To boycott or not to boycott???

Gamers are debating the merits of boycotting a video game based on Orson Scott Card's Empire.

Personally, this is the sort of thing I can't understand. . . I'm well aware of Card's right-wing political views, and as a matter of course he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. But boycotting a video game in which he had no direct involvement??? I'm not sure it helps their cause or not. . .

Adam posted this on Westeros:

The article and surprisingly-well-debated comments are a result of a company making a game called Shadow Complex, based on Orson Scott Card's quite spectacularly awful novel Empire. Because the game is based on Card's work and because of Card's stringest campaigning against gay marriage and other issues, the article author (who is himself gay) debates whether it is right or not to call a boycott of the game due to Card's political stance. Many issues are raised, such as the fact that this game was designed and built by a large team of people, many of whom are pro-gay rights, and it would be unfair to damage their incomes by boycotting the (apparently quite good) game because of Card's very tenuous connection to the project (he had no direct involvement with the design and creation of the game).

A lot of the more interesting posts come from novelist, comic book writer and all-round good-SF-egg Peter David, a strong supporter of gay rights, who wrote Shadow Complex's plot (and apparently ripped the piss out of the more insanely OTT ultra-right-wing aspects of the novel of Empire in the process according to some of the comments, but that's another issue).

It's an interesting issue. If you advocate boycotting someone's books, that's one thing as normally doing that only hurts them (their agents, editors and publishers usually have lots of other irons in the fire to keep them afloat). Boycotting another product made by lots of people is another issue. But is boycotting itself a viable form of action or does it run counter to free speech? Someone exercises their free speech to say something you don't like so you're replying by going after their income rather than, say, just using your right of free speech to argue with their position instead?

Interesting issues raised there, especially in light of recent events involving several different authors discussed here.

Check out the article here.

40 commentaires:

Steve MC said...

All I can say is that when the right-wing boycotted the Dixie Chicks and poured out French wine simply 'cause the Dixie Chicks and the French thought invading Iraq might not be a good idea, it didn't exactly win me over to their point of view.

Anonymous said...

Hello September wants its news back, and the game broke XBL arcade day and week 1 sales records, and over all has sold very well.

And what a pretentious twat Adam is, you seem surprised people can debate coherently on a gaming blog ? who would have thunk eh.

The guy behind the failed boycott has had his 2 minutes of internet fame , let this story die (again) .

Adam Whitehead said...

Pat, as came up in the discussion it was actually the case that the game designers created the EMPIRE/SHADOW COMPLEX story and world after a few talks with Card (as a paid consultant), and Card then licensed from them the rights to write the two EMPIRE novels.

As such, boycotting the game has no impact on Card, who has already been paid for his time and involvement with the project, whilst, as the game's writer Peter David points out, boycotting it does impact very negatively on the team of people who did work on the project, many of whom (including himself) are very much pro-gay-rights.

I was more using the discussion as a springboard of whether boycotting is a viable response to any author's own personal or political views, whether it's Card, John C. Wright's recent (and repeated) comments about gays, Native Americans and women, or one of Simmons's characters calling for genocide against Islam in a short story, or whether an author's personal views are irrelevant and you should just assess the quality of their work.

In this case, EMPIRE was a bad example because it is so heinously, unreadably, Stanekly bad that the issue isn't really that complicated.

Adam Whitehead said...

"And what a pretentious twat Adam is, you seem surprised people can debate coherently on a gaming blog ? who would have thunk eh."

I was surprised that people could debate coherently on this issue, which normally sparks flamewars and insults even on the most staid and reasoned of book discussion boards or any other forum.

Of course, we don't know if there was a lot of insulting and flaming going on, and it was simply all deleted. The discussion is somewhat old now.

Since I am a member of several gaming blogs and websites, and comment on them frequently, I have no 'pretentious' issues with the gaming community.

C.B. said...

Although it would technically impact Card by making it more difficult in the future to acquire work, I don't think a boycott would do much good.

It's not an A+ title, the publicity machine won't be working in the same way which means a boycott would actually bring more publicity to something that would largely be ignored.

