Tag Archives: defense of marriage act

The Hypocrisy of Tolerance: Does Boycotting Ender’s Game Really Fight Orson Scott Card’s Bigotry?

Is it worth fighting intolerance with more of the same?  

by Forrest Sayrs  (Guest Contributor)

skip enders game
from SkipEndersGame.com

The geekier news sites have been abuzz this week with moral outrage and boycotts.  But unusually, it isn’t conservative America doing the boycotting.  Geeks are banding together to boycott the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction classic, Ender’s Game.  See, Card is vocally opposed to gay marriage.  He’s a card-carrying (har har) member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is a frequent contributor to a variety of conservative publications, including the Rhinoceros Times, and Sunstone.  In articles for these publications, he has advocated bans on gay marriage and called for the destruction of governments that threaten his definition of marriage or the role it plays in society.  He is on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the key groups opposing gay rights on a national level and a major player in the events of Proposition 8.

In light of all this, it makes sense that organizations, like Geeks Out, would call for boycotts of the Ender’s Game movie.  But I can’t help but wonder at the ethics of attempting to silence (or punish) an individual for his personal beliefs.  This isn’t the first time Card has come under fire for his stance on homosexuality.  Earlier this year he was essentially fired by DC Comics, who had tapped him to guest write a few issues of the Adventures of Superman book, when his assigned artist, Chris Sprouse, left the project.  Card’s issues were put on ‘indefinite hold’ and were ultimately replaced with new stories written by Jeff Parker.

Now, I can’t really object to DC’s final decision on this matter.  If Card, or even just the idea of Card, was driving away artists, there really wasn’t any other choice but to fire him.  But the underlying motivations of activist groups and comic book fans in this case are a little suspect.

Steven Lloyd Wilson, a writer and contributor to the website Pajiba.com, wrote an article supporting DC’s decision to drop Card from the Adventures of Superman.  He argued that the Card didn’t have the moral authority to write for a character that so embodied the concepts of ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way,’ because he stands in such opposition to those tenants through his rejection of and hostility towards democracy.  The problem with this argument is that it undermines our democratic values as much as it supports them.

Democracy is the politics of opposition.  The purpose of any democratic system, be it representative, pure or theoretical, is the give a voice to the people.  Like it or not, everyone has the right to voice their opinions and that includes organizations and individuals who oppose the rights of the LGBTQ community.  I write this as an openly gay man who has a vested interest in gaining those very rights.  Regardless of that personal desire, I have an ethical obligation to hear dissenting arguments and opinions.  I don’t have to agree with them, I don’t have to vote for them, and I don’t have to like them, but I do have to hear them.  Then I can either oppose them with arguments and opinions of my own, or ignore them and refuse to recognize them as valid.  I do not have a right to silence them or to threaten their proponents.

Orson Scott Card lecturing at Southern Virginia University

Mr. Card recently responded to the threats of a boycott with the following blurb:

 With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

This statement, while hypocritically calling for something that Card himself isn’t willing to offer, maps out a proper ‘progressive’ response.  As advocates of tolerance, we have a responsibility to be tolerant of the beliefs of those who disagree with us.  Anything less would be the same hypocrisy that Card is guilty of.

Are we so eager to quash dissenting opinion that we would seek to quash creativity right along with it?  The logical extension of this path of reasoning leads to a bizarre progressive version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, where the books of writers like Orson Scott Card and H.P. Lovecraft who espoused conservative or intolerant ideals would be censored, not for their content, but for the beliefs of their authors.

At the same time, a boycott is a time-honored protest action that enables a group to make its voice heard.  I cannot honestly say that boycotting Ender’s Game in an attempt to voice distaste for Mr. Card’s beliefs isn’t an ethical action.  But it also isn’t right to judge a work of art solely on the beliefs of its creator.  People have been enjoying the story of Ender for years.  I read the book when I was 12 or 13 without knowing anything about Card’s beliefs or caring. Does that make me an unknowing accomplice to intolerance?  I also enjoy the works of H.P. Lovecraft.  Am I therefore a racist?

