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Friday, September 20, 2013

Boycott “Ender’s Game”? Orson Scott Card and Profiting From Homophobia

“Ender’s Game” is a terrific science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, first published in 1985.  It is about a young boy recruited into a military effort to repulse an eminent alien invasion.  The captivating story quickly became a classic, and remains a top-selling book to this day.  Now it’s about to become a blockbuster movie, opening November 1, 2013, and likely to be followed by movies based on the sequels Card also wrote.  I’ve loved the book since reading it when it first came out, and two year ago I started listening to the series as audio books, thrilling once again to the captivating tale.  But I then stumbled upon information about Mr. Card, the author, that made be give up listening to the audio books, stopping one fourth of the way through the second one, never to go back. 
 Here’s why I quit:
I always knew that Orson Scott Card was a Mormon, but that didn’t mean much to me.  As readers of this blog know (see “Related Posts” below), I think Mormonism is founded on major fraud by its founder Joseph Smith, as is easily discovered by anyone who cares to investigate his ugly life and the formation of the Church of Latter Day Saints, but I have a number of Mormon friends who are good people, and I carefully avoid discussing their religious beliefs with them (as I do with friends espousing other religions).  Okay, the Mormon Church has been at the forefront of homophobia in this country, but that doesn’t mean individual Mormons agree with the Church on this.

But I then learned that Orson Scott Card is a leading homophobe not only in the Church but nationwide!  He was on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions, from 2009 until this year.  His attacks on same-sex marriage have been vicious and relentless, to the point where he swore, “[r]egardless 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.”
In 1990, Mr. Card came out in favor of making homosexuality a crime once again, stating that  “laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books” and “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.”

Orson Scott Card

Here are his homophobic quotes gathered together by the GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) at

-- Suggests married heterosexuals should work to overthrow a government that has marriage equality: "If America becomes a place where our children are taken from us by law and forced to attend schools where they are taught that cohabitation is as good as marriage, that motherhood doesn't require a husband or father, and that homosexuality is as valid a choice as heterosexuality for their future lives, then why in the world should married people continue to accept the authority of such a government? What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them. 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, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn."

-- Says gay people's marriages "strike a death blow" against straight people's unions: "So if my friends insist on calling what they do "marriage," they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is. Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage. They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won't be married. They'll just be playing dress-up in their parents' clothes."

-- In 1990, wrote column saying gays must repent: "The Church has plenty of room for individuals who are struggling to overcome their temptation toward homosexual behavior. But for the protection of the Saints and the good of the persons themselves, the Church has no room for those who, instead of repenting of homosexuality, wish it to become an acceptable behavior in the society of the Saints. They are wolves in sheep's clothing, preaching meekness while attempting to devour the flock." (*In 2004, he said he stands by the main points of the essay)

-- Suggests gays are innately unhappy and that many were raped, molested, or abused into being: "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, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally. It's that desire for normality, that discontent with perpetual adolescent sexuality, that is at least partly behind this hunger for homosexual 'marriage.' They are unhappy, but they think it's because the rest of us 'don't fully accept them.' Homosexual 'marriage' won't accomplish what they hope. They will still be just as far outside the reproductive cycle of life. And they will have inflicted real damage on those of us who are inside it. They will make it harder for us to raise children with any confidence that they, in turn, will take their place in the reproductive cycle. They will use all the forces of our society to try to encourage our children that it is desirable to be like them."

-- In Op-Ed supporting marriage ban in North Carolina, said marriage equality is not about marriage but rather "about giving the left the power to force anti-religious values on our children." Added: "Once they legalize gay marriage, it will be the bludgeon they use to make sure that it becomes illegal to teach traditional values in the schools." 

-- Refers to gays as people with "sex-role dysfunctions": "That many individuals suffer from sex-role dysfunctions does not change the fact that only heterosexual mating can result in families where a father and a mother collaborate in rearing children that share a genetic contribution from both parents."

-- More "ex-gay" advocacy, again referring to homosexuality as a "dysfunction": "In fact, the scientific evidence we have points in the opposite direction: Same-sex attraction is not a strait jacket; people's desires change over time; gay people still have choices; a reproductive dysfunction like same-sex attraction is not a death sentence for your DNA or for your desire to have a family in which children grow up with male and female parents to model appropriate gender roles. Heterosexual pair-bonding has been at the heart of human evolution from the time we divided off from the chimps. Normalizing a dysfunction will only make ours into a society that corrodes any loyalty to it, as parents see that our laws and institutions now work against the reproductive success (not to mention happiness) of the next generation."

