By Thom Watson, our guest on OBLOGDEE, a marriage equality advocate and science fiction fan, July 18, 2013.
I’m not going to go see the movie “Ender’s Game.” For those of you who don’t know, “Ender’s Game” is a classic science-fiction novel that will be released as a movie starring Harrison Ford later this year. The author of “Ender’s Game,” who also gets film credits as writer and producer, is Orson Scott Card.
In addition to a range of science-fiction and fantasy novels, Orson Scott Card has written and published some very nasty articles about gay people and their civil rights. Card has served as a board member of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), whose purpose is to work to deny civil marriage equality to loving same-sex couples, and who are more than willing to demonize gay people even more generally.
A portion of any money that goes into Card’s pockets, then, likely will flow back into NOM’s coffers, to be used to try to deny me and Jeff, and the tens of thousands of couples like us all across the country, our civil equality and our dignity.
Personally, I can’t in good conscience let any of my money be used by him in that way. I stopped buying his books years ago, and I stopped supporting any media — comics, games, etc. — with which he is involved and from which he stands to gain financially; likewise, I won’t go to a movie based on a book he has written, and that he has helped produce, and for which he has been paid and likely — given the producer credit — will continue to profit over time.
Note that I’m not asking the government to censor Card, so there is no First Amendment violation in my choice not to enrich him with my own money. There isn’t even a free speech issue more generally, because I’m not suggesting Card can’t hold his opinions about gay people; or speak out against my equality; or write articles suggesting that laws criminalizing gay relationships remain on the books to be used to send a message to gay people, or that a government that recognizes marriage equality should be overthrown, or that marriage equality itself is an act of “intolerance” and that two gay people saying they are married constitutes an act of theft and a “death blow” upon Card’s own heterosexual marriage, or even that people are not born gay but become so mostly through “disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse.” Card has done all these things, and still has the right to continue to do so.
And I have the right to criticize him for his activities, the right to refuse to be complicit in them, and the right to educate others about them.
I’m not specifically asking you not to go see the movie. That’s clearly your choice. Many people feel that they can make a clear distinction between an artist’s repellent personal beliefs and the art he or she creates, and that supporting the latter doesn’t mean endorsing the former. I’m sure that I listen to music, read books, and see movies made by people who hold opinions I would find equally repellent.
Let’s be clear, though. Card isn’t just someone who was overheard making anti-gay statements at a party, or who posted a drunken anti-gay tweet or two, or who just holds a strong personal belief that gay people are immoral and undeserving of respect and equality. To the contrary, Card has written columns for newspapers and magazines in which he has attacked gay people and their relationships, and he directly serves on the board of an organization whose mission and purpose it is to deny equality to gay Americans.
(NOTE: Card might not serve on NOM’s board right now; both he and NOM are being really quite secretive about whether he still does so or not. For a number of years, though, and at least as recently as earlier this year, he did so.)
In 2008, Card published a retelling of “Hamlet” entitled “Hamlet’s Father,” in which he postulates that Hamlet’s father was a pedophile and that he molested Laertes, Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and through these acts of abuse turned the four men gay.
OK, so that was a piece of fiction. But I don’t need to assume that those ideas are, to Card, only literary and not literal. Here, in fact, are just a few but typical examples of what Card has published about homosexuality and marriage equality, in his public persona, not as works of fiction:
Deseret News, July 2008:
“Card describes gay people as “individuals [who] suffer from tragic genetic mixups” and “[who] suffer from sex-role dysfunctions.” Card says marriage equality is an attempt by “government or society … conspiring to encourage reproductive and/or marital dysfunction in their children.” Card writes, “Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.” Card continues, “Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. 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.”
The Rhinoceros Times, 2004: A 5,000 word article on “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Civilization”
Card writes, “So it is a flat lie to say that homosexuals are deprived of any civil right pertaining to marriage. To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage.” “However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not marriage. Nor does society benefit in any way from treating it as if it were.”
Later, Card writes, “But homosexual ‘marriage’ is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society — to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction. “So if my [gay] friends insist on calling what they do ‘marriage,’ they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.”
“Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage. ” They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won’t be married. They’ll just be playing dress-up in their parents’ clothes.”
And later, Card writes, “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.”
Sunstone Magazine, 1990:
Card writes, “Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society. ”
“The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.”
(To be fair, he now says that since the U.S. Supreme Court decriminalized sodomy in 2003 he would no longer argue that gay people should be jailed for private consensual sex. However, he also says that he never wanted such laws to be enforced, when his words above clearly say otherwise, i.e., that such laws not be “indiscriminately” enforced, but “used when necessary to send a clear message.”)
Publisher’s note: The header was written by the Publisher, Melanie Nathan. Thank you to Thom for drawing my attention to this and for informing our readers. Now we have the facts and we can make our choices. For me no matter how much I would love to see the film, I am not going to and I will re-post this article the moment I hear it is being released (scheduled for Nov 01, 2013). As a South African expat, who lived there during Apartheid, I am reminded of the power of boycotts and the importance of sticking to one’s principles.
On the same topic I recommend The Ethical Guide at http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/02/21/1619481/an-ethical-guide-to-consuming-content-created-by-awful-people-like-orson-scott-card/