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Personal Dilemma

January 8, 2009

I am experiencing an internal conflict. When I was in basic training (“Tech School” for those that are Air Force familiar), some of my friends introduced me to the book Ender’s Game. I gobbled up the series as fast as I could; sometimes staying up till 1 or 2 in the morning to finish a chapter or to see what happens next, knowing that I’d have to get up pretty damn early the next morning.

When it comes to writing, in my opinion, Orson Scott Card is a genius. No other writer has been able to elicit the range of emotions that I feel when I read a book from the Enderverse. He is actually able to make me care about the characters as though they were my personal friends and family. I worried about them when they were in danger, I laughed when they laughed, and I nearly wept (something was in my eye, honestly!) when they died.

Like I said, I love Orson Scott Card as a writer, but he is batshit when it comes his personal opinions. I guess that should be a credit to him, for his ability to segregate his life and views from those of his characters. First of all, he is a Mormon, that in its self may not be much worse than regular Christianity, but the discussion about Mormonism is to be left for another day. He’s written in support of George Bush, the USA PATRIOT Act, the war in Iraq, and the GWOT in general. He’s homophobic, to the extent that he thinks they should be jailed. He also thinks that “the pill” led to an increase in crime during the 1970s and 1980s. Needless to say, Mr. Card as an individual is on my shitlist.

My dilemma is that I don’t want to support people with views like his, especially financially, but I love his work and don’t want to wait years until I can find it in thrift stores or something of that nature. The series is so great that I want to get it all in hardback so it’ll survive for some time in my possession, but that would be throwing some serious money at Mr. Card. I was so disappointed when I found out about Orson’s political/religious views and I’m really not sure how to handle this situation.

Do I stop reading his work altogether, discontinue reading his books unless I can find them in a situation where he doesn’t profit from it, or do I, like Mr. Card, separate my personal views of the author from my love for the works of art he creates?

  1. HereticChick permalink
    January 8, 2009 2:13 pm

    Read what you want, dear. I’m sure I don’t agree with all of the authors I read either. Personally, I’d prefer not to know.

  2. January 8, 2009 2:31 pm

    Can you find hardback copies of his books in Amazon Marketplace? As long as you buy them used you are not contributing anything to his pocket. That is what I do when I buy Creationist publications.

  3. January 8, 2009 2:47 pm

    I’m betting that I can get most of it through services like that (a quick scan through Marketplace confirms). I dunno, I really just wanted to share my disappointment in Card with someone. You know what I mean?

  4. January 8, 2009 3:38 pm

    an interesting dilemma, I think James’ idea is a good one, I can understand not wanting to put your money towards promoting his views.

    I’ve discussed this before but more to do with not buying products from religious backed companies or companies that support (in a large open way) religious organisations.

  5. A Pilgrim permalink
    January 8, 2009 3:53 pm

    Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about his personal views. Look at it as supporting his writing, not his personal views.

  6. January 8, 2009 4:20 pm

    Big name authors get the bulk of their money as advances from the publishers. They get a VERY small portion of sales as royalties, so I doubt he notices your contributions to his coffers.

    Here’s a question: would you be ok with buying his books if he was just as batshit crazy as he is, but for some reason he wrote pro-atheist works?

    – Schev

  7. January 8, 2009 4:49 pm

    The stuff he writes about are why I think he’s batshit crazy, and thusly why I have issues with supporting him. If he wrote similar material claiming to be from an atheistic viewpoint (like an atheist Ann Coulter??) I would still have the same reservations.

    You may be correct about the very small amount of cash I would be giving him, it’s more about the principle of the thing; my self image knowing that he was supported by me in any amount.

    I will likely just get the hard cover books used (like new) and cave in and buy new the ones I can’t find elsewhere.

  8. January 8, 2009 5:41 pm

    Don’t eat out either, if thet is the way you feal about supporting people who have differing opinions than you.
    In fact if this is the case ask the checkout clerk at any store you go to what their opinions are before making your purchase. Also don’t forget to ask the gas Station attendant if they agree with your views before touching that pump. When you get out of the Armed Forces disconnect form Society with Power, Phone and television services, use well water and have a Septic tank for sewage.
    You may have to hire a lawer that always agrees with you and a PI to make sure you are in no way supporting someone who has any differing values or ideas. Then you can live in your Zenophobic Utopia.

    Good luck,

  9. January 8, 2009 9:13 pm

    Wow, Ditchu, way off. But nice try. I assume, based on your argument, that you wouldn’t mind directly or indirectly supporting the causes of, say, white supremists. Or terrorists. Or FLDS people. Or anyone else who shares a different view from you. I assume you never speak out against someone whose views are different from yours, such as gays. Or people who think the Mormon Church is a cult. Your comment is pointless and considering the source, very ironic.

    Anyways, I understand the problem. I personally refuse to buy things from organizations and people whose message I do not agree with. Sometimes this costs me more money or time, but standing by a value pays off in its own way.

