Orson Scott Card, Homophobia, and Superman

DC provoked outrage, a few days ago, by hiring Orson Scott Card, sci-fi writer and noted homophobe, to write Superman.

The comic in question isn’t one of DC’s current titles. In fact, it’s a new, digital-only series, titled Adventures of Superman, which is set to debut in April, in time for the debut of Man of Steel in theaters. The new series is a follow-up to the digital-only series Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, which tells out-of-continuity Batman stories and is sold through the DC Comics app. Card is set to write the new series’s first story.

The pairing of the homophobic Card and Superman, who usually stands for tolerance and justice, struck many as particularly offensive.

So let’s review Card’s record on this issue, shall we?

Card, a Mormon, endorsed anti-sodomy laws to a sympathetic audience in 1990. He called for them “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.” In other words, Card believed that the law should be used to punish private sexual behavior and that gays are neither “acceptable” nor “equal.” Card has since recanted these views, yet his excuses don’t explain his language, which condemns homosexuals on very strong terms.

In 2004, Card wrote an essay entitled “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Civilization.” In a spectacular twist of logic that recalls anti-civil rights arguments from the 1960s, he claims that gay marriage violates everyone else’s rights. He says gay marriage upsets “the fundamental meaning that marriage has always had, everywhere, until this generation” — by which he presumably means polygamy in which wives are held as property, interracial marriage is forbidden, and love never enters the picture. (There’s a special irony in the Mormon church pretending marriage has “always” been between one man and one woman, isn’t there?) Card also claims that anti-homosexual marriage laws don’t discriminate against gays because gays can still pretend to be straight and marry someone of the opposite gender. He presents a false dichotomy, in which a family is only a mother, a father, and children, and the only alternative is “immaturity and barbarism” — never mind that straight parents have always died, separated, and beaten their children. He does, however, very kindly acknowledge that gays “may feel themselves” to actually be in love with one another.

In 2009, Card joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which was formed in 2007 to pass California’s Proposition 8, which was aimed at stripping gays in the state of marriage rights. The organization, funded disproportionately by the Mormon church (a.k.a. the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), is largely seen as a Mormon front group. Its campaign in favor of Proposition 8 twisted facts, sewed distrust in California voters, and ultimately succeeded when the proposition passed in 2008. Card joined the board after this event, implying endorsement of the tactics the organization had used. The organization has continued to oppose gay marriage rights in several other states.

In 2011, Card published the novella Hamlet’s Father, which fleshes out the backstory of Shakespeare’s character by — yes — making him both gay and a pedophile. Publisher’s Weekly said that the book’s “focus is primarily on linking homosexuality with the life-destroying horrors of pedophilia, a focus most fans of possibly bisexual Shakespeare are unlikely to appreciate.”

And while the outcry against Card’s hiring at DC has centered on his homophobia, Card has also attacked what he sees as scientific “orthodoxy” (a term that usually applies to religion and cannot apply to a functioning scientific community, which strives towards greater truth through rewarding those who offer better explanations of evidence), as it pertains both to climate change (which, along with its man-made origin, has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt) and to intelligent design (a pseudo-science made up by creationists, who painfully try in vain to make evidence fit their inherited “truth”).

Some have pointed out how odd it is that DC would hire Card, given DC’s increasing attempts at including LGBT characters. In the late 1980s and the 1990s, gay characters appeared in several titles such as Flash and The Sandman. In 2006, the company debuted a new Batwoman, who happened to be a lesbian. In 2012, it revealed that its new version of Green Lantern Alan Scott was gay. And while this new Superman comic, to which Card is contributing, is timed for synergy with The Man of Steel, it’s worth noting that the previous Superman film, 2006′s Superman Returns, was so gay-friendly that it sparked a backlash in some circles.

It may be worth pointing out that Card has written comics before, most prominently with Marvel’s very successful Ultimate Iron Man (2005-2006) and Ultimate Iron Man II (2007-2008). These were published after Card’s views on homosexuality were well-known, although not as well-known as they have become in recent years. Perhaps the outcry now, compared to the relative silence then, suggests the change in American attitudes on gay rights, including marriage equality, that has been observed in polls.

In response to Card’s hiring, a petition has been started on AllOut.org calling for Card to be fired and his story dropped. It reads in part (bold in original):

We need to let DC Comics know they can’t support Orson Scott Card or his work to keep LGBT people as second-class citizens. They know they’re accountable to their fans, so if enough of us speak out now, they’ll hear us loud and clear.

Dale Lazarov, a prominent gay comic writer (which whom I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding online), disagrees with the petition, saying, “asking that he be denied work because he is a raging homophobe is taking it too far. Asking for workplace discrimination for any reason is counterproductive for those who want to end discrimination on their own behalf.”

Rich Johnston, of Bleeding Cool, weighed in somewhat less diplomatically, rejecting the effort as “wrong” and likening it to historic persecutions — a view he soon restated as “campaigning to get a writer fired because you disagreed with his beliefs, however abhorrent, problematic.” Of course, put that way, it is problematic. Johnston also added that he’d been educated about the First Amendment through this process and admitted some ignorance about it.

I should point out that I’ve shared a panel at a convention with Rich. I’ve spoken with him several times, and he’s been very gracious to Sequart, including being interviewed in several of our films. He’s a character, and that’s part of how he’s made his reputation. But everything I’ve seen of him personally, as well as the copious amounts I’ve read of him over the years, shows a commitment to social justice. It seems to me that he’s a man who supports free speech and initially saw people going after a writer for his private views. And it’s the true supporter of free speech who supports speech he hates, as he seems to have been doing in his first post on this matter – which was injudicious in his phrasing. He’s sometimes injudicious due to the fact that he writes so prolifically, but he’s even taken things down when too many people misinterpreted. I see no malice in his heart here.

Personally, I’m repulsed by Card’s views. I find them ignorant. I also find them dangerous, contributing to a climate in which it’s okay to treat gays as “less than.” I know something firsthand the harassment and the violence visited upon homosexuals, most of which doesn’t go reported. I don’t happen to be gay, but in high school I suffered a beating in a dark parking lot (while going to buy comics at a drug store) based on the perception I was gay simply because I was different, artsy, or intellectual. I reported the crime only because I couldn’t hide it from my parents. The shame and confusion I felt, as I cried and wondered what was so “wrong” or “different” about me, caused me to hide my attackers’ motives.

