Tolerance For Intolerance: Boycotting Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books from high school.

The movie looks pretty rad.

I love Harrison Ford.

I like shiny things and smart science-fiction.

And yet, I’m not going to go see Ender’s Game.

Orson Scott Card has toxic politics shot through with not merely a thread but a full-on threaded steel cable of bigotry and ignorance. And so, I’m gonna boycott the film. Now, to clarify, I’m not saying you should or have to do the same. You do as you like. No harm, no foul.

But I thought I’d highlight why I’m gonna boycott.

First, I don’t want to reward bigotry. Particularly financially.

Second, it is safe to assume OSC spends his money on supporting this ignorance and bigotry given that he serves the National Organization for Marriage (which, benevolent as it sounds, is more about defining and limiting marriage than it is about Yay Marriage For Everybody). This is a pretty good sum-up of his toxic politics — and it’s worth noting that he equates homosexuality with genetic error and the “end of democracy,” though at the same time seems to believe that homosexuality’s, erm, origin story is one tied in with rape and molestation at a young age. This is venomous shit, and I don’t want to pay him to sling it.

Third, yes, OSC has almost certainly gotten paid for the film already. An author of his magnitude may very well have escalators that pay him more if the film does well. Further, if the film does well, then they will likely pay him to make more films from his other books. A success for this film raises his star higher, and for me, that is more than a little queasy-making.

Fourth, the division of art versus the artist is to my mind thinner than we think. I say that as a writer — I find myself hiding in my writing more often than I’d suspect or even like. Just the same, I do believe that we must be able to separate out an artist from his art — at least in the sense of being willing to appreciate art despite the apparent jerkiness of the author or artist. Still, what OSC supports isn’t just him being a jerk: like I said, this is some high-octaine toxicity. This isn’t just him being anti-gay marriage. It’s him making troubling assertions about homosexuality. It’s him supporting that with his money. It’s him being an active political figure and fighting against human rights with his voice, his art, and his money.

Fifth, we’re not exactly lacking for brilliant art and powerful reading material. It’d be one thing if we had, like, ten good books or movies out there — but we have a wealth of beautiful and moving art available to us. And so not going to see Ender’s Game won’t somehow damage the canon, it won’t change the face of art, it won’t remove us from the cultural stream and fail to give us something to talk about at parties. We’ve got a lot of good books and movies to watch without having to support this canker-rimmed asshole at the same time.

Sixth, when asked about the boycott, his response includes:

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

That’s him doubling down and saying, “You need to tolerate my intolerance.” Which is a classic derailing tactic that smells so strongly of horseshit that when he says it I wonder if I’m actually living inside a horse’s ass. Just because we elected Obama president doesn’t mean I have to tolerate racism. Bigoted ignorant fuck-all is still bigoted ignorant fuck-all.

The movie may still be a rampant blockbuster. The lack of my movie dollars may not make one whit of difference (and given what we saw with Chik-Fil-A, it’s actually safe to assume the opposite of a boycott will occur — right-wing homophobes flocking to the theater to cheer on Ender Scott Wiggins Card as in their minds he eradicates whole planets of little gay bugs).

Still, I won’t pitch my chits and ducats into this bucket.

173 responses to “Tolerance For Intolerance: Boycotting Ender’s Game”

  1. Thanks for tackling difficult issues. I don’t know where I fall on this particular case, in part because I have a difficult time forming some kind of underlying principle. Did anyone boycott the most recent Star Trek because it abandoned Gene Roddenberry’s commitment to equality and tolerance — erasing women almost completely from the film and turning it into just another testosterone-driven franchise? Or will boycott Lone Ranger over it’s portrayal of Tonto and its casting of Johnny Depp as an Indian? Or join me in boycotting all Disney movies for its gender portrayals? If I were to prioritize I would boycott WORKS that are racist, sexist, homophobic regardless of whether the creator is well meaning or a homophobic jerk. And what do we do with creators whose record on gender/sexuality is god, but the suck on issues of race? Or the reverse?

  2. Knut Hamsun got the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. He’s considered one of the greats in Norwegian literature, and I won’t read him even though I’m born in Norway. Thing is, he was a big fan of Hitler, even enough to travel and shake his hand. I’ve heard very nice things about his writing. Doesn’t help.