Don't buy his books. Write his publishers and agents and tell them why you won't buy his books. Bottom line is, he's doing what he thinks is right which is within his Rights. Just do the same.

Anonymous said...

"Someone exercises their free speech to say something you don't like so you're replying by going after their income rather than, say, just using your right of free speech to argue with their position instead?"

In the U.S. we have the right to free speech, but that doesn't mean that by exercizing that right we avoid all consequences. Most of us don't have the visibility someone like Card has. Boycotting his products may get him and others to hear us.

Whether boycotting is effective in changing someone's views, I suppose, depends on how hard it hits their bottom-line.

Gregory said...

I stopped reading Card back ing the 90's because he begun to bore me as an author just like Terry Goodkind after a few of his books. Both of them seemed to let too much pedantic language sneak into their narratives.
Most times public figures even if they are niche figures like genre authors should try to not air their political views; in doing so they often alienate a sector of their readers. I for one would stop supporting Card if I still read him because of his actions to limit the freedom of others.

Anonymous said...

Thats retarded.

Anonymous said...

America = freedom of speech. Boycotters would be in their right to boycott JUST AS MUCH as Mr. Card is welcome to share his views about marriage being preserved for heterosexual couples. This isn't just Mr. Card we're talking about. Are we going to start boycotting Christianity (since a vast majority of Christian religions do not support homosexuality or homosexual marriage as an appropriate institution or practice in civilized society)? Maybe we'll start boycotting Muslims next since (gasp) they believe differently from Christians. Let's boycott blacks, since some blacks voted for Proposition 8. Let's not stop there. Let's go ahead and boycott Jews, too. Oh, wait. This has all been done before. Sixty to seventy years ago.

Let Card have is opinion just as much as Ellen Degeneres. America's great that way.

Nate said...


You are right that in the (United States of) America, we have freedom of speech, though this is not a freedom of speech issue as no one is debating government regulation of speech but a personal choice to boycott.

Perhaps you're not aware of Mr. Card's views, which are far from the mainstream of the Christian religion. Card has suggested secession and/or armed revolt against the government if gay marriage is allowed. Furthermore, Mr. Card belongs to the Mormon Church, which funded the most vicious smear campaign against gays supporting California's Proposition 8.

It's one things to have private religious views, its another to drag them into the political sphere and smear an entire class of people with outright lies, as this campaign does. Lying for Jesus, we call it, and Mr. Card is not only willing to lie for Jesus, he's willing to commit treason for Jesus, if you take him at his word.

Anonymous said...

Forget boycotting, we should burn the books. Burning books with unpopular viewpoints is the only reasonable way to demonstrate modern society's commitment to tolerance.

machinery said...

this is bullshit.
I pointed it out here before that I view chiena melville (however you spell his name) as an anti semite.
his opinions at the very least are extreme extreme left, if you boycott card, then you should also boycott that english freakshow.
card has a right to his opinions, being against gay marriage is not being against gay's right to exist, for example.
putting the politics into a video game, is the usual leftists bs, and you can be sure that it will only grow worse if allowed to pass.
I suggest you all ignore such advice.

btw, if you have read "homecoming" series by o.s. card, you would know that he has a very toleratn views regarding gay people.

also, read homecoming series if you hadn't so far, realy well done.

Bryce L. said...

I think the problem with "boycotting" the game is that it would give the game that much more face time and that many more people would be exposed it it.

Back to Adam's real intent. I think what's important are good stories and good writing. If you like them, you should go with it, no matter what the author believes. There are plenty of authors and movie stars that believe crazy things and yet I still read their books and watch their movies.

I mean, I don't believe in adultery and yet I still watch movies with Brad Pitt because he's an awesome actor.

Anonymous said...

Seriously , learn to fucking read.

The game has been out for months, it sold very well.


There is no question of it "getting more face time" because there simply isn't a fucking issue here.

While you leftist whackos are at it , why not boycott Microsoft , they after all pushed this game as part of their summer of arcade promotion.

/end of story

Anonymous said...

