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Opinion: The  Complex  Question
Opinion: The Complex Question Exclusive
August 21, 2009 | By Christian Nutt

August 21, 2009 | By Christian Nutt
Comments
    244 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



A discussion erupted on popular gaming forum NeoGAF late yesterday morning. A user named Coins posed the simple-sounding question, "Should we boycott Shadow Complex?"

The question sounds simple, but the issues behind it are complicated. It's salient because the game is derived from the fiction of Orson Scott Card, and Orson Scott Card is a political campaigner against gay rights.

Card sits on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization "founded in 2007 in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures," according to its website. When you visit the site, a pop-up ad appears which contains a video defending ex-Miss California Carrie Prejean, who lost her crown amidst controversy about her opinions on the topic.

Everybody knows that same-sex marriage is one of the most politically-charged issues of the day. Proposition 8's passage last November was a defining moment in the SSM fight; the battle has only intensified as victories for both sides of the argument continue to unfold across the country.

Before I continue with the piece, I should up-front say two things. The first is: I'm gay. The second is: the purpose of this piece is not to advance the SSM cause. While I feel passionately about the issue -- it's a matter of public record on my personal blog, Twitter, and Facebook, which are all read by members of the industry -- it has nothing to do with "The Art & Business of Making Games", which is Gamasutra's mission and motto.

What does, however, is an examination of a boycott of a game, arising because some members of the gaming community feel strongly that one of the creative talents behind it is too strongly linked to a political cause.

When Shadow Complex was announced, I personally was torn. I'd already long since made the conscious decision to not support Orson Scott Card directly with my money. I also would like nothing more than to play a new game developed in the vein of some of my personal favorites -- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid, the game's two biggest influences. I didn't have to hem and haw very much, however, as Chair Entertainment sent me a download code for the game.

Not everyone is so lucky, however.

GayGamer offers up an interesting suggestion toward compromise in its thoughtful analysis of the issue: buy the game, and donate to a gay-positive charity to offset any profits that might funnel to Card. While Card established the universe, along with Chair, that the game resides in, he didn't work directly on the title. Dialogue was handled by Peter David, a comic book writer who GayGamer describes as "straight but extremely gay-friendly."

Games are made by teams of individuals, and the scope of their contributions can widely vary. This is where things get murky for the politically-minded gamer. Boycotting Card's books is a simple and easy decision. But Card isn't nearly as in control of, nor benefiting as much from Shadow Complex. Further, the politics of the rest of the development team are not a matter of public record.

The issue became even more complicated for me, personally, yesterday. Prior to my discovery of the brewing controversy, I spent an hour speaking to Chair's creative director, Donald Mustard, and his wife and PR rep Laura about Shadow Complex.

Over coffee, toast, and fruit, we chatted about the couple's upcoming vacation to Paris -- which they can finally take now that Shadow Complex has shipped. I made suggestions on what to do in the city and talked about my desire to return there with someone special for a romantic getaway. I also mentioned that I'm going to see my boyfriend, who lives in Michigan, over Labor Day weekend.

The Mustards were warm and open throughout the conversation, and Donald and I bonded over our shared love of Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night, in an interview I'm extremely excited to share with Gamasutra's readership in the near future. After the interview, I walked back to the Gamasutra offices, sat down at my desk, and signed on to AIM -- only to find out that something was brewing with Shadow Complex on NeoGAF.

What Actually Bothers Me...

What's most striking to me is the naivete of the discussion on NeoGAF, at least early on. The thread was locked by moderator duckroll eight minutes after its creation, with the message, "The world was not created by Orson Scott Card, it was created by Chair Entertainment. He is simply the author they are working with to create novels set in that world. Please do better research before starting stupid threads like this in future."

Duckroll reopened the thread 11 minutes later after conferring with another mod. He later said, "I hope that what we generate here is actual discussion that is meaningful."

That didn't happen quickly.

What bothers me is not that so many users are going to purchase Shadow Complex. What bothers me most is not, as you might assume, that some gamers who understand the issue will decide to buy the game to show support for Card, either as an artist whose work they enjoy or even as a political figure whose views they respect. To argue against that would be childish; that's their right.

No, what bothers me is people who suggest that it's a non-issue because the topic of discussion is a game. "Holy crap, it's just a game," says user intheinbetween. "Don't judge a picture by its painter," suggests Lagunamov. "Remember back when we were kids and we just enjoyed games?" asks Wizman23.

Yes, I do. But we are not kids anymore. I'm of the NES generation. Born in 1977, the same year as the Atari 2600, I was 10 for the release of Metroid, 16 for the release of Super Metroid, and 20 for the release of Symphony of the Night, the touchstone games that inspired Shadow Complex. I was 32 on the day it became available for download on Xbox Live Arcade, and my life, it's safe to say, has changed drastically. I can't approach things the way I did as a child. That's not me being self-righteous; I mean that I literally cannot do this.

Again, the crux of what I'm getting at is not that Shadow Complex should be boycotted. I leave that for you to determine. What I am attempting to examine is that there is a fundamental distinction between those who hold views and those who are board members of organizations that operate political action committees with specific agendas; authors who write essays espousing political viewpoints. That may be the relevant distinction.

Card has made waves with quotes like, "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." That is the kind of writing that can push a lot of people's buttons for more than one reason.

And what I am wondering is -- as we age, as an audience, and as creators, and as we begin to understand the world more fully and hold views which have deep seated meaning to us, does that fundamentally affect our relationship to the medium? This is almost entirely new territory for games.

The Case Against Sugiyama

But it's not entirely new. Though it's so far very rare, there's another, similar controversy. Koichi Sugiyama, the composer of the music in all nine of the primary installments of the Dragon Quest series, has his own political agenda. That this series is generally regarded as the most popular franchise in the Japanese market -- the latest title, Dragon Quest IX, has sold 3.64 million copies in four weeks makes it even more interesting.

Sugiyama is a right wing Japanese nationalist who denies the Rape of Nanking. He's not shy about it, either; he was a signatory to an ad run in the Washington Post called "The Facts," which publicly denies the generally accepted historical record. "Where the Nanking 'Massacre' and the comfort women are concerned, the facts are on our side," says the advert.

Obviously, Sugiyama's position isn't doing a hell of a lot to hurt the sales of Dragon Quest in the game's home territory. Most gamers are likely unaware or unconcerned that the series' composer holds these views; the games themselves, in fact, have extremely lighthearted and humanistic tales in which cities are much more likely to be bespelled by mysterious magic than sacked by desperate soldiers.

At least one user on NeoGAF has made the Dragon Quest connection and made a decision based on it. Josh7289 says, "I personally boycott the Dragon Quest series because the composer, Koichi Sugiyama, denies the Japanese Empire's guilt in the Nanking Massacre, and he publicly advertises/advocates his position."

The Whole Foods Controversy

The situation with Shadow Complex mirrors another, much larger controversy taking place right now. John Mackey, the CEO of the supermarket chain Whole Foods recently penned an op-ed for the Washington Post coming out against Obamacare.

Until that moment, I think most people had an unconsidered assumption that Whole Foods was a liberal organization -- because it sells bulk grain, tofu burgers, and organic spinach. This is, in a word, naive. Business is done by businessmen; Whole Foods is successful because it caters to a lucrative market niche, not because it espouses an ideology. While the company does carry different products than many more typical supermarket chains, presuming a politically liberal ideology on the part of the company on an unrelated issue was, obviously, a mistake -- but it's one many made.

On political blog, The Daily Dish, a reader nails it on the head: "Are Mac users afficianadoes [sic] solely because of the software platform? Do Whole Foods shoppers patronize the chain solely because they like organic fruits? They're lifestyle brands; they connote status and priorities."

But while I can both recognize that and still call Whole Foods boycotters naive for assuming the company was any more liberal than Wal-Mart -- which incidentally pulled its ads from Glenn Beck's program on Fox News this week, making it look more liberal than Whole Foods, when you take the narrow view -- there's a relevant distinction here.

Whole Foods sells organic vegetables. Whole Foods arguably sells a lifestyle to Prius-owning suburbanites. Whole Foods has, however, a limited capacity for advancing an ideology directly to its customers -- it's limited to marketing materials and product selection.

A game, however, absolutely has that capacity.

Shadow Complex, by all accounts, has a rich narrative. That story is based on the work of Orson Scott Card, who set out the foundations of the universe in his 2006 novel Empire. According to Wikipedia, Empire's plot is set in motion when "A radical leftist army calling itself the Progressive Restoration takes over New York City and declares itself the rightful government of the United States."

I'll let you read the "Literary significance and reception" section of the Wikipedia article if you like. The short version is that it makes the book sound pretty right-wing. That's the funny thing about narrative art; it can and does easily espouse ideologies.

When it comes to Shadow Complex itself, NeoGAF poster Stumpokapow says, "if your objection is going to be based on in-game content, you're in the clear." Though I've not gotten far enough in the game yet to have my own take on its narrative ideology, signs from those who have point to Peter David and/or Chair showing restraint on the political overtones. One friend told me "it subverts the Empire universe severely," which is a funny twist on the whole controversy, if true.

I feel strongly about this medium, no matter how boneheaded the content can be -- and games like Killzone 2 can be pretty dopey, at least as far as I played it. Not everybody in the audience cares about this; hell, not everybody making games cares about this. Whether you do or not, games are maturing and changing in meaningful ways.

I remember that Ulf Andersson, on his press tour for Wanted: Weapons of Fate, honestly described the film the game was based on as "cool." I would describe it as vapid. But the medium of film is not devalued by Wanted. The medium of games is intrinsically capable of the heights of meaning and emotion that film is; our discourse must rise to that level as well.

And that's why it's acceptable to talk about this. That's why it's okay to skip buying Dragon Quest IX or Shadow Complex. If we can have meaningful political discussion in other media, we can have it in games. And even if Shadow Complex itself doesn't espouse views about same-sex marriage, in some way the product funds Orson Scott Card. He may be best-known and loved as the author behind Ender's Game, but he's also a political activist. He has become fair game.

Coda

I don't know what Donald Mustard or any of the people at Chair who worked hard on Shadow Complex think about same sex marriage. And even beyond that, I don't know what ballot measures they support or reject.

I do know that when I was done talking to Mustard this morning, over an hour after I had initially mentioned it, he wished me well in my long distance relationship with my boyfriend in Michigan. "It worked for us," he said, referring to himself and his wife Laura. For the first two years of their relationship, she lived in New York and he in Utah, he explained to me. As I shook Mustard's hand, wished him well, and thought about how much I wanted to get home and play Shadow Complex, no political thoughts were in my mind. That human connection -- that warmth -- means more to me than any political position.

Or I like to think it does. As with anyone else, my desire to make a life for myself in this world absolutely irretrievably informs my political positions. Same-sex marriage, then, is a crucial part of my own personal viewpoint. And that's the distinction that we're now facing. Are we "just gamers", or are we adults? The NES generation has grown up. Games have come a long way. We can now tell stories; we can now make statements. And it's not just the developers who have that power.

Note: Chair Entertainment, Epic Games, and Microsoft representatives were all contacted for comment prior to publishing this story but none had responded by press time.

Image of destroyed copy of Gears of War 2 comes from NeoGAF user NinjaFusion, who says, "Sorry epic, but i cannot buy your products while you make this man rich... after this i will not send these game out to create potentially a new fan that he could profit from."


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Comments


Marc Sanders
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As polarizing as political beliefs are these days, it is only a matter of time before we see the establishment of ideologically-branded products, with Liberals buying blue label milk and Conservatives buying red. I personally think that only further divides us. I also wonder if people would be discussing a boycott of this work if it was created by a political campaigner FOR gay rights? Free speech and respect for other people's opinions is prickly because it goes both ways.



Either way, having the ability to take politics into account when making a purchase on a leisure product is a luxury for which we should all be grateful. I tend to not exercise that option, but it does not bother me if others do. I will add that many of the products we buy are made with large amounts of both hate and love, and it is rarely on the label.



That said, I admit that creative works are different from other types of products. I saw a band claim that they were about as much a Christian band as a plumber who is a Christian is a Christian plumber. I understood what they meant, but religious and political beliefs DO influence creative activities whereas the plumber probably wouldn't be fixing pipes differently if he was atheist.



It's a complex issue. Personally, I'll decide based on the quality of the game, but I will understand if other people don't want to buy it for political reasons. But I think that anyone who does not buy the game because of its association with an anti-gay rights activist should consider how they would feel if people boycotted a game because of its association with a gay rights activist before they decide to boycott- it is the same action driven by different beliefs.

Daniel Felice
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I just registered specifically to say that this was a great article. Thanks, Christian.

Bruno Bulhoes
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"It's Just a Game" is a very intricate logical fallacy used by gamers that don't want to grow up and, specifically, can't accept the fact that the game medium grew up (or is trying to) while they didn't. It's kind of an avoidant self-defense. I could go on and on about this, but let's just leave at that.



The piece is very good and reasonable, good job Christian! And I must admit I boycott products, services and goods because of ideological affinities/propaganda.

raigan burns
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Great article!



What I'm not understanding is why they chose to base the game on an existing novel in the first place -- they now have to pay royalties (or, they at least had to pay a licensing fee or similar), and for what?!



Prior to reading this I had assumed that the stupid, hackneyed plot was typical game-writing: "evil organization plots to overthrow the government (and hires lots of loose-lipped loud-talking soldiers), etc". Surely it would be cheaper to write a brand new cliche-riddled stereotypical plot than to license one? Anyone could crank several of these out in an afternoon.



Also, the mech designs are blatant copies of some of the Ghost in the Shell tank/robots.. come on! And the scuba mask bears a striking resemblance to Q3A's Visor.



Parts of the game are good, but there are so many little things (and bigger things, like ALL of the dialogue between the couple) that really irk.



Although, one pretty awesome innovation was the full facemasks on 99% of the characters -- that much have cut the animation budget down a LOT (i.e no need to animate face/mouth/talking), which makes it a pretty awesome design trick. If only the IK was as clever..

nathan vella
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I'm very glad that people are taking on the discussion of this topic. As someone who "isn't a fan" of supporting Card, I was extremely surprised and truly disheartened by Chair's decision to work with him. However, the lack/avoidance of discussion had me wondering if people, specifically the gaming press, either knew or cared about the hateful things OSC is making every effort to propagate.



When I saw the thread arise on GAF, i knew the net result would not be positive, but i was actually glad that OSC's desire to spread hate were being brought to light.



Thanks for wading into this discussion Christian. Great read.

Louis Varilias
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Should we boycott cars because Henry Ford was a nazi sympathizer? Cars derive from him!



It's stupid to boycott this game. Orson Scott Card didn't make the game. The game doesn't have an anti-gay message. You boycott products based upon the product or the company.



Card probably got paid some amount so his IP could be used. It doesn't mean Epic Games supports his religious beliefs. I can understand boycotting his books, but even still, you would still need to judge a) what he uses book profits on and b) do you sanction all of a person's actions when you buy their product?

Dantron Lesotho
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Excellent article; I was not previously aware of Orson Scott Card's associations or beliefs. I will personally purchase the game, but mostly because it seems like a very finely made product and I am a huge fan of the genre. I do find it unfortunate that people may end up supporting Card because of the mythos into the story, but from what I am hearing of reviewers, the story is the weakest point of Shadow Complex. Maybe the financial benefit for Card will not be as much as people might speculate. I also wouldn't doubt that Chair might not have been aware of the ideology of Card during the process.



I also believe that people like Card are dinosaurs whose opinions will slowly die out because of their lack of understanding of a new world, so it's a moot point eventually anyway. If anything though, it will spur discussion among those that are thoughtful.

Tom Newman
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Very interesting article. I can fully understand why some people would boycott this game based on the connection with Card. I personally won't participate in anything connected to Mel Gibson due to his support of organizations that promote holocaust denial, so I can totally relate to the people who would boycott this game.



What is unfortunate is that this game is one of the best to come out this year so far. I started playing this last night, and could not put down the controller. It fully delivers on the Metroid/Castlevania promise, and adds a level of refinement that makes this game unlike any other.

Louis Varilias
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"I pay for fun, not to contribute to those who want to discriminate and deny."



Epic Games discriminates?

Kevin Cardoza
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Excellent article, Christian. While I'm not on the side of boycotting the game (if I was against media associated with people whose views I despise, the number of games, music, cinema and books closed to me would be astronomical) I do think this is an interesting topic that needs discussion.



I also agree with you that there seems to be an extremely strong presence from the gaming community of people who want to silence any and all debate. A similarly hostile dismissal came up after N'Gai Croal's careful and well reasoned concerns about RE5 and it irritated me then too. I find it extremely hypocritical that the same group of people who flies off the handle when Ebert says games aren't art or when another politician or journalist claims it has no productive value will conversely use the "It's just a game" excuse when anyone tries to apply genuine criticism to it.

David Ellis
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Good article, Christian. Very thought provoking.



I think the whole issue of boycotting--especially boycotting entertainment products like games, films, and TV shows--is a tough one. I tend to make my choices based on specific content.



For example--I make it a point not to watch Fox News because they have an agenda I disagree with, but I regularly watch a number of shows on Fox without regard to the fact that the entertainment arm of the network has the same owner. (This includes, oddly enough, 24--which often comes off as pro-torture propaganda.)



I know that actors like Bruce Willis, Craig T. Nelson, John Voight, and Gary Sinise very publically support political views that are not mine, but that doesn't stop me from watching (and enjoying) movies and TV shows that they are in.



The more I think about this issue, the less black and white it becomes. I play plenty of games where my primary task is killing without batting an eye. But would I play a game where I was killing people if it were based on, say, the writings of one of Charles Manson's followers? Surely not--it would be too real. But suppose the game had nothing to do with the crimes? "Squeaky Fromme's Bejeweled" or something? Would it matter as much then? I'm thinking it wouldn't. At least not to me.



So, I guess it all comes down to personal choice, and where you choose to draw YOUR line in the sand. I can be against John Voight's politics and still enjoy watching National Treasure--but I'm not going to go to the Republican National Convention and listen to him speak about politics. Just as I would have no problem playing Shadow Complex which is based on the fiction of an anti-gay rights activist but has nothing to do with that topic, but would never consider playing a game in which the theme of the game opposing gay rights, regardless of who worked on it.



As I said...it's a very thought provoking topic.

Tom Newman
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(afterthought) I fully agree with Raigan Burns in that while the game itself is outstanding, the story is completely generic, which doesn't matter that much for this style of game. It's kind of a head-scratcher why they had to license anything in the first place, the writing is generic and the plot could have been invented by a bunch of interns watching action films. But again, this does not take away from the great game, which relies on gameplay, not narrative.



Also @ Louis Varilias, yes, I know many Jewish Americans who today won't even sit in a Ford due to Henry Ford being a Nazi-sympathizer, and they are not stupid. He did not invent the car, he just streamlined the assembly line production process allowing him to lower costs and sell more cars to people of modest budgets, sparking the industry. Without him I'm sure someone else would have thought of the assembly line.

steve roger
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First, really nice article. Second, it makes no difference to me that you are gay, but I understand the disclosure. Third, I am not bothered by what you described as what bothers you the most, the whole, "it's just a game" commentary in the NeoGAF thread.



That "it's just a game" thing is something that is constantly being said. You don't have to agree with it, but you need to accept the fact that the world and the internet is full of apathetic, lazy, juvenile, uniformed morons that have the same reaction to anything remotely thought provoking.



They are the rednecks of the internet. Anytime something challenges their tiny sphere of beliefs they seek to marginalize it by claiming it doesn't matter. This is because is something doesn't matter, is ignored, then the issue doesn't exist and they can go on their merry way without ever having their beliefs challenged.



These people fear change. They don't want the status quo disrupted and they don't want anything to get inbetween them and their selfish pursuits.



When I see those comments, I just ignore them and continue my conversations with people who give a damn. Trying to reach these idiots is a waste of time.



That doesn't mean we should stop our conversation and discussion about these kinds of issues. The question of the boycott is something that should be vetted.



My son, 11, already downloaded and began playing Shadow Complex before I heard about the controversy, should I tell him about it?



Now that is an interesting question. We already know what a certain group will say, that is "No. It's just a video." Okay, I will spend 2 seconds on that thought and argument and now let's move onto discussing whether or not I tell my son about it. See what I mean. That whole, "it's just a game" rap, is just a worthless, mindless position that should be ignored.

K Gadd
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I don't know if you're serious with this part of the article:

"I don't know what Donald Mustard or any of the people at Chair who worked hard on Shadow Complex think about same sex marriage. And even beyond that, I don't know what ballot measures they support or reject."

But if you are, I find that idea kind of disturbing.



Why does it matter what ballot measures someone supported or rejected? I understand and agree with your decision to boycott Card, because he's actively campaigning against something you strongly believe in. But suggesting that an individual's voting choices and personal views should be the foundation of a boycott for their employer seems violently closed-minded to me.



If people were to apply this kind of thinking to every issue they cared about, virtually every producer of games and other media would soon be overwhelmed by boycotts about every possible viewpoint and issue imaginable. Since refusing to hire someone based on this sort of thing could potentially be the foundation of a discrimination suit, companies rarely have the ability to exercise discretion over the personal viewpoints of an individual they hire.



Attempting to deprive people of their livelihood just because one of their coworkers has a viewpoint you disagree with is not a way to win people over to your cause on an issue. It's actively destructive to your cause, so I hope you're not suggesting that it's a good idea.

Gabriel Kabik
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This is exactly the reason I read Gamasutra; this kind of discussion is just too rare in video games.



I guess the first thing I should point out is a quibble over historical accuracy: Carrie Prejean was "decrowned" over the racy photos that kept appearing in the media a few months after her infamous gay marriage statement. A lot of people did protest over her comments, but when it came down to it, those had largely died down by the time the photos came out, and at that point she was still very much Miss California. Just a minor thing.



I'm actually pretty torn on this issue after having read the article. As a kid, my favorite book was Ender's Game. Then when "Advent Rising" came out a few years ago (you may recall this was a 3rd person action sci-fi game, penned by Card), I found a link on the Gamespot forums to an article Card had penned wherein he basically stated that people who protested the Iraq war were traitors, and then intimated that they should be executed by the government for their "treachery".



Now. I'm all for freedom of speech. But once someone starts publicly calling for my death, that's when I start to get a little testy.



I threw out my cherished, well-worn copy of Ender's Game and swore never to buy Advent Rising. The latter turned out not to be such a difficult decision, as the game apparently was godawful anyway.



I think the distinction I make here is that it's not just that he holds positions that are opposed to mine and that he is public about these opinions. It's that he's basically insane. The guy makes Glenn Beck's "Obama is a racist... no I didn't say he's a racist... but Obama is a racist" comment look as tepid as a chorus from The Sound of Music.



But I digress. I completely agree that an artist's work should be separated from the artist. I can listen to Wagner without thinking about Dachau. But there are so many questions here that this brings up, many of which you've touched on well. The first is, what is the point of a boycott? Is it to actually attempt to financially cripple your opponent? It seems more likely that a high-profile effort to boycott the game would only backfire in that regard, making the game more visible in the marketplace and easily selling more copies than it would have otherwise. Or maybe the point is just to raise the profile of the issue itself? That makes more sense, though it's hard to believe that the gay marriage issue could be made any more of a hot-topic in America than it already has been for the last 5+ years.



In reality, I think it's a matter of personal satisfaction, like recycling, or throwing something at the TV when Glenn Beck is on. In reality your actions make very little impact (excepting of course if you break your television), but on a smaller level it helps you affirm your own beliefs and feel like you've maybe accomplished something positive in the face of an enormous opponent. And this too has some kind of larger impact - that affirmation of emotion, of sentiment, helps to engender community. I'm sure the folks over at GayGamer and their causes will benefit tremendously from having a completely salient issue to rally around.



So really, the greatest effect this proposed boycott has is most likely in the discussion of it rather than its execution. People like Mr. Card represent the most heinous of partisans: the kind which espouses hatred and even violence against his opponents, and for that alone his words deserve to be drug out into the sunlight. Visibility of people like that have a tendency to generate sympathy for their enemies amongst the general public: think the effect of Matthew Shepherd's horrifying murder, or the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church in recent years, among many other examples on this issue.



You know what this demands? A South Park episode. Or at least a scene in an episode. Somebody alert Matt and Trey that Mr. Card needs to be taken down a peg or two.

Peter David
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You know, I don't mind that you wrote a lengthy opinion piece that reflects, y'know, pretty much your own opinion. You obviously have strong feelings about the matter and you have every right to express them. I am, however, slightly annoyed by your final graf in which you assert that you contacted various folks connected with "Shadow Complex" and none of them responded before press time. First of all...there's no press. It's not as if vast machines needed to thunder to life and splatter ink on paper at 12:01 AM precisely and you had to nail the deadline. You could have waited a few more hours, or a day or so, for someone to respond, and the republic would not have faltered. Second, and more to the point, you never asked me. I wrote the game, and obviously I have some interest in the matter. Why did I not hear from you? I'm one of the more visible pros on the Internet. Aspiring comic artists who live in the mountains of Peru and speak English as a second language manage to track me down with little problem, yet my inbox has no record of you asking me to speak on the record. So although you are naturally entitled to your opinions, and certainly expressed them well, please don't act as if you performed journalistic due diligence, because if you had you might have said, "Gee, I wonder if Peter David has anything to say about it, because he typically has something to say about everything."



