Orson Scott Card is a Yard Shitter (and a Note on Redeemability)

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This was making the rounds earlier this week, but since I was working on the Week of Joy, I chose to save my opinion on the matter until now.

Basically, it comes down to the sad fact that Orson Scott Card is a Yard Shitter.  What is a Yard Shitter?  I shall explain by way of an OSC example.  OSC recently said the following:

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.

I don’t think he understands how tolerance works.  I don’t have a problem with his dislike for gay people.  I don’t even care that he thinks gays are a genetic defect.  If his beliefs were just his beliefs, we could all tolerate one another just fine.  But they’re not.  He has actively tried to push those beliefs on everyone else.  Sorry, but no.

I don’t have to tolerate your desire to remove the rights of others.  I don’t.  And for you to ask me to tolerate your intolerance of others suggests that you don’t really understand how tolerance works.  Tolerance only works if what you believe doesn’t affect others.  If your neighbor has an outhouse and takes a shit in that outhouse every night, you can tolerate that because he’s not bothering you with his shitting.  But if your neighbor shits on your yard every night, you don’t have to tolerate that.  EVER.  At that point, he’s started sharing his shit with other people, at which point his belief in shitting outside of the house infringes on the ability of others to have nothing to do with said shitting.  The same thing is true for gay rights.  If you expressed your opinion and kept it at that, I could ignore you.  But you use your popularity to push your ideology on the rest of us.  You’re shitting in all of our yards, and you think we should have to put up with it.  Gay people don’t show up and shit on your doorstep, so why you feel you have a right to shit on theirs with impunity is beyond me.  (Translation:  gay people don’t say you have to like their gay marriages or engage in gay marriage or hang out with gay people, married or otherwise, and so on and so forth.  For the most part, they just want you to leave them the frak alone.)

This is about shitting in yards.  Tolerance only works between parties who don’t shit on one another’s property.  If you want me to tolerate you, Mr. Card, then you have to stop shitting everywhere.  Take your shit to your outhouse and shit away.  But don’t pretend like you get special treatment for shitting on my yard simply because you think you’re right or because you have some sort of “moral authority” from a church.  You don’t.  When you shit on my yard, you get exactly what you deserve:  ridicule and verbal backlash.  That’s how tolerance works.


None of this is to suggest that Card cannot “redeem” himself.  I believe fervently in redemption, not just as a narrative, but as a way of life.  If we didn’t allow redemption to exist, this world would fall to pieces.  People make mistakes.  In some cases, they make really horrible mistakes (and in still others, they make mistakes for which forgiveness is impossible).  Card falls within that horrible-but-forgivable-mistake category (I’ll explain that in a second).  As far as I can see, there are two main ways for him to redeem himself, if he chooses to do so.

The first, and least likely, involves publicly apologizing for all the damage he has done to gay communities across the country, followed by admitting that, in most respects, he was wrong.  Posterity will recognize him both for the work he has produced and for holding out-dated and downright idiotic beliefs (just as most of us view the slave owners of the olden days).  He can change that, though.  By apologizing and admitting fault (followed by leaving most of the anti-gay organizations through which he has supported anti-gay policies and rhetoric), he can demonstrate that change is possible, and that all of us deserve a little slack when that time comes.

But Card is highly unlikely to ever do that.  Why?  Because nothing so far indicates he has changed his mind on much of anything, save taking the U.S. government by force and preventing gay marriage by coup (he seems to have thrown in the towel).  The comment above — i.e., the main discussion point thus far — indicates that Card wants you to tolerate his intolerance.  In other words, he still believes most of what he has always said, but now he thinks he shouldn’t suffer financially for holding those beliefs, nor for using his popularity to push for legislation to force those beliefs on the rest of us.  Remember that gay rights activists have never advocated (except perhaps as a joke) for everyone to have gay marriages and gay rights.  They just want their gay marriages and gay rights. Even if we pass gay marriage laws in every state, straight people and anti-gay people will still get married just fine.  There’s a huge difference between the anti-gay and pro-gay stances.  The first wants to force everyone to follow its version of morality by removing or banning certain rights otherwise afforded to gays.  The second just wants all those gay folks to have the same rights as everyone else.  Huge difference.

The second and more reasonable option for Card is to admit he was wrong about advocating for anti-gay positions on the legal level.  Basically, he’ll keep believing gays are degenerates and shouldn’t have rights, but he’ll stop actively working to deny them rights.  I don’t see this happening either, of course, and I wouldn’t ask him to do anything of the sort.  But it’s one of a handful of options available that will allow him to remain anti-gay and possibly prevent people from using that as a basis for boycotting his work (or maybe not — probably not…).  After all, a lot of us know people who believe things we can’t stand, and we’re perfectly fine with that so long as their beliefs don’t become actions.

All of this goes along with my “mind your own fucking business” rule, which I think people should follow as much as possible when it comes to the government.  It’s not really our job to determine who can and cannot get married, except insofar as consent is concerned (so you can shove your “u r fer peedos” nonsense somewhere else).  If you don’t want to hang out with gay folks, then don’t.  That’s your prerogative, and I have zero interest in forcing you to have gay friends (just as I have no interest in forcing you to have black friends — or female friends, etc.).  You mind your business, and I’ll mind mine.

But, again, none of these things are likely to happen with Card.  So all of this is just speculation.  At the end of the day, Card wants us all to put up with his wish to see gays denied their rights by the government.  And he wants to play the victim while doing it.  But he’s not a victim.  He’s the victimizer.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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