The People vs Orson Scott Card

Twitter becomes Meet the Press

  • The same kind of dialog that takes place on Sunday morning news shows is quickly creeping into discourse on Twitter. Everything has a he-said-she-said quality to it. Quotes are taken out of context, Twitter helps there, because it’s legitimate to quote a tweet without including the ones before and after. So it’s really conducive to David Gregory-type analysis. It’s made for Maddow and Hannity.

Orson Scott Card

Card has ugly ideas

Mel Gibson as prior art

  • I know what it’s like to want someone to lose their career because their ideas are so awful. The best example of that, for me, is Mel Gibson. I honestly felt he should lose his film career for what he said about Jews, my people.
  • I was surprised at myself, because I am generally pretty good, I think, at seeing things from multiple points of view, even ones I think are reprehensible. But not in his case. Maybe it’s because I liked him so much, as an actor, it felt like betrayal that he was such an awful person. Maybe it’s because the cultural memory of the pogrom of the last century is still too fresh.
  • Enough is enough, I felt. If someone wants to be that offensive in their public life, then they should lose the right to perform their art.
  • This felt so right, for something so wrong.

It’s what’s wrong with art

  • It’s wrong to boycott someone’s art because you don’t like what they say, because it’s so destructive to all art. Think of how other artists will act, if they know that their opinions, stated publicly, could deprive them of their livelihood. They’re either going to temper what they say, or lose access to people to influence with their work. Taken to the extreme, and we’re getting close to that because of the power of today’s communication tools, you could have a witch hunt like the McCarthy Era in the US. There are many other examples in recent history.
  • Either way, we lose — because art is produced by people who take risks.
  • It’s Disney and Hallmark. It’s America. It’s what’s wrong with art!

The stakes for being ignorant

  • In the end, I decided I was wrong about Gibson, and Hollywood was right. Gibson should be able to perform exactly as if he had never said anything publicly. Not because we support his ideas, but because we recognize that people with extreme ideas are always awful to someone. And if we silence all controversy, we drift, we end up with empty lives and we do terrible things to ourselves and the planet. The stakes for being ignorant have never been higher.

Support friends in other ways

  • The best thing to do, imho, is to add love to the lives of the people are hurt by the things Card says. Support them in other ways, without chilling all art. That’s how we nullify the bad things Card does, and use him as an example of how great art can be appreciated, even over the objections of people, us in this case, who find him unsavory as a person.

About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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