In defense of Rich’s initial position, there are times when private boycotts, or censorship by private businesses, amounts to an injustice. This is especially the case when someone has no practical alternative, or competitor willing to hire them. Despite government hearings, most of the real horrors of McCarthyism occurred on the private level, as businesses refused to hire people based on their political views — or even their suspected views, sometimes based on nothing more than having attended a meeting in their youth or even refusing to name names to an obvious witch hunt. We shouldn’t forget that Catholic boycotts once intimidated whole industries. Similarly, the Comics Code and the various American motion picture codes (including the current MPAA) effectively prevented (or still prevent) works of art from wide distribution.

Such efforts, although private, do amount to unjust violations of free speech, because they leave no other options open. What right to free speech exists, if you have no practical means by which to exercise it?

That isn’t the case with Orson Scott Card, however. And when that’s not the case, private boycotts and petitions are in fact an expression of free speech, not a violation of it. People have every right to sign an online petition and communicate their feelings to a publisher — which is all we’re talking about here. His career doesn’t need this one story to appear through the DC Comics app. Card can still publish whatever he wants, as Hamlet’s Father indicates. Of course he has a right to say it. But everyone else has a right to say this particular publisher shouldn’t hire him, especially not for Superman.

I’m also swayed by comparisons between gay rights and the wider civil rights movement. Years ago, it was the closeness of the arguments against gay marriage and against interracial marriage, sometimes nearly word for word, that made me realize there was no argument there. In endorsing gay marriage in 2012, the NAACP (of which I am a proud member) drew the same historical connections. I don’t imagine anyone would object to this current petition, were Card against interracial marriage and deeply insulting towards African-Americans.

Ultimately, Orson Scott Card isn’t the real issue. If his script is already completed (and possibly even if it’s not), he will still be paid for it. If anything, I’d feel bad for the artists, if any have already begun work. Should DC Comics capitulate, neither Card nor DC Comics will be seriously hurt.

The real message this sends is that comics readers are sensitive about gay rights, and the recipient is the entire comics industry. Both Marvel and DC are part of larger, multimedia operations, which usually aren’t desirous of having their new movies drowned out by controversy over one online story. And if they recognize that readers will take action over gay issues, they’re more likely to be more sensitive to those issues in the future.

Only the immediate goal is to have Card’s story canned. The deeper goal is to send a message, one that inflicts little damage but communicates nonetheless. And the real message is simply that comics readers care, about this issue at least.

As we continue to debate representations in comics of all sorts — whether of sexuality, race, gender, ethnicity, or disability — that’s not such a bad message to send.

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In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

See more, including free online content, on .

Also by Julian Darius:

This Lightning, This Madness: Understanding Alan Moore\'s Miracleman, Book One


Stories out of Time and Space, Vol. 1


The Citybot\'s Library: Essays on the Transformers


Because We are Compelled: How Watchmen Interrogates the Comics Tradition


Judging Dredd: Examining the World of Judge Dredd


Somewhere Beyond the Heavens: Exploring Battlestar Galactica


The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe



A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe


Classics on Infinite Earths: The Justice League and DC Crossover Canon


executive producer

New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics



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When Manga Came to America: Super-Hero Revisionism in Mai, the Psychic Girl


a short documentary on Chris Claremont's historic run and its influence

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Warren Ellis: The Captured Ghosts Interviews


Voyage in Noise: Warren Ellis and the Demise of Western Civilization


Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitan


The Weirdest Sci-Fi Comic Ever Made: Understanding Jack Kirby\'s 2001: A Space Odyssey


The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil


Everything and a Mini-Series for the Kitchen Sink: Understanding Infinite Crisis


Revisionism, Radical Experimentation, and Dystopia in Keith Giffen\'s Legion of Super-Heroes


And the Universe so Big: Understanding Batman: The Killing Joke


a feature-length documentary film on celebrated comics writer Warren Ellis

executive producer

Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide


Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen


a documentary on the life and work of celebrated comics writer Grant Morrison

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Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes


Improving the Foundations: Batman Begins from Comics to Screen


Not pictured:


  1. Dale Lazarov says:

    For the record why the fuck?

    You do me a serious disservice by attaching my reasonable stance to someone else’s inflammatory stance.

    • I didn’t mean to imply that you agreed with what he wrote, Dale. I was simply saying you were also against the petition. (This was the “stance” in question.) It didn’t occur to me that this was unclear, which is my fault.

      I’ve modified the language in question. Specifically, I replaced “agrees with Rich’s initial stance” with “disagrees with the petition” to be clearer. (Again, that was what I was referring to, not all the specifics of Rich’s post.) I also moved the paragraph about you to an earlier position, so it wasn’t immersed in Rich-focused stuff. All of which should improve clarity.

      I’m sorry, Dale. I have great respect for you and your work, and I encourage others to check it out (even the NSFW stuff!). The last thing I’d want to do is imply you were agreeing with language you wouldn’t. What I thought was clear in my writing wasn’t as clear as it should have been, and I’ve modified it accordingly. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, and I hope you accept my apology.

  2. The whole program that DC is pursuing is mysterious to me. A lot of the decisions they seem to be making would tell me that they are “hedging their bets” so to speak, the last ditch effort to cull as many followers into their market share before the death knell of comics rings in the alleys. On a spiritual level, I’ve always found the mormon church to be a parody of christian belief. Though I am Christian, I don’t find any need to legislate my particular morality, unlike their need to do so. Some of my friends from college were gay, and we would buddy up and play Dungeons and Dragons, introducing our own unique subplots to the game. I would vehemently disagree with what they were doing, but there was nothing I could do about it, and I felt no sense in making them feel separate for something that I had a strong belief for.

    Bottom line here is this. I think DC is trying to gain “positive” attention from a mainstream audience through someone with staying power. I read Ender’s game, and It’s fucking nuts! Nevertheless, it’s pretty good for conceptual sci-fi, and if Superman still falls into the realm of Sci-fi then I am somewhat curious to see what he writes. Nietzsche was batshit insane, and inspired some of the founding ideology in Nazism, but that doesn’t disqualify him as a compelling thinker. I think if Card’s opening lines are, “There I was, stuck in some crazy Green-K BDSM basement on Planet Fag-latron, and Kryptaro the Fabulous was lubing up the crank with cookie butter…” then I think we’ll have a problem. Until then, I am open and curious, with reasonable reservation for “crazy.”

    • I have no problem with “crazy,” Stuart. I have a problem with hate.

      Like many, I’m troubled by the “go away” or potentially silencing aspect of the petition. It may get bad publicity and thus be counter-productive. I’m not immune to these concerns. I also have a long list of authors I admire, who had views now seen as abhorrent, and I certainly don’t support anyone rejecting the value of an author’s work based on such a thing. Indeed, artists must have room to challenge social convention, and any kind of “purging” of such voices from history (an action pioneered by religion, including early Christianity) would be horrific in my eyes. Fortunately, no one I know is talking about that kind of thing, even with Orson Scott Card, and I’d be the first to oppose it if they were.

