Hooray, Blacklists!

March 11, 2013

I've been half-entertained, half-horrified to see the way the left has responded to this whole Orson Scott Card thing. (Background here and here.) These are the same people who will tell you that the victims of Hollywood's blacklist are some of history's greatest martyrs and that the country fans who jeered the Dixie Chicks for slamming George W. Bush are horrible rednecks and that the Parents Television Council is a band of ninnies who spend their days trying to crush everyone else's joy.

Adding himself to the throng is Pajiba's Steven Lloyd Wilson, who writes:

Card’s political views have come to the forefront over the last year, as a film adaptation of Ender’s Game has gotten underway, and especially in the last month when DC announced that Card would be writing for the Superman comic. Some comic book shops announced that they would not stock Superman after Card starts writing for it. And a couple of days ago, the artist on Superman quit, releasing a statement dancing around the issue, a thinly veiled non-statement in order to not burn bridges with what amounts his dream job. DC caved to pressure yesterday and announced that Card’s story had been scrapped.

Now there’s a furor from the right, that this is a left wing witch hunt against people who disagree with their agenda, to economically punish those who don’t toe some political line. I disagree quite strongly. This is not some freedom of speech thing, not some despicable and childish refusal to engage with those who disagree politically. I would defend to the death Card’s right to speak his beliefs, but the hell if I have to stock it on my shelves if I’m the owner of a comic book store. And the hell if I have to draw the panels into which those words are written if I’m an artist. Card has the right to speak, but so do all these other people.

Perhaps there are some people on "the right" saying this is a First Amendment issue. Those people are wrong. But Wilson is also obviously wrong when he says that this is not a "witch hunt" designed to "economically punish" Card. Indeed, literally three sentences later Wilson writes "the hell if I have to stock it on my shelves if I’m the owner of a comic book store." So, if I follow Wilson correctly, he is arguing that

  1. There is no effort underway to damage Orson Scott Card's ability to earn a living, and
  2. He would actively try to damage Orson Scott Card's ability to earn a living if he owned a comic book store.

I'm honestly curious: Does he not see the contradiction there?

As I've written before, the blacklisters are obviously well within their rights to organize a blacklist. Just as Hollywood was well within its rights to blacklist the Communists listed in Red Channels. Just as the Parents Television Council is well within its rights to blacklist TV programs that they believe sully the minds of our youth. Just as country music fans and country music stations are well within their rights to blacklist musicians with whom they disagree.

Just be honest about what you're doing: You're actively working to deny an artist compensation because you disagree with their political views. Own the blacklist.