The Loyal Opposition
|The Loyal Opposition
|Bjo Trimble and John Trimble, "A HecticHouse Publication"
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
- Content warning: This article contains extensive discussion regarding the sexual abuse of minors.
The topic of the zine is Walter Breen, convicted serial child sex offender and husband of Marion Zimmer Bradley. It dealt with the fannish reaction to a convicted child molester in the midst of 1960s science fiction fandom and the discourse between the people who didn't want to believe it and those who did, and what these things meant for future conventions.
The zine addressed this topic in relation to Breendoggle, a fan controversy in which some fans wanted Breen banned from Worldcon due to the fact he had sexually molested young girls and boys on multiple occasions and over a period of many years. In fact, Breen was convicted in 1954, likely also in 1964, and then later in the 1990s, and he ultimately died in prison.
"The Loyal Opposition's" content and focus were testimonials from other BNFs who supported Breen and either did not believe these accusations, or did not think they were very important.
This zine was a direct response to a document called The Great Breen Boondoggle, Or All Berkeley Is Plunged Into War which was written and distributed by Pacificon II Committeeman Bill Donaho and mailed to a select group of Bay Area fans as well as other fans in the United States. Some content in "The Loyal Opposition" was quoted in Minac #12, a zine which contains much commentary in defense of Breen.
In "The Loyal Opposition," the Trimbles stated that they "take full responsibility for its contents; with the exception of the excerpts from Dick Ellington's Open Letter and the reprinted material, all of the contents of this magazine have been solicited by us."
"The Loyal Opposition" contains three illos by Ray Nelson.
Who Received the Zine?
Some Topics Discussed in "The Loyal Opposition"
Some to the topics and arguments made in "The Loyal Opposition" included:
- some fan publications had been turned over to the police, something that made some fans anxious and paranoid that their personal world was being infiltrated by mundanes, and lead to the embarrassment and hassle of being involved in a criminal case
- that statements that marrying a woman will make one moral and law-abiding, and was a cure for being a homosexual
- some of the abused children liked being abused
- separation of children and adults at cons is bad because where will the next generation learn to be fans? Also having new (sometimes sexual, sometimes involving alcohol) experiences is good for young fans
- it was important to circle the wagons to protect us weird fans from the outside world
- brothers need to stick up for brothers
- yes, "monster-fan" cons have a lot of children at them, and sometimes these children drink alcohol
- all this unpleasant talk will make future cons not as fun
- if Breen has to leave fandom, why can't this all be done quietly so it wasn't such an embarrassment?
- parents should be allowed to police their own children, not have to listen to nosy, non-parents
- Breen is harmless as he is basically a child himself, and besides, he had amnesia
- Breen is good at following directions, so if you tell him to leave your kid alone and ban him from your house, he will probably obey
- all this fuss makes fans look bad
- "The World Science Fiction Convention is a continuing entity, and deserves the support of all fans."
- fans, are by nature, proudly bohemian, weird, creative, and out of step, which makes a lot of behaviors okay
- many comments conflate homosexuality and child sexual abuse
The Table of Contents
From Walter Breen
- Cover by Bjo Trimble
- Trial by Fanzine by Al Lewis (2)
- Thanks to Bill Donaho, comments by Ed Clinton, Jesse Clinton, Jerry Knight, and Miriam Knight (4)
- Excerpts from "Boondoggle" (7)
- From the Neutral Corner by Dick Ellington (9)
- All Men Are Brothers by Bob Lichtman (10)
- Quotes From An Old Fmz by Dave Like and Bill Donaho (11)
- Man Or Monster by Ardis Waters (13)
- A Letter From Don Fitch by Don Fitch (15)
- More Excerpts from Letters, Zines, Etc., by John Boardman, Prentiss Choate, Walter Breen, and Marion Zimmer Bradley (many of these letters were excerpted from Minac #13A. See a pdf here.) (16)
- Summing Up by Bjo Trimble (18)
- Where We Pass the Hat by Ray Nelson (22)
- A Bit About Monster Fans by Bjo Trimble (23)
- Dimicare by Al Lewis (24)
- BaCover/Mailing Page (26)
Excerpts from the Zine Itself
"Here is What Has Happened: from "All Men are Brothers"
From Bob Lichtman:
Here is what has happened. Bill Donaho gets it in his mind that Walter Breen is a public menace. However, no one in fandom is particularly aware of Breen's activities and doesn't really care that much, anyway. This will never do, so Donaho published BOONDOGGLE, containing much highly distorted and exaggerated charges of Breen's activities, and circulates it to a select mailing list with the following opening exhortation: "This article is most emphatically a Do Not Print, Do Not Quote 'and Most Especially Do Not Blab My Name When You Mention This Letter Substitute.” In fandom, this is tantamount to an open invitation to spread around the subject matter involved.' (Later, Donaho removed the DNQ anyway and sent out a lot more copies of the publication.) Then, having insured a negative reaction to Breen on the part of fandom, a pretty square and easily shocked group on the whole., he proceeds to hold a kangaroo court and finally to cancel Walter's' Pacificon membership.