What I have to say in this instance is the following:



I believe it's not a complex (nice pun) question at all. I believe the answer to free speech is always more free speech. If you believe that Orson Scott Card is saying things that are wrong at the top of his lungs, then you say so at the top of yours. If he's donating money to organizations dedicated to infringing gay rights, you donate money to organizations that support them.



A society that embraces free expression depends on an unimpeded exchange of ideas.



The disconnect comes from those people who believe that boycotts are likewise a form of free expression. They're not. Boycotts are the opposite: They are designed to be punitive. To hurt someone financially. The message it sends is, "I dislike what you have to say and therefore am going to strike back at you in order to punish you for saying it." It has nothing to do with attacking the things the person says; it's about attacking the person.



That is antithetical to the notion of a free society because it promotes a chilling effect. It's the equivalent of Archie Bunker growling, "Stifle yerself," because the message it sends is, "If you say something I don't like, I'm going to find a way to hurt you." Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Boycotts have nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with trying to give the other guy a financial bloody nose.



Do people have a "right" to do it? Of course. No one is saying they don't have that right. What's at issue is whether they SHOULD do something. I CAN wear a Speedo to the community pool; trust me, though, I really shouldn't.



What's the end game here? To try and send a message to as many sources as possible that if they hire Orson Scott Card to work for them, they're going to take a financial hit? To put Card out of business? To make sure that someone is going to face financial ruin because he has opinions that differ from yours?



That is intolerant. It's inelegant. It's cheap and vicious and small-minded.



And also be aware that I've dealt with this any number of times coming from the other direction. If you think I haven't had threats of boycott from people who want to take me down precisely because I've been openly supportive of gay rights, then you are kidding yourself. Gay fans were overjoyed about my portraying Shatterstar and Rictor as an openly gay couple in the Marvel Comics series "X-Factor." But what if I had said to myself, "Hmmm. This is going to piss off a lot of people. I could wind up taking a financial hit over this. Probably it would be best if I just stayed away from such a hot-button issue." For that matter, what if anti-gay forces organized boycotts that hurt Marvel and Marvel management said, "Okay, that's it; no more stories having anything to do with gays or gay rights." Supporters of those causes would likely decry Marvel as being cowardly and knuckling under to financial pressure from the exact same tactics that are being called for here.



So by extension, if Orson Scott Card refuses to knuckle under to scare tactics, then he's brave and noble for holding to his principles.



And you're okay with that?



How is instilling fear of financial ruin conducive to a free society and intellectual progress? Especially when you're supporting an attitude that, when it comes from the other direction, can potentially kneecap support for the very causes you hold dear?



PAD

Louis Varilias
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"Louis, 'those' being Orson Scott Card and his 'National Organization for Marriage'. "



If they made the game, your comment would make sense. The point is I don't think there is enough of a connection between Card and Epic Games to warrant boycotting the game. Until you can point out how much of the profit goes to Card, and how much of what goes to Card then goes to the National Organization for Marriage, you're making baseless assumptions about where the money is going.

Adam Flutie
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If you are worried about buying stuff based on who earns the royalties and profits and just how they will redistribute it into the large world-wide political agenda that's your choice. You have to remember that there probably are just as many people on the other side of the fence that will only buy this for the same reason people are boycotting it. As such, it is a wash to even care about this point in the case of this $15 game. It just seems like over analysis and an attempt at taking inadvertent casualties (the game designers) for your blood feud with Card.

Gabriel Kabik
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Another aside, I think the "why did they even bother to license this story" angle is probably easily answered: they get the added publicity of being able to say, "Based on a story by Orson Scott Card" on their promo materials. There are plenty of games on Xbox Live. How many of them are associated with a major best-selling author beloved by millions of gamers everywhere?

Aaron Casillas
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Ender a book about little boys running around naked on a ship, Ender's Shadow a book about a smaller boy naked going through air ducts. Speaker of the dead, nearly all male pig society where their females don't breed directly with them...hmm...

Russell Carroll
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It seems to me that much of the division we have in the country is because we don't respect people. I'm all for disagreeing on issues and having respectful discussion. However, I'm convinced you cannot have a respectful discussion though if you cannot separate a person from their opinions. If you hate what someone says or does, and thereby hate the person, the only place that can go is to fighting.

Instead of hating people, the key is to care for the people you disagree with (MLK). Caring for the person you disagree with the only way to actually discuss what you disagree about and to progress. We talk about respectful debate and working together, but it cannot happen if you look at what someone does and respond with "because you did that you are evil." In order for human beings to progress the response has to be "though I respect you and your right to act, this action I believe is not right, let's talk about this action/opinion/issue." Not approaching a subject with care and respect for the individual is the foundation of every war that has ever occured.



So what I'm getting at is...boycotting a game because "I hate Orson Scott Card" is not a useful approach. It is demonizing and creating battle lines. It leads to conflict and hatred, and makes the person instead of thier action the issue, it puts the focus on the wrong thing.

Boycotting a game because "I disagree with these actions, and I believe supporting the game is supporting the actions" brings the discussion to where it should be, on the action, on the actual issue, instead of making the person the issue (which is simply a personal assault). While attacking people might make us feel good, and may make for great ratings, it's pulling America apart.



We could use a lot more discussion about actual issues in this country, and we would benefit from spending a lot less time bashing and demonizing people for having opinions we disagree with.

Peter David
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I agree, Russell. Meeting free speech with more free speech gets people thinking. Meeting intolerance with more intolerance gets people killed.



PAD

Gabriel Kabik
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@Peter David: Wow, this certainly just got juicy quick.



It seems like sometimes the concept of boycotting smacks of censorship, and while you didn't break out the c word in your own piece, that seems to be the angle you're coming from. But doesn't this kind of cut both ways? I mean, boycotting isn't as much about attempting to effect "financial ruin" on your opponent as it is about using the product in question as a springboard to create debate on the issue itself. After all, Card does write books that illustrate his worldviews, and makes a very good amount of money off of them. So why is it suddenly so horrible for someone to use those same books/art/creative concepts as a conduit for expressing their own opposing views? Doesn't that also contribute to the larger discourse which you are rightly concerned about protecting?



I think your Holmes quote was more misleading than instructive here. An acceptable use of Holmes' analogy would be if we were discussing whether or not to break into Card's house and steal his valuables as retribution. Just as no man has a "right" to break another man's nose, we'd have no right to make off with Card's things. But this is not the question at hand; every person has the right to both decide NOT to buy something as well as to make public their reasons for doing so. Those organizing the boycotts or supporting them openly are merely raising awareness to other, sympathetic ears that they should know where their money (may) be going. No one is hacking the Xbox Live servers and preventing people who want to spend their money from spending it. These people are merely educating other possible consumers. In terms of the "dialogue" this contributes to, I think it's largely positive.

Michael Byrne
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This is a well thought through article. I would like to add that when people on one side of a debate are calling for actions to "destroy the government" people on the other side have a moral imperative to use all means at their disposal to counter. If that means not buying Shadow Complex denies Mr. Card a trivial royalty payment, it is still less money for him to use to advance his agenda, which appears to be a much more intrusive government. Remember, what Mr. Card is calling for is a society where the government decides whom you can and cannot marry, and individuals are not free to determine who they marry.

Eric Carr
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It's good to have opinions, but we all have to be aware of who we affect when we take action based on those opinions. I think a boycott over the game due to OSC having been involved is silly. We're developers here. I know I'm not up to my eyes in dollars, and I've seen the Gamasutra Salary Survey, so I know about the averages. OSC *does* have money for stuff and he may spend his money on questionable things.

Boycotting the game and trying to make a statement does exactly zero to the person boycotters would be trying to hurt. The difference in the amount that Card would receive would be negligible. It could be very damaging to our hard working developers that made the game though.

Ryan Hibbeler
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I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the "It's just a game" opinion, and I'd be even more hesitant to deride those who hold it. I haven't finished Shadow Complex yet, but I sure haven't seen any anti-Gay undertones in it so far, and I severely doubt I'll see any pop up as I play further. In fact, judging from the other commenters here, the narrative in Shadow Complex is not particularly stirring for any reason. In my own experience, it provides a necessary backdrop for an action/exploration game, and nothing more (and really, that's all I'm asking of it).



My point is that those calling for a boycott of this game don't seem to have any beef with the game itself, just the fact that it's associated with someone they don't like. So let's be clear about this: the call for boycotting this game is not because the game is advancing a political agenda they disagree with, but rather as a personal attack against a certain individual who, by all accounts, didn't have much to do with the game anyway. Or maybe it's even worse, it's a "personal" attack against a game studio who had the gall to be associated with someone they don't like.



Personally, I give more credence to the opinion "it's just a game" crowd than the "it's just a political bargaining chip" crowd. If people are really just boycotting this game to "get at" or demonstrate against Orson Scott Card, they're also hurting a lot of people who just wanted to make a good action/exploration game (and, in my opinion, succeeded magnificently in doing so). Is it OK to dismiss all the--for all intents and purposes--apolitical developers at Chair as collateral damage because of some personal vendetta against someone else entirely?



Peter's hit the nail on the head here. This smacks more of McCarthy-era Un-American Activities blackballing than a legitimate political statement.

Brandon Sheffield
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Peter, I would submit that Christian did not advocate a boycott, he was more an advocate of purchasing the game if you want it, and then donating to a cause that is more in lines with his political views. The boycott is what brought this all to his attention, which is why it's relevant.



In defense of the press time thing, it's true that the concept of press time is a bit of a fallacy on the internet - but the fact is this was going to be published today, heads of each organization were contacted, but nobody had a comment. It is regrettable that you weren't contacted, but I would think we could rectify this in the near future with a more in-depth discussion that includes you, if you're game.



While I do to some extent agree that boycotts are not synonymous with free speech (was that comparison made?) in other cases it can be very much warranted. Without unions and boycotts a lot of things we now take for granted (to some extent) like civil or workers rights would not be where they are today. The gay marriage issue is also one of civil rights, and while this game is a very very small part of any of that, I do think it is something that merits discussion.

Kelly Johnson
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Its one thing to have an opinion but its a whole different ballgame when you act on those opinions. Mr. Card, who's books I enjoyed reading over 20 years ago is acting on his opinions. I had no idea he was on the board of this organization but now that I do I have made a choice to not contribute to anything he is involved in. That is my choice to make. I remember being at E3 some years ago when the US military was out in front of the Staples Center with a full size tank giving away demo discs for America's Army. Even though it was free many people like myself avoided it. I avoided it because of my personal beliefs about military spending and military occupation. If Mr Card decides to crusade against the rights of others that is his choice but we the people also are free to make choices. Many people play America's Army and no doubt many people will by products that Mr. Card is part of but I won't be one of them. I won't go so far to tell other people not to, its a decision each person makes for themselves and there is no right or wrong about that decision.

Christian Nutt
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@raigan, Chair has a longstanding relationship with Card that dates back to his work on Advent Rising. They also own the rights to Enders Game (though nothing has happened yet.) Donald Mustard told me he's a big fan of Card's writing, which is a totally valid reason to work with an author. He told me the same thing about Peter David.



@Peter, As Brandon said, I'm not advocating a boycott at all. Like I said in the piece, I had personally decided not to spend money on anything OSC was involved in long before the game's release, but that was a *personal* decision and that's certainly not an organized boycott.



I did, however, find the discussion of whether there should be a boycott of a game due to political affiliations of one of its principle creators to be a highly interesting one that touched off a great number of thoughts in me, and became the basis for an article examining the issues around that. This is new territory.



Here's an instructive link on the point of boycotts, written in reference to the Whole Foods situation (I was thinking of including it in the piece; maybe I ought to have done.)



http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/08/boyc
otts-a-quick-history-lesson.html



Essentially, the writer suggests, the point of a boycott is to score political points rather than to create financial impact. In the end I think this is actually likely to be the case, given it's the mechanism that resulted in my writing of this article.

Tyler Glaiel
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I don't think we should encourage people to not share their political views, it's just encouraging apathy in subjects not relating to their field of work.



If you looked hard enough you could find some airhead on every game team who donates their money to a cause you don't believe in, that bastard.

Peter David
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I cannot fathom why the default response of those who advocate financial punishment (which is, let's face it, what boycott is) is, "But I have the right to do it." "Every person has the right to both decide NOT to buy something as well as to make public their reasons for doing so," said Gabriel. "That is my choice to make," quoth Kelly. Not only did no one challenge that someone had the right to do so, but I specifically acknowledged that naturally they had that right.



But then call it what it is: Inelegant, intolerant pressure tactics. Acknowledge that you're basically stooping to the same level of intolerance as those you would despise. Don't imply that it's some sort of moral high road because it's not; it's the low road, and more often than not boycotts wind up hurting everyone BUT the people at whom you're aiming. In fact, all they do is reinforce the negative opinions they have.



How refreshing would it be for a massive call that said, "Instead of having a boycott, let's support this person financially because we want to show that we're bigger and better and more tolerant and more accepting than he is, and our business is with the type of material he produces rather than his opinions. Let's demonstrate by our actions what it's like to understand and accept that different people have different ways of life and shouldn't be attacked for it."



The reasons tossed around to try and justify financial scare tactics are amazing. I'm reminded of a moment in the film "Six Days, Seven Nights," in which the Harrison Ford character is making fun of women's magazines featuring articles with titles like, "Ten Ways to Get Your Man Interested On a Date." And Ford snorts, "You want to know how to get a man interested? Show up. We're not that complicated.



Same principle with debates. A boycott will help to spur debate? In my experience, you know what spurs debate? Disagreeing with someone. It's not that complicated. In fact, boycotts tend to blur issues rather than bring them into focus.



The issue of whether someone should buy "Shadow Complex" should boil down to one thing and one thing only: Is it an exciting game that will give you your money's worth? If the answer is yes, then buy it. If the answer is no, then don't. A gamer's issues should be with whether he's getting bang for his buck; not whether one of the people associated with the manufacture of the game is voicing ridiculous opinions.



And let's face it: You're not upset about Card's opinions, unless you've made it your business to investigate where on the political spectrum the makers of "Halo" or "Tomb Raider" or "Grand Theft Auto" fall. You're upset that he EXPRESSED the opinions. And folks who are so quick to defend their "right" to do what they want (when that wasn't in question) are endeavoring to curtainl the rights of Card to say what's on his mind since the end game, I suspect, is indeed to try and stop people from hiring him. You want to make him pay a price for exercising those rights that you yourself feel should remain untrammeled...for yourself.



Defending popular speech is always easy. It's defending unpopular speech that requires work.



And Christian: Yes. You advocated boycotts. Right here: "That's why it's okay to skip buying Dragon Quest IX or Shadow Complex." Because if you didn't advocate boycotts, you would have said, "It's not okay to skip buying Shadow Complex purely because you don't like Orson Scott Card's opinions. It's not okay that Epic or Chair or Peter David wind up as part of collateral damage when not only have they said and done nothing to warrant it, but Peter David has been an outspoken supporter of gay causes."



General rule of thumb: Any tactic that would be embraced by Tail Gunner Joe is probably one you should shy away from.



PAD

Mike Nowak
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Peter David: I don't know what kind of upper-class consumer-obsessed culture you're living in where "not buying something" is considered a "punitive action". A chilling effect? From not buying something funding a person/idealogue you disagree with? The whole point of a boycott is to inform consumers to the fact that they might be supporting something they disagree with. What consumers do with their money is up to them.

Christian Nutt
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@Peter, A boycott is defined as not buying something as a means of political coercion. In that quote, I'm talking about someone making a private decision to not support SC/DQ/whatever. That's a very big and relatively obvious distinction. It's also, I will state explicitly, not a disingenuous attempt to incite a boycott.



I can appreciate that as a much more involved creator of SC than OSC is, you have a high personal stake in the success of the product on an emotional level. I can understand why you would be absolutely angry at talk of a boycott, which also seems to be against your personal beliefs. And I understand that you're probably blindsided to get this from people with gay rights sympathies given your comics work; it's rare to get this sort of action from both sides in a writer's career, I'd imagine.



OSC is politically toxic to a number of people. The fact that this has to be confronted is a new issue in the games space. THAT'S what I'm writing about.

Gabriel Kabik
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Peter I hate to say it but you are a pretty selective reader. How is saying it's "okay" to skip buying those games out of political principle the same as "advocating" a boycott? If I say it's "okay" for someone to choose to smoke pot, does that mean I'm "advocating" that everyone smoke pot? Seriously, your logic there makes no sense. And please, before we go there, lets not start debating the connotation/denotation of the word "advocate", because we both know what the word means when it's being used in this context. To advocate something is to deliberately encourage others to do it. The word you're looking for is "condone". And that's completely different.



Also you did imply that it was not a person's "right" to boycott something, right here:



"Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Boycotts have nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with trying to give the other guy a financial bloody nose."



You're comparing a boycott to a punch in the face, with the conclusion that to boycott something is to give someone a "financial bloody nose". That's simply inaccurate. To boycott something is to simply decide not to buy something. That's it. No one is forcing anyone not to buy the game you wrote. No one is throwing molotov cocktails through your windows for having worked on it. At least, I sincerely hope they aren't. Your assertion with that quote, that to choose to not buy something out of principle is in any way the same thing as physically attacking someone, is simply false. I don't see why that's not worth pointing out or how I was somehow missing your point by saying so.

Brandon Sheffield
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Peter - "Skip"=boycott to you? As a writer I'd think you'd understand the subtleties of semantics. If it's wrong for someone to choose whether they purchase something based on an informed opinion, what would you call that?



Would you buy something from a guy that outspokenly says "Peter David is a jerk" even if it was a compelling product? There are a lot of compelling products out there, and people have a choice of what to buy. People will buy or not based on their opinions, and deserve to know all the elements that inform that product. Some people research these on their own, some people need these elements brought to light. That is what is happening here, not a call to boycott. It would have been ok for people to "skip" buying these games regardless.



I feel that you are writing from a place of hurt feelings and financial worry, and not one of actual consideration of what's going on here. You are focusing on the boycott issue when that is not the main drive of the piece. The main point is to inform readers about what they may be supporting through purchasing this game.



I personally don't buy proctor & gamble products because of their politics and environmental standards. Ditto General Electric, and a host of other companies. I'm in the minority, sure, but I can choose what I spend my money on because of my opinions. I'm sure you don't intend to, but you seem to be suggesting that that's not right. That I should purchase things ignorant of their origins, or what they support. That is counter to the way I live my life, and the way I would hope others live - supporting things they believe in, and not supporting things that are counter to that. I would hope you would feel similarly.

Eric Carr
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@Brandon. So only 1 person on an entire team needs to have a viewpoint that you disagree with to not purchase something? P&G and GE are whole corporate groups, but Chair? Really?

Besides, OSC is anti-gay rights, and PAD is "straight but extremely gay-friendly" so is that a push then?

Gabriel Kabik
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Peter David: And let's face it: You're not upset about Card's opinions, unless you've made it your business to investigate where on the political spectrum the makers of "Halo" or "Tomb Raider" or "Grand Theft Auto" fall. You're upset that he EXPRESSED the opinions. And folks who are so quick to defend their "right" to do what they want (when that wasn't in question) are endeavoring to curtainl the rights of Card to say what's on his mind since the end game, I suspect, is indeed to try and stop people from hiring him. You want to make him pay a price for exercising those rights that you yourself feel should remain untrammeled...for yourself.



----------------



You're on to something here, I think - the complaint I sympathize with somewhat is just the notion that people who deliberately undertake boycotts in order to financially cripple someone associated with the product are psychologically predisposed towards censoring their opponents. They are. But that's not really why everyone participates in a boycott. I went into a lot of other reasons in my first post, so I won't repeat myself here and take up valuable conversational real estate, but needless to say I think that's kind of to the point of the original article that Christian has written here. He's really digging into the question of "what's the point?" and finding a varied set of answers. I think your approach seems to be pretty one-sided so far, in that you only see the downside to boycotts, when in fact boycotts have proven incredibly useful political tools in history. Indeed, this country may not even exist without the Boston Tea Party and the associated consumer activism that resulted from it.

Armando Marini
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Nice piece. Its complex and I'm sure complex topics will occur more often as the industry matures. In fact, I hope complex topics occur more as the industry matures.

Sean Milligan
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This doesn't have anything to do with defending the right to boycott. It's about whether or not personally refusing to purchase the game based on your tolerance of Card's drivel contains any substance -- and it does.



Calling for a massive boycott would be a lame, catty thing to do. Not wanting to buy a game because one of its contributors (however small) is in some way being funded by you personally is perfectly okay (and about as far off from inelegant and counter-productive as you can get). I can understand being angry because you invested a lot of hard time into creating the game, Peter, but do you really expect such a hot-button issue to turn into a "turn the other cheek" situation? Some people just don't want to support someone with such drastic opposing views, regardless of the quality of the game or his personal input. Some people want to know if their money goes to him in some way. If Chair licensed the universe with an up-front fee, that might be different, but where's the problem in saying "I am in no way supporting this person?"



I don't donate money to the KKK, advocates of torture, or dog-fighting organizations because I want to show that I'm a better person. Why would I donate money to someone who is so adamantly opposed to something that would not effect him? Speaking your opinion is one thing; spewing out garbage about mortal enemies and the "hypocrites of homsexuality" is another. Maybe if I could watch TV without hearing about the gathering storm of gays, I might be more open-minded about OSC.

Brandon Sheffield
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Eric - I would purchase a Chair game that did not give any money to OSC, if it were something I wanted to buy - but I wouldn't purchase something knowing that it does. Does that not make sense? It would be different if it was just "some guy" on the team that didn't like gay people. It's the fact that he's a huge and active proponent of this sort of agenda that makes it feel like something I wouldn't do. OSC isn't on the "team" either - I'm sure there are people making games that have viewpoints I disagree with, and that's just fine. I'd buy those games without batting an eye. But if a game were based on something written by L. Ron Hubbard, or Mitt Romney (not sure how that'd happen, but hey) and contributed money to their continued success, I wouldn't buy that either.

Gabriel Kabik
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Also I hate to point this out Peter but that part where you advocated that pro-gay rights supporters should buy the game BECAUSE Card is associated with it was meant as a sly joke, right? I mean, come on. You wrote the game. There's nothing wrong with wanting people to buy it. But that's just hilariously disingenuous thinking if you meant that seriously. If you were in fact joking, then it was just hilarious thinking.

Chris Remo
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Rather than not voting for the presidential candidate you don't support, let's show how much bigger we are by voting for him on a grand scale.

Marcus Montgomery
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Peter -



I believe I am understanding your position on boycotts, however it is a position that strikes fear and concern for me. You say that we need to start a debate, but what if you cannot bring the opposition to the table to have a civilized discussion? Where do people with no voice go to be heard?



Without the Montgomery Bus Boycotts or sit-ins across the South, where would African Americans be today? These acts of civil expression caused a change. Hitting people in their pocketbook tends to evoke a change and can open a dialogue that may not have been allowed previously.



Now, in reference to the article, there was no call to arms. I do not believe it tried to rally a boycott of the product, but it did try to inspire gamers...mature gamers... to think socially. Think beyond, "it's just a game". I would like to think we are more evolved than that.

Eric Carr
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@Brandon. That makes a kind of sense. They are your dollars. I just can't shake the feeling that people who are not involved would suffer a result of that kind of thinking on a large scale. I think that's what PAD is so adamant about, people not buying a product that he's done because of the views and actions of somebody else that also worked on it. He's effectivley collateral damage to a dispute that he has no real part in.

Ashley Schoeller
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It's an issue that can leave many people torn. I've am large advocate of free speech, and I think everyone has the right to it. Being such, if I don't support the speech of those saying thing I don't like I'm a hypocrite. I don't agree with OSC in the slightest. His viewpoints are extremist and absurd, but he still has the right to say them. And the educated consumer has the right to choose whether or not to purchase his work. However actively supporting someone whose viewpoints are bigoted does not inherently make someone "the bigger person." Financial ruin is not always the end result, some people just want to see that their support doesn't end up for a cause they don't agree with.



With that said, I think the article about the issue on Gaygamer was present in a mature and excellent fashion. I bought Shadow Complex, and enjoyed it, but I also donated to a same-sex marriage fund to show where my support truly lies.

Johnny Fowle
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The biggest issue at hand present in this entire discussion is that both sides appear circular in their logic.



Denying support of a product that gives an asset to a party whom you wish to give no business via boycott is seen as an outright cry against free speech. This is wrong; it violates constitutional rights and leads to more conflict, thus thus hatred ensues and perpetuates itself.



Supporting their products, not taking into consideration their political views (or even, acknowledging them and setting them aside for the sake of consumerism), makes it possible for aforementioned party/individual to continue advocating ideals that may be offensive to most, even the consumer. The consumer is vicariously responsible for any subsequent political acts the party in question performs.



My personal issue with this whole affair is that most do not realize that boycotts are only their most impactful when it is against a body and not an individual. I do not agree with Card's views in the slightest, but I've learned to seperate the man from the author. He has made a series of outlandish comments in regards to both homosexual rights and political activism, but those are not the segregation and Jim Crow laws of the United States' past. Events which needed a strong reaction from a body of people calling for change. Free speech, while it is painful to accept at all times, is just that: One's right to say what they wish at any given time. Painful, though his words may be, he has commit no heinous acts and is acting well within his rights. He is simply a man who receives a lot of press for his beliefs due to being prolific in other aspects of his life which ironically endorse acceptance.