-- From 2000 Salon interview: “I find the comparison between civil rights based on race and supposed new rights being granted for what amounts to deviant behavior to be really kind of ridiculous. There is no comparison. A black as a person does not by being black harm anyone. Gay rights is a collective delusion that’s being attempted. And the idea of ‘gay marriage’ — it’s hard to find a ridiculous enough comparison."

[About the GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (CAP)

The GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (#glaadCAP) aims to provide critical context and information about anti-LGBT activists who are commonly interviewed and quoted about LGBT issues. Learn more at]

To see a recent video of Orson Scott Card in which he repents none of his views on homosexuals and brags that the controversy just makes his works more profitable, see

In response to Card’s rantings a boycott of the upcoming movie is underway, led by Geeks OUT, a gay fan group [see].  Card himself is one of the producers of the movie, though everyone else involved, from the director Gavin Hood, to star Harrison Ford, to gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, is apparently very supportive of the gay community.  They all point out that neither the book “Ender’s Game” nor the movie is homophobic, and that the opposite is true: the story is about tolerance, empathy, compassion, and difference.  Why can’t we separate the “art” from the” artist”?  Hmm.  Jono Jarrett, a founding member of the boycott's sponsor, Geeks OUT, replies, "Regardless of everyone's good intentions, they still cut this guy a check,".

In the current issue of The Advocate, the national gay news magazine, Diane Anderson-Minishall, a lesbian, discusses the boycott and ends up concluding that she loves “Ender’s Game” so much that she’ll skip the many LGBT events planned across the country on November 1 to protest the movie, and will instead go to see it, though she confesses that she’ll “certainly feel a twinge of shame for crossing that invisible picket line.”
The New York Times published an editorial by Juliet Lapidos last July in which she said that the boycott is a mistake because
boycotts are used to pressure companies or governments to end objectionable activities; consider the boycott of Chick-fil-A to protest the chain’s financial support of antigay organizations. What Geeks Out has in mind is closer to blacklisting. The group wants to “send a clear and serious message to Card and those that do business with his brand of antigay activism — whatever he’s selling, we’re not buying.” This isn’t about stopping the dissemination of antigay sentiments; it’s about isolating Mr. Card and shaming his business partners, thus cutting into their profits.

Oh, I want to see this movie so bad!  I’ve long thought that “Ender’s Game” would make a wonderful film, and with the technology of 2013 it’s going to be spectacular! So I’d like to join Ms. Anderson-Minishall as she buys her popcorn and shamefully crosses the ”invisible picket line,” but I think that “isolating Mr. Card and shaming his business partners, thus cutting into their profits” (to use the language of The New York Times) is a splendid idea. 

Frankly, however much I tried I couldn’t sit in the theater and concentrate on the screen without the thought of Orson Scott Card’s smug smile haunting me as I did so.  Pretty quickly the bile would rise in my throat and—however fantastic the movie—I’d walk out, ashamed of myself for having gone in the first place.

Related Posts:
“The Aging Gay Rights Activist,” March 24, 2010
“How To Change Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010
"How Many Homosexuals Are There in the World?" November 8, 2010
"Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight," January 25, 2011
"The Homosexual Agenda To Conquer the World," February 8, 2011
"Coming Out: How To Tell People You're Gay," March 27, 2011
"A Mormon Loses His Faith," June 13, 2011
"The Legacy of Homophobia," August 2, 2011
"Going Undercover at an Ex-Gay Meeting," September 19, 2011
"The Presumption of Heterosexuality and the Invisible Homosexual," October 2, 2011
"The History of Gay Rights in Columbus, Ohio," June 4, 2012
“I Support the Right of the Boy Scouts To Ban Gays,” July 24, 2012
“Mitt Romney: A Mormon President?” October 17, 2012
 “A Homophobic Organization Throws in the Towel: Goodbye to Exodus International,” June 21, 2013
“Gay Marriage, the Supreme Court, and the Future,” June 26, 2013
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Legal Terms You Should Know

No one expects those untrained in law to get legal terminology down pat, but there are some concepts and terms that come up enough that everyone should have a basic understanding of them.  This blog post is meant to illustrate the most common ones.