      But there must be some recourse for fans to raise their voices and say that hiring a hatemonger isn’t acceptable to them. A petition doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s up to DC what to do, and it’s within its rights to keep Card or take many other possible actions. All a petition like this really does is demonstrate that readers do care about these issues. And while we can discuss its merits or effects, or whether it’s wise at all, I think we ought to see it for what it is: people raising their voices to say they care about this issue.

      Companies know that, when they hire someone, they are buying a name, with which they will be associated. As you point out, Orson Scott Card is a known name in sci-fi, and he was almost certainly hired for this reason — to get more “mainstream” exposure, as you say. But that’s not all the name “Orson Scott Card” conjures, and I find it a little silly to think that anyone can expect only the good or desired aspects of associating themselves with a name, without also having to deal with the negative or undesired aspects.

      I also need to say here that the problem isn’t Mormons. First of all, plenty of Mormons disagree with their church in various ways; they are a diverse set of people, like the members of almost any religious sect. I’ve known Mormons all my life, and I’ve generally found them to be kind and good people. The fact that I disagree passionately with the actions of their church shouldn’t be taken as a slur against Mormons personally! I’m quite capable of bracketing the two. (And yes, I know you didn’t say such a thing, but I do feel compelled to say this for the record.)

      But it’s also important not to pretend that the problem is confined to the Church of Latter-Day Saints, which is hardly unique (or even outside of the mainstream for religions!) in legislating morality. The church’s pro-Proposition 8 group, the absurdly-named National Organization for Marriage, was joined by a whole host of Christian groups. Indeed, this was part of the organization’s strategy, in order to keep the effort from publicly looking like only a Mormon one. A lot of Christian groups were only too happy to collaborate and associate their own names with the effort.

      And of course, the Catholic church and many Protestant Christian ones have long campaigned for similar measures, seeking to legislate their religious views. Whether it’s opposing gay marriage, pushing abstinence-only education, pushing anti-science creationism in our schools, forcing women to be lied to (or even physically violated) by their own doctors, or opposing doing anything about climate change because “only God can end the world,” we’ve seen quite a bit of religion forcing its views on America’s secular government, based not only on faith and but a profound hostility to reasoned argument or evidence. These efforts have been both horrific and vast in their consequences. The George W. Bush administration was very much a theocratic playground, in this respect. So there can be no pretending that this is somehow limited to the Mormon church, or that it’s at all somehow an outlier in this respect.

      Perhaps you find Mormonism “a parody of Christian belief” for (among other things) imposing its religious views on others. But by the same argument, you’d also have to find a large percentage of American Christianity equally a parody. After all, this problem is hardly limited to Mormonism. We may disagree about how great this percentage of American Christianity is, and of course individuals within any movement or institution frequently don’t agree with all of the stances those groups take. But it would be disingenuous to pretend either that this is a problem limited to the Church of Latter-Day Saints, or that the efforts of such a great number of Christian churches could be dismissed as somehow not being “real Christianity.” (Even if it’s not your Christianity — although I’m glad that it’s not!)

      I could go on, about how some similarly dismiss Christian terrorists as not being “real” Christians — a tactic which, if tolerated, would allow any group to prevent all criticism whatsoever. I could also talk about how this same tactic, learned from religion, has spread to politics, so that a Republican can now dismiss any actions of Republican administrations he does not like as not being “true” Republicanism — while, of course, embracing everything good in those same administrations and not allowing others to use this same tactic (exactly as the many horrors of Christianity’s history are routinely dismissed, while the good from the same periods is routinely seen as stemming from “true” Christianity).

      But I respect you and your work, Stuart, and I take you as a good person — much as I do the many good and well-meaning Christians I know and love, many of whom believe much as you do. I certainly don’t want to insist that you take personal responsibility for the disastrous role Christianity plays in American politics today (let alone in history). We may disagree on many things, but I don’t want to tar you personally with all of that, and I know you’ve offered your comment in the spirit of tolerance and sharing!

      I do need to point out one final thing, though. While you say you “would vehemently disagree with what [your gay friends in college] were doing,” homosexuality is not simply something someone does. There’s now a lot of research about this, as well as a horde of (often gut-wrenching) anecdotal evidence, that indicates this is not a choice, nor something someone can change. We have every indication that homosexuality has existed in all cultures in all times. It exists within the most anti-gay religious groups too, as we’ve now seen time and time again, to great national amusement. (In fact, there’s reason to believe homosexuality exists disproportionately in such groups, just as homophobia often goes along with unresolved personal sexual issues.) All of the so-called “therapies” and anti-gay repression in the world cannot “rid” a person of his or her desire. They can only cause such a person to hate their own natures, a state which often produces lifelong psychological damage.

      (This state, given what we now understand scientifically about human sexuality, is not limited to homosexuals. The battle for gay rights is a battle for all of us, to be ourselves and to exercise our sometimes remarkably individual sexualities responsibly, free of the guilt or shame that frequently twists psyches but can never change one’s nature or eliminates desire.)

      In other words, Stuart, it’s not that “there was nothing [you] could do about” your friends’ homosexuality. That’s only how it looked, from your point of view. The more salient point is that there was nothing they could do about it.

      I am glad, however, that you didn’t make your gay friends feel separate. I do mean that! And I know that this was done (and shared here) by you in a spirit of compassion. But perhaps by my sharing this, I can at least help you see how what you shared here might come off, to those who don’t share your particular faith, in a different way than I believe you intended.

      Sorry I’ve gone on so much! I hated writing it, but I felt I had to. I hope you take what I’ve written here in the spirit in which it’s intended, offered out of respect for you as a person and out of my own sense of ethical obligation, much as I’ve tried to take what you’ve written in the spirit in which it was intended!

      And by the way, “some crazy Green-K BDSM basement” and “Kryptaro the Fabulous [...] lubing up the crank with cookie butter” sounds like an awesome story. And not at all the kind that would please Card!

      • Thanks for the feedback! I agree much gets across scramble don the internet. I’m glad that you deciphered the gist of what I had to say. Believe it or not, I agree with more of it than you’d think.

      • I’m actually not surprised by that, Stuart. I know you to be a very intelligent and thoughtful person!

        But thank you for saying so. I was a bit worried how I came off there!

      • Your a hypocrite, you are espousing a veiled hate here. You talk for others and you have not right to do so. You twist words to make it seem “everyyone else” is on your side, which is in fact WRONG!

