Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh Noes! Not Orson Scot Card!!

I had originally considered posting this on my SF blog, No Krakana, yet the more I wrote, the more I realized that it would fit better here. So, on with the show.

io9 has directed my attention to an interesting discussion that's been popping up around the SF/F genre blogs. Mainly, that Card has won the Margaret A. Edwards award, which is defined as thus:
The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, that have been popular over a period of time. The annual award is administered by YALSA and sponsored by School Library Journal magazine. It recognizes an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world.
Anyhow, they brought into specific focus, Card's two complementary novels Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. Truth be told, these are two wonderful stories, with great overtones dealing with human nature, civilization, and just how a child transforms into an adult.

Yet, what's brought up the most hassles are some of Card's other writings, specifically his thoughts and opinions on homosexual marriage.

One can imagine the joys of the SF Feminist blog and (amusingly enough) the School Library Journal, and one can't forget the diatribes over in the comments for the article on io9. Overall, they've been along the lines of "well, he's evil incarnate for saying the things he does in his non-fiction essays, but you know, we'll just sweep it under the rugs."

Frankly, I'm amused by this whole thing. I can admit to being conservative (a night upon unforgivable sin in the world of the SF/F genre fandom) yet there have been liberals who have received lifetime achievements awards; though I despise Streisand's stance on gun control, that doesn't mean that I dislike her films or music.

But ultimately, that's an irrelevant point. Who cares if you can or can't separate the art from the artist.

Has Card not entertained, and taught a generation of children the joy of books? Do those books not teach us to try and see the other? Whether that other is the alien "buggers" or the bully who wishes to kill you?

As far as the Award is concerned, that is what matters.

Beyond that though, why the angst over his opinions? I don't agree with John Scalzi's politics but I absolutely adore his novels. I agree with Card's politics, and I absolutely adore his novels. Wow, imagine that, I love well-written novels that I find intriguing, regardless of the world views of the authors.

Fortunately though, the SF Feminist blog is more interested in actual discourse and discussion about Card's opinions and essays (including a well written dissection of one of Card's essays on the Mass. Supreme Court's fiat creating same-sex marriage in that state).

But that's not relevant to the discussion here, as it's a discourse on the existing articles rather than what we're talking about here.

What I find oddest is that all the comments that I've read have fallen on one of two sides of this divide. The first is that Card should have never gotten the award for being such an evil right-winger. The second is Card should have gotten the award because the two books in question are good, but he's still an evil right-winger.

And I do mean all, I've just spent the past three hours looking at every blog entry concerning this, and every comment on those blog posts. Maybe there will be additional thoughts from people on my side of the aisle now that io9 has pushed it out, but sadly I'm not counting on it.

I for one, am offering up a heartfelt "Congratulations, Mr. Card."

I don't think he's evil; I don't think he's ignorant or unlettered. I don't even think he's an "asshat" (sure the rant referenced in that article is nigh upon incoherent, but that doesn't mean he's evil, just that he has a hard time separating criticisms of his novel from criticisms of himself--an affliction which other authors have had many times).

In fact, I'm going on the record as stating that I believe the same way as Mr. Card regarding homosexual "marriages." I believe they are an attack, by liberal elites (socialists/communists), directed against the fundamental building blocks of Western civilization. Consider numbers, 25, 26, and 40 on this list of ways that Communists planned on destroying Western Civilization.
  • Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
  • Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural, healthy."
  • Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
In fact that the number of items on that list are completed, or nearly so, is disturbing.

But, I do want to know what is it about genre fandom which breeds liberalism?

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Emotional Profiling

Seattle PI has an interesting article on the TSA entitled: Airport Profilers: They're Watching Your Expressions. Frankly this is yet another TSA program that just flat out scares me. It is giving a huge amount of power to individuals with no true way to verify their opinions. It's subjective and emotionalism, and scary to me.

Consider this quote:
But a central task is to recognize microfacial expressions -- a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt, said Carl Maccario, who helped start the program for TSA.
Basically, if you have a serious hate on concerning authority figures, guess what, if you fly, you make get a strip search.

Yet, if that wasn't scary enough, the fact that it's spreading should scare you. Additionally, one must question why such a program is spreading. After all, here's some statistics from it:
Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrants.
One percent. Out of the 70,000 people inconvenienced by this emotionalism, less than 1% have been arrested. Additionally, those arrests were due to drug possession, weapons violations and outstanding warrants, which would have most likely been caught via normal operational security. So not only are the numbers on record a 1% success rate, but that is inflated by not removing those from the numbers who would most likely have been caught anyways.

In, parting, I'd like to leave you a passage from a classic work of literature.

It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself -- anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

-- 1984 by George Orwell

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