    Then again, the only harm this clown does is to the Mormon and far-right image. The people who think like him think like that anyways. He isn’t influencing anyone anymore than some other right-wing nuts. People like him only hurt the less extreme right wing opinions by rallying people against his cause (and in effect, their cause). He contributes to the stereotypes of the far-right and his fellow Mormons. Perhaps I am an optimist, but that line of thinking would help me sleep better at night still reading this douches great work.

  10. Mythos permalink
    January 8, 2009 11:50 pm

    Look bro,

    There are always going to be those who have an opinion that doesn’t match your own. So why beat yourself up about it or keep yourself from reading a book series you obviously love? Makes no sense.

    I say buy the book, read the book, enjoy the book and keep blogging!

    ~ Mythos

  11. notreallyalice permalink
    January 9, 2009 10:27 am

    If he wrote a great book (and he did, I agree), then you don’t necessarily have to feel bad by supporting his writing. You’re paying him for the art he created and that you enjoyed. It’s not like you’re paying him to be batshit crazy; people can do that without money :)

    I do feel your pain though; I wanted to stop supporting a local business because of their contributions to Prop 8. It’s my husband’s favorite place, though, and they do make great frozen yogurt…

    So the question for both of us is, where is our money going? To the Mormon church? To anti-gay bigotry?

    The answer has to be no. Our money is going to the creators of a product that we love. Once we spend it, it stops being our money. Otherwise, as others here have pointed out, we’d have to track everything we spend. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t choose carefully where we spend our money. But we can’t obsess about this every time we open our wallets.

  12. notreallyalice permalink
    January 9, 2009 12:33 pm

    Oh, and, you might enjoy Brandon Sanderson’s fiction as well.

  13. January 9, 2009 12:44 pm

    The point is that if you have a personal problem “Supporting” someone who has differing opinions than you, it is difficult to know the opinions of everyone you do support.

    I know for a fact that My hard earned money often goes to people who use it in support of their opinions that are radically different than mine. Is that a problem? No, because they do work and earn the money that supports them and they choose how to use it. In the end we cannot in reality detach ourselves from supporting our fellow man no matter his views.

    “No man is an island unto himself…”


  14. January 9, 2009 2:49 pm

    In my opinion, there is a difference between supporting some local pot head’s drug habit and the ridiculous opinions of a famous writer, whose opinions are taken with high reguard by people all over the nation, and possibly affect the opinions of people who are actually important in the grand scheme of things. I pretty much agree with everything Alice had to say, and I’ll check out that author as well.

  15. January 9, 2009 6:55 pm

    It is interesting that you would think a writer has a greater and more lasting effect on people with anything but their written word. You have made it clear that you have no issue with the written work of this author, so I assume that there is no effect that you disagree with upon the readers of that work, by this author. How is it that you think he will, “possibly affect the opinions of people who are actually important in the grand scheme of things,” more beyond the bound word then from within the book you have an affinity for? If you like the books, buy them guilt free, if you don’t like the ideas posed in them Don’t buy them. After he is long dead and people forget who he was as a person there will be someone reading his words and he will be known as the author, not the man you seem to hold issue with.

    Also you think there are people who are actually important in the grand scheme of things? Beyond Family, there friends, but beyond them we all are important in our own way. You want to look at the Grand Scheme, it will take you beyond the short life we each live on this earth: Look 200 heard down the line, what do you suppose will be left by this writer? anything of the man? not much, but the author will live on in his written word.
    Do you suppose any result of your choice to buy his books first hand or not will have a lasting effect in this “Grand Scheme?” I think not.

    Do what you will.
    Good day,

  16. Patrick permalink
    January 10, 2009 8:47 pm

    Of course you should buy the books and not give it a second thought. Spend extra to buy new copies of books you love if it comes to that. Let’s flip the script for a second …if you have a collection of books you already love to read, then find out you disagree with the author’s personal views, do you get rid of the books? Perhaps. I doubt it though. Buy the books. The enjoyment they give you over the years is far greater than being discouraged at giving the author a few measly bucks.

  17. January 12, 2009 12:49 am

    Pat is right here but I think he should have clairified that it would ammount to a few bucks if you purshases the entire collection in hard bound brand new. the royalities for writers, if they have an agent push it to a popular publishing company pretty well maxes out a 34%

    I doubt that this author had such a great deal… maybe 12%
    which is still a good deal, with all the editing, publicising and administrative personell pushing the book, this all beyond the mear cost it took to accually create the physical copy that you will own.

    Good reading…

  18. January 12, 2009 9:58 am

    I understand your frustration. I agree with the posters who said that you can’t always check what people believe in before you give them you money.

    But what do you do when you DO know what their beliefs are and when their sphere of influence is much greater than the gas station attendant’s?

    Aside from the point you all debated, I personally find that once I learn that someone’s opinions are so opposite to mine, I can’t help but experience their work in that tone. I’ll read things between the lines, question little details and be suspicious of their motives. I couldn’t separate the author from his views. In the end, I think if you CAN separate the two, you should continue enjoying the work without supporting the man.

