In the past year or so, I became a big fan of Orson Scott Card's Ender series of novels. I listened to Ender's Game as an audiobook, and thought it was one of the best novels I had read in years. I enjoyed its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, almost as much. And although I thought the third book, Xenocide, was disappointing, I would probably try the fourth sometime in the next several months. I wrote a glowing review of the first two, right here on this blog.
Nowhere in the three novels did I notice a philosophy of conservatism or intolerance; indeed, I think it's not spoilerly to say that a major theme of the books is tolerance towards those who, at first glance, might not even seem human, much less compatibly-aligned from a moral perspective. It was thus a huge surprise to read about the recent controversy that erupted when Card was signed by DC Comics to write some issues of Superman; it turns out, Card is fervently anti-gay, has repeatedly condemned gay marriage as a member of the National Organization for Marriage, and has even argued that anti-sodomy laws should still be on the books. It's no secret where I stand on these issues: I believe strongly in civil libertarian values, am bisexual myself, and have written about the importance of same-sex marriage, GLBT adoption rights, and more.
So how then to respond to Card? Should I personally boycott the author and refuse to buy any more of his books? There is something to be said for not voluntarily putting money in the hands of someone I disagree with so vehemently on an issue I consider a matter of fundamental justice and equality. But Card is not a government with the power to make laws, a corporation with the power to determine employee benefits, or a public organization with the power to determine membership; examples of instances where boycotts can be very useful. Card's viewpoints, on their own, do not tangibly deprive anyone of anything,. Even if a dramatic decline in book sales leads Card to keep quiet in the future on the issue of gay marriage, or, even publicly recant, it's not likely to do anything to change what he really believes. Support for GLBT rights spreads through changing hearts and minds, not intimidating people into silence.
It's a close call, but I think that's right. I don't research the personal views of the authors of the books, comics, and t.v. shows I enjoy. I enjoy them on their own merits, knowing that the writer and what is written may vary dramatically. So Card, you might just get me to buy another one of your books in the future. Maybe.