Over the last few weeks, the Internet has been abuzz with sci-fi fan reaction to writer Orson Scott Card's most recent posts for the Mormon Times (Science on gays falls short and State job is not to redefine marriage) about homosexuality and gay marriage. Though he has been outspoken on the issue of homosexuality as far back as 1990, it has only recently attracted great attention. Truth be told, until seeing a few posts about it last week, this Orson Scott Card fan was blissfully unaware of his views.
Growing up, I wasn't much of a reader. I was, and still am, a very slow reader, and I struggle to process what I read. With the exception of having read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy in junior high school, which took me for-ev-er to get through, I didn't pick up a fiction book until my freshmen year of college, when a friend insisted I read Ender's Game. I loved it. Before I even finished it, I ran out and bought the next book. At the time those were the only two books in that series, so I asked my friend for another recommendation. Which lead me to Robert Heinlein. From then on I searched out books on my own.
I'm not sure what exactly it was about Ender's Game that I loved so much. Maybe I loved it because Ender was a social outcast through not fault of his own, but by virtue of being born a third child in a time where the government imposed a 2 child limit. I can certainly relate to social stigma resulting from something that is no fault of my own. I'm not sure if I would enjoy the book if I were to read it again today, but that book will always be dear to me because it sparked my desire to read for fun. Regardless of the things Orson Scott Card says about homosexuality, and how much what he says ires me, it will not take away what his books meant to me at the time I read them. Would I buy any thing else of his now? I'd say the chances of that are highly unlikely.
Some bloggers, like Attitude Problem, are thinking along my line.
I am going to actively not buy OSC from now on; I haven't read anything of his since...shit, it was fairly recent and it was urban fantasy, and I'm too lazy to look it up. I still have a certain love for Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind, and it's not exactly easy to shake off. That, and I honestly like a lot of other work by other SF authors who were and are in certain ways problematic, so to just go off on Card because he's handy and has a blog would be hypocritical of me, and it would be even more hypocritical for me to say NEVER READ HIS WORK AGAIN and then still admire what he did with portraying OCD in Xenocide.
-read the full post Like Mick Jagger, in a way
Bloggers, like Sam who wrote Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe on Feministe, and Angrytoyrobot who wrote Orson Scott Card Loses It, or Mormons Are Just SO Kooky! on Daily Kos, have more visceral reactions to Card's latest posts.
And then there are bloggers like Yonmei, of Feminist SF, who deconstruct Card's writing point by point and offer counter arguments. Yonmei also writes about where we go from here, and why does it matter.
If Proposition 8 fails, and same-sex marriage is legally established across the US for one-fifth of the population, then whether or not the next President of the US repeals DOMA, sooner or later some test case will reach the US Supreme Court - and there will be a repeat of the June 1967 decision that struck down the interracial marriage bans across 17 states. Card's repeated, seemingly irrational fears that gay marriage will become "required" are actually very solid political/financial fears for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was only 11 years after the 1967 court decision striking down interracial marriage that God had to reveal to Kimball that the LDS Church ought to admit black people to full membership.[... ]What Orson Scott Card fears, only he can say: but he is certainly trying to present his religious beliefs against same-sex marriage in a secular format, in the hope that these "arguments" will prove useful to the Mormons who have volunteered to promote Proposition 8 from door to door and by phone calls.
-read full post Orson Scott Card: homophobic Humpty Dumpty
In reading through all these pages about Orson Scott Card, his posts for the Mormon Times and other articles he's written, and other people's reactions to his writings, I was feeling a little bristly. But then I stumbled upon his review of Mama Mia! on his official web site, and my mild anger turned to confusion. What I don't get is this. How can a guy who makes arguments like:
No matter how sexually attracted a man might be toward other men, or a woman toward other women, and no matter how close the bonds of affection and friendship might be within same-sex couples, there is no act of court or Congress that can make these relationships the same as the coupling between a man and a woman.
This is a permanent fact of nature
-from the State job is not to redefine marriage post
So if my friends insist on calling what they do "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.
Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage.
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.
-from the article Civilization Watch
and then write something like this (in reference to Mama Mia!)
I had a wonderful time watching it.
Except for the appalling moment when Colin Firth's character suddenly reveals himself to be gay. No, it's not because I'm anti-gay. It's because they trivialize and ridicule him and homosexuality. His developing relationship with a gay Greek man is never shown or hinted at -- it is revealed only as a punch line. As a joke. It's a slap in the face to all gay people.
Everybody else's yearnings, everybody else's personal agonies, everybody else's love story is worth at least a few moments of screen time. But homosexuality exists in this movie only to be laughed at. It's as if they're saying that the feelings of gay people are amusing, whereas the feelings of heterosexuals are important and deep and meaningful.
-from Uncle Orson Reviews Everything Mama Mia! and The Dark Knight
He goes on to say
Don't these writers actually know any gay people? I mean know them, as friends, as family members, as colleagues? I can't believe they do. Because if they did, they could never treat their gay characters with such contempt.
How could this possibly be written by the same person? And it is the same person who writes all of these thoughts. But I don't get it. And maybe he doesn't either. Maybe someone could explain it me, because reading it makes me a feel a little bit like Sybil.
It makes me sad to know this about him. Now I won't able let myself read another of his books. Though, after writing this, I really want to reread Ender's Game to try to recapture some of what it once held for me. The other question, which someday will hopefully apply to me, is, do I let my kids discover and love Orson Scott Card as I once did? Do I tell them about, or let them read, the things he has written about homosexuality and gay marriage?
If you're an Orson Scott Card fan, how do feel about the things he's written? Does it change your opinion of his work? Will you continue to read his work? If you're not a fan, what would you do if you found out an author you loved held views quite counter your own? Do you, or would you, feel betrayed?
One final thought. If there is one thing that I have learned from being a fan of science fiction, it's that the answer is 42.
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