BYU Management Society to award NOM director Orson Scott Card

BYU Politics

X-posted.

From the press release:

The Washington, D.C. Chapter of the BYU Management Society (BYUMS-DC) announced today that it would honor best-selling author and columnist Orson Scott Card at its annual Gala Dinner on April 24, 2010. Card will receive the chapter’s Distinguished Public Service Award and will deliver keynote remarks about his views on ethical leadership today and his experiences as a prominent member of the literary and academic communities.

“We are proud to be honoring Orson Scott Card during this year’s Gala Dinner,” said Sen. Gordon Smith, Chairman of the Advisory Board. “His words and his example have reached millions of people, and his spirit of mentorship and service have much to offer our community.”


As it turns out, my very first post at Daily Kos also included a quote from Senator Smith:

“Part of what I fear, as you start defining marriage we have a long history of doing that in this country, and my Mormon pioneer ancestors were the victims of that. They were literally driven from the United States in the dead of winter for following their religious beliefs. I dont want that coming back, but there are some on the front pages of your newspapers who are trying to now.” — Gordon H. Smith

That was June of 2008. Smith was trying to strike a moderate tone in a tough battle for his seat and I was dashing off glib diaries about Mormon involvement in a sure loser for the LDS (the Yes on 8 campaign).

Both approaches wound up paying off equally brilliantly.

Live and learn.

What Smith apparently learned from his loss is that “moderation in all things” is truly overrated. Otherwise, two years on, what else to make of his latest brilliant move: assembling a gaggle of high-flying Mormons to publicly honor National Organization for Marriage board member Orson Scott Card for distinguished service to … the public.

The same public that is already aware (and aghast) that OSC has lately swapped the novel form for writing whackadoodle newspaper columns and blog posts?

No, obviously not that public (2008 taught me a thing or two as well: I’ve yet to affect the outcome in a single Mormon-inflected political contest, and I’ve long since owned up to the inadequacy of my online derision as a means of influencing a public that I now admit to hardly knowing). To demonstrate how grown up I’ve become, what follows is some exceedingly dispassionate and mature speculation regarding how on earth the BYU Management Society could possibly deem OSC deserving of this honor (with bonus Executive Summary gravitas courtesy of the outline format).

I. Could it be belated Mormon gratitude for OSC’s youthful support of George Wallace at a time when young people of his caliber were hard to find in the ranks of the pro-segregation, anti-miscegenation American Independent Party?

I completely bought into the “not a dime’s worth of difference” slogan and yes, on my college campus I took part in the Wallace campaign … if you look at what I was doing in college, there’s no denying it, I was a Wallace supporter in September and October of 1968. — Orson Scott Card

II. Or perhaps a more modern Mormon sensibility is what produced the BYUMS-DC decision, and it’s meant to signal an overdue recognition of OSC’s subsequent apology for supporting the Wallace campaign:

Within a couple of years I had learned a little more and was deeply embarrassed at my naivete and stupid enthusiasm. I changed my mind completely. Now I have a deep aversion to bigotry-centered populist demagogues — one thinks, for instance, of the leaders of the anti-amnesty movement. (I’m thinking of Pat Buchanan and, to my disgust, my fellow-Mormon Mitt Romney.) — Orson Scott Card

III. BYUMS-DC enthusiasm for (re)criminalizing homosexual behavior?

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books…to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens. — Orson Scott Card

IV. Or perhaps it’s OSC’s penchant for government overthrow if the gays are allowed to marry?

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die. — Orson Scott Card

V. Or maybe it’s simply BYUMS-DC’s way of finally congratulating OSC on his ascension to the NOM board (and of assuring him that Maggie Gallagher was not the only one enthused by his appointment):

“Were extremely honored that Orson Scott Card has joined with NOM in our shared mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM, “He is one of the great science fiction writers of our time and a real voice of courage and intellect on behalf of marriage.” — Margaret Srivastav

VI. Whatever the reason, it certainly had nothing to do with this.

Pax et bonum!

