The Vilification of Orson Scott Card

A friend posted on Facebook about his interest in the new Ender’s Game film based on the classic novel by Orson Scott Card.  Another person chimed in with joy over a news story that Card would not profit personally based on the performance of the film.  Why would such a thing be an occasion for joy?  The answer is that Card (a Mormon) is a known opponent of same-sex marriage.

Card’s career of late has been affected by his view of marriage.  He lost prospective work writing for a Superman project when voices piped up in opposition to him.  Was it because of his poor writing?  No.  It was because of his politics.  These same people who villify Card and hope to destroy his career are surely the same persons who curse the “Red Scare” and “McCarthyism.”  What is the phenomenon in either case?  It is the attempt to prevent a person with a particular worldview from getting work or to prevent others from associating with that person.

In the course of conversation I have pointed out to Card haters that he merely holds the same position that Barack Obama claimed to hold just a few years ago.  In return, I have been criticized for associating two such disparate things.  I do not understand the criticism.  What would be the difference between Orson Scott Card, a creative writer, being against gay marriage and Barack Obama, a politician, being against gay marriage?  It is, of course, true that Barack Obama has changed his mind, but he stated publicly that he felt marriage is between a man and a woman in the course of his first election campaign.  Surely, that statement was more consequential than anything Orson Scott Card might say.  Indeed, we might add that Proposition 8 in California passed largely because of an especially high turnout among African-American voters in 2008 who were on their way to bring Barack Obama an historic victory.

Was there at any point an effort to undermine Barack Obama or destroy his career because he stated his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman?  Why not?  What is the difference between Barack Obama and Orson Scott Card?  Yes, Obama has changed his mind.  But is the left so intolerant that they cannot extend poor Orson Scott Card a couple more years than President Obama got before they really get on his case?  After all, we are talking about something essentially new in human history.

Or maybe the person on the left hearing my critique would say something else.  Something like, “Well, we all knew that Obama was not really against gay marriage.  He just had to say that in order to maintain electoral viability in 2008.”  Very good.  So the president is to be celebrated for saying something he clearly did not mean, while Card is to be villified for saying what he did mean?

Or perhaps one might argue that the reason Card deserves this shoddy treatment (even from those who admit to having loved and benefitted from his work) is because his opposition to gay marriage is, indeed, evil.  There are many problems with this point of view.

First of all, it would be strange to suddenly discover this NEW source of evil.  While it is true that homosexuality has been accepted at different times and places, gay marriage is an entirely new thing in human history.  We did not even see it in Greco-Roman times.  How odd for this refusal to sanction gay marriage to suddenly be an evil point of view.  I can bolster this point by demonstrating that even though slavery has been durable in human history, it has always had its opponents.  Aristotle reviews arguments for and against slavery.  The same cannot be said about gay marriage.  Marriage was about men and women and that was it.

Second, people are treating Orson Scott Card as though he were a white supremacist or something of that nature.  Is it really fair to treat those two things similarly?  I can conceive no rational reason to discriminate between people based on skin color.  Can one, though, think of non-arbitrary reasons to limit marriage to men and women?  Of course.  Those reasons need not ultimately be convincing to everyone.  They need merely be non-arbitrary.  And they are not.  They are largely based on the physical complementarity (by design or evolution) of men and women.

Our culture has decided that individual self-determination is more important than whatever reasons can be adduced in favor of not permitting same-sex marriage.  The issue has suddenly become like a Berlin Wall in our community.  Activists are eagerly building it and marginalizing people they view as standing on the wrong side of the barrier.

Intellectually, I think this way of thinking is disastrous.  When I was younger, I tended to dismiss Rousseau because I knew he refused to marry his mistress or to take responsibility for his newborn babes.  Instead, he dropped them off at orphanages, which were not happy or safe places.  Likewise, I wanted nothing to do with Marx because of the disastrous Soviet experiment.  I have learned, however, that there is great profit to be had in reading both men, and not merely because of the things I think they got wrong.  They got some things right, too.  I am grateful to professors and others who helped me overcome the need to constantly prevail over those with whom I disagree.