You don’t get to eat your cake and eat it… if Mr. Card is dead set on interfering with other people’s life than he can expect those very same people (and those who know and support them) to fight back against his meddling – in a very non-intrusive way I might add.

Quite frankly he had this one coming.

Anonymous said...

I obviously meant: “You can’t have your cake and eat it”

Adam Whitehead said...

"btw, if you have read "homecoming" series by o.s. card, you would know that he has a very toleratn views regarding gay people."

I read the series many years ago. After a solid start, it turned quite poor. I also recall that the gay character was miserable and unhappy until he was put in a situation where he had to marry a woman, and then magically he became happy and his life was suddenly fulfilling, which seemed to be an interesting commentary on homosexuality.

Bryce L. said...

Mr. Anonymous, I was talking about the premise of should we boycott an author because of his or her views. This just happens to be Card. I thought that was clarified already.

Is the name-calling really necessary or is that the most credible argument you have? Like 2nd grade style.

Nate said...


I was discussing the issue of boycotting Card, which I do. I think it's been demonstrated that the video game isn't his baby, so I don't see the point of boycotting it.

Card is not tolerant of homosexuals, and I frankly don't want my gay money going into his (and the LDS church's) coffers. If that makes me a leftist freakshow, so be it.

Someone suggested Mieville is an Anti-Semite, but only offered as evidence that he was far left (which he is). The two are not the same thing. Is there any evidence that he's an Anti-Semite, apart from having sympathy for the Palestinian people's resistance to the Israeli occupation? I'd be interested to hear it.

Jaltus said...

Good grief. I take it unless you are a blatant left wing person, you cannot post in the blogosphere or sell books or do anything without someone attacking you.

So much for the left being the side of tolerance. I expect this kind of vitriol and small-mindedness from the right.

Knightfall said...

It's well within anyone's right to boycott an author's work if they don't agree with his/her beliefs, and they're also within their right to raise awareness on the subject.

But as many here have said, both the game and the book have been out for months. I had known Empire was gonna have a game based on it, but I didn't know it was Shadow Complex. That game has been doing fairly well already (I hear a sequel's already in the works).

Boycotting it (or it's novel counterpart) would be ultimately pointless, even if you believe all of the game developers share OSC's far-right views, which it appears they don't.

I happen to disagree with almost everything OSC says or does these days. I haven't really liked anything he's written since Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. So there you go.

Anonymous said...

Did someone really mention book-burning? Again, something that happened 60-70 years ago. Wasn't pleasant then. Wouldn't be pleasant now.

Oh, and it seems now we're attacking the Mormon Church too. Let's see if we can at least heckle a few more world religions in the name of tolerance before the day is over. We're on a roll!

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Ron. Why is it that whenever moderates express their live-and-let-live viewpoints, either the extreme left (we should all become gay; it would be easier for the human race to die out that way) or the extreme right (we should all stockpile rifles and go defend the border from the Mexicans) rears its ugly head and judges the moderates to be intolerant and dodgy. So Card has an opinion. That's fine. So people want to boycott him. That's fine. The people who attack either group are just looking to pick a fight.

Nate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate said...

Some of the comments here are so ridiculous in this thread, it's probably not even necessary to point it out.

But to answer the ridiculousness:

@Ron -- There has been a LONGSTANDING boycott against Orson Scott Cardin the gay community. This is nothing new. His anti-gay rhetoric has been vitriolic, unpatriotic, and quite frankly, insane. (You can easily google an article where he threatens a bloody coup d'etat should gays get the right to marry.)Is the boycott intolerant? To not want to give money to someone who says these things?

@Anonymous -- My intent wasn't to bash a religion. I think it is germane that the LDS church was the primary sponsor of a ruthless campaign in California which, among other things, portrayed gay people as pedophiles. This campaign (as are many) engaged in blatant falsehoods and relied on fear and hatred of gay people for its effectiveness. This is a fact. Are all Mormons responsible? Hardly. But the LDS church as an organization is.

@Anonymous: I'm pretty sure the book-burning comment was in jest.