Why "The Loyal Opposition" Was Created: Some General Excerpts
From Ed Clinton, Jerry Knight, Miriam Knight, and Jessie Clinton:
On the basis of our personal knowledge and information, we do not believe Walter Breen to be guilty on the charges made by the Pacificon II Committee and implied in the document "The Great Breen Boondoggle." We believe that the entire affair has been handled unfairly, amateurishly, and with great harm to the entire fan world and to Pacificon II.
From Al Lewis:
The whole thought is a repugnant idea; fandom is not a court of law. Yet, if Walter Breen is to have a hearing of the charges made against him, it will have to be in the fan press. I doubt that many active fans are now ignorant of these charges, and at least a portion of their background. Those who have not read Donaho's original "Boondoggle" wherein the matter was broached to all of fandom have at least read Ted Alite's version of it in MINAC, or listened to contradictory stories making the rumor circuit.
From Prentiss Choate:
That's why what is really needed — a paragraph by paragraph refutation of 'Boondoggle' — will probably never be written; those who might write.is are too aware of the possibility that somebody might be further embarrassed or endangered 'Boondoggle' has such a superficial plausibility, such a good pretense, of being factual, that people are going to be taken in by it...until someone reduces it to the mound of wildly distorted reports,, innuendo, pious doubletalk and begged questions it really is...
From Al Lewis:
I feel that the Breen affair to date constitutes two quite distinct and separate questions which have been thoroughly confused. The first is the action of the Pacificon II Committee in’ barring. Walter Breen from the convention.. The second is the action of Bill Donaho in attempting to "perform a surgical operation, seperating [sic] Walter and fandom. [snipped] As nearly as I can figure, the only reason for "Boondoggle" at this time is to secure a FABA blackball— and to deliberately set out to wreck a man's reputation for the sake of a goddamfan club is playing a bit too dirty for my taste.
In Which Walter Has a Right to His Eccentricities: Like Sex-Play With Three Year Olds
Several accounts from The Great Breen Boondoggle of Breen's wildly inappropriate interactions with children were excerpted in The Loyal Opposition for the purposes of criticising or refuting them. One such account described Walter's "sex play" with three-year-old [P E].:
He had her trained up to the point where she would take off her clothes the minute she saw him. He would then "rub her down" and all that.
[snipped]There was of course more than one incident of sex-play with [P]. That was 'just the most spectacular one. I thought "Walter obviously isn't going to stop this as [P] grows older and more appealing. Sooner or later Dick is going to think she's been hurt. Now Dick — as do most Bohemians — may think it's approaching immorality to reject anyone for any reason, and particularly any fan, but killing in certain circumstances is perfectly moral. Now I wonder..." However, it didn't come to that. - Dick let it be known that Walter was to stop this forthwith.
The Loyal Opposition printed a response to this from [P]'s father, excerpted with his permission from an "Open Letter to MINAC":
You refer, as Donaho did not, to "child molestation" in connection with my daughter and Walter .... Donaho's description, though a trifle overdone to my thinking, was moderately accurate overall. Walter obviously liked [P] and she him, and, while I found some of his actions mildly distasteful, they were certainly completely harmless, and I did not attempt to stop him or interfere with him. I did, however, keep an eagle eye on him at all times around my daughter, based on the vague rumors as to his activities with children I heard drifting around. I might note that I do the same with a few other fans that have been in this area. As concurrently, Walter's attentions began to be a bit more effuse and [P] began to grow from a state of infancy into a little girl, I simply put a stop to it. I did not put Walter down completely, particularly as far as fandom was concerned. He has a right to his eccentricities, as far as I am concerned.
