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oh, and also, OSC? fuck you.

I don't know if I could really respond better than this to the latest salvo of unhinged homophobic batshittery from Orson Scott Card.

I remember reading the Memory of Earth series in college, back when it was even harder than it is now to find even vague references to homosexuality in genre fiction. One of the main characters was a gay man who married a woman because it was required of him, and I remember thinking it was just a really intelligent, poignant treatment of a character who had made this terrible choice between two mutually exclusive types of happiness. It's weird to look back now and realize that whole arc was not, as I believed at the time, *descriptive* of what it's like to live under enforced heteronormativity, but *prescriptive.* Card doesn't hate gay people; he just hates gay people who selfishly destroy civilization by refusing to enter heterosexual marriages and breed.

Oh, and by the way, the reason Card doesn't consider himself a homophobe is that he subscribes to a very specific definition of the word, where homophobia means a fear of homosexuality that is so crippling as to interfere with one's life. Well, I sort of think he's crossed that bridge now, since he's so terrified of teh gay conspiracy to destroy everything good and pure in lif that he can't think of any other recourse than civil war. That sort of seems like it's getting in the way of being, you know, a normal human being who doesn't want to incite civil wars? Oh, and also, a lot of his former fans now wouldn't buy one of his books if it came with a lifetime's supply of cool shoes and lubricant, so it's not been a great boon to his career, either.

Also, fuck Orson Scott Card.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 12th, 2008 06:21 am (UTC)
(stopping by via friendsfriends)

I saw a discussion of this a few days ago, and somebody mentioned that he's right - he's not a homophobe. He's a bigot. His attitude toward homosexuals is studied, calcutated and thought-out. He doesn't accept it as a fact of life, he actively goes out and seeks supporting evidence and like-minded people for his point of view, and writes long, rambling screeds on Why Homosexuality Will Bring About The End Times, or whatev. I find this far more appalling than people who have knee-jerk reactions because they don't know any better or have never been taught.

Also: hi. You don't actually know me.
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
I actually think he's both. There is such a thing as anti-gay bigotry that isn't homophobic -- that's just flippant and knee-jerk and rests on an unexamined assumption of the deviance/inferiority of homosexuality, but that perceives it as more of an annoyance or an absurdity than a threat. Card is positively *terrified.* The fear drips off everything he writes -- from a fear of his children being kicked out of schools for being insufficiently gay-positive to the fear that America will collapse because, I can't remember, no one will want to join the military to support a government that takes away their right to moral superiority. I mean, it's all the bizarre rantings of one of that particular brand of right-winger that sees danger, conspiracy, and enemies everywhere. It's about nothing but fear.

Also: hi! Thanks for coming by.
Aug. 12th, 2008 06:58 am (UTC)
Oh, and also, a lot of his former fans now wouldn't buy one of his books if it came with a lifetime's supply of cool shoes and lubricant, so it's not been a great boon to his career, either.

Very true. Ages ago I had "Ender's Game" on my somewhat vague list of "classic SF that I might like to read someday" but I never got around reading anything by OSC, and he's been crossed off my list for good for a while now.

Also, I had no idea that he was *this* crazy.
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
It's really unfortunate, because many of his books are truly great. I never feel quite right warning people off his work because he himself is an asshole -- I mean, at that rate, a lot of the world's great works of art wouldn't exist, and I'm not sure any of us would be the better off for it. But I personally can't read him anymore; this kind of stuff is just all I can think about. Which isn't fair to his work, but I guess there's just unfairness all over the world, isn't there?
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Especially with still living authors who get a percentage from my money when I buy their stuff it really makes a difference to me whether or not I object to them. And with sf/fantasy I usually end up buying what I read, because my local library doesn't have a good sf/fantasy selection in English (and I avoid reading translations if I know the original language). And well, with my very limited funds for books I'd rather they end up with someone I don't regret paying.
Aug. 12th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
Actually, on that one you're in luck; I live in a non-English-speaking country, and even I can usually find Ender's Game in a used book store if they have any sci fi in English at all. Buying used takes a lot of the moral dilemma out of it -- for me, at least; it makes it less of a 'how does it affect the writer', because he'll never really feel it even in that tiny way, and more 'do I want this thing to live in my brain'. Of course, someone else who can't find the used copy you bought might then buy it new, but that's a bit too advanced for me...

