Bil Browning

Orson Scott Card: From the inbox

Filed By Bil Browning | September 10, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Site News
Tags: employment protections, homophobic behavior, Orson Scott Card, science fiction writers

Got an interesting e-mail this morning via the Bilerico tip line. I'd like to know what other Projectors think about this. My opinion after the jump.

From: Stuart [last name redacted for privacy]
Message: The homophobic Science Fiction author Orson Scott Card is now working for in a feature called "Orson Scott Card Selects," in which he recommends Science Fiction Audio Books. is the largest supplier of audiobooks on the internet and I hate that they are employing such a homophobe. In his last screed, he equated same-sex marriage with "the end of democracy in America," and he advocates for the maintenance and enforcement of laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Further, as an audible subscriber, a fraction of my monthly fee goes into his pocket and, through his LDS tithe, into the effort to end gay marriage in California. That really burns me up.

Is there any way the Bilerico project could encourage any of its readers who are also subscribers to contact and ask them to sever their relationship with Orson Scott Card?

Personally, I think I'm going to pass on asking to "sever ties" with Card. Why? It's simple.

Even homophobes deserve gainful employment.

The right to think as we wish is an important American right. We can be wrong all we want, but we're still entitled to hold our beliefs. Scott's feelings about LGBT equality are idiotic and backwards, but it has no bearing on his job with

A lot of what I write here is considered inflammatory by the right wingers. I have no doubt that several of them would consider trying to get me fired from a job based solely on my writing for the Bilerico Project. Would that make it right? Am I not allowed to say and think as I wish as long as it's not advocating violence or shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater?

This is getting too close to punishing Card for his religious beliefs. I can opine that he is utterly and completely stupid for his anti-gay statements. I can refute his opinions with my own. I can hold him up for ridicule and embarrassment based on his publicly aired views on gay rights.

But what I can't do is try and bankrupt him by taking away his employment - especially when it has nothing to do with his anti-gay stance. He's recommending science fiction audio books, not preaching on our airwaves or using a radio show to promote violence and discrimination against the LGBT community. He's doing a job - and well, I might add.

I won't buy another Orson Scott Card book. I threw the well-worn copies of his novels into the trash when I read about his stances. I made sure it was covered here on the blog.

But I won't try to take away his ability to make a buck. After all, I'd be mad as hell if one of the rightwing nutjobs tried to take away my right to employment based on something unrelated I'd written.

Fair is fair.

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Get rid of him, next stop selling his books, then why stop there - burn the suckers. This *is* America, and last time I checked we were supposed to be above that.

I'm with you Bil.

The one area I would be concerned is where it does have an impact on his job at audible. Science fiction is a genre that a lot of folks turn to when they are feeling alienated, isolated, and not a part of the world around them. And that's a common experience among LGBTQ folks.

There's a bunch of science fiction with queer and/or trans characters, dealing with issues of homophobia and transphobia. Somehow I don't think that Card will be recommending them. I don't think firing him is necessary to fix that, though. Just make sure he isn't the only one recommending sci-fi. Maybe get a queer sci-fi writer on board as well.

I'm not that well versed in the SciFi genre. Are lgbt characters or themes common? If it is an obscure form, I doubt there is that much of it on Audible in the first place. This makes the effort of taking any action more costly than its worth in terms of helping glbt readers/listeners.

A more proactive strategy is to approach Audible proposing an at-large lgbt critic. This counters any potential harm caused by Card and adds value to the lgbt subscribers' shopping experience. Win-win.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | September 10, 2008 5:11 PM

You're right, Bil. Stuart has a point though. By giving his business, he's indirectly contributing an anti-LGBT cause. But, it seems to me that the best solution is to just take his business elsewhere.

I fully agree with you, Bil, and for exactly the same reasons. Card's opinions certainly are fair game, but his job, which is (presumably) unrelated to his opinions on LGBT rights, is not.

That said, there's also nothing wrong with the time-honored practice of proactively boycotting the work or product of someone like Card, nor with publicly encouraging others to do so.

He certainly does have the right to make a living, but we just as certainly also have the right to choose not to allow our own money to be a part of his income.

Hey how come I don't get a nifty picture next to my name like you and Tobi?

When you're signing in (or signing up) you can edit your profile now to include a picture. We haven't publicized it yet since we're still working out the bugs on a few other areas and that part becomes important only when those sections go live. Knock yourself out though with setting up pics. Anyone can do it.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 10, 2008 9:35 PM

If Audible were donating to the Prop 8 campaign, I'd raise a huge uproar and never again use the site. But Card is only one of many authors they sell and promote.

Moreover, I believe Card has a right to his opinion and a right to his livelihood. As well, however, I have a right to decide NOT to contribute to his personal upkeep. I stopped buying his books long ago not only because they weren't that good, but due to his connection to the LDS.

I suppose Bil will have a similar stance concerning the Manhunt fiasco.

Anyways, these kinds of requests are useless. First, because I highly doubt that the LGBT sci-fi community visits this blog often to catch the message. Second, because such community is already minimal, meaning zero influence in the sci-fi market. Third, because we're talking about a superstar of science fiction; they won't punish him for demonizing a very small population that few people understand or care to get to know.

Well, he is a columnist, and, as Tobi pointed out, his views on LGBT people aren't unrelated to his work. Science fiction is political and he holds political views many of us find offensive.

That said, I'd never even heard of before today. And while I fully willing to stop buying Bolthouse Farm even though they don't sell juice in France, I think I'll abstain from this one.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 11, 2008 7:36 AM

I live with a science fiction addict and I still don't get it. Why read fantasy when there is so much reality to learn? I take it his homophobia is not represented in his writing, we just don't exist.

I think every Gay person in his publishing house should let him know that they aren't going to do him any favors.

Ronn Kettlehake | September 11, 2008 11:24 PM

I do agree with pretty much everyone above,I have bought a few audio-tapes over the years such as "Kingdom Come","Batman:Cataclysm","The Superman, Batman & Robin" classic radio programs,"Superman Lives" & others but I too have never heard of this company. None of the ones that I have are products of this company & if I saw one that was produced by them, I would certainly buy it if it interested me! On the other hand, until recently I wasn't even aware of Card & his works, but knowing what I know now, I will never buy anything he writes, this seems to be the best way to hit him where it hurts! And to Robert Ganshorn, I can't speak for anyone else, but to me it seems that while, yes there are many things to be learned from the real world, many of those lessons are learned the hard way by facing intolerance,hatred,& violence on a regular basis! It's easy to see how the real world works just by reading a newspaper, watching the local & national news & various other forms of media like the very one we are on now! That's why I am so drawn to sci-fi/fantasy, because it allows me to escape from the often harsh realism of the real world! As a child(& even still!) that is why I am fond of things like "Star Trek",the "Legion of Super-Heroes" in the comics & such. It gives me some hope that the future could indeed be alot better! It seems ironic that a sci-fi author(& a successful one at that!) would have such views when there is alot in the genre that extolls the virtues of acceptance & tolerance! I guess it just shows that ignorance, hate, intolerance & bigotry are equal opportunity states of mind,not unlike many life-threatening ailments, diseases & afflictions free in the real world today! 'Bye now!:-)