  3. I’ve heard so much controversy about OSC and his writing that I just won’t read it. I’m not being steered in certain directions by people, But when his name is mentioned in writing circles, people just seem to get their backs up and turn angry about everything he’s done. So, I take their opinion about it and back away slowly leaving his work well alone.

  4. OSC used to be one of my favorite writers. I read the 4 Ender books, Enchantment has long been a favorite of all time, Magic Street was great. I remember starting to feel weird in the later books in the Alvin Maker series and veeery uncomfortable with the Earthbound books (I think they were called), but I always figured sometimes people are going to miss the mark and have less-than books here and there. But now that I pay attention to what he says outside of his books, man, I haven’t been able to pick any of them up in a long time. It’s difficult, because I usually do separate artist from art, and I feel like it would be near to impossible to make sure that everything I consume hasn’t been touch by douchebaggery somewhere along the way. But on some level, I feel so betrayed by his politics (specifically his, I was a huge fan. I have a stack of his books all signed and I’ve sat in on his talks and all sorts of things). Which maybe isn’t a very adult way to look at it, but what can you do.

    In short, I’m not going to see the movie, either.

  5. And Card’s the first one who will tell you how sympathetic he is because he’s included gay characters in his novels! Look! He really IS a friend of teh gheyz!

    Yet he wrote “Hamlet’s Father”.

  6. I already had a dim view of him and his homophobia, but when it was something that was just between him and his Church members, I could swallow my nausea, even if it left a bad taste in my mouth. But I will never forgive him for bringing his bigoted organization into my home state an bankrolling that steaming pile of hateful shit that was proposition 8. A lot of people get mad and say you should separate an artist from his politics, but when an artist’s politics are about spreading lies about a group of people and denying a segment of the population rights? No. I won’t given him my money to do that with.

  7. I’ve sat here for over an hour, trying to decide what to say and how to say it. I’ve decided to keep it simple. 1: I read Ender’s Game decades ago, and loved it.
    2: Orson Scott Card will never receive another cent from me.

    That being said, I have to admit that I’m a bit confused.
    Is it: “homosexuals are the self-loathing victims of child abuse, who became gay ‘through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse.’”
    Or: “homosexuality was a ‘tragic genetic mixup,’”

  8. I believe it was 2001 that I finally cut ties with any of OSC’s work, and up until that point, I think I owned most of what he’d produced. He sent out a vicious anti-gay screed in response to some issue that hit the newsgroups and ended up getting bundled with a dozen other articles over the past 15 by Card on the issue. He’s horribly sexist, horribly homophobic, and uses his stature as a successful writer to advocate for the loss of rights and enforcement of repressive laws against women and LGBQT. He’s a pretty odious so-and-so.

    That being said, I still enjoy Ender’s Game and consider it one of the top 50 sci-fi novels written. I’m not really interested in parsing it down to see if I can root out where Card’s creative process ends and his bigotry begins, and I don’t think anyone should feel the need if not otherwise inclined to read his work through that prism. Separating the work from the artist is often an important part of enjoyment. I think the earlier example of Lovecraft is exceptionally well chosen, as HP was particularly vile in his views on minorities. I encourage people who haven’t read it or who are interested to buy OSC’s work used or torrent it from any number of sites and feel free to enjoy his often interesting worlds and crafted plots.

    Just don’t give him any financial support.

    Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but once that crosses into advocacy as OSC has, then they are deservedly open to the consequences of publicly aligning and providing support to that cause. OSC’s cause is the restriction of marriage and for punitive actions against LGBQT identifying people. He’s given his time, money and agency to it. It’s not just ‘his opinion’ any longer, any more than any law maker can claim their vote on a bill should be outside of criticizism. It’s not his opinion, it is the cause he has engaged in, and people absolutely should push back against him for it.

    The higher profile his views are put on, the more toxic his properties become and the less success he’ll have earning money he can pour into groups with the aim of taking away the rights of others.