(I'd suggest yes on that last part, by the way; it's a very interesting book.)
Aug. 12th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
The public library system in my city actually does not have a copy of "Ender's Game" in English. Really not. I've never been able to determine what their system of buying and keeping English books are. They do really badly with older SF and fantasy, whereas you might find newer bestselling titles sometimes (e.g. they do have the Temeraire series), but I'm not sure they actually keep them, because sometimes they have the later volumes of series but not earlier ones.

Edited at 2008-08-12 07:23 pm (UTC)
Aug. 12th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
Curiosity: You Mormon (or any mormon family or big exposure to the religion)? I ask because Memory of Earth a retelling of the Book of Mormon- pretty much exactly, down to the character's *names*, I shit you not- and it's pretty impossible to miss if you have any background in the religion. I'm curious if you liked it *despite* that or oblivious to that.

Enderr's Game is one of the best books of modern SF, and the sequels, while they deteriorate in quality, still say these wonderful, deeply moral things about understanding and forgiveness and peace and acceptance.

When I realized that the man who wrote them was a complete bigot- PROUD of being a bigot, not even trying to hide it in polite society- I was crushed. It seems like a betrayal, you know? Someone who wrote so beautifully shouldn't be *allowed* to be so despicable. Or someone so despicable shouldn't be *able* to write so beautifully. It's a big fat warning sign against admiring a writer as a *person* based only on their fiction. You can write moral stories and still be an immoral douche.

I could have been his biggest fan. Instead, I do everything I can to keep people from buying his work. *shrug*
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that about Memory of Earth! I wish I had; I'm always interested in that kind of project, the reworking of significant myths into new formats.

I know what you mean about the sense of betrayal. I just keep wanting to go up to him and be like, "Speaker for the Dead -- SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD!!!" Did he *read* the fucking book? That's actually why I think of him as qualitatively less sane than the average bigot; I think the amount of cognitive dissonance it must require to be theoretically for all the things Card is theoretically for, and yet to put them all in abeyance at the sight of certain triggers -- there's just no way to look at that except as a type of insanity.

I felt the same way, btw, when I found out Paul Haggis was a Scientologist. I just kept imagining trying to explain to Fraser what a "suppressive person" is, and it honestly made me want to cry.
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
Paul Haggis? Seriously? Yeah. Wow. Gah. It's so hard when you respect an artistic work and respect someone as the creator of that work and then realize that you can't seem to respect them *as a person*. It sucks.

(Though, imagining Fraser's reaction to that conversation is fairly entertaining)
Aug. 12th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
OSC has clearly let his inner bigot off the leash.
OTOH, I don't entirely disagree with the position* just the increasingly irrational extremes to which it is taken.

This bit: "... we are fools if we think "gay marriage" is the first or even the worst threat to marriage.
We heterosexuals have put marriage in such a state that it's a wonder homosexuals would even aspire to call their unions by that name."

This bit I quite like.

*If one defines marriage as a personal-not-civic union for the purposes of producing and rearing children in context of reproductively favorable gender role system, then by that definition, gay marriages don't support and may undermine the purpose of marriage.

I think, though, that a) most of us do not define "marriage" that way--our definitions are a LOT more inclusive in general, sometimes conflictingly defined or undefined, so it's hard to tell what "our side" expects in practical actionables versus labels. and 2)we can't just agree to disagree about it when one or more factions fixate on owning the label, polarize their position and get all psycho HATE HATE HATE U EVOL HATERS about it.

As far as I can tell, OSC's position has not changed. It just looks more extreme now that the opposition is gaining more acceptability.
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
I don't understand this whole "threat to marriage" concept. Does marriage even exist as an independent concept? I look around at all the married folks I know (including myself) and nobody seems to have exactly the same relationship, despite the unity of the label.

No one else's relationship is a threat to *my* marriage. We bring our own threats in the door and we deal with them ourselves. There's nothing the guy next door does or doesn't do with his wife or husband that makes any affect on -- or threat to -- my marriage.
Aug. 12th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
I shall have to ask my parents how their son being able to marry has lowered the quality of their marriage. I´m sure it was devastating to their marriage, really.
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Well, I posted a little rant upthread about what the "threat to marriage" really involves. Suffice it to say, nobody thinks your parents' marriage specifically will be damaged. They just think that they will be less able to convince future generations that they have no choice but to marry heterosexually and monogamously and bear children, and they really, desperately want people to have no choice in that matter. The threat to marriage is a threat to *compulsory* heterosexual marriage, and they're quite right about it -- we are trying to take away their power to compel that. They like having that power and the validation it brings, and they don't want to surrender it. Fair enough.

