Published on February 14th, 2013 | by Joe Glass2
Tales from the Four Colour Closet – The Gay Card: Having an ‘Opinion’ on Gay Rights
The past week, the comic world has come all a stir with discussion on the appointment of Orson Scott Card as a writer on a new DC Comics digital first comic, Adventures of Superman. It has even reached the point of many people calling for a mass boycott of the comic, and/or Card’s removal from the project.
But first: why is everyone so fired up over this?
Well, Card is staunchly against equal rights for LGBTQ people. Not just in his own home or personal life, but quite openly verbal on it. He’s equated homosexuality with being akin to pederasty or bestiality. He has said that all homosexuals are products of rape or assault, and that it is a sexual deviancy. He’s called for homosexuality to be recriminalized, with prison sentences for the ‘gayest’ gays. As a matter of fact, he is a leading board member of the National Organization for Marriage, an American group whose sole purpose is to prevent equal marriage rights in the United States, and has even publicly called for the overthrow of government if homosexuals get those rights.
He uses the money from his undeniably popular works to fund such organizations. He uses the podium that his fame and popularity provides to deliver hate speech and call for people like me to be thrown in jail and treated as sub-human second class citizens.
And yet, there’s a lot of people uncomfortable with asking for him to be fired from the gig, or boycotting his work.
In terms of boycotting, I can see the concern. The idea being that it’s a slippery slope: if you try to organize a boycott because you disagree with someone’s opinion, what’s to stop the same happening to you? And doesn’t someone have the freedom of speech to voice these opinions?
The thing with this is a boycott is unlikely to cripple a company of DC’s size, nor the work of an individual such as Card. Likewise, boycotting in itself is allowable under the very same arguments put against it: if someone doesn’t wish to buy a product for whatever reason, they have every right to inform others and ask that they do the same.
Also, many are pointing out that this is an anthology project, and Card is only involved in a small capacity in one or two issues.
True though this may be, Card has still been hired to be involved, and for me that is exactly my problem with it. Card, with his hateful views, will be allowed to write a character who is the embodiment of truth, justice, and equality for everyone. Superman embodies the best of us, and the best of what we can be (granted in a ridiculous outfit and alien superpowers), and whether Card puts his views into the writing (many people are surprised when they first learn of Card’s position, as his most-successful work Ender’s Game is apparently very supportive of the ideas of compassion and equality) or not, he will still have had the chance to write the most iconic comic hero, not just in DC, but in the world. A character that stands for ‘the American Way’ (and you can bet that will come up in his campaign against gay rights, even if it’s just an image of Superman behind him when he vomits out his vile rhetoric).
The issue for many, including myself, is that DC hired him at all. The company has gone to great lengths to improve their representation of gay characters and stance on equality, so to hire a man such as Card seems like either a massive step-backwards or a catastrophic PR clusterfuck. But DC have stood by his appointment despite a now incredibly strong backlash-petition against it, saying,
“As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.”
It’s a bit of a non-committal response. No one would have assumed that it was the case that DC was adopting his opinions, merely that they thought it a good idea to hire him. And as I’ve mentioned, there are many who are saying that he is entitled to his opinions.
But there’s that word again: opinion.
Why is it that homophobia is acceptable as someone’s opinion? As much as I hate to compare the struggle of gay rights to the struggle of black rights (entirely different things, but so often thrown together for comparison), if Card thought people of race should have rights removed, if he thought that mixed race marriage should be outlawed, then not only would it not be considered an ‘opinion’, but the vile hate speech that it is, but he almost certainly would never have been hired by DC in the first place.
How is it okay to be a homophobe if you want? How is it okay to stand against equal rights for everyone on the basis of something as simple as sexuality? To suggest that someone, anyone, is the product of vile actions, is not worthy of rights, love or understanding?
This has been my major issue with this debate, as it’s been going, is that he is entitled to voice his ‘opinions’ publicly. Frankly, this goes beyond comics and is a matter of gay rights, just as it’s generally not acceptable to put on a white pillowcase and be a friggin’ racist, it should be equally unacceptable to get on TV or internet interviews and be a massive homophobe.
Finally, the idea of getting Card fired. Well, the damage is already done, so again this wouldn’t bare much fruit. And frankly, it wouldn’t effect Card either way, he gets enough work.
Rather, I think DC should pay him, but not use any of his work. Apologise for screwing him around, but realise that if they as a company want to go forward as a company for equality and justice that they cannot show support to his cause and organisation (NOM). Moreover, I have suggested that DC ‘apologise’ to their many gay fans by creating a new anthology digital first project featuring their many LGBTQ characters and creators. It seemed a popular idea on twitter. In fact, Gail Simone agreed with the idea and Phil Jimenez says he already has the characters and story ready. Gail even went on to say, cryptically,
Wait a couple months, more coming!
So there is that, eh.