The Card Dilemma, part 2: The Books

Unlike the Ender’s Game film, Orson Scott Card is one of very few people who profit from his books. He makes a much larger profit per book purchase than per film ticket. His books are, to the best of my knowledge, his primary source of income – income that funds NOM and similar ideas.

I enjoy his books, regardless of his personal beliefs. If those beliefs aren’t apparent in the writing, then my knowledge of them is completely irrelevant to the book. Card is also known to write under pseudonyms occasionally. How do you know that the book you just finished reading wasn’t written by him, that you haven’t given him and his antiqueer organizations money without knowing?

I cannot support Card’s excellent writing without also funding his homophobic activities. And yet, I don’t think his homophobic activities should keep me from reading what I want to read. In an ideal world, I would find the writing of politically- and socially-opposing people unenticing. In an ideal world, I would dislike Card’s writing and social views, or I would like both. However, I’m stuck in this world, where I love his writing but disagree with how he uses his profits.

Card is also known to have other people write with him (notably Aaron Johnston, whose beliefs and opinions are unreported). Books that were cowritten provide less money to Card; does this make them more socially responsible choices?

My answer to this dilemma also happens to involve something else I feel strongly about: public libraries. I want to read these books, but I’m not personally willing to donate my queer money to an anti-queer person who funnels it straight into anti-queer organizations. I am aware that as more people read a book or an author at the library, additional purchases of the book or from the author are more likely. I am aware that my checking out his books from the public library still puts some money into Card’s pocket, albeit indirectly. However, he gets significantly less this way, and the money I save not buying his books could even go towards a queer-positive organization. I get to read what I want to read without feeling like I’m compromising my own values.

I wonder how Cards feels, though. Would he be gleeful about the opportunity to take a queer person’s money for a book and donate it to a homophobic organization? Or would he be offended that he can be linked positively with queer people and not want me to buy his books?

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