  9. Chuck-

    Given that you’re pretty good with words and have done a particularly good job lately of making arguments related to women and misogyny, I was hoping that you could wrestle a little more with this pedantic idiocy that we have to be tolerant to intolerance. I just game from a brain rattlingly frustrating argument on slashdot about the same thing, related to the exact same story, where people kept insisting that it was intolerant and hypocritical to oppose Card just because he has a different opinion. I know it’s stupid, but I haven’t been able to put it into words very well. I was hoping maybe you could.

    • This seems to be a common argument these days. People who are members of traditionally privileged groups saying that their constitutionally protected belief is in their own superiority. It’s not bigotry, simply another political opinion, they insist. Disagreeing with them is an act of intolerance, or even censorship. If you subscribe to a political view that opposes discrimination, then you’re discriminating against them. Because a belief system that insists on the oppression of some people is just another world view that should be accommodated, evidently. Opposing diversity is another facet of diversity. Impale “the left” on the dagger of their own rhetoric.

      It’s frustrating, because if the default is indeed to let everyone follow their beliefs, then it’s clear who is going to come out on top. Sort of like saying, “You believe in practicing witchcraft, and my belief is in burning witches. By all means, let us call a draw and let each of us follow our beliefs freely!”

      It makes my head explode, but aside from the obvious, “Your freedom to swing your fist ends at someone else’s nose” rebuttal, and the argument that “Free speech rights do not protect you from other people using their rights to free speech to tell you your views are bigoted,” (neither of which seems to make the slightest impression on anyone), I also find myself feeling like I’m slamming my head into a brick wall.

      • I think people choosing not to see the movie are choosing so for the same reasons I will never pick up a book by one of the ‘twelve rabid weasels’ of SFWA again.

        If one is going to claim that their work and views should be tolerated, then they should reflect some tolerance themselves. There is no ONE right way to do life. Spewing hatred is not tolerance in any way shape or form, and should not be tolerated.

  10. It’s 2013 now – you’d think a Sci Fi writer would atleast have come to terms with his real life current year and gotten over the fears and phobias best suited for ages past. Ironic, in a way. Sad, in every way.

  11. I think there’s a difference between being tolerant of different beliefs or ideologies and being tolerant of hate speech, violence, or discriminatory behavior. The requirement for tolerance extends to both parties, imo. Why should we show tolerance towards someone who will not return the favor? After all, the law applies equally to all – right? It does not mean we stop the conversation. But there also needs to be a line which cannot be crossed, and that line is where someone’s rights are compromised by another’s beliefs. The tricky part, of course, is deciding who’s beliefs take precedence, and that is why enforcing morality through law is problematic.

  12. Hi Chuck, clicked over to your post from Martha Wells’ journal on Dreamwidth and just wanted to say that yeah, you pretty much nail the issue for me. I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Ford all my life, but not even his presence in this movie could make me go see it.

    I’ve seen a lot of discussion in the SF/F realm for the past few years about whether one should read books by people whose politics they don’t agree with. “But you’ll miss out on some good stories,” I hear it said. Or, I see it argued that you should keep an open mind and be willing to consider the opinions of others. I’m with this only up to a point. And that point is one Card passed a long goddamned time ago.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass how good a writer he is. There are way too many other good writers, writers who aren’t actively working to make people like me and my wife illegal, who I’d much rather support with my money. And I say this as someone whose lifetime goal is indeed to Read All the Books. In the case of people who want to make me and my wife illegal, and who has cheerleaded efforts in other countries to make people like us dead, in this case I have no qualms whatsoever about making an exception.

  13. So you do background checks on every writer, movie maker, artist, video game producer, store owner, etc. I would really love your list of approved movies, book and stores. Look out everyone book burning is back.

    • I think this is missing the point of this blog. My understanding is that Chuck is explaining why he, personally, is choosing to boycott the movie. At no time, in no way, does he suggest that OSC’s books should be removed from stores and libraries. Nor does he say that background checks are needed or wanted – he didn’t go digging around for this information. OSC is loud, vocal, and very public with his beliefs, which invites a loud, vocal, and public debate over them.

    • From his post:

      And so, I’m gonna boycott the film. Now, to clarify, I’m not saying you should or have to do the same. You do as you like. No harm, no foul.

