Orson Scott Card's message of tolerance? Despite the profound message of tolerance in this book and its sequel, SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, Orson Scott Card appears to personally be an extremely bigoted and intolerant person against gays. In an editorial published in the Mormon Times on July 24, 2008, Card wrote, "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, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage." You can read the entire text at http://mormontimes.com/ME_blogs.php?id=1586. People should know the person they're supporting when buying this book.
I have the dual benefit of having been raised Mormon, but no longer a believer. I love his novels, and everything else he's written, from short stories to WorldWatch on Ornery.org to "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" on Hatrack.com. He is, quite simply, my favorite author, and I have a lot of respect for him. I don't always agree with him, especially about social issues like this one, but I have read the article in question, as well as some of his others. Here's what I think: he is against gay marriage on a personal level because of his religious beliefs, while generally, he argues that the government is using authority to force this re-definition where it should have none, and that it is a dangerous precedent to allow it to happen this way. He makes sense, when you look at it that way.
Anyway, here is his most recent blog regarding his (and the Mormon Church's) position on Proposition 8, posted today, Oct. 23, 2008. In response to the OP, he writes:
"We do not think that any belief system, whether it calls itself a religion or not, should be imposed on other people by law -- we won't impose ours on them, and we won't let them impose theirs on us or our families.
Instead, we believe that as long as we are citizens of a free country, changes in the laws and institutions of our society should be made only by common consent, after a free and candid discussion."
(Oddly enough, I don't support Prop 8, but I appreciate his rational discussions on the subject, where he at least has a better argument than, "This is what we believe, so there." I understand his opinion, and it makes sense, but I'm still not convinced he's right.)
Edited to add: This is the quote that stopped me in my tracks, from the same post: "In fact, I believe that even those who absolutely believe in gay marriage should join us in opposing any law that is forced on an unwilling majority by the dictates of judges. For those that are wise will recognize that once judges are given such power, that power has as much chance of being used against them as for them."
I find Orson Scott Card's arguments for actively campaigning for Proposition 8 to be troubling at best. From his articles about Proposition 8, he clearly opposes allowing same-sex couples enter into civil marriages (who religious groups choose to or choose not to marry remains up to them). Why do I find his arguments problematic?
1. The Rights of Minorities: Card argues courts and gay Americans are forcing their views on him and his family. Yet, many (all?) state constitutions contain language that the views of the majority cannot override the rights of a minority group -no matter how unpopular. Would the majority of whites in Alabama had ever moved to integrate schools in the 1960s? Would atheists' children still be forced to pray in our secular public schools if such ideas were left up to a majority vote? Who is forcing their views on whom: the tax-paying lesbian couple in CA who petition their state to grant them equal access to the rights, responsibilities, name, and status of civil marriage or the Mormon author living in North Carolina who actively campaigns to overturn what a CA court deemed a fundamental right to marriage? To paraphrase a bumper sticker, if you don't want to marry a man in CA, Orson, don't. Allowing people to share an institution (public schools, the military, colleges, golf clubs, marriage, etc.) rarely if ever in history has weakened an institution; it strengthens it. Allowing gay people to marry isn't going to affect Card's marriage.
Card's view is really contextual: "In fact, I believe that even those who absolutely believe in gay marriage should join us in opposing any law that is forced on an unwilling majority by the dictates of judges. For those that are wise will recognize that once judges are given such power, that power has as much chance of being used against them as for them." Segregationists made the same argument, sadly, against court-ordered racial integration of schools.
2. Card argues his gay friends who distanced themselves from him over Prop 8 are "intolerant." He equates tolerance to disagreement and argues these friends want uniformity of thought; not tolerance.
