The Ender’s Game Controversy

In the science fiction community, another well-known and controversial figure has just recently declared that no one has really debated his ideas.  In a recent interview, Orson Scott Card said about the muted uproar over his views that has followed the turning of Ender’s Game into a movie, “I’ve had no criticism.  I’ve had savage, lying, deceptive personal attacks, but no actual criticism because they’ve never addressed any of my actual ideas.”  This statement is true only in the sense that the attacks have not been made on the issues raised by either the book or the movie, but absolutely false in the sense that the attacks have indeed addressed head-on ideas that Card has expressed elsewhere. 

Card has said, “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…” [Mormon Times, 2008].  In an interview[Solon.com, February 3, 2000], Card actually stated that “It should be perfectly legitimate to fire somebody for that reason [for being a homosexual] or reasons like it.” 

He’s also recently said words to the effect that, while he opposed the changes in the laws that now prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation/gender and allow gay marriage on a state-by-state basis, now that these laws exist, they’ve made his past comments moot.  Legally, that’s largely true, except…he did say that he intended to bring down the government if it “changed” the definition of marriage, and those words were rather close to advocating the violent overthrow of the government.

Now, I have met Scott on two occasions, and he certainly did not come across as stridently as those quotes indicate, but the quotes I cited are anything but isolated instances of his views.  And, like it or not, those views are at variance with both the law and public opinion, and pointing out that fact is not a personal attack.  It’s a sad truth.  Scott can talk all he wants about his critics not addressing the issues, but they have.  They just haven’t addressed the issues he wants addressed.

And as a public figure, which Scott definitely is,  especially with the coming release of the Ender’s Game film and the position of the book atop the New York Times paperback bestseller list, he should also know that once you open your mouth on public issues, especially if you say something nasty or hateful to or about others, it’s not going away.  Not ever.  Just ask Paula Deen.

10 thoughts on “The Ender’s Game Controversy”

  1. Kathryn (@Loerwyn) says:

    All I can say, Mr Modesitt, is I just gained respect for you from this post. I respected you anyway, but… yeah.

    My hat off to you.

  2. Steve Newton says:

    With you, with (perhaps not surprisingly) a caveat.

    The caveat is that when I watch movies I don’t want to care about either the politics or the marriages or the rehab treatments of the actors, producers, or writers.

    When I read fiction I don’t want to care about the politics of the writer. If it so infuses the work that the work does not entertain me (hello, Atlas Shrugged) then it is a failure as a work of fiction.

    Scott Card is a gifted writer, and I have enjoyed many if not all of his books. I would like to have seen what he did with Superman in the comic book. At what point does the author’s political persona prevent me from reading his books? I never read Glenn Beck’s The Overton Window not because it was Glenn Beck, but because the reviews stunk.

    So while Scott Card is hypocritically playing the victim card here, neither his hypocrisy nor his bigoted stance on marriage equality is going to make me embarrassed to keep Ender’s Game or Treason on my bookshelf.

    Although I do wish he would stop rewriting the Book of Mormon as fantasy and/or science fiction.

    1. Kathryn (@Loerwyn) says:

      The problem (for Card, at least) is that there’s a growing push against authors who are openly racist, homophobic, misogynist, etc., at least in online circles. It’s basically “I don’t care how good these authors are, if they’re going to hate people for who they are then I’m not going to support them”. Can you honestly expect a gay man to support an author who doesn’t believe he should have as many rights, for example? No.

      There’s also the “it doesn’t affect me” point of view. But… it does. Maybe not directly, but if you allow people to campaign for the erosion of rights of a minority group, where does it stop? Don’t forget many people in Card’s position are also generally anti-divorce, anti-interracial marriage, anti-abortion, etc. In other words, they value their discriminatory views above the freedoms and rights of other people, and they fervently believe you should live by their rules. And if you’re not directly affected, it will affect your colleagues, your friends, your family on some level. Heck, even the random person on the street. It’s about taking a stand against people who want to (and campaign to) implement socially regressive procedures and/or to negatively affect the lives of thousands of people for no reason other than what they are.

      With respect to people not watching this film (or buying the book) to not support Card? I’m one. He’s a producer, so I believe he’s destined to profit from this movie. He’s also going to see increased sales. Whilst his financial records are understandably private, it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that he has or does donate sums of his money to organisations like the National Organisation for Marriage, who campaign for (and support) laws that curb or stop homosexual behaviour, amongst other things. These are people who want comics and books taken off the shelves because they have homosexual content, amongst other things (read: censorship).

      Plus the way I see it? Books are plentiful. I can afford to not read a few because the author is failing at being a kind and compassionate human being.

      1. Kathryn (@Loerwyn) says:

        I forgot to say this:

        I don’t see why it’s such a strange thing to decide to not support a man who (apparently) preaches love and acceptance in one book, then equates homosexuality and paedophilia in another, and then when is called out on his behaviour blames everyone but himself (whilst sitting on the director’s board – which he has stepped down from this year, IIRC – of the aforementioned NOM organisation).

        He’s not a pleasant man. Maybe he is to your face, but inside his head? I don’t think anyone reasonable or nice could do what he’s done and then play the victim card.

  3. For better or worse, talent or genius often has little relation to a writer’s [or a composer’s or scientist’s]character or social or political views.

  4. Jim W says:

    Ender’s Game is one of the best scfi movies I’ve ever seen.

    I enjoy both Mr. Card’s work and Mr Modesitt’s as well. I admire Mr. Card for standing up for what he sees as the truth. Especially an unpopular view as this. From what I’ve read of his views, I think they are grounded in biblical principles that today are outdated to some or even mythological. Personally, I have doubts about the bible being the word of God, but I truly want to believe in Him.

    Sadly, the more I hear of movie star’s and now author’s personal views, the harder it gets to enjoy their work.

  5. Steve says:

    “he should also know that once you open your mouth on public issues, especially if you say something nasty or hateful to or about others, it’s not going away. Not ever.”

    Upon reading those words I immediately thought of Senator Robert Byrd. Although his past never went away, he seemed to be able to avoid its consequences.

    It will probably be harder to hide from our past in this digital age where every misstep is recorded.

  6. AndrewV says:

    Mr. Modesitt, I’m not certain if you are aware but you took Mr. Card out of context:

    http://www.hatrack.com/misc/Quotes_in_Context.shtml

    The last entry in that link is very damaging to your article. How about a retraction or an update?

    “”Plus the way I see it? Books are plentiful. I can afford to not read a few because the author is failing at being a kind and compassionate human being.””

    Books are plentiful. Books as good as Ender’s Game are not.

    Ender’s Game is the book that kicked off my love of reading and writing. Twenty three years later, that love hasn’t diminished.

    I’m not willing to censor my reading list because someone has a difference of opinion with me. What would I miss if I only read books by authors with whom I agree? How else can I grow as a human being unless my viewpoints are challenged and I am forced to think?

    Mr. Modesitt is a good example. More than half the time I think he’s wrong and do occasionally challenge him here… but I don’t stop reading what he writes. Why should I cut off a viewpoint that has the chance to change the way I think? Doing so is a path to intellectual stagnation.

    1. I’ve read the entire link three times, and I frankly don’t see that the “context” changes anything.

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