And a P.S. link just in case next month (April 24th, 6:00 – 9:00 PM, to be exact) will be your first time visiting the Crystal Gateway Marriott.

29 thoughts on “BYU Management Society to award NOM director Orson Scott Card

  1. By request, dropping off a comment here I’ve previously posted on RfM and reddit.com/r/exmormon:

    based on my reading of all of Card’s work, I believe that he is secretly an atheistic homosexual. Nothing wrong with that except he actively works against both parts of his true self…

    I was re-reading Xenocide by card recently, and found a comprehensive set of explanations for why God “hides” everything he does from any kind of observation and importantly…

    Xenocide lays out why books that are not historically true can be ‘spiritually’ useful.

    In addition, though I can’t remember what book it was from, I’ve seen a character in one of Card’s books argue that not believing in something bigger than yourself makes you miserable.

    Basically, what I see is that Card understands that religion is fantasy, but truly believes that religion makes society better, and believes that faith makes people happy.

    I can’t find them right now, but I’ve also read Card’s opinion articles on homosexuality. In these, if you read between the lines, Card is saying that he fully understands the culture of homosexuality, and the passion that gays feel about their issues… but he rejects that as a way of life.

    Now, he doesn’t come out and say he has had gay experiences… but he does write of a few experiences that his ‘gay friends’ have had… mmhmmm…

    As the final kicker for me, in multiple fiction books Card writes justifications for giving up your own sexuality for the good of society.
    For instance, in “Hot Sleep,” the story starts out in a ‘foundation’-like planet (think Asimov), and a gay character is chased off his home-world to a new planet, to start a new colony. This gay character makes a noble sacrifice to give up his own homosexuality, so that he can help populate the new world.
    Basically, what that boils down to, Is one set of justifications for a gay man giving up a gay lifestyle.

    This was published around the same time Card was married, and was only the first time I am aware of that Card wrote with this theme.
    In “Speaker for the dead”, Ender falls in love with, and agrees to marry, a woman who has joined a religion which requires complete celibacy. Ender agrees to comply with this requirement.

    Here we have a character who provides yet another justification for giving up his own sexuality to help society, in this case, the culture of the woman he marries.
    I believe this second situation is Card revisiting his reasons for giving up his own sexuality, and given that he had been married for almost a decade at this point, I believe this is the reason he writes this part of the story so convincingly.

    I could be wrong about all of this, but I do believe that you can learn things about the lives of authors if you pay attention to recurring themes in their work.

    Also, given how Card thinly veils the book of mormon and mormon theology in his work, it seems difficult to argue that the sexual themes in his work are far removed from his own experience.

  2. Thanks, Measure. I’ve returned the favor by dropping a link to your subreddit under the x-post over at TPM.

    As I mentioned over there, I’m not an OSC fan, but grew up hearing plenty of enthusiastic reviews from friends. Some of those same folks are now glumly echoing what you’ve suggested in your comment.

    My concern is pretty narrowly focused on how a loose cannon like OSC is able to qualify for an award from a group like this:

    “The BYU Management Society was officially founded in 1977 by the BYU College of Business, now the Marriott School of Management. There are approximately 6,000 members in forty cities and 20 countries. The Washington D.C. chapter is the largest and one of the most well-known chapters.”

    6,000 members, and of those, quite a few in significant positions of power, and the best this crew can come up with for a public service award is a past-his-prime curmudgeon of the worst sort?

    Something’s rotten in Denmark. Or in Salt Lake City. Or in whatever bunker the BYUMS-DC calls home these days. Good grief. I get that we Mormons have got enough pull to keep Jay Bybee out of hot water. Can’t we at least show enough intelligence not to embarrass ourselves with an own goal like Orson Scott Card?

    Then again, who am I kidding with this “we” business? Twenty years ago, as a missionary, observing my go-along-to-get-along companions, I’d already begun to harbor the nagging inkling that the entire LDS project might be no more than a stubborn, glorified Potemkin village.

