‘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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  • Adison

    After looking at the page given for “Skip Ender’s Game” they don’t argue for tolerance on a value based level, the word tolerance can’t even be found on the home page, their argument is that Mr. Card person actively fights, as a board member of the National Organization for Marriage group, against gay marriage. Knowing that fact also argues that there is a good chance that some of the money made from this movie will be given to this organization, one that he helps run, which fights the efforts of people who seek marriage equality. Now to address tolerance. Intolerance is a belief or argument that is not a justified or fair and base on preconceived stereotypes.

    • Derek Monson


      You don’t need to see the word “tolerance” on their website to understand that their boycott is driven by fake “tolerance.” The “queer geeks” see Mr. Card’s legitimate qualms about the morality of homosexual behavior and objections to “gay marriage” as “anti-gay”…as “intolerant” of homosexuals.

      They aren’t attacking Mr. Card’s ability to make a living simply because they have a little political disagreement with him…that would be irrational. They are doing so because they think as an “intolerant” person he doesn’t deserve to make a living, as long as he intends to use that living to disseminate his “intolerant” belief that homosexual behavior is immoral, and therefore celebrating it will not be good for society.

      As far as the definition of intolerance, dictionary.com defines it, in part, as “unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs.” Hence, it is simply stating a fact to say that the “queer geeks” are intolerantly going after Mr. Card…an irony considering they are making such of a big deal of what they see as his “intolerance” of homosexuals.

      Derek H. Monson
      Sutherland Institute

      • Sky Harrison

        How does this article relate to Utah politics. It doesn’t. You are an idiot.

      • DN

        Please cite evidence that any group (any!) is trying to force movie studios not to release this movie. Or evidence that any group (any!) is trying to force theater chains to not show this movie on their screens.

        Also, please address the hypocrisy in Sutherland’s boycott of the Sundance Film Festival while decrying this boycott. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/entertainment2/55615242-223/sundance-utah-festival-film.html.csp

      • Adison

        If you are correct then in the name of tolerance I should be forced to spend 7 to 10 dollars and see this movie. Part of my 7 to 10 dollars will be given to Mr. Card (someone who is somewhat of a major player in an organization that works to limit my actions as a gay man in ways that I view as unfair) and there is a good chance that some of that money will be used by the national organization for marriage. I am not refusing to serve him or provide him a job or housing. In the name of tolerance should you be forced to use businesses like amazon that support gay marriage. The message they send is “We will not pay him to demean, insult, and oppress us.” (The page cited)

    • Duane

      Uh, some of the money THEY make is not going to support THEIR positions?

      In my book, gays not only have a right to discuss and perhaps convince me of their position, but they have the obligation to allow me the same. And we both have the right to support other people or organizations that we agree with.

      The “tolerance” of the gay community is indeed fake.

      • Adison

        “While an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely and with reason believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger.” Rawls, John, (1971). A Theory of Justice. p. 220 The idea of the paradox of tolerance is not a new idea. The Gay community sees their liberty limited. Though I agree some can overstep their bounds and seek revenge rather than equality, I think that Mr. Card has gone beyond discussing and seeks to limit liberty. And lumping the Gay community together as as if they were a group such as the the National Association for Marriage is stereotypical. There are gay rights groups that fight for equality on many different levels and issues where they see that they have been treated unfairly.

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  • AMbro86

    While I mostly agree that the boycotting of Card’s work is superfluous, and even a little hypocritical, The language of this piece is so inflammatory and divisive that I wouldn’t say I share the author’s opinion.

    We can disagree in a civil fashion, and even point out the fallacies of an opponent’s position without resorting to low brow tactics.

    Specifically, calling their brand of tolerance “fake” points to a very opinionated and negative view of this group of “gay geeks”. Not that you shouldn’t be able to criticize them, by all means you should. But saying something like, “in calling for tolerance these very people are asking others to be intolerant to opposing views, and are even calling for the blacklisting of a person who’s views they don’t agree with.” That’s not the only piece of language I find unnecessary, but it’s the most glaring.

    Perhaps I’m being picky here. But I have many friends who are gay, and while I disagree with their lifestyle based on my own moral principles, I still would prefer to keep the conversation civil.

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  • DN

    From your commentary: “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.”

    Please cite evidence of where Geeks Out or any other organization is being less-than-candid. Please cite evidence where they are not being respectful.

    Mr. Monson, with respect, this posting is absolute nonsense.

  • E

    So real tolerance is giving your money to a man who doesn’t like you, and would like to legislate against you? Alrighty, then. (And remind me again why you advocated for boycotting Sundance just a few months ago? How is that different from boycotting Ender’s Game exactly? I really am curious.)

  • Stephen Emhecht

    Whining about people being intolerant of your intolerance? C’mon, /really?/

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