Author Orson Scott Card has joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage, the folks who gave us "The Gathering Storm" PSA on gay marriage.

Card has long been known to be outspokenly anti-gay. It still surprises me, though, to see someone who came up with the coolly logical Ender, the Ender who held his tongue, observed from a distance, and calculated possible outcomes before acting, choose the vehicles Card does for conveying his anti-GLBTQ beliefs. You'd think Card could mount a stunning, well-reasoned argument against gay rights (I'm not sure what it would be, exactly, but), but in his political columns he jumps quickly to straight-out flailing, wildly lashing out and committing logical fallacies at every other turn. For example, from Card's 2008 article, "State Job is Not to Redefine Marriage":

A term that has mental-health implications (homophobe) is now routinely applied to anyone who deviates from the politically correct line. How long before opposing gay marriage, or refusing to recognize it, gets you officially classified as "mentally ill"?

(Go ahead, read the article. The thing about seeing an isolated Card quote on GLBTQ issues is that one is tempted to think "It can't be as bad as it sounds--the quote was taken out of context." But with Card, in context doesn't help: the article is full of soundbites like this).

This kind of fallacious thinking, this rushing-to-jump-to-conclusions, this hotheadedness and fear-mongering, is exactly what Card exposes in Ender's Game in the character of Bonzo Madrid (and in parts of Peter). How could someone who created Bonzo to knock him down and expose the flaws in his strategy keep pulling Bonzos when it comes to arguing against GLBTQ rights? What Card should be doing, if he's chosen this fight, is imagining how Ender would argue against GLBTQ rights.

I think I've mentioned before here that I don't think it's at all a stretch to see Ender's Game as a book chock-full of queer sensibility. Ender is a Third; Ender is an outsider; Ender is acutely aware of how he's different from other kids. Something about Ender bothers macho boys, who want to kill him or beat him up (Stilson, Bonzo). Ender's Game rejects poles of masculinity and femininity: Peter is not chosen for Battle School because he's too war-like and violent (traditionally seen as masculine qualities in our culture); Valentine is not chosen because she's too compassionate and gentle (traditionally seen as feminine qualities); Ender's balance of masculinity and femininity is key to his success. Petra, a female character without traditional feminine qualities, is also successful in Battle School. Then, you know, you have the soap-slippery naked wrestling in the shower scene. And a character named Dink.

Ender is all about self-control. Card's anti-GLBTQ writings seem out-of-control and desperate (again, like Bonzo). It's this that surprises me more than the content of Card's beliefs.


Charles said...

I've met many authors in my career, but I've only met a few who were outwardly rude, arrogant, and dismissive.

Just saying.

kittent said...

what a wonderful review of Ender's Game. Card comes across as a nice guy when he is doing a book signing. It's a shame he's such a dick politically speaking.

Kerry said...

Yes, but think about poor Petra in the Hegemon books--Card turns her into a helpmeet/babymaker for Bean in a move that shockingly parallels indoctrination into the ex-gay movement. It's such a betrayal of creation.

Emily Lloyd said...

Kerry: yes! Nutty Bars. I read Ender's Shadow & Shadow of the Hegemon, then gave up.

Hadn't occurred to me before that Petra is, name-wise, feminine of Peter...wonder if there's anything to that?