My review of It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door generated a lot of discussion in the comments section. A number of interesting points concerning why people did or didn't enjoy the story were brought up, but there's one in particular that I want to take a closer look at. Specifically, a few posters mentioned that they disagreed with the moral ethos which underlay the piece. Now, I'm not interested in debating the philosophical underpinnings of that story or any other (at least, not here--I don't know about you, but I try to keep my theological discussions and my pony fanfiction separate), but I do think it brings up an interesting point: how does it affect one's enjoyment of a story when the piece contains a worldview which one finds objectionable, or even abominable? My thoughts on the matter, after the break.
To quote Issac Asimov, "There is a perennial question among readers as to whether the views contained in a story reflect the views of the author. The answer is 'Not necessarily-' and yet one ought to add another short phrase, '-but usually.'" People write what they know, and this by necessity includes things like worldview; few and far between are the writers who can both convincingly and positively portray a set of beliefs or morals which are at odds with their own.
This can lead to problems when a reader's worldview conflicts with an authors. When I finally got around to reading Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I absolutely hated it. There were a few flatly objective reasons (I disapprove of lengthy moralistic monologues even when I agree with their content, and Troopers is full of ten page soliloquies extolling the responsibilities of citizenship, the failures of representative democracy, the familial structure which underlies the military, etc.), but I won't deny that much of my dislike stemmed from the fact that Heinlein's vision of the future seemed absolutely abominable to me, yet the author clearly felt that it represented a positive, even ideal, look at what values humanity might one day turn to. It's hard to enjoy something when one's initial reaction is disgust.
Of course, Starship Troopers is a polemic, so it's natural that its worldview should be presented in such a way that it cannot be overlooked. But many stories which are by no means moral or philosophical treatises can suffer the same fate; off the top of my head, I've found significant aspects everything from of Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials trilogy to Goethe's Faust to the entirety of Asimov's writings set in the Foundation universe after the first trilogy to be at odds with my own worldview to some extent. Yet to varying degrees, I enjoyed all three of these. So what's the difference?
For starters, all of the examples above (in contrast to Troopers) are shaped by the opinions of their authors, but none require the reader to totally concede to these opinions in order to follow the logic of the characters. Furthermore, each of these authors at least allows for the possibility that those who disagree with them aren't stupid and/or evil, which is always nice (one thing I have observed over the years: if you start your argument by telling somebody that they're stupid and/or evil for disagreeing with you, they probably won't be swayed by anything else you say after that). And of course, each of these stories has more to recommend it than authorial outlook: Faust is a fascinating character study, whether one buys into the primary moral dilemma or not; Lyra's world from Pulman's books is a delightful place to read about in its own right; and Asimov, of course, could build up and resolve a mystery like few other writers.
So there are ways to write a story with a moral message that can be appreciated even by those who don't share that particular view of morality. That's good, because exposure to differing viewpoints is one of the best ways to develop one's own moral ethos. If it were impossible for anyone to read and enjoy anything they didn't fully agree with... well, the world would be a very sad, isolated place. Exploring how other people view the world is a noble endeavor, and I feel there are few vehicles better suited to this kind of learning than fiction writing.
So how does all this apply to fanfiction? Well, the fandom has produced a few pieces which fall into the category of polemics (Blazing Glory comes to mind--leaving aside any discussion of the other merits of the story, I can't imagine anyone who doesn't accept that morality is a unique product of Christianity could enjoy it), and many more which either are too short/unfocused/random to express any kind of coherent worldview (which isn't a knock on them, just an observation), or which are unlikely to rankle any readers by virtue of being near-universally accepted. But what about stories like Dangerous Business, which expresses a worldview which some people clearly do find objectionable in one or more ways?
I don't have a simple answer for this. There are plenty of fanfics I've read which have morals that I don't personally agree with; some I disliked, others I quite enjoyed. Blueblood Returns and its sequels (which collectively have earned six-star status on EqD, so I'll give them a full review eventually) take a "the ends justify the means" approach to rulership and individual responsibility that I find abhorrent, yet that didn't stop me from enjoying them. On the other hand, Reconnection (sequel to Severing, one of the earliest grimdark stories in the fandom) takes a similar approach to justifying its protagonists (albeit in completely different circumstances), and I found it outrageous. Part of that is that the Blueblood stories are simply better stories than Reconnection, but a lot of that has to do with the way the moral was treated. In the former, the characters all ultimately accept the machinations to which they are subjected as being for the best, which I might not think right (or in-character, but that's another matter), but it's presented in such a way that I as a reader can disagree and still appreciate the story for what it is. The latter goes out of its way to show that mercy and kindness are weaknesses, and are the product of a dangerous naivety that cannot endure in the face of "reality." Heck, the author even wrote an "alternate ending" to show just how stupid and foolish s/he thinks it is to not sink to the level of your enemies. As someone who vehemently disagrees with those conclusions, I found the story offensive and unpleasant to read.
So what can we conclude from all this? Well, I think it behooves an author to make sure that their work, even if it is necessarily predicated on a controversial (or at least, not a universally accepted) premise, respects the presence of alternate worldviews and allows for their existence, even if they aren't directly addressed. And as readers, it's easy for most of us to dismiss one story because we don't like the moral, and almost as easy to overlook flaws in another because we're inclined to agree with the message behind it. While we can hardly help having our own philosophies, and interpreting what we read in light of these, we should never be afraid to try reading something with which we might not agree. And if we end up hating it anyway (and make no mistake, every reader has the inalienable right to dislike what they've read for any reason, including authorial worldview), then the time "wasted" in reading seems to me a small price to pay in the name of literary exploration.