I began writing a comment here that started turning into an essay, so rather than clunk up her comment board, I decide to just throw it over here. (By the way, if you’ve not read anything by her, I’d advised you to go do so. This can wait.) (Oh and I just spoil all of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, all the time up in this essay.)
Over at comicbookgrrrl.com, the Comic Book Girl has said she’s not pulling* anymore DC books for a lot of good and valid reasons that I totally get, agree with and respect… except there’s one that I can’t figure out how I feel about.
Recently Orson Scott Card was announced as the writer for a new Adventures of Superman book, a digital only comic that would have a rotating book of authors and artists. At first I was elated because Orson Scott Card is the bomb. But then I remembered… one of the things he wrote — aside from the beautiful Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead and Ultimate Iron Man I & II — is this **. If you can’t take time to read it, I’ll fashion out a suitable string —
“No, legalizing gay marriage is not about making it possible for gay people to become couples. … a reproductive dysfunction like same-sex attraction ... the gay-marriage lobby… have no arguments that stand up to serious investigation.”
Orson Scott Card is, in addition to being one of the most beautiful and humanistic writers I’ve ever read, a raging homophobe. He’s completely awful. He sits on the board of the National My God Homosexuals Aren’t Real! board*** and he works towards prohibiting gay rights.
To me this makes no sense. I’ve read Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead. Speaker for the Dead‘s entire literal point is understanding other people’s points of view, even when you don’t understand them or think they’re gross, bad or immoral. That is literally the entire point of Speaker for the Dead. Ender is an almost true empath who can understand anyone. If he were alive today, instead of writing the Hive Queen and the Hegemon, he’d be writing the Queers and the Heteros. There is no doubt in my mind that Ender would be all for equal rights (hell, he’s even for equal rights for a race that cut up a human being and removed their organs).
And Orson Scott Card knows this. He has to, in his bowels and his bones, know that Ender — who he has personally identified with before — would be all for gay rights. So what the fucking hell?
One of the problems here is that — no, hold on, fuck being patient and understand. I’ll get to that in a second but seriously, what the hell, Card. He seems like a fucking child who was raised to hate gay people and then just never fucking grew out of it. You know what I think it is?
The wonderful and miraculously amazing Slacktivist — one of the many inspirations I had for making my own site**** — has written many times about how there are some Christians who feel just, shucks, awfully bad about this gay people, but, like, we HAVE to be mean to you. God said so.
No. No. Fuck that. Fuck you. And fuck that. If you have to apologize for your faith, your faith placed in a God that is entirely wrapped around the idea of being loving to EVERYONE, even people you don’t like, then there’s something entirely wrong with your understand of your faith, and you’re an idiot and please, please shut up.
One of the problems here is that writers are people. And as people they have varying different qualities — it’s why someone can be utterly abusive to someone that their in love with and also, you know, buy them flowers and shit. We’re all fuck-up, kaleidoscope-esque jewels of weirdness.
All of us have good and bad inside of us. All of us have the potential to harm or heal.*****
So while I’m sure that the beautiful, humanistic empathetic writer that I know and love will shine through and that Superman fans have nothing to worry about, in regards to him making Superman, I don’t know, say Prop 8 is the best or something, I’m still not sure that he’s the right person for the job.
Because it’s about more than being the best writer. Is he the best person?
Despite the fact that he can definitely write Superman in a pure, noble and wonderful way… does he deserve the chance? I struggle with this notion because, as Neil Gaiman has said, reading things written by people whose views (or even actions) are problematic is good because it, for one, allows us to see that human beings are varied and subtle and different. No one is good or bad. As Ender himself says, in Speaker for the Dead, “Sickness and healing are in every heart. Death and deliverance are in every hand.” So yes, I think we should be able to listen to Charles Manson’s music. And yes, I think we should be able to read Mein Kampf. And even more (or less, I guess, some might see it as) extreme, we should be able to read letters of serial killers, we should be able to read books by rapists, we should be able to enjoy fiction created by some of the most horrendous human beings in existence — because sickness and healing are in every heart, everyone is good and bad. But the thing is, the difference between listening to Manson’s music, reading Mein Kampf and reading Ender’s Game. If you read Mein Kampf, Hitler does not benefit from it.
Orson Scott Card does. He’s benefiting from it. We’re deliberately supporting someone who wants to prevent people from having rights. I think it’s all good and great that we can read anti-Uncle Tom’s Cabin****** novels today but back then? Would it have been moralistically right for us to pay money to support those people, who would in turn give money to charities that were working against what we see as good?
I don’t know. I had the same issue (to a smaller existent) when Chik-Fil-A Senior FuckHead said that gay people should be shot and made into bacon. I mean Chik-Fil-A sandwiches are great but do I really want to support someone whose a maniac? I have the same feelings, more or less, with Orson Scott Card — do I really want to support someone who wants to disenfranchise, well, me? I mean I’m a bisexual in a heterosexual relationship******* but that doesn’t mean we’re going to get married. And fuck that even if it does I’m still bi — his views still affect me.So what can I do? For lack of a better response I just say torrent. Torrent the fuck out of him.
I believe Card should be allowed to write whatever the hell he wants and when I read it I feel moved. I believe he’s a genuinely good author and has a beautiful soul as a writer but when he speaks I just want to sigh, take him aside and let him see the real world. As I mentioned before, Ender is the ultimate empath. I cannot possibly see how Card can maintain the views he does without betraying everything his most famous character stood for.
But that is the rub here: Card and his characters are different. Could he write Superman, as a writer? Yes. Because as we’ve seen his characters are beautiful humans. But… should he be allowed to write for this beacon of hope, when — despite the fact that as a writer his characters are golden — he as a human being espouses such heinous things? I don’t know. I don’t think he deserves it but I don’t know.
I just wish I could take him aside and ask him not What Would Jesus Do? — because apparently he didn’t get the memo that Jesus would help the broken and weary and fucked-up — but What Would Ender Do?
* Here referring to her comic pull list. I’m going to write a small short essay about mine once I make it more manageable.
** The bad guys, I just remembered, in Ender’s Game are buggers. Before that was a term for homosexuals of course. The funny part is that Ender, after killing the fuck out of them all (spoiler alert), realizes that they’re not that different and while not human, not like him, deserve all the same rights he does and then writes a big-ass book that’s entire point is to convince humanity that buggers should not be feared and should be treated the exact same way everyone else is. Irony!
*** National Organization for Marriage — an institute dedicated to prohibiting people from getting married. (Goddamn, this all is just full of irony.)
**** Although with comics, mostly, instead of, you know, god.
***** Want to know who said that? Fucking Ender. In Speaker for the Dead. What the fuck, Card?
****** By the way, did you know that all the hatred of Uncle Tom’s Cabin comes not from the novel, which has been credited by no less than Abraham Lincoln as the impetus for the start of the Civil War [not that kind], but from the “Uncle Tom Shows” which were mostly run by people who hated the book? The more you know!
******* With a bisexual! See, Dan Savage, you were right all along.