Those who would try to knock Orson Scott Card out of the stream of broad acceptability would do better to listen to him and seek to understand him.  They may still be utterly convinced he is wrong, but perhaps they would abandon this quest to brand him as “evil.”  Perhaps I can sell this point to the activists by noting that more humane treatment and more respect for Card’s ideas might improve their chances of conveying their concerns to him, too.  We will not be able to communicate as long as we play this game of intellectual banishment.

37 thoughts on “The Vilification of Orson Scott Card

  1. “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.”

    I’m certain this was not Barack Obama’s position on marriage, ever. It was Orson Scott Card’s.

    “[W]hen government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.”

    Dunno about you, but “by whatever means necessary” generally implies (or at least includes) *violent* means. Unless who generations of Americans have been reading Malcolm X wrong. But I don’t think so.

    The thing is: Card isn’t being unusually singled out because he has a commonly conservative view of gay marriage. He’s being singled out because his own comments are … kind of radical, kind of frightening, implying that he is willing to use and support the use of violence in order to create the kind of government that imposes the marriage regime of his choice.

    I’m not into blackballing anybody. But it’s not really McCarthyist to refuse to support somebody who suggests they’re willing to use violence to undo your relationship. It’s entirely rational.

  2. Joel, I think I recognize you from the podcasts with Ben Boychuk. I appreciate the distinction you offer. I have to say that I can understand the strength of the emotion Card probably had when he wrote those words because of his perception of the enormity of the social change we are talking about (especially in historical context as I mention in the post). And I’m guessing he made those comments some years back. Nevertheless, if we apply that same test to comments people on the left have made at various times with regard to various controversies, we would have had to permanently send many of them out of the realm of the tolerable. Bill Ayers is still around and respected, yet he was willing to plan and commit violent acts. Surely that is a bigger deal than Card announcing an angry intention.

    Still, I appreciate the comment and find it improves my own understanding of the situation. I had not realized the rhetoric had been so strong.

    I am curious and this is not a gotcha moment. Do you agree with those who would prevent Card from getting a job, say, writing a Superman comic? And if so, why?

  3. I should also add that I think we should draw a distinction between “refuse to support” and trying to hound someone out of their place in commercial society. In other words, it is one thing not to buy a book. It is another to go around to publishers and try to convince people never to give a man work.

    • Roger, I’m sorry to say that you’ve been fooled by a dishonest writer. That page is (ironically) using out-of-context quotes to change the meaning of what OSC actually wrote (and tellingly doesn’t link to the actual articles, so readers can check for themselves).

      The full 2008 OSC op-ed in which he advocates that married heterosexuals “change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary” can be read here. Contrary to what you mistakenly thought, the quote is OSC’s voice, not a hypothetical voice. (That said, it’s pretty clear that the hypothetical voice from much later on in the same essay is one that OSC approves of.)

      The same page you link to also says that his essay mentioning anti-gay laws “was simply recognizing the law at the time. In the same article he called for them not to be enforced.” That’s a lie.

      OSC’s 1990 essay in which he clearly and unambiguously endorsed using criminal law to discourage homosexuality – including jailing those who were too “flagrantly” gay – can be read in full here. Here is the relevant quote:

      Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

      The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

      Far from calling for the laws “not to be enforced,” OSC explicitly advocates enforcement against those who are “flagrantly” homosexual, so that they won’t be “permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens.”

      To relate this to the original essay, it is clear that – even when OSC’s words are read in their full, original context – it’s not true that Obama’s views were at one time identical to OSC’s.

  4. Especially relevant from Card:

    Quote in Context: Here is a quote from the same 2008 time-period that seems to be overlooked. From a Mormon Times October 23, 2008 article entitled “Disagree but don’t be unkind.” Written to a conservative, Mormon audience.

