Why I'm not boycotting Ender's Game

Earlier today, Mark wrote about a boycott of the Ender's Game movie; called for on the basis of Orson Scott Card's public statements opposing gay marriage. Unlike Mark, I really enjoyed Ender's Game and read it several times; later, I read John Kessel's brilliant essay about it and realized some of the ways in which it brilliantly -- and troublingly -- snuck in a message of justifiable pre-emptive violence.

I've been concerned and upset about Card's views on homosexuality since his "Hypocrites of Homosexuality" came out in 1990. But I won't be signing onto the boycott call for the Ender's Game movie, for the same reason I didn't sign onto the call for a boycott of the Superman comic Card was tapped to write. A Steven Brust essay changed my thinking on this:

So, then, the question immediately stops being, “is it morally wrong to try to convince DC to blacklist Scott Card.” It becomes, “Is it a good tactic to try to convince DC to blacklist Scott Card.” In the previous discussion, Emma pointed out, quite correctly, that it’s an ineffective way to create change. I agree, but there’s more. Just like in a good work of fiction, what we need to examine are consequences. And the consequences of creating a blacklist are simple: it opens the door for it’s use against us. And, frankly, we’re a lot more vulnerable than they are; they have the entire power of the massive machine of capital and the State; we have only what we can pull in with our voices.

Later, Brust posted an anaecdote where he quoted Oscar Brand: "We on the left do not blacklist."

Update: In the comments, Bill Morgenthien points out that a boycott isn't the same thing, precisely, as a blacklist. That's very true, and it's an important distinction.

Notable Replies

  1. This is the most morally wishy-washy load of tripe of heard all week. I have more respect for someone who says, "I know this act cuts against my moral beliefs, but I like it and am going to do it anyway." than someone who contrives tortured rationalizations.

    The anti-blacklist argument is whiny self-victimization par excellence. If you have conviction, act with conviction. If you don't, have the courage to just say so.

  2. I'm not entirely convinced that boycotts and blacklists are the same thing. Trying to get Card dropped by DC is definitely in the blacklisting category and not the way to go. Making a market choice to not support (read: reward) Card's odious public sentiments is quite another. Do I wish to see Card prevented from making a living? No. Do I personally not wish to further enrich someone I disagree with? Yes. I'm not going to encourage a picket line or protest my local AMC theater. I am simply choosing not to buy a ticket, and telling anyone I know exactly why I decided not to.

  3. Lion says:

    My issue is giving money to Orson Scott Card. I support gay rights, so I don't think giving this man money is a good thing. So I'm left with two options.

    1) Boycott the movie entirely. Give him no money.

    2) Offset the amount of money I give him by doing good. Give him the $10 to see the flick, but give the HRC or other campaigns $20.

    I think I'm going to do the latter. Afterall, I offset my carbon usage, why not offset assholes, too?

  4. @RemusShepherd: Mr. Card has talked plenty of times about the need to keep GBLT people illegal - and to have a few display prosecutions every so often to keep us in line. It's totally about exactly that.

    I'm absolutely boycotting this film - and will do so until Mr. Card is dead. Then I'll get back my OSC books and put them back on my bookshelf but not before. (Further, as noted: a boycott isn't a blacklisting.)

    As for whether it's "enough," as has been asked by Bleeding Cool? This isn't even an apology. Hell no, it's not "enough." It'll be "enough" when I've had a lifetime of active, direct, and brutal persecution taken back. I'm not political by nature and I hate politics, but thanks to him and his compatriots I've spent a lifetime spending blood and treasure to be a legal person. Give me some of that back. That's when it'll be enough.

    Until then, this is all I have to say about this particular subject:


    (Harsh language at link; stronger letter to follow.)

  5. This is why black activists have learned that they can only trust white liberals so far, why feminists have learned that they can only trust their sympathetic men friends so far, why LGBT people have learned that we can only trust our straight friends so far. No matter how much they want to be helpful, the fact that they can fall back on privilege inevitably deforms their perspective on the matter. They will always end up retreating to doing whatever they damned well please because, ultimately, it doesn't directly affect them.

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