Orson Scott Card and McCarthyism

Maggie Gallagher displays the usual hypocrisy by crying “McCarthyism!” at a proposed boycott of the movie version of Ender’s Game, written by deranged homophobe Orson Scott Card (a book that, I’m told by friends whose opinions I respect, is very good; since I’m not a SciFi fan, I will be neither reading the book or seeing the movie).

Gay marriage advocates are trying to build up a boycott of Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s personal views on marriage.

It seems very strange to me that so many artists and people on the left are supporting the idea that to make art in the mainstream you have to have the right political opinions. This used to be considered the heart of McCarthyism: loyalty oaths for filmmakers as the condition forworking in the film industry. (These were imposed by the industry, not the government, remember, in response to public pressure).

Ah, such historical whitewashing. It was called McCarthyism because the witch hunt was led by Sen. Joe McCarthy and carried out, most famously, by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. It wasn’t merely public pressure, it was serious threats from the government that led to the black lists, and the public pressure that did exist was created largely by demagogues in the government. Jim Burroway responds:

It was just a little more than a year ago that the National Organization for Marriage, of which Gallagher is board chair, called for a boycott of Starbucks. I’ve grown to believe that organized boycotts are almost always futile in achieving their aims. That said, I do believe that we are all free to spend our money however we choose. I don’t purchase gasoline at Exxon on Mobil, and I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. And if the gross receipts for Ender’s Game opening night are going to be looked at as some kind of an economic referendum for Card, then I can safely say that I won’t be seeing the movie. It’s my money, and I just don’t feel like paying Card a dime of it, and I hope none of my friends or family members will either.

But if they do — if they want to see the movie because they loved the critically-aclaimed book, or because they’re interested in the star power of Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Aramis Knight, Hailee Steinfeld, Jimmy Pinchak, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin — then that’s no skin off of my nose either. Evil people are capable of producing great art, and it’s not axiomatic that their personal evil compromises that art, although I also think that it’s rare for that to occur. I’m not familiar with Ender’s Game to know whether it is tainted with Card’s vindictive viewpoints or not, although I am aware that it does infect other books that he wrote later.

But where I draw the line is here: ten years ago, Card wanted my very existence made criminal. Five years ago, if California had decided to legalize my marriage, he wasn’t just going to disagree with the outcome. He vowed “to destroy that government and bring it down.” So we’re not talking about a civil discussion over afternoon tea. Card has portrayed these issues in a stark struggle-to-the-death choice: it’s either us or him. And now he and his allies are crying foul because some of us are taking him at the very standard he established.

Precisely right. And this is all SOP for conservatives. They constantly call for boycotts themselves, especially against companies that treat gay people like human beings with equal rights, and then when liberals do it they scream “McCarthyism!” and “economic terrorism!” As for Ender’s Game, I had no intention of seeing it anyway so there’s no need to boycott. And if people liked the book and want to see the movie regardless of the views of the author, I have no problem with that at all. I tend to agree that it’s silly to boycott actors and musicians because of their political views. But that’s my choice to make, just as it is anyone else’s choice as well. And if you don’t want to spend your money on that, that’s absolutely your prerogative. And it isn’t “McCarthyism,” FFS.

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