1.  “Verdict” and “Judgment.” 

These two terms are quite often confused.  The “verdict” is the finding of fact rendered in a case in which the facts are in dispute.  If there is a jury then the jury is the fact finder, and will render a verdict at the close of the presentation of the evidence by the lawyers.  The “judgment” (often misspelled, by the way, since in the United States it only has one “e”) is the judge’s pronouncement at the close of the case as to which party wins, and this judgment has as its function the application of the facts found by the fact finder and the rules of law as determined by the judge to the resolution of the issue at the heart of the case.  Appeals can follow, but what is appealed is not the “verdict” but the “judgment.”  What happened as a matter of fact—the issue the verdict resolves—can be challenged on appeal but only as part of the appeal of the judgment, and it’s very rare for the appellate court to overturn the verdict’s findings absent something like jury tampering or other misbehavior.  After all, the appellate court didn’t hear the evidence on which the finding of fact was based, and will overturn the judgment because of a bad verdict only if the latter is clearly erroneous.

In the famous movie “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch (the defense attorney played by Gregory Peck) loses a criminal case in which his client is found guilty.  Before the appeal can happen the client commits suicide, and Atticus mutters, “We had a good case for an appeal.”  Well . . . no, he didn’t.  Everything depended on who the jury believed when there was conflicting testimony from the witnesses.  That’s a matter of fact, and the appellate court isn’t likely to second-guess the jury.  Unless Atticus had some procedural matter that was the basis for his appeal (a question of law), his client was going to be executed.

In any event, the point is that you never appeal the “verdict”; you appeal the “judgment.”  Reporters get this wrong all the time.

2.  Pro Se.   

This one is a Latin term (pronounced “pro say”) meaning “for himself,” and is used whenever the person filing the complaint does not have a lawyer and is proceeding on his/her own.  It may surprise you to realize that the law does not require that a lawyer be involved in a lawsuit, and that you can file the suit “pro se” and prosecute the case yourself.  Is this a smart thing to do?  No, unless it’s a minor matter in a Small Claims Court.  Otherwise not even lawyers should do it.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “A person who represents himself has a fool for a client."  But if you can’t find a lawyer to represent you, then a pro se action may be your only hope.  In that case get as much free advice as you can from lawyer friends on what you’re doing, go down to the court where you will file the case, throw yourself on the mercy of the clerk of courts and ask for help, make sure that the court will have jurisdiction over your matter, ask for a blank copy of a standard complaint (or look at some in other court cases and dummy up your own version), and get from the clerk a copy of the court’s rules of procedure (and study them).  When you sign the complaint, write the words “Pro Se” under your name so the court will know you’re doing this incredible thing.  

3.  Habeus Corpus. 

Say you are sitting in your home one night, the door is broken down, government agents arrest you without explaining why, and cart your off into the darkness.  You’re never heard from again.  When your loved ones protest, the government denies they have you.  What can be done?  Your loved ones should hire a lawyer on your behalf and he/she will file a writ of habeus corpus with the local criminal court. 

“Habeus corpus” is another Latin term and this one means “produce the body.”  It is a “writ” (a request in the form of a motion) filed with the court that has jurisdiction over a criminal matter asking the court to require the government to bring the defendant into court and begin formal charges against him/her.  This is an important right: the right not to be snatched by the government and simply hidden away in some prison with no trial in sight.  Article 1 Section 9, clause 2 of the United States Constitution demands that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." 

During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln suspended the right of habeus corpus, and sometimes had editors of newspapers who wrote things he didn’t like thrown in jail until they repented of their views.  No trial was allowed.  Uproar occurred over this, as you can imagine, but during a war drastic steps are sometimes required.  There has been speculation that Lincoln went too far and—had he lived—might have faced impeachment over this very issue.


6.  Standing.

Before you can bring a lawsuit and prosecute it successfully you must convince the court that you have “standing” to do so.  What does that mean?  It’s basically a reflection of common sense: only parties that are harmed by the legal problem can come to court and ask for relief.  If someone runs you down in the car, and I’m no more than your best friend, I will not have standing to sue the reckless driver for negligence in harming you.  Only you (or your heirs if you were killed) will obviously have standing to sue.

