Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Sex Card

What's that you say, Gentle Reader? You haven't seen that phrase before? Neither have I. But perhaps it's time to introduce it to our political lexicon.

When we speak of the race card, there's a clear and specific meaning attached: the use of accusations of racism -- in the usual case, race-based bigotry against Negroes -- to score political points. Until recently, that was an effective tactic for silencing one opposition and precluding debate on the merits. However, overuse and the increasingly obvious insincerity of the wielders has robbed it of much of its force.

The parallel construction the sex card could easily be taken to refer to accusations of bigotry against women. This is not my intention; I'd prefer that another phrase be used for that tactic. What I have in mind is the accusation most commonly called homophobia. This neologism, etymologically "fear of sameness," is used to mean bigotry against homosexuals.

The increasing frequency of such accusations for political purposes is carving a path parallel to that of the race card.

For several decades, homosexual activists achieved considerable success by playing the sex card. Their initial campaign was against the criminal status of homosexual conduct. That campaign won considerable support from freedom-minded Americans, who were inclined to view the matter as creating a wholly appropriate separation between Bedroom and State. In a relatively brief span of time, homosexual conduct in private became a protected "liberty interest" equivalent to normal heterosex, for which the participant cannot be legally penalized. However, the activists were not finished; like the March of Dimes, they refused to allow their corner in the public sphere to be obsoleted by something so trivial as complete success.

At this point in history, homosexuals remain "oppressed:" by their own awareness of their perversion, its consequences, and the revulsion it elicits from normal Americans. Today the activists among them press for the normalization of homosexuality quite as energetically as they ever fought for its decriminalization. Though in one sense this is a hopeless task -- heterosexuals' revulsion toward homosexual sodomy is natural, biologically based, and reinforced by some of the strongest and most resilient ideons that have ever circulated among men -- it satisfies the need of the activists to remain politically prominent, a condition that often seems more important to them than the gratification of their lusts.

The campaign to normalize homosexuality has several facets, but among the most important of them is the relentless vilification of any identifiable figure that argues against it. Indeed, going beyond vilification to intimidation via threats, including threats of harm to one's income, has become inseparable from the merely verbal tactic.

Which brings us to the subject of science fiction writer Orson Scott Card and the recent opening of the movie of Ender's Game.

Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker For The Dead, are among the landmarks of science fiction. Both books won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards, the highest awards recognized by science fiction readers. They're beautifully written, emotionally evocative, and intimately wound around some of the deepest moral conundrums men have ever had to face. Few novels of any sort can approach their power and poignancy. They raised Orson Scott Card to the pinnacle of his trade.

Card had long had a reputation for fiction of that quality. His novels Wyrms, Songmaster, and Treason are as touching in their several ways as the Ender's Game books. His readers thrilled to his work as a critical enlargement of the scope of science fiction narrative: the wholly sincere embrace of the human heart as the primary focus of a fictional experience, regardless of genre. His colleagues in the field applauded his success and strove to emulate him.

His rational colleagues, that is.

Every field has its envious, its spiteful, and its scandal-minded. It has often seemed to me that they're thicker on the ground in the creative trades than in most others. Such persons will seize upon whatever they can find to denigrate and deface the achievements of those more skilled and more successful than they. As everyone presents some sort of handle by which he can be brandished, they found one on Orson Scott Card: his aversion to homosexuality and his insistence that homosexual conduct remain criminal de jure.

Card, a devout Mormon, has made no secret of his views:

The argument by the hypocrites of homosexuality that homosexual tendencies are genetically ingrained in some individuals is almost laughably irrelevant. We are all genetically predisposed toward some sin or another; we are all expected to control those genetic predispositions when it is possible. It is for God to judge which individuals are tempted beyond their ability to bear or beyond their ability to resist. But it is the responsibility of the Church and the Saints never to lose sight of the goal of perfect obedience to laws designed for our happiness.

And later in the same essay:

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 who flagrantly 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.

Those who would be members of a community must sacrifice the satisfaction of some of their individual desires in order to maintain the existence of that community. They must, in other words, obey the rules that define what that community is. Those who are not willing or able to obey the rules should honestly admit the fact and withdraw from membership.

His faith-based views have made Card the target of homosexual activists' ire. Not that he's alone in that regard: Mormons in California were targeted for harassment and economic persecution by homosexual activists after their attempt to legalize same-sex marriage by referendum was voted down. Recent GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney came in for their odium as well.

And now there's the movie of Ender's Game.

Almost from the announcement that it would be made, homosexual activists have declared war against the Ender's Game movie. They've openly called for "tolerant" Americans to boycott it -- not on the basis of its subject matter, but on the basis of the convictions of the author of the book on which it's based. Covert campaigns of harassment against persons peripherally connected to the production have gradually come to light as the movie approached its release date. One can only speculate what will happen now that it's in the theaters, impressing both moviegoers and critics, and looking as if it might set box-office records.

Of course activists of all stripes have used foul, even illegal tactics in the past. (Carrie Nation, anyone?) When the cause was popular, such tactics received a modicum of forgiveness as "a necessary evil in a just cause." The axiom that evil means are never acceptable, regardless of one's cause, has seldom received the allegiance it deserves, especially when those wielding the axes have been willing to turn them against anyone who dared to speak against them.

However, in this case the tawdry tactics are being wielded against a movie made from one of the most popular and touching books written since World War II. As homosexual activists won legal equality with heterosexuals some time ago, and are now openly campaigning for privileges and prerogatives to which no imaginable rationale would entitle them, their cause is one with which the overwhelming majority of Americans are not in sympathy. Thus, sentiments opposed to the activists are flowering to a degree we have not seen in many decades.

The sex card is proving to be of lower rank than the Orson Scott Card.

I trust you'll forgive me for the sentence immediately above, Gentle Reader. It was too good to pass up, especially on a Saturday morning on which, to my considerable surprise, I find myself remarkably pain-free. But the significance of the larger point is not to be missed, neither in the moral nor the practical spheres:

Do not expect evil means to be excused unless there is overwhelming sympathy for your cause.

Indeed, even the very best of causes, the abolition of slavery, could not excuse John Brown for his murderous outburst. To be maximally gentle about it, the aggressive promotion of same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by homosexual couples is far less appealing to normal Americans than that. It was predictable that it should receive very short shrift, especially given that its target is Orson Scott Card, a fine writer and a thoroughly good and decent man, and the movie of Ender's Game.

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