    • This is completely missing the point. Mr. Wendig did not say any books should be destroyed, or that the movie should not have been made. He simply said why he doesn’t want to give Mr. Card his money. He didn’t even say every person who agrees with him about this issue will or should come to the same conclusion.

  14. I’d still read it if Hitler had authored it and I loathe his views. I will not censor myself. If the Devil jumped up on a hickory stump and started playing his fiddle, I’d probably stop and listen if it moved me. That doesn’t mean I’d follow him around singing his praises.

    I think it is incredibly lazy to use this sort of boycott as an example of fighting injustice. If you watch a man beat someone to death with a pistol, are you really going to pat yourself on the back for withholding the bullets? Do something substantive if you are so inclined or else decide it’s not your fight. This half-hearted self appeasement crap is just plain silly.

    I do respect your view but am exercising my right to prefer my own.

    • As the post indicates, I understand if others don’t boycott. I was giving my reasons for doing so.

      That said, please don’t indicate that the boycott is lazy. Me not wanting to put *actual money* into the hands of an *actual bigot* is not laziness. It’s called “voting with my dollars,” or in this case, the lack of my dollars.

      As a sidenote, you can’t call me “lazy” and what I’m doing “crap” and then in the same comment suggest that you “respect my view.”

      Please, going forward, actually try to put that respect front and center.

      — c.

      • I don’t intend to convey a lack of respect for you by having a difference of opinion; I simply don’t think your decision warrants self-praise. Look at me, I am doing something important by doing nothing. Donating *actual money* to an organization that *actively opposes* Card’s views would be much more admirable than *passive resistance* by withholding indirect contributions. Active is better than passive in more than writing.
        I read a lot of your shit (affectionately named). I don’t always agree with you but respect you putting most of it out there. If “crap” and “lazy” are offensive, then I apologise. The nature of your blog lends me to believe I need not choose my words so carefully.

        • Nobody said I don’t or haven’t donated actual money. It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to line the pockets of a bigot capable of using that money toward reprehensible goals. I don’t mind if you don’t feel the same way or don’t share my opinion, I’d just rather you not talk about respecting me and my opinion while simultaneously insulting me. Words should always be chosen carefully — this blog, which frequently takes the shape of a writing blog, is very much about that.

          — c.

  15. I grew up in the same religion (LDS) as Mr. Card so that view does not surprise me. The thing that always baffled me about that religion’s view of homosexuality is that one of the core beliefs of their religion is that everybody should have free agency. They believe the reason Lucifer was cast out of heaven is because his plan was to force everybody to be righteous taking away their freedom to choose good over evil. So when my Dad was up in arms about the government allowing Gay marriage, I had to ask him that if he believed in free agency, how could he oppose Gay marriage? It should be their right to choose the way they live their lives. Whether or not you think homosexuality is a sin, most religions preach tolerance for others choices and that you shouldn’t judge, but then they turn right around and be the most intolerant judgmental people around. Never made any sense to me. If God and Christianity are true and one day these people are judged, aren’t they afraid they’ll be judged for not treating homosexuals with compassion and tolerance as Jesus would have? Isn’t that the whole point?

  16. Jane – I believe you may have missed this particular line in the article:

    “And so, I’m gonna boycott the film. Now, to clarify, I’m not saying you should or have to do the same. You do as you like. No harm, no foul.”

  17. I was trying to find a way to express how I felt about Card’s hate and this film boycott. I had plenty of people leveling the “would you also boycott the Hobbit because of Tolkien?” argument, but I didn’t feel the simple reply that Orson is alive and Tolkien is dead cut it some how. I know what I wanted to say, but didn’t yet have the way to say it.

    Knowing an artist has vile views against things I feel should be a given in this day and age is more than enough to make me question consuming anything by them. Some times the art wins out. If a writer is a biggoted fuck-up then fine. Even if it encroaches on my enjoyment of the work, fine, I just won’t read it a second time. But if the fiction is actively used as a facilitator of this hate then it’s truly lost me.

    As far as I know Tolkien didn’t create middle-earth to directly oppress, so whatever, water under the bridge. And in truth most of Card’s writing doesn’t exist solely to push these views either but… to hear that Card is actively using the /money/ he gains from his writing and spin off media to oppress the progress of society sickens me.