These questions are an example of a psychological concept known as the fundamental attribution error.  Fundamental attribution error or correspondence bias is one of the key factors in the formation of stereotypes and plays a large role in discriminatory behavior.  It occurs when individuals incorrectly assume that actions taken by others are more indicative of personal beliefs or inbound traits than they are of environmental or situational factors.  Boycotting a movie because of an author’s beliefs is an example of applying the fundamental attribution error turned inward: a belief that viewing a piece of art is a tacit approval of the beliefs of the creator.  This logic is false because the experience of art is determined by the viewing individual, not community opinion or the creator.

Art, literary, visual or otherwise, is necessarily removed from its creator by our individual experience of it and by time.  Just as we overlook H.P. Lovecraft’s vitriolic distaste for mixed-race couples because his works are good and worthy of artistic appreciation, we should be able to ignore Card’s beliefs because Ender’s Game is a good and worthy story that ultimately contains one of the most touching examples of empathy that exists in the genre of science fiction.  If Card had inserted his beliefs into his novels, we might be having a different conversation, but he didn’t.  He wrote a story that became a classic, and that doesn’t happen unless it resonates with us.

So go see Ender’s GameOr don’t.  But make that choice because of the movie’s casting, or because Gavin Hood was responsible for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or one of a hundred other reasons.  At the very least, remember that a movie isn’t made by a single person, but by a collaboration of writers, designers, directors and producers.  Any one of those people could be a saint or a sinner, and it wouldn’t affect you, or the world, one iota.

Forrest Sayrs is a high school speech & debate coach with an unhealthy love of contrarian arguments.  When not being trounced by his students, he spends his free time reading and reviewing books.  You can see more of his writing at deconcrit.wordpress.com

5 Big Queer Geeky Weddings That Should Happen to Celebrate the Death of DOMA

In case you missed it yesterday… THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT (DOMA) WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL!! The internet literally exploded with rainbow flags. It’s a great way to end LGBTQ Pride Month.  But for the geeks for equality out there, I thought I’d offer up a nerdier celebration.  Here are 5 couples that should tie the knot in celebration of this (long overdue) step towards social equality in the U.S.!

Batwoman (Kate Kane) & Maggie Sawyer

Kate and Maggie have had flirty repertoire ever since they first met on the pages of the rebooted Batwoman in 2006 and they hooked up not long after. By issue #17, Kate risked it all and exposed her Batwoman identity by proposing to Mags in full Bat costume. It’s four months and four issues later and I’m feenin’ for some wedding bells. Batwoman is pretty much the most high-profile lesbian character in comics (who wasn’t relegated to an alternate universe at that), so this wedding oughta be a Huuge and super awesome. Come on, just imagine the complementing black & red tuxes… right?!

Stahma Tarr & Kenya Rosewater

 

Okay so this one is a lot of wishful thinking, but when big things like the government actually supporting gay rights are happening, we gotta dare to dream big.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been absolutely adoring this duo. They’re pretty much perfect for each other, both straddling that strange complex line where they are both incredibly strong and powerful women, yet they have found themselves in abusive relationships….

Read the full article on UnleashTheFanboy.com

Superheroes in Defense of Love: Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ Characters in Comics

You may kiss the groom!  Northstar and Kyle Jinadu get married in Astonishing X-men #51
You may kiss the groom! Northstar and Kyle Jinadu get married in Astonishing X-men #51

Many argue that politics don’t belong in comics. I hear those arguments. I even understand them. But, obviously I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. On the contrary, I think comics are a perfect medium for political reflection. Fiction and literature have a long history of social critique and reflection, using story to show society its reflection – its progress, its missteps, its blind spots… And comics (comics are literature too), as a serialized medium, are unique in their ability to keep up with the times, to keep that reflection current.

So, today being an important day, one that will forever alter the face of American society when the U.S Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, let’s take a look at how comics have kept up with the times…

Northstar and Kyle Jinadu get married!

One of the biggest moment in gay rights in comics occurred just last year, when X-men member Northstar (aka Jean-Paul Beaubier) proposed to his long-time boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-men #50. In issue #51, Kyle and Jean-Paul became Marvel’s first gay married couple at a beautiful ceremony in New York’s Central Park.

