I am posting this on my teaching blog because it bears directly on the ethics of writing and of citizenship that I discuss with my students in class.
I was contacted by a former drama teacher recently about my views on the controversy over boycotting the movie, Ender’s Game. Orson Scott Card, the author of the book on which the movie is based, is my uncle.
My former teacher:
I was wondering, since you were always the more enlightened and progressively thinking individual in the Card family, and that now you are so highly educated, your opinion regarding your Uncle Orson Scott and his rapidly homophobic rants? I know his movie Enders Game is about to be released, and he is still very arrogantly sticking to his hateful and bigoted speech. He is being boycotted by the country, and I think rightfully so. He can believe what he chooses, however to deny others authenticity, selflove, acceptance, and harmony in their lives is appalling. Especially for one who professes to be so humble. I am wondering if you are following this all, that is why I reached out.
This is my response:
I must say that I do not personally have any hatred for LGBTQs. I am in favor of gay rights on a lot of fronts. I don’t think gay marriage is a good idea, but I don’t think a lot of things are a good idea, and we already do most of them. In a secular society in an overpopulated world, gay marriage makes a lot of sense, so I understand why its time is now. I will sincerely congratulate my gay and bisexual friends when they tie the knot, because I understand what it means to them, and why civil unions are not sufficient in their eyes.
As to my uncle’s views, I have come to believe that each of us must stand for what we believe in. It takes a great deal of courage to speak out on either side of this extremely divisive issue. Whereas it took much more courage for you to come out at the time you did, it is starting to take courage to stand against gay rights. What I teach my students is that it takes patience, humility, and tremendous effort to know anything in this life, and every individual’s knowledge is somewhat social and somewhat individual. They have the opportunity, the right, and the responsibility to speak out for what they believe in, but they must also learn to really listen. They don’t have to agree, but they should honestly allow space in their minds to understand the opposing or alternative views. That is the most ethical stance I can think of.
I have seen some interesting, thoughtful conversation among the readers’ comments on some articles about the presumed homophobia of my uncle Scott. The points I find most interesting have to do with the question of whether to equate the producer with the product, when we disagree with or outright condemn the views or behavior of the producer of the product.
Two examples I’ve thought about repeatedly are Benjamin Franklin (serial adulterer) and Thomas Jefferson (DNA-proven rapist). Do I reject the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution because United States forefathers did things I consider despicable in light of current standards and norms? As one commenter asked, “If Hitler created the toothbrush, would you stop brushing your teeth?”
There is a legitimate question of whether we should use our purchasing power to support those whose behavior or views we find despicable. I am all for using my dollars to support those causes I believe in and deprive revenue of those causes I oppose. However, I find it useful and worthwhile to find out as much as I can about the supposed evil that I am supposed to be hating.
If any readers wish to find out what Orson Scott Card’s real views are, instead of what is being posted and Tweeted about him, I suggest you read his books and find out for yourself. Songmaster is a good place to start.
I’ve since changed my personal stance on gay marriage. On reviewing the available evidence regarding when and why human beings embraced a patriarchal model of the family, I’ve come to the conclusion that patriarchal notions of marriage and family are seriously skewed toward treating only alpha, heterosexual males as fully human. I think we can do better, and I’m not against new models of the family that may allow us to live more egalitarian lives.