The Case Against Card

As the release date for the film version of Ender’s Game grows ever closer, the controversy around original writer Orson Scott Card continues to grow.

There’s a growing case against the famed writer not just among supporters of gay rights, but also among science fiction fans and writers. Card hasn’t just taken a strong position and made it known publicly. He’s openly pushed his ideology into the open, making his opposition to homosexuals the primary point of discussion whenever his name comes up.

Someone who has won the Hugo and the Nebula twice in a row should not be in this position.

Speech is an important power, one many take for granted. Card knows free speech has power, using regular essays to practice his rights and make his views known. All writers do this; I’m doing it right now.

Some people have unpopular views. This is the cornerstone of discussion and open discourse, the sort of things that science fiction and fantasy stories are supposed to invite by nature.

Instead of speaking of Orson Scott Card as a teacher or a writer, he is now spoken of as a bigot and a homophobe. When this started happening on a small scale, he started to strike back. Card didn’t just defend his opinions, he started to attack those who disagreed with him on that one issue. This is Card’s fatal mistake.

A writer does not have the right to attack their readers. Sure, a writer can do that, but there will be consequences. Essentially, by inviting argument instead of discussion, Card has painted himself in raw opposition to the people who have disagreed with him. Part of the reason why they disagreed with him is because they sought out his writing and were shocked to find what was inside.

For Card, the key points come from his novel Hamlet’s Father and his essay “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality.” These writings not only illustrate his beliefs on homosexuality, but hammer them as hard doctrine. All Card had to do was say something like, “this is the story I wanted to tell,” or, “I’m sorry we don’t agree on this issue, but I hope you’ll come back for my next story.” Readers typically forgive this disagreement and move on.

Card chose to make his most public ideas about why a government that supports gay marriage—and by association its citizens—being his “mortal enemy,” one he will act to destroy and bring down.

About ten years ago, one of my online friends spoke glowingly of Card’s works, especially the first few Ender’s Game books. While this friend had a few issues with some of the later books, he always spoke well of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.

A few years ago, this same friend expressed absolute displeasure with Orson Scott Card’s opinions, but was still willing to say those praised works were still worthwhile. By this point, my friend stopped giving even trace amounts of support to The Homecoming Saga or The Tales of Alvin Maker.

In the past couple of months, that support has dried up. My friend no longer says anything good about Orson Scott Card. This is a writer who has treated too many readers as enemies and is now reaping the same treatment in return.

When Lionsgate did its official convention panel to start marketing the Ender’s Game movie, they didn’t invite Card to appear. Most movies based on books invite the writer and all of them invite producers who can speak strongly about the story. Both apply to Card, but Lionsgate had him stay at home, fearing public backlash.

The movie would be better served if Card was a non-entity, if he had no role to play. In many ways, the same argument could be applied to all of Card’s works, regardless of their length or format.

All too often, politicians are forced to retire for loudly broadcasting discriminating views. Perhaps this can be done to writers as well. Perhaps the only way to salvage Orson Scott Card’s legacy is for him to retire.


2 thoughts on “The Case Against Card

  1. A lot of the debate around and with Card seems to miss the point a lot. I’ve seen readers absolutely convinced that Ender’s Game is an apologia for Hitler, and most recently I read Card say something about how Obama is a dictator. It’s just very baffling. I’m glad your piece here is thoughtful and focused.

    I hear Lionsgate is donating some of their proceedings to gay lobbies if they turn a profit, but haven’t bothered to fact-check this as I doubt they will be turning a profit from this movie. I really want to see it in the cinema, but I know some of the money goes to Card, and as he’s vowed to use his money to fight against human rights, I just can’t justify seeing it.

    1. I’ve read some of Card’s comments about Obama. They have a surreal quality that becomes more bizarre when you look at his official political affiliation. Since those are quieter views–and more confusing–I didn’t want to bring that up. My point was just to look at the barrier he’s put between his audience and his work.

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