There are alternatives to a boycott. A boycott is actually the last answer to this dilemma. We, as adults first and gamers second, simply must turn the other cheek.



That said, I'd like to thank you for the wonderful article, Christian.

Chris Pasley
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To me, this isn't about whether to boycott something or not. From my point of view, Chair decides to license an OSC property. Knowing the views OSC very publicly holds these days, I have to assume that, as with any work of art or fiction, the property in question will likely advocate the author's views, views I find to be bigoted and discriminatory. I don't want to play a game that espouses these views, so I'll take my money elsewhere, and let other people I know who share the same concerns what Shadow Complex might contain based on the source material.



That's not punitive. That's just choosing where to spend my money and spreading information.

Glenn O'Bannon
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"Further, the politics of the rest of the development team are not a matter of public record." Two comments about this:



1) That is as it should be. Who wants to lose a third of their potential audience because they have a political viewpoint? So you generally shouldn't take a public position as a company. It just makes good business sense.



2) As a 14-year veteran of the video game development industry, I have to say that every team that I have ever been a associated with had political and religious views across the entire spectrum. New employees ran the gamut as well as senior management. And yet every team was a close as can be and we accomplished great things. Should the sales of any game that I have made been affected because one particular person made their views known apart from the workplace (wherever they are in the hierarchy)? Of course not! Because one team member's political or religious views had nothing to do with the game we made.

Brandon Sheffield
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Eric - yeah, I totally see that. It's a tough issue, because for me, I wouldn't be involved in a project OSC had anything to do with. Not saying it's wrong for someone to do so, but for the same reason I wouldn't buy something that supports him, I wouldn't work on something he's involved in.



I don't want anyone to suffer as a result, but I have to stick up for my own convictions more than anything, as do we all.

Bob DeMaa
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A lot of people were involved with the development of this game. Unless we're taking a poll on every single one of their beliefs and ideologies ( and even then would I really care? ) then I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It took me 5 minutes into the demo to fall in love with this really well crafted piece of entertainment. Everyone involved needs to know that! Great Job!



I see no need to throw this on anyones pile of political agendas, despite the overwhelming need for everything in 2009 to be politicized and over intellectualized. Once you start down this road where does it stop? A boycott of a game involving hundreds of people based on one persons views is not the way to change peoples opinions or address policy.

Gabriel Kabik
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Johnny Fowle: Free speech, while it is painful to accept at all times, is just that: One's right to say what they wish at any given time. Painful, though his words may be, he has commit no heinous acts and is acting well within his rights. He is simply a man who receives a lot of press for his beliefs due to being prolific in other aspects of his life which ironically endorse acceptance.



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I don't really think this is a free speech issue though. No one is actually saying the guy should either have to stop supporting his political causes or be hounded into poverty and starvation. He chooses to make his money by creating products which by their very nature, have his personal stamp of opinion on them. The very world in question, Empire, is clearly based in his own political worldview. In short, in this case he is attempting to make his living off of selling his worldview to others in a palatable, narrative fashion. Of course he has every right to do so. That's not the question. The question is whether or not those who are not sympathetic to his worldviews should go around creating awareness of what his prospective buyers are going to be contributing to, and subsequently encouraging others with similar viewpoints not to support him. It's a lot more simple at its core than we're allowing it to be, really. Peter's allegations of "financial bloodying" aside, ultimately this is a question about how far one should go to express support for their cause, and whether or not that includes boycotting.

nathan vella
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@Bob DeMaa - you entirely missed the point both of this article, and the discussion. By a long mile even.

Luis Guimaraes
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Should we boycott GTA for having crime and related stuff as player actions? Boytcott Crysis, RE4 and 5, CoD:WW and some many more, under excuse of Xenophoby and all games with american protagonist and war themes because of George Bush's stupid actions?

Jay Martinez
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If we take a moment to think a bit more carefully about what we're doing by boycotting this game "in the name of equality", I think you'll realize that it's merely a further propagation of throwing personal ideologies at others - I say others, plural, because by boycotting the game you are carpet-bombing all of the hard-working staff and other non-involved parties hoping that OSC will feel the tremors of your own opposition.



I think its wonderful to have such passion for such a just cause (I'm a San Francisco resident myself, and a very strong proponent of gay rights), but there are much better ways of helping the cause without so much strong-handing! Peace and Love!

Gina Gross
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Great article Christian, and great debate among the replies - all I would add is that boycotting any product based solely on the idealogy of its creator is very personal, and thus very tricky. I could easily bring up the way women are continually represented in video games as reason to boycott certain studios and publishers.



Bottom line to me is when we buy or boycott for any reason other than the artwork itself - then the real looser is actually the art.

Chris Remo
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Peter,



I do wonder if you have called out Card's speech and tactics in the same way you have called out those here. Certainly, his statements about homosexuals and same-sex marriage are far more aggressive, insulting, and wide-reaching than the statements Christian has made in this article.



You mention defending unpopular speech, but Christian does not advocate limiting Card's right to say unpopular things. He does, however, say it is fair and within a consumer's rights to react to that speech in any legal way one sees fit, and I completely agree.

Joshua White
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I was not going to buy Shadow Complex because of Orson Card's horrible propaganda (http://www.ornery.org/), but now I think I won't buy it because of Peter David.



By not buying a game that has been marketed as being based off the writings of a bile-spewing bigot, I am apparently destroying free society, and passing out bloody noses. And to suggest I give money to people who will use that money to further repress minority groups is just insanity.

Kevin Smith
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You can't get all upset at Card and not have the same rage against our beloved savior president, B.O.



Remember that Obama actively campaigned for presidency stating that he was against gay marriage. too.



The hypocrisy of some of you is sickening.

Johnny Fowle
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@Gabriel



I'm all for creating awareness of content contained within a product, but it really does come down to how strongly you feel against the individual in question. I can admit to playing through Shadow Complex; it was gifted to me by a friend, and it is a very well constructed game. I am not very familiar with Chair Entertainment's work, but there is a fair amount of content in the game that should not go unrewarded.



Now, that said, I will say that the narrative I've seen thus far has been rather sparse and can indeed be taken at face value. Terrorists, conspiracy, squelch them, be a hero. I haven't seen anything as of yet that could be directly interpreted as pro-right-wing propaganda. And the truth is, I think it's a shame that Chair supposedly used the existing world of Empire to create the setting of Shadow Complex, because they probably would have been just as well off without it. Card's receipt of royalties from any purchases is the cherry on top of the sundae.



It really is nothing more than a simple moral decision of the lengths to which someone will go to create an awareness of his views and involvement in the game, but I think it's more damaging to the hard workers of Chair who produced this game to not buy something this finely crafted. The repercussions reaped against Card are rather minute by comparison. I stated the concept of free speech so heavily before because his words are ignorant, but not outright hatred calling for cleansing. If he was at the forefront of a movement, calling for more severe actions, then my stances would be different.



Personally, I'm in favor of donating a pittance to a LGBT charity to somewhat balance things.

Mark Nelson
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If the goal were actually to promote progressive politics rather than symbolism for progressive politics, I wonder if a game involving Orson Scott Card is really the place to focus attention, out of the landscape of contemporary big-studio games. Has OSC had a significant impact on politics? I would suspect not: his statements on gay rights are extreme enough that they could only possibly be preaching to the choir.



Have other game developers has larger impacts? I'd argue the answer is probably yes, but they're also generally popular developers. Given Will Wright's extensive monetary support of anti-progressive organizations, might Spore have been a better place to start boycotting?

Reid Kimball
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@Gabriel Kabik - I don't see how an artists' work can be separated from the artist, not if they're a true artist that expresses themselves with honesty and sincerity.



@Ryan Hibbeler said, "haven't seen anti-gay undertones in the game." Read below.



@Peter David - You wrote the game? Can you tell everyone why San Francisco is the city that is slated to be bombed/taken over by the enemy faction? OSC has said, "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."



For many radical right-wing and anti-gay activists their wet dream is to see San Francisco go up in flames. It is because of this one detail that I have decided not to buy the game because to me, it is ideologically aligned with OSC's views.



I've said this before when commenting on how dumb it was for Epic Games to kill all the rescued torture victims in GoW2. It says that torture victims can't be reintegrated into society and are better off dead. The games we make tell us a lot about the values and ideas we hold. I think this example of Epic, Chair and OSC's close associations needs to bring to light that as an industry we do need to make careful considerations on what our games say.

craig d. adams
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@Christian: Great article, respect.



@Peter & @Brandon & @Nathan & @Raigan & others: A reasonable discussion on a tricky issue = yes, bravo.



0.02$:



I thought Ender's Game was terrific & I really enjoyed The Dig by the old team at Lucasarts. I had zero clue about Orson Scott Card's unreasonable political activism until this controversy brought it to light today.



Orson Scott Card: wtf?



Controversy: thx!



Shadow Complex: sorry...



Super Metroid & Symphony of the Night: HELL YES.

Jeffrey Fleming
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If the game industry is serious about elevating the status and quality of its writers it will have be able to deal with situations like Shadow Complex in a way that is rational. Christian is very correct when he points out that, “the funny thing about narrative art; it can and does easily espouse ideologies.”



Good writers are complicated people who do not always conform to their audience’s expectations. Just as an example: Philip K. Dick was a sensitive, deeply humanist writer who spent much of his time in the liberal enclave of Berkeley, California. Dick didn’t have much in his bank account until the last years of his life but what extra money he had was donated to the anti-abortion cause. A cause that few people associate with liberalism.



It’s interesting that Card (who did not actually write Shadow Complex) could stir up this much agitation just by his association with the game. I’m worried that the game industry, which is already creatively and financially risk-averse, will look at this example and decide that writers with opinions are not worth the trouble.

Lorenzo Wang
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It's as much a right for you to boycott a game based on its creator's beliefs as it is the right for him to create by his beliefs. This is an excellent topic, but I think people need to take a look at themselves:



> Why don't we refuse to play games by all the people who we disagree with? Is it because they are unknown, and not Orson Scott Card? Or are we lazy and don't want to find out what they believe? Or can't find out and are morally ok with it as long as we stay ignorant?



> Why don't we consider the beliefs of the people who actually made the game? Or published it? Or who are selling it, thus becoming "enablers"? How many contributors to the massive operation of creating a game need to share that belief for us to decide who we're "supporting"?



> Why don't we consider the amount of the offending agenda/belief that is actually in the game? Many great contributions to technology and culture have come from intolerant but incredible pioneers, yet that doesn't negate the good they do.



Do you really believe boycotting has taught the offender the lesson you wanted, or wrought the justice you seek? Is it worth ignoring the other facets of their contributions, from which you could learn from, understand, and through that, perhaps even change? Is that any less of a convenient dehumanization than their beliefs?



Or is the satisfaction of being steadfast in your moral compass more important, as it is for the offender, whose moral compass also guides him to do great achievements that you have the right to disagree with?



The only good reason I can think of boycotting something is because it is crap. Even if the creator is someone I idolize entirely, letting his ideology influence my enjoyment of the game is a sad dishonesty to myself, and there is no moral high ground there. Play or don't play, but don't rationalize because the practicality of boycotts is not on your side.

Josh H
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I just find the idea ludicrous that there seems to be a healthy chunk of people who would refuse to buy a product that they have every interest in because of a disagreement with the personal beliefs of one of the people involved. Especially beliefs that are in no way reflected in said product. If that thinking was applied to every purchase one made (and the buyer had the ability to know the opinions of everybody involved in its production), then none of those people would ever buy anything again.



Of course now that I think about it, Jason spends the entire game chasing after his GIRLFRIEND; maybe there is a hidden subtext there. Or maybe people should just relax and agree that people have the right to believe in whatever they want, no matter how repugnant it might seem.

Amir Sharar
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I totally agree with the concept of divestment from entities or companies that financially support politically active people who seek to negatively affect the rights of others.



But Christian I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with you taking issue with people saying "it's just a game".



People often play videogames to escape reality and the stresses of life. People play to relax themselves, to challenge themselves, to simulate an experience they could never have in real life...videogames are a form of entertainment.



To criticize people who want to look at games as simply entertainment, it's something I cannot understand. I listen to political punk bands because to me the message is as important as the music. I would never criticize anyone for listening to Jay-Z solely because "the beat is sick".



In your article you don't explain why you are intolerant of that view. If the game espoused hate or homophobia I'd be in total agreement. But when a game is simply a fun experience and users want to view the product based on its own merits there is nothing at all wrong with that.



Personally I agree that these products are more than just entertainment, they are part of a business. But I am not going to deride anyone who doesn't see the business side of things, or people who choose not to.



I'm sure in your own case Christian, you wouldn't care if someone was a bigot or not. Do you own any Frank Miller comics or own a copy of "300"? It could be that his bigotry is a non-issue for yourself? If that's the case then obviously you're being hypocritical here.

Jr Hawkins
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I guess I sit among the "Don't judge a picture by its painter," group. If you start boycotting things based on employees beliefs you're probably going to stop buying things period. Anywhere you go you're likely to find somebody like Card, or somebody even worse. That's not to say Chair is made up of people like Card either. I'm sure homosexuals worked on this game, and Chair in no way discriminates against any group.



If the game was in someway anti-homosexual I'd could understand boycotting it, but the only connection I see between anti-homosexuality, and Shadow Complex is Card, and that's not enough of a connection to make me feel guilty at all.

Louis Varilias
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"If the game was in someway anti-homosexual I'd could understand boycotting it, but the only connection I see between anti-homosexuality, and Shadow Complex is Card, and that's not enough of a connection to make me feel guilty at all."



Critical thinking is useful. This essentially sums up everything that can be said. Again, Card is a writer, so providing him money as a result of his writing does not mean your money is supporting his anti-gay campaign. Boycotts are about money. If you don't know where the money is going, you're just making assumptions. Plus Card is a third party. A boycott is usually a DIRECT ACTION AGAINST the company producing a product. It's like boycotting my doctor so a pharmaceutical company doesn't get money; it's silly.

Josh H
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@Louis thank you. Usually monetary protests are against companies because of their business practices, not because of an employee or contractor. It's ridiculous to think that any money you spend on Shadow Complex is fueling anybody's political cause.

Jeff Beaudoin
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I agree that boycotting (and even choosing to personally not buy) SC is not a reasonable or effective way to accomplish your goal. Peter David and others have expressed why exactly this is the case.



The quote from Jr Hawkins that Louis referenced above is exactly correct.

Lo Pan
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Being one of 1,232 conservative republicans in California (outing myself), I say lets make the litmus test more stringent for boycotting games than someone who is anti-gay. In the US we are so fixated in being politically correct with the minority wanted to thought/opinion control the majority.



If a creative person had created a game or work as used as narrative that was a rapist, child molester, killers of gays, Jews, etc. THAT is a gravity and severity litmus test we should use for a boycott.



Thanks (insert your God here), we do not live in countries like China, Iraq, and Russia were this open debate is possible without repercussion.

Joseph Cassano
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As far as I can tell, Mr. Nutt was not advocating a boycott. He brought up the concept, yes, but in the end, he was merely saying (from what I got of it, anyhoo), "buy it or don't, for whatever reasons you choose". I'm glad conversation has sparked around this, but it's starting to get a tad out of hand. People have the right to not buy things regardless of their motivations. Hell, someone could decide not to buy the game because it has 3D visuals and 2D gameplay. Some could call that silly or what have you, but you can't put someone down for it.



Again, buy it or don't, for whatever reasons you choose.

Matt Hargett
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This is such a fantastic discussion, and it's great to see so many viewpoints coming into play. I would love to listen to a podcast of a moderated discussion between Christian and Peter.



I do agree with Peter about boycotting. But I also agree with GayGamer.NET's suggestion that if you buy the game, donate the same amount to a politically active gay organization like HRC, GLAAD, your local PFLAG chapter, or EqualityCalifornia. It's not a problem for me, personally, because I have a PS3 and no 360. If it did come out, was reasonably priced, and supplied native 1080p graphics and 24-bit audio, I would definitely purchase it. My husband and I already give quite a bit to many local and national pro-gay organizations, as well as donate our time.



It would be heartening for Epic to take a proactive stance and give some token percentage of profits to one of these organizations in response to this controversy. It would be even more heartening for people who are spending a lot of energy explaining why they aren't buying the game, or for a boycott, to each give a little time and/or money to the organizations that are out there actively fighting for equal rights.



To boycott the game and spend the time defending that action, while others actually are out there actively fighting for these rights, is lazy and inane at best. We can, and must, do better.

Patrick Klepek
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@Glenn O'Bannon Game developers and publishers should not be required to disclose their personal viewpoints, but at the point where someone chooses to take that course of action, it's fair game for people to respond to those comments. For many, it's impossible to separate the artist from the art and given the specific nature and toxicity of OSC's comments and his public status, it makes his decision to express such viewpoints, thus exposing himself to criticism, that much harder to ignore.

Jason Gage
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-- What's the end game here? To try and send a message to as many sources as possible that if they hire Orson Scott Card to work for them, they're going to take a financial hit?



That seems obvious enough not to be necessary to state.



-- To put Card out of business?



Or to convince him to change his ways.



-- To make sure that someone is going to face financial ruin because he has opinions that differ from yours?



He is an intolerant, delusional bigot. That is not a difference of opinion. It was not "intolerance" to refuse trade with South Africa because of Apartheid. It would not be "intolerance" to refuse trade with slavers. It is not "intolerance" to refuse trade with those who do not treat their workers humanely or pay them reasonable wages. It is not "intolerance" to refuse to do business with those whom you disagree. It was not "intolerance" to vote against Proposition 8. It is not "intolerance" to stop doing business with shops that displayed pro Proposition 8 propaganda.



It is "voting with your wallet". It is "the invisible hand of the market" at work.



It is *capitalism*.

Ernest Adams
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I respect true artistry whoever creates it. Richard Wagner was horribly anti-semitic; his music is divine. Pablo Picasso treated women horribly; his paintings are world-shaking. Christians say "love the sinner, hate the sin" and I say "admire the talent, hate the attitudes."



Orson Scott Card has no artistry to speak of, so I see no conflict. I only read one book of his, which I found banal, and chose not to waste any more of my limited lifespan on him.

Lorenzo Wang
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@Jason Gage



I doubt that your wallet vote is going to hurt Mr. Card more than his benign game developers. Capitalism is not "voting with your wallet" and no one is going to visit financial ruin onto him by boycottingt. Besides, why invent so much power for him? Perhaps the money you spend on promoting a game made with heart and soul goes a lot farther for the industry and the audience than the pennies of royalty Mr. Card probably doesn't need. Research has shown that the "invisible hand" is often inefficient, and if you want to eat your utilitarianist heart out, support good developers and forget an irrelevant bigot's opinions.

Jason Gage
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@Lorenzo Wang



I chose long ago not buy any of his books, I can't not buy anything from him more than I do now. I am undecided on the game, as it is only tangentially his work, and an equivalent donation to PFLAG or the NGLTF of the price of the game would benefit them proportionately more than a non-purchase would not help Card.



What I take issue with is the *literal* equation of passive, nonviolent resistance with the initiation of force. What I take issue with is the assertion that a person stating their decision and encouraging others to make the same decision is, in itself, somehow immoral. Mr. David would not make the same argument if the decision expressed were, "This game is awesome, you should buy it!" or "Purchasing this game helps feed starving children, you should buy it!" It is only because the opinion expressed was that choosing to not purchase something because of non-intrinsic characteristics is acceptable that Mr. David balks.



It is literally the same as saying that suggesting people not purchase coffee that is not "free trade" is "intolerance".

It is literally the same as saying that suggesting people not purchase clothing made by sweatshops is "intolerance".



We continually make evaluations of non-intrinsic characteristics, and it is only personal involvement that has created the cognitive dissonance necessary to internally frame the non-act of not purchasing something as a threat and an act of force.



Not that it is material, but I do not style myself a utilitarian. I find it unlikely that I would bother with the discussion of such ancillary relationships.



I wish more that it were easy to demonstrate to ChAIR that a purchase of this game might be *in spite* of Card's involvement, which is different than *because of*, and different again from simple ignorance.

Ernest Adams
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Incidentally, to Kevin Smith -- it is not "hypocrisy" to refuse to be a single-issue voter, nor is it "hypocrisy" to appreciate the difference between one attitude and another. Card asserts that the government of Iowa is his enemy and he will seek to destroy it. Obama says no such thing; I'm not entirely sure of his stance on gay marriage but I am certain that it is not the same as Card's. I can vote for Obama in spite of certain disagreements with him without being a hypocrite because I recognize that my ideal candidate does not exist.



If you want to know why the Republican Party has been reduced to near-irrelevancy, you need look no farther than their utter inability to tolerate diversity of opinion. If you're not anti-abortion AND anti-immigration AND anti-healthcare-reform AND anti-union AND anti-affirmative-action AND anti-gun-control AND anti-evolution, etc. ad nauseam, you're not welcome; any deviation gets you ostracized as a pantywaist unAmerican unChristian terrorist sympathizer. The only candidate the GOP was capable of fielding in the last election who had a chance of reaching the center was one who claimed to be a maverick within the party, and as a result he lost the GOP base despite his desperate veering to the right when things began to go belly-up. When I saw McCain -- John McCain, who endured unimaginable horrors in Viet Nam -- endorsing torture towards the end in an effort to salvage his campaign, I could have wept.

Wyatt Epp
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I think that, rather than boycotting Shadow Complex, people against Orson Card's political views should write slash fanfiction with his characters. That'll show 'im.

Ernest Adams
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To Ashley Schoeller: Never, never confuse your legitimate disagreement with what someone else says and censorship -- and do not allow anyone to play the "free speech" card when you publicly disagree with what someone else has said. Your freedom of speech is exactly equal to theirs. So long as you don't call for forcible government suppression of people you disagree with, you are NOT calling for limitations on free speech. You are simply disagreeing.



To put it more simply: "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death for my right to call you an idiot for saying it!"

Jeremy Alessi
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Great article Christian! We are growing up and our decisions about what games to develop and how to go about developing them are important. People should always have to right to support or reject that which they choose, I agree. More importantly though, I hope people realize that nothing's "just a game". Actions have reactions and sometimes tracing the origins of a reaction is complex indeed.

Lorenzo Wang
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@Jason Gage



Completely agree with you on that point, I was speaking more generally about the "vote with your wallet" comment not being a 1:1 panacea. I would also love to see a better way to demonstrate to Chair a more targeted support... I think the only solution to that is to continue to buy their games in the future, Card or not, so long as they keep up the great work.

Jason Gage
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@Jeremy Alessi -- "More importantly though, I hope people realize that nothing's "just a game"."



Amazing Grace is "just a song".

1984 is "just a book".

Guernica is "just a painting".

Triumph of The Will is "just a movie".

Braid is "just a game".

Michael Wenk
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Sorry, It is just a game.



Some people just want to play. I already spend enough hours in the day thinking about politics, I don't need to be spending my recreation time on it as well. Its not being naive, it's making a carefully considered choice, the choice that I want my recreation time to not be marred by anything other than the quality of that recreation.

Patrick Klepek
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I don't want to speak for him, but I doubt Christian is against people who don't intend or don't care to analyze Shadow Complex and its connections to OSC. If he or anyone else chooses to raise that issue and bring it under debate, however, such opinions shouldn't be suppressed with the casual reaction of "Dude, it's just a game." To outright dismiss such criticisms, whether you agree with them or not, whether you care about them or note, is woefully inappropriate and undermines the medium. How you chose -- or chose not -- to discuss, interact or respond to the game is entirely your call.

Matthew Cesca
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I actually just signed up to this sight specifically to comment on this article.



@Christian: I wish you and your boyfriend all the best. Your right to happiness should not be limited based on the preconceived notions of the small minded.



I'm a straight married man, but I tend to lean to the left on social issues. I personally don't understand people like Orson Scott Card and their positions on gay rights in general. I see Anti-Same Sex Laws as being akin to modern day Jim Crow Laws. These are usually the same people who tend to expound upon the virtues of religion in politics as well, yet it seems to me that they often forget about most of Christ's message of acceptance when they do so. I find this sad.



As for Shadow Complex: It is a fantastic game, there's no doubt about it. I admittedly was not aware of Card's political viewpoints before I made my purchase. While I believe that "gay rights" actually falls under "human rights," as someone who is straight it's not one of the political issues I consider regularly, so I doubt it would have effected my own purchasing decision. But I completely understand anyone who would boycott this game over Card's views.

Danny Day
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Hang on a second... Why is it always the negative perception that should be rewarded instead of the positive?



I can fully understand Peter David's point of view here: For him this whole thing reads "Pro-gay-rights author gets shafted by gay-rights activists being cocks about some dick who says stupid stuff."



If OSC had publicly stated that Shadow Complex was furthering an anti-same-sex-marriage agenda and the game had been funded expressly for that purpose by NOM, fine boycott away. However, I don't see how people who do no harm should suffer more financial damage than OSC - because the truth of the matter is that OSC's already been paid his licensing fee, which is quite probably the lion's share of his revenues from Shadow Complex, it's very doubtful that he makes extensive royalties. He certainly doesn't make anything NEAR what the developers make.