The couple also claims the distinction of being one of few married couples at all, as well as being a mixed-race couple and a mixed  super-powered–no-powered couple to boot! The marriage issue was a huge hit among comics readers, but it wasn’t all celebration, at least not in the Marvel universe. The issue made sure to depict that this is a fraught issue, and while Kyle and Jean-Paul had a beautiful ceremony with the support of many of their super-powered friends, the idea didn’t sit well with everyone. A keen acknowledgment that the human tensions around the issue don’t go away with a change in law.

kyle northstar wedding

Same-sex marriage became legal in New York in July 2011, so Kyle and Jean-Paul’s wedding, taking place in May 2012, was no hopeful fantasy land wish. in the real world, a same-sex New York wedding was already a precedent. In comics anything is possible – Asgardian gods descending from the sky to mingle among us, alien invasions, wealthy, technologically superior African nations led by Panther kings, wealthy entrepreneurs who become technology-enhanced superheroes… But I suppose, sometimes, it’s the real world that beats fantasy to the punch. On that note, the happy couple are still face some very real world issues, with Northstar, who is French-Canadian, facing possible deportation because his same-sex marriage is not (hopefully soon was not) acknowledged in national law…

Kevin Keller and Clay Walker get married in Life With Archie #16
Kevin Keller and Clay Walker get married in Life With Archie #16

Northstar wasn’t the only comic book character that got in on the action. Archie Comics was actually a bit ahead of the game. In January 2012, on the tail of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and months before the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, Kevin Keller, an openly gay active U.S. Military Officer in Archie Comics married his partner Clay Walker in the all-American town of Riverdale, NY. This was also a mixed-race couple (I wonder if there’s gonna continue to be a trend here…).

While same-sex marriage has only recently hit the scene in comics, openly gay comic book characters are much more common!  This includes DC Comics‘ own Batwoman, who is probably the most high-profile openly gay comic book character. She recently proposed to her girlfriend. Wonder if she’ll be getting hitched anytime soon…  DC also pulled a pretty controversial move, around the same time that Archie and Marvel were stirring things up, when the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott came out with DC’s New 52 relaunch. One Million Moms threw a foe-ful fit, of course.  Unfortunately, DC faced the other side of the battle, when they hired anti-gay-marriage writer Orson Scott Card as a writer for a digital comic Adventures of Superman. 

Willow: Wonderland #3
Willow: Wonderland #3

Gay characters in comics are hardly new. Many awesome creators had their eyes open from the jump and saw that LGBTQ folk have always been here and queer. Though she started off on television, lesbian superwiccan Willow of Joss Whedon‘s original tv series Buffynow headlines her own comic Willow: Wonderland which is in it’s 5th issue. It’s also seriously awesome and you should all go pick up the trade whenever it’s out.

There are quite a few other LGBTQ characters hanging around the margins of comics. Get a brief on a few of them in this great slide show at The Week.

And speaking of the margins, there are some creators addressing love and sex in interesting and strange ways under the radar. One of the most jarring I’ve found is Our Love is Real by Sam Humphries and  Steven Sanders (Image comics), which came out in 2011, with much love from industry insiders. It’s not LGBTQ exactly, but rather depicts a world where the bounds of who or what one can love are seriously blurred and open, including some who have love affairs with minerals. Clearly there’s some symbolism and commentary in there…

Gay characters and LGBTQ topics have had some presence in comics, and that representation is increasing as we become a more open society. Still it’s a pretty sad reflection that even in the fantastical worlds that the “low brow” medium of comics create, the idea of a magical green-glowing ring that grant limitless universal powers to its wearer is more fantastical than a ring that lets two members of the same-sex the simple right of legal recognition… That space habitation, intergalactic wars, and giant red crime-fighting demons have long had a place in supreme unreality, but gay marriage was a far stretch of the imagination…

Makes you wonder where else the notion of resolving some injustice is so crazy a notion that we can’t even imagine it in our most imaginative mediums… We could probably make up a whole genre of social fiction from historical examples alone.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling out this summer, here’s hoping gay marriage rights for all doesn’t remain a fiction.

Batwoman proposes
Batwoman proposes