Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bed of Thorns

According to this NPR piece, "author and anti-gay activist" Orson Scott Card wrote the following in 2008:

"Marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down."
Now, in 2013:
"With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute."
Attitude is difficult to discern from writing, but it seems that Mr. Card is setting himself up to be a "victim" of "intolerant" "proponents of gay marriage." This is unfortunate, and disingenuous. Correctly or not, we have a tradition in the United States of equating support for the works of an artist (or anyone else, for that matter) with support for their attitudes and activities. When you declare that a government that gives rights to a people that you dislike a "mortal enemy," the expectation that they're going to give you a pass simply because that government ignored you is misplaced.

Christianity does not universally come off as subscribing to "live and let live." This can be especially true in the United States, where God is often portrayed as meting out collective punishments that make the actions of any given group everyone's business. And Americans in general, liberal or conservative alike, tend to bristle at the idea of being made to bear the costs of another's freedoms. (The American Left tends to be no more sanguine about the risks of being shot because someone wants the right to keep and bear arms than reactionary Christians are about the idea that today's "immoral" society might result in God sending an earthquake or tsunami or terrorist bomb with our name on it.) In this sense, Mr. Card's opposition of the extension of marriage rights and privileges to same-sex couples is perfectly understandable. Like anyone else, Mr. Card should be expected to behave as if what he professes to believe is true. But that doesn't free him from having to own publicly taking an oppositional attitude towards others. If Mr. Card felt that he needed to go on the record that marriage equality was flat-out wrong, he should have been prepared for everyone who disagreed with him to turn their backs on his works, and to become toxic to the people that he collaborated with - to be considered the "mortal enemy" that he sought to make the government out to be.

And "tolerance," or even indifference, has rarely equaled "instant forgiveness" especially for the unreconstructed. Hurt feelings die hard, and for Mr. Card to hold on to his own bitterness, yet rub other people's faces in theirs is ungracious of him to say the least. I'm sure that he's been unpleasantly surprised recently at how everything he touches turns to manure and how his simply being associated with something has been enough to call out the virtual pitchforks and torches. And if you take his religiosity at face value, regardless of the vitriol, he does (sort of) mean well, in the grand scheme of things, anyway. So, to be sure, it's not fair. Other people have taken the same stand that he has, and aren't in a position of watching a vocal segment of society turn on them. But fair is where pigs go to get prizes, and not the world we live in. He's simply going to have to keep his head down, and, if he's unwilling to make amends, simply ride out the storm.

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