I can't condone the idea of creating disproportionate harm to people not involved in a message, just to damage a particular target they're loosely associated with. That doesn't sit well with me. If you're not buying Shadow Complex based solely on this issue, know that you're not having a net positive impact. Which is the point I believe Peter David was trying to make, impassioned as it may have been.

Jeremy Alessi
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@ Michael



To say it's just a game is to toss aside the circumstances upon which the game was developed. For you it's only a game, for Card it's a tool to further beliefs, and for Christian it's an opponent's resource. Having the "it's just a" attitude spits in the face of education and responsibility. By reading this article you've been made aware of the fact that it's more than a game to some people. What you choose to do with that is your choice but real people are affected by your purchase decisions whether you're buying corn-fed beef or a game.

Peter David
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"Would you buy something from a guy that outspokenly says "Peter David is a jerk" even if it was a compelling product?"



Absolutely. Case in point: I regularly buy the work of John Byrne who has called me a jerk and worse, and he's been doing it for years.



Because I always--always--separate the creative product from the creator.



PAD

David Lawson
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I don't buy Orson Scott Card novels that advocate intolerance. I don't buy *anyone's* novel if the novel in question advocates intolerance. If Shadow Complex also advocated intolerance, I would choose not to buy it, regardless of other qualities of the game. If you care to call that a boycott and perhaps disapprove of that decision, that's your business. I will continue this personal policy of voting with my dollars.



A point and a refinement of that point should be made, though.



First, if a creator who espouses an opinion that leaves me horrified produces a work that does *not* offend me, I would likely purchase a copy of that work if it otherwise met my criteria for purchase. Does this in some small way encourage the creator to keep his personal opinions out of his work? Maybe. Regardless, they are entitiled to their opinion, even if it leaves me feeling dirty for having heard it or just thinking they're stupid.



Refining this point, if Shadow Complex does not advocate intolerance (and I'll be conducting further research on this point), then I actually like the idea that it subverts the world of the novels, allowing enjoyment of the setting divorced from the agenda of the original creator.

K Gadd
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@Reid Kimball - Virtually all of the major plot elements you speak of have origins in Empire, the Card novel the game is based on. While I'm not certain San Francisco itself is a part of the novel (not having read the novel, since I'm not much of a Card fan), most of the other elements definitely are - reading up on it will make this clear.



It seems like you're confusing Peter's role here - he is not the sole creator of the game's narrative, so it's unfair to assign him responsibility for every single element. It also seems rather unfair to attempt to read so much deep meaning into elements that would be at home in almost any conflict-oriented video game - if Modern Warfare 2 featured Islamic radicals of American origin trying to blow up San Francisco, would you interpret that as Infinity Ward expressing their deeply seated homophobia? I hope not.



@Jeremy Alessi - It seems rather odd to assume that Shadow Complex is viewed this way by Card and Christian. Why not argue on the more concrete aspects of the issue?



Overall I think an important point already made in this discussion is worth restating: Boycotts are only one tool in the political toolbox that activists have at their disposal for changing the way the world is. It's rather unwise to leap to a boycott as your first option without considering the consequences of a successful boycott - especially in this case, where it's clear that many of the involved parties are completely innocent in the issue.



There are many other routes that could be taken successfully for addressing this issue, and in this case it seems like the only thing that has been done other than suggest a boycott is to rant about the issue in blogs and forums. While I can appreciate the intelligence and depth of Christian's analysis, I find one of Peter's complaints especially troubling - that in this wide discussion, the team behind the game have had little opportunity to share their actual views on the issue, despite the fact that any boycott would harm them more than it harms Card.

Peter David
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"Also I hate to point this out Peter but that part where you advocated that pro-gay rights supporters should buy the game BECAUSE Card is associated with it was meant as a sly joke, right?"



You'll notice I didn't mention the game or Card when I said that. I was talking in general.



Years ago, when Neil Gaiman was in school, he had this one teacher who hated him. Just hated him. Got on him about everything. And Neil finally came up with a strategy: Rather than argue with him, he proceeded to kill him with kindness. He was unfailingly, relentlessly, over-the-top polite. It made the teacher nuts. It all came to a head one day when Neil said something like, "That's a lovely tie you have on today, sir." The teacher said, "Right, that's it!" He dragged Neil to the headmaster and started howling about Neil's behavior. The headmaster said, "Gaiman, what did you say to him?" Neil said, "I said, 'That's a lovely tie you have on today, sir.'" "SEE!" howled the teacher, "I TOLD YOU!" The headmaster stared at Neil, stared at the teacher, then looked back to Neil and said quietly, "That will be all, Gaiman." Next day the teacher was gone.



It's called thinking outside the box. Killing with kindness. Do I really expect people to abandon boycotts and try another approach? No. Why abandon a strategy so effective that it fails to have a significant impact the vast majority of the time?



By all means, everyone should advocate boycotts. Do the same old thing that people have been doing for years. The approach that hurts people with whom you have no quarrel and just reinforces the opinions of the people who are the real targets that their attackers are vengeful jerks.



In this case: Is it going to hurt me? Not in the least. I've got plenty of other irons in the fire. I'm fine, thanks. Will it hurt Card? Nope. He's likewise doing just fine. Who will you hurt? Well...possibly Don and Laura Mustard, a great couple of kids who poured her heart and soul and best efforts into a game that has drawn unilaterally rave reviews across the board. Who knows? Maybe you'll beat the odds. Maybe the boycott will actually be effective and terminally cripple their company so they can't put out more games that receive rave reviews, thus punishing not only Don and Laura, but every enthused gamer who enjoyed the hell out of "Shadow Complex" because they can't play the sequel.



All to prove...what? That you think Orson Scott Card is an asshole?



I think the words of Pogo might be appropriate: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."



PAD

Ben Hanks
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You people kill me. I just can't get over the liberal hypocracy here. All I hear here is cries of intolerance. Since the definition of tolerance is accepting the beliefs of others, that pretty much rules most of you out. That's right, calling OSC intolerant is itself intolerant. Like it or not you have to totally accept his beliefs as completely valid just as much as he must accept yours. The bottom line is you just don't like his beliefs and so what he believes is, what is that again, intolerant? That is BS and if you are honest you will agree.

Sean Milligan
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Calling any government that would propose a modification to a term that is separate from the church your mortal enemy isn't a belief, Ben. I don't think you really understand what hypocrisy is... or tolerance, or beliefs. Actually, you should probably take a class on reading comprehension or something.



I also don't really get how the whole Neil Gaiman namedrop applies in this situation, since killing someone with kindness is getting under someone's skin by essentially mocking them right to their face. You don't kill someone with kindness by going out and buying them a new tie. On the lighter side of things, Peter I heard you have a most exquisite collection of sour grapes and I would be interested in tasting some if you can ever take a break from all your hard work fighting the good fight for homosexuals. My pal Jim Lee told me. Do you know Jim Lee?

Ben Hanks
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Hilarious! On the contrary everything boils down to beliefs. There is no way to prove anything absolutely. I suggest you take a class in philosophy or something. Let me lay it out for you.



Intolerant - "accepting of the beliefs, actions, etc., of other people" thefreedictionary.com



"Hypocrisy is the act of condemning or calling for the condemnation of another person when the critic is guilty of the act for which he demands that the accused be condemned." thefreedictionary.com



"Belief is the psychological state in which an individual is convinced of the truth or validity of a proposition or premise (argument)." thefreedictionary.com



There you go. Let's see how your reading comprehension fares.

K Gadd
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Sean Milligan: I don't see why you think it's appropriate to start bringing ad hominem attacks into this discussion. Why even bother posting if you're just going to try and stir up additional drama? This topic already has plenty.

Trent Polack
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Of all the things I've read in this comments thread, the one thing that annoys me is this:



"The issue of whether someone should buy "Shadow Complex" should boil down to one thing and one thing only: Is it an exciting game that will give you your money's worth?"



Coming from the writer of a game, I'm kind of dismayed to see the opinion boil down to: is this game exciting? When Shadow Complex has brought up this superb topic, good discussion, and all that, the game's writer focuses on whether or not the game is 'exciting.' I'd expect a somewhat better discussion from such a person.



But, really, so what if people don't buy the game because of its association with Orson Scott Card? The amount of people who don't buy Shadow Complex because of that is going to be minimal. Why would you rage out over that? Why, Peter, would you choose to "attack" (I am using this term loosely) the people that do that instead of providing actual, positive discussion from someone who is as informed about the game, the game's development, and the game's influences? The first couple of paragraphs of your contribution to this thread publicly lamented not being contacted about this story. Clearly that's more important than addressing the actual subject matter and why people should or shouldn't focus on Card's involvement in Shadow Complex.



And even if Christian was demanding people boycott Shadow Complex (which he is absolutely not doing), I respect people who stick to their guns on that front. Similarly, I also respect people who would buy the game and put some money towards some charitable organization in a noble attempt to "make right" whatever proceeds would go to Card. Card's views may not represent a single person at Chair, but when partnering with someone who has been incredibly outspoken about his political views, it seems naive to think such a thing would not leave a sour taste in people's mouths. I'm actually glad to see some controversy around this whole topic; I'm glad to see gamers take some stand regarding the content and thematic matter of a game.



Addressing the whole intolerance nonsense, here's a quote I found from Orson Scott Card (http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-hypocrites.html) elsewhere earlier today:

"Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those whoflagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society."



That seems pretty intolerant to me and the act of saying that's a rather intolerant attitude does not, in fact, make me an intolerant person. When someone suggests that a person's reasonable beliefs make them a less acceptable member of society, that's intolerant.

James Margaris
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[quote]

How refreshing would it be for a massive call that said, "Instead of having a boycott, let's support this person financially because we want to show that we're bigger and better and more tolerant and more accepting than he is, and our business is with the type of material he produces rather than his opinions. [/quote]



This seems to imply that the more I point out how silly the above is the more money Peter David will send me. (I'm more than willing to test this theory - though Remo deserves first dibs)



The "type of material" that Card produces is known as "garbage." Not just his personal rants but his fiction. If anyone wants to support the arts the last thing they should do is give money to Card. You'd be better off turning your dollars into fashionable green hats or paying 5000 monkeys to bang away.



Empire is largely about Card expressing his personal beliefs though cyphers. I guess we can pretend that Empire is a thoughtful and brilliant masterpiece and that Card's politics are some carefully siloed other aspect of his life but the reality is closer to David Duke writing a book in which scientists discover that whites are the superior race then winning a brutal race war, conquering the galaxy and reviving slavery. It's not just offensive, it's offensively dumb, transparent partisan hackery.



Here's the second chapter of Empire: http://www.hatrack.com/osc/books/empire/empire_02.shtml



Note two things:



1. The characters and plot exist only to express Card's own political beliefs.



2. It's stunningly awful.



If you disregard that Card is a nasty person and that his book is political propaganda there is also the simple truth that it is awful literature. That alone should make any developer think twice about using it as the basis for a game.

James Margaris
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Damn you quote tags!

Ryan Lowy
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I don't agree with OSC's political views. Nor do I think the other people associated with this game should be impacted by a boycott of a single person associated with the game. People have worked hard to make this game, and they should be paid accordingly. As has been pointed out: supporting Shadow Complex indirectly supports OSC, and thus, his political views. We must then ask ourselves: is it right to punish everyone associated with this game simply to deny one man a royalty? I do not believe so. Fortunately I do not have to make a decision as I do not own a 360.



@Ben Hanks: There is a difference between intolerance and disagreement. Disagreement is a personal opinion. You may debate with other viewpoints, maybe with the intent to change someone's mind, but never out of anger or hate.



Intolerance however embraces both anger and hate. Intolerance is disagreement taken to such extremes that it is not the idea you hate, but the person who holds it. Orson Scott Card has expressed his hate and disgust at homosexual relationships. Many disagree, and as a way to make their disagreement known, since he is not likely to debate in a public forum such as this, they have chosen to boycott the game.



To call it hypocrisy is inaccurate.







For those who claim that "it is just a game", and for those who claim it's no: You're both right. For those who are capable of appreciating something for what it does or tries to do, it is no longer a game, but a medium for a larger message. Anyone who either does not know of the issues, or does not care, understands Shadow Complex as "just a game". Just as art can be interpreted in many different ways, games can be interpreted, or not interpreted, in just as many. An adult can understand Animal Farm for the allegory of the Russian Revolution. A child will think it a story of farm animals unless it is explained to him.

Chris Pasley
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@ Peter David

"It's called thinking outside the box. Killing with kindness. Do I really expect people to abandon boycotts and try another approach? No. Why abandon a strategy so effective that it fails to have a significant impact the vast majority of the time?"



That is completely ridiculous. So in the 1960s you would have advocated that people sympathetic to the Civil Rights should just be overwhelmingly polite in the face of bigotry and human rights inequality? Polite speech is filtered, parsed and ignored by the national gestalt. Uncle Tomming your way to equality is an absolute dead end. It does nothing to further the debate on the subject, and creates the sense that the subject at hand is not all that important. And boycotts have had an impact, in spite of the fact that they often fail -- the rampant advertiser's boycott of Glenn Beck these past two weeks has done more for intelligent, factual discourse in the media than a thousand "well I guess we'll agree to disagree"s.



"In this case: Is it going to hurt me? Not in the least. I've got plenty of other irons in the fire. I'm fine, thanks. Will it hurt Card? Nope. He's likewise doing just fine. Who will you hurt? Well...possibly Don and Laura Mustard, a great couple of kids who poured her heart and soul and best efforts into a game that has drawn unilaterally rave reviews across the board. Who knows? Maybe you'll beat the odds. Maybe the boycott will actually be effective and terminally cripple their company so they can't put out more games that receive rave reviews, thus punishing not only Don and Laura, but every enthused gamer who enjoyed the hell out of "Shadow Complex" because they can't play the sequel."



If it hurts the developers, that's lamentable, but it's a poor craftsman who ignores what it is his or her customers want and blames the customer's taste for their failing. If people boycott the game it's because it represents something they don't want. So next time, perhaps they'll ask themselves if licensing a property created by a vehement advocate for the denial of equal rights and the subjugation of an entire class of people is the wisest business move. They made their choice, and it's our choice if we want to buy it or not based on whatever factors we find to be important.



I was not boycotting the game per se, as I said above, but your rhetoric against people buying their conscience has further convinced me that I don't need to play this game.

Erin Burke
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@Ben Hanks - Your definition of tolerance is ridiculous, and it's one that's most often trotted out to defend bigotry. Tolerance does not mean that we are required to treat all ideas as equally valid. It's self-evidently silly. "Well, I WOULD say racism is bad, but I can't, because I'm so tolerant!"



As for the boycott argument: I struggle with this sometimes, I admit. However, I can't really buy the censorship angle. No one has a moral obligation to buy a luxury good. "Buying" and "not buying" are morally-neutral outcomes. Likewise, no one has an obligation to subsidise speech that is harmful to them. I know someone is going to bring up some slippery-slope argument about the evils this could lead to if taken to extremes, but you know what? When there are actual people being harmed on a daily basis, the potential evils of some hypothetical dystopia aren't all that interesting to me.



The question is, I guess: I am able to factor in a bunch of different criteria when I buy something. Why should I, all other things being equal, buy something that will give money to someone who uses his fame to actively work against me and donates money regularly to those who do the same?

Chris Day
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I think the main issue we should remember here is, as Peter David pointed out, a boycott is not an example of free speech. A boycott is a political action which seeks to achieve a specific end. This is not to say that it should never be used, but I think people often view a boycott as a way to express themselves.



I’ve got to ask with this boycott; what is the desired end?



I think it is useful to draw an analogy to international sanctions. Sanctions are (ideally) used as by the international community as way of coercing other nations into acting in a certain way. Think of the economic sanctions against South Africa during apartheid, the aim was to force South Africa to change it’s ways. The problem arises when situations arise where it becomes clear that dictators will ignore the sanctions and they will only end up hurting the citizens who are already in a horrendous situation. Here (again ideally) the international community decides that sanctions are not justified as they are unable to weaken the regime.



As Peter David has said, there is no way that this boycott will hurt Card. The only people it will hurt are the other people who were involved with the game.



Anyone who supports a boycott should be very clear that they are involved in a political action and so should be able to clearly define what their aims are.

Ernest Adams
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To Ben Hanks: Liberal tolerance does not extend to tolerance of EVERYTHING. Liberals are intolerant of despotism and authoritarianism. They are intolerant of presidents who violate the law in the name of "national security." They are intolerant of chopping off little girls' clitorises with a broken bottle in the name of "modesty" or "family honor."



Orson Scott Card is Bull Connor by another name. Liberals do not show intolerance in disagreeing with him; even though he seeks to repress others, they do not seek to repress him. They simply seek to point out how very, very wrong he is, and to persuade others to ignore him and his products.

Will H
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Hey, so what is a "gay gamer" anyway? Is it someone who is VERY happy about playing their videogames? Someone who thoroughly enjoys challenging RPGs? A person who gets REALLY excited when a highly anticipated game is released? I don't know. It all seems very silly to me.

Ben Hanks
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@Chris Day Erin Burke and Ryan Lowry. The definition of tolerance I cited was not mine but the dictionary. If you disagree please show me an "official" definition that proves your point. Otherwise, don't waste my time with your personal opinions. Based on how the dictionary defines "tolerant" you are logically required to accept ALL beliefs and actions of others irrespective of whether you agree with them or not. The dictionary does not add any qualifiers and exclude homophobes and bigots from being people you have to tolerate.



The bottome line is you simply are using the word incorrectly. It is actually ok to be intolerant if you feel and injustice or a moral wrong is being committed. This is of course, if you are honest, what you are attempting to do here.



@ Ryan Lowry. Sorry dude. Please look up the definition of hypocricy for yourself. To claim to be tolerant of all views and opinions and then not tolerate those you dislike or disagree with is hypocrisy my friend.

Ben Hanks
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@ Ernest Adams. So, I guess I was right, Liberals are intolerant.

Will H
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Agreed, Ben

Will H
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@ Ernest Adams: "Christians say "love the sinner, hate the sin" and I say "admire the talent, hate the attitudes." Even though many people use that line about "love the sinner, hate the sin" according to the bible, there is no seperation of the sin from the sinner. I hear what you were saying though in terms of seperating the artist from the art, etc.

Will H
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I think that it's great that Orson Scott Card is on the National Organization for Marriage. If you personally choose not to buy his works because he stands for one man/one woman marriage, I think that's your beef. There are certain things that I don't purchase if I know that the originator of the item is against my moral beliefs. I think that Brad Pitt is a good actor, but I won't pay money to see his films.



The only thing is that everyone propably has something in their house that was made by someone whom they disagree with. It is very hard not to. I also think of the people who have nothing to do with that persons personal beliefs and are just trying to feed their family. With that, I myself won't support it, but I won't organize a national boycott of their items, either.

Tyrone Henrie
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I agree with Peter David in that I don't know if boycotting is the appropriate response. If you want to change someone's viewpoint, I would think there are better ways to accomplish such a task than to point to someone and say "I disagree with you!"



In trying to understand and address this issue, I wanted develop a sense empathy with the opposing view. At first I couldn't see the big deal until I put myself in the shoes of those whose views I don't share.



I am a Mormon and in saying so I feel vulnerable to discrimination, especially in the games industry. There is no shortage of ignorance and intolerance sent our direction when someone disagrees with our way of life. I have questioned pursuing a career in gaming many times because of this fact. I don't share Orson Scott Card's views on gay rights, in fact I think that legislation has no place telling someone who can and can't marry.



Now, if there was an amazing new game to come out that was related to a person that was extremely Anti-Mormon, yes I would have to think twice about picking the game up. That, to me, is a personal choice. When you speak of boycott you speak of organizing yourselves in order to intimidate and coerce. Why not take it one step further and picket outside of OSC's residence? Why not take it further and riot in the streets?



I have nothing, absolutely nothing against those who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle. When the whole Prop 8 debacle occurred there were gay rights activists in the streets picketing in front of Mormon temples, the only thing those images did for me personally was create fear. When they come to organize themselves and point fingers and scream "Shame on you!" it was as if they wanted to be my enemy even when I wanted them to have the same rights as I do in the first place. I can speak for myself that targeting those who disagree with you and reacting in such a manner does not breed tolerance but the opposite.



Perhaps they should be picketing in front of the White House because Prop 8 was not about gay rights, it was about our constitutional right to vote. Giving people the chance to vote on such a right simply comes down to the math of number of people voting for A vs B. Again, I don't think that gay rights should be up for vote, they are rights and should be had by all.



Like it or not, we are all so intertwined and dependent on each other that you can't avoid being affected by those who don't share your beliefs. I work at a company where we run a dating website specifically for Christians. Though we consider ourselves Christian, the "mainstream" Christians do not. This very issue has come up and they have had to make the decision to use our services or go elsewhere based on beliefs. We also provide a dating website for black people, and there isn't a black person in our office. Does that mean we shouldn't provide the service, or be patronized by those who are *gasp* different from "us"?



If indeed we desire equality and tolerance for all, to me its a simple to see that in a civilized world, punitive actions such as boycotting, picketing and rioting aren't necessary and perhaps aren't beneficial.



If you want to change Orson Scott Card's mind, write him a letter. In the end it's still up to him to change his mind.

Mike Buskovitz
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@ Peter David

I see a great sense of optimism in your comments here. Your viewpoints are honestly ones that I wish I shared. It would be a great day if "killing with kindness" was enough and punitive actions such as boycotts didn't accomplish anything but history has refuted that repeatedly time and time again. The list of momentous world changes brought about or aided in part by financial pressures is substantial from the ending of apartheid to desegregation and so on. I don't know where one can perceive the notion that a properly orchestrated boycott has ever proven ineffective. I guess what I'm asking is: to what do you refer to when you say that they often don't work? What serious boycotts are you talking about when you label the practice this way?



Boycotting is a tenet of nonviolent resistance as espoused by Ghandi himself. And yet you've equated it to an act of violence and this is troubling to me. Has the right to expect others to purchase one's product entered into the inalienable rights that we all hold self-evident? What basic human right am I infringing on by actively choosing to not purchase someone's product?



I've come to believe that those who would denounce boycotts unequivocally are those who need them the least. And I see a parallel there with a just war. You referred to yourself as an "outspoken supporter of gay causes." How far would you take that? Would you deprive yourself of a percentage of your own income, reduce your livelihood? Would you seek to financially pressure certain individuals who aimed to persecute and demonize homosexuals? Would you do so even though innocent people may get financially hurt in the process? Would you go to war? Would you kill someone so that homosexuals could marry?



Tough questions to answer for everyone who supports gay rights. None of those things are anything anyone would like to do. I'd rather not engage in boycotts or stand up to bullies because I like to play video games and I'm a coward but, if it's over something important enough, I'd like to think I'd overcome my weaknesses and do the right thing. A boycott is an unpleasant action taken out of desperation by a minority voice because they've been marginalized. No supporter of homosexual rights wants to hurt Chair or Card's family but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty to get something done. I'm not going to argue that they're in some way a completely moral act or an example of taking the high road. It's an act of defiance against the status quo of a repressive society and any defiant act is going to be inherently transgressive or else it has no meaning. Is it disconcerting to anyone else that the most transgressive yet nonviolent act in our consumer driven culture is to not buy something?



I see that someone tried to gamely turn the argument about to get you to say "Oh no, I wouldn't buy a book by someone that called me a jerk" and invalidate your position. It proved far too easy to dismiss given your considerable talent at the art of argument. It is easy for someone as confident as yourself to ignore something so petty. I would posit more pertinent questions like would you buy a book that financed a campaign to make public false accusations about the promiscuity of your wife? Or how bout one that put forth the notion that certain races were sub-human and deserved to be put to death for the greater good of all? Can you in good conscience buy such products and see your money funneled in such ways? I often ascribe to a heightened form of moral relativism myself but that seems almost nihilistic. I understand the need to be entertained but surely one can find something else to preoccupy one's time.



I say the following to the discussion as a whole: let us not fool ourselves into thinking that Chair Entertainment is somehow an innocent in all of this. A substantial benefit to the usage of Card's Empire source material is the affixing of the author's name to this work. They are using it for marketing purposes and thus they have to deal with the positive and negative baggage that carries with it. And either they didn't know he had controversial views because they didn't properly vet his potential PR impact (an understandable mistake of a fledgling company) or they knew and they didn't feel it would make a sizable dent in their profits. Either way, let's not cast the developers as angelic cherubs under siege by the forces of the homosexual agenda. This is a risk you always take on when you license material from others.



In the interests of full disclosure, I already purchased Shadow Complex prior to reading this discussion although I did, on my own, weigh the merits of my purchase decision in regards to Card's beliefs and the overall moral impact my choice would make. As a derivative product, I saw little harm in making the purchase and continue to do so. The narrative is decidedly lacking in any substantial political subtext and seems as genuinely thoughtless as that of most video games only making any salient points one way or the other by virtue of blind luck or happy accident. And Card's financial benefit from the game is reduced to a point where a boycott is overreaching. It has neither the social or fiscal impact to be worthy of pursuit. We would be doing more harm than good in this particular case. One must make wise decisions when choosing one's battlefields. Conversely, I don't expect to ever buy one of Card's books in the future.