    We do not believe that homosexuals, by entering into a marriage, are personally hurting anybody. Where the law makes such a thing available, even temporarily, those who marry are not our enemies. We believe the law is wrong and the marriage is not, in any meaningful way, what we mean by marriage.

    But my family and I are perfectly able to deal with such couples socially and keep them as friends, as long as they show the same respect and understanding for our customs and beliefs as we show for theirs.

    Only when a gay friend demanded that I agree with his or her point of view or cease to be friends has the friendship ended. What is odd is that in every case they call me intolerant. They misunderstood the meaning of “tolerance.”

    Tolerance implies disagreement – it means that even though we don’t agree with or approve of each other’s beliefs or actions, we can still live together amicably. When we agree, we aren’t being tolerant, we are being uniform.

    It makes me sad when people are so intolerant that they cannot bear to be friends with anyone who disapproves of some action or opinion of theirs. But I believe that if we could only be friends with people who never disapprove of something we do, we will end up with “friends” who either don’t know us very well, or don’t care about us very much.

  5. I find the double standards interesting.

    So Card says he’s against gay marriage (he’s perfectly within his rights to have this opinion and even voice it, in a free, democratic society), he fires off a hypothetical voice with something even “worse” (which, of course, gets misquoted at once) and people go nuts over it.

    Recently there have been numerous imams who have stated that gays should be killed. And they did so even in European countries. That was met with silence by the same people who scream about Card.

    It’s amazing how deep those double standards and the complete ignorance connected to them run.

    Goes hand in hand with a new plan cooked up by the EUSSR in Brussels where they want to “observe” people who make “intolerant” statements. Won’t take long and “observe” will turn into “prosecute”, “arrest”, “imprison” or even “punish”. And of course the definition of “intolerant” is entirely up to the makers of said “policy”. The really scary thing is, that there are actually plenty of people out there who support this. They are in favor of banning “intolerant” speech and making it punishable under the law.

    Whatever happened to “I don’t agree with your opinion, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it”? Oh wait, in the beginning I said “in a free, democratic society.” Silly me, I forgot we’re long past this democratic and liberal (in its true meaning) nonsense.

  6. Sir: First of all, let me say I’m happy to hear that you listen to the podcast. Ben’s not just my colleague; he’s also a great friend.

    My sympathies are with gay marriage, as you can imagine, but I wouldn’t have been inclined to boycott Mr. Card and his Superman comic—not least because the next Superman comic I buy will be my first in at least 30 years. More to the point, however: I’ve come by my left-of-center politics honestly: I grew up in central Kansas, graduated from a conservative Mennonite college, and still have a great many conservative Christian friends who believe in, as they say, “traditional” marriage. For this reason, I myself try not to use terms like “homophobia”—I think it pathologizes and oversimplifies my friends’ reasons for opposing gay marriage.

    As I’ve said before, publicly, to the satisfaction of almost nobody I know, my preferred outcome is that my gay friends get married and my conservative Christian friends are free to (A) ban it from their churches and (B) be vocal as they want to be about that.

    Some of that is tricky, though. Mores change, and that can be disorienting for people on both sides of the line. Folks who were on society’s side and now find themselves against society’s tide on this matter will probably feel some fallout. I don’t endorse that, but having unpopular opinions tends to make a person, or institutions, unpopular. That feels bad. I want my liberal friends to respect my conservative friends’ freedom of religion and conscience (and vice versa, btw) but it may be the case that losing on this issue (as I believe conservative Christians are going to, for the most part) simply just won’t feel that great because losing stinks. And that won’t require any concerted effort by liberals to punish; it’ll just be people reacting the way they always do to minority or unpopular opinions.

    Make sense?

