I’ve got mixed feelings about the petition to persuade DC Comics to drop Orson Scott Card as a writer for Superman.
For those not aware of Orson Scott Card’s background, he’s a once-successful science-fiction writer who has more recently been notorious for his aggressive homophobic views, and is a board member of the anti gay-rights group The National Organization for Marriage.
While a great many people are enthusiastically supporting the petition, I have seem some people question it, most notably the gay SF writer David Gerrold, who had this to say on his facebook page:
It is our responsibility as rational people to engage in reasonable and rational discourse on difficult issues. It is only when people actively work to hurt others that we have a responsibility to halt or prevent that harm. But we are never justified in penalizing each other based on beliefs. If it’s wrong in one direction, it’s wrong in the other direction.
Let me say it in the clear. I despise Card’s position on marriage equality — but I do not despise Card. He is an intelligent man and a gifted storyteller. As an American citizen, protected by the US Constitution, he is entitled to freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom to publish, etc. That I disagree (aggressively) with what he has said does not give me license to demand that his rights be infringed or that his ability to find work be compromised. I expect the same respect in return.
I do not expect that Card’s political beliefs will be part of his Superman story. That’s not Superman and I think Card understands that. And the good folks at DC likely understand that too. I hope he writes a good story. I also hope that someday he will recognize that some of the things he has said, some of the things he has advocated, are simply not in keeping with Jesus’ commandment that we love one another.
I can understand both sides of the argument here. One one side, there is a difference between denying a writer a specific gig because of their leadership position in what many would describe as a hate group, and attempting to deny someone a livelihood purely because of their beliefs. And customer boycotts are not the same as censorship. There are game writers I’d rather not buy stuff from because of their public behaviour (I shall not name names).
But I still wonder if there’s a can of worms here, and the actual rights and wrongs risk getting obscured by which side you on in the culture wars.
Should any creative type be blacklisted because of their views, or on their writings or activities outside of whatever it is they’re being hired to create? If so, where do you draw the line? Who gets to decide where the line is drawn? What’s the difference between the wisdom of crowds and the rule of the mob?
Or am I just being a stereotypical woolly liberal sitting on the fence?