In the end, I really just find myself asking what is going to secure basic civil liberties for homosexuals if not the same dramatic and transgressive acts that secured those same liberties for African-Americans and women in this country? If these actions have worked in the past, why not continue to use them, especially when the alternative is allowing the humanity of certain individuals to continue to go unrecognized?

Oliver Snyders
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"Are we "just gamers", or are we adults?"



Using that comma there *after* the scare quotes is probably the only thing wrong with this article, and that's more of a personal opinion.



Excellent, excellent, thought-provoking article, Christian. It's pieces of text such as these that people like me (who don't care to get involved in political discussions but are fiercely interested in such subjects) find extremely valuable in order to balance our opinions and inform our decisions. Thank-you.

Amir Sharar
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Patrick Klepek said: "If he or anyone else chooses to raise that issue and bring it under debate, however, such opinions shouldn't be suppressed with the casual reaction of "Dude, it's just a game.""



That is a logical interpretation, though I understood his comments differently.



The problem with that perspective is that he shouldn't consider the opinion that "It's just a game" as "suppression" of his opinion.



It is simply the opinion of someone else.



To many, Shadow Complex is just a game. People who think that way should not be criticized. People who are vocal about their opinion of this work as being just a game are not "suppressing" any other opinion. They are merely justifying why they would not boycott the game.

Paul Waterman
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This seems to be good starter discussion about political influence surrounding content creation but never really hit the mark for me since it centered around one polarizing point of agenda.



Marriage is a religious issue and in my view should never have been legislated about in the first place (way back when). Gay, straight and all shades in between should be talking to their pastors ...not their congressmen. I don't really care what people do in their own bedrooms. Someone telling me they're straight or gay is offensive as well. It's akin to saying "I like to stick it HERE!" Thanks Chuck, I was just talking about void pointers.



So it's a nice idea to highlight contemporary political views and motives in the game industry, but this wasn't really my cup of tea. Let's see if I can get down from the puritan soapbox without tripping again...

Jason Gage
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@Ben.



Your definition of "intolerant" is unworkable.



Firstly, there is no such thing as an "official" definition of anything, as there is no possibility of an authoritative source for meaning. If that were the case, it would be possible to discover meaning independently of the users of words, language would be a natural phenomenon like gravity, with inferable rules that anyone could deduct. This is not the case. Language is inherently defined by use, no matter how aesthetically unpalatable that may be to many. Thus, citing a dictionary is nothing more than an appeal to authority, not even legitimate authority. It's like citing wikipedia as a source. It may lead you in the right direction, or expose you to some usage you hadn't before encountered, but it does not determine correctness, even if there were such a thing to determine.



Secondly, you are attempting to declare that any form of non-acceptance is "intolerance". You are really just attempting to lend weight to your arguments by re-casting "don't like" with a PC codeword indicating philosophical enlightenment, in order to assert some moral high ground. It is nothing more than a rhetorical trick, like saying "war relocation camps" for the *prisons* the US put those of Japanese ancestry into during WWII. You are not using it as an actual proposition, but as linguistic sleight of hand.



To really find the meaning of a word you must look at how it is used, not how it is annotated. You must look at how it is used unconsciously, not deliberately. The latter will tell you only the user's post hoc perception of the word, like those who somehow assert that "gay" as a derogatory remark is somehow not polysemous with "gay" as a description of sexual orientation. So let's look at the word "tolerance". There is drug tolerance, meaning a drug has ceased to have an effect or has a diminished effect due to repeated exposure. This is rather obviously not the tolerance we're speaking of, as that would be more akin to "I've heard it so much I don't even notice anymore". Unconscious ignoring of hateful views, for example. That would make sense for people who have become "tolerant" of hearing "gay" used as a pejorative, in that they no longer notice. No, the tolerance we speak of here is more strongly related to not acting to stop things we don't like that cause us no harm. Note that "tolerance", in this sense, is not simply "tolerate", from which it derives. "Tolerate" specifically includes a strong sense of power and permission. Compare "tolerate crime" to "tolerance of other cultures". The first distinctly connotes acceptance and permission, whereas to infer that the latter equates to *permission* for other cultures to exist would be horrific. "Tolerance", in the sense we're discussing here, is to not act in a way that diminishes the liberty of others, and is chiefly denoted through its inverse, "intolerance". Let's look at this historically. In the segregation era USA, many parts of the country would have explicit restrictions on the social freedom of Black Americans, as well as their economic freedoms. White-only establishments, white-only public infrastructure, etc. This is, as any sane person would agree, "intolerant". Since "intolerant" is the inverse of "tolerant", the "tolerant" action here would non-action. No white-only establishments. No white-only public infrastructure. "Tolerant" would be taking no action that impedes the liberty of others, tolerance is thus a philosophy of non-action.



This feeds back into your attempt to define "being intolerant of the intolerant" as being the same as simply being intolerant. So, we know that "tolerant" is not taking action to suppress liberty, "intolerant" is taking that action. So, acting to prevent action that would take away liberty is not intolerance, because you are not not-acting to take away liberty. To legislate against gay marriage that is implicitly legal (via not being explicitly illegal) is taking away liberty. To act to prevent that is taking away no liberty. As we have just shown that "intolerance" is taking away liberty, and no liberty is taken, then the first action is explicitly not intolerant.



Preventing the intolerant actions of the intolerant is tolerant. QED.

Evan Combs
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As long as the game, movie, novel, etc. is not political in nature it is idiotic to boycott it for political reasons. If I did what you are thinking I would have to boycott everything out there, and live like an Amish who doesn't share Amish beliefs. No matter what piece of entertainment you look at I can guarantee there will be someone important involved who you strongly disagree with politically. Unless Shadow Complex is political in nature there is no reason to boycott this game.

John Habber
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@Peter David: it strikes me as mildly disturbing that not once in your posts here have you denounced the Card-Chair association. Too late for that I suppose, since you're associated with Chair - you'd be denouncing yourself, in a way. Which would contradict that whole 'openly supportive of gay rights' thing. Well, if you're so supportive, why would you even consider working or being associated with Card in any fashion whatsoever? Were you not aware of his vehemently publicized beliefs and activism?



Now let me ask you this: if Chair was working with David Duke or some other antisemite advocating keeping Jews as second class citizens through explicit law enforcement, would you still work with Chair? If not, why not? Yes, this is a serious question.



You bet I'm not buying this game. You bet I'm going to encourage others to not buy this game. Although I doubt it will affect Chair financially, I certainly hope that it will. As Chris Pasley explained above, they've made their bed, business wise. Now they've got to lay in it.

Peter David
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"Now let me ask you this: if Chair was working with David Duke or some other antisemite advocating keeping Jews as second class citizens through explicit law enforcement, would you still work with Chair?"



That depends. Are they working with David Duke on putting together a video game called, "Round Up the Jews?" That would indicate a corporate attitude where I probably have no place. Then again, were that the case, they probably wouldn't want to hire me in the first place, so your question is moot.



Or are they working with him to produce a video game about wildlife photographs? Last I heard about Duke, he was selling wildlife photos he'd taken in Austria. So if they were blown away by his pictures and were working to produce an educational video game testing kids on types of animals, and wanted me to write the quiz questions, sure.



Not the answer you were hoping for, is it.



PAD

John Habber
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"Not the answer you were hoping for, is it."



No and it's not and you know what - good on you. No sarcasm here. You think working with a person, no matter how detestable their stance on a given set of issues is fine as long as the work is not relevant to those issues - I disagree, but fine. Personally, I am unable to separate the art from the artist to the level you claim. Judging from some of the posts here and in other online forums, I am not the only one.

James Margaris
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"Now let me ask you this: if Chair was working with David Duke or some other antisemite advocating keeping Jews as second class citizens through explicit law enforcement, would you still work with Chair?"



The better question to ask if this:



If Chair was working with David Duke and basing their game on his sequel to "The Bell Curve" would you still work with Chair?



Why do some people keep pretending that Empire is a legitimate, valuable work of art entirely divorced from Card's politics? The book is a vehicle for Card to express those political beliefs. Not to mention awful garbage from a literary standpoint.



David Duke taking photographs is a terrible analogy unless he's taking photographs of black people then photoshopping them onto plantations.



Forget every personal essay Card has written, every board he's a member of, every bigoted view he holds and look at the work itself: it's full of those same views and terribly written to boot. The book is anti-European, anti-anyone-who-lives-in-a-blue-state, anti-College student, etc.



Given that the book is awful and that "reluctant hero rises to the challenge" is a stock plot as old as dirt I'm curious why anyone would base a game on Empire other than that they agree with its politics.

James Margaris
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After doing a bit more research it seems that Shadow Complex is not so much based on Empire as Empire is a joint collaboration between the founders of Chair and Card. Which is if anything more damning. It's possible that it was supposed to be politically neutral and that it got away from them since Card was the author but that seems somewhat implausible given that they hired an outspoken conservative to write a story in which hippies try to take over the US. Surely they had to know what the result would be.

Reid Kimball
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_(2006_novel)#Video_game - interesting find James.

Fred D
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In answer to the original question: "Should we boycott Shadow Complex [because OSC is pro-traditional families]?":



No, you should not, because Shadow Complex does not actually deal with that issue, either for or against.



Christian has also left off some of the context from the beginning of the “...Regardless of law...” OSC quote in the original article. The “I” in the quote is not Card himself, as we are lead to believe by Christian and many other people who have posted this partial quote, but an unnamed person in a possible future Card hopes will never happen. It's a big enough distinction that it should have been made, even though takes some of the 'punch' out of the quote for the poster.



Here's some of what I'm hearing as I've been reading through this lengthy discussion (it's a bit straw man-ish, I know):



“There's this guy who's more famous than me, and he has these opinions that are the opposite of mine, and he's actually said them out loud, in public, and people might listen to him. I need to find a way of expressing just how much I don't like him for having those opinions that might just make his life and that of his family worse. That should keep him in his place.”



“Despite the fact that this guy is a best-selling author, having won multiple awards for his writing, I will declare that he is talentless and repeatedly call him names because his view of the world is different than mine, all the while patting myself and everyone who agrees with me on the back for our great taste and intelligence.”



No matter how many ways you try to spin it, treating someone else who disagrees with you as having an invalid opinion is intolerant of their view. Insulting and demeaning someone because of their view is intolerant of that person. And no, being a PC liberal does not mean someone cannot be intolerant. Open minded means allowing for ideas one really doesn't agree with.



The really scary part of this discussion for me is the implication that if comes out that anyone in the industry has conservative leanings, they may be considered a risk to their employer and/or unemployable, even if they are very good at their job.

Erin Burke
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@Fred - There's a difference between "having an opinion" and "actively working to ensure that a group of people are treated as second-class citizens under the law".



That's the straw man here. People are acting as if there's some kind of nefarious thought-police going around and polling people on their political views so "good, right-thinking" people can know who to buy from. This is not the case.



When you become a public advocate for a cause, you are making a choice. When you use your fame to pursue a specific agenda, you are making a choice. When you donate money to groups that are actively working against the interests of other groups, you are making a choice.



I couldn't care less if anyone has conservative leanings. I DO tend to care if they think I should be treated as "less than" under the law.



Let me put this another way: racism, at least open racism, is much less accepted in our society now than it has been in the past. This is partly because people who espouse openly racist views know that there's a risk of social disapproval and all that comes with it. You might say this just drives the racist sentiment underground, letting it boil beneath the surface, and that's something we could have a legitimate discussion about.



However, I'm pretty sure many companies wouldn't employ someone who was openly racist or who espoused vehemently racist viewpoints. I doubt many companies would hire someone who was on the record promoting segregation or arguing in favor of miscegenation laws. Are we to feel sorry for all the poor, put-upon racists out there? You can if you like, but frankly, I've got better things to do.

Ben Hanks
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@ Jason. My question to you is why should anyone objectively adhere to your definition of tolerance vs another? If another culture holds to a different definition of the word are they intolerant or are you?



Also, how do you define liberty?

Brian Leip
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Boycotting shadow complex to support gay rights is about as weak an attack as I can think of. First of all, the game has nothing to do with gay rights.



Secondly, from an interview I just heard with a Chair employee, the world was actually created by Chair and then licensed out to OSC for him to write a book. If that's true, then why would OSC see a dime of any Shadow Complex sales revenue?



Third, even if he did get a cut of the proceeds, it would be a very small percentage.



Forth, the number of people that would rally behind this cause are small. They have to 1. play video games, 2. own an xbox 360, 3. support gay rights, and 4. believe that their boycott will somehow support gay rights. How many people would that be? Which would take away how many dollars from OSC? More than $1000? More than $100 even?



Sorry if this sounds harsh, it's just a really weak argument and would do almost nothing to further the gay rights cause. It's like refusing to buy any cars because the Michelin tires CEO said something racist. Think bigger

Michael Kamper
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This was a very good article and (for the most part) a well reasoned discussion in the comments.



Speaking for myself only, the issue comes down to how you choose to express your opinions. Advocating or disagreeing with an entertainment industry boycott is simply drawing attention to an issue you care about. You certainly cannot make any one person "vote with their wallets" as they have to make that decision for themselves. People will buy products based on their own personal preferences. If they learn something about a person or organization that they disagree with and then choose to not spend their money because of that, then they have only become a more educated consumer.



Entertainment industry boycotts also have the opposite effect sometimes by drawing more attention to a product that might not have otherwise have garnered quite that much press, creating a certain amount of "free publicity". The Roman Catholic Church called for boycotts of the movie "The Da Vinci Code" because of how it portrayed certain aspects of the Church's beliefs. Several protests were held outside of movie screenings and the movie was even banned for certain periods of time in some countries. This certainly did not end up substantially hurting the film's box office or the studio's desire to make a sequel and probably drew more people into the theater to see what the fuss was about.



Mr. Card is allowed his beliefs, to be sure. How he chooses to express and act on those beliefs is what is upsetting to certain people. Those people believe that buying Mr. Card's books or derivative works for which he was compensated puts their money directly or indirectly into the organizations that Mr. Card supports. If this is enough for those people to not but those works, then that is their choice, to be sure. I doubt it will make much of a difference in how Mr. Card chooses to spend his time and money.



The question of whether or not this will hinder Mr. Card from getting work in the entertainment industry in the future is relevant to a certain degree. Mr. Card's name as a science fiction writer is fairly well known (I am not a reader of science fiction and I have still heard of him) so he will probably still be approached to attach his name to more projects in the future as purely a business decision by a company. Right now, Mr. Card is famous for his creative works. If in the future, Mr. Card becomes more well known for his political or religious beliefs and those beliefs are or become unpopular, his name will probably not be as attractive or relevant to entertainment companies when trying to sell their products.



The boycott in question draws attention to how Mr. Card chooses to pursue his political and religious beliefs. People can then choose how they want to spend their money with that additional bit of information at their disposal.

Ryan Lowy
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@Ben: If you're going to insult me, at least bother to spell my name correctly.





Before we begin: I would like to mention I decided to first check to make sure that your definitions were whole and accurate according to the website you sited (www.thefreedictionary.com). I wasn't suprised to see the definitions you chose supported your frame of view, but did not however, reflect the idea of the words as supported by the other definitions. In fact, your definition of hypocrisy was strangely unavailable. Perhaps you miscited?



And imagine my surprise again, when I discovered your definition of belief was also unavailable! The internet just isn't what it used to be.



Now we all know there are several dictionaries on the internet. And these are the definitions I found:



"Intolerance: 1. lack of toleration; unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc." (The Random House 2009 Dictionary)



The key word there is respect. We do not have to agree. By your definition you either agree or disagree, you cannot simply tolerate.



The definition of hypocrisy is: "a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess." (Random House Dictionary 2009)



To this definition, coupled with the above definition of intolerance, no one here is being a hypocrite.



Liberty (Personal definition): That a person may believe or act in any way that appeals to them as long as it does not impede on another's right to believe or act. As Peter David already quoted, "The right to extend my fist ends where someone else's nose begins".



Words are as malleable as clay, and we can work them and tweak them to fit however we need them to, so throwing around definitions we’ve all found isn’t going to get us anywhere. Lets move on from semantics and have a real discussion.



@ Brian: Do you have a link about the Chair Employee saying they licensed the Empire universe to OSC?



You also missed the entire argument earlier about how the point of a boycott isn't always to financially cripple someone. I'm not going to reiterate, go read it yourself.

Peter David
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"Personally, I am unable to separate the art from the artist to the level you claim. Judging from some of the posts here and in other online forums, I am not the only one."



Except you are perfectly capable of separating it. Of course you are. Everyone is. The difference is that I'm consistent.



There are plenty of people working in the SF and fantasy arena who have opinions about all kinds of things that I suspect you would disagree with. Some you are probably familiar with, some not. Are all of them to be boycotted? The government of China boycotted Disney's "Mulan" because it depicted a woman earning respect. So let's boycott anything having to do with China, not to mention all Chinese restaurants, because there's a decent chance that whoever cooked that food thinks that women are second class citizens. For that matter, Disney is a rapacious corporate entity, founded by a man who was, by many accounts, an anti-Semite. So let's boycott Disney. And by the way, the president and vice-president of the United States of America are both opposed to gay marriage, so let's boycott anything created by, manufactured by, or has the slightest taint of, the United States.



People separate artists from material, product from source, all the time. They just do it it as a matter of convenience, where they see fit. Or they're doing it out of ignorance, and by that I mean, they're ignorant of the opinions of the person they're supporting because the people haven't chosen to put those opinions out there. Which means that if they DID speak their mind and you found their comments offensive, you'd be unable to support them and perhaps call for boycotts of their work. Which brings us right back to this being a free speech issue as I've been contending it is.



The problem isn't that Card has these sentiments. If he had them but never said a word about it, none of this would ever have come up. Instead it's the fact that he's been vocal about them that is prompting people to declare they want to penalize Chair. People are criticizing "Empire" as being right wing claptrap, not because of the book itself, but because they know Card's politics. If I had written the exact same book, based on what they know of my politics, Conservatives would be pointing out that right wing extremists are the villains of the piece since they want to destroy the United States, and obviously my leftist tendencies are informing the story as I paint conservatives as treasonous and unpatriotic (and probably they'd be calling for boycotts right about now.)



Jason Gage, above, was honest enough to cop to it when I asked if the point of this was to drive Card and/or anyone who hired him out of business: "That seems obvious enough not to be necessary to state." I appreciate the candor even as I'm chilled by it.



Author and Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead wrote in an essay, "If people fear losing their jobs or having their lives ruined for uttering offensive remarks, they become afraid to speak. Without a public outlet for their thoughts--hateful or otherwise, they fester in secret. This is where most violent acts are born. And that is why the First Amendment in its protection of speech is so important. It acts as a steam valve to let those who hate release their pent-up anger."



People who attempt to slam shut the free speech of others are acting in a manner that is antithetical to a free society. The attempt to punish or stifle the expression of unpopular ideas is a far greater crime than the expression of those ideas.



Perhaps we should boycott everyone who advocates boycotts.



PAD

Ben Hanks
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@ Ryan: actually the definition I used for hypocrisy was copy and pasted straight from said website. Either way I do see your point. Obviously this issue boils down to a difference of definitions. And one of these needed definitions is how to define liberty. Your definition of liberty I find generally lacking. Not that I think we can completely define a word in one or two sentences. By your definition though we open up a huge can of worms. It seems to me that we will have to legalize all prostitution, repeal all gun ownership restrictions, all drugs will become legal, hate crimes will become legalized as long as they don't "impede on anothers right to believe or act." The list goes on. Obamacare is a huge blow to your liberty since it takes away your freedom to choose who your medical provider will be. Does that make Obama intolerant of my desire to express my liberty to choose a private health care provider? If I tell a NRA member that they don't have a right to keep an UZI in their bedroom for home protection am I intolerant? And that pesky prostitute who stands out in front of your house and sells drugs isn't it a little intolerant to tell her that she doesn't have the right sell her body and her drugs. She hasn't harmed anyone by her actions has she? (remember it is the taking of drugs that is harmful not the selling of them) And that group of hooded hate mongers the KKK, why under your definition can't they picket out in front of someones residence and spew hate? Obviously, not all liberties should be permitted that don't harm others. But even further than that. Why stop at harming others? What makes harming others so wrong anyway? Why don't we completely espouse full anarchy?



I don't know or care too much for OSC, but I do know the root of his intolerance of gay marriage is founded in his belief in a supreme lawgiver. Perhaps he isn't a hater just an espouser (is that even a word) of what he believes to be right and good that just disagrees with your beliefs about what is right and good. Which brings me back the question of why is he called, very derogatorily I might say, an intolerant bigot for his views, and those calling him such things not themselves guilty of the same crime?

Peter David
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"If Chair was working with David Duke and basing their game on his sequel to "The Bell Curve" would you still work with Chair?"



* sigh * Well, I suppose it depends whether the proposed game agrees with the conclusions of "The Bell Curve" or is intended to undercut them because David Duke has changed his mind about how he's lived his life.



And just so we're all on the same page: That's the last of these, "Okay, well how about this, then--?" questions I'm going to answer, because I foresee a scale of escalating absurdity. "Okay, how about if David Duke had this really really great idea for a game that everyone would want to buy and make a gazillion dollars, but when he came to your house to talk about it, he murdered your family and raped your cat. Would you work with him on the game while he was in jail? Would'ja, huh, would'ja?"



PAD

Boon Cotter
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Peter, you'll have to excuse me if I'm misunderstanding you - I'm not as high brow in my philosophies.



But it seems to me that you're being awefully hypocritical.



On the one hand, you argue aggressively for Card's free speach. On the other, you're slamming anyone who expresses their own free speech by vocally opposing this guy through action.



Card has been politically active against homosexual rights. He is part of an agenda that seeks to perpetuate a withholding of civil rights from same sex couples. He isn't just a passive free speaker whose words have no effect ouside his own bubble. He expresses a loud, vocal opinion that directly impacts upon the lives of others. The ultra-conservative "I have the right to tell you how to live" attitude, and it's not a harmless expression of opinion, it's an enforcement of it.



To be quaint, it seems to me that Card is 'boycotting gays'.



But you consider it ignorant and intolerant if I refuse to spend MY money on a product that would put cash in HIS pocket? That instead I should demonstrate some moral highground by smiling and handing over the cash?



Let me clarify: I bought Shadow Complex. I love it. I think the teams at Chair/Epic kicked ass. It's an amazing game, which has no political relevance to me. Had this debate flared up before I bought the game, I still would have purchased it.



But, free speech isn't the only inalienable civil right, and when Card isn't attempting to dehumanise his opponents - to withhold common liberties from them - then perhaps I'll get your angle. Until then, it just sounds to me like you consider him a victim of us low brow, ignorant types, while his victims are just the acceptable consequences of free speech. And be damned if I can understand where you see a difference.



Still, perhaps I should go out tomorrow and buy all of Card's works just to prove to him how wonderful and progressive a person I am.

Peter David
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"On the one hand, you argue aggressively for Card's free speach. On the other, you're slamming anyone who expresses their own free speech by vocally opposing this guy through action."



You're conflating two different concepts: free speech and economic sanctions. They're not the same. The former is intended to create an unimpeded free flow of ideas. The latter is intended to impede the free flow of ideas by letting an unpopular speaker know that people are going to attempt to punish him for speaking his mind.



Vocally opposing Card through action would entail contributing money to gay rights organizations. Opposing Card through action would mean going door-to-door and trying to get signatures on referendums favoring the equality of marriage. Opposing Card through action would mean helping to organize a demonstration in Washington, D.C., demanding that Obama and Biden honor the Constitutional spirit they swore to defend rather than believe that some Americans should be treated unequally for no other reason than that they're gay.



You know: All kinds of stuff that would require people to get off their butts.



Just declaring, "Well, I'm gonna boycott him! That'll show him!" is laziness. It's not a positive response, but a negative one, requiring no more thought than a knee-jerk test and minimal effort besides.



People are claiming, "Well, boycotts are just part of free speech!" No. They're not. They are the exact opposite: They are intended to choke off free speech. To send a clear message that says: "If you believe something that I disagree with, you better shut the hell up because otherwise I will try to break you financially." The true hypocrisy comes from the self-serving aspect of people declaring that they believe in free speech, honest and true, Mr. David, we do, except what they REALLY believe in is that their right to free speech should be untrammeled while the other guy should keep his lip zipped or face the assembled consumer wrath.



Free speech is not the only inalienable civil right, but it is the most important. It's the first amendment for a reason: Without ideas, nothing else happens. Without free flow of ideas, nothing else matters. And by the way, that line about inalienable rights was written into the Declaration by a man who believed that slaves should be freed except he didn't free his during his lifetime and also reportedly stated he felt that blacks were inherently inferior, so perhaps you should boycott the Jefferson Memorial or, at the very least, the next production of "1776" that plays in your town.



Free speech, by definition, requires ideas. Orson Scott Card is intolerant. His words convey that quite well. The only idea boycotting conveys is that of intolerance. Boycotting says, "I can be as intolerant as you!" And sure, you can be. You have that right.



But why would anyone want to be?