        Your comment “But everyone else has a right to say this particular publisher shouldn’t hire him, especially not for Superman.” As I say is incorrect, you can’t speak for EVERYONE, and you certainly don’t speak for me.

        Although my personal stance is a religious one Love the sinner, hate the sin, I won’t get into a long list of oft used bible verses, it just raises blood pressures on both sides. It is my “opinion” based of all I have learned in my life that it is wrong. Now I do no like homosexuals being physically hurt or harassed/bullied, etc. I have on occasion jumped into a situation to break it up and protect them from getting hurt.

        Because they are still people and no amount of name calling, or differential treatment will ever change that. I feel they are wrong, but I will not see them hurt just like any other fellow human being. They realize what they are doing, hence their lobbies to try to remove God from public, so that they can appear to be more acceptable in society. I don’t believe in the rhetoric that calls them pedophiles or that they are all just evil; it’s wrong as is their lifestyle. People on both sides of this coin have done right and wrong, both have lied cheated and stolen to make their point pro and con, basically they both have an agenda. And another thing, regardless of what you think or polls say, non-homosexuals (and this is the psychology of it) really don’t approve, they are just being politically correct. Proof? The marriage laws in California (the most liberal state in the US) would never have changed back if people agreed with what you say. The votes were against homosexuals, because ask them in public and they accept, but behind the voters curtain they say their rela feelings. (and I am not speaking for them merely pointing out the evidence as it was clear as day and completely factual.) What are you thoughts on this?

        Trying to stop Card (thought I forgot what we were discussing huh? No just wanted to give you my views so you can see where I am coming from) from working would make you culpable in real discrimination. And as I see from the post from Mr. Lazarov, you have made a few boo boos in your time, and had to cover for them. In trying to deny Card his livelihood through a proposed boycott of DC simply because you don’t agree with him, makes you just as bad as you claim he is. How can you not see this?

        In most cases of trying to establish a boycott like your doing will do one of two things, either nothing or backfire. Past boycotts against companies like Disney or even persons like Rush Limbaugh only help to strengthen them. Limbaugh’s advertisers went up by a decent percentage after the last one. Look at Chick-Fil-A, what happened to their sales when the homosexual community tried to establish a boycott? Highest sales ever. Historically they are not the best method to make a point, you either succeed or fail on a grand scale failing more oft than not.

        But here is what you do, if you really believe what you say, without voicing it to the world (and looking dumb when you fail) just don’t buy his work, he is not making you buy it, no one is breaking your arm to do so, and if anywhere near as many people believe like you, they will do the same, and you are no longer a hypocrite, you are merely using your purchasing power to state your view, and believe me in the long run that will say worlds more.

        If you want the attention of a company like DC you can only affect them through their profits, otherwise they could care less. And think about this they haven’t said much since this became public, know why?

        If you weren’t so involved in your little hate on for Card you would see DC let this go on purpose purely for the attention. Guess what! This story will now sell through the roof. All that wasted effort because in the long run, history will repeat itself.

        One reason for this, in your original post you went to bashing mormons (big mistake, and no I am not a mormon) there is a little thing called demographics and they say piss off Mormons spend lots of money, expect them to go 100% opposite of your ideal, and you will just have padded Mr. Card’s wallet with lots of cash and cemeted his cause while your cause will lose ground. Homosexual acceptance will slow down, and you will have participated in making it happen, what does this do to your views?. With the boycotted company raking in the bucks, and all the boycotters looking foolish. But continue your efforts (they are very self defeating) and in the long run that is real justice.

      • 1. I wasn’t speaking for everyone in the example you gave. I was speaking for everyone’s rights. Saying you have the right to speech isn’t “speaking for you.”

        I do sometimes write “everyone” when I mean “most people.” Or maybe, in my idealism, “most people I know.” That wasn’t the case in the example you gave, but I admit I sometimes do this. (I think it’s a way of keeping myself idealistic and sane, and I’ve done it all my life — just presumed other people were more like me, in order to keep my mind from completely reeling.) If I did this here, mea culpa.

        I don’t think I’ve said most people (let alone “everyone”) agree with my opinion in favor of gay marriage. I have said that the tide seems to be shifting, and there’s a lot of evidence for this — not only polling and popular endorsements but also actual votes on the state level, that went in favor of gay marriage in November 2012. However, saying that the pendulum is swinging in favor of this — which I don’t think is seriously disputed — is different from saying “everyone” agrees with me, which I haven’t said.

        You’re not wrong that a lot of people might cringe at homosexuality personally, yet support homosexual rights. You might see that as saying one thing in public and another in private. I don’t see it that way. They’re two different things.

        For example, many Americans have concerns about Islam, but few (I hope) would support Islam being prohibited by the state. A lot of people with racist views aren’t in favor of ending equal rights for African-Americans. Lots of people don’t like or buy porn, yet wouldn’t support it being illegal.

        So the American who cringes at homosexuality but supports equal rights for homosexuals isn’t a hypocrite, nor is he necessarily lying for public consumption. That person may simply be someone who understands how freedom works and simply doesn’t want to force his or her views on someone else. I may disagree with that person’s views on homosexuality, but I can respect his basic Americanism in not forcing them on someone else.

        2. No homosexual advocacy group I’ve ever been aware of has campaigned for removing mentions of God from public spaces. That’s generally done by civil rights organizations, and it’s not done at all to “make [homosexuals] appear to be more acceptable.” It’s done because, should that be allowed, you’d also have to allow every other religious display — or even different displays or translations preferred by other Christian sects. The state shouldn’t express religious preference. And that idea protects the religious, or else they’d face oppression from other religions, or even sects thereof.

        Here we run into the real problem. The prohibition against the state expressing religious preference is not anti-religion. It’s part of basic American values, and this was created to keep the state from becoming religious and oppressing those with different views, as had happened both in Europe and in its colonies. The court ordering the Ten Commandments removed isn’t oppressing religion; it’s simply enforcing the fact that America is a secular government, not a theocracy.

        Similarly, the argument for legalizing gay marriage is not for gay marriage per se. It’s for gay marriage rights. Where gay marriage is legal, religions can still perform the marriage services they wish. Gay marriage isn’t forced on anyone. But the state, in its marriage law, shouldn’t discriminate against gays. That’s the argument in favor of gay marriage, and it’s not anti-religious whatsoever.

        In fact, it’s not even in favor of homosexuality. It’s perfectly possible to believe that gay marriage is immoral, yet also believe that it should be legal. Just as it’s possible to believe that your faith is the only right one, yet not force others to conform to it by law.

