Thursday, May 09, 2013

Ender's Game

Am I going to see it? Almost certainly, though I'm more than a little torn about it because of the author's politics.

If Mr. Card wants to oppose gay marriage at the ballot box and in public forms, that's his right. I'd even fight to defend that right, though I see his choice to exercise it in this case as being just as much on the wrong side of history and morality as opposition to the Civil Rights movement was in the 1950s and 60s. I'm also willing to separate an artist from his work when the work is not overtly political.

However, his advocating the destruction of the United States government is completely unacceptable.

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

~ "Orson Scott Card: State job is not to redefine marriage", Desert News, July 24th 2008

He uses the term dictators in his statement, but so far the legalization of gay marriage has come from majority decisions by electorates and by constitutional state courts. In other words it's come through the rule of law.

Violence in response to losing at the ballot box or in the courtroom is not how democracy operates. It's certainly not how our democracy operates. If he wanted to stage some form of civil disobedience, I could respect that, even if I didn't like it. But one of the most important traditions we have in the US is sucking it up and bearing with it when the decisions of our fellow citizens or duly appointed judges don't fall the way we want them to. Even when it comes to institutions we despise. And for two good reasons.

One is that once violence starts, it's incredibly difficult to bring it to a halt. Not only that, but it rarely ends in the manner that either side imagined, frequently spiraling out of control and inflicting death on a scale far beyond the naive expectations of those who started it. That was very much the case with the American Civil War and the slave holders who revolted. Then there is the fact that the ultimate remedy to injustices will always be enacted through law. Even the overthrow of slavery made possible by mass bloodshed and sacrifice in war was cemented in the Constitution's Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, the language of which made possible the final legal assault on Jim Crow laws and discriminatory hiring practices almost a hundred years later.

If Ender's Game addressed opposing gay marriage. I'd boycott it in a heartbeat. Since it doesn't, I'm probably going to see the film. The book remains one of my absolute favorite science fiction novels even thirty years on. As kid in the Cold War 80s it spoke to me like no other novel in the genre had until I read Dune. I still get emotional when I get to the part where Ender discovers the true consequences of his actions. Hell, I couldn't even make my renegade Shepard kill The Rachni queen in Mass Effect because of because of the thought of being likewise responsible for a similar atrocity, no matter how pragmatic it might be.

Still, I can't say that my conscious will be entirely clear if I chose to go and see the film. Nothing good will come from Mr. Card's call for violence. We've already got enough ideologues polarizing the nation, and his words are a step down a slippery path that leads to a place none of us wants to go to in the end.


Laurie Tom said...

Not that I agree with Card's political views, nor do I follow his non-sf publications, but that quote from him is from 2008 and the attitude towards gay marriage has changed a lot in the past five years.

2008 was the year that California passed Prop 8, restricting marriage to a man and a woman. For the year he wrote that, Card's view was the will of the people, or at least the will of a lot of people.

Given that context, he's perfectly within his right to rail about the possibility of the government stepping in and trampling over what the people voted for.

Prop 8 would probably not pass in California today 2013, but as recently at five years ago it did.

Alex Black said...

Hey Laurie!

I'm very glad to hear that his views have changed in recent years. Unfortunately I have to disagree about the government "trampling" over the will of the people as far as Proposition 8. State constitutions don't override the US Constitution and its Equal Protection Clause, even if a state constitution is amended by a popular vote.