  7. Well, by definition, the popular zeitgeist is more a PC lockstep phenomenon than a set of consistent well-argued beliefs. The current fad, heavily hammered by all the institutions that pop opinion relies on – gov’t, public education, academia, big business, etc. is so-called “gay marriage” and the forcible acceptance, nay celebration, of gay behaviour. I am thankful that there is still some independent thought, and some effective outlets such as Ryan Anderson’s work and magazines like “Touchstone”, but the influence is pretty minimal with the masses who don’t want to or cannot read and have to be told what to think.

  8. Thanks for the well written piece. The problem for me, is that extremism is becoming Populist, with polarizing perspectives at each side of the pendulum. It’s made me more Centrist as I believe most people tend to think. Is it not the same, to see the call for boycotting Card for his views, as extreme as his opinions are? It seems to me that being just left or right of the middle constitutes an open dialogue from both points of view.

    • Kitt, I think Roger’s link above demonstrates Cards comments are not as extreme as some have portrayed them to be. On the whole, though, what I would like to see is simply a public square that welcomes conversation and debate without trying to win by simply casting some folks out and demonizing them.

  9. How is correctly framing his position based on his words and actions “vilifying” him?

    You aren’t fooling anyone, except those who wish to be fooled.

    • I don’t agree that “correctly framing” his position is an accurate statement of what has occurred. Neither do I agree that I am attempting to “fool” anyone as you have uncharitably and insultingly suggested.

      • Hunter, after reading my previous comment, do you still say that OSC’s words have not been correctly framed, and that OSC’s position is identical to Obama’s former position?

        (To OSC’s words, add that he was a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, the nation’s most prominent anti-marriage equality organization. So unlike Obama, he has actually been an activist against marriage equality.)

  10. What’s amazing to me is that people, collectively, have written way, way more words about how Orson Scott Card feels about homosexuality than Card himself ever has.

    You don’t have to look far before you find statements that he A) Hates homesexuals and B) Has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality. The first statement is based entirely on inference and the second statement is based entirely on deliberate misstatement.

    The sum total of what everybody knows about Card’s views on homosexuality that don’t fit with the current LGBT policial agenda is this:

    Once, back when there were still laws about homosexual behavior he said he thought they could be left on the books as a way to send a message to those who had some type of extreme behavior. What did he mean by that? All I know is he says in the essay that he doesn’t mean regular people who indulge in homosexual behavior. But the way everyone reads the essay, they actually say he means regular people who engage in homosexual behavior.

    What about the accusation that he hates?

    A lot of that comes from that same essay. It’s an essay written to a religious audience about people who want the religion to stop considering homosexual behavior sin. The essay is full of the usual Christian admonitions to love the sinner while hating the sin, and while it roundly denounces the idea that homosexuality should be withdrawn from consideration as a sin, it’s descriptions of behavioral requirements towards homosexuals themselves includes words like “we must treat . . . kindly,” “forgiveness,” and “compassion.” And rather than singling out homosexuality as being an especially grievous sin, the essay compares the religious expectations of someone with same sex attraction as being largely the same expectations his religion places on those with opposite sex attraction at many periods of their life.

    When words like “intolerance” or “fools” are used, it is always in the context of the specific idea that his church should reconsider its definition of sin, never as a blanket statement towards individuals who experience same gender attraction.

    However, because words like “intolerance” and “fools” are used, it’s easy to see how someone coming into the essay with the idea already in their head that Card was a homophobe could take statements as being directed towards homosexuals in general, when a careful reading shows they’re clearly not.

    I don’t think the misreadings are what drive me the craziest, though.

    What drives me the craziest are the people who KNOW him, who are writing essays about how amazing he was when they emailed with him or met him or worked with him. People who’ve heard him talk about things or express opinions on things or benifited from him that are acting like he’s alll of the sudden changed into a different person. None of them are actually analyzing all of this and trying to reconcile what they’ve experienced of the man with what the internet is telling them. They’re believing strangers on the internet before they believe their own experences.