        I’m tempted to say nothing could be more American than that. The U.S. was founded on this very basic Enlightenment notion, of toleration and minority rights, and it’s something we used to be very proud of as Americans. Without this idea, which originated in Europe, Europe would still be slaughtering people for minor differences in religious doctrine. Just because you think something doesn’t mean you must force it on other people. That’s a very strange idea, in human history, but it’s central to what we now think of as civilized nations and fairness under the law.

        So really, the issue of gay marriage has nothing to do with homosexuality. It’s about whether the state should enshrine and enforce your religious values. And if you think it should on homosexuality, be prepared for a whole host of religious laws, which might some day affect you.

        Let me try again, because this matters: the issue with gay marriage is one of rights, not one’s views on homosexuality. Should gays have this freedom, which can be exercised without affecting your freedom? Or should the fact that you don’t like it prohibit others from exercising that freedom? (And if so, what’s to stop someone who doesn’t like your religion, or your marriage, from imposing that too through law?)

        The moment someone says a law is “against their beliefs,” that person has missed something crucial about how the law works. The law isn’t a poll on your beliefs, and when you make it so, you ignore the rudiments of American civics. The law ought to allow everyone to practice their own beliefs, so long as they’re not infringing seriously upon others. Gay marriage doesn’t infringe on anyone.

        And no, it’s not against “religious freedom” for you to live next to a gay married couple, any more than for you to live next to a Muslim. In fact, actual religious freedom requires that the state not take a stand on these issues, allowing couples to marry as they like, just as it allows people to go to the church they wish. This is how religious freedom works. Believe what you want, but don’t enforce it on others.

        3. Returning to Card, of course I’m not “as bad as [I] claim he is.” To imagine what that would actually be, it would be something akin to me saying that Card’s marriage should be annulled by the state because I disagree with his views. I’m not saying that. Card is, however, saying that the state should discriminate based on his views.

        It seems as if you’re confused over what constitutes a “belief,” or imposing one on others. Card’s views on marriage may be a “belief,” and he’s entitled to them, so long as he doesn’t impose them on others. My view that one shouldn’t impose such beliefs on others is not a belief. It is the rules of the game, by which we are all allowed our beliefs. It’s part of American democracy. In his work to oppose gay marriage, Card’s not championing a belief that homosexuality is wrong; he’s championing the idea that we have the right to impose our beliefs, whatever they may be, upon others. Opposing this is not a “belief.”

        What Proposition 8 was about was not whether homosexuality was great, or even okay, or not. It was about whether the law should be changed in order to discriminate against a certain set of people. That’s not a very American thing to do, but it’s also not just another “belief” — it is, rather, against the very system of equality, religious freedom, and freedom of speech that protects beliefs.

        Now, let’s follow this through to the petition. I could be blithe and point out that, while you seem to be against the idea of boycotting “simply because you don’t agree with him,” that’s kind of what all boycotts are. But let’s look a little deeper.

        Card seeks to impose his beliefs through law. The petition seeks to impose its beliefs on the hiring of a single individual by a single private company. That might well be ugly, or counter-productive, as you and others have claimed. But they are not at all equivalent.

        Lots of religious groups have petitioned against certain TV shows, with the idea being to gather enough popular pressure that a private network decides on its own to makes a change. Whether we agree with that or not, on a case-by-case basis, that’s not at all the same thing as trying to pass a law prohibiting those shows from existing. Which is what Card supports towards gay marriage.

        What the petition is most like, in this context, would be Card speaking to a specific gay person, saying his relationship was not a good idea, and encouraging that person to end that relationship. You can agree with this or not, but it’s certainly free speech — and not at all like passing a law to prohibit all gay relationships.

        Also, the petition is also not equivalent to depriving Card of his livelihood. He’s got plenty of other opportunities to write and to publish, and presumably he’s not hurting for income. In fact, it’s hard not to imagine him having more opportunities, in certain circles, as a result of this petition — which goes back to your point about it being counter-productive. But you can’t very well argue that it’s destroying his livelihood and will backfire.

        So the petition is not equivalent to imposing a “belief” through the law. But the petition also isn’t equivalent to some kind of blacklist, by which Card is prohibited all private opportunities (which I said very carefully at the outset that I would not support).

        And really, that’s all I’ve said about the petition. I didn’t start it. I haven’t even said people should sign it. I’ve also said very clearly that what matters to me isn’t whether Card gets fired — which I’m rather ambivalent about — but whether voices are heard. Indeed, you could say that my entire argument about the petition was that it is fair game, and not at all against free speech, nor equivalent to a blacklist or imposing one’s “beliefs” by law. In this sense, I’ve “defended” the petition — but really only defended its right to exist and the idea that it might do some good.

        But to get back to the idea about how we’ve somehow come to misunderstand what constitutes a “belief”…

        Even within actual beliefs, not all beliefs are equal. Religious argument today often likes to pretend that anything — say, evolution or climate change — is just a “belief.” That’s not the case. Lack of belief in a deity is not itself a belief; it is lack of belief. Lack of belief in creationism isn’t itself a belief. Belief in science and evidence is not a belief; it’s equivalent to belief in democracy, or not imposing one’s belief upon others — these are the rules of the game, and science is a system that works, and works fairly well, to discover and improve our understanding of demonstrable truths. It is a system, not a belief. So too is logic. And within different beliefs, some are better or more logical or more supported by the evidence, while some are worse or simply lacking in logic and evidence.

        With due respect, you can disagree with me about whether Card’s views, about how gays are destroying civilization, constitutes hatred. But there’s no doubt that they’re discriminatory. And there’s also no doubt that they’re hostile to logic and to history. Card has a history of this, such as misunderstanding what “traditional” marriage is. Card is simply wrong on these points. They may be his “beliefs,” but they’re not at all equivalent to the “belief” that these things Card has put his name behind are ugly and discriminatory and demonstrably inaccurate.

        Which gets us to your contention that I “hate” Card, and so I’m a hypocrite, doing the same thing Card is by hating gays.

        Opposing discrimination is not itself discrimination. Calling out hate is not itself hate. Unless, of course, you think hate and fairness are both just “beliefs,” on equal footing, so any strong criticism is itself hatred.

        What you’ve created there is a system by which no hatred can ever be opposed.

        That’s not new, of course. It’s worth remembering that many said Martin Luther King hated America — and whites. He opposed hatred, and they said he was filled with hate himself.

        So let’s imagine a scenario in which an anti-Semite were going to write Superman. Let’s further imagine that this anti-Semite were campaigning against Jews having equal rights. In response, Superman fans point out that this kind of goes against the spirit of Superman, given that the character was created by two Jews and champions the oppressed. These fans start a petition, as is their right. In response, people cry out that this is the same thing that anti-Semite does! Why, it’s hatred of Antisemitism! Instead of seeing this as a case involving Superman specifically, or of fans expressing their own free speech, their efforts are slurred as some kind of blacklist, depriving this poor anti-Semite of his entire living, or as really the same as campaigning for special laws against Jews.

