When the blogosphere began discussing Orson Scott Card’s rewrite of Shakespeare, Hamlet’s Father, I found myself with little to say that hadn’t already been brought up.
As you might imagine, I have Opinions. But I haven’t read the book, so I can’t speak to that in any honest fashion. But I did want to post some links, and to respond to some of Card’s own words on the matter.
William Alexander’s review in Rain Taxi: “The extent of the novella’s failure is surprising… the revelation in his ‘revelatory new version’ turns out to be a nightmare of vitriolic homophobia.”
The Publishers Weekly review: “The writing and pacing have the feel of a draft for a longer and more introspective work that might have fleshed out Hamlet’s indecision and brooding; instead, the focus is primarily on linking homosexuality with the life-destroying horrors of pedophilia…”
Orson Scott Card’s response: “…there is no link whatsoever between homosexuality and pedophilia in this book. Hamlet’s father, in the book, is a pedophile, period. I don’t show him being even slightly attracted to adults of either sex. It is the reviewer, not me, who has asserted this link, which I would not and did not make. ”
Subterranean Press responds: “…as publisher of Subterranean Press, I am responsible for everything we publish, and that means being ready to hear any complaints and criticisms about what we publish. So write to us at email@example.com.”
The Offensiveness Grenade and Official Statements from Rose Fox at Genreville: including statements from Tor and from Marvin Kaye, who originally published Card’s story. From Tor, “We do not attempt to censor the political or religious beliefs of any of our authors, and make our acquisition decisions based on commercial potential.”
Jim’s Long-winded Thoughts:
Orson Scott Card speaks for Orson Scott Card. Card identifies as Mormon, and I’ve come across a few instances lately of people condemning an entire religion (The LDS church, Christianity in general, Islam, etc…) based on the statements or actions of an individual member. Don’t do that.
Like I said, I haven’t read Hamlet’s Father. I’m more interested in Card’s response to all this, in his own thoughts and his own words.
I appreciate that he makes such a strong distinction in his blog post between pedophilia and homosexuality. It’s rather disgusting when homosexuality is linked to abuse, and suggested to be caused by such. Props to him for that (but remember this point for later).
Card goes on to say, “I have been targeted as a ‘homophobe’ by the Inquisition of Political Correctness” and “I have become a target of vilification by the hate groups of the Left, I am increasingly reluctant to have any gay characters in my fiction.”
This gives me flashbacks to Racefail, to authors who said (paraphrased), “You criticized me, so I’m going to stop trying at all. It’s your fault I’ll be writing all-white fiction from now on!”
I wasn’t impressed with this rationalization then, and I ain’t impressed now. The writer is responsible for what he or she chooses to write about, and for what he or she chooses not to write about. Blaming the PC police for your choice to stop writing about gay characters strikes me as cowardly.
As for the claim that “haters” are making up evidence for Card’s attitudes against homosexuality…
“Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.” –OSC, 1990
“The dark secret of homosexual society — the one that dares not speak its name — is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse.” –OSC, 2004
“That a few individuals suffer from tragic genetic mixups does not affect the differences between genetically distinct males and females … How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, 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.” –OSC, 2008
I don’t know what is or isn’t in Hamlet’s Father, but if your writings against homosexuality span two decades or more, there really isn’t any need or reason for people to make up evidence. Your words speak for themselves just fine.
I’m not writing this to attack Card’s religion (and will be freezing or zapping comments that attack the LDS church based on Card’s statements). And I’m not writing it to encourage name-calling and personal attacks on Card.
I’m writing it because I have a deep-rooted belief that bigotry is not okay. That when these issues arise, they should be talked about. They must be talked about. That when someone makes consistent and ongoing public statements in support of bigotry, these statements should be publicly challenged. That when that same person attempts to play the victim, it should be pointed out that he — along with so many others — is in fact a victim of his own words.