By Konrad Juengling
“Ender’s Game” releases in November. What I’m hoping to see in November are lots of empty theater seats, rather than a rush to the theaters that a lot of media talking heads have predicted. Why the antipathy for a much-lauded book coming to film? Because I am a firm believer in the old adage, “With every dollar you spend you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
The world that I want to live in doesn’t have anything to do with the world Orson Scott Card wrote about in “Ender’s Game.” It’s much, much closer to home and something that would be better for all of us. The kind of world that I want is one where everyone is treated with respect, everyone has the same rights and freedoms, and people respect one another’s decisions. This is not a world that Orson Scott Card wants to be a part of here in “the real world” (or in his book for that matter).
Card is on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage. NOM is the same organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group. The SLPC has been instrumental in public education and legal representation against all sorts of hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, neo-Confederates, racist music groups, Holocaust deniers, and many more. These obviously aren’t groups that people with a rational worldview seek out. If you truly respect others, you don’t have any need for affiliations with groups like the KKK, Aryan Nations, or the Westboro Baptist Church. Card, on the other hand, champions the efforts of NOM and believes that “the homosexual agenda” is something to fight.
He actively campaigns against marriage equality. He advocates that sodomy laws should be kept on the books in America to punish gays. He’s claimed that gay people are self-loathing victims of child abuse. He doesn’t stop there, though, arguing that gay marriage “marks the end of democracy in America,” homosexuality is a “tragic genetic mixup,” and that allowing courts to redefine marriage to include same sex-couples is a slippery slope into gay rule and that anyone who does not agree with gay marriage will be categorized as “mentally ill.”
We can skip the paranoid gay conspiracies Card sees all around. It’s pretty obvious he comes from the “Obama is a shape-shifting alien” camp when it comes to conspiracy theories. What I don’t think we should skip is the fact that Card actively advocates for people to not have rights that he himself enjoys. This not only makes him a bigot but a hypocritical one as well. Although marriage equality and getting everyone on an even playing field within the law would not affect him personally, Card feels the need to go out of his way to make sure no one but his specific brand of people gets to enjoy the rights he does. Is it heterocentric? Homophobic? Prejudiced? Bigoted? Yes, yes, yes (and you guessed it) … yes.
Do we really want to be giving our money to someone who campaigns for inequality, stratification of people according to his personal morals, and laws that criminalize love? Do we want to line the pockets of someone who donates to a hate group? By spending money on this film, or his book, or any other Card works, we’re casting a vote for a world in which the rights of gay people are not only nonexistent, but gay people are criminalized. We’re voting for a world that is dependent on one man’s extreme views — views that are hateful, spiteful, ignorant and demeaning.
A sci-fi film might look alluring, but to boycott “Ender’s Game” sends a message that we are not complacent with good people being oppressed for no reason. Seeing “Ender’s Game” supports hate, oppression, stigmatization, and bigotry. Let’s stand up for what we know is right and steer clear of contributing to Card’s coffers.
Konrad Juengling is an Oregon native who currently lives in Beaverton with his boyfriend and three cats. He works full time in the financial industry, but has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies. After finishing the post-baccalaureate work he is currently doing at Portland State University, Konrad will be pursuing a master’s degree with the goal of working with juvenile sex offenders. An avid collector of literature, Konrad also helps to run a gay men’s book club at Pivot in downtown Portland.