Thursday, 14 February 2013

Orson Scott-Card, homophobia and DC Comics

It's not often that my two main interests politics and comic books cross over, but the recent controversy over Orson Scott-Card being hired to write a(digital-first) Superman comic has certainly caused a stir both on political blogs and the on-line comics community.

The alarm bells rang when Harry's Place published an article by Sarah AB who in a short article drew readers attention to a petition run by the ALLOut group in the USA to demand DC Comics dropped Scott-Card as a writer. She says she finds Scott-Card a good science fiction writer but points out his rather unsavoury views on homosexuals when he writes:

This applies also to the polity, the citizens at large. 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 whoflagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

But does say he has "softened his views" since these bigoted words were written and took the view that he shouldn't be barred from writing for DC Comics.

The irony is that DC comics have developed a particularly diverse range of characters in its' current lineup. For starters they have made the latest incarnation of the Green Lantern a Muslim, Batwoman is openly lesbian and there is a gay couple (Apollo & Midnighter) in Stormwatch.  Black superheroes have been put to the fore (with Cyborg in the Justice League) and the Batman family of titles with Batwing. There have been others but not commercially successfully enough to continue.

DC comics has issued the following statement defending there employment of Scott-Card which staes in part:

As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.”

As expected comic fandom has been debating the issues as CBR Comics news reports:

The full article with the on-line debate can be found here:

I concur with Sarah that he should be allowed to write and it is up to the reader to decide. I don't believe in censorship and it is only by tackling the issues head-on that we can fight such ridiculous and bigoted views.

Will I be buying his comic? The answer is actually no. I didn't have any interest in the title (which is set outside mainstream "continuity" in the DC universe) when it was solicited this month. But I will judge any work on its' own merits after all I am an avid reader of Dial H for Hero which is written by China Melville a member of the Socialist Workers Party in the UK of whose politics I thoroughly disapprove.

Make up your own minds, but this controversy over Scott-Card is not new. Marvel Comics had the same problem when they hired him to write Ultimate Iron Man and adapted his Enders Game novels in comic book form.

This won't be the last time such issues are raised, but democracy means allowing those of whom you disapprove to have their say otherwise we become like them

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