Orson Scott Card and how the personal is too political
In my youth, I was far more partisan in my politics, more tribal. I was also far more conservative (my name even found its way onto the national volunteer org chart for the Kim Campbell leadership campaign). Many of my friends had similar political leanings, but most, as you can imagine, were either quite apathetic or leaned liberal.
Being a conservative youth was quite freeing in some ways. Enjoying the typical pastimes of a 90s teenager, I was into fairly typical music, TV and movies. Whereas my politically active liberal friends were stymied when they came across conservative performers, I had no such issues when watching or listening to very liberal performers. In order to actually enjoy my life, I had to learn to compartmentalize the personal and the political to a large degree.
But there’s always been a tendency among my more liberal friends to boycott certain artists, and so it is with Orson Scott Card. Mr. Card is a popular writer whose book Ender’s Game is becoming a movie. He’s also a bit of a homophobe…well, maybe more than a bit.
Another of my liberal friends is not inclined to partake in the boycott. A strong supporter of marriage equality, he recently commented:
I listen to Wagner and read Ezra Pound with pleasure, even though I’m revolted by their antisemitism. I still think Sean Connery was the best Bond, despite his appalling remarks about women. So I AM going to see “Ender’s Game”, regardless of the stupid stuff Orson Scott Card says about same-sex marriage.
I understand why some would be inclined to boycott Mr. Card’s works. Marriage equality is an immensely important and deeply emotional topic. It’s understandable if this issue is something that cannot be compartmentalized away.
Nonetheless, I quite appreciate my friend’s stance as well. Years ago, this ability – to not treat political foes as untouchables – was something I respected among my conservative brethren. The taint of partisanship didn’t affect every aspect of our lives. Non-conservatives weren’t monsters, and they weren’t to avoided at all costs.
That has, of course, changed. It was a sad day when conservatives decided to boycott the Dixie Chicks. Look, there are many valid reasons not to listen to the Dixie Chicks, but their half-baked ideas about politics are not among them (deciding to be embarrassed that you share a state with a politician you don’t like is a perfect example of letting partisanship bleed into the rest of your life).
There are always going to be artists whose transgressions will be just too great to ignore. I get that (I don’t know if I can ever watch a Polanski film). But we would all, liberals and conservatives, be well-served to adopt my friend’s attitude, and embrace a bit more of a separation from the personal and the political.