I think there is a clear difference between two friends holding differences of opinion over things that do not directly affect them. For instance, a friend and I can hold radically different views on evolution and Creationism, but such matters don't really affect us on the daily basis. On the other hand, Card currently receives a hefty treasure chest of special rights from the federal and NC government in the form of civil marriage benefits. Being denied those....or having them taken away forcibly through forced divorce as Prop 8 supporters are now trying to do to the 36,000 people married before 8 passed...would affect Card and his family as much as it now affects same-sex couples and their children. It is not just an academic exercise for gay families or an expression of a religious preference: civil marriage has daily, real world implications for these people.
In other words, Card seems shocked some of his gay friends don't want to be his friend. Yet, if one of them came and said: "Orson, I really like you. You're a nice guy...so are your Mormon family and friends. But I think your 'religion' (since it doesn't meet my standard of what a real religion is no more than my marriage meets your standard of a real marriage) is a dangerous cult. Religion is a choice, afterall, and I really don't agree with your choice...tho I respect you as a person and friend. In fact, I'm going to donate to, support, and speak out for a Proposition in CA to ban your faith to protect America, to protect my kids, and protect civilization itself. I hope we can still be friends?" Now, with situations reversed, would Card be tolerant of and stay friends with a person who was actively seeking to denigrate and deny something dear to him? If the majority of Americans voted to ban Mormonism, would that be OK since it was the majority's views even if a court tried to 'force' the view that Americans can choose to be Mormons if they will?
Card's arguments basically fall apart to me when framed in different contexts. They are a cover for his religious viewpoint that gay families simply aren't equal to his; that his type of family should get special rights and privileges and others should not. I doubt he would want his marriage invalidated or would accept a civil union instead of a marriage. I wish the government would get out of the marriage business altogether, but as long as so many benefits rest on civil marriage, then tax-paying same-sex and opposite-sex couples should both be allowed them in my opinion. Card is smart and his own analysis of his support for Prop 8 strikes me as a knee-jerk adherence to what his religion tells him rather than asking himself how he would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot...you know, that Golden Rule thing.
I truly believe you can disagree without being disagreeable. Buried in your statement is a point worth considering, and one that was made before. However, it gets lost among the insults. A good philosophical debate needs to exclude personal attacks because if they are included the "other side" never truly gets to hear what you are saying...or was that your goal?
"Yes, he probably believes the homosexual lifestyle is not what God wants for us. Should we tolerate each other if we disagree? Sure, if this means respecting each persons viewpoint and beliefs."
This isn't about just respecting someone's "belief and viewpoint". You do not have to respect someone's viewpoint that interracial marriage should be illegal. Sure you can be tolerant that they have a right to their opinion. But when they support stripping other people of *their* right to be legally married based on those racist viewpoints---what is happening there? Is that tolerance? How are they affected by others of different races getting married? No one is forcing them to marry someone of a different race? Yet they're happy to strip other Tax-Paying American Citizens of their civil rights (as Mormons also did, when they actively campaigned for interracial marriage bans as well) based on their belief? The real problem here is the separation of church and state--as R. Reichert post sort of simply lays out, if the Gov't is going to subsidize legal contracts of marriage, then they have no basis of denying same sex contracts unless a constitutional amendment is passed declaring all homosexuals unequal in America. This is the reasoning the CA, VT and MA judicial branches came to--as long as the constitution claims all are created equal then they are----regardless of whether your *god* thinks certain people are unequal, or that only certain races should marry. I think it's shameful what happened with Prop 8, and I hope many people recognize what happened--that a minority groups civil rights were stripped by the majority--which should never happen under our government.
"In my opinion, government shouldn't be sanctioning marriage at all. I view that as government endorsement of religion."
I disagree with this. I am non-religious and I am engaged to be married. To me marriage is not something that requires religious involvement. It is a contract made between two people who plan on spending their lives together. To me it shouldn't matter what mix of genders the couple may be they should be given the same rights as anyone else who wants to enter into this contract. So I'm fine with government sanctioning marriage because I don't think it entails endorsement of religion. What I have a problem with are the people that feel that they have a religious right to "defend" marriage since their religion may or may not define marriage a certain way. Since the government gives certain rights to married couples I feel it is the duty of the government to allow marriage for couples of any mix of genders and give the same rights to all.