    I’d grown up far from Utah, enjoying weekends of hard work at the stake welfare farm, secure in the satisfaction that our family had it good, as evidenced by our ability to donate free time to helping others. Reading the “thoughts” of Johnny-come-lately LDS fanatics like “LDS Law Student” simply reminds me of how much more authentic it all was back then. Yes, we called it a “welfare farm” – and no, none of us thought to protest that appellation – it was a fitting description of what “we” thought our service was all about.

    Whatever went wrong with the leadership, it looks to be terminal. Cataloging the latest eruptions from the BYU Management Society, Orson Scott Card and “LLC” is merely noting the symptoms.

  3. Hey, why dig so deep? The guy lives in Greensboro, NC, home of UNC-G. What more do you need to know?

  4. Measure, you might want to take look at Card’s 1976 novel Songmaster, which depicts a romantic relationship between a man and a boy. Card has had to defend this book against conservatives (see section “Some Observations” after the Sunstone essay). It’d be unMormon and unCard of him to write a book like Songmaster now — though I don’t think these kinds of stories make him gay, I do think he was once more open to alternative ways of living, as many folks were in the 60s and 70s. Why he is so nasty now on the topic of homosexuality, I’m not sure. Like many LDS, he seems to consider homophobia as only present when one exercises “harsh personal treatment” of gays, and I doubt his “many gay friends” support this notion.

    What is it with LDS talking about their “many gay friends,” anyway? I suppose I appreciate it when they’re used to show that gays aren’t child molesters or snarling beasts, but when these friends are dropped in discourse to demonstrate knowingness of the limits of toleration, the friendships suddenly seem vacuous. I know they’re not, but they seem this way.

  5. It is unfortunate that Mr. Card is unwilling to properly study biology. If he would actually read the research on sexuality generally and homosexuality in particular, he would lighten up.

  6. It is unfortunate that Mr. Card is unwilling to properly study biology.

    It’s unfortunate that Mr. Card is nuts.

    I just read that article that Alan linked, and I’m shocked, even given what I know of OSC’s reputation.

    Like the LDS newsroom, he has no clue about how “free speech” works. Hint: the right of free speech doesn’t mean that private companies are required to publish your work. If that’s what you want free speech to be, though, I can’t wait until Deseret Book abides by your rules of free speech and publishes this.

  7. And, as usual, this “defender of [straight] marriage” spells out unattractive he thinks straight marriage is. In that whole article, he keeps repeating how important it is for homosexuals to suppress their homosexuality for the good of society, but hardly explains why or how it benefits society. Aside from “because the prophet said so”, his only mention of a benefit is this:

    The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

    Wow. Just wow.

    So, in order to have “safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships” society needs laws to coerce men away from those oh-so-tempting man-on-man relationships! Rather than set an example to prove that a man can be in a good relationship with a man, it’s better [in Card’s universe] for men sneak around and cheat with men — if that’s what they need to do in order to tolerate being married to a woman.

    From the quote, it sounds like Mr. Card means this to be a favor to women. As a woman, I’d like to tell him that this is the kind of favor we don’t need.

    (Sorry to ignore lesbians here, but I don’t think they even show up on Card’s radar.)

    (And, sorry to restate the obvious, but if you think that men leaving their wives for men is a social ill to be avoided, then stop telling gay men that it is their duty and obligation to marry women in the first place!)

  8. Sad…

    I loved the Ender’s Game series. The original, Ender’s Game, is probably still my favorite book of all time. While I was Mormon I tried reading some of Card’s other books but didn’t like them nearly as much.