Tailrunner Joe advocated boycotts. So does Rush Limbaugh. Shouldn't people aspire to be better than those they despise rather than as bad or worse?



PAD

Peter David
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"It was your decision to work on a game based on the novel "The Empire", which transports certain political believes. (sic) From this point on it was impossible to say your work wasn't political. The political ideas are part of the novel, the game you have written is based on."



Sure it's political. The game's about overthrowing the government; how could it not be political? Except that people aren't judging the game based upon the political ideas expressed therein. The ideas in the game are that right wing extremists are endeavoring to overthrow the government. That is a Bad Thing; therefore the extremists are the villains and traitors and not being portrayed in a positive light. The problem is that because of Card's opinions expressed elsewhere, people are concluding that Card is portraying the villains as, in fact, heroic. Someone without that information might not come to the same conclusion from reading the book; indeed, as I noted elsewhere, had I written the same book, Conservatives would have declared, based on my well-known liberal beliefs, that I was portraying Conservatives as America-hating militaristic yahoos. And besides, aren't villains always heroes in their own minds? Osama bin Laden believes he's engaged in holy work. Doesn't make him any less a bad guy.



Either way, none of that is present in the game. Certainly gay marriage isn't any aspect of it at all, and yet that's the litmus test being applied. It's like deciding that you're going to boycott "Tomb Raider" because one of the designers announced he was opposed to Roe v. Wade.



PAD

Peter David
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"@ Ernest Adams. So, I guess I was right, Liberals are intolerant."



Oh, hell yes. In the name of political correctness, some of the worst censorship of all comes from liberals. I would recommend "Free Speech for Me, But Not for Thee" by Nat Hentoff.



PAD

Joseph Cassano
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From Peter David: "People are claiming, "Well, boycotts are just part of free speech!" No. They're not. They are the exact opposite: They are intended to choke off free speech. To send a clear message that says: "If you believe something that I disagree with, you better shut the hell up because otherwise I will try to break you financially."

---------

Wow, so it's almost like people HAVE to buy everything! To not buy everything would infringe on everyone's free speech![/sarcasm]



People have the right to not buy things, boycott or not. Not choosing to do something is a perfectly legitimate action, regardless of the financial aspect. If this were about theft, yes, I would agree that you would be taking away money from someone. But not buying things does not equal theft in the slightest.

Peter David
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Joseph--do you understand that nothing you said is remotely related to anything I said?



How many times do I have to say it's not about people's "rights" before people STOP SAYING IT'S ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS? I'm just asking because by my rough count, I've said it about six times, and it obviously hasn't been enough. So you tell me. Ten? Twenty? One hundred? Seriously: How many times do I have to reiterate that position before people stop challenging me on a position I'm not advocating.



Regarding theft: I'm thrilled that you agree with me on a position that I didn't express on something you made up as a hypothetical. It's good to know that, on stuff that this isn't about, we're on the same page.



Sheesh.



PAD

Michael Kamper
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Our actions have consequences.



We are lucky to live in a society where we are free to choose how we can live our lives and express ourselves. That does not mean, however, that we can expect to do so and not have consequences for those expressions. If someone is "famous'', those expressions will become amplified, as does the consequences of those actions.



George Clooney and Sean Penn are two examples of famous people who actively support various causes. They both have been criticized for doing so and have had those opposing their viewpoints calling for entertainment boycotts of their work. I can only assume both men assessed the consequences of their actions beforehand and felt they could handle the responses they would encounter. This has not prevented either person from continuing their work in film or their activism.



Mr. Card may or may not have assessed the consequences of his activism, I have no idea. He could have chosen to simply and quietly donate money to his causes but instead he chose a more public and direct involvement. Because he is famous, those actions have become amplified. Thus this comment thread and the feelings expressed here have become a direct consequence of Mr. Card's actions. The importance and meaning of those actions and and how they choose to react to it is left up to the individual reader.

John Habber
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"The problem isn't that Card has these sentiments. If he had them but never said a word about it, none of this would ever have come up. Instead it's the fact that he's been vocal about them that is prompting people to declare they want to penalize Chair."



Wrong. Card has done a bit more than being 'vocal' about his ideas. He's on the board of NOM for crying out loud. And regardless - some people indeed want to penalize Chair for giving him a platform to express his ideas, or simply because they are associated with him. And I'm perfectly fine with that. And you should be too, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH FREE SPEECH OR THE IMPEDING THEREOF. You seem to believe that the business world and the public political sphere are one and the same. Obviously they're not. You make the same mistake here:



"You're conflating two different concepts: free speech and economic sanctions. They're not the same. The former is intended to create an unimpeded free flow of ideas. The latter is intended to impede the free flow of ideas by letting an unpopular speaker know that people are going to attempt to punish him for speaking his mind."



There is no such thing as free speech in business. Chair wouldn't exist without people willing to buy their product. Nobody's talking about silencing Card. He's free to belong to NOM, give money to prop 8, shout that church and state shouldn't be separated, and what have you. He can run for public office on that platform for all I care. But I'll be damned if I support that man's business ventures. By your world view, the South Africa boycott to end apartheid should never have happened, something that was brought up above but that you didn't address.



"Either way, none of that is present in the game. Certainly gay marriage isn't any aspect of it at all, and yet that's the litmus test being applied. It's like deciding that you're going to boycott "Tomb Raider" because one of the designers announced he was opposed to Roe v. Wade."



Wrong again. Your analogy is weak at best. Roe v. Wade is law, gay marriage and equality isn't. And as explained above, the issue I and others have with Card goes well beyond his views and whether or not these views are pushed in the game. Also, notoriety obviously plays a role. Nobody cares if a Tomb Raider designer turns on Fox News or MSNBC when s/he goes home at night. They'd care if s/he had some level of fame and was active on the national scene. D'uh.

Ryan Lowy
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@Ben: And now we have at least reached an understanding.



@ Peter David: Can you confirm or Deny Brian's statement earlier:



"Secondly, from an interview I just heard with a Chair employee, the world was actually created by Chair and then licensed out to OSC for him to write a book. If that's true, then why would OSC see a dime of any Shadow Complex sales revenue?"



I have a sneaking suspicion he's lying. And it seems to me you would have brought this to light earlier were it true, or at least known.

Peter David
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"There is no such thing as free speech in business. Chair wouldn't exist without people willing to buy their product. Nobody's talking about silencing Card."



Oh please, what a crock. What total bull. I mean, most of your comments were just flat-out wrong, but they're wrongness that I've already addressed elsewhere. This one, though, is just over the top.



Nobody is talking about silencing him? That is completely and exactly what everybody is talking about. Boycotts aren't about challenging a person's sentiments. They're not about going head to head with his ideas. They are completely, entirely, and exactly about silencing not only Card, but anyone who is in a business that depends upon consumers who might have opinions that could annoy those consumers.



That's what a chilling effect is. Boycotts tell other writers, other actors, other owners of supermarkets or whatever, that if they dare to say what's on their mind, they may well take a financial hit. And you may be okay with that because--well--probably because you don't care about protecting free speech that you disagree with, or the speakers thereof.



You are delusional if you don't think that stifling unpopular opinions isn't the raison d'etre of shouts of "Boycott him!" and on that basis, claiming that it's not about free speech is disingenuous EVEN IF YOU PUT IT ALL IN CAPS. IT JUST BECOMES CAPITALIZED CRAP. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? I BELIEVE IN PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO PROCLAIM CAPITALIZED CRAP AND WILL DEFEND IT WITH AS LOUD A VOICE AS YOURS.



Even if you don't share that belief, and the most you can come up with for a parting shot is the rhetorical elegance of "D'uh."



PAD

John Habber
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All right - so the d'uh wasn't exactly the high point of my argument. Apologies for that. But I was expressing what I thought was perfectly obvious, that one's fame will influence how people will approach and react to this kind of situation. Do you disagree with that?



Anyhow. My argument is not total bull, though obviously I won't convince you of that. But I cannot believe your insistence that boycotts are an attempt to suppress free speech. That's asinine. No matter what you seem to believe, business and politics are two different worlds, governed by a very different set of rules, and the conflagration of the two - no matter how slight - will always bring about this kind of reaction. Always! What's shocking is that you seem surprised and angered by it. Your argument basically comes down to telling an animal rights activist that s/he shouldn't care if that shampoo was tested on animals, that s/he should buy it anyway, because boycotting that product would be an attempt to stifle the opinion that testing on animals is okay. Try it and see how it goes.



You keep dodging the South Africa boycott question by the way.

Ryan Lowy
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@Peter David:





Can you confirm or Deny Brian Leip's statement earlier:



"Secondly, from an interview I just heard with a Chair employee, the world was actually created by Chair and then licensed out to OSC for him to write a book. If that's true, then why would OSC see a dime of any Shadow Complex sales revenue?"



I have a sneaking suspicion he's lying. And it seems to me you would have brought this to light earlier were it true, or at least known.

Peter David
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I first discussed the development of "Shadow Complex" a year ago when I met with Don and Laura and, as the saying goes, I didn't know there was going to be a quiz. I don't want to go into detail simply because I don't want to get anything wrong, but as I recall, "Empire" and "Shadow Complex" grew out of extended conversations they had with Orson. I don't know who brought what to the table. A quick check of my copy of "Empire" indicates that Orson holds the copyright to it. Draw from that what you will.



It's none of my business how much, if any, money Orson would or would not see from "Shadow Complex." All I can tell you of a certainty when it comes to royalties is: I'm not getting any. My script work was a flat fee. As I said way earlier, I didn't do it for the money. I did it because I thought Don and Laura were a couple of good kids who had a vision of making an exciting game, and the basic narrative sounded compelling.



So anyone who claims that I'm spending all this time discussing "Shadow Complex" because I'm trying to protect my own financial interests...they're wrong. I don't have any. Boycotts won't hurt me in the slightest because the checks have already cleared and I'm on to the next thing.



Besides, to me, I'm less interested in whether boycotts would hurt Orson Scott Card than I am in the notion that boycotts are antithetical to a free exchange of ideas because they are designed to punish the speakers of unpopular ideas.



Why is this inherently bad? For a reason that I really haven't brought up before, and I'm surprised that I didn't:



Because many of the ideas that we believe today are good ideas used to be considered bad ones, going all the way back to the notion that maybe, just maybe, the sun doesn't move around the earth.



That's why the framers created the First Amendment. They understood that unpopular speech needs to be protected. Because sometimes the unpopular ideas are the right ones. And sometimes, even if they're wrong-headed, then being able to engage in an open and honest dialogue can lead to good ideas and the changing of minds.



You don't change peoples' minds by trying to destroy their livelihoods. You simply reinforce every negative thing they already think and make it impossible to talk openly with those whose minds might be changed because they're afraid to speak. Which means that true change will then take even longer.



That's why I think boycotts are bad.



Now: If anyone has something to say that isn't along the lines of, "But boycotts make me feel good!" or "But people who I disagree with have it coming" or "But it's not a free speech issue!" when it clearly is...then fine. I'll address that. Otherwise I hope you'll understand if I try not to reiterate something I've already said, so I can spend the time working on, you know, comic books that will somehow prompt people to declare boycotting them for some damned reason or other.



PAD

Joseph Cassano
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Peter David said: "Joseph--do you understand that nothing you said is remotely related to anything I said?



How many times do I have to say it's not about people's "rights" before people STOP SAYING IT'S ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS? I'm just asking because by my rough count, I've said it about six times, and it obviously hasn't been enough. So you tell me. Ten? Twenty? One hundred? Seriously: How many times do I have to reiterate that position before people stop challenging me on a position I'm not advocating.



Regarding theft: I'm thrilled that you agree with me on a position that I didn't express on something you made up as a hypothetical. It's good to know that, on stuff that this isn't about, we're on the same page.



Sheesh."



--------

First off, cool your jets. You are being very unprofessional about all this. Yes, I may have used sarcasm, but I was using it to illustrate a point, not to instigate. Frankly, OSC's involvement is now taking a backseat: it is now your attitude that is making me shy away from Shadow Complex. So much for "killing with kindness".



Now, to get back on track. My point was this: a boycott, at it's most basic level, is a bunch of people deciding NOT to buy something. You, however, seem to regard a boycott as similar to a financial punch in the face. I am proposing that that is a very flawed way at looking at things.



Someone NOT buying something does not take anything away from those who made it. It does not damage them. To imply that it does is to imply that the creators are owed money right off the bat. They're not. Creators will get their payment once someone decides to buy the game. If they decide NOT to buy it, too bad. The creators are not owed by the public for their mere creation of the game. Any payment is related to the sale of the product only at the time of transaction.



In a boycott, many people decide together not to buy something. That is their choice. Their choice of how to use their own money is a form of FREE SPEECH, no matter how much you claim otherwise. Their motivations are entirely irrelevant: people do not have to buy things they do not want to.



I brought up the theft angle to bring up an example where a monetary matter WOULD actually damage someone. I brought it up because you were talking about boycott as if it were similar to people STEALING from the creators. It`s not. The creators are not losing money if people do not buy things. They may be losing POTENTIAL sales, but that`s the cost of doing business. They`re not owed anything if people don`t want to buy.



I am being adamant about this because you seem to imply that somehow financial matters and matters of rights are divorced from one another. I posit that that is a very wrong position to have.

Erin Burke
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" That's why the framers created the First Amendment. They understood that unpopular speech needs to be protected. Because sometimes the unpopular ideas are the right ones. And sometimes, even if they're wrong-headed, then being able to engage in an open and honest dialogue can lead to good ideas and the changing of minds."



Right, which is why the first amendment protects you from government sanctions.



This is one thing that bothers me when people play the first amendment card: the first amendment does not mean you say whatever you want without any consequences, ever. In my aforementioned examples, a lot of companies wouldn't employ someone who hurled racial epithets and advocated segregation. Is that a dangerous infringement upon their free speech? Is that a harmful attack on the free flow of ideas?



If you're consistent with your arguments thus far and say "Yes", well...clearly I disagree, but I can respect that position, at least in the abstract.



Again, no one is arguing for government sanctions, which is what the first amendment actually addresses (though there is, granted, some room for "chilling effect" arguments and the like). I'm not even arguing for an organized boycott (which I think would be kind of silly).



What I don't understand, however, is the idea that I'm somehow morally obligated to subsidize people who are actively working to make me a second-class citizen. You've established that I have the right not to, but you still argue for some kind of moral or ethical failing if I make that choice. That seems bizarre and counter-intuitive, to me. Buying or not buying a luxury item is, at best, a morally-neutral choice.



As for your "That's the kind of thing McCarthy and Limbaugh do!", I hope you'll recognize that's a pretty weak argument. An ethically-neutral tactic can be used for good or ill. I would point out that boycotts were also used during the civil rights struggle, such as the Montgomery bus boycott. Were those similarly evil attempts to silence the exchange of ideas?

Julian Kantor
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What I find so strange about this entire conversation is that the games press has remained completely silent on Orson Scott Card's involvement on Monkey Island. The recent re-release of The Secret of Monkey Island, on which Card worked directly was met with delighted praise from the enthusiast press, while Shadow Complex, which is based on a Chair Entertainment-owned IP and seemingly had no direct input from Card whatsoever, got the brunt of the anti-Card sentiment.



I do disagree with Card's beliefs on gay marriage, but at the same time don't believe that his beliefs should influence someone's enjoyment of his creations. As Christian established, the Empire novel clearly has a right-wing bend, as the far-left "Progressive Restoration" aims to overthrow the United States government. My question is, what's wrong with this plot? As someone who holds beliefs that fall on both sides of the political spectrum, I believe there is a huge problem with the extremes of any political ideology. The United States has suffered through domestic terrorism from the far left and right alike, and neither is less egregious than the other. The notion that you shouldn't expose yourself to the ideas of anyone who has views that are dissimilar to your own on a specific issue is dangerous, and the calls for boycotts seem to reflect this trend in our society. Our media has become more and more absurdly biased, to the point that I can't watch Fox News or MSNBC because both networks display the most exquisite of biases even during their supposedly "straight" news coverage, while even a year ago I found the majority of coverage on MSNBC to be relatively fair and insightful.



The Mustards are Mormons, and I think they probably agree with Card on the issue of gay marriage, but they seem like pretty cool people from what I've read and watched in the coverage of their game. As a straight person, I can't share the same passion Christian has for the issue of gay marriage simply because I am not directly affected by it. That having been said, I think Christian himself states in this article that we shouldn't define people by a single disagreement we have with them, no matter how important that disagreement may be. In this case, the issue is a videogame unrelated to gay marraige. Christian, along with many other concerned gamers, strongly agree with the Mustards in terms of taste in videogames and the quality of Shadow Complex. They disagree on the issue of gay marriage. While we should not forget our disagreements, we should focus on what we have in common, that being the videogame in question!

Boon Cotter
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Your right to free speech does not include the obligation that I should listen.

Boon Cotter
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> all they are saying is that the group they are supporting has the right to take away the rights of a disagreeing groups of individuals..



That's not true at all. There's a clear distinction between arguing for your own rights, and arguing against the rights of others.



To say "I want the same civil rights that everyone else enjoys" is a whole different kettle of fish than "I don't want you to have the same rights that everyone else enjoys".



If the pro-gay movement 'won' this argument (and by 'won', I mean convinced a majority to support the cause) then gay people gain civil rights and their opponents lose nothing except the argument.



With the anti-gay movement in power, gay people lose quite a lot.



Someone else (I think Peter) posted in this discussion a quote which I think works here: My right to swing my arm stops short at the tip of your nose (paraphrasing, too lazy to search for it).



When someone argues against the rights of others, they are withholding from, and directly infringing upon, another person's civil liberties.



When someone argues for their own rights - especially in this case - the only people affected are those seeking equality, by being awarded it.



As a black individual, do you think that those who support racial segregation still be allowed to carry it out because preventing them from refusing service to black people is attacking their rights?



Also, there's no such thing as 'reverse racism'. There's just racism.

Peter David
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"You keep dodging the South Africa boycott question by the way."



South Africa. You're referring to the government that took great pains to try and squelch dissenting opinions any way it could. So basically when you attempt to squelch dissenting opinions--which is what boycotts of Card fundamentally are--you're imitating the actions of the repressive South African government. So, y'know...nice role model there.



Yes, boycotts were a contributing factor to civil rights. But so were nine old white guys who listened to opinions of both sides and then said, "Yeah, uh...no. Separate but equal? Doesn't work for us." The free flow of ideas, untrammeled, is what this country is supposed to be about.



But hey, who doesn't just love boycotts as an instrument of social change? How about that boycott of Cuba that was sure to get Castro out of office. Been, what, four decades now? Yeah, that sure did the trick.



The bottom line is a matter of relevance. Boycotting the government of South Africa because it is implementing oppressive tactics against its people serves is relevant. Hell, if people said, "We're boycotting Shadow Complex because it's filled with homophobic storylines," that would make perfect sense because, again, it's directly relevant to the concerns of the boycotters. But that's not what's happening because not a single person has found a single objectionable aspect of "Shadow Complex." And they won't. You know why? Because I wrote the damned thing, and if it were intended to be used as a vehicle to promote anti-gay attitudes (or apartheid, for that matter) no amount of money in the world could have gotten me to write it.



These proposed boycotts aren't about something as noble as trying to help an oppressed people being jailed and/or exterminated. It's about pitching a snit because someone connected with a game said and did stuff in other venues that people didn't like, and they're looking for payback, pure and simple. So it'd be nice if people stopped pretending they were seizing the high road when in fact all they're doing is invoking civil rights and apartheid to justify their own desire to try and financially hurt someone any way they can just because they don't like his opinions...and in the process perhaps wound a small company who has said and done nothing to deserve it.



And please don't tell me that it's because Card has actively worked to hinder gay rights, because we all know that if Card had limited his activities simply to speaking his mind, the reactions would be exactly the same. The proof is in the guy above who says that now he doesn't want to buy the game because of the things I've said. Gee: With an attitude like that, how could I ever think this is a free speech issue? Although I do find it interesting that on the one hand there are people declaring this isn't a free speech issue while on the other there are people declaring that boycotting Card's work IS free speech. Free speech for me, but not for thee. Seriously, read Hentoff's book. It may convince some of you in a way that I obviously have not managed.



PAD

Boon Cotter
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Peter, I think the conversation moved away from boycotting Shadow Complex quite a while ago. The general consensus, as I understand it, is that Card's opinions are irrelevant in the case of this game. The debate continues though due to disagreements about free speech, and what is or isn't responsible expression of one's freedom - a debate you're actively fueling, by the way.



As a company representative (whether you intend to be or not, you'll no doubt be assigned the role by most people reading this thread), your words are going to be taken more seriously, because you're arguing directly with your consumers to defend your product. That's understandable, anyone in your shoes would want to do the same. But perhaps you shouldn't be so aggressive in some of your replies. That tends to back people into a corner, and causes all manner of retaliation.



Your game is great. People will buy it. Almost no one involved in this debate has been espousing the boycott of Shadow Complex, and those who are most certainly are not the majority.



But if you're concerned about company image, perhaps you shouldn't participate in a debate which you obviously feel so passionately about. If you're concerned about being right, you're not going to win an internet debate. And perhaps you should also stop arguing that people who dislike Card's opinions have no right to boycott his works, because obviously, most people (rightly or not) disagree with you, and continuing to fan the flames isn't productive. Not that I'm trying to smother your free speech... just making a suggestion.



I dare to say, if you'd simply entered this debate with "Shadow Complex has no anti-gay propaganda. We're all gay friendly here ;)" or something suitably chipper, instead of trying to educate everyone on political responsibility, this wouldn't have raged as long as it has.



EVERYONE BUY SHADOW COMPLEX. IT HAS NO ANTI-GAY PROPAGANDA, AND IT'S REALLY VERY, VERY GOOD.

Jason Gage
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@Ben - "My question to you is why should anyone objectively adhere to your definition of tolerance vs another?



Word meaning is not objective, I was not asserting a truth as much as I was attempting to demonstrate an inconsistency in the idea of "not tolerating intolerance is intolerant". "Tolerance" is, by any usage I've seen, entirely a matter of not-acting. If you can find a use of "tolerance" as some sort of action, I'd be interested.



- If another culture holds to a different definition of the word are they intolerant or are you?

If they hold a different definition then we're not talking about the same thing. I was describing my impression of the current use of "tolerance" and how it applies to anti-bigotry behavior. I asserted a bit too much, earlier. Really, attempting to stop intolerance is neither tolerant or intolerant. It's not intolerant, because you're not suppressing actual liberty, merely entitled privilege. It's not tolerant, though, because it's not non-action.



It's related to affirmative action, which has become a code phrase for "quotas" or "anti-majority bias", but was originally used (as implied by Richard Nixon's reports on systemic racism, nonetheless) to denote a concerted effort to self-analyze and be aware of existing biases. That is, to ask yourself, "wait, am I being biased here?" before making a decision. The modern quota (which is not actually part of the executive order) is a knee jerk reaction that was put in place because simply going for numerical parity was easier than genuine equality. Why do I bring this up? Because it's non-action. It's not a procedure, it's an evaluation. Akin to, asking yourself "do I REALLY say the word 'gay' in a pejorative way without ANY reflection of its sexual connotations?" vs. a specific prohibition on usage.



- Also, how do you define liberty?

Like most abstractions, it's easier to look at what is *not* liberty, and then work backwards. The classic "and it harm none, do as thou wilt ... " seems a fitting start. Murder is not liberty, because it takes the lives of others. Theft is not liberty, because it deprives people of their labors. We quickly begin to see that "liberty" basically describes the freedom to act in any way that we wish, that doesn't harm others.



Personally I believe in a negative construction of rights, so that's how I use liberty. Negative meaning, we can only ever define what we do not allow, mainly because defining what *is* allowed would be pointlessly exhaustive, and would imply that it is in our power to grant such rights. Rights can't be granted, or they aren't rights. The framers had similar thoughts, which is why all the governmental powers in the US Constitution are granted or ceded, but the rights listed in the Bill of Rights are *enumerated*. That is, they were included merely as a list, examples, describing the rights they believe existed, but not exhaustively. Simply because something was not listed didn't mean you did not have that right. This is why whenever anyone says anything about any amendment "granting" a specific right, they are incorrect. I *strongly* align myself with Hamilton on the Bill of Rights, though, in that their eventual inclusion gave too much impression that the government was in the position to create such rights and bestow them, and that is the view largely enshrined in law because of it. Sadly, however, I feel that without those explicit declarations, we wouldn't even have them, so it's a compromise. (To be precise, we shouldn't need a 1st amendment, because nowhere in the constitution is the government granted the power to suppress speech. We shouldn't need a 2nd amendment, because nowhere in the constitution is the government granted the power to disarm the people. We shouldn't need a 3rd amendment, because nowhere in the constitution is the government granted the power to force citizens to quarter soldiers. Etc, etc, etc.)



So, to my view, if there is no law specifically forbidding gay marriage, then it is legal. This was the view upheld by the court in California, hence proposition 8. Now, proposition 8 sought (successfully) to take away the rights of a few, at the mere whim of the population. No one was impeded by the non-illegality of two people of the same gender getting married. (It's spurious to assert that this is necessarily homosexual any more than 2 people of procreatively complementary gender is necessarily heterosexual. Many marriages are completely functional, and there is no requirement that married couples act in any particular sexual orientation, even with the passage of proposition 8.) The people supporting proposition 8 were removing liberty from a few. Acting to prevent this suppression is not "intolerant", any more than preventing a theft is theft.



