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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » DC Faces Boycott Over Anti-Gay Superman Writer

   
Author Topic: DC Faces Boycott Over Anti-Gay Superman Writer
Robert Nowall
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I gather a boycott of DC Comics is being considered by certain groups because of the attitude of one writer on their team, who is accused of being anti-gay.

Ordinarly I wouldn't bring up a political matter here, but, as the writer is Orson Scott Card, I think some of you might be interested in it.

http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/dc-comics-faces-boycott-over-anti-gay-superman-writer.html

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rcmann
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It has been my observation, over the course of more than a half century observing human beings, that tolerance for the viewpoints of another decreases inversely with the ferocity of one's defensiveness.
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MattLeo
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Hmm. Freedom of thought and speech *does* include the freedom to take exception to what other people say or think. It includes the right to speak out against someone and boycott his writing. It does *not* include the right to use the power of the state to muzzle unpopular viewpoints.

This situation falls into a gray area between boycotting a particular work and using state coercion. It's using corporate aversion to bad publicity to deny an author with unpopular views a platform -- possibly even to deny him a living. Personally, I think that's over the line. It comes down to Kant's Categorical Imperative. What would it be like if *everyone* tried to blackball *every* writer who disagrees with them on *any* subject?

I think the ethical rule on a boycott would be that it should normally be attempted only *after* a work has been published and has been *proven* to be offensive. It should not be used to blackball writers who *might* write something offensive. In other words activists shouldn't call a boycott to OSC's superman stories until they see them. Then if they have a specific complaint, let them make as big a stink as they want.

In a few rare cases, a writer's notoriety rests so entirely upon his offensiveness that a reasonable person would assume he was hired to be offensive. That would include peole like David Duke (former Grand Wizard of the KKK) or Jeff Schoep (leader of the National Socialist [Nazi] Movement in the US). It would not include OSC.

A real writer (as opposed to a cheap provocateur) often rises above his own prejudice and that of his audience. He should be given that chance.

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
It has been my observation, over the course of more than a half century observing human beings, that tolerance for the viewpoints of another decreases inversely with the ferocity of one's defensiveness.

That almost excuses people who are being told they can't put their life partner on their insurance, or visit him in the hospital if he's gravely ill. Many may have personally faced violence, especially in their formative years.

Almost excuses.

It seems to me to be a vice to reduce any person to one thing, whether that be his opinion on gay marriage, or the gender of who he loves. You can disapprove of that, of course, but disapproval not bounded by reason becomes vicious and destructive.

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rcmann
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
It has been my observation, over the course of more than a half century observing human beings, that tolerance for the viewpoints of another decreases inversely with the ferocity of one's defensiveness.

That almost excuses people who are being told they can't put their life partner on their insurance, or visit him in the hospital if he's gravely ill. Many may have personally faced violence, especially in their formative years.

Almost excuses.

It seems to me to be a vice to reduce any person to one thing, whether that be his opinion on gay marriage, or the gender of who he loves. You can disapprove of that, of course, but disapproval not bounded by reason becomes vicious and destructive.

???

I am not following you. The reasoning by which you jumped from my (generic) expression of opinion to the interpretation you apparently arrived at escapes me.

My original post was not exclusively referring to sexual orientation debates, by any means. The entire gamut of human political, social, religious, artistic, musical, and culinary discourse can be included under it.

Bottom line, people who rail the loudest about being persecuted and misunderstood tend to be the least willing to listen to other people. In my opinion. based on my personal life experiences. It applies on all parts of the political spectrum, and every other spectrum.

Or as a kid was said to have answered their history teacher one time, when asked to describe the Puritans. "They came to America so they could worship the way they wanted and make everyone else do the same."

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
Bottom line, people who rail the loudest about being persecuted and misunderstood tend to be the least willing to listen to other people. In my opinion. based on my personal life experiences. It applies on all parts of the political spectrum, and every other spectrum.

Exactly. You say that like it's unexpected though.

Research into powerful emotions like fear and anger shows a striking feature. Strong emotion is *refractory* -- it doesn't want to go away. One of the ways it resists change is that it effects a powerful filtering effect on information. If you are afraid, you tend to disregard information that you are *not* under threat.

This is true of all of us, left, right or center.

The way emotions strongly connected to survival work is that they increase the chance you will act quickly and decisively. The ancestors who ran away from shadows in the grass often did so unnecessarily, but the payoff was that one time in ten that shadow turns out to be a tiger stalking them.

In other words, we have Og the Caveman's emotional equipment, hooked up to modern communication technology that gives our knee jerk reactions global scope.

