Monday, July 15, 2013

Orson Scott Card and Tolerating Intolerance

One of the things circulating the genre-fan news is how Orson Scott Card, author of Ender's Game and noted anti-gay crusader, has recently put out a plea for "tolerance" of his intolerant behavior, and that people shouldn't picket or boycott the upcoming Ender's Game movie on his account.

I'm not sure where I stand on all this yet, though I'm a believer in separating the art from the artist if that's possible, but I thought I'd hand the mike over to a friend--who wishes to remain anonymous-- who makes his stance on this quite eloquently:


I found this discussion particularly interesting since I am gay, and I grew up Mormon and my whole family is still Mormon. I was also a huge fan of Card growing up and Enders Game is one of the defining novels of my childhood. I won't be boycotting the movie, and I probably wouldn't boycott anything he's done actually.

I think my "tolerance" (bad word choice) comes from a place of understanding. My parents have said things just as bad, if not worse then the things Card has said in his press releases and comments. But I have not boycotted my parents. We actually get along really well and have a better relationship then we have in a long time. They know I am gay and I know they don't like it but we focus on what is good for both of us.

Now the situation between my parents and me is possible because, when I was Mormon, I believed all the things that they believed and I can remember what it is like to be a slave to those beliefs. You know you are being cruel, you know you are insulting people, but it seems like the right thing to do because you are standing up for truth. It's like the Steven Weinberg quote. "For good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Orson Scott Card is not a monster. He's probably a good father and a great member of his community. I have friends who have met him and say he is very nice. I had one friend who met him and when he found out she wrote poetry he demanded that she read some for him and he gave her a lot of nice attention and feedback. It was an inconvenience for him that meant a lot to her and was very kind.

Now does that mean I agree with his views on homosexuality? Absolutely not. The guy's insane. But so are my parents and all of my extended family and so was I until the age of twenty four. And the process of changing my mind was the most depressing, disillusioning one of my entire life. I am glad to be on the other side of it, but it was not a fun journey.

I think I have a degree of sympathy for people like him, and I don't feel a need to boycott him, or harass him with letters or call him names because, for one thing, fighting fire with fire always seemed foolish to me. And second, the world is changing without them. They are being left behind and in some ways their hatred will be a self inflicted punishment as they are abandoned by more and more people as the crack pots they are. I don't believe in god, but I do believe in Karma.

So in conclusion, I will go see the movie. I'm a big fan of many of the people working on it and a movie is such a big family to punish. As for Card, I don't feel like I have to do anything. I am totally content to wait patiently and allow him the right to destroy himself. Or maybe, some day change his mind.


SmallDoc said...

Except that by giving money to the movie, some of which presumably goes to Card, you know some of Card's money will be tithed to the LDS, and used in a manner to suppress your equal rights as a member of the LGBT community.

It's a free country, and you're free to do with your own money whatever you choose, but beyond Card's crazy beliefs (including his sitting on the board of NOM) we know his money will go towards things like Prop 8 and fighting other pro-equality measures.

Card is free to believe whatever he wants to believe, but I'm also free to not use my gay dollars in support of something I know to be, in the end, morally objectionable. And that's why people are boycotting

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

SmallDoc: Of course, that makes plenty of sense. I wouldn't begrudge anyone for making that choice.

Jessica Rydill said...

Thank you for posting this - I feel it is a serious considered piece, and it is good to see someone writing from a place of thoughtfulness rather than confrontation.

Unknown said...

I don't boycott. Why? Because if I boycott one thing for one cause I would be a hippocrite for not boycotting everything for every cause. And I can guarantee you there is probably an a$$hole in the upper echelons of every company out there. Or at the very least someone guilty of some kind of douchebaggery. I am sure even all those socially responsible fair trade companies have someone e on board who is a total prick about something or other. Where would it end? I don't have the budget in time or money to boycott everything.

Unknown said...

If it's the trickle-down effect of Card's tithing/financial support of groups like NOM that is of concern, one could always donate the cost of a ticket or more to an organization that supports your values on the other side, like the Human Rights Campaign or the It Gets Better Project.

I'm torn about the movie still, and my husband has decided NOT to see it for the reasons SmallDoc mentions above. The book wasn't an important part of my childhood: I read it when I was 20. But it is an extremely influential book to my personal belief system, which is in complete opposition to Mr. Card's on this issue.

Somewhere I read that MLK Jr.'s own views on homosexuality were a sort of kindly "it can be fixed" mentality. I deeply admire him despite this. I think we should, when we can, separate the work from the source. History tends to do it anyway (as is has, for the most part, with King), and when the stories stand entirely free from the objectionable view, it's in the interest of everyone to preserve the good parts.

n8mcd said...

Boycotting is a means to send a message that you don't approve of something that has become public. It's a method of voting with your wallet. To not boycott a product by a person you find reprehensible because there might be other bad people you don't know about is a poor excuse.

If you boycott a declared bigot, you send a message to the undeclared bigots that bigotry does not pay, and if enough people do so, with enough consistency every time a bigot makes himself known, eventually, the message sinks in.

To not boycott would be like not punishing a child for bad behavior because you aren't able to punish them for the bad behavior you don't know about... (to spell out the allegory, the child is bigotry, not an individual)