Bigot. Hypocrite. Coward. Did I leave anything out?

To say that I found it ironic  that Orson Scott Card made a plea for “tolerance” from people planning a boycott of the film Ender’s Game is, well, mild. I highly value the ideal of tolerance and in a perfect world we would all give 160px-Ender's_game_cover_ISBN_0312932081and receive it equally, but the reality is, free speech trumps tolerance. Always has, always will. So I have to ask myself: Now that Card has rather exhaustively utilized his freedom of speech to express his homophobia, what legitimate claim can he make to the sanctuary of tolerance? After spending more than 30 years slinging hateful arrows against a vulnerable, maligned, and marginalized demographic, what right does he have to attempt to wave a white flag of peace now that his victims have armed and empowered themselves?

Clearly, Card feels threatened by the tide of progress. Gay Americans have found their voice, and neither they, nor their allies, are willing to tolerate the institutionalized bigotry that has plagued our country for far too long. But is a boycott so very uncivil that Card feels compelled to call for tolerance? Compared to:

Insisting that laws against consensual homosexual acts be enforced “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.” (1990)

Claiming that revolution is the appropriate response to the legalization of gay marriage. “How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy.” (2008)

Stating that homosexuals “suffer from tragic genetic mixups.” (2008)

Joining the National Organization for Marriage with the intention of ensuring that homosexuals continue to be excluded from the institution of marriage. (2009)

Writing, in an essay titled “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Civilization” that homosexuality is linked to paraphilia. Paraphilia is defined by Wikipedia as “the experience of intense sexual arousal to highly atypical objects, situations, or individuals. Examples include sexual interests that can motivate committing sexual offences—such as pedophilia, zoophilia, sexual sadism, and exhibitionism—but also include many harmless sexual interests, such as transvestism.” (2004)

In reference to a same-sex relationship in his 1980 novel Songmaster, Card said, “I was not trying to show that homosexuality was ‘beautiful’ or ‘natural’—in fact, sex of any kind is likely to be ‘beautiful’ only to the participants, and it is hard to make a case for the naturalness of such an obviously counter-evolutionary trend as same-sex mating.”

So, after more than 30 years of using his platform as a writer to maintain the status quo—that status quo being institutionalized inequality and homophobia—Card is now pleading for that same population he has bashed extensively to treat him tolerantly. And frankly, he doesn’t deserve their tolerance or respect. Sure, he’s backpedaled (minimally) in recently claiming that he no longer believes that consensual homosexual acts should be illegal. He said, “Now that the law has changed, I have no interest in criminalizing homosexual acts and would never call for such a thing.” Riding the coattails of progress and sheepishly retracting bigoted statements, without ever actually issuing an apology for the hate that undermined those statements, is not the act of a reformed or progressive man. It is the act of a coward, a man who realizes he is no longer in step with his time and so tries to change his tune so as not to become an outcast. I could respect him more if he stood by his beliefs, however terrible and disgusting they may be, or issued a genuine apology for his history of homophobia. Instead, he tries to have it both ways—to hold on to his homophobia while attempting to distance himself from statements expressing it.

I would have seen Ender’s Game. Would have. But now I won’t. I’m joining the boycott of Ender’s Game just as I joined the National Marriage Boycott when the Defense of Marriage Act prevented many of my fellow Americans from accessing the same rights offered to me as a straight person. Some—likely those who share Card’s disdain for homosexuality—will argue that this boycott is an attempt to deprive Card of his freedom of speech. Nothing could be further from the truth. I respect Card’s right to express himself on any matter he chooses, however well or poorly, and whether I agree or believe him to be an ignorant fool. (My opinion leans rather obviously toward the latter.) And I, and people who share my feelings on the subject, have a right to respond by choosing not to spend our money imbibing Card’s indoctrination. I often feel that our political system is so mired in bipartisan nonsense that my opinion, my vote, is lost altogether. I still vote, of course, because less than a century ago, women were fighting for my right to do so. But if you want to make a statement in America, you do it with money. How you spend it. When you spend it, and why. Maybe Ender’s Game will be an incredible film. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I don’t intend to support a writer whose convictions inspire him to marginalize a demographic that is already a social underdog, particularly when he doesn’t even have the sand to stand by those convictions when they come under attack.


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