Know Your Enemy | Giftie Etcetera: Know Your Enemy

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Know Your Enemy

I recently commented on a friend's blog a suggestion that she read a story by Orson Scott Card as a starting point for a discussion with her pre-teen child. One of her readers commented back that Card is a homophobe.

Maybe. I don't know and the recommendation to just "google it" doesn't, for me, constitute sufficient proof. Card is Mormon and the Church of Latter Day Saints teaches against homosexual behavior, so an anti-homosexual rights position would not shock me. Actual fear of homosexuality? That would be difficult for me to believe of someone who rights such open-minded stories, but I'm not saying it is impossible. I'm just saying that I do not know.

Still, I stand by my recommendation that my blog friend read the book.

I've read books by Klan members and racists. I've read many a book by a sexist pig. I have certainly read books by people with different political or social positions than mine.

You do not have to agree with someone, or even respect them or their positions, to learn from them. If I only read books by authors that held the same world view and sense of right and wrong as I do, I'd never read anything. I am saddened when people close their minds because of a perception of someone else, substantiated or not. Obviously, if you don't respect someone, you look at their body of work differently and more critically. That makes perfect sense to me.

But to not look at their work at all. To not know and explore the opinions of people with whom you agree and people with whom you disagree. That's closing lots of intellectual doors that are better left open.



Brien Louque said...

One thing to keep in mind is that you are reading a creative work, not a manifesto. Also, unless you don't read a whole lot, chances are you've read something by someone who was racist, sexist, or some other -ist. What matters is what you are actually reading, and everything I've read by Card so far has not been homophobic. Also, although browsing the web can give you an idea of what people think of a book, searching for particular phrases in google will almost always produce evidence to support the search term. For instance, when I typed in the term "hemingway homophobic", I'm met with tons of links about how Hemingway was either homophobic or gay. Can I recall any homophobic leanings in "The Sun Also Rises"? Nope. Ultimately, it is up to the reader to interpret, not the author's intentions, but the story. Other people's opinions on the web are just that - opinions, and it's up to us as readers to decide for ourselves. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Sammy Jankis said...

I'm not sure OSC is homophobic so much as against homosexuality. And while I don't agree with it, it is a central tenant of his religion so am I any better to judge him than he is others?