@Andre "all they are saying is that the group they are supporting has the right to take away the rights of a disagreeing groups of individuals.."



This is dangerous thinking and incorrect. Christians do not have a right that homosexuals can't get married, any more than the KKK has a right against miscegenation. No one has the right to the lack of others' liberties. Attaining the same legal privileges takes no one's rights away, and casting the lessening of *privilege* as taking away *rights* is either deliberate deception or ignorance. Men lost no rights when women were no longer prevented from voting. Whites lose no rights when Black Americans are not prevented from voting. Heterosexuals lose no rights when two people of the same gender are not prevented from marriage. The idea is ridiculous.



@Peter David



The problem with your line of thinking is that you are putting together a few things you ostensibly support, and saying that the combination of these things is worse than the sum of its parts.



Let us look at what the common features of a boycott are.



Organization. (Something lacking here)

Economic suspension.



That's pretty much it. The problem here is this, you say it's OK to not buy the game, right? Or would you actually assert that it is ChAIR's *right* to have the game purchased. (Not be available to purchase, but it *must* be purchased) I don't think you would. I think you would say that if someone chooses not to buy the game because of some personal reason other than the actual game itself, you're fine with that. Yes?



That's one piece of the "boycott", there. "suspending trade".



So, let's look at the other part(s): Organization. Organization breaks down into, essentially communication and coordination. The coordination here is pretty obvious, "don't buy it". (True in the case of all boycotts.) If we look at the previous part, we see that it's the same thing, so we should treat it with the same values. If it's OK for you to not buy a thing, it's OK for others to not buy a thing.



Very rapidly, the only thing we're left with is communication. Now we have conundrum.



If we are to accept that boycotts are bad, and we've already accepted that choosing to not buy a thing is OK, we *must* conclude that communication towards that effect is bad. If we don't conclude that, we *must* conclude that choosing not to buy is bad. If we conclude neither, then we *must* conclude that boycotts are not bad, or we are being inconsistent.



To entertain that thought for a moment, let's look at the reverse, friends encouraging others to engage, not refrain, from some sort of economic activity. I doubt you would have any problem with a person recommending the game to a friend, right? Would you have a problem with that person making a recommendation of a game (or anything else) based on non-intrinsic properties? Say, "you should buy this indie game, it's not super awesome but they're giving some of the proceeds to Save The Children".



If you would consider *that* immoral, I can see how you could consistently be against a boycott for non-intrinsic reasons.



Is that the case?



--



In this particular case, however, a boycott would be borderline idiotic. Boycotts work for a few specific reasons, none of which are really met here. For a boycott to be effective the person or entity being boycotted must *depend* on the revenue, which is not the case for OSC. It's probably not even the case for ChAIR at this point, as the game seems to be selling well enough that the difference in sales wouldn't determine solvency. One other necessary component is that those engaging in a boycott must actually be in a position to make a meaningful decision about the boycott. For example, I live in San Francisco. If I were to say, "I don't shop at Wal-Mart!" that would be meaningless. I would be boycotting Wal-Mart as much as I am currently boycotting London's mass transit system. I am not in a position where my view has any impact. (For those unaware, there is no Wal-Mart within city limits, nor within about 30 miles or so) For this game, that means that anyone who was never likely--or, especially, capable--to purchase the game can't really be said to be boycotting it.



- "Otherwise I hope you'll understand if I try not to reiterate something I've already said, so I can spend the time working on, you know, comic books that will somehow prompt people to declare boycotting them for some damned reason or other."



Ah, so you're writing comic books based around the writing of L Ron Hubbard, then? ;)

Boon Cotter
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Jason, I just wanted to say that in my personal opinion, your post was excellent. Clear, concise, and without any vitriol. I mostly wanted to support your post because I lack your eloquence and feel that you expressed everything I would have wanted to express, but in a far better way than I could. So... random ass kissing, and such.

Erin Burke
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It still seems like there's a kind of exceptionalism being applied to media products here. If Joe down the street is a jerk, and Joe is rude to me (or, say, spouts racist nonsense or whatever), I probably won't buy shoes from him. I'll go elsewhere. That's not infringing on Joe's right to be a rude racist. It's not silencing the free flow of ideas. It's me, deciding where I will or will not spend my money based on a multitude of factors. Likewise, a company firing someone for being a racist is imposing a direct economic penalty on him for his speech; are they NOT entitled to do that? Is it somehow different when it's an employer vs. a consumer?



Granted, an organized boycott is a level of escalation beyond that, but at this point, there seems to be an argument that basically states, "It is in some way immoral to not buy products from people you don't like, or those who actively work against you."



@Peter David - Please don't presume to tell me whether I would or would not feel the same way if Card had merely spoken on the subject, rather than acting as a (fairly outspoken) advocate and campaigner against gay rights. For my own part, it would depend partly on the nature of the comments, but I know I'd be much less likely to avoid giving him money if I were just giving money to someone who was bigoted in thought, rather than in action.



As for a lot of the rhetoric being tossed around about "killing them with kindness" and the unrestricted flow of ideas: Yes, I agree. That would be lovely. That is, sadly, not the world we live in. If everyone had equal power to influence public debate, if ideas were heard equally and judged on their merits, if there were not severely skewed power dynamics at work...sure, hey, have at it.



As it stands, many people have only a few avenues available to them:

- Their vote. This is obviously important. As Prop 8 showed, if you can rally the majority behind something, however, a minority groups rights can be taken away by a simple vote.

-Their speech. Again, this is important. However, I do not have the same ability to affect public discourse that Card does. Frankly, I don't have his audience. I could embark on a writing career in hopes of getting one, or start one of the internet's billion blogs, or anything else, but...frankly, his voice is louder.

-Their wallet. Part of the reason the GLBT community has any power whatsoever is that they have money, and losing that money is not something that a lot of businesses want to do. The saying "Vote with your wallet" is applicable, here.

Mike Buskovitz
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I've got to agree with Boon Cotter that the arguments have really moved rather far away from any boycott of this specific product which many find no fault with and those that do have a difficult time presenting an entirely cogent case against it. We've definitively moved more into the realm of discussing boycotts as a tool in general and I think it's proved immensely fascinating so far despite a few regrettable flare ups of temper.



I find myself continuing to not share the same world view as Mr. David. He sees boycotts (or negative actions/sanctions in general) as something that occurred on both sides of the apartheid debate. I think this is true, of course, and it can be applied to every social movement mentioned previously. There was pressure of a free speech stifling nature exerted on both sides in the segregation debate as well as in women's rights and so on. In these cases the correct side won but it's impossible to say what the outcome would have been if the pressure put on bus companies or South African businessmen had been lacking. You say that the Supreme Court ultimately ended segregation and that's true. However, did they do so because they somehow spontaneously came to believe in equal rights? Did the recognition of the humanity of African Americans suddenly pop into their heads or were they instead afraid of what would continue to occur in the country as long as injustice was allowed to run rampant? Did they fear more boycotts, more protests, more civil unrest, and worse? Would these 9 white men have even gotten together to hear both sides of the argument if the boycotts and sit ins weren't drawing so much attention in the first place? I think it's impossible to say that the free discussion of the Justices or the pressure tactics of the civil rights movement acted entirely separate from the other and won the debate singlehandedly. Without both acting in tandem, progress would not have been achieved. If you're arguing otherwise, I'd truly like to see the evidence for this or the logical argument behind your viewpoint in this regard.



I see the idealistic truth in your statements that free speech will out but I cynically don't agree with them. I think that if I say the truth as emanating from a place of humanistic understanding and my opponents speak their version of the truth from a place of religious dogma, neither side will ever create the change that's needed to push society in the right direction. That's why we have elections and that's why we can vote with our dollars. Boycotting is an extreme extension of the latter. I'd like the world to be the way that you believe it to be but I just don't think we as a species are capable of that sort of adherence to reason, logic, understanding, and compassion. Until we reach that city on the hill, I think the only way to make the world a better place is through selective usage of dirty tactics like boycotting.



And I think you've actually hit my point right on the head when you noticed that some here were becoming predisposed to buying Shadow Complex because of your comments. We're simply not that evolved. If someone hurts our feelings, scares us, or makes us uncomfortable as you've done by challenging our notions of what a free society should entail; we retract, we act irrationally, we certainly don't listen to logic anymore, or care about anyone but ourselves. It's just human nature really. Can't escape it, only recognize it, and only the best of us can do that, and you're really never quite sure if you can do it or if you're only kidding yourself. Maybe I myself am missing some bit of clarifying reason in your comments and I'm blinded by my cynicism and world weariness but I do enjoy having the discussion with you and everyone here.

Joseph Cassano
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Peter David said: "The proof is in the guy above who says that now he doesn't want to buy the game because of the things I've said. Gee: With an attitude like that, how could I ever think this is a free speech issue?"

---------

Oh, I see. The vast majority of my post (y'know, the points on topic about the concept of a boycott) was ignored except for that one part. Just goes to show you.



Just to clarify, when I was referring to your attitude, I did not mean your ideas/beliefs on the matter of things. I meant the somewhat vicious undertone a good number of your comments seemed to have. Being a representative of the game (whether you like it or not), you are not putting a good face on it via your tone.



Whatever, I suppose I shall stop myself before things get out of hand. Carry on this conversation without me, all. =P

Morgan Ramsay
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A boycott is an a) organized b) protest that attempts to c) threaten the future of a corporation for the purpose of d) encouraging a desired tangible outcome. Using this criteria, we can determine that the individual who decides to avoid consuming a product is not engaging in any form of meaningful protest.



First, the individual is not party to an organization. Second, protest requires action -- inaction is not a form of protest. Third, the loss of a single, potential customer could only, in special circumstances, impact financial projections, and never cash flow. Fourth, this activity, lacking the influence of an organized protest and a strong threat, has no chance of producing a desired tangible outcome.



On the subject of boycotts, most participants in this discussion are not at all debating actual boycotts; the term "boycott" is, instead, being used as a metaphor as in the phrase "moral boycott." The debate about what is appropriately described as "ethical consumerism" brings us to the main theme of this editorial: the effects of celebrity endorsement on corporations, products, and society.



Other media companies deal with endorsement issues more publicly and perhaps more frequently. For example, there have been many cases where an advertiser cancelled an endorsement contract to avoid negative association with a celebrity who fell from the favor of the public. For a newsmagazine frequented by professionals, I would think that a discussion about endorsement issues (e.g., how to deal with the top billing of a celebrity who fell from grace prior to and post release?) would more interesting than red-herring topics such as civil rights, criteria for a free society, and the definition of tolerance.

Eric Feliu
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Shadow Complex is an awesome game. It's defintely worth the $15 it's going for. I am curious why being an adult means you need to be concerned about the supposed "politics" behind the game. I base my purchase decisions on the game's merits.



All I can say to the author of this article is: "Stop being so sensitive and try and get on with your life". Let's get back to the business of video games and stop trying to push your gay rights agenda.

Peter David
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"Peter, I think the conversation moved away from boycotting Shadow Complex quite a while ago."



When there are people on this board declaring they're not going to buy the game because they don't like what I've said in the course of this discussion, I think you'll understand why, for me, that is all that this conversation is about.



I think you don't have the slightest clue the pressure a prominent creative person faces day after day in this age of knee-jerk boycotting. At a time where "I disagree with what you have to say, but will defend your right to say it" has been replaced with, "I disagree with what you have to say, and will cease buying any of your work in the future," it can become--how best to put it?--wearying.



On my blog, I will routinely discuss various current events from my liberal point of view. And there is not one conversation--not one--that doesn't involve someone popping up to declare, "You know, I used to be a fan of your work, but now that I see you support/are against (whatever), I'm going to stop buying your comics and try to get my friends to stop as well." Every other person on this thread can discuss whatever they want with impunity; I'm the only one here who faces economic sanctions every time I open my mouth. I'm not complaining; I"m not all "woe-is-me" about it. I'm simply stating fact. It doesn't stop me from saying what I wish because I don't generally do well with threats. But there is no doubt in my mind that it does deter others from speaking their minds, and some of them might well agree with you on various issues. How anyone--ANYONE--can possibly think that that's a positive atmosphere for a free exchange of ideas to exist in utterly flummoxes me.



It is nothing short of insane that this country, which was founded (in part, at least) by people fleeing intolerance has become staggeringly intolerant.



PAD

Peter David
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"I dare to say, if you'd simply entered this debate with "Shadow Complex has no anti-gay propaganda. We're all gay friendly here ;)" or something suitably chipper, instead of trying to educate everyone on political responsibility, this wouldn't have raged as long as it has."



Considering how long it's been raging on a dozen other sites (37 pages at one site, 324 messages at another, etc.) where I'm not participating at all, I dare say you're probably wrong about that.



PAD

Will H
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Eric Feliu-"All I can say to the author of this article is: "Stop being so sensitive and try and get on with your life". Let's get back to the business of video games and stop trying to push your gay rights agenda."



Bravo, Eric! Bravo!

Danny Day
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@Peter David and John Habber:



Thanks, Peter, for alluding to the difference between boycotting and formal economic sanctions. One is a fun activity anyone can claim to be doing in order to turn the act of not doing something into a smug feeling of political achievement, the other is a diplomatic measure taken by economies with agendas.



I hate to rain on the "sanctions helped end Apartheid" parade, but being South African, I tend to disagree with that rather strongly. Sanctions limited medical supplies, amplified the income-gap and stunted the gaming industry in SA (hah). Even then, they didn't really do all that much. People certainly didn't protest because they were annoyed at the lack of material goods or peeved that their Golden China wasn't a real NES. No, they protested, worked together and in the end brought about one of the most peaceful regime changes in history because they believed individually that things were wrong. That's it. Sanctions had absolutely nothing to do with it...



And yet people love claiming that sanctions made a difference. Sanctions and other punitive negative reactions are designed to provide the illusion of effect to people who do not feel sufficiently capable of having a personal impact on a situation themselves.



Peter, I commend your worldview and wish more people thought the same way. Thanks for being rational. I, for one, support your arguments so far. Personally, I really wish people would stop equating their personal decision to purchase or not purchase something with the borrowed power of organised resistance... Everyone buys things for their own reasons, some rational, some completely irrational. I might judge your rational motivation as completely daft. But what I or anyone else SHOULDN'T do is claim that a decision supporting least-resistance inaction is somehow politically or ideologically relevant.

Danny Day
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@Peter David:



You know, I had no idea who you were before this, but now that I see you support/are against (whatever), I'm going to start buying your comics and try to get my friends to start as well.

Peter David
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Danny Day: My new best friend. Come to Dragon*Con, I'll buy you a beer.



PAD

John Habber
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"@Peter David - Please don't presume to tell me whether I would or would not feel the same way if Card had merely spoken on the subject, rather than acting as a (fairly outspoken) advocate and campaigner against gay rights. For my own part, it would depend partly on the nature of the comments, but I know I'd be much less likely to avoid giving him money if I were just giving money to someone who was bigoted in thought, rather than in action."



I second that. Your assumptions are completely wrong here - activism and notoriety both play a role.



"South Africa. You're referring to the government that took great pains to try and squelch dissenting opinions any way it could. So basically when you attempt to squelch dissenting opinions--which is what boycotts of Card fundamentally are--you're imitating the actions of the repressive South African government. So, y'know...nice role model there."



Oh please. This conversation's been heated, but at least everyone (mostly) has been presenting great arguments - until this one. Really? We're like the apartheid because we don't want to buy Chair's game? Really? Hey, you know who actually wants to keep a bunch of people as second class citizens and throw them in prison occasionally to keep them in check?



"But hey, who doesn't just love boycotts as an instrument of social change? How about that boycott of Cuba that was sure to get Castro out of office. Been, what, four decades now? Yeah, that sure did the trick."



Sometimes they work (South Africa), sometimes they don't (Cuba). That's life. Whether the Cuba embargo should have been lifted a long time ago (probably) is an entirely different conversation.



"Yes, boycotts were a contributing factor to civil rights. But so were nine old white guys who listened to opinions of both sides and then said, "Yeah, uh...no. Separate but equal? Doesn't work for us." The free flow of ideas, untrammeled, is what this country is supposed to be about."



This one takes the cake. You kinda acknowledge the 'contributing factor' but seem to believe (or worse, really believe) that the supreme court just woke up one morning and decided they'd had enough with segregation. I suppose the civil unrest that preceded had nothing to do with their decision, or even with the case reaching the court. Nothing at all! That Rosa Parks, poor thing, probably didn't realize she was impeding the free flow of ideas by refusing to take the back seat.



Peter - seriously. Give me ONE example of social change that came about without some serious arm twisting. Just one! And I'll make it easier for you - could be anywhere in the world, not just the US. Rights are never given, ever. They're taken. That's just the way the world works, always has. Believing otherwise is simply naive.



We're going in circles anyway. You believe this is a matter of free speech, when it's so, so, so clearly not the case. If it were, boycotts would be illegal in this country. I mean, you'd be laughed out of court if you tried to make this argument.

John Habber
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... and what do you think of companies such as CVS or Walmart directing their ads not to be aired during Glenn Beck's show? Impeding the free flow of ideas?

Peter David
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"Peter - seriously. Give me ONE example of social change that came about without some serious arm twisting."



This isn't about social change. This is about trying to stop Orson Scott Card from being able to earn a living because you don't like his opinions. This is about trying to get people with whom you disagree to shut up lest they risk economic blowback.



I'm curious as to what you yourself are doing to genuinely instigate social change other than proposing that people sit on their wallets so as to try and demolish a small game maker who, to the best of your knowledge, has opinions exactly in line with your own. Are you contributing money to organizations that are lobbying for change? Have you joined organizations that serve as lobbying or advocacy groups? Have you worked events designed to raise money for those causes you support? Because I do all those things. For that matter, so does Orson Scott Card.



How about you?



PAD

Peter David
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"... and what do you think of companies such as CVS or Walmart directing their ads not to be aired during Glenn Beck's show?"



I think it's typical for companies to take the path of least resistance.



What do you think of the fact that, some years ago, when Northstar came out in Marvel Comics, a major retailing chain informed Marvel that in order to avoid hostile reactions from conservative customers, they were going to pull every single mutant action figure from their toy section? The result of which was that Marvel immediately ordered a ban on any remotely controversial storyline in all its comics to avoid further problems, which resulted in an abortion rights story I had already written for X-Factor being killed.



PAD

Danny Day
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@John Habber:



"Sometimes they work (South Africa), sometimes they don't (Cuba)."



Please stop laboring this point. You clearly do not understand the realities of what happened here in South Africa, nor do you understand the impact that sanctions had on us as a country. There's plenty of related reading if you're so inclined... On a related note:



"Peter - seriously. Give me ONE example of social change that came about without some serious arm twisting. Just one! And I'll make it easier for you - could be anywhere in the world, not just the US. Rights are never given, ever. They're taken. That's just the way the world works, always has. Believing otherwise is simply naive."



South Africa.



I know, that just sounded like an endorsement of the very sanctions I say did nothing. Hopefully I've piqued your interest enough to make you want to research the place and find out what happened and how rights were GIVEN in a move that shocked the ruling party at the time :)

Jason Gage
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@Peter - "What do you think of the fact that, some years ago, when Northstar came out in Marvel Comics, a major retailing chain informed Marvel that in order to avoid hostile reactions from conservative customers, they were going to pull every single mutant action figure from their toy section? "



I think that's their right as a private entity, and it was stupid. And if I found out about that, I would stop shopping there for anything. (Assuming I were in a position to cease shopping there.) There are bookstores that don't carry Harry Potter because of "suffer not a witch to live".



- "The result of which was that Marvel immediately ordered a ban on any remotely controversial storyline in all its comics to avoid further problems, which resulted in an abortion rights story I had already written for X-Factor being killed. "



Marvel obviously valued their profits above their principles. They should've gone to the people and organized a counter-protest to demonstrate to the retailer that the demand was there, or raised a stink in the media about the oppressive retail corporation, etc. This would be more my personal tack, make an announcement about the end of availability at a specific place, due to their bigoted policies. If I couldn't get published anywhere, I would rethink how much of that material I'd be likely to sell anyway, if that sentiment were so widespread. I imagine most major retail chains probably wouldn't stock meticulously translated and annotated Yaoi, but maybe that wouldn't have as wide an appeal as I'd originally thought, and some alternate means of distribution may be a better idea.



There doesn't seem to be a simple solution where "major retailing chain" is not simply forced to carry product they don't want to. I would prefer they be valueless, and that's one of the reasons I have strong misgivings about vertical integration. When the production/distribution chain is unified, it's far easier to squelch alternate views. Or, for that matter, unitary control of any portion of that chain. (Single distributor, this is a danger of Wal Mart's quasi-monopsony. Single producer. Even single *customer*. These are all terrible, as they are choke points.) This is quickly departing from the subject here, though. Although, it's somewhat related if we look at the strict control of the distribution services endemic to PSN/XBLA. (Or Apple's App Store, for that matter.) If MS had decided not to allow it to be published, I'd be yelling at them, instead. There's a difference between *encouraging* people not to purchase something and *preventing* them.

Peter David
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"I think that's their right as a private entity, and it was stupid."



Congratulations. You've just summarized my entire position in thirteen words.



PAD

Tom Newman
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"@ Tom Newman do those same jews not buy PS3s and 360s because IBM made the processors and ibm sold machines to nazi germany? do they even play videogames/ should I care about them (same question)? "



Short answer: YES! Long answer:The people I know who bring up IBM and many other US companies cooperating with the Germans during WWII are of an older generation who does not play video games.



...but my point was missed. I do not condone or encourage boycotting anything. SC is one of my favorite games released this year, and I want to see this game get the credit it deserves. My point is that some things strike an emotional chord with certain individuals. I make no judgement call on how one loose association can trigger negative emotions regarding prejudices towards any group of people. I am just acknowledging that emotions are very powerful, and I can understand how anything even loosly associated with Card can be controversial to certain groups. I have some emotional pet peeves myself as I have alluded to earlier. If a GOTY is even loosly associated with Mel Gibson (for example), I would never play it, and no person, fact, or form of logic could convince me otherwise. ...so while I may not agree with the boycotters, I understand their point.

Erin Burke
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@Eric Feliu- Wow. What a privileged, dismissive statement. "Stop worrying about being treated like a second-class citizen and get on with your life!" Lovely.



Anyway, I find myself agreeing more with the direction the conversation has taken, though I still can't tell if Peter is saying an individual abstaining from purchase is an immoral action just like a boycott. I do think an organized boycott of Shadow Complex would be way over-the-top and unnecessary, but I can also understand an individual choosing not to buy the game because of antipathy towards OSC, and I can't see how that's any more wrong than the hundreds of little buying decisions people make all the time.

Meredith Katz
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There's a lot of talk about the dispassionate, step-back "meaning" of boycotting, but I think amid it it's easy to forget the personal reasons some people choose to not buy.



Yes, it is admirable in many cases to separate someone's work from their statements or beliefs; an unbiased viewpoint is important in analysis, reviews, etc.



However, on a personal level -- will you buy it yourself? -- one isn't always going to force themselves into that unbiased view.



On a personal level, as a gay woman with gay friends -- male and female, cis and trans -- OSC as a person horrifies me. The thought of what he thinks of me, my life, my friends' lives horrifies me. When I see his work, my kneejerk reaction is "Oh, it's THAT guy". When I see things related to him, my first thought isn't of the character Ender and his journies (or what have you), it's of the author. If I needed to, I could squash that and move on. However, for leisure? For fun -- games, reading, etc? I'm not going to. If I see "Inspired by the work of OSC", "based on the work of OSC", etc, my very first reaction is one of disgust and hurt. Will I push past that and get something to spend my leisure time with? No. Why would I? Even if it was the best game in the world, it's still MY free time, and I have absolutely no desire to spend any time whatsoever thinking about Orson Scott Card, spending time in words that originated in his imagination -- the same place that originates his hate-filled articles and letters. Regardless of who did the work on it? I don't want to be there. I don't want to spend hours of my day associating with him.



So I won't buy it. Easy. Is this a boycott, in some sense? Yes. I'm not spending the money on the work because it's associated with OSC, whose views I disagree with. Is it to punish him, a punitive measure? No. I have no interest in punishing him. I want nothing to do with him whatsoever, and THAT is why I'm not buying it. I don't want it.



And, Peter, with all respect, and I understand all the work you've done in the past; I've followed the blowup regarding Shatterstar and so on. But with all that respect kept in mind, you must understand that's a risk of working on a property associated with someone who speaks publically against human rights: that there are entire groups of people who will be alienated from the work on the basis of that association, regardless of what else it's associated with.

Daniel Lemos
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@Peter David: You're not alone... Many people have the same thoughts/feelings as you, but don't have the guts to express them as you did, putting your financial well being on the line. The game is not in any case apologetic of Card's points of view, this kind of reprisal will only be detrimental to people that don't agree with Card's thoughts. This will be inconsequent , empty, and inconsistent, as the people that admit that won't buy the game aren't so vigilant and zealous on all the products that they buy in everyday life.



And in the first place, if people would dissociate the creator from his work, as it must always be, this would be a non question right from the beginning.



