Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Brilliant Bigot

Latest Column-The Pilot Newspaper: Dusty Rhoades

Those of you who aren’t science fiction geeks have probably never heard of Orson Scott Card. But those of us who love stories of possible futures and pasts that never were, he’s one of the legends. He’s won the Hugo, the Nebula, the Locus and a slew of other awards.

One of his best-known novels is the classic “Ender’s Game,” the story of a young boy being turned into a killer in a brutal orbital boot camp set up to train child soldiers to fight an alien enemy. It’s a great book, a real-page turner. It’s complex and dark and shocking and thought-provoking, with an ending that makes you go “Whoa. I did not see that coming.” Card is a truly gifted writer. A master of the craft.

He’s also an irrational anti-gay bigot.

Card has written extensively against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, even going so far as to suggest that legalization of same-sex marriage would be sufficient justification for armed overthrow of the government.

“Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy,” he wrote. “I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.”

He’s claimed that “the dark secret of homosexual society — the one that dares not speak its name — is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.”

One wonders how Mr. Card knows the “dark secret of homosexual society,” but we’ll leave that aside for the moment. Lately, however, there was some evidence that Mr. Card has come around — or has he?

He wrote a piece that appeared in Entertainment Weekly, in which he stated that the recent Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act has rendered the gay-marriage issue “moot.” He said, “The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.”

So far, so good, and probably legally correct. But he went on to say: “Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”

Well, I have good news for you, Mr. Card. I’m reasonably sure that there won’t be a French Revolution style Reign of Terror against you and people who think like you. No guillotines, no tribunals.

I’m even willing to bet that there won’t be any kind of movement to deny you and your beloved the things you’d deny to same-sex couples — everyday things such as being able to cover your spouse on your health plan, pay hospital visits as a matter of right, be considered next of kin for health care decisions, inherit without a will, etc.

You get to keep doing all that stuff. You don’t have to get divorced and gay married now, and your children can still “expect to marry in their turn.” And you can still write whatever you want. Feel better?

As it turns out, though, that’s really not what Mr. Card means when he talks about “tolerance.”

See, “Ender’s Game” is being released as a movie, and there are some pro-marriage-equality groups who have put forth the proposition that since this Card fellow has spent a great deal of time, creative energy, and money supporting causes that directly oppose interests vital to their well-being, maybe they shouldn’t help support him with their own hard-earned shekels by paying for tickets to see the movie.

I can see their point, although I personally have always been of the opinion that the artist’s work should be judged on its own. Let’s face it — there have been some artists who have done great works despite being generally awful people.

The brilliant poet Ezra Pound was a Fascist and a Nazi collaborator. Jackson Pollock was a wife-beating drunk. And so on. But I don’t boycott them. Of course, those artists have the advantage of being dead, so I don’t have to worry about the money I spend enjoying their art being used against the interests of people I care about.

So will I go see “Ender’s Game: The Movie”? I don’t know. I still haven’t made up my mind. But I certainly won’t blame those who make the choice not to help the career of someone who’s worked, written, and spent money to deny them the things they hold dear.

“Tolerance” doesn’t require people to help pay for the shine on the boot that’s been kicking them.


Fran said...

Well, apparently we uppity gays have made enough of a stink that Lionsgate has issued a statement about the whole brouhaha as well. Perhaps they're afraid of losing money?

I loved "Ender's Game", but I love being a full citizen and human being in the eyes of my government more. Funny how that works.

Quasit said...

I find myself in the odd position of being glad that Orson Scott Card lost most of his gift for writing long ago. Yes, Ender's Game was a classic. A Planet Called Treason was excellent, although Card later revised it horribly into Treason. And Songmaster, though disturbing and with some nasty anti-gay elements, was also very effective.

But after that, Card produced nothing of real worth. He has become a parody of himself, mining out the same empty nodes; "genius" children who sound increasingly less and less believable fighting and manipulating each other and the world. And more and more, he seizes the microphone and rants.

It feels strange to watch a talent die and be glad of it...but I am. His opinions and the use he makes of them are hurtful to a large class of people. He's a religious bigot as well. So I'm just as happy to see that he has lost the one tool that made him so effective a proponent of bigotry.

Celine said...

First off, I found Speaker for the Dead to be a much better book than Ender's Game; it was the only one of my Card books to survive a library purge some years back.

Secondly, I'll make the same comment here that I did recently on ML about something else. My time for watching movies is limited, and there are plenty of them, equally good, that aren't made by someone I find individually repellent. Why should I spend my limited movie time on something made by an asshole?

"Because it's good" is only one priority out of many. "Because it interests me" is one I consider more important -- and, frankly, an Ender's Game movie wouldn't interest me that much even if Card weren't an asshole.

JD Rhoades said...

Slight nitpick here: Card didn't actually MAKE the movie. He gets a screenwriting credit, but it's not clear how much of the screenplay is his, or what money, if any, he gets on the back-end, and thus, what effect the boycott's going to have on his pocketbook. Clearly if the movie's a hit, he'll get more deals for more books, but the effect of the boycott may be more attenuated than most people think.

Dana King said...

I find myself of much the same opinion as Dusty. I love Wagner's music, and have many recordings. Having read a biography and knowing Wagner was one of the most distasteful people ever to draw breath doesn't limit my enjoyment of his music, and I'm not concerned about enriching him, since he was dead before i was born.

More contemporary douche nozzles bear different scrutiny. Chick Fil-A was my favorite fast food restaurant; I've not eaten there in almost a year. I like Pappa John's pizza; I'll not go there again. I have no objection to these businesses (or artists such as Card) having whatever opinions and perspectives they wish; it's free country. I just won't allow them to endorse positions I find personally abhorrent with my money.

Given the timing, I'd have to say it's even money Orson Scott card's "epiphany" is financially motivated.

Anonymous said...

Card is one of those few people whose venom taints his work before people can read it. I only read Ender's Game because its reputation exceeds the author's. But like Axl Rose, if you're a big enough ass off the stage (or even on it), I'm probably not going to pay to see the performance.

Madam Backslash said...

Even if the effects of the boycott are attenuated, the fact that he's made any kind of comment at all means he's paying attention.

I wouldn't have gone to see it in any case -- child abuse doesn't make good entertainment for me.

WithCardOnThisOne said...

Still trying to understand how having a different opinion on a subject makes you a bigot. I always find it extremely interesting how those who claim to be open-minded suddenly become bastions of truth when someone opposes their viewpoint.
One may not agree with Card's views, but that does not make him a bigot. To my knowledge, he is a compassionate man who has never done any harm to any individual, gay or not. He simply believes that homosexuality is harmful to the individual and to society. His belief system should not make him a target for those who seek to squash, in totality, opposing viewpoints.
To others I say simply this: watch your freedom carefully. You are free to go to Chick Fil-A, you are free to go to Papa Johns. I find it incredibly sad that you are being manipulated so easily under the banner of bigotry. I say: live what you believe, and examine your beliefs very carefully. You may find out you are the very hypocrite that you have been pointing at for years...

JD Rhoades said...

With Card On This One, perhaps you should actually read a column and understand what I'm actually saying before attempting to comment on it. In particular, go back and read the ending beginning with "I can see their point, although I personally am of the opinion..." Then maybe you'll get it.