Orson’s Last Card or what to do when a favorite author turns out to be a crazy bigot

Orson Scott Card isn’t playing with a full deck any more. 160px-Ender's_game_cover_ISBN_0312932081It was well known that Card, acclaimed writer of Ender’s Game, arguably one of the best YA sci-fi books out there, is against gay marriage. And not just quietly opposed. All in. He’s on the board of the National Organization for Marriage for crying out loud.

But then, recently, Card posted an incredibly delusional essay about how Obama will take over America. (The real thing is here, but read the summary on Slate it’s shorter and slightly less painful.) At one point, he says this:  “…Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama’s enemies.”

Oh and there’s my favorite bit about how Michelle Obama will run for president to serve as his puppet. (Really?) At the end of it all, Card says just kidding–but come on, you can’t just spew racist craziness and take it all back with a ‘JK.’

All this has made me a little ill. When I first read Ender’s Game, I knew nothing about Card, and frankly I didn’t care. It was a great book. And the author’s bio didn’t have a “warning racist homophobe writer” on it.  I picked up more of his books, including Enchantment, one of my all time favorite YA fantasy books.

I don’t think an author is the same as his books, but I also don’t feel like shouting about how much I love  Card’s books. Bottom line, Ender’s Game is not a worthless book because the man who wrote it has taken a flyer around lulu bend into bigot town. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s nothing overtly anti-gay or racist in Ender’s Game. It does contain plenty about a controlling militaristic government in the future. But that’s just it. It’s sci-fi set in a hypothetical universe, not the real one.  Like good sci-fi, it raises some interesting questions that are well worth thinking more deeply about.

So I say: go ahead read the book or see the movie if you want to. The issues Ender’s Game raises are important. I don’t like giving Card more money, but he’s already a very successful author. That ship has sailed. And other people will benefit from your ticket dollars: the hundreds of people involved in making the movie, and even  more who own or work at theaters–including, I imagine, plenty of gay people. And we don’t need to hurt them because the guy who wrote the original book is a  dumbass.

Of course, you can avoid the moral dilemma completely and read the book, by  getting it from the library or buying it from a used bookstore. That way you don’t have to feed the crazy any more dollars at all.

What do you think? Would you deliberately avoid a book (or a movie) because of the author’s offensive views even if they aren’t present in the story itself?

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One Response to Orson’s Last Card or what to do when a favorite author turns out to be a crazy bigot

  1. CL says:

    Having known nothing about Card before this year, and having never read his work, I think you’re right in saying that, at this point, if you like his work, then you should absolutely enjoy it. Card is his own entity and the books are there to enjoy.

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