Watch Out for the Postal Service
From Marion Zimmer Bradley:
Bill Donaho, in Boondoggle, indicated that he had no personal animosity against me and even expressed a hope that my influence might be beneficial to Walter. Since that day, however (Donaho is unbelievable) he has circulated, in letters, a slander about me which — in addition to being provably false — is so unbelievably foul that I cannot repeat it here. When apprised of this slander, our lawyer warned us not even to send a copy of it through the U.S. mails but to have it delivered in person to her office. Now, I'm not the kind to worry about what some fan might say about me — I'm mentioning this only to point out, to Boondoggle readers, the peculiar variety of doublethink which lies behind Donaho's alleged mind. From being a person who might possibly exert a good influence over Walter, I have become a person who could only drag Walter down to even deeper depths of depravity!
The Oakland Fuzz and Crack-Pots
...The police inspector saw me at his office...someone had turned over to the inspector copies of Boondoggle, "Panic Button" and "Tesseract" #1. He was interested in the "sent in plain envelope" running gag, and I pointed out that it was a gag, and that I had not sent anything.... I have no way of knowing whether the investigation will be quashed....But (says my lawyer) if I hear nothing more, from them in the next three months or so, it will probably be counted as a complaint by a crack-pot.....As things now stand, the Pacificon will be as thoroughly infiltrated with plainclothes...as a Communist Party con would be with F.B.I. types; drunken parties will be o*u*t, as will sleeping free & non-registered, open snogging, or sharing beds with available females. (I have this from my lawyer, who has it from knowledge of local police tactics. And the Oakland fuzz are millions of times worse than the Berkeley types.)
Well, This Whole Affair Spoils the Fun at Present and Future Cons
From Bjo Trimble:
Boondoggle was a malicious and unnecessary publication. It was not a request for advice, as Donaho coyly says, as much a passing of gossip to all who might listen — and spread it. An honest request for advice does not distort and exaggerate facts, as Donaho has admitted doing. The rest of the Pacificon Committee has said that Bill did not have permission to use anyone's name, or to publish and mail out Boondoggle in the first place. In spite of this, Donaho mailed two runs of the zine, the second mailing list being large enough to include a section of fandom which could not possibly be interested with concom business at all.
A convention committee has the right to bar anyone from a convention for and reason it chooses. We do not argue this right to act in the interests of a convention. However, there were many methods which could have been used to oust Breen (or anybody else) that wouldn't have ruined the con for the rest of the attendees. As it stands now, how many filk sings or parties will there be without Breen being dragged beard-first into every conversation?Admittedly, almost any move to bar someone from a convention is going to cause a fuss of some sort. But a little finesse could have cut down on the general nibble, and made this publication unnecessary, by making a quieter show of the whole affair.
From Al Lewis:
A defense of Breen is in order. A criticism of anybody's activities by anybody is always acceptable (though not always in order). But to "punish" the Committee by attacking the Convention is not in order. It might be a thundering success. But what would a wrecked Convention do to the Hugos, the Art Show the competitors who have been aiming for a whole year at the Costume Ball, the panelists and speakers who have been trying to say some thing significant and interesting about the field of literature we all enjoy, not to mention the Guests of Honor? The Convention should be bigger than all the feuds in fandom.
It Could Happen to You!
From Bjo Trimble:
Fans are supporting Donaho, on his word alone, who do not realize that "The Great Breen Boondoggle" is the same type of spleen-zine as "Boil Out", attacking me, and "A Trip Through Hell", attacking Kemp; a tissue of half truths, very old stories revived, and "interpreted", and an effective smear campaign aimed at those who cannot find out the truth for themselves.
If this sort of thing is allowed to continue, it can be tried on anybody. If you were suddenly faced with having to prove your innocence, could you?For instance, last weekend a certain femme-fan spent some time in an apartment with three men (fact: one man was her husband) and lots went on (talking). Later at another house there was a wild weekend of gambling (brag), odd doings (putting out a fanzine) and then the female slept with three men (in the house). Written with a mind for maliciousness, a story like that could be quite damaging. "Quotes" and witnesses could be cited, and any attempts on the part of the innocent to straighten out the facts would bring the old "methinks they doth protest too much" cliche; a killing response used by Donaho to good effect in his campaign.
