When not to engage with art

Followup post on yesterday’s reporting on the latest bloviating from Orson Scott Card, prompted in no small part by this post of Chuck Wendig’s in which he explains why he’s personally boycotting Ender’s Game.

I wanted to expand a bit upon a notion I’ve seen debated a lot in the SF/F realm the last few years: i.e., whether you can engage with art created by someone whose politics you don’t agree with, and in Card’s case, whose politics you find actively repellent. More than once, I’ve seen people assert that you should not conflate the art with the artist, and that if you refuse to read things by people who are assholes, you risk missing out on good stories. I’ve also seen it argued that if you refuse to read things by people who disagree with you, you’re not keeping a suitably open mind.

But here’s the thing.

The vast majority of the time, when I see people making this argument, they’re people who’re arguing from a position of privilege–people who are, in fact, not in the direct line of fire of the repellent politics in question. It’s very easy to say “but Orson Scott Card is an awesome writer and Ender’s Game is a classic, how can you possibly skip it?!” when you’re a straight white Christian.

If you’re queer, on the other hand, you’re one of the people he wants to make illegal–a goal he’s been actively working towards, given that he’s a board member of an organization who has that as a stated goal. He’s cheerleaded efforts in Uganda to issue the death sentence to homosexuals. He is actively working, with his money, time, and reputation, to push people like me and my wife into the dirt.

So it’s a safe bet that some portion of the money he makes from his art is in fact going to go towards the goal of making people like me illegal, if not dead.

So, no. I’m never going to read a word of his. If a project has his name on it, I’m not touching it. I don’t give a rat’s ass, rat’s feet, or any other part of the rat how good a writer he is. I don’t care about whatever significance may lie in the stories he creates. I don’t care who else is involved in the Ender’s Game movie. I’m pretty damn sure they’ll all survive without getting any of my money.

Me, I’d just as soon give my financial support to people who don’t want to see me illegal or dead. And with over 1,100 things on my To Read list by people who aren’t flaming bigoted assholes, I’m pretty damned sure I won’t miss Card’s work one single bit.

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