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It’s Only McCarthyism If We Do It

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2013

That’s what Maggie Gallagher seems to believe:

Gay marriage advocates are trying to build up a boycott of Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s personal views on marriage. It seems very strange to me that so many artists and people on the left are supporting the idea that to make art in the mainstream you have to have the right political opinions. This used to be considered the heart of McCarthyism: loyalty oaths for filmmakers as the condition for working in the film industry. (These were imposed by the industry, not the government, remember, in response to public pressure).

It was just a little more than a year ago that the National Organization for Marriage, of which Gallagher is board chair, called for a boycott of Starbucks. I’ve grown to believe that organized boycotts are almost always futile in achieving their aims. That said, I do believe that we are all free to spend our money however we choose. I don’t purchase gasoline at Exxon on Mobil, and I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. And if the gross receipts for Ender’s Game opening night are going to be looked at as some kind of an economic referendum for Card, then I can safely say that I won’t be seeing the movie. It’s my money, and I just don’t feel like paying Card a dime of it, and I hope none of my friends or family members will either.

But if they do — if they want to see the movie because they loved the critically-aclaimed book, or because they’re interested in the star power of Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Aramis Knight, Hailee Steinfeld, Jimmy Pinchak, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin — then that’s no skin off of my nose either. Evil people are capable of producing great art, and it’s not axiomatic that their personal evil compromises that art, although I also think that it’s rare for that to occur. I’m not familiar with Ender’s Game to know whether it is tainted with Card’s vindictive viewpoints or not, although I am aware that it does infect other books that he wrote later.

But where I draw the line is here: ten years ago, Card wanted my very existence made criminal. Five years ago, if California had decided to legalize my marriage, he wasn’t just going to disagree with the outcome. He vowed “to destroy that government and bring it down.” So we’re not talking about a civil discussion over afternoon tea. Card has portrayed these issues in a stark struggle-to-the-death choice: it’s either us or him. And now he and his allies are crying foul because some of us are taking him at the very standard he established.

But in the final analysis, this isn’t a question of art or politics. It’s a question of commerce, as Gallagher helpfully clarified today:

But here’s what I believe about boycotts:

It’s fair to boycott a corporation as a corporation for something that corporation does as a corporation.

I think it’s unfair, destructive, and wicked to boycott a whole corporation because of the personal beliefs of one member of that corporation.

I think its repellent to boycott or blacklist an artist because of his personal views. It’s the heart of McCarthyism to me.

That said, people are free to buy tickets or not if they feel differently.

McCarthy, it must be remembered, was a powerful U.S. Senator who threatened to bring the power of the Federal Government down on Hollywood if it didn’t purge “communists,” however McCarthy alone chose to identify or define them,  from its midsts. That’s very different from citizens urging fellow citizens to refrain from buying something.

But setting aside Gallagher’s historically myopic view of McCarthyism, I think her attempt to draw a distinction around Card as an artist is unrealistic. I don’t see many homophobes going to a Lady Gaga concert, and I do see a lot of anti-gay activists denouncing pretty much whatever she does. When k.d. lang came out, she was met with boycotts of her records by country music stations across North America. Outside of the LGBT political arena, we can all recall the backlash against the Dixie Chicks when Natalie Maines took a distinctly anti-Bush stance at a 2003 concert in London. But despite the backlashes, art was never repressed. Card, Gaga, k.d., the Chicks were then and still are free to make their art with whatever points of view they see fit.

But when they sell it, we enter the land of commerce, and we are all free to decide whether we want to buy what they’re selling. And my money just won’t go from my pocket to Card’s. It’s as simple as that.



July 12th, 2013 | LINK

Hear, hear!

And I won’t be seeing it, renting it, downloading it or on-demanding it. Not one dime of my money will go into Card’s bigoted pocket.

Richard Rush
July 12th, 2013 | LINK

Considering the vast multitude of great movies available to view, can there really anything so uniquely special and compelling about Ender’s Game? As it turns out, yes there is: Paying to see it will enrich a virulently anti-gay bigot whose goal is to degrade and diminish our lives in every conceivable way. And he’s willing to whitewash his documented bigoted history in the hopes of getting enough tolerance to last at least until the movie completes its theatrical run.

Orson Scott Card is a great example of how those who are divinely blessed with the ability to discern the inferiority of others turn out to be the sleaziest people around.

Card and NOM are a match made in heaven.