From Prentiss Choate:
Now if there be any among you who could not be convicted of a felony if the right person appeared to testify against him, let him step forward and start casting stones...We can't afford to judge each other on the basis of what we've been or done in the past; but one thing which should count is how hard a person tries to change. Walter Breen has made as powerful an effort to break the pattern of a lifetime as just about anyone I've known...
Some Conventions Are Just Plain Boring (Especially the Clothes), and Are Hardly the Place of Illicit Sex
From Bjo Trimble:
Coin conventions are as mundane as possible; women's dress includes hat, hose, and heels, and all the men wear ties. Children, especially little boys, flock to these gatherings, and love to meet Walter who is regarded as a special sort of person; a genuine authority on coins who will take the time and trouble to discuss collections with a kid. But coin people are the types who don't fret about being "square", they glory in it! They would not hesitate to bring in the police at the slightest hint of anything untoward concerning their children. Walter has contacted these kids after coin cons (a point used by Pacificon as a legal worry) and still no sign of trouble, yet he has been attending coin cons for years.
Breen's Lack of Control, His Awkwardness, His Child-Like Sense of Wonder... Amnesia Doesn't Just Happen in Fanfic
From Bjo Trimble:
One of Walter's troubles is a case of amnesia which blocked out the first sixteen years of his life. This could explain the lack of social conscience which Donaho harps upon; with no background of ethics on which to draw, Walter commits many social gaffs which ordinary people might not pull. Friends of his either ignore it, or correct him on some point of social conduct which really bothers them. I have never heard of Walter not obeying his host or hostess when told to cease from some action or subject of conversation. This is why the people in this zine resent being "protected" by either the concom or Donaho; most of them feel that they are also quite able to protect their own children without outside policing of their acquaintances by Donaho or anybody else.
From Bill Donaho from the zine "In a World He Never Made: The Walter Breen Appreciation Issue", published June 1962, some comments reprinted in "The Loyal Opposition" :
Another cited example of Walter's subjectivity is his 'inconsiderateness', and it is significant that no one believes that Walter is deliberately inconsiderate....He doesn't realize what is expected of him in a social situation or when he is stepping on someone's toes. He observes what most people consider the most elementary social rules... with a minimum of irritation and fuss....
Unfortunately, however, Walter blocks out quite a bit about people and their reactions. He has none of those emotional feelers which tell him how other people are reacting or the sort of things they react to....Of course this blocking may be a protective device which is vitally necessary. Walter is extremely sensitive and is so easily hurt that is he didn't block he would be in very sad shape indeed — particularly as he seldom if ever gets angry so is denied even that alleviation of his hurt....In spite of his lack of emotional feelers, Walter has tremendous empathy with a lot of people.
[snipped]But even with all of this...Walter has been able to maintain a child-like sense of wonder and freshness of outlook such as is conditioned-out of most of us before we leave adolescence — it we retain until then — And it is wondrous strange to me that Walter has this sense-of-wonderish quality combined with extreme intellectualization. 
Breen's Upcoming Marriage to Marion Zimmer Bradley: Don't Spoil His Chance At a "Normal Life With a Fine Woman"
Several fans brought up Breen's upcoming nuptials to Marian Zimmer Bradley. Some fans said that even if he were guilty of abusing children, this marriage would put a stop to it. Some fans said that his marriage would prove that Breen wasn't gay, and used that non-sequitur as proof of either his innocence, or his future actions. Some fans felt that it was mean to make Breen and Bradley suffer so on the eve of what was supposed to be a joyous event.
From Marion Zimmer Bradley:
Bill Donaho, in Boondoggle, indicated that he had no personal animosity against me and even expressed a hope that my influence might be beneficial to Walter.