They're going to have to, however. Hell, if George Wallace learned to deal with modernity, so can Orson Scott Card.
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
I was going to say, you know, that presumably allowing gay marriage will make marriage more appealing to future generators of, you know, gay people, but then I remembered that Card's argument is that gays totally have equal rights already, given that they have the same right to marry someone of the opposite gender as a heterosexual has, much like everyone in a theocracy has the same right to practice the state religion (I'm sure he totally supports that in, like, Iran.)
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
Well, you can say that because you don't regard compulsory marriage as the only frail mechanism propping up civilization. Card does. When people like him say gay marriage is a "threat to marriage," they don't mean the specific marriage of OSC and Kristin, or Barak and Michelle, or Barb and Seth -- they mean that not continuing to compel all people to enter monogamous, heterosexual, child-bearing relationships is dangerous to society as a whole.

That's right, he hates you, too. You do not participate in the "reproductive cycle of life," and you are a living, breathing advertisement of the fact that in our society, having children is optional, a matter of personal preference. And Card can't bear the idea that families should have anything to do with personal preference. He thinks there's one way to do it and one way only -- he's referred to everything other than Mom, Dad, and their kids as "mere groupings of people," undeserving of the right to be called families at all.

Gay marriage -- like at-will divorce, like single parenthood, and like selfish heathens such as yourself -- *are* a threat to Card's reality, because what he favors is bringing every possible mechanism of the church, state, and society to bear to force us into his particular vision of marriage. The more people refuse to agree with him that his particular vision of marriage should be compulsory, the more people will certainly opt out of it (and have been opting out of it, and are, and will continue to do so). That's what he's afraid of: not that it will harm him and Kristen, but that it will harm his ability to mandate "marriage" as he defines it on other people whether they like it or not.

Which it will.
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Although, I did read him say at some point that, while we were not reproducing, at least we were still providing a good example to other children as a heterosexual married couple. *headdesk*
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
And I always wonder -- is he afraid that without the government mandating otherwise, everyone is going to decide to turn gay?
Aug. 12th, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, he's as much said that. Something about how since it's easier for men to understand men, and women to understand women, that if given the option to marry their own sex, people would not choose to marry the opposite one.

Which makes me raise my eyebrows and wonder "if you think socially approved gay relationships are so overwhelmingly attractive, are you sure *you* are straight?"

It's very wacky logic, to say the least.
Aug. 21st, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
I really try not to assign motive to strangers, and also not to assume that all homophobes are themselves hiding teh gay -- but honestly, some people just seem to beg for it.
Aug. 21st, 2008 12:18 am (UTC)
It was one of the least comprehensible arguments I've ever seen, that's for sure.
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
I see what you're saying, and to me, yeah, this is one of the fascinating things about Card's position. It's not so much homosexuality that bothers him, it's the entire modern (as in, within the last century or two) project of redefining marriage. The vast majority of us in the West now believe that it makes perfect sense and is only right and proper that people enter only into marriages that make them subjectively happy. That's a pretty new project, so his ultimate point is somewhat valid: Civilization was not built on companionate marriage. It's not a proven commodity yet, on the historical scale.

However, he's way out of the mainstream on this one. We've been increasingly, *rapidly,* moving toward a model of marriage that favors personal satisfaction over social interests, and by now it's essentially a done deal. Marriage SIMPLY DOES NOT mean what he thinks it ought to mean in this culture anymore. That's why it makes no sense to most of us when he says that homosexuality is natural, but that civilization depends on people doing what is unnatural for the greater good, ergo gay people ought to marry heterosexually for the good of us all. Under the currently dominant meaning, our culture identifies those as *fake* marriages, as *shams.* Only Card's preferred meaning makes that a viable option, and even most people who don't care for the idea of gay marriage generally agree that the "fake" loveless self-sacrificing marriage is a terrible idea as well.