    I remember attending a signing he did for his book “Magic Street.” For those unfamiliar, Magic Street is a book about african americans in an african american communit in LA county who suddenly experience a “leak” of power from a magical world, and have to deal with the consequences. The book was the result of some conversations with one friend of his who happened to be black and another conversation with Queen Latifah. He talked during the Q & A portion before the signing at great length about race at that signing, including expressing chagrin that the publisher had been careful to design the cover in such a way that the race of the character on the cover was ambiguous–a decision by the publisher made out of fear that people wouldn’t want to buy a book about a black man.

    I happened to be in line behind a behind a black woman at that signing, and happened to overhear the conversation, and it was clear that she was genuinely impressed with Card and comisserated on some of the issues he described.

    But of course, now I’m in the internet age, and people have found a single sentence in an essay to twist around and say, “If you look at it from exactly this way, in just the right light, and from exactly the right angle, now we can say Card is a racist, too!”

    Nobody’s trying to understand him. Nobody wants to know what’s really in his heart. They just want him to be as vile and evil and hateful as they can possibly make him, and then settle in with him safely painted as a villian.

    And I’m really, really saddened that there aren’t any of the LGBT community who Card has loved over the years who are willing to step forward and say, “Card isn’t who you’re painting him to be.” There aren’t any who can come forward and actually list any way he’s mistreated them, either, but never mind that, right? We have exxagerations and misreading of his essays to fall back on.

    I wish more people, even who supported him, would stop accepting the basic premise of all of these arguements that the only rationale one can have for opposing gay marriage is that you hate gay people.

  11. I am not convinced by the context of Card’s quote about overthowing the government. Sure, it is in a hypothetical voice, but a hypothetical voice he supports. Phrasing a threat as a warning and then denying the threat is the oldest bully trick in the book. Consider a Muslim who says, “If we continue to allow blasphemy against the prophet, some devout followers will feel compelled to avenge Alla.” Or a communist who says, “As income inequality grows, violent revolution becomes inevitable.” Or a mobster who says, “Nice bakery you have here, you wouldn’t want some criminals to firebomb it.”
    I actually do not support the boycott. But Card is not being singled out for his political views, he is being singled out for violent, traitorous rhetoric, and he has not been unfairly misquoted.

    • If you read the Federalist Papers, you will find that the violent over throw of the government by the people when the government had violated the will of the people was an approved democratic option for addressing grievances. Hence the Second Amendment, the no standing army, and militia commanders being commissioned by the state. Checks and Balances. Advocating the violent overthrow of some possible future tyrannical federal government is not traitorous. If I said we should overthrow the government if Obama went on a program of executing gays in the streets would that be traitorous or patriotic?

    • I don’t get the impression that “disloyalty to the United States government” is what these people are really mad about, at the core.