        Doesn’t this seem ridiculous?

        4. Whether you realize it or not, the fact that this kind of abuse of language seems reasonable is itself an artifact of our culture, especially the selective way it defines what constitutes a “belief,” or “religious freedom,” or “hatred.” These words have gotten twisted around, so that imposing religion by law is “religious freedom” — when actually it’s the reverse. And opposing hatred or discrimination is called “hatred” or itself discrimination — even when no legal mechanism is used. And the claim that the world is round, or older than 6000 years, or that there’s no evidence a gay family can’t love each other as much as any other, is called “just another belief” — perhaps we can put those “beliefs” in a talking-heads debate, so we can get “both sides.”

        Similarly, to claim that I’m “bashing” Mormonism (which I actually kind of defended above, in response to Stuart) by pointing out its record on gay rights… well, words fail. To describe a record, when that’s not advantageous to the entity whose record is being described, is now “bashing” that entity? At that point, facts and records simply don’t matter anymore. To say something accurate about a religion isn’t “bashing” that religion — even if its believers don’t want to hear it. That’s not anti-religion; it’s pro-facts. Yet somehow, simply pointing out the facts is now seen as “biased,” or an assault on “religious freedom,” or as “hate” too!

        Logically, all of this is topsy-turvy. It’s not really your fault, Christopher. It’s part of the culture now.

        What we need most is to examine why this is so often the case, not only in our public debates but in our own brains, which have been informed by those debates. And a good place to start there is to ask who benefits.

        Orson Scott Card wants his views on homosexuality to be considered his “beliefs” and criticism of them to be considered an assault on “religious freedom.” And under those twisted definitions, he can go right on campaigning to contravene basic American principles, claiming that doing so is just his “beliefs” — and isn’t the idea that the law shouldn’t discriminate against gays just a “belief” too? Whereas, if we were remotely logical about it or remembered our grade-school civics classes, we’d dismiss someone making these kinds of claims as a kook — or at least someone who doesn’t understand the first thing about America or what “religious freedom” actually means.

        Even when we think it’s unjust, we’re accustomed to thinking it’s incumbent upon those with religious objections to gay marriage to try to get the law to reflect that.

        You’ll note that, were an Arab to claim that women should be forced by law to wear wear head-scarves, or a Hindu to claim that the government should prohibit the slaughtering of cows, there would probably be a quick outcry, about how these things go against American principles of religious freedom — after all, such religious views shouldn’t be imposed upon the law.

        Isn’t it curious that those views are minority ones? Whereas imposing homophobia upon American law is a mainstream view, and we’re used to hearing arguments about how that’s about “belief” and “religious freedom” — rather than seeing it for what it is.

        I’ve also noticed that, when someone powerful denounces someone powerless, it’s usually called free speech. But when the reverse is true, especially when corporate interests are at play, the same thing is twisted into an attack on free speech — and free speech gets redefined so as to mean saying things without any repercussions whatsoever, even from private citizens.

        If DC decided to fire Card on its own, based on a higher-up finding out his record, I wager most people would say, “That’s its right — no one has a ‘right’ to write Superman!” But God forbid some people sign a petition to get DC to do so!

        I rest my case.

  3. Card is more nuts than I thought.

    He reacted to Obama’s reelection with a really crazy attack on the supposedly liberal (i.e. fact-based) media that praises Fox News and compares the U.S. media to Joseph Goebbels. Among Card’s examples of liberal bias are criticism of Bush’s (objectively incompetent) handling of Katrina and its coverage of the impeachment of Bill Clinton. This is classic, violently anti-fact, severe-nutjob stuff.

    Card considers Obama’s international policy tantamount to appeasing Hitler:

    Obama inherited two battle zones in the war against radical Islamism: Iraq and Afghanistan. He has declared both wars over and is withdrawing our troops.

    This is the equivalent of France and Britain allowing Hitler’s Nazis to occupy the demilitarized Rhineland and then to force anschluss with Austria.

    This recalls McCain’s jovial support for staying in Iraq for 100 years. It’s very much an artifact of the “war everywhere, more, more, more war!” crowd. Actual strategy, evidence of what actually decreases terrorism, and the most rudimentary of cost-benefit analysis need not apply.

    Card’s also repeated Benghazi conspiracy theories (e.g. the “live feed” myth). It’s all crazy right-wing talk-radio stuff.

    Funny, isn’t it, how such a strong and irrational voice against marriage equality would also happen to believe a whole host of other completely irrational things?

  4. Julian,

    In the comments section, you mention that “I have no problem with “crazy,” Stuart. I have a problem with hate.” In the article, you contend that “[o]nly the immediate goal is to have Card’s story canned. The deeper goal is to send a message, one that inflicts little damage but communicates nonetheless. And the real message is simply that comics readers care, about this issue at least.

    As we continue to debate representations in comics of all sorts — whether of sexuality, race, gender, ethnicity, or disability — that’s not such a bad message to send.”

    I’m recalling a previous set of article you wrote defending Frank Miller’s most recent, racism-laden work–”Holy Terror.” In your article, you painstakingly article your defense NOT of his ideas but the First Amendment right to publish those ideas, regardless of how offensive they are. For clarity, I am asking strictly out of curiosity of how you’d square Orson Scott Card’s abhorrent attitudes, which would most likely NOT be allowed to filter into the comic as opposed to Frank Miller, whose comic was strictly based upon such small-minded ideas. I’m just curious what your thoughts are on this. (I know you won’t take this as my calling you on the carpet but just wanted to clarify since text lacks tone!-)

    • Forrest, that’s an excellent — and completely fair! — question.

      With Frank Miller, the work was already published. My take on that did have to do with the First Amendment, but it was more informed by a passionate belief that the work in question was artistically vital, however troubling its representation. I still believe there’s no denying the power of his presentation, and I found many sequences stunning. And I believe there’s room for artists who have unpopular views. Indeed, art may well require being willing to put yourself out there and make a work, whether it’s got a politically correct theme or not, as vital and as much itself as it can be.

      That said, I did find a lot of the content disturbing — and I said so. In fact, a lot of it made me cringe. It was a very literary stance that I took, in which I was saying that yes, a work can have artistic value while still being dangerous or even reprehensible for its political implications.

