make threats as well. One says it is my fault that Trump won Pennsylvania, and is so incensed by this that he posts it several different times in several different places. Another, piggybacking on that, says people should boycott my books because Pennsylvania lost. And one accuses me of "Artsplaining" and equates me with somebody watching the Jews get shipped off to a concentration camp during Word War Two. When challenged, he eventually backpedals, and says he wasn't referring to my post, even though he quoted from it.
While Keene won't disappear completely from social media, he says he plans to care a lot less about what people think or say about him on there.
I'd planned to wait until January 1st. As I said above, sooner or later, there was going to be a straw that broke the camel's back. This was it. This week's events just pushed me to do it a little sooner.
So, what does that mean? Does it mean I'm flouncing from Twitter, like Stephen King did earlier this week? Does it mean I'm going Bentley Little, and disconnecting from the Internet and never appearing in public again?
No. It doesn't mean any of those things. It simply means that if you're not my sons or my girlfriend, then you're no longer a priority for me. You either respect that or you don't. Either way, I don't care.
Presumably, Keene will also consider his dog a priority. The man loves his dog. Maybe a little too much, if you know what we mean…
Keene, who seems eager to commit career suicide by condemning both liberals and conservatives, leaving disgruntled malcontents as his only unoffended fanbase, and retreating to his Pennsylvania compound to probably engage in dog polygamy, knows what he's getting into:
I am well-aware that what I've just written here will itself be just another source of controversy. That people will pick it apart, and divide it, and pull out select quotes to fit their own individual narrative or confirmation bias. I don't care. That's exactly what I'm getting away from. This newsletter is my last refuge. The last place, other than the podcast, where i can speak my mind. And though I love doing the podcast, I've always preferred to write my thoughts down rather than shout them into a microphone. I'll continue to do so here, every week. I don't Blog anymore. I have this.
Keene does offer some parting advice before he leaves, however:
You can start being decent to each other. You can stop living in your safe social media bubbles where everybody agrees with you, and you can start having conversations with people who have a different fucking viewpoint. And you can listen to their viewpoint. You don't have to agree with their viewpoint. But would it fucking hurt you to listen? Maybe you'll learn something. You can start treating each other like human beings, rather than opposing teams that must be vanquished and defeated. You can stand up to racism, misogyny, misandry, harassment, bullying, and nitwittery, and a good way to start is by acknowledging that your team is just as guilty of those things as the other team is — because we're all human, and we're all flawed. BOTH sides are awash in intolerance, bigotry, and harassment.
Though it's Rorschach he references in the title of his rant, perhaps, in condemning both the left and the right, Keene is actually executing an Ozymandias-like plan to unite the people of the United States – to unite them in hatred of Brian Keene. Is his newsletter post the equivalent of a giant squid monster? Will the controversy increase sales of his books and comics? Let us know what you think of Keene and his controversial newsletter in the comments below.