‘Ender’s Game’ and fake ‘tolerance’

Orson Scott Card, right, at Comic-Con in 2008.

Orson Scott Card, right, at Comic-Con in 2008.

Longtime fans of the book Ender’s Game, like me, are anxiously looking forward to this November. That is when one of the most popular science fiction stories at long last gets released as a movie.

But recently some “queer geeks” (their term) have begun an online push to boycott the film – which, like the book, includes no commentary about homosexuality or “gay marriage” – called “Skip Ender’s Game.” As seen on the website, their outrage is based on a 23-year-old quote from the author (Orson Scott Card) about the immorality of homosexual behavior, and the fact that he is involved with the National Organization for Marriage.

Because of their disagreement with Card’s two-decade-old statement, they ask, “Do you really want to give this guy your money?” and encourage people to send the message “whatever he’s selling, we’re not buying” and to “not subsidize [the author’s] fear-mongering and religious bullying.” The boycott effort from the “queer geeks” has gotten some coverage from the press.

So why are these homosexual activists boycotting an event that has nothing to do with homosexual sodomy? Part of the reason is found in the difference between authentic tolerance and the fake “tolerance” espoused by the progressive left.[1]

In the world of fake “tolerance,” being “tolerant” means accepting all views or opinions as equally true or valid as your own – not holding, much less uttering, opinions that elevate a particular view or value system as being morally or ethically right and holding others as wrong. It also means that those who express views that disagree with this dogma are, by definition, intolerant, and therefore ought to be marginalized or silenced in the name of “tolerance” (even by law if necessary).

In other words, dissent from fake “tolerance” is not to be tolerated because, in that world, “tolerance” is the supreme virtue and measure of the common good, notwithstanding the assumption of fake “tolerance” that no system of values is inherently or objectively superior to another.

The fact that Card holds the view that homosexual behavior is immoral is reason enough for these progressive activists to seek to deprive him of his living, because in their minds, treating “intolerant” people with intolerance is justified in the name of fake “tolerance.” And because Card’s religious values are not objectively or inherently superior to any other values, they should take a back seat to the superior value of fake “tolerance.”

The ironies and hypocrisies of the “queer geeks” position is lost on them, not to mention other fake “tolerance” advocates who have intolerantly attacked florists, wedding photographers, and mental health counselors and sought to have the expression of religious beliefs declared inferior under the law to expressions of homosexuality.

The alternative to fake “tolerance” and the hypocritical intolerance it creates is authentic tolerance. This genuine form of tolerance allows, and rigorously defends, the right and ability of people to express their views, even if (perhaps especially if) they strongly disagree with the views being expressed.

Authentic tolerance not only expects, but requires that people respectfully but candidly share and discuss their moral and ethical views, and how/why they mean other views are wrong. Because only when such civil, honest, and rigorous dialogue occurs can different views be clearly and thoroughly examined, and their truth or falsehood be made plain for everyone in society to see and understand for themselves.

Only by practicing authentic tolerance can society reveal and root out true intolerance.

Fake “tolerance,” on the other hand, provides only a surface illusion of tolerance while masking and encouraging a deeper intolerance of those with whom you disagree, even justifying outright bigotry in some cases, by using emotionally manipulative and sometimes hateful attacks on others’ motivations to flippantly dismiss, rather than thoughtfully consider, others’ views. Fake “tolerance” is quite intolerant of differing views and blinded to its own intolerance by a sentimental and ironic sense of moral superiority.

For the sake of being our better selves (i.e., not objectifying other human beings) and the common good of society, we ought to all take a long look at what kind of tolerance we espouse and practice.


[1] For a more thorough examination of these ideas than can be offered in a blog post, see The Intolerance of Tolerance, D.A. Carson, 2012, (Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge, U.K.): William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

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