Orson Scott Card Turned Against Himself

Orson Scott Card, whose science-fiction book,, is being released as a film, is a hardcore, conservative Mormon with a long history of attacking gay people and their rights.
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Orson Scott Card, whose science-fiction book, Ender's Game, is being released as a film, is a hardcore, conservative Mormon with a long history of attacking gay people and their rights. This history is much longer, and more vitriolic than even his harshest critics thought.

Most people assume Card's opposition to marriage equality represents the worst he has said about gays. He is, after all, the only well-known board member of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, and most critics focus on that aspect of his agenda. He has offered lame excuses as to why everyone should ignore his opposition to marriage rights, but his anti-gay views extend well beyond marriage rights.

Card wrote that we should ignore his views on marriage because equality of marriage, as an issue, "did not exist when the book was written in 1984." This is true, but when it came to his homophobic agenda, Mr. Card went well beyond the marriage issue alone. Let us go back to something he wrote in 1990 in the Mormon-oriented Sunstone magazine.

Card argued that homosexuality itself should be a crime. He wrote, "Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books," and that while not every gay person should be incarcerated, the law must "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." His goal, he wrote, was to use the law to discourage people from being gay and drive openly gay people underground and out of view. "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..."

I replied to Mr. Card in Sunstone, two issues later. I wrote, in part:

Card has the right to believe anything he wants regardless of how much pure twaddle is involved. Private organizations such as the LDS church have the right to establish any rules they so choose to define membership. Those members of the LDS church who don't like the position are free to try to change that position or leave the Church. But, neither Card nor the Church,--nor any church--has the right to take those private rules and impose them through laws on the rest of us. Card does not realize the difference between a private organization, such as the LDS church, and the larger secular society based on the rights of the individual, not on the collectivism of the group. A free society recognizes that some people will engage in actions that other people dislike, but it tolerates those activities. So-called societal "regulations of sexual behavior" were viciously used to persecute the early Mormons. Such actions were reprehensible then, and are reprehensible now. Private interactions, sexual or religious, should not be the business of the government. If that rule is applied equally to all people, the Church can do as it pleases in the confines of the temple and the homosexual can do as he or she pleases in the confines of his or her bedroom. Such is the principle of equal liberty for all.

I concluded by saying my bookstore would no longer stock books by Mr. Card, because "we will no longer voluntarily contribute to his economic well-being." As I see it, I was boycotting Card before it was chic, and for the same reason people are doing so today -- he's an out bigot, no matter how he cloaks it. Everything I said in 1990 about him still applies.

Card responded to the current boycott by writing: "It will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagree with them." Odd he is now imploring those people, who were targets of his vitriol, to be "tolerant" of him. He dismissed tolerance in his 1990 article, where he wrote, "Tolerance is not the fundamental virtue, to which all others must give way." He says that "the Lord" looks on gays "without the least degree of tolerance" and that Mormons, such as himself, should show "our complete intolerance of their lies. To act otherwise is to give more respect to the opinions of men then to the judgments of God."

Card's tolerance is a one-way street. He can be as intolerant as he wishes but no one else may damn him for it, lest they be judged intolerant. As far as I know, there is no serious call for making Card's opinion a crime. He, on the other hand, openly expressed a desire to use the force of law against gay people. What chutzpah to imply people he wanted to jail, are being intolerant by refusing to buy tickets to a movie based on his book!

I still favor boycotting Card. My views haven't changed since 1990. I still see him as a hateful individual. If anything, he has done nothing to dissuade me of my view, and much to confirm it, but I would like to call on the LGBT community to break this boycott one time.

Five autographed copies of Card's book Ender's Game are being auctioned off to further the cause of LGBT rights. More information on how to participate in that auction can be found here. This is your opportunity to use Mr. Card's own book to help fight his bigotry.

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