This is a topic that's been on my mind a little over the past few months. In this day and age of Twitter, Facespace, Googley Plus, Blogger et al, it's becoming easier and easier to communicate with your favourite authors and learn about their views and feelings on the world. Of course, it can be very interesting and enlightening to see the views of others, let alone those of an author whose blood and tears you enjoy, but can it also be a soul destroying experience?
I would argue that yes, it can be as upsetting as it is enjoyable. The last thing you want when talking to someone whose work you enjoy is them to turn around and effectively call you stupid because you disagree with them on a topic. Almost every author I've seen who blogs about things unrelated to their work seems to me to act as if their view is the One True View, and will happily take any chance to correct you, whether they do so kindly or in a manner you might not like. Many authors are in a position where they can use their blogs to get across their messages, whether they're tackling green issues, those relating to sexual abuse, discussions about their political leanings or otherwise, but that very same position can distance their fans as much as it can encourage them.
So where should one stand? It's important that you take an interest in the views of an author, because it might increase your enjoyment of their books, but it may also highlight fundamental issues with their views. A certain science fiction author is an active member of an anti-homosexual group, and through things I've found on blogs, forums and other forms of communication, I've been thankful for that information as I would not want to support such a person. If you like an author's work, but disagree with their views, should you buy their books second hand? Should you completely ignore them? I generally ignore them as best I can, although I do have one short story/novella by the sci-fi author mentioned above (Which I got in an anthology I bought second hand, so go figure).
I suppose my thoughts are like this. Ignorance might be bliss, but by being ignorant you could be supporting authors with agendas you strongly disagree with. By engaging with authors, you may open your mind to new and interesting view points, but you could be leaving yourself open to opportunities in which you find yourself upset by the author. So maybe the only sensible place to be is to read the blogs and messages of authors you like and whose views you agree with, but draw the line at getting involved?
Any thoughts (Or even just comments) are appreciated!