@Anonymous, who said, "(we should all become gay; it would be easier for the human race to die out that way)" -- I dare you to find ONE legitimate leftist who thinks that this is true. This is so ridiculous. Where do you get this stuff? Seriously. Please come back to the reality-based community.

Also, the general "leftists are intolerant" canard has been bandied about. This is so obviously a false equivalence, it hardly needs pointing out. No one in the LGBT community has threatened a bloody revolution if people are allowed to buy Card's books. This is entirely different than calling for a boycott.

Maurice said...

Yay @ Nathan and common sense

Anonymous said...

Boycotting counter to free speech...........How about freedom to spend. That's the danger when an artist goes too far with a political ideology. they are going to alienate a part of a potential audience. And the buyer has all the right in the world to choose to boycott something if they are against the artists political leanings weather it is Card or GRR Martin.

Suzanne said...

I have a weird way of not knowing anything about my favorite authors until something like this comes up. I guess it's because they're not usually all over the media the way other famous people are. Because of this I was astounded when I went to a signing Card did last year here Denton, TX (of all places). Although it is Texas, it's a fairly liberal town. We have two major universities here. I was very excited, planned it for a month. He gave a little talk with a question and answer time afterward. His speech to the audience floored me. It was mainly about his political views, which are so far from my own he could have come from one of the planets he made up to talk to us and I wouldn't have been more shocked. This is a good reason to just never meet famous people. I like his stories, I don't particularly like him. I would have been happier I think if I had missed the signing. There are some areas in life where ignorance IS bliss.

Anonymous said...

Boy some liberal minded people are odd. Myself, I vote right of center, and so 99% of the people who create the music/books/movies/tv etc that I enjoy are left wingers. Good thing I don't boycott based on people's political views because I'd have no entertainment!

Nate said...

I think Fantasy and Sci-Fi actually have a lot of voices from both the right and the left, more so than other genres!

So GRRM is a liberal, but Terry Goodkind is conservative. In Sci-Fi, there is no shortage of conservative writers. And the medieval period piece fantasy lends itself well to conservative thought.

I doubt anyone here reads SFF for politics, and almost every author keeps his/her politics in the background. (Notable exception: Terry Goodkind!). As for me, I'll read anything I find interesting. If I want to boycott the author, I can just buy a used copy and give the money to my local bookstore. =) I may be boycotting Orson Scott Card, but Ender didn't do anything objectionable.

Knightfall said...

@ Nathan

I dunno. According to my copy of Xenocide, Ender did plenty to earn my animosity. xD

Good point, though. Local bookstores need all the help they can get these days. =D

machinery said...

adam whitehead -
homecoming series by o.s.card and gays :

there was 1 gay person there, he was selected by the godlike computer to be a father of the future generations of mankind.
both him and his wife were unhappy with their situation, they were thrust into it by circumstances.
the fact that he was gay was concealed from most because many of his peers were not tolerant, there were no comments about gay personality, no bias, no conclusions about gay people,
he was just another character in the book, and the fact that he was gay didn't come into play at all, that alone, imo, proves that card has no bias against gay people.
btw, his happiness was with having a daughter and a respectable life, despite having to keep secrets.

whether or not you like the series, has nothing to do with card, writing that the series was poorly written (5 books, when did you decide, when you finished ??), and then adding your opinion about card and gays, is to me, exactly like calling to ban his game, since you HAD to base your opinion of him along with a negative criticism of his books.

and I would remind you that the most fantasy books have no gay people, that's PC policy, not neccessarily a bias.
fear instead of honesty.

Adam Whitehead said...

"and I would remind you that the most fantasy books have no gay people, that's PC policy, not neccessarily a bias."

Looking at recent fantasy authors, I cannot think of many who have not had gay characters.

Bakker, Erikson, Martin, Jordan, Kearney, Pratchett, Goodkind, Mieville, Morgan, Lackey, Abercrombie, Feist and Newton all have them. I haven't read that far into the series, but I'm told Butcher does as well. That's quite a few of the dominant genre authors of the current time.

"that alone, imo, proves that card has no bias against gay people."

