A Fight with Orson Scott Card

In 1985, one of the best things I had ever read was Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

In 2008, one of the worst things I’ve ever read is by this same man.

No, this isn’t a book review.

Ironically, I had a run-in with an ignorant zealot yesterday in a grocery store parking lot not far from my house, and I was all prepared to write about it during this week’s blog… but now that will have to wait. Today a couple articles by bestselling author Orson Scott Card were forwarded to me and I have to respond.

What’s the big deal? Oh, nothing… just that Card is advocating a violent overthrow of the American government if it supports gay marriage.

He writes:

“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.  Only when the marriage of heterosexuals has the support of the whole society can we have our best hope of raising each new generation to aspire to continue our civilization….”

I have long admired Orson the novelist, and so it is with great difficulty that I type this.  But even smart people can be wrong (Ptolemy thought the sun went around the Earth) and in this instance Orson is very, very wrong. Inexcusably wrong.  It’s actually worse than that; his views are a corrosive slime on the future of our civilization.

This isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with Mr. Card; for the life of me, I can’t see how he can consider Terminator 3 a good film.  But we have our agreements also; we both feel Citizen Kane is overrated. And yes, we even agree that revolution in America can be a good thing.

I am disgusted with the tumor-like growth of government in America… and we can thank both Democrats and Republicans for that.  I am appalled by the way our elected officials use our Constitution as toilet paper, at the fear-mongering and the contempt they show for their citizenry.  Personally, I do foresee a balkanization of the U.S. in the future; too many people care only about their religion or ideologies at the expense of the Constitution’s Enlightenment ideals of reason, humanism, and liberty for us to stay united.

The National ID card? Yes, that’s a reason to fight a revolution because it rapes the Bill of Rights.

But Card wants to play a bloody real-time game of Risk over the issue of gay marriage:

First, there’s this:

“In the first place, no law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry… Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law… Ditto with lesbian women… To get those civil rights, all homosexuals have to do is find someone of the opposite sex willing to join them in marriage.”

Ah. Nothing like an ugly little game of semantics, Mr Card.

And then there’s this astonishing diatribe:

“However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not 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… 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.”

There’s something almost sad – and definitely horrifying – in this passage. Why does Card feel so threatened?

Note he has been very careful not to say what others of his ilk do: That their bigotry finds its ultimate justification from the Bible, which condemns homosexuality. This of course is the same Bible that says the faithful are required to kill people who refuse to listen to priests (Deuteronomy), kill fortune-tellers and homosexuals (Leviticus) kill adulterers (Leviticus) wipe out an entire city if a single person in it worships a “false god” (Deuteronomy), kill people who work on the Sabbath (Exodus), kill your family and friends if their religious views differ from your own (Deuteronomy) and so the list goes, in a long crimson stretch of barbarism including death for blasphemers and women who aren’t virgins on their wedding nights.

This same pathology was at work with the shooting, by a rabid right-winger, at the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church last month, and yesterday’s attack on the Arkansas Democratic Headquarters.

But in the end, Card can’t really hide the fact. He writes: “In my church and many other churches, people still cling fiercely to civilized values and struggle to raise civilized children despite the barbarians who now rule us through the courts.”

“Pure democracy” is what Card is grasping at. Want to know what “pure democracy is?” A lynch mob.

That’s why we have a Constitutional Republic in America, one where our courts can make certain that Constitutional freedoms are made available to all… not just what a majority want. A majority once supported slavery, women’s subjugation, and racial inequality. It was less than fifty years ago that American courts had to step in to states like Mississippi and Alabama and protect racial minorities there. Even then, the Freedom Riders had to take a bus down South to bring the message home, and they were met by fire-bombings, tire-slashing, and brutal physical attacks. Some of the same people who participated in those attacks are still alive today. It is NOT ancient history.

Card writes: “Homosexual ‘marriage’ won’t accomplish what they hope. They will still be just as far outside the reproductive cycle of life. And they will have inflicted real damage on those of us who are inside it… they will make it harder for us to raise children with any confidence that they, in turn, will take their place in the reproductive cycle.”

This is rich. Most anti-gay crusaders are content to say that God will attack America if gay marriage is allowed. Card does it one better: Allowing gay adults the right to marriage will cause our species to go extinct.

I’m a straight, white American citizen, and at this point in my life I don’t want any children.  So am I also pushing the human species down the road of zoo pandas everywhere, Mr. Card?

His statements are vile, and not because it’s PC to say so. I’m a proudly nonpartisan freethinker and I reject “political correctness” with every fiber of my being.  But there is simply no way to rationally justify telling consenting adults who happen to be homosexual that they can’t marry each other.  The Far Right’s obsession with the subject is both medieval and intellectually dishonest with their rabid falsities (how affording consenting gay adults the right of marriage will somehow lead to bestiality.)

Readings Card’s words, what I feel is disgust. Not just at seeing a talented writer fall to such primitive depths, but when I think about the disclaimer that will go along with any future generation which has the pleasure reading Ender’s Game or Ender’s Shadow.  “What great books!”  Sigh.  “Too bad the writer became such a Nazi.”

A lot of people have been conditioned to believe that gay marriage means the fall of civilization.  Think of how surprised people were to realize that, in places where it has been allowed (and by largely conservative justices, by the way) , the sky didn’t fall.  Life went on, much as it had, with the added plus of freedom being expanded for a long-persecuted minority.

So yes, Mr. Card certainly has the freedom of speech. He can start his revolution if he wants to advance his own backwards ideology. But I’m not a pacifist. If Card takes up arms against a progressive regime (i.e. the opposite of what we have now), I’ll be on the other side of the battlefield, with my Constitutionally protected right to bear arms, to fight against him.

And since unlike many others, I CAN separate the man from his work, I would be perfectly willing to be his humble Speaker for the Dead when it’s all over.

Watching this Week: Chinatown, Hillary and Jackie, and Dragonslayer.

Reading this Week: Ender’s Shadow and Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card.


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