Bose in St. Peter MN
July 12th, 2013 | LINK

Aw gee, Ms. Gallagher has set me free to buy, or not buy, movie tickets.

I just need to know that she might find my choice to be wicked, repellent, unfair, or even destructive.

She hasn’t, however, given me the tiniest reason to care what she thinks of me.

Scott Rose
July 12th, 2013 | LINK

It isn’t necessarily — as Gallagher says — “repellent” to boycott an artist because of his views; think of the gay-basher Buju Banton.

July 12th, 2013 | LINK

” (These were imposed by the industry, not the government, remember, in response to public pressure).”

Oh please, McCarthy was a twat and a black stain on my state’s history, but she either doesn’t know history or is just lying. There are plenty of state and federal laws requiring loyalty oaths. From the wikipedia article on loyalty oaths: “President Harry S Truman instituted a Loyalty Program, requiring loyalty oaths and background investigations on persons deemed suspect of holding party membership in organizations that advocated violent and anti-democratic programs.”

Gene in L.A.
July 12th, 2013 | LINK

I will see the movie. I don’t believe art does have to do with the politics of the artist. More to the point, whatever money Card is getting for the movie rights he’s already gotten. If someone can show me he’ll get a penny or a mil for every dollar the movie makes, I might consider boycotting it; but the book is very good and does not reflect his politics; and boycotting the movie will mean boycotting everyone who has anything to do with it, allies as well as enemies.

Regan DuCasse
July 13th, 2013 | LINK

So she thinks it’s unfair, destructive and wicked to boycott an entire corporation of the beliefs of ONE of it’s members.
She thinks.
Well, it’s ACTUALLY unfair, destructive and wicked to damage and entire segment of the human population in ways that restrict any form of living in self reliance and enabled personal happiness and freedom.
And she and her cohorts LOVE to brag about the millions of people that agree with THEM, to that end.
Hypocritical bitch.

Lindoro Almaviva
July 13th, 2013 | LINK

I am going to reprint the same comment I made at Good-As-You because i think it bears repeating:

Maybe we need to coin a new word: Cardyism or McCardyism: the act/art of stating anti-gay sentiments by well known figures and then make calls for “tolerance” when their products or services are boycotted by the LGBTI community and their allies.

I would be open to other suggestions.

July 13th, 2013 | LINK

A few thoughts:

“That’s what Maggie Gallagher seems to believe:”

At this point, I’m not sure that Gallagher believes anything. It starts to seem more and more that she’s one of those who will say what she’s paid to say, and since the only ones who will pay her at this point are anti-gay right-wingers. . . .

@Gene in L.A.: I understand that Card is one of the producers, so I would guess he will be getting ongoing cash flow from the film, in addition to what he’s already been paid for the rights, etc. You might want to take that into consideration.

As for the McCarthyism mantra — interesting that someone on the “conservative” side of the spectrum would haul McCarthy out as a villain. Any port in a storm, I guess.

July 13th, 2013 | LINK

And another thought, on reading Gallagher’s comments again: the framing of her comments is entirely self-serving, which is no surprise. The point about Ender’s Game is that it is so strongly identified with Card that separating the product from the author is next to impossible. I don’t remember that the book contained any of Card’s most repellent ideas (I’m not going to read it again to check — it wasn’t that good), but that’s not the point: Gallagher is attempting to deflect attention away from the fact that a vicious bigot is about to cash in.

Card’s own comments on this, in his plea for “tolerance,” I found very revealing: he’s back-pedaling like crazy in an attempt to portray his principles as contingent on the Zeitgeist. On top of everything else, the man’s a moral coward.

July 13th, 2013 | LINK

Damn! I keep finding stuff:

“I think its repellent to boycott or blacklist an artist because of his personal views. It’s the heart of McCarthyism to me.”

It’s a given that an artist’s personal views and his/her creations are inextricably intertwined. (I seem to remember hearing about that recently in the case of a certain purveyor of wedding cakes in Washington State.) Whether those views always show up in the artist’s work is iffy — I’m reminded of the operas of Richard Wagner, a blatant anti-Semite. Are his operas anti-Jewish? Not on the surface, although the treatment of the Nibelungs in the Ring Cycle, for example, can certainly point that way. And that’s the whole point about art: it’s not on the surface, if it’s worth anything. But the ideas are there.

Richard Rush
July 13th, 2013 | LINK

Hunter said, “It’s a given that an artist’s personal views and his/her creations are inextricably intertwined.”