      (Ultimately, I kind of shut up about it because I reached a point in discussing it — especially with the excellent Colin Smith, whose social reading of Holy Terror was so astute — and in reading Miller’s ugly comments on Occupy where, while I didn’t change my mind, I just didn’t want to spend my time carrying water — even aesthetic water — for Frank Miller anymore.)

      So I would say, about Frank Miller, if you’re troubled by Holy Terror, go ahead and sign a petition. It’s his right to make it. It’s Legendary’s right to publish it. It’s your right to denounce it or sign a petition and make your voice heard. (It was a little different, because the book was already published, but I could have seen a petition to keep it out of stores where children could see it. I’d be far more worried about that, personally, than about children seeing pornography. And if Miller starts All Star Batman up again, there might be a petition there. As long as it’s not blacklisting Frank Miller from any significant publication — and it wouldn’t be — such petitions are responsible free speech too. Miller’s got a right to speech, but not necessarily at DC or with Batman.) Finally, I also have a right to say that, yeah, Holy Terror is this weird thing that’s aesthetically so vital but, yes, does have these disturbing things in it — and maybe we should have a place for that, or context in which to understand that.

      So Card has a right to publish what he wants, exactly as Frank Miller. We have a right to petition and to raise our voices. As long as he’s not effectively silenced — and I see no danger of this — both are responsible instances of the First Amendment.

      And if the story’s published, or adapted for another super-hero and published without Superman, we can all write articles about how it’s awesome or terrible or whatever we think. In fact, should I read something of Card’s that I find stunning, even if it does have problematic depictions of homosexuals or anyone else, I may feel compelled to say so, caveats and all. As Stuart and others have rightly pointed out, film and literature are filled with problematic depictions written by people with problematic views. (The Silence of the Lambs is a good movie even if it does seem to link the transgendered to serial murder and misogyny. Othello‘s a great play, even if I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s dubious of interracial marriage. I could say similar things about The Merchant of Venice or The Taming of the Shrew.) As a scholar, I’m perfectly capable of liking — or even publicly praising — Card’s work while condemning aspects of it I find troubling. Or even simultaneously supporting a petition protesting it, or its publication / distribution through a particular venue, for these same reasons!

      (By the way, this makes me really glad we have “editorials” as well as “articles” on Sequart. This Card piece was an editorial, because I wanted to give my personal opinion. The Holy Terror articles were analytic, trying to place that published work in a cultural and literary context — which I found very few were doing and thought was important to try. Whether that was wrong-headed or not, I don’t know, but it wasn’t intended to stop all criticism of the work’s themes, merely to try to understand this weird contradictory thing.)

      (Incidentally, I’m actually rather ambivalent on whether Card’s story gets canned or not. People have a right to try, and I know seeing Card associated with Superman would hurt some people. On the other hand, it’s probably written and paid for, and likely wouldn’t have homophobic content, as you point out. Plus, while it might be good publicity for DC to capitulate, it might be cited as “gay censorship!!!” by some. What I think is most important here is sending a message that these concerns cannot be ignored, lest bad publicity result. While I respect others’ heartfelt views, I think I’d personally prefer to see a serious queer initiative from DC, or DC executives sitting down with gay advocacy groups, than Card’s story sacked, especially if it’s already written and couldn’t appear as an Ultra-Hero analogue story or whatever. It’s thoughtfulness moving forward that matters most to me. With Holy Terror, which was already published, I thought — perhaps naively; I think I underestimated the reactionary fanboy constituent there, or don’t visit those blogs — that a lot of people were already raising their voices against it, and what was needed was some serious literary perspective. So I wrote an analytic article about a published piece, from that perspective, rather than an editorial about an ongoing controversy, where I hope my voice and reputation might add to others’ and demonstrate this is an issue comics people care passionately about.)

      The bottom line is I support the First Amendment all the way. Both Card and Miller have the right to say what they want, including if it’s offensive. But this very same freedom is what gives people the right to protest, if they are offended.

      And all of that’s separate from an aesthetic or literary appreciation (as I offered for Miller), in which it’s perfectly possible to say something is both good (or has strong artistic qualities) and offensive!

      I hope this clears my position up! Please let me know your thoughts! And thanks or the question!

      • Julian,

        Makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I was reading an interesting article earlier this evening about the struggle of a writer being Jewish and enjoying Wagner’s music and yet recognizing the history behind the music. There is something to be said about looking at art in a broad sense apart from the artist. And it’s likely that OSC would not be allowed to write his views into the Superman comics else DC would surely take even more heat whereas Miller openly put those ideas right out there. FM certainly makes a more difficult case.

        It’s easy to write off a person’s work because certain aspects of the individual are diametrically opposed to our own beliefs. It’s easiest to deal in absolutes and black & whites. But what happens if the people whom we detest for certain ideas (i.e. OSC and his stance on homosexuality) are able to tell stories that we identify with? It *could* mean these individuals are not wholly vile persons (even if they hold some vile ideas as truth), and we cannot hold to easy beliefs.

        THAT said, I fully concur with the idea that while he certainly has the First Amendment right to say and believe what he wants, I am not obligated to respect that belief as gospel per my own First Amendment right. And like many others, I’ll demonstrate my lack of respect for those ideas through spending my dollars on other comics.

      • For a lot of people in literature, it was the publication of Joyce’s letters, which were so manipulative of his family back in Ireland. But for me it was Ezra Pound, who was a real anti-Semite, yet wrote some very moving and important work. Of course, the further back we go, the more we find views that aren’t acceptable today. The work is separate, and must be in terms of literary appraisal.

        To me, that’s different from whether someone should protest whether such a person is hired in the first place. Sure, if it’s published, its qualities must be appraised on their own, from a literary standpoint. But that’s different from the practical and ethical concerns of whether he should be hired in the first place — and whether people should speak out about it.

        I have some unpopular views myself; probably, all of us do, if we really broke all of our views down. I’m also very concerned about censorship, even in the private sphere. I’ve seen the effects of political correctness gone amok, and it’s not pretty.

        At the same time, there’s such a difference in power here. Card’s established as a writer. DC’s established as a publisher. They’re not in grave danger. Most of the people protesting are just readers, who don’t like Card writing Superman. So this isn’t like Warners or Fox or whatever firing some new, upstart writer because he once wrote some racist jokes in a blog post, which might make me uncomfortable (even if I hated what he wrote). And I’m very concerned that our whole concept of free speech is often twisted to protect the powerful, while individuals voicing their legitimate concerns are too often spun as pro-censorship. I certainly don’t think justice can be reduced to protecting the meek, nor do I think the rules of fairness don’t apply if the victim is powerful. But surely, as we debate the ethical issues involved, it’s relevant that the damage to Card and DC is minimal, and there must be some mechanism for people to voice such concerns without being attacked as “anti-free speech.”