In my opinion, government shouldn't be sanctioning marriage at all. I view that as government endorsement of religion.
Essentially, Card's argument boils down to the fact that he's upset even by the idea that gay couples can enter into a marriage contract, and when someone disagrees he plays to the religious persecution complex (projection, anyone?). He's not satisfied with keeping marriage between men and women within his own family, social circle or community; he wants to force his views on everyone, and he uses the moral high ground of religion to spread his "gawdhatzfags" rhetoric.
The reason people view the anti-gay marriage stance as bigoted is because it relegates monogamous gay couples to the status of second-class citizens. Just like mixed race couples fifty years ago, they cannot seek the same right and benefits as other couples. Now that several states have passed legislative resolutions by elected officials permitting gay marriage, I'd like to see him parrot the "activist judges" screed.
As far as Ender's Game is concerned, you'll notice a strange tinge of Mormon proselytization mentality in Ender Wiggin's character. He engages in genocide against the Buggers, but he learns to "respect" them. Essentially, his mindset is, "I'm going to destroy you, but I'm going to love you while I do it."
Um, huh? If you loved me so much, you wouldn't want to do anything that would hurt me.
Card doesn't understand anything beyond his own self-motivation, just like Ender Wiggin.
But you also have to think that its an Essay, I have written tons of Essays that i disagree with, essays are ment to invoke discussion.
I dont fault OSC for his beliefs, do i think the Views talked about in that essay are right, No.
I believe the word tolerance should never come up. case and point...
I tolerate this Essay.
that has a Negitive feel to it. my view on Marriage is this.
If the Government is gonna Subsidize marriage, then any two people regardless of sex should be able to enter into a Union Recognized by the state.
If the Government stops all Marriage Subsidzation, that includes regulating marriage, and marriage licences. Marriage Should Left in the hands of the Religion, and Im sure many Different Religions accept gays and would be happy to Marry them.
I for one dont think the latter is ever going to happen, but i believe the first can, and will happen eventually. atleast i hope so, I dont think there is anything wrong with a Civil Union, all Unions between two people from the state should be called and classified as a Civil Union, Leave the Term Marriage up to the Individual and their church.
Thank you for the link. The article was very interesting to read. I hope others will read the entire article and think about what he is saying. I hope they do not just stop at the statement you sorta took out of context. Tolerate is defined as: to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit. It is my reading of his statements that he is taking exception to the manner in which gay "marriage" has been legalized. Yes, he does believe in one definition of marriage. Yes, he probably believes the homosexual lifestyle is not what God wants for us. Should we tolerate each other if we disagree? Sure, if this means respecting each persons viewpoint and beliefs. However, the tolerant attitude stops when one is asked to support or accept something one does not wish to support or accept...and this happens on both sides of the argument. Are you tolerating his opinion and viewpoint or are you being bigoted and intolerant? It is quite frightening to me that simply not agreeing that something is acceptable gets immediately labeled bigoted, intolerant, and the person becomes a "homophobe". A phobia is an irrational fear of something. Most people who disagree with the gay lifestyle are not irrationally afraid, they just don't agree. Can you tolerate that?
Separating the works from the author, I'd recommend Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and the Speaker series. As the Shadow series moves along, his writing becomes much more preachy and his religious conservatism starts seriously showing through. (I abandoned the series immediately when a gay male (character) supposedly realized he could only be happy in life by ignoring his sexuality and marrying a woman.)
On the content of this thread, I'll stop labeling opponents of gay marriage (not just people who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, but people who actively fight against legal benefits for gay couples) bigots when one of them demonstrates how gay marriage is causing them any harm whatsoever. Until then, trying to deny legal rights and benefits to a certain group of people that don't affect you in any way makes you a bigot.