  12. Pingback: WWGO – November 2, 2013 | Politics Dividing US

  13. Thank you for a cogent article.
    I am female, have lived with the same woman for 24 years, married her in Toronto as soon as it was legal there, and am also a close friend of the Card family. We have been invited to their childrens’ weddings, stay at their home when in the area, and discuss our differences calmly – even, sometimes, with humor.
    I appreciated the comment “Recently there have been numerous imams who have stated that gays should be killed. And they did so even in European countries. That was met with silence by the same people who scream about Card.” Surely calling for the death of gay people rises to a higher standard than insisting we not be allowed to marry?
    As someone living in the South, I know a number of country artists who think the way Card does, only with more overt hostility. No one is calling for any boycotts of their music. I don’t hear people asking for boycotts of Kirk Cameron’s shows, or Cee Lo Green’s music,
    You’ll have to work very hard to find a contemporary Christian artist, or gospel artist, who supports gay marriage. Or who doesn’t think we will burn in hell for being gay. Why is no one calling for boycotts of the venues that book them, the record companies and publishers who support them?
    Twenty-four years ago, when I began living with my now-wife, it was frightening to hold hands while we walked down the street. The threat of violence was always near. There were (and are) songwriters who would not work with me, singers who would not record my songs, and promoters who would not book me – not because I was shouting “I’m gay!” from the rooftops, but because I refused to live my life in hiding.
    That my homosexuality is now acceptable doesn’t change the fact that these people denied me, as a writer and performer, the right to earn a living making music. And now that the tables are turned, why is it all right to get Card bounced from an opportunity to work with DC Comics? Does anyone even know what Jerry Siegel or Joel Shuster thought of gay marriage, let alone gay people?
    I am appalled that anyone would in this country would call for a boycott of someone’s work because of their viewpoint. We are not talking about Nazi Germany here. We are not talking about someone calling for the punishment or death of gay people. We’re not talking about Fred Phelps.
    We live in a scary world, where Imams in India can issue a fatwa against cartoons and the people who make them. Where some cultures encourage their citizens to riot and murder when their religion is satirized. Where women are still considered chattel on much of the planet, the slave trade goes on under our very noses, and rape victims are stoned to death for “adultery”. Yet here we are, arguing over whether a writer – arguably one of the best of my generation – should go unread because of his views on gay marriage. Really. In proportion to what’s going on in the rest of the world, this is just silly.
    Just think of all the artists throughout history who have been shunned, boycotted, blacklisted, even killed for their beliefs – and I would include Galileo and William Tyndale in that group. Did their personal sentiments invalidate their work? Of course not.
    We live in a country founded on tolerance. You can argue this by talking about the Puritans, slavery, HUAC, a zillion different ways we, as a nation, have not lived up to our own ideals – but at the end of the day, America has diversity, and tolerance, written into its bones.
    If you refuse to expose yourself to the work of an artist because their world view disagrees with yours, you will live an impoverished life indeed.

    • Janis,

      First of all, let me say that I’ve been a fan of your music all of my life. Thank you so much for all you’ve given me and your other fans.

      Second of all, you may not be aware that the Ender’s Game boycott (which I opposed) was originated and run by “Geeks Out,” a group of gay and lesbian science fiction and fantasy fans. As such, it does makes sense that they’d focus on someone within their own community, rather than on country music stars and Imams. Although I don’t agree with boycotts of artists, for the reasons you state, I do think it makes sense for people to be active within their own communities.

      Finally, it’s clear that Orson Scott Card is in trouble with some fans, not merely for being against gay marriage, but for the large variety of anti-gay views he has written and said over the years, and for the harsh and passionate way he sometimes expresses his views. I think it’s great that you honor and defend your friend, as any good friend would do. But you can’t expect the fan community to judge him the same way you do; they don’t know him, they just know his writing.

      In the end, it’s not unfair that a writer-activist has become less popular as a result of what he’s chosen to say and do in public. We are guaranteed freedom of speech, not freedom from criticism.

      • Ampersand, the issue is not whether or not Card will be less popular. I hope I made that clear in the post. What I object to is people trying to prevent him from obtaining work and trying to kill his projects because of his views on marriage. Again, people found out he was lined up to do a Superman project and went to DC to prevent his participation. I don’t think we want to go that way as a society.

      • Hunter, your post covered a number of areas. It’s certainly clear from your post that you don’t approve of boycotting artists for their political views, and I agree with you on that one.

        But your post also covered a lot of other areas; you wrongly accused “Card haters” of holding a double-standard for Obama and for OSC, and you wrongly argued that legal discrimination against homosexuals is not “evil” and is not like racism. (I would point out that saying that Card endorses an evil policy is not the same as saying OSC himself is evil.)

        In general, your post seemed to be suggesting that it’s wrong and intolerant to hold OSC’s views against him. But I guess I was wrong to infer that from your post? If you do find it acceptable that OSC has become less popular because he’s taken unpopular public stands regarding homosexuality, then I’m happy we agree.