In the United States Supreme Court decision this past June that considered the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 (which was passed by voters to amend the California constitution so as to deny gays the right to marry) standing was the very basis of the Court’s resolution of the case. At the federal trial court level the plaintiffs were gay couples wishing to marry and thus had standing to attack Proposition 8.  Plaintiffs sued the State of California, but state officials agreed with the plaintiffs that this part of the state constitution was invalid under federal law, and so the state declined to defend the lawsuit.  Up jumped potential defenders in the form of the original proponents of Proposition 8, and though their defense was so bad that the trial court judge begged them to do a better job, in the end he ruled against them and the State of California, holding that the Proposition 8 part of the California Constitution was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution (which guarantees equal protection of the law to all).  The proponents appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which first ruled that they did have standing for the appeal and then went on to uphold the trial court opinion on the substantive grounds that the state could take away existing gay marital rights only if it had a rational basis for doing so, which it did not.  The United States Supreme Court disagreed with the standing ruling.  It held that private citizens had no standing to appeal the trial court decision, so neither the Ninth Circuit nor the Supreme Court had jurisdiction.  Thus the trial court decision prevailed, meaning that the portion of the California constitution forbidding gay marriage was invalid.  Gays promptly began marrying in California once again.


5.  Jurisdiction.

The idea here is simple: courts can only try cases that some law authorizes them to try.  If a court hears a case without having the legal right to do so, the court is said to have no “jurisdiction,” and any judgment it renders is null and void.  Say for example, you want to sue the President of Russia for some outrageous thing he’s done.  It’s unlikely that the local county court has jurisdiction to render a judgment that would bind a Russian who has no connection with this venue and is not required by law to respond to a complaint filed in this venue.  You’ll have to go to Russia and file your suit in a Russian court that truly does have jurisdiction over the President of Russia (and good luck with that).

Courts only have jurisdiction if some law, state or federal, grants them the ability to hear and resolve the legal matter at issue.  That leads us to the final topic.

6.  Courts of the United States.

Our judicial system divides the courts into federal courts and state ones.  In both systems there are trial courts (called by various names depending on the state, and called “District Courts” in the federal system), intermediate appellate courts in which typically three judges hear the appeal and write an opinion explaining their decision, and a supreme court. 

In the federal system the judges are appointed by the president for life and confirmed by the Senate.  As just noted, the trial courts are called District Courts, and there are currently 94 of them in the country.  The intermediate appellate courts are divided into thirteen different Circuit Courts of Appeal.  When appeal is had from the District Court’s judgment in any given case it will go to the relevant Circuit Court of Appeals (see diagram), where usually it is heard by a panel of three judges.  Their decision can be appealed to the entire Circuit Court (called an “en banc” hearing) or to the United States Supreme Court.  It you look at the charts below you can see which Circuit you live in (assuming you are in the United States).

I live in Ohio, so I'm in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal's jurisdiction

The United States Supreme Court has nine members.  Currently there are three women and six men, and, interestingly, the Court (the word is usually capitalized for this particular court) currently houses three Jews and six Catholics, but no Protestants, Muslims, or Atheists.  The Court is split philosophically between four liberals (Ginsbury, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan), four conservatives (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito), and the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy, the most powerful judge in the world.  Not only does the Court hear appeals from the Circuit Courts, but also from state courts if the case raises a significant federal question.  It takes four votes for the Court to agree to hear a case.  Around 10,000 cases are appealed to the Court in any given term, but the Court refuses to hear most of them, actually deciding only 140 or so each term (which runs from October until the end of June).
Related Posts:

“I Threaten To Sure Apple Over an iPad Cover,” April 8, 2011;

“The Payment-In-Full Check: A Powerful Legal Maneuver,” April 11, 2011;

“What Non-Lawyers Should Know About Warranties,” October 11, 2011;

"How To Write an Effective Legal Threat Letter," October 19, 2011;

“How To Win Arguments and Change Someone’s Mind,” August 5, 2012; 

“Mortgage Foreclosures, Missing Promissory Notes, and the Uniform Commercial Code: A New Article,” February 11, 2013;

“How To Respond to a Legal Threat.” March 29, 2014;

“Clicking on 'I Agree': Sticking Your Head in the Lion's Mouth?” September 27, 2014; 

 “My Battle with Sony To Get a Refund on a DVD Player”;

“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;