        Just a thought. Thanks for your smart comments, Forrest!

  5. Luis Mina says:

    Orson Scott Card’s always puzzled the hell out of me–like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison do with their “magical” beliefs– because he’s clearly an intensely intelligent individual from his books, but is still a religious man homophobe. In Ender’s Shadow, he wrote the very intelligent and VERY atheistic protagonist, Bean. Sure there’s a raging Christian in the novel too, but does it make sense for someone religious to write a character that he sets up as the paragon of intelligence and efficiency, then make him as atheist and open as I am? I used to wonder if he was hiding behind a mask for tactical reasons, like his family, assome of his child and teenaged protagonists do. But he seems WAY too active in that area for that to be the case.

    At least with Moore and Morrison it’s possible the drugs they took simply had weird side effects, which then interacted with their childhood preoccupations with magic, but Card…damn. Disappointing, man, he’s a really good writer. And he’s smart enough not to bring his more controversial beliefs to his mainstream work.

    Anyways, I look forward to his take on Superman.

    • I know what you mean, about being puzzled. I think it’s easier to understand with Moore and Morrison, where the magic talk can be bizarre but often comes down to either “this works for me” or a very grounded metaphor for the creative process. With Card, it feels different.

      I do think, though, that creative writers can tend towards solipsism. When you’re putting yourself in all these characters’ heads, no matter how smart you are, you can start to feel like everything’s relative (in the popular way, not the scientific one). You’re good at concocting explanations to paradoxes, so it’s easy to think of various ways in which science is wrong about something pretty fundamental. There may be some of that here as well, at least in terms of how Card’s personal religious views seem to lead to this kind of “I believe science is wrong but can’t prove it” thinking (on evolution, for example).

      But yeah… the politics is hard to follow, let alone square with the rational writing.

  6. Like the superhero who doesn’t kill, I have to ask: Isn’t there a better way?

    I’d sign anything that said something like: “We buy DC comics and we refuse to buy anything by Orson Scott Card.” We would be making ourselves known without actually asking for his head. And I love the stores that are saying: “nope, no Card here.” Repeat every time Card is hired to write something you care about.

    • Mario, you pretty well summed up my reaction to all this. I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel perfectly cool about boycotting this book, but I freeze up at the notion of signing a petition to get Card fired. Honestly, I was afraid that I was just carving out some silly academic position and just drawing a distinction without a difference.

      But I think there is a difference. And the difference doesn’t have anything to do with the first amendment or free speech or whether or not I “kinda liked Ender’s Game a few years ago.” For me, the difference has to do with why we take the actions we choose to take.

      A boycott is about choice. In boycotting the book, I am choosing not to give any money to an obnoxious creep who is devoting large portions of his time and energy to trying to control other people. And if lots of other people choose to boycott as well, then the corporation that chose to hire him will take a teeny tiny financial hit, but a significantly larger public relations hit.

      On the other hand, a petition to demand that Card be fired isn’t about choice. It’s about power. It’s about control. And I don’t want to control DC or Time-Warner–not because I care about being nice to the corporation, but because I don’t want to play their game. Trying to “force” them to do what I want seems like just another way of behaving like a corporation.

      We already have a culture that worships corporate thinking. Years ago, kids grew up wanting to be Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. Today, they grow up playing “Fantasy Baseball” and wanting to be George Steinbrenner.

      Part of me also feels like if we demand that they fire Card, we’re really showing weakness. It’s as if we’re saying, “Oh, don’t make me buy this Superman book,” while all the time knowing that we’re going to buy it because, well, it’s a major Superman book, and gosh darn it, we just can’t help ourselves. It seems far stronger to send a message that says, “I’ve loved comic books my whole life and you’ve just made me care far less about Superman that I ever thought possible.”

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that pretending like we have corporate power and demanding that this writer be fired just feels “dirty” to me. Do we want to take on the role of executives in suits, playing “Fantasy Comics Company?” Or, do we want to be better readers and better people and simply stop playing their game, on their turf, with their rules?

      Sigh. You’ll have to pardon me. It’s late, I’m tired, and I’ve been writing so much over the past few months that my brain hurts. But the gist of all this is, I just want to read better comics. I don’t want to exert power over anyone. I don’t want to demand that anyone be fired. I don’t want to control anyone else’s life.

      After all, that’s Card’s disease, isn’t it?

      • Quite thoughtful, Greg, and I think quite fair. I think you make some excellent points, and I know what you mean about how petitioning for someone to get fired feels “dirty.”

        I didn’t really approach this as a “what’s the best response.” I started writing about what was going on, and that meant this petition and the reaction for and against it. I think I have the same ambivalence you do, Greg. I just don’t like when people speak up to be labelled an attack on free speech.

        Are the demands of the petition ideal? No, or at least we can debate them. I certainly don’t like the idea of canning stories. But I don’t feel comfortable condemning the petition, as some have.

        Yeah, it’s another case of Julian the perpetually nuanced.

      • Julian–just to clarify–I didn’t really see you as strongly advocating for everyone to sign the petition. It seemed more like you were 1) just glad to see that people were really upset and doing something about this; and 2) trying to debunk the idea that the petitioners were somehow denying OSC of his right to free speech. I strongly agree with both of those points.

        To be honest, my comment was a moment of self-indulgent navel-gazing on my part. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been reluctant to sign the petition, and I used the comment thread here to try to work it out in a way that was on the record.

        Ultimately, I think the petition to fire Card is out of tune with how I want to respond, but I have no problem with anyone else signing it, and if Card were somehow to get bounced from this book I’d be the first to celebrate. The fact that he might feel even a little validated by writing Superman is one of those injustices that can drive you mad if you think about it too long.

      • I think we’re on the same page rather completely — as usual.

        I share your reluctance. All I want are exactly those two points you specified. (On the second, see my long comment to Christopher Chance above, where I’m really getting into it… and at what I think the real problem, in terms of our grossly twisted political rhetoric these days.)

        I think it likely, if Card’s fired, is that he’s taken in by some other comics publisher who wants to capitalize on the publicity and spins it as defending free speech. Card could even do so himself, should he be inclined. It’s partially because of this that I’ve no concern for Card being blacklisted. He’s likely to make money off the whole ordeal, through the backlash to the backlash.

        All the more reason to focus on the real issues you enumerated. Card will pass. The battle for homosexual equality and for proper understanding of free speech is the long game.

    • That’s completely fair, Mario. Like I said, I’m ambivalent about actually canning Card’s story. And I’ve found the response from comics stores particularly encouraging.

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