Orson Scott Card
For years I have been a big fan of this man's work. More specifically, of his Enderverse novels and short fiction work. I must have read Ender's Game when it first came out because I remember patiently awaiting for it's sequel, Speaker for the Dead, to be published the following year. As each sequel and re-imagining came out, I gobbled them up. Couldn't get enough of them.
For those of you not in the know, these science fiction novels revolve around a group of genius children who are sent off planet to Battle School to help find mankind's next savior in the upcoming war with the insect-like race of aliens colloquially known as Buggers. A commander intelligent enough to lead us to victory. Humanity has already survived two devastating wars with the aliens and they are looking for a final and permanent solution in the next invasion. These young geniuses are our best hope.
Roughly half of the books revolve around the titular hero from the first book, a young boy named Ender Wiggin. The other half, and in my opinion the more enjoyable half, follows Bean and the rest of Ender's companions at Battle School after the war with the Buggers. Bean is an even smaller, smarter and younger genius than Ender was, and in many ways he was the more important figure in the final Formic/Bugger War and it's aftermath.
I recently picked up the second set of novels prior to going on my vacation. I had previously read a couple of them, but it had been awhile so I wanted to start fresh with young Bean and his colleagues. Say what you will about Card, and I plan on saying a lot, but I think the man is a brilliant writer. The challenge of writing good science fiction is daunting enough, but that challenge is increased ten-fold when writing about characters who are political or military geniuses. One has to be brilliant in one's own right to convincingly portray genius on the written page. I found myself being awed by Card's brilliance a long time ago in the first sequel to Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead. How could this man who writes about genius so well be anything other than a genius himself?
Well, as I read these Bean (or "Shadow") novels on vacation I found myself wondering at the somewhat odd world views of some of these genius characters. Stuff about religion and marriage and genetic disposition of heterosexuality. And then I remembered something I had read a while ago about Card. About his stance on gay marriage and homosexuality itself. Much of that tied into his personal religious views as a Mormon. Not the most tolerant of religions when it comes to the gay community.
So I started re-reading some of the material he has written about these issues. Stuff like this and this. And I started to get angry. Really angry.
It's filled with all kinds of nonsense rhetoric like this utterly idiotic argument:
In the first place, no law in any state in the United States now or ever has forbidden homosexuals to marry. The law has never asked that a man prove his heterosexuality in order to marry a woman, or a woman hers in order to marry a man.
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. And, in fact, many homosexual men have done precisely that, without any legal prejudice at all.
Ditto with lesbian women. Many have married men and borne children. And while a fair number of such marriages in recent years have ended in divorce, there are many that have not.
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.
Right. So gay men and women aren't denied the right to marriage. They just have to find someone of the opposite sex willing to marry them. In other words, it's okay for them to marry as long as they are willing to marry someone that they really don't want to marry. I'm sorry, but I don't think I have ever read a more insulting or idiotic argument against gay marriage than that one right there.
And this is the freakin' genius that I have been lauding all these years?
He claims that it shouldn't be up to the courts to make laws, which is what he believes is happening in California and Massachusetts with regard to same-sex marriage. That may be true. But man oh man does he take the ball and run with this one.
The first and greatest threat from court decisions in California and Massachusetts, giving legal recognition to 'gay marriage,' is that it marks the end of democracy in America. These judges are making new law without any democratic process; in fact, their decisions are striking down laws enacted by majority vote.Then end of democracy in America! Are you scared yet? You know sometimes it IS the court's job to strike down laws enacted by majority vote. If those laws are discriminating against a minority group, for example. Sometimes laws are enacted without everyone's best interest in mind. Constitutional purists would call for amendments or new laws passed by Congress to redact formerly inconsistent or "bad" laws. Yet the judicial branch is also entrusted with protecting the rights of individuals. And maybe I am just being a bleeding heart liberal, but I think this is one of these examples. Who the Hell am I or you or your Congressman to tell someone that they can't marry the person they love?
Card claims that he is not a bigot or a homophobe or intolerant strictly because he does not believe in the "harsh personal treatment of individuals who are unable to resist the temptation to have sexual relations with persons of the same sex,". You know...the sinners. Well isn't that mighty white of him? Using that argument, I guess a person who hates black people but who doesn't see himself participating in a lynching can't be called a racist. There should just be laws against them and their homosexual behavior, and that my friends can't be intolerance. Right?
Here is another juicy tidbit from the man:
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.Now I think it is all well and good to have beliefs. Both religious and political. But to advocate laws against homosexual behavior so that if such behavior occurs it is done on the down-low to protect the very basic nature of our society (i.e. marriage) is ludicrous. In my humble opinion, of course.
Well, it might not be ludicrous to everyone. Some of you out there may read Card's words and think "Damn right!". And that is fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just happen to find Card's opinions, which he often states as fact...both religious and biological, to not mesh with my own personal views of the world I live in. The fact that he so openly defends his positions in somewhat silly ways only exacerbates my issues with him.
And therein lies the rub. I still enjoy his writing. Not his right-wing/conservative/religious writings. But his science fiction. I still think Ender's Game and it's sequels are some of the finest examples of the genre. And I am torn. Especially when I hear some of his own philosophies echoed in the brilliant minds of those future children he is writing about.
There are two novels left in the Enderverse that I haven't read yet. A War of Gifts and Ender in Exile. I want to read them...I really do. Because I've invested a lot of time in the series and I naturally want to know what happens next. I think that is common for those of us who get wrapped up in characters that we have come to care about.
Yet I don't want to spend another dime on this man's intellectual property. Not when I know about some of his personal beliefs. It's a classic conundrum.
Frankly, I'm having a hard time balancing my long-held belief in the brilliance of Orson Scott Card and my more recent belief that he is a moron. On certain subjects, of course.
What to do, what to do, what to do?
Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. And it is okay to disagree with me on this one. I won't hold it against you. Probably.