I agree. Those who admire his creations are going to automatically have some respect for him which translates into a certain level of credibility. His fans are likely to seek more information about him, and when they discover his bigoted views, many of them may not be as quick to dismiss his views as they would the same views from some nobody.

Even if Card does not receive another dime if the movie is highly successful, his future earnings potential would be greatly enhanced through offers of more book and movie deals, all of which would further expand his sphere of influence.

July 13th, 2013 | LINK

Logic. They don’t use it.

Gene in L.A.
July 13th, 2013 | LINK

I continue to disagree. I’ve enjoyed Wagner since before I knew anything about politics. Knowing Wagner’s has not changed my admiration for his creations. People cite the “treatment of the Nibelungs” as “pointing” toward anti-semitism. Folks, if people want to find something in a work of art, they will.

My main point against boycotting a movie to protest against or deny financial remuneration to one person is that it does the same to anyone who worked on the film who supports our rights. Given that in the Hollywood of today there are probably more allies than enemies in a given film, I’m not willing to do that. Throwing babies out with bathwater has never been a good idea.

July 13th, 2013 | LINK

Why should I, or anyone care what you think, or why you felt compelled to write this drivel? Card is by far a better writer, and hopefully this “boycott” dies with all the other “think the way I think or I’ll try to put you out of business” forms of extortion.

July 13th, 2013 | LINK

Interestingly, it seems that Card left NOM “sometime this year”.

Also Dustin Lance Black will not be boycotting the movie due to the fact that disengaging rather than engaging the enemy does not produce the numbers for winning votes to our favor from the general public. Maybe the general public is more First Amendment oriented than we may have realized? Nonetheless, Dustin’s points are worth review and for me, do strike a human interest cord for the stupid/ignorant.

It’s a bit like an addicktion; the NOMzies of the world just can’t help themselves, nor do they want to when drenched in endless denial. Like 8 barrel alcoholics, they are a total ass pain and a danger to society. We can’t “lead a horse to water” so society just has to put up with them until they decide to see the light, or for starters, the house trough.

There is another angle I saw about this movie sitch on another thread; if you don’t want to put dollars in Card’s pockets, but a ticket to another movie and then go see Enders Game. Then you can see the movie on the silver screen knowing Card won’t get your cash.
Hmm … clever.

Ben in Oakland
July 13th, 2013 | LINK

I won’t see a movie with Mel Gibson. I find the man reprehensible.

I won’t see this movie. I findthe man reprehensible.

I don’t need to call it bOycott. I just find both of these men reprehensible.

July 13th, 2013 | LINK

Hey Ben, Not sure what you mean. Mel is not in this movie from what I can tell.

Unless you mean Card and Gibson fall into the same class of …. well, fk-tards?

Ben in Oakland
July 13th, 2013 | LINK

That’s exactly what I mean. I’ve never read any of cards books, and I don’t intend to.

I used to like Mel Gibson. Then he started opening his mouth when he wasn’t acting.

July 14th, 2013 | LINK

Oh, I’ll be seeing the movie – I’ll find a nice big cinemaplex, purchase tickets for a movie that starts around the same time, and give the my money instead.

It’s very true that whatever money Card was going to get he’s already gotten – he’s ridden this series of books into a VERY profitable life – that ship has sailed.

I would urge EVERYONE to contact others involved in the making of this film, and who stand to profit by it, to make significant donations to LGBT causes to offset some of the concerns our community has.

And, oh yeah – Gibson has no place in my home. A-hole.

July 14th, 2013 | LINK

Card has probably already made his cut from the rights and possibly the screenplay. He might have a small portion of the back end, but boycotting will not likely affect his payday very much for this movie.

That said, if a boycott works, studios, actors and directors will shy away from any future project with Card attached. After all is said and done, Hollywood is more about making money than creating art. My money won’t support him or his ideology.

Timothy Kincaid
July 14th, 2013 | LINK


As a producer, I believe card does get some portion of your movie ticket

July 20th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy et al.
That Card is credited as a “producer” doesn’t necessarily mean anything. “Producer” credits are handed out like candy as a reward and/or enticement to people at all levels of Hollywood. If you look at big name stars in TV shows, they are often credited as “producers” (David Boraenz in Bones or Gary Sinese for CSI:NY), but in nearly none of these cases do the people actually get anything other than the credit and a bigger salary. It’s basically a way to give a little bonus pay.

A producer credit alone doesn’t mean anything more than getting a producer salary and your name one more time on screen. Any back end profit deals are negotiated separately.

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