But then you have him - in real life - taking over leadership of a religious organisation opposed to gay marriage to the extent where he said that armed overthrow of the state would be justified if it came to pass. That to me suggests a bias, if only on the single issue of gay marriage alone.

My opinion of the series didn't really have anything to do with his treatment of the gay character, which is a relatively small part of the series. The increasingly lacklustre writing and the rather odd plot structure is what really put me off it.

machinery said...

opposing gay marriage is not racism.
as for gays in sci-fi/fantasy it's mostly in recent years.
robert jordan has gays in his books ?!!?
where ?

Suzanne said...

You're right, it's not racism but on the other hand it is cruel. People want to stop others from having the same rights you and I have. It should be a basic right to be able to marry the one you love. Why don't they want gay people to get married? The truth is, it makes them uncomfortable. Well, I'm uncomfortable with mail order brides, but I'm not proposing a law to ban that. It has nothing to do with the BS of protecting marriage either. What exactly are they protecting? How can another couple in ANY WAY hurt someone else marriage simply by getting married? They want to protect it so bad, ban divorce. Gay couples are more likely to stay together than heterosexual couples. The divorce rate in this country is astounding. People get divorced for the dumbest reasons, of course they get married for the dumbest reasons. Maybe we should go back to long engagements, make people think about what they're doing. Hey! How about we pass a law that says people can't get married until they've been engaged for 2 years and been through classes on how to live and work through problems together. Yeah, it's just as ridiculous to pass laws against gay marriage. And don't come back and say it isn't a civil rights issue. Civil rights has nothing to do with race, it's about basic human rights. We just think of it in terms of race because we are more familiar with that.

Adam Whitehead said...

"as for gays in sci-fi/fantasy it's mostly in recent years."

If by recent years you mean the last quarter-century or so (about as long as the category fantasy market as we currently know it has existed), than I suppose that is the case.

"robert jordan has gays in his books ?!!?
where ?"

Are you serious? Moiraine and Siuan in NEW SPRING. Shalon and Ailil in WINTER'S HEART. Numerous 'pillow friend' arrangements are mentioned between the Aes Sedai. Jordan also mentioned that some male characters encountered in the books were also gay, but it hadn't come up in the story yet.

machinery said...

sorry, gays in rj just seems to be women who are lonely and have no one to turn to.
I don't remember the shalon-ailil , but the aes sedai specifically refer to pillow friends as something of novices, it's implies but not realy definitive.
as for gays, look at the names you mentioned yourself a few posts ago, nearly all from the last 10+ years or so.

gayish (just a word, don't hang on it) has become IN only in the last decade or so.
just like 15 years ago a lesbian kiss would have been a shocker on american tv, it was more or less the same with fantasy literature.

and again, a person can have very clear views without being racist or biased.
the over whelming majority of the human race is racist, gay marriage is the last "human right" I could care about right now.
talk to me when darfour is over.

tom dunne said...

" marriage is the last 'human right' I could care about right now.
talk to me when darfour is over."

Seconded. Gay marriage is about a bunch of relatively minor legal entitlements that unmarried heterosexual couples do without as well, and is not an issue of fundamental human rights. Pick any number of concerns around wars, diseases, hunger, oppression, etc and you'll find something more worthy of distress than what OSC thinks of gay marriage.

machinery said...

tom dunhe :
I agree, and I don't understand why some people make a stand on this issue.

Foehammer said...

Are you folks actually so in the dark that you don't realize that a revolution or civil war here in the United States is as close as 2 minutes to midnight? Are you also so afraid of divergent ideas that you would support any censorship? I sincerely hope not. Mein Kampf is still available. The Qu'ran is on shelves in every bookstore. Do I agree with concepts in either book? Hardly. Would I want them banned? Never. How do we recognize concepts we believe in if we have nothing to compare them to?
'Empire' is hardly a terrible book. OSC doesn't write terrible books. 'Empire' is simply a book and I personally enjoyed the read and know that much of it is not only possible, but elements are unfortunately probable. If you don't believe that, you're not paying attention.