Orson Scott Card and False Equivalence

Enders-Game-Movie-PosterI still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that the same author who wrote such beautiful reflections on the need for empathy, seeing the humanity in those marked as The Other, and the importance of compassion, in a book like Speaker for the Dead, is the same man who wrote:

[Trigger Warning for rampant homophobia in that link and below]

“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.”

I liked Ender’s Game, but I loved Speaker for the Dead. Getting to meet Orson Scott Card at a book signing for the final installment of the Ender Quartet, Children of the Mind, when I was in college, was a high point. I’ve been looking forward to a decent adaptation of Ender’s Game on film since I discovered the book in my dad’s study almost 15 years ago. To say that I was disappointed to learn that OSC was in fact a homophobic bigot is an understatement.

His homophobia has led to much of the fan community speaking out so vehemently that DC Comics ended up canceling a proposed Adventures of Superman title with OSC as the writer. Fans are threatening to boycott the Ender’s Game film adaptation because they don’t want their money to go toward OSC.

Apparently OSC (or at least the movie studio) was concerned enough that Card recently saw the need to comment on the film in the wake of the Supreme Court’s declaration of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, as well as the defeat of California’s Prop 8:

“Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. 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. 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.”

Sigh – it’s really disappointing when the mind that created Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead can’t recognize the false equivalence in his own thinking.
No, Mr. Card, calling out your narrow-minded homophobic bigotry for what it is, is not the same kind of intolerance you’ve shown toward LGBTQ people when all they’ve asked is to be given the equal rights & protections that are their due as US citizens. Now, if same-sex marriage proponents were to ram through laws nullifying your marriage because you’re a homophobic bigot, then you might have a leg to stand on with this pathetic plea for “tolerance.” But we’re not, so your comparison falls flat.

Additionally, this pearl-clutching faux concern plea for “tolerance” is rather rich coming from the same person who swore to “destroy the government and bring it down” if gay marriage were legalized & declared himself to be the “mortal enemy” of marriage equality.

It’s since come to light that OSC has removed himself from the board of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group dedicated to fighting against same-sex marriage rights that OSC joined in 2009. In an interview before appearing on the Ender’s Game panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Harrison Ford, who plays Colonel Hyrum Graff, had this to say:

“I don’t think [OSC’s homophobia] rears its head in the work. No part of the story concerns Mr. Card’s theories about society in terms of gay issues or homosexual issues,” Ford said. “So I hold it completely separate. I think it’s an imaginative and complex story. And I’m glad he told it. And I’m glad I had a chance to be a part of it. I think he has a right to his opinions and I think he has also made it clear that it was a battle that he fought and lost and would like to get on with the rest of life.”

And that right there is the crux of the problem with OSC’s plea for marriage equality supporters to “tolerate” his bigotry (and go see Ender’s Game). OSC has spent years’ worth of time, energy and money poured into actions and words supporting policies designed to harm LGBTQ people and deny them their civil rights. It doesn’t matter that maybe now he’s realized fighting marriage equality is a lost cause and he’s given up because it doesn’t erase the massive amount of harm that he caused along the path to realizing he was on the losing side of history. Regardless of who boycotts Ender’s Game and who goes to see it, OSC is at the point in his life where any damage he’ll suffer from the criticism he’s receiving is arguably minimal. The movie’s been made and is being released. People will still be going to see it. The book is considered one of the seminal pieces of American sci-fi literature and will continue to be printed and sold for the foreseeable future. For all intents and purposes, OSC will get to walk away and “just get on with the rest of life” just fine. The discriminatory policies and societal views that he supported and perpetuated, on the other hand, mean that there a great deal of people who don’t get the luxury of “just getting on with the rest of life,” because as the targets of OSC’s bigotry, they’re still fighting against and living with the consequences of his actions.

So despite the fact that OSC would like for everyone to forget that he’s a homophobic bigot who actively supported harmful policies so they’ll go see Ender’s Game, the least we can do is not allow him to be excused from being criticized for it and suffering the consequences of his own words and actions.

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