The latest news to be making the rounds in that Orson Scott Card has finally let the full extent of his batshit crazy see the light of day. Card has been on the “it’s not okay to be gay” train for a while now, but he’s, for the most part, manage to disguise the worst of his froth behind a faux-civility. Sure, he was talking shit, but at least he wasn’t rabid (at least in the examples I’ve personally read, it is entirely possible that there are earlier examples of batshit crazy that I’ve missed). In case you’ve remained unaware of his crazy, he decided to (poorly) re-write Hamlet as an anti-gay screed.
This has prompted discussion about how we should look at Card’s earlier work. Admittedly, this is not a discussion that is limited to Card, and frequently pops up as a topic of conversation whenever “Person X has previously enjoyed the work of Person Y, but is currently reevaluating that enjoyment upon discovering that Person Y is a dick.”
A common response is that if we enjoy the work we can continue to enjoy it without agreeing with Person Y’s beliefs or dickish behavior. In some cases I agree. There are any number of people who I think are asses as human beings, but I can read/watch/etc. their work without suffering moral quandaries. Card is not one of those people.
First and foremost, Card’s behavior goes well beyond being a dick, and into the area of preaching an anti-human stance. Not only does he hold these beliefs, but by joining such hate groups as the National Organization for Marriage he actively seeks to turn his morally reprehensible beliefs into action. Even if he wasn’t, we should always bear in mind that a person’s beliefs guide their actions, guide their way of being in the world. Even if Card was not active with groups like N.o.M. his way of being in the world would still be guided by a set of beliefs that no human being should ever, under any circumstances be willing to support.
Yes, I enjoyed Ender’s Game. I used to recommend it to others. I will no longer be doing so. In supporting Card’s work, any of Card’s work from any point in his career, I am supporting a stance I find unsupportable. I can try and justify it all I want, I can add all the disclaimers I want; in supporting that book I am supporting Orson Scott Card. All the justifications do is allow me to avoid feeling guilt over my moral failing, and personally, I don’t consider it a small moral failing in this case.
I don’t claim to be morally perfect. However, this is not a subject on which I am prone to bend. I don’t read the work of Terry Goodkind both because he’s a tedius writer, and because like Card’s screed his books are a thinly veiled bully pulpit for the moral slime that is Objectivism. I consider Scientology to be nothing but a virulent poison, and as such will not support anything even tangentially related to it.
I’m all for allowing dissent, and have no desire to stifle the ranting of any of the people mentioned above. I’m perfectly willing to forgive human foibles. However, there has to come a time when we must say enough is enough. If we believe that the words and actions of a writer such as Card are morally reprehensible, then there is never justification for supporting their work. Because in doing so, we are in action, regardless of our words, enabling the very thing which we claim is a source of disgust to us.