Understanding *why* somebody performs an act is not tantamount to condoning it. I understand why these people have hair-trigger reactions to OSC. I even sympathize. That doesn't mean I have to approve of what they're doing.

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Pyre Dynasty
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I wonder how closely they have examined the beliefs of other writers for DC?

Boycots have to be a huge percent of the customer base to make any impact really. I can only remember it working in Selma.

The guy who sometimes makes my sandwich at Subway holds views that I severely disagree with. Is it really the right response to try and get him fired and refuse to buy my lunch there? (Well, perhaps if it's a view against hand washing.)

I'll probably skip this one, mainly because I have a low tolerance for Superman.

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rcmann
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There is such a thing as being self-defeating. For example the recent campaign against chick-fil-a (sp?) not only provoked a conservative backlash in support of the company, it also broadcast several incidents of that even people who are sympathetic to the gay community considered unreasonable. Like verbally harassing wait staff at a drive thru window, hateful graffiti, etc.

There is a logical basis for the pre-emptive strike. But broadcasting pre-emptive strikes in all directions against anyone who disagrees with your opinion is a bit counter-productive.

Especially when you consider the historical levels of persecution suffered by Mormons in the US, based originally to a large extent on their marriage customs. It would do some of the more strident of these protesters a world of good to take a deep breath and reflect a moment.

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MAP
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Wow, I feel sorry for DC. They seem to be getting it from both the right and the left.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/one-million-moms-condemns_n_1546670.html

If people don't want to read the comic, then they don't have to buy it. It is that simple.

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Robert Nowall
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I sure don't want to read it, but that has nothing to do with who's writing it. Superman Comics don't form part of my diet, though I've read a few on occasion.

As for boycotting DC Comics...as I understand their distribution system, they print up the entire run and dispose of it at once to the comic book stores and such. Unlike most normal magazines or books, which have to take returns. A boycott would be difficult, as they suffer no loss in this distribution model.

As for the opinions concerning the groups proposing the boycott, I think rcmann's quote nails the matter. It's similar to a quote from H. L. Mencken: "The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think." And you find Puritans like that everywhere...

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
There is such a thing as being self-defeating. For example the recent campaign against chick-fil-a (sp?) not only provoked a conservative backlash in support of the company, it also broadcast several incidents of that even people who are sympathetic to the gay community considered unreasonable. Like verbally harassing wait staff at a drive thru window, hateful graffiti, etc.

Well, the controversy *did* cause Chik-fil-a to change its corporate policy on donations to anti gay rights groups, so I don't know if you could call it self defeating. I am not, of course, in favor of any incivility.

I had mixed feelings about that situation. I think when officers of a publicly corporation meddle in politics, they're misusing the shareholder's resources, but Chik-fil-a is a privately held corporation. There's no real distinction between management participating in politics and the owners doing so. I guess the gay rights activists got what they wanted, but I worry about the precedent of trying to push *private individuals* out of the political sphere, rather than taking them on in a head-to-head debate. And I'm dead set against boycotting authors and intellectuals for participating in public debate. Mocking them is OK, of course.

As for Robert's quote about puritans, I am reminded of what Lord Macaulay in his HISTORY OF ENGLAND said about the Puritans banning bear-baiting:

quote:
The Puritan hated bear baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
The impulse to label things *other* people enjoy as morally degenerate (and therefore needing to be banned) runs through our culture. I think there is a tinge of that among the more extreme advocates of gun control. There is a tendency in the debate to paint the average gun owner as a mouth-breathing deviant. I'm for more gun regulation, but I think that particular way of arguing is unhelpful. In a negotiation, it's usually best to show the other side you're capable of being reasonable.
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rcmann
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Whereas I, personally, think that any and all weapon regulation should take place exclusively at the state and local level, with the federal government keeping its hands off the matter. Just as I think the federal government has no business meddling inmost aspects of people's private lives, because I don't see that as being what the federal government was intended to be. But there is no point is getting hostile about the matter from either rend of things. I never saw anyone win an argument. But I have, rarely, seen people sometimes be persuaded into investigating a matter on their own and changing their own opinion based on a civil conversation.
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Natej11
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Advocacy groups are a dangerous beast, because they have only one way they can go. By their very nature their bias opens them to the very real risk of engaging in the same sort of discrimination they complain about suffering. And their perception of being victims makes them unable to see their own behavior objectively. Which is why you see the sad phenomenon of advocacy groups often being the most virulent and rabid in their attempts to oppress others for their beliefs.
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