  14. This whole thing reminds me of this:

    By the way Hunter, while this was a great post, I would quibble with this:

    “I can conceive no rational reason to discriminate between people based on skin color.”

    Obviously, as the recent “stop and frisk” court case has shown, we know that blacks in New York (and around the country) commit crimes proportionately at higher rates than whites, so it makes sense for police to be extra vigilant to watch out for black criminals when doing police work. That means, among other things, that they will stop and frisk more blacks than whites in high-crime neighborhoods.

  15. Pingback: Orson Scott Card’s Website Lies About Card’s Homophobic Past | Alas, a Blog

  16. Ampersand, our little chain wouldn’t take any more responses so I have to begin anew. I don’t care at all whether people disagree with Card and will no longer buy his books. Fine. That’s freedom. My issue is the attempt to “win” by intimidating him and others through a strategy of ostracism. The stuff about Obama is nothing more than an on-ramp to the bigger issue.

    • I agree with you on the issue of boycotting artists as a strategy for creating change. It’s not an effective tactic, and more importantly, it’s wrong. But that’s far from the only or the most important strategy used by the campaign for marriage equality. The main tactic that’s been used is arguing that excluding same-sex couples from legal recognition is unfair to lesbian and gay couples and their children. Fairness matters a lot to a lot of Americans, and appealing to fairness has been extremely successful, both in the streets and in the courts.

      The main reason your side has been losing, imo, isn’t tactics like people not going to see OSC’s movie, which is largely irrelevant. It’s that you don’t have any arguments against the appeal to fairness that sound credible to anyone not already strongly inclined to agree (i.e., Robert George’s arguments, which are nearly incomprehensible to ordinary folks). So we’ve been converting people to agree with us, but you haven’t been converting nearly as many to agree with you.

      • The issue is not boycotting. It’s flat out blackballing. It is, in fact, the McCarthy style.

        With regard to what side I may be one, that is not really what I am pushing here at all. Lots of Christians are busy fighting the battle over marriage, which is one I find important. But I actually think it is equally or more important to preserve rights of religious liberty and conscience. It will not be possible to do if the marriage equality folks equate OSC and others to white supremacists. I am trying to help you and them see that marriage traditionalism is not the position of an irrationalist scoundrel. You need not agree with it, but merely concede that a person could rationally hold that position and not be deserving of character assassination because of it.

  17. I’m not sure what the McCarthy “style” is, but what happened to OSC falls miles short of McCarthyism. Nonetheless, I opposed both the Superman petition and the Ender’s Game boycott, so I don’t think we have any real disagreement on that matter.

    I think what many conservative Christians are afraid of is that when equality for lesbians and gays becomes completely accepted as the norm, society will treat conservative Christians the way you folks used to treat gays. But I don’t think that fear is realistic. Lgbt people are a tiny minority, and Christians are the majority; Christians simply aren’t vulnerable the way lgbt people are.

    Once lgbt people have legal equality, including marriage, I believe that Americans will display our enormous capacity to live and let live. In a country with millions of people, there are going to be occasional conflicts, because the religious liberty to discriminate against lgbt people comes into conflict with lgbt people’s right to be treated as equals in the public square. But conflicts like that won’t come up in most people’s lives. (The overwhelming majority of Conservative Christians don’t own wedding cake shops.)

    I don’t think marriage traditionalism is necessarily the position of a “irrationalist scoundrel.” I do think certain opponents of marriage equality, including OSC, have at times acted like scoundrels. But I also think that many opponents of marriage equality are not scoundrels at all.

    And although I do think the arguments I’ve seen against same-sex marriage don’t hold up to logical examination, that doesn’t mean I think the people who hold those views are “irrationalists.” I just think they’re wrong about this one particular issue.

    • Ampersand, the “you folks” language is inflammatory since we are really talking about the more or less unanimous judgement of civilization up until recently which ran across cultures. Nevertheless, I think that temperamentally, we agree.

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