Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Orson's Game

We hear much of Orson Scott Card these days.  Most likely we do because his novel Ender's Game has been made into a movie coming soon to a theatre near you, but also because he has taken it upon himself to declaim at some length verbally and in writing on topics such as gay marriage, our esteemed President and his claimed machinations, his (Card's) Mormon faith and the faiths of others, and more.  He seems rather offended that his pronouncements in these areas have earned him enemies, which I find rather odd.  But the self-righteous are, naturally enough, easily offended when their beliefs, so eagerly expressed, are questioned.

I find myself wishing he was content merely to write his books.  His books aren't bad; some indeed are good, or so I believe.  Ender's Game is a book I enjoyed reading.  I also enjoyed reading his books in the series involving the character Alvin Maker.  But I haven't enjoyed reading other books he's written.

The sequels to Ender's Game disappointed me, especially those written more recently.  Genius children can grow to be annoying, particularly genius children who talk and write incessantly and are surrounded by dull, gullible, bovine or boorish and violent adults.  Novels based on such conceits don't interest me after a chapter or two.  He's also written novels which seem to have a biblical or Book of Mormonical (?) connection, and alas that is a connection which doesn't interest me either, except with respect to the extensive and profound connection between Christianity and the beliefs which preceded it and which it assimilated, which I find fascinating.

But as is so often the case, what I wish for is not true and does not come true, either.  Mr. Card seems to rejoice in pontificating on various topics in various media.  I of course cannot object to that in itself, as I pontificate here in this blog, and on a certain forum.  But because of my relative anonymity and, I hope, because of a sensibility he seems to lack, my pronouncements are not quite as...well...loony, and not as likely to drive others to distraction (this sometimes seems to be his intent, regrettably).

Sadly, Card's opinions seem to be too much along the lines of the opinions already blared out by those who make their money doing right-wing talk radio, or are talking heads on Fox News.  I'm no fan of our President, and can even be described as conservative or perhaps libertarian in some respects.  But there is a level at which the expression of disagreement with the President and liberals generally becomes uninteresting and indeed unintelligent if not incoherent.

That level has been reached in talk radio and on Fox News, and that seems to be the level at which Mr. Card now operates.  Obama has a character which seems to evoke hysteria in some, and what might be valid criticism swiftly degenerates into lunatic exaggeration in those cases.  Card's very odd column in which he imagines the President usurping the government and revoking the Constitution strikes me as positively rabid.  It's hard to believe that he would think he was engaging in rational thought of any kind while manufacturing such nonsense.  Peppering it with facile references to Augustus, Napoleon and Hitler, which he appears to think evidences a keen grasp of history, simply makes him seem more of a crank.

He seems to believe that it is Muslim doctrine that any person who ceases to be a Muslim must be killed.  The little reading I've done indicates that whether that is the case is disputed, but clearly Card thinks there is no dispute, or perhaps rather that if there is a dispute it doesn't matter.  He maintains that unless Muslims agree to condemn this doctrine, they should be penalized by our government which should, among other things, deny Islam the exemption from taxes granted other religions.  This is punishment Card believes appropriate for Islam being uncivilized.

I don't object to the revocation of this exemption as I think there should be no exemption for any religion or Church.  The exemption is a benefit granted religions for no good reason as far as I'm concerned, but regardless they are not entitled to the exemption, they are given it.  No organization should be accorded special status under the law.  The revocation of a gratuitous benefit is not a punishment or penalty.

It seems gay rights advocates want us to boycott Ender's Game, the movie, because of Card's opposition to gay marriage.  As I've noted before, I think marriage in the law is simply a special kind of partnership, and should be just that and only that as far as the law is concerned.  Whether the partners are straight or gay makes no difference to me, and should not in the law.  But I'm not inclined to avoid the movie because Card evidently thinks that gay marriage will somehow result in some kind of vicious, mandated quashing of traditional life, culture and morals.  There have been plenty of novelists and artists throughout our history who have been idiots or bigots, but we should be free to read or view or listen to their work.

I won't go to see the movie for the same reasons I don't go to see others.  Why spend money on what will likely be a bombastic cookie-cutter production, poorly acted, as are most movies made in our Glorious Republic these days?  I'll wait until it shows up before me as I sit in my comfy chair in my living room, and then will probably end up turning it off in any case to read some non-fiction and listen to music (the History and Discovery channels having become for reasons unknown to me purveyors of strange "reality shows").  I may even think while doing that.  Thinking is not a game being played well or often by Mr. Card and too many others of our time.

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