Over on SFSignal, my earlier post "Science Fiction Belongs to the World" provides the inspiration for this week's Mind Meld. They ask, "As a reader, can you enjoy a story that is pushing an opposed viewpoint from one that you hold (religion/politics)? If the author is prone to holding, and writing about, views opposed to yours, can you enjoy their works or do you stop reading them?"
Here, Charles Stross does a good job of articulating what several people commenting in my original post said, which is that there is a difference between art and propaganda, when he says, "I don't really care what politics or religion an author advocates, so long as their portrayal of all viewpoints is honest. Why? Because fiction is an attempt to construct a consistent vision of a universe which accommodates the human condition; and twisting the beliefs of your characters to fit some ideological preconception damages their humanity. This in turn tends to introduce gaping plot holes that rely on the protagonists being stupid or self-destructive for no obvious reason (other than that they are wearing the Bad hat that makes them do Bad Things). And it frequently goes hand-in-glove with Idiot plots, where the Idiot wins out in the end purely because his heart is pure, and the author said that it was so, and re-arranged the plot accordingly."
My favorite response comes from Cheryl Morgan, who reminds us "that science fiction has always been a conversation. And that doesn't mean just a conversation about methods of faster-than-light travel, or First Contact protocols; it also means a conversation about politics and religion. If you are not prepared to listen to other people, you can't have conversations with them. So yes, we ought to be reading books we disagree with."