Thursday, April 23, 2009

Orson Scott Card: Batshit Crazy?


Disappointing (if not unentirely unexpected) news today...

Orson Scott Card, one of my all-time favorite science fiction writers and author of the incomparable Ender's Game joined the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) yesterday, according to the Box Turtle Bulletin.

NOM, you may know, released the more-than-a-little nutty "Gathering Storm" movie last month, warning all good Christians that their heterosexual "traditional" marriages , even their livelihoods and personal liberties, are in jeopardy in the face of growing support for gay marriage. If you haven't seen it, you can find it on YouTube HERE. Sorry, but I won't sully the page by embedding such trash here - I do have some standards. I will however, embed this fun parody ad... you tell 'em George "Mr. Sulu" Takei!

OK, all fun aside... while I have nothing but respect for Mr. Card as a writer, I have to say that it's more than a little disturbing to see a man of his imagination and intelligence supporting this close-minded, ignorant point of view. I get that he's a Mormon, and I also get that the LDS Church is a big, big opponant of equal rights for marriage of gays and lesbians. Issues of faith have always been a big part of Mr. Card's work, and informs it in a way that often makes his books unique and thought provoking.


One of the key themes in Speaker For The Dead, the sequel to Ender's Game, was tolerance and understand of other cultures, especially ones alien and difficult to understand at first blush. The main tragedy of Ender's Game was the death of an entire alien species, as well as the irreparable damage to a young boy's childhood, due to misunderstanding and xenophobia. To see these very same themes so blithely ignored in the name of uncompromising religion is... well disappointing doesn't even come close to covering it.

Unless there's some seething and very well disguised thread of intolerance in Ender's Game and Speaker For The Dead, a thread that I've missed all these years, then it's a real shame to see Mr. Card's characters acting in a way that's more open-hearted and tolerant than the man himself seems to be. I've drifted away from Mr. Card's later work, finding it less and less relevant in my life (I guess now I can see why), but I still love and read his earlier works.

I suppose that, as a writer, I should make allowances. After all, I routinely write about evil characters, ones that do Very Bad Things to people, often with righteous smiles on their faces. This doesn't mean (I hope) that I am evil, or that I like inflicting the kinds of pain on others that my characters sometimes (often) do. It's just... weird... to think that while I'm getting my catharsis writing about blood-sucking necromancers and walking dead, Mr. Card may be exorcising his demons by writing about tolerant people on quests of self-discovery. If that's true, it would be one weird reversal...

In any case, I certainly hope that Mr. Card does not get his wish, and never sees the government overthrown in the name of an intolerant hegemony, nor do I wish to see a world where religious nutcases like the leaders of the Mormon Church get to dictate who a person can love and marry.

Sorry, Orson, but as brilliant a writer as you are, I have to draw the line somewhere.



Graf said...

wow! yeah, decidedly sad. I enjoyed Ender's Game and Speaker - never read the third or fourth ones. I've been reading his Alvin Maker books, lately, and those seem to be specifically ABOUT religious tolerance and how evil intolerance is, especially in religion. Given that, this seems even less reasonable. :(

Amy D. said...

I'm a non-Mormon living in Salt Lake City. My formerly Mormon boss told me that many Mormons have a superiority complex combined with a persecution complex. So many of them feel it makes perfect sense to complain about those evil liberal gays and their whining about equal rights, but turn right around and whine about how unfair it is that people pick on the LDS church for being a weird cult. The hypocrisy is mindboggling.