From Bjo Trimble:
Now that Walter has a chance to live a "normal” life, with a fine woman, even that affair is placed in jeopardy. If it did not work out well, under ordinary circumstances both parties could go their own ways with a minimum of publicity. Now, any move away from Breen is pointed out with glee by . . his detractors as "proof” of his guilt. If Marion and Walter have any problems, she is still irrevocably aligned with him, or she seemingly "proves Donaho's accusations correct". As it happened, she wants to stay at Walter's side as she has faith in him as a human being. But Donaho removed the element of choice for her by publishing Boondoggle when he did, knowing she was coming, to the West Coast at that very time.
From Al Lewis:
Breen is about to marry, an event which should remove his alleged homosexual tendencies if anything can. I do not find that danger is clear and present.
From Prentiss Choate:
So...just when it seems Breen's diligence is paying off and he finds himself a fine woman and is on the verge of straightening out altogether, Donaho publishes Boondoggle and smears Walter's name from one end of fandom to the other. Just when it could now destroy 2 people's lives instead of one ... .
Worldcon Shouldn't be Responsible for the Actions of Their Attendees... Plus Cons Are Already Full of Dirty Old Men Stealing Blankets
From Ardis Waters:
People are trying to keep Walter from attending the World Con. Seems his very presence would ruin fandom's (doubtless) lily-white deputation. But he's attended many cons already without doing so. And with numerous other convention regulars priding themselves on being "dirty-old-men" with whatever illegal or "wrong" actions that may entail, it would be hard to preserve fandom's reputation by excluding only Walter Breen.But there's the other objection; seems the convention committee (or someone) is legally responsible for Walter's actions. Are they also responsible for the theft, fornication, adultery, statutory rape, and illegal possession of liquor by a minor which goes on at conventions? Too many fans have bragged of their sexual exploits, or the number of blankets and glasses they've stolen at conventions for the committee to use this as a very convincing argument. It is difficult to convince me that someone else is responsible for one person's actions.
In Which Fondling and Raping Children is Compared to Taking a Book Out of Someone Else's Mailbox, or Driving Over the Speed Limit
From Ardis Waters:
One can stand up for one's beliefs with honest action, instead of back stabbing. One can say, "Please don't take the name of the Lord in vain in my home" or, "Please don't use my mail-box to steal from book and record clubs", or "Don't fondle my children". 'When Walter offends me, I ask him to modify his behavior; so do some other people. None of us are complaining about Walter's actions. It is the people who use dishonest, devious or malicious means of dealing with what they consider undesirable, who have the problem within themselves.
From Ardis Waters:
Walter Breen has recently been ostracized, threatened, and raved about here in Berkeley. His inhibitions are fewer than generally considered socially acceptable; he isn't a compulsive heterosexual. He likes people, including children, and is affectionate toward them.
Technically, this might make him a child molester or a statutory rapist (I'm not sure what age divides molested children from raped statutes), but this might include many of us (who checks birth certificates at a time like that?). This is not necessarily "wrong"; most fans do things which is considered "wrong" in other places or with other people. They take the name of the Lord in vain, or indulge in oral-genital stimulus, or other "lewd and unnatural acts", or drive faster than the posted speed limit on the highway.Even if Walter's actions are "wrong" (and he has not done anything which resulted in arrest, so nothing has been proven), that still wouldn't justify the disgusting type of action which has' been taken against him now.
Passing the Hat for the Cash: Let's Give Walter $500!
From Ray Nelson:
NOW COMES THE PART WHERE WE PASS THE HAT:
In order to defend himself against legal (and illegal) attacks, Walter Breen has had to hire a lawyer, and good lawyers cost money. Walter is not a rich man. The outcome of Walter's case will affect all of us in fandom. Therefore I feel that it is up to us to chip in and help pay Walter's legal costs. I have already tossed something into the kitty, and I intend to put in even more — in fact., to give Walter's defense fund everything I had intended to spend at the Pacificon (which I now intend to boycott).
Jerry, and Miriam Knight have, agreed to handle the fund, and they will keep a record of the money sent in, so that if this money is not needed (though this seems more and more unlikely as time goes on), it will be returned to the donors in proportion to their donations.Right now we have to raise $500, whether we like it or not, but even such a large sum can be raised without too much hardship on any one person if we all give what we can. The Walter Breen Defense fund -- c/o Jerry and Miriam Knight.
- by Bill Donaho from the zine "In a World He Never Made: The Walter Breen Appreciation Issue", published June 1962