The end of tolerance and diversity?

As some of you may have heard, Orson Scott Card’s classic novel “Ender’s Game” has been made into a movie, releasing this winter. You may also have heard that there is a movement to boycott the movie because of Card’s past statements against gay marriage. Recently Card made an official statement acknowledging that recent Supreme Court decisions have pretty much made gay marriage and the recognition thereof inevitable, so what does his opinion matter? He also goes on to suggest that this would be a good time for proponents of gay marriage to demonstrate that they can be as tolerant and understanding of other opinions as they’ve been insisting  those others be of theirs.

So let me go on record as agreeing with Card. It’s time to show that you really value tolerance and diversity as much as you claim. Regardless of how I may have voted on the issue of gay marriage, you have never heard me insist that those who favored it had no right to push for it. You have never heard me say that gay people have no right to be gay. You’ve never heard me say that they should just shut up already. Regardless of my opinions, you have a right to yours, and to act in accordance within the law–up to and including pushing for laws to be changed. That’s what this country is about.

And yet we have people on the other side who are not nearly so charitable. One commenter on an article about the Card boycott said essentially, “It’s time we showed Card and anyone else that doesn’t support LGBT that they have no place in geekdom.”

How utterly sad, close-minded, and entirely ignorant. Perhaps I am equally ignorant, but I don’t recall a movement, back when public sentiment ran the other direction, to “show supporters of LGBT that they have no place in geekdom.” On the contrary, geekdom has long been one area where tolerance and diversity have been hallmarks. One of my best friends in high school was a very strong liberal. We could never discuss politics, and very little of religion, but we bonded over Star Trek and many other things geek. Our favorite sci-fi/fantasy works were important enough to us we could overlook those other aspects of one-another’s background.

Furthermore, I can only wonder if the commenter mentioned above likes “The Lord of the Rings.” If they claim true “geek cred” they probably do. But have they stopped to think about what opinion J.R.R. Tolkien may have had about gay marriage, had anyone asked him back then? I doubt he would have been any more supportive than Card. But I’m sure they’re willing to overlook that little detail. That was a long time ago. Well, so was 1983, when “Ender’s Game” was published. Gay marriage wasn’t an issue then, either.

Science Fiction and Fantasy, especially the former, have long been genres devoted to exploring, questioning, examining, and even debating all aspects of science, humanity, and society. The only requirement has been an open mind (though you’d never know that to see some of the inter-series feuds). A community that can venerate both Jerry Pournelle and George Lucas should be well-accustomed to accepting differing opinions, even if they never budge from their own. It’s been something we can be proud of, really.

So it would be entirely ironic if, with the near-victory of the LGBT community, they were to wrest moral control over “geekdom” and declare that everyone has to fall in line with their beliefs or find themselves uninvited. It would be entirely sad if the people who for so long have been demanding tolerance and respect from others are found incapable of it themselves. How unfortunate if one of the latest group to benefit from the ideals of tolerance and diversity becomes the last, having burned those ships upon reaching the shore.

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2 Responses to The end of tolerance and diversity?

  1. 1) Nice Tolkien reference there at the end. 2) It has never been about tolerance. It has always been a tactic to an end – the silencing of opposition. That having been said, there are tolerant people on both sides of the issue who truly do have acceptance of the other side in their heart, but those who have screamed “tolerance” the loudest are those least inclined to practice it.

  2. The commentary following this article is very demonstrative of your point. I DID see one person, though, who got it just right.

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