    Further more it has helped to clarify my views on the matter. It’s well within my power to cut off at least a tiny portion of money fueling his hate machine. So you better believe I will. If the flim flops from negative criticism then all the better (but it’ll probably only fuel peoples interest in it… just so they can see what all the fuss is about and entirely miss the point all over again).

    Either way I feel truly betrayed by his views, considering I used to enjoy Ender’s Game very much. So sad really. I have no real desire to see the film, no matter how good it /could/ be.

    Ah well.

  18. I know this may be an unpopular view, but I could give two shits about OSC’s political/religious views. I’m pretty much as opposite of a homophobe as you can be without being gay, but I also believe in free speech. I do not believe that you can limit someone’s speech because you disagree with that. Unfortunately, that means that I have to defend the rights of someone with views as distasteful and disgusting as Mr. Card’s views because of that right.

    I want to see the movie because I love the book, plain and simple. I do not believe that by simply boycotting the work of OSC that I’m going to in any way change his or anyone else’s views. I mean, I believe sex with mulitiple partners and underage anybody is wrong as well, but I’m not going to stop listening to metal because of that. Just my two cents. Sorry.

    • Nobody’s trying to limit anybody’s speech. I am in fact exercising my own free speech and my own freedom of choice in not spending money on this film and also talking about that decision.

      Also — I don’t know what having sex with multiple partners has to do with anything, or why you’d consider that “wrong.” Or what in fact that or underage sex has to do with… heavy metal?

      — c.

      • Let me clarify: I did not mean to suggest that YOU were trying to limit anyone’s speech. You made it pretty clear that you were talking about your personal decision and I respect that.

        And I don’t think sex with multiple partners is wrong, but sex with underage partners is. I was also trying to come up with a ridiculous example. Perhaps I should have said clowns or Barney or something.

      • rock stars have always been notorious poonhounds, if you’ll pardon the term. For example, fully adult Jimmy Page carried on a fairly lengthy sexual relationship with a 14 year old girl back in the day, but as far as i know not many people bring that up and try to boycott Led Zeppelin.

  19. If the Devil jumped up on a hickory stump and started playing his fiddle, I’d probably stop and listen if it moved me. That doesn’t mean I’d follow him around singing his praises.

    And would you throw pennies in his upturned hat?

    This isn’t simply about reading or listening. This is about money.

  20. If I were to start a personal blog, it would be completely pointless. It would consist of me saying, “Here’s what I think, but Chuck said it better so here’s a link to Terrible Minds.”
    I love how some people equate boycotts with book burning and exercising one’s own freedom with trying to take away the freedom of others. Someone somewhere came up with the idea that being tolerant means just going with the flow and shutting up about everything we disagree with, and now it’s a Thing. I saw it during the Chik Fil A incident, too. “Oh so you want to persecute that man for his religious beliefs?” Uh, no, I just don’t want to give my lunch money to people that suck. He has his freedom, I’ve got mine.

  21. My nephew and I are planning on sitting outside our local theater, on opening day, with a laptop, a dvd of Serenity, and a sign that says “Let’s watch a movie that’s NOT based on the works of a homophobe.”

  22. I can understand OSC’s viewpoint of “the genetic anomaly” from a scientific viewpoint, but does that make homosexuality wrong? Has anyone honestly analyzed the evidence for or against “non-breeders” from an objective or even sociological viewpoint?

    My stance: This “mutation” has survived god-knows-how long with “the gays” procreating in closets, and are now finally speaking out that they want their share of society. It’s like X-Men mutants hiding in the shadows; they have always been here, and when they come out, it’s like, “WTF, you shouldn’t have any rights. Die, you freaks! You are a disease compared to the status quo and shouldn’t exist.”

    OSC is only human, and that’s why he probably takes his personal stance on the issue. But if viewed objectively–scientifically–there would be zero progress if we never had any such mutations in the gene pool. Sure, it appears on paper homosexuals are an eyesore in the face of evolution, but it’s not like they have been weeded out by natural progression. Hell, homosexuality, I posit, probably stemmed from asexual reproduction and has only survived because we as “animals” fucked everything in sight: gay, bi-sexual or straight–all against oh-so-certain biological programming. and sure, you could also argue that progress is not elevated by people who choose to settle with the same sex, but that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to the greater good. The success of a society as a whole should never be fully assessed by the means to prolong the species–hell asexuals, even hetero singles who choose not to procreate, have something to offer as a whole–and these “anomalies” can further society in ways that are immeasurable when compared to the myopic of straight-forward procreation.