    On a slightly different front, I’m really intrigued by the possibility that OSC is gay. I certainly wouldn’t hold it against him if he was (except to call him a hypocrite), but I think it would be fascinating to know if that is really the case. I wonder if we could put together a collective effort on MSP to see if we can actually find out if he is gay just to expose his hypocrisy, kind of like the makers of this movie have done with politicians:
    http://www.outragethemovie.com/

  9. I wonder if we could put together a collective effort on MSP to see if we can actually find out if he is gay

    I’m not sure how we could find this out, beyond just speculation.

    However, a man who makes the argument that male-male relationships are so dangerously tempting is at least somewhat suspect.

    Homosexuality is certainly not something people should be ashamed of — quite the contrary — but it’s not outrageous to suspect there’s self-hate motivating some of the bile.

    Keep in mind that even if gay people are only 5% of the population (a conservative estimate), that’s still quite a lot of people — many of whom have various motivations to be religious conservatives.

  10. My UNC-G joking aside, if Card is a repressed homosexual, even self loathing, Im not sure that would undermine his political stance at all. Being a repressed gay is considered a positive behavior within LDS orthodoxy.

  11. Being a repressed gay is considered a positive behavior within LDS orthodoxy

    Right. Even when conservative hypocritical men are outed, they don’t necessary come “out.” They apologize for their hypocrisy: for bad-mouthing a specific “sinful” behavior when they themselves were engaging in it. And then they fall back on the “nobody’s perfect” mantra, write a book, make more money, stay in their marriages, etc. So, I’m not sure there’s a positive link between outing people and gay politics specifically, unless less hypocrisy automatically leads a more pro-gay environment… I’m not sure.

  12. @11 yes and no.

    The LDS church’s official position is that anyone who is “struggling with same-gender attraction” should not act on those desires but that “being a homosexual” does not exist as a permanent, involuntary condition. So, in the church’s eyes, someone who says “I’m gay — I won’t act on it — but I can’t change that part of who I am, no matter how much I may want to,” is half right, but is also half wrong. Indeed, the existence of such people is threatening to the church because they (involuntarily) make it look like the church’s policy is gratuitously cruel.

    One of the most interesting points about the memoir Falling into Life is how the guys who were organizing Evergreen meetings were humiliated and treated like lepers by the faithful LDS.

    The same dynamic shows up in Jonathan Langford’s novel. The main theme of the novel is that the gay kid’s restraint makes him righteous, and he should be praised for his sacrifice, but instead, he gets crap from all sides: notably from the faithful LDS who are so afraid of his potential bad influence (and the danger he poses merely by being gay) that he ends up going back into the closet, and keeping his homosexuality as a shameful secret. And the most ironic thing is that — while the theme is that being gay shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of — I received an indignant email from Langford for assuming (in my review) that the author of this first-novel-intimate-portrait-of-what-it’s-like-to-grow-up-as-a-gay-Mormon was, himself, a gay Mormon.

    Contrary to what one might expect, he didn’t seem to agree with the idea that “Being a repressed gay is considered a positive behavior within LDS orthodoxy” — but rather he regarded the suggestion as an accusation and an insult.

  13. chanson,
    Thanks. I can’t argue with that. Youre certainly more knowledgeable about this than I am.

    I was thinking of a repressed homosexual as someone who rarely or never has same gender sex, even though that is their orientation. To repress it so, I was thinking theyd have to be in the closet. The corollary of my thinking was if such a person were to come out of the closet, their self repression to that degree could only hold so long after coming out.

    Ill add Ive long suspected some Mormon GAs are like that in that they, like Card, seem to speak as if gays are straight men yielding to temptation, seemingly clueless that straights arent tempted by same gender sex whatsoever. In other words, a person expressing that view is making a confession they are repressed gay or bi, not straight. Hence my conclusion that being a repressed homosexual is a positive in the church, since there are GAs that seem to fit the bill.

    But as many have said elsewhere, a straight man cant understand a gay man, so I could be completely off base here.

  14. Steve EM — Well, I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. I’ve just read some memoirs and stuff people have written on the Internet.

