Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's the Big Deal about Orson Scott Card and Superman?

Update:  The comic artist meant to illustrate Card's Superman story left the project, and the story has been shelved, possibly (hopefully) forever.

A week ago DC Comics announced that one of the writers for their new digital anthology series, Adventures of Superman, would be author Orson Scott Card, and then the Internet exploded.

Since the announcement, LGBTQ individuals and allies have written letters of protest, created a petition against Card’s hiring, and threatened to boycott the series, if not boycott DC Comics as a whole. I’ve seen much online debate about Card’s “right to work” and about how those calling for his work not to be published are trying to force their morals on the world just as much as Card himself does. Beyond that, I’ve seen much misinformation, and today I’m going to address the debate, point by point, to get the facts out to those who will listen.

Who is Orson Scott Card?

Orson Scott Card is an author primarily known for publishing the Ender’s Game series. He has also written various comics for Marvel, such as an Ender’s Game adaptation and Ultimate Iron Man. He is a board member for the National Organization for Marriage, a non-profit organization considered an anti-gay hate group by many.

What are Orson Scott Card’s views on homosexuality?

Orson Scott Card believes that people are made homosexual through rape, molestation, and abuse. He has stated that is a lie to say gays are not allowed to marry, because they have every right to marry someone of the opposite gender (Source).

He has advocated for overthrowing the government were gay marriage to become legal (Source.)

He rewrote Hamlet to make Hamlet’s father a pedophile who molested Horatio, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Laertes, turning them gay in the process (Source).

What is the National Organization for Marriage?

The National Organization for Marriage is a non-profit anti-gay hate group established in 2007 to fight gay marriage and gay adoption. NOM was instrumental in the passing of Proposition 8 in California (Source) and was the primary contributor for Stand For Marriage Maine, which was successful in repealing the state’s gay marriage legislature (Source).

NOM is under investagion by the Maine Ethics Commission for refusing to disclose its donors as well as failing to register as a ballot question committee with the state (Source). The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization for LGBT individuals, dedicated a blog to cataloguing NOM’s hateful statements, with a long and appalling list of entries: NOM Exposed.

Orson Scott Card is a board member for NOM. As a director of a 501(k) non-profit organization, he has both influence and control of the group’s agenda, such as where their money is budgeted and what programs they run. Therefore, he is complicit with NOM’s views and is responsible for their actions.

What is the protest about?

LGBTQ consumers and allies object to DC Comics hiring a bigot who actively works to deny civil rights to others, especially as Card was hired to write Superman, a character who believes in compassion for everyone. Given DC’s promise to create a “more modern, diverse DC Universe” for their relaunch in 2011, protestors feel this decision is a step backwards and a slap in the face. They are angry that DC is providing money to Card, who may well use it to fight against their rights. They are also angry that DC chose to hire Card in the first place.

These individuals will boycott the two issues of Adventures of Superman penned by Card, and have signed a petition against DC publishing his work. They may also have written to the president of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson, to express their complaints. Some have suggested that DC should not run Card’s issues or that they replace Card’s issues with those of an LGBTQ creator, and that they publish a queer-friendly standalone comic and donate the proceeds to a pro-gay organization.

Isn’t this just Card’s opinion? There are other conservative creators at DC Comics, and you’re not calling for them to be fired.

It ceased to be just his opinion when Card joined the board of a hate group that hopes to deny people their civil rights and has succeeded in doing so multiple times. Creators such as Chuck Dixon and Ethan Van Sciver may be conservative, but they are not members of hate groups. DC Comics would not publish the work of a Klansman or a Neo Nazi, and they should not publish Card’s.

What about Orson Scott Card’s freedom of speech?

Freedom of speech means freedom from government censorship. It does not mean freedom from criticism, or freedom to publish works for DC Comics. Freedom of speech works both ways. He is free to say as many hateful and homophobic things as he wants, and others are free to organize a boycott of his work as a result. It is the protestor’s freedom of speech to petition DC to drop Card’s issues.

They’re calling for him to be unemployed. How is that okay?

Card has already completed and been paid for the issues he penned. No one is asking for DC to revoke that payment. They are asking that DC never hire him again. This is not blacklisting – these protestors have no governmental authority. They are consumers telling a company what they want.

It isn’t as if DC Comics is all that stands between Card and destitution. DC could never hire him again for as long as he lived and he would be fine.

Aren’t the protestors being just as intolerant as they say Orson Scott Card is?

This line of thinking gets trotted out whenever an oppressed minority dares to complain. The LGBTQ community does not have to be tolerant of anyone who seeks to deny their civil rights. It is not just an opinion, it is bigotry that poses a risk of significant harm to them. Orson Scott Card has helped to deny civil rights on multiple occasions. We live in a world in which people are beaten, harassed, shamed, disowned, murdered, and even driven to suicide for being born different. That is not something anyone should have to tolerate.

Where were these protestors when Marvel was publishing Card’s work?

Orson Scott Card was not on the board of NOM during his time at Marvel.

Do you honestly think DC Comics is going to let Card publish something anti-gay?

This is not about the content of his work, it is about DC’s decision to hire him in the first place. His views will likely not appear in the issues, but he is still a bigot who actively harms others and the protests are in regards to the choice to hire him at all.

I’m gay and I think this whole protest is stupid.

That is your right.

I didn’t care about this before, but all your bitching has convinced me to buy twelve issues! Suck on that!

Enjoy being an asshole and wasting your money. You are within your rights as a consumer to buy what you want.

I’m angry at DC for this decision and I want to make my voice heard. What can I do?

First and foremost, do not buy Card’s issues of Adventures of Superman. They will be available in a digital format on DC’s website and in print later on. If you are financially able and interested in Superman, you may want to buy the issues after Card’s to make it clear that you don’t object to the series as a whole, just Orson Scott Card.

Sign the All Out petition and pass it on to others. It does not require an account to sign.

Contact DC Comics, either through @DCComics on Twitter or the Contact Page on their website. Make your voice heard.

Write a physical letter, not an email, and send it to the president of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson. This is the best way to make a point, as it gives physical copies for DC to view instead of a list of petition signatures and emails. Her address is:

Diane Nelson
President, DC Entertainment
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg 2, #103
Burbank, CA 91522

Finally, if you can, make a financial contribution to an organization that fights for equality, be it The Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, The Born This Way Foundation, or another group. No matter how small, every cent helps in the fight toward equal rights. Get involved, if you can. See if there’s any way you can contribute to equality in your community.

Superman would never stand for hate and intolerance. Neither should we.


  1. Well thought out and argued. Thank you for citing everything. Can't say I read comics, but you've got a good point.

  2. I simply LOVE your blogs, can't wait 'till the next one!

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