    Hell, maybe this isn’t the argument most anti-homosexuals would arise, but it’s a valid point when faced with the realization that these mutations have survived billions of years, and simmered in the DNA of our genetic make-up, and never went away. And as a science-fiction writer, you would think most prevalent authors would be privy to the notion that copulation somewhere down the line may never be an issue again (given the fact of stem-cell research, cloning, and whatnot.)

    So is OSC wrong? Duh. But why is he even relevant? Oh yes, because he has been a successful author and has a public voice. Does it make his stance right? No. I can only hope his voice of dissident against homosexuality is faint in the movie narrative if Ender’s Game ever makes a measurable hit on the psyche of global viewers (i.e. ticket sales.) Will I boycott this movie totally? Probably not. I may watch it after-the-fact even though I don’t agree with his philosophy. Maybe for shits and giggles when and if the Rifftrax version of Ender’s Game is released.


  23. […] Tolerance For Intolerance: Boycotting Ender’s Game — That’s [Orson Scott Card] doubling down and saying, “You need to tolerate my intolerance.” Which is a classic derailing tactic that smells so strongly of horseshit that when he says it I wonder if I’m actually living inside a horse’s ass. Just because we elected Obama president doesn’t mean I have to tolerate racism. Bigoted ignorant fuck-all is still bigoted ignorant fuck-all. […]

  24. OSC can think or say whatever he wants — it’s his actions that I find objectionable. He sits on the board of The National Organization for Marriage — go take a look at their website if you think, after the Supreme Court decision, they consider this issue “moot.” So no, I’m not interested in adding to his wealth or fame if he’s going to use them in an effort to deny me my civil rights.

    I can’t stop someone from wishing my house would burn down, but I’m also not obligated to hand him a box of matches if he’s actually trying to set it afire.

  25. I read Ender’s Game in, I think, 1987, for an adult-education class in Science Fiction taught by Colin Greenland. That class had some serious and well-read SF fans in it. We hated Ender’s Game at the time, and I’ve stayed away from OSC’s work ever since.

    This wasn’t for the attitude to homosexuality, which wasn’t obvious in EG. It wasn’t for being space-opera: the tutor tried to dismiss it on those grounds, and the class wouldn’t let him. It’s a reasonable story within the boundaries of space-opera, and acceptably written.

    We hated it for its cruelty and psychological mutilation, using children who can’t appreciate the magnitude of what they’re doing as warriors (the twist of fighting the real battle disguised as training was fairly obvious). Card’s lack of ability to appreciate what he was doing really undermines the idea of philosophical SF from him, and makes his subsequent public displays of prejudice and petulance seem like parts of the same personality. One with which I have no wish for further engagement.

  26. […] Tolerance For Intolerance: Boycotting Ender’s Game: Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books from high school. The movie looks pretty rad. I love Harrison Ford. I like shiny things and smart science-fiction. […]

  27. I loved the book, so I’m going to go watch the movie. He can believe whatever he wants- society is on a clear path to tolerance anyway, so his hate mongering in the corner isn’t going to do much.

  28. Any chance OSC is pseudonym for LaHaye or one of them types? I loved the Alvin series but Ender was angrifying.

  29. I’ve known about Card’s religious views since I started reading his books (Ender’s Game being the first one I read about 13 years ago). I didn’t know about his political activism until recently, but I inferred his thoughts on a few topics just by knowing that he belonged to the LDS Church. That being said, it never seemed to color the art for me. Ender’s Game, the Shadow Series, Empire, Hidden Empire are all books of his that I greatly enjoyed, still enjoy, and recommend. Do his personal views keep them from being enjoyable literature? I don’t think so. I’ll continue to be pro-gay rights AND read Card’s works and I’m pretty sure I’ll still be able to live with myself.

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