    Ill add Ive long suspected some Mormon GAs are like that in that they, like Card, seem to speak as if gays are straight men yielding to temptation, seemingly clueless that straights arent tempted by same gender sex whatsoever. In other words, a person expressing that view is making a confession they are repressed gay or bi, not straight.

    Exactly. And I’d say the same for some of the “defenders of marriage” who argue that [straight] marriage is so distasteful that coercion is necessary to keep people in it…

  15. Ill add Ive long suspected some Mormon GAs are like that in that they, like Card, seem to speak as if gays are straight men yielding to temptation, seemingly clueless that straights arent tempted by same gender sex whatsoever. In other words, a person expressing that view is making a confession they are repressed gay or bi, not straight.

    I disagree. One of the paradoxes of the hetero/homo binary is that there are understood people who “really are gay” (or “really are straight”) versus the notion that sexuality is so disruptive of stable identities that it must be “contained” because it can “turn people” one way or the other. It’s really not a question of the sexuality of particular individuals making these statements, but a question of the gender enforcement of a culture at large that dictates what “real men” and “real women” do.

  16. I’ve always assumed that guys like OSC and Hafen were expressing the POV of LDS Kinsey 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s, and gals like Sheri Dew were doing the same for Kinsey 5’s and 6’s.

  17. While we’re busy outing closeted gay mormons, what about Spencer W. Kimball? Why else, let me reiterate, why else would he possibly think that masturbating made one gay?

  18. Why else, let me reiterate, why else would he possibly think that masturbating made one gay?

    Excellent point.

    To play “devil’s advocate” though, that belief could possibly be chalked up to the fact that adolescents (regardless of orientation) often experiment with members of their own sex. So he might think that enjoying adolescent sex play might make someone gay.

  19. While it is certainly possible, I don’t necessarily think that Kimball or many of the other church leaders were/are gay – though I think some (Packer anyone?) are. Many Mormons, (especially including the orthodox hierarchy) view all non-missionary position heterosexual sex as deviant, evil, salacious, and prurient. Whether it is gay sex, masturbation, oral sex, sex with a prostitute, bestiality, incest and even rape, it’s all the exact same category – unapproved sex. One invariable leads to the other precisely because they’re all in the same category, at least in their heads. They’re so incredibly sexually frustrated and repressed that they don’t see the difference between safe, consensual sexual activity, and unsafe, non-consensual activities.

    The degree to which Card is obsessed with this topic however, does make me think that he is probably gay/bi. He’s just so incredibly fixated on this one issue.

  20. That they’re awarding this prize to a crank is all the more appalling considering that last year’s recipient was none other than President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the LDS First Presidency:

    http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57202/President-Eyring-feted-by-BYU-Management-Society.html

    BYUMS-DC’s 2009 PSA recipient: graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Business, served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, former president of BYU-Idaho, ordained an apostle on April 6, 1995.

    BYUMS-DC’s 2010 PSA recipient: Orson Scott Card. Sci-Fi Author. Homophobe. Crank. Lately best-known for penning passages like this:

    “Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

    OSC’s views are old news. What’s new and troubling is BYUMS-DC’s decision to honor this character.

  21. @Hellmut

    What do you mean?

    I’m saying that because Mormonism makes an artificial delineation between “good” and “bad” sex, anyone who engages in sex which is on the “bad” side of the line must therefore be bad. It’s another instance of the black/white either/or good/evil thinking in the church. I think it is safe to say that most Mormons are of the opinion that engaging in any of the “bad” kinds of sex is inherently harmful, even if it’s just masturbation, non-marital sex, or gay sex.

  22. Craig — That’s a very good point. For a lot of these leaders who grew up in a different era, it is probably just a case of mentally lumping together all of these taboo items.

    But I agree that in Card’s case, he has become rabidly fixated on this one issue and was personally interested enough in exploring gay romance to write a story about it, back in his younger days… I mean, it’s theoretically possible that he’s not gay, but Occam’s razor would point to the simpler explanation that he is.

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