Blogs comics-adventures-of-super-man

Published on February 14th, 2013 | by Joe Glass

2

Tales from the Four Colour Closet – The Gay Card: Having an ‘Opinion’ on Gay Rights

orson-scott-card-pensive

Orson Scott Card looking a little more like Lex Luthor than Superman

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.

People who follow me on twitter or Facebook will have seen that I’ve also been discussing it a fair bit, but I wanted to clarify somewhat.

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).

comics-adventures-of-super-man

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.

Tags: , ,


About the Author

Joe Glass is a freelance writer who has worked with popular LGBT publication GT, blogs and even two comics; the creator-owned The Pride, and co-writing on Stiffs. He's just getting started!



2 Responses to Tales from the Four Colour Closet – The Gay Card: Having an ‘Opinion’ on Gay Rights

  1. This whole situation has left me feeling very conflicted, even before the Superman announcement, and I’ve been really torn between writing something on the subject myself, or staying quiet.

    I’ve been a fan of Ender’s Game and it’s sequels since I was a child. Ender’s Game itself, and Ender’s Shadow, are easily two of my favourite books of all time. I’ve also enjoyed some of Card’s other works, including the Tales of Alvin Maker, and the much maligned Ultimate Iron Man books Marvel put out a few years ago, and their adaptations of the Ender series have also been on my pull list since they started. I also met Card, five years ago at San Diego Comic Con. I got the chance to speak to him, and he seemed like a really nice guy, who gave some genuinely good advice to me about being a writer.

    So when I found out about his views a couple of years later, I was genuinely shocked. Especially since, as you point out, Ender’s Game and it’s sequels are very much about tolerance and equality, and not only that, I got the very definite impression of some homosexual undertones in some of the key characters. Characters who were very much painted as among the more altruistic, brave and heroic characters in the series. It was inconceivable to me that the Card I had met, and who had written the Ender books, could not only have, but would make very public, these views.

    One thing I will say, is that I don’t think he’s actually equated being gay to being a paedophile. The story that this comes from, Hamlet’s Father, is crass, vulgar and not worth the paper it’s printed on, but I could find nothing in it making this connection. Card himself has gone on record as stating that he would never do this, and when he’s also been so public about his view that homosexuality is the product of rape, I don’t see why he would bother trying to lie about that one. Of course, I could well be wrong about that (I have been known to miss things like this on occasion thanks to a naivete within myself that people just wouldn’t say things like that). This isn’t me defending Card, as his views are clearly abhorent, it is simply my trying to get the facts straight in my own way. And, like I said, I’ll be more than happy to be proven wrong, if someone can point me to somewhere Card has stated publicly that pederasty and homosexuality are connected.

    Regardless, my issue with this situation is the fact that I am such a fan of (most of) Card’s work that I’ve read. I can’t just turn that off, unfortunately, though I haven’t tried reading any of the Ender saga since I found out about his views. Is it possible to seperate the art from the artist, to use someone else’s words? I don’t know yet, but I know that a part of me wants to be able to.

    However, what I will be doing from here on in, is trying my utmost to buy any further volumes in the Ender saga (the only works of Card’s I will attempt to continue with) second hand, so that none of my money goes to the man himself.

    It may only be a small concession, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment.

    Apologies if this was a bit of a ramble.

  2. You had me up until you ask “Why is it that homophobia is acceptable
    as someone’s opinion?”  Why?  Well, because the law says it is.
    Speech, especially unpopular speech, is the fundamental right
    protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and as DC
    (and parent Warner Bros) is a US company it is governed primarily by
    US laws, free speech being the most fundamental.

    The precedent of “offensive speech” exceptions to the First Amendment
    is there, but with few exceptions when these instances are challenged
    in the US Supreme Court the case always goes in favor of protecting
    free speech ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_exceptions#Fighting_words_and_offensive_speech
    ).  The problem is that once you begin curtailing types of speech as
    “offensive” then that opens floodgates.  At one point in history it
    was offensive to say that gay people should have equal rights.  Now to
    most it is the opposite. What if offensive speech laws had been
    written back then?  Well I probably wouldn’t be reading this in the
    USA because it would be restricted speech.

    It is okay for Card to be a vocal homophobe same as it’s okay for me
    to be vocally pro-gay rights, because the First Amendment allows us
    both to voice our opinions.  The principle being that only when every
    citizen is allowed to have free discourse on any topic can we all be
    better educated to all viewpoints.

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