He's just plain lost the battle to define marriage as he pleases. Our expectations of marriage are generally not the ones on which civilization was founded. Will this be the end of us all? Well, it's only been a hundred years or so since companionate marriage became a dominant cultural standard, so it could be too early to tell. But I don't think it looks like the end of us all just yet, in spite of Card's belief that enforced heterosexual marriage is the only thing that staves off complete social breakdown and mayhem.
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
I do wish every random nutjob person, however strong his convictions, would stop refrain from setting himself up as the One True Declaimer of Rightness and just... see what happens.
I mean even if pigs fly and Card is right about the OMGhorrors that would come from legalizing gay unions... what's it to him? Why not just wait and see, and let the (per him) immoral-or-gullible get their just deserts?

I'm willing to let the heterosexuals go on reproducing in their way, even though *I* think adding to population and maintaining many "traditional values" will have horrid effects on civilization... because I'm not in charge of them. I get to make my choices, not theirs. I expect my choices are well-founded, and I expect others' seem well-founded to them, so I am comfortable leaving who is more right to the test of time.

What bothers me about Card is not his position WRT gay marriage, but how he is soooo insecure over the defensibility of his choices, that he wants choice done away with by government fiat.

This is not new for him. The societies he's imagined all along have been characterized by how little choice they allow; the morals of hisstories have always included "bad things happen when people don't obey benevolent authority".

Aug. 12th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
Civilization was not built on companionate marriage.

But, then, neither was it built on a definition of family as an independent single unit of man, woman, and resulting offspring. However, to grasp that would require far more ability to actually read history than your average person holding this position possesses.
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
That's a pretty new project, so his ultimate point is somewhat valid: Civilization was not built on companionate marriage. It's not a proven commodity yet, on the historical scale.

Except that goes against what he's said before. (If necessary, I'll find the link.) OSC has stated that marriage between man and woman is OLDER THAN GOVERNMENT, and that provides his foundation for the argument that we can and should act out against the government if they're trying to attack this marriage value that is older than time.
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
I am, in retrospect, glad that my earlier poverty and die-hard cheapness means that I don't think I've ever bought a Card book new, only used. And grateful that by the time I realized, "Oh, if I want to really support an author I like, I should buy their books new" (I was slow, what can I say), I also realized I wouldn't buy a Card book new if you paid me. So to speak.

(icon directed at Card, btw)
Aug. 12th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
Is that a Get Fuzzy icon? Awesome.

I do wonder how much his openness about his beliefs in this case has cost him professionally. I mean, clearly he still has a fine career, but it definitely seems like he's paying a price -- for example, the pretty vocal protests over his lifetime achievement award for young adult literature. I suppose you have to admire someone for having convictions even at personal cost. I mean, it's a pity that his main conviction is that war > legalized gay marriage, but hey, a lot of people don't believe anything at all.
Aug. 12th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
It is a Get Fuzzy icon, as is this!

And I agree about admiring the courage of his convictions, in a general way. I've felt similarly about the Catholic church wrt women in the priesthood and abortion/death penalty issues, where their position is at least consistent, unlike many fundamentalists. But I think Card's conviction is undermined by what I see as a deeply flawed understanding of core Christian doctrine, to me -- but a lot of Christians agree with him, so... Fortunately, a lot of us don't, as well.
Aug. 12th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
It's weird to look back now and realize that whole arc was not, as I believed at the time, *descriptive* of what it's like to live under enforced heteronormativity, but *prescriptive.*

Word. Especially in the last book, the woman in that relationship looks back on her marriage and... ugh. Just ugh.
Dec. 6th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
Hi there, I was just looking for your SGA fanfic (still homeless, I gather?) and well, OSC kind of broke my heart a while back when I discovered completely by accident that he was a homophobic shit. I tortured myself pretty badly trying reading his opinions to understand how his reasoning went because the guy was a great storyteller and was all for accepting ALIENS and otherness and it made ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. I confort myself thinking that obviously he is himself pretty gay and it's trying to somehow justify how his attraction to males doesn't make him a bad Mormon or whatever because, seriously, even when he has female characters that are remotely as interesting as his male characters is always his male characters that actually *show* any kind of real emotion for each other and his het marriages are always arranged somehow and have a business deal feeling to it (sometimes the guy gets the woman's family, sometimes he gets her ideals but he never gets *her* as his "prize", she's never the point of the affair). It's a pity there's no more OSC-book based slash that's any good because it would be so great to send him something that turned his own writing against him.

Wow, really ranted at you and I didn't even read that link because I don't want to be pointlessly mad! Anyway, shutting up now :p
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