  19. January 12, 2009 3:17 pm

    Below 14,
    What do you suggest I do about the movies would like to own but disagree with the Producers’, or Actors’ Political Adjendas and moral Opinions that don’t exactly bleed into the films? Are you suggesting I only purshase pirated copies of their work?

    How do you purshase legal material without supporting in some small the people behind the material?
    How in all honesty do we do any of this “without supporting the man?”


  20. January 12, 2009 3:18 pm

    I just want to point out that it is the differing opinions that make this such a great nation to live in. Heck, if we all thought the same way how borringly ordinary would we all be!


  21. January 12, 2009 4:05 pm

    ditchu, you keep reiterating the same point, (which I would suggest borders on a straw man argument) as though everyone here is mentally shallow. We get what you’re saying and we’ve said what want to about it.

    I agree that the differing opinions of this nation is one of the things that makes it so great. However small the amount of support I might be giving to someone who is influential, it’s still support. It’s the principal of the thing, not the actual amount. Orson Scott Card is payed for his thoughts and ideas; the local gas station attendant is paid to pump my gas. Paying him is supporting his ability to pump my gas, whether he’s a skinhead or coke fiend. When you pay Mr. Card, you are paying him for his ideas. This is incredibly different.

    All that being said, I will likely buy the books where I can find them. However, I am considering writing an email to Mr. Card (I know it will not matter in any way) explaining to him why I am disappointed by some of the things he’s decided to promote, and how that may or may not have affected me buying anymore of his books or “evangelizing” them to my friends and family.

  22. January 12, 2009 6:53 pm

    since you see it this way, “Orson Scott Card is payed for his thoughts and ideas.” If you don’t wnat to pay him for his ideas, why would you want to read them? If it is the principle of things we are discussing here, you should see how this is akin to any exchange of monitary funds of work or goods. If you so choose to buy his books second hand just so you don’t send him any money for his work then in principle you are no different than having a service station attendant pump your gas but not paying for his work, or having someone build you a house (that you very much enjoy) but after you purshase the materials you think to not pay the contractor for the labor.

    Most of my bills go to Yaya’s with radically different ideals than myself, Does that mean that I agree with them? NO. Am I supporting their ideas? Yes, in a round about way, as it is unavoidable. Am I using their ideas (as in the gas pump attendant example)? No. Are you using this author’s ideas when you read his writing? I’d say yes, (especially if you are gaining enjoyment from his words). The work of the writen word is one of the mind, it is taking thought and ideas and putting them (sometimes artistically) to the page, and from the page they are taken by a readed into their mind. When you read, what is it that you are using of the author but their thoughts?

    So, my final point is: if you don’t want to pay for the man’s ideas/thinking, don’t read them. anything else in Principal, is Pirating his work.

    so happy reading, whatever matterial you choose,

  23. January 13, 2009 8:39 am

    Ditchu, to answer your question to me, I’m not suggesting you do anything. I think the “right” thing is very relative in this case.

    Personally, I don’t go out of my way to find out what every artist’s or shop owner’s political or religious convictions are, but when someone makes a point of expressing their opinions publicly, I do pay attention. It means something if the artist (in this case) himself wants those opinions known. If a shop displayed a anti-choice poster in their window, I would not shop there.

    In short, I think there are degrees to which a stranger’s opinions matter to me. And when they do matter, it is only because in our socio-political context, human and civil rights (like the ones SF mentioned specifically) depend on the individual vote and influence of people like Mr. Card. When women’s health issues and civil rights are a given and not up for debate, like they are now, I will probably not care what a writer’s personal opinions are.

  24. Ben permalink
    January 13, 2009 10:51 pm

    Thanks for your input on the Hitchmo blog …It’s been lonely.
    Keith is an old friend who I respect very much…if not all his beliefs. I actually think he is far more “evolved” than his flock if you get my meaning.


  25. January 14, 2009 2:07 pm

    Hey Ben, thanks for coming by. If ever need any backup on another blog just let me know. Sometimes those people can get carried away.

  26. Phlox permalink
    July 8, 2009 5:25 pm

    Ok, it might be a bit strange to comment on a 6month-old blog entry… however, I’ve only just read it and I’m glad to see that someone else shares my opinion about “Ender’s Game”, and at the same time loathes OSC as much as I do.
    (I haven’t yet even met someone around here who knows the book; Card isn’t widely known in Germany, I found his books only in a small Sci-Fi-/Fantasy-bookstore.)

    “Ender’s Game” is the first book that comes to my mind when asked about my favourite books. It still is, but when I first came across OSCs essays, I rather felt like Charlton Heston when he discovers that Soylent Green is made out of people. Soylent Green is still the same, as is “Ender’s Game”… but it’s hard to enjoy it as long as you can’t forget where it comes from.

    Granted, he wrote the short story in 1977, then the book in 1985. 25 years can be a long time. I only wished I had bought and read the last book of the series before I knew about OSCs personal opinions. :P
    I can’t possibly buy it now, can I? Not yet, anyway. *activates neural neutralizer

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