For those that argue that Card is still alive to benefit from their money, but Strauss, Wagner, Caravaggio, and the likes aren't, as an excuse to not address the separation of the work from its creator. To them, I ask, would they buy the game if Card died this instant? Would that make it "kosher" then?



Toscanini said of Strauss, due to his behavior during WW II: ""To Strauss the composer I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it back on again." The work of an artist must be dissociated of the man. If not, many of the master pieces that we enjoy today in various forms of arts should be boycotted.

Boon Cotter
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Peter, this quote is the first time you made clear in this thread that you're not against people refusing to purchase a product that to them, expresses a toxic opinion.



> Hell, if people said, "We're boycotting Shadow Complex because it's filled with homophobic storylines," that would make perfect sense because, again, it's directly relevant to the concerns of the boycotters.
I think you don't have the slightest clue the pressure a prominent creative person faces day after day in this age of knee-jerk boycotting. <



Not from the position of a prominent creative person, no. But would I be right in assuming that you've never faced day-to-day discrimination against your sexuality? Perhaps if you had, then you would understand why people 'knee-jerk' on topics that are fundamental to their existence. If you HAVE, then all I can say is... You're a better man than I.



I respect that you continue to argue your cause, despite the risks it gives you. I genuinely do. I don't know that I would do so in your situation, I'd probably just try to be the peace keeper. But good luck to you.

Peter David
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"But would I be right in assuming that you've never faced day-to-day discrimination against your sexuality?"



You don't know the old saw about "Never assume," do you.



The fact is that you are, in fact, wrong. When I was growing up, I did indeed face that exact discrimination. Not for my sexuality exactly; for my perceived sexuality.



Why? Because--and this will sound cliche, but there's no other way to put it--my best friend was gay. His name was Keith, and, to put it mildly, butch he was not. You know all the cliches of the effete gay guy? That was Keith. You'd take one look at him and say, "This guy's gay." You'd say it now and you'd say it then, and the kids sure said it.



And Keith was my best friend, and therefore everyone assumed I was gay, too. Except I was straight, but it didn't matter to all the other kids who were relentless in their declarations that I was a fag, a homo, a queer, etc. If I'd had a lick of sense, I'd have dumped Keith as a friend so I had a hope of fitting in with junior high and high school society. But I didn't, because--then and now--I don't do well with threats and I don't react will to pressure.



And so the kids basically boycotted me. They didn't call it that, of course, but that's what it basically was. They didn't like who I was, or at least who they thought I was, and so shunned me and had nothing to do with me. You know: Kind of like what people are advocating be done with Orson Scott Card.



And in ninth grade, Keith moved away, at which point I had no one. No friends. Just the bullies who continued to harass me and condemn me. A girlfriend? Forget it. No girl would come near me; I was radioactive because...well, because the boycott worked, I guess. You try to get a date for a dance when the word "FAG" has been written on your locker in huge letters in permanent marker. That was my life in ninth and tenth grade.



And then my father got a new job and we relocated to Pennsylvania, to a new school where no one knew anything about my past. And I fit in fine, and I had a girlfriend, and did great. Which was good, because if we hadn't moved, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have killed myself during my junior year. Absolutely no doubt.



So don't assume. Don't think that you know me, and don't think you know what I do and do not understand.



PAD

Eric Slick
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How you land on this is based solely on what you believe. The rest is just hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. Turn the tables on this and if you can't argue exactly the same way when it's a gay author pushing a gay agenda, you are kidding yourself and your readers when you try to convince yourself you have any kind of dilemma here.



You either let people believe what they want and don't use it against them or you use it against them and try to bend them to your beliefs. The latter is the real world. The former is a delusion.

Erin Burke
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Eric - It's intellectual dishonesty to say "I disagree with movements using morally-neutral methods to enact agendas I disagree with?" That's news to me.



I would likewise roll my eyes at someone refusing to buy something because the person selling it is black, or latino, or gay, or whatever. They're within their rights to do so, certainly, but I would think it idiotic because I find the underlying reasoning idiotic.



Of course, there's a distinction to be made there: Someone saying, "I'm gay" is not affecting this hypothetical bigot's legal rights in any way. Hypothetical bigot, if he's doing stuff like serving on the chair of NOM, IS working against the legal rights of our hypothetical gay friend. The gulf between "thought" and "political action" here is one that lots of people like to gloss over while constructing silly "slippery slope" arguments.



(For instance: I obviously disagree with Peter David pretty strongly on this subject. That doesn't affect my intention to continue to buy his work in the slightest. There are very few things, in fact, that push me that far; actively campaigning for a group of people to be treated as second class citizens is one of them. I'm kind of funny that way.)

Boon Cotter
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Firstly, I gave you the courtesy of asking the question, and the caveat of acknowledging my respect for your stance in the case that I was wrong, so you can drop the petulance.



I'm not sure why your replies to me seem hostile. Perhaps it's intended, or perhaps I'm just projecting. Maybe you missed the fact that multiple times I've said I purchased Shadow Complex, regardless of OSC's relationship to the game, or maybe that doesn't matter because I disagree with your political view.



But for the record, your junior years sound horrible, and I'm sorry you had to go through that. And you understand what I've been going through for the last 30 years, at least somewhat.



So I'll do you the favor of not making any more assumptions, if you do me the favor of understanding where my choice to boycott a product that expresses toxic opinions comes from.



And that product is NOT Shadow Complex. That was clear right back at the start of this thread. It stopped being about Shadow Complex long ago, or you wouldn't still be replying to me. My only 'issue' with your philosophy has been, from the start (and I believe I was fairly clear in expressing this) that you seemed to be arguing that refusing to buy a product that you believe to be toxic, is politically irresponsible or childish or "knee-jerk" (a dangerous term that can completely undermine any value in an opponent's opinion).



I didn't understand your argument, and it was only when you clarified a little while ago that you were referring specifically to Shadow Complex and not more generally as it seemed through most of this discussion, that I understood your point.



Perhaps it should have been obvious that you were only talking specifically about Shadow Complex, but in the context of this discussion, it wasn't. It seemed a lot like you were far more interested in proving the superiority of your political views, than in protected your product.

Boon Cotter
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Never mind, I just checked out your wikipedia page. Seems you enjoy a solid political debate. I was wondering why this was raging on ad nauseum.



This thread is exhausting.



All the best, Peter. And congratulations on a great game.

Peter David
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"I'm not sure why your replies to me seem hostile. Perhaps it's intended, or perhaps I'm just projecting."



You're projecting. Trust me, if I were trying to be hostile, there wouldn't be a "seem" about it. You'd know.



I am indeed aware that you said you already bought the game. It's just that your question about whether I had experienced sexuality-based bias dredged up some memories and emotions that I don't like to consider...although I suppose they're relevant since they were the fires in which many of my current attitudes--from loathing segregating those you don't like to sympathy for what gays have to go through--were forged.



And I have never, ever said that there's anything wrong with not buying a product that you believe to be toxic. I think slasher films are horrific and pointless and thus I don't go to them. Individual taste is what it is. It's not like I'm punishing the producers of those films; they're just not my thing. The problem is that people weren't suggesting boycotting "Shadow Complex" because it was toxic; they wanted to do so because they didn't like the opinions of someone who was connected with it, even though not only were none of those opinions reflected in the game, but I made clear up front that if they were, I'd never have written it. That is what I was taking issue with, especially when it was admitted that the end game was either to destroy Card's career or "force" him to change his mind.



And in my defense, I'm not the only reason why this has raged on ad nauseum. Go check out some of the other sites discussing this where I haven't been involved at all. They've gone on even longer, and some of them have degenerated into pea-brained name calling. So, y'know, count your blessings.



I don't doubt this thread is exhausting. You know why? Because it involves considering new ideas. On the other hand, the unexamined life is not worth living. I'm reasonably sure that Orson is never, ever going to reconsider his ideas. That's a shame. I think it would be nice if people were better than that.



And thanks for the congrats.



PAD

John Habber
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Not that it's any of your business, but I used to do the things you mention when I was in college. I don't have time any more, so now instead I just donate money to what I consider worthy causes (ACLU/gay rights type organizations). Would any of what I said be invalidated if I didn't do any of these things?



Re: Marvel/Northstar - I pretty much agree with Jason. It was that retailer's right to do whatever they deemed fit, and it was Marvel's right to respond the way they did, even though, yes, the whole thing is idiotic. However, it is my absolute right to stop giving money to that retailer because of this. I don't shop at Walmart for many reasons - the main one being that they at some point (not sure if they still do it) refused to sell albums with explicit lyrics, the artist/band had to produce a censored version in order for them to sell it. It's their right - free market and all. It's also wrong on soooo many levels that it's a powerful motivator for me never to set foot in their stores. No matter how much an enemy of their free speech that makes me - sorry Peter.

Marcus Egan
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wow. I haven't commented on an article in a long, long time but had to say something about this thread.



I could not disagree with you more Mr. David. It is unfortunate, but as citizens of the modern world the most peaceful way we can show our support or disapproval of a cause is with our wallets.



You seem to have entered this discussion on the basis of protecting the financial well-being of Chair, and to help the success of their most recent game. I argue, that you have done much more damage to that end than the article ever could have accomplished.



If I were one of the developers involved in this game, I can say that I'd definitely want you to stop posting on this thread, for my hypothetical well-being.



peace.

Mike Buskovitz
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@Danny Day

I am immensely interested in reading and finding out more about the effects of boycotts and economic sanctions on apartheid especially the opposing notion that they did very little which you present. This is counter to everything I've ever read about this period of history and I'd really like to see the story from every angle. I don't think people "love claiming that sanctions made a difference" so much as that's the critical consensus provided to us by political science and history. So, do tell, how were these human rights simply given away without any pressure applied to their holders and, given as they were, which perhaps implies that they had no value in being retained, why were they ever kept away from the oppressed to begin with? Your word usage just doesn't make any sense to my understanding of the history of South Africa. Thank you in advance for engaging with me on this issue.



Moving on, there's been a lot of mentions of the notion of seperating the creator from the creations and it seems like that only goes one way. If you hate the creator, and thus avoid his creations and encourage others to do the same, you're being petty and ignorant. But if you like the creator and choose to purchase their future products and recommend them to your friends totally unrelated to their intrinsic worth, is that just as bad? Is that fanaticism or favoritism? Danny Day said that he never knew who Mr. David was before but, now that he's agreed with him on several points of ideology, this has motivated him to seek out David's work and get his friends to buy them too. If it's a mistake to actively work against someone else's financial status due to their beliefs, isn't it just as wrong headed to blindly purchase products because you like the way the person who made them thinks? Aren't you still just doing what Mr. David's been preaching against? If you avoid buying Card's novels, you're saying "If you think like that, you won't get my money and then you'll be poor." But if you show preference to David's comics, then you're saying "If you think like I want you to think, I will buy your stuff and you will be rich." I truly feel like there's no way to rationally avoid this, our innate human trend towards bias. I continue to hope that the conversation goes on and deepens and reveals new multifaceted wonders to me because I am enjoying it immensely.

Daniel Lemos
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@Mike Buskovitz: the difference about favoring a work of some artist and recommend it to your friends is that your friends will be able to judge by themselves the intrinsic value of the works with no prejudice or favoring in mind. On the other hand if you advise them to not purchase a work from some creator due to hate/prejudice directed to that author they will never be able to judge that same intrinsic value for themselves, and won't be able to praise or choose to ignore the work for that value.

Lewis Pulsipher
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There was a time in this country--at least, we like to think so--when people could disagree about important issues without going beyond that to become enemies. Now it seems common to think that if we disagree with someone's political or other views, it is perfectly all right to do everything we can to harm that person.



At its heart, "political correctness" has become "you disagree with me so I can do whatever I like to harm you, because you're evil". It is a virulent form of intolerance. No, I am not PC, and never will be.



I strongly disagree with Card's stand on SSM, because it is "anti-freedom", it is an attempt to force everyone to be the same. Yet I question whether you should try to harm OSCard because of his political views.



The Roman Republic was built on the reasonableness of its citizens, and when they lost that attitude, the Republic (through fire and sword) became the Empire. The USA seems to be losing its reasonableness, though whether we'll end up as an Empire or as a completely ineffectual and stagnant second-world democracy where everyone must think the same way and lowest common denominator rules remains to be seen.



Boycotting Ford cars because of the beliefs of a man dead for many decades does not strike me as reasonable. Boycotting a video game because OSCard was distantly involved does not strike me as reasonable, I don't buy Japanese vehicles because most of the profits go overseas, even if the cars are made here: that's a personal choice, and some may find it unreasonable.



These are all personal individual choices. If some people says "it's only a game", we may not agree with them, but that doesn't make them fair game for name-calling and disdain.



Intolerance is the problem. Card is apparently highly intolerant, and we can dislike that and can work politically to make sure his views are marginalized. Yet *some* of the anti-Card views are just as intolerant.

Peter David
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"But if you like the creator and choose to purchase their future products and recommend them to your friends totally unrelated to their intrinsic worth, is that just as bad? Is that fanaticism or favoritism?"



That's a good question, and the answer--or at least my answer--is that the recommendation should always be in direct relation to its intrinsic worth.



Let's say you meet a creator at a convention. And you find him engaging and witty and a terrific guy who's sad because more people aren't buying his books. You buy his book. You read it and think it sucks. Two weeks later you're in a bookstore and a friend holds up the book and says, "Should I buy this?" If you tell the friend that he should buy it because you feel sorry for the author, you're doing the friend a disservice. I don't know if it's AS bad since there's no vindictiveness involved. You're trying to help someone instead of hurt him. But you would be hurting your friend since they'd be trusting you for an honest opinion.



There have been a number of occasions on various comic book boards where I've seen people say something like, "I really don't like the direction (a recent title) has been going lately. I hate this storyline" And my response is always the same: "Then stop buying the book." Some people actually get outraged. "What do you mean? You're dong a lousy job of selling this title!" And my response is, "It's not my job to sell the title whether you like it or not. It's my job to provide you a story that you find engaging and worth the money you're spending. If you're not getting your money's worth, then I'm not doing my job and you shouldn't support the book. It's no more complicated than that."



PAD

Peter David
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Lewis--well said.



PAD

Eric Slick
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What rankles me is that people pretend tolerance, when in fact, they actually mean, the other person should do one of two things: shut up or agree with them. There's a third option, but there's no point in bringing it up as it doesn't exist in any meaningful sense...and that's true tolerance.



When you choose to characterize what you disagree with in a prejudicial manner, cluck your tongue and pretend moral superiority, you've done one of those two things. You've engaged as adversary and have attempted to damage your opponent.



However, to pretend that you're tolerant of other viewpoints and yet make yourself an adversary, you make yourself a hypocrite.



Whether Orson Scott Card is right or wrong to hold his views and to take actions to influence the world toward his views is hardly the issue for me. This opinion piece and the followup comments are all doing the same.



A boycott is just a way of making yourself an antagonist in a conflict. If it's OK for you to do it, then it's OK for him. To pretend there is any dilemma here is disingenuous.



To advocate for another point of view and to try and shut him up one way or the other is what this opinion piece ultimately argues for.



The only dilemma here is how far he's willing to go and that's only because he's not come fully to grips with his own commitment to his own viewpoints. I'm sure he'd strongly disagree with me, but in the end, he will take whatever actions he deems appropriate to push his own views on others. He's just getting a little farther down that road.

Rich Newman
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I'm finding it hard to believe that so many people in this forum are confusing 'anti-gay' with being against same sex marriage. It's not the same thing! Arguments against same sex marriage have as much to do about the legal definition of the institution as it does the ideology/religion behind it. But does that matter? No, because nobody here is discussing the pros and cons of same sex marriage--though there's much talk of boycotting a game that is based on a story by an author who comes in against the issue. Huh?! That makes a lot of sense: Lets financially hurt the studio who has made no statement concerning the issue, lets create an atmosphere that compels the individuals who worked on the game to have to defend themselves and the game (though they have not spoken of this issue), and lets demonize the game, though there's no reference to same sex marriage in the game. Yeah...makes lots of sense... I'm against war (and I'm ex-military!), but trust me when I say I will not be boycotting First Person Shooters any time soon...



I personally am for same sex marriage (though that shouldn't matter)--why let all the heterosexual couples have all the misery (joke)? But lets end the intolerance that says we cannot abide the success of folks whose ideas are different than ours. It just makes no sense.

Eric Slick
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Actually, Rich, why did you feel compelled to state you were for same-sex marriage? Were you afraid to be misunderstood? I think your original point was quite sound and stood on its own without such an apologetic back-pedal.



Not that there's anything wrong with making sure you're not misunderstood, especially when people are waiting in the wings to label you as a *phobe or anti*. I dare say they'll do so with the left side of their mouth while on the right side they are saying how much they support your right to be wrong....just don't do it in public please or risk punishment.



That's what boycotts, prejudicial labels, stereotypes, patronizing language, attempts to trip upt the opponent, presenting yourself as morally superior are for. Control the language, control the agenda and control the outcome.



That's the essence of an argument. You, me everyone on this message board is doing that at some level. Of course I haven't stated my own position on OSC's activities...I'm sticking with the opinion piece and what I find aggravating about it.



This article set it up right from the start, characterizing OSC with prejudicial labels that judged him as wrong and the rest was an attempt to show moral superiority as it edged its way to some kind of conclusion. OSC = bad. Me = good. Action = ?



This article tried to act like he was torn about whether or not a boycott was appropriate. He already had decided it was, even if he fails to admit it. He just needed to justify it and that's what this article is really all about. It's not about if OSC is bad/wrong/right. It's about him trying to justify what he already decided he wanted to do.



That's what irritates me. Get off the pretend fence. I don't buy it. I knew from the first paragraph what the conclusion would be. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.

Peter David
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There is an excellent article in "The New York Times" on the subject of separating the creator from the creation. This will take you to it:



http://ethicist.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/10/can-you-hate-the-art
ist-but-love-the-art/



To me the most salient paragraph is this:



"It’s hard to be a good person; it’s hard to produce great work. Most of us accomplish neither. To demand both might be asking more than human beings are capable of. To deprive oneself of great work created by a less-than-great person seems overly fastidious."



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Erin Burke
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Eric - Again, as other people have, you're drawing false equivalencies. You toss around terms like "moral superiority" while ignoring the fact that OSC is working to directly harm the author of the piece and many other people. He is advocating and campaigning for laws that essentially enshrine their status as "less than" other citizens and doing so in pretty hateful language. You act like the pro-gay marriage people are acting as "thought police", but from what I've seen, only one side in this particular conflict is actually trying to legally restrict the rights of other people.



In a capitalist society, one of the only means available to the average person is to vote with his wallet. It's such a fundamental part of capitalist democracy that I'm kind of baffled at seeing it so completely maligned. Also, one more time for those in the cheap seats, "tolerance" does not mean one has to engage every point of view as valid. "Tolerance" does not mean I have to respect the beliefs of Holocaust deniers, segregationists, and Flat Earthers. It does not mean I have to, for instance, smile and nod at any reprehensible viewpoint that comes along. It does typically mean that I won't support legal sanctions against people for those ideas. Social pressure is another thing altogether, and it's extraordinarily rare to see social change affected without some people willing to make noise and take aggressive action.



As to the NYT thing...I'm still not sure it's as binary as all that. I don't believe it's unreasonable to say, "I am not going to judge a piece of art on every little human foible of the author, but there are a few things that are so far beyond the pale that I refuse to subsidize them, even indirectly."

Eric Slick
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Erin,



I have no problems with boycotts, voting with your wallet, stating your arguments, trying to convince people they are wrong or convince others that they are wrong. I have a problem with someone acting like they are genuinely concerned about the moral implications of what they are doing while at the same time doing it.



I have tried to stay out of drawing equivalencies and taking a stand on OSC because those are not germane to my point.



For instance, you have stated your arguments as to why actions against OSC are justified. I say, go for it. Be consistent. Do what you feel you must do. However, don't tell me you are not doing anything more or less different than someone arguing the opposite of what you're trying to do.



You think they are wrong. They think you are wrong. You both use pejorative words to justify your position, to control the argument and to convince others of how bad OSC is and the damage he's doing. That's just justification for causing him and those associated with him harm.



Well good. Harm them. But don't pretend it's anything but that or as in this article, that you are struggling mightily with this issue when, in fact, your first paragraph reveals exactly what you intend to conclude. Using words to skirt around the issue is just a technique to make you look reasonable. That's what I dislike...it may be personal, but it's something that pushes my buttons.

Boon Cotter
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"There was a time in this country--at least, we like to think so--when people could disagree about important issues without going beyond that to become enemies. Now it seems common to think that if we disagree with someone's political or other views, it is perfectly all right to do everything we can to harm that person."



I surround myself with people who share VASTLY differing political opinions and philosophies. We argue at length about our beliefs, and can do so without it ever becoming aggressive or hostile.



The BIG difference is that in all of these philosophies, we are equals.



When someone sees me as less than equal - as subhuman, even - and seeks to persecute me due to my sexuality, then no, I do not want to be amicable with that person. It's no longer a case of merely disagreeing.



But on the topic of Shadow Complex, despite my own jousts with Peter in this debate, it should be said that it takes nothing more than a quick visit to his wikipedia page to see how active and vocal he has been in SUPPORTING gay rights.



And given that Peter's involvement with Shadow Complex is far greater than that of the reprehensible (imho) OSC, wouldn't it make more sense to aggressively SUPPORT the game? How can someone argue for a boycott due to a relationship with an anti-gay activist, and simultaneously ignore the relationship with a pro-gay activist? That seems hypocritical to me.

John Habber
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Peter: it's not a question of appreciating Card's work (or not). It's a question of supporting him financially. I've never read Ender's Game but by all accounts it's a masterpiece. That doesn't change the fact that I don't want to give him my money.

Mike Buskovitz
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"And given that Peter's involvement with Shadow Complex is far greater than that of the reprehensible (imho) OSC, wouldn't it make more sense to aggressively SUPPORT the game? How can someone argue for a boycott due to a relationship with an anti-gay activist, and simultaneously ignore the relationship with a pro-gay activist? That seems hypocritical to me."



Excellent. And I see a real future in this kind of thinking. If a big studio wants to mitigate Mel Gibson's effect on viewers just pair him up with Woody Allen. An anti-Semite and one of the most famous Jews in the world? Comedy gold and ethically balanced. Bam! Kidding aside, I do agree totally.

Boon Cotter
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"Excellent. And I see a real future in this kind of thinking. If a big studio wants to mitigate Mel Gibson's effect on viewers just pair him up with Woody Allen. An anti-Semite and one of the most famous Jews in the world? Comedy gold and ethically balanced. Bam! Kidding aside, I do agree totally."



Even though you were kidding, it's a fair point. I wouldn't use this example to nullify my distaste of OSC's opinions, or to suggest that someone else should. I'm just saying (probably inelegantly) that Peter's pro-gay stance is maybe being conveniently ignored. Though I bought the game without knowing of Peter's political views, the views of both him and OSC were completely inconsequential to my choice to buy the game because they're not enforced in the narrative. If the game did communicate OSC's (imho) toxic opinions, I would have avoided it like the plague.



But if I were to argue that I wanted to boycott the game purely because of a relationship with OSC, I'd feel hypocritical ignoring Peter's involvement.

Boon Cotter
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Also that kind of pairing does work somewhat. Take Eminem performing with Elton John, as an example. That kind of thing can promote a sense of solidarity despite differing opinions, and removes the sharp edge from the argument. At least in my mind. Perhaps I'm simply naive, but when I see something like that, I think "Well, I guess his opinions sounded to my ears a lot more vindictive than they actually were". I try not to project, but it's very easy to do.

Ben Hanks
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Eric, I completely agree.

Peter David
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"Peter: it's not a question of appreciating Card's work (or not)."



It is to me.



"I've never read Ender's Game but by all accounts it's a masterpiece. That doesn't change the fact that I don't want to give him my money."



Or the editor your money, or the publisher your money, or the bookseller your money, or anyone having anything to do with Card your money until they rise up as one and refuse to have anything more to do with Orson Scott Card, thus putting someone out of business because you don't like their opinions. Or forcing him to change his mind, or forcing him to, at the very least, shut the hell up. Thus proving that you can be as intolerant as Orson Scott Card.



Yup. The Pogo quote still applies.



PAD

Peter David
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"Let me again explain, why I find it totally acceptable not to buy Shadow Complex, cause OSC is involoved."



And allow me to explain why I will never set foot in Cooperstown because the baseball hall of fame lionizes Ty Cobb, a notorious racist. Or I would if that attitude made a lick of sense.



Actually, I think you unwittingly put your finger on it when you said, "Let me again explain..." That is the courtesy that boycotts are designed to deprive Orson Scott Card of. 'Let me explain why I feel this way about gays." "No. We don't want to let you explain that. We want you to shut up. And if you don't shut up, then we're going to do everything we can financially to shut you up. Freedom of speech for me, but not for thee."



"Or is it, that you say, that I am not allowed to say I wouldn't read Empire, cause I think it's right winged propaganda?"



Of course not. No more than I am not allowed to say that I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh because I think he's a right-wing blowhard. But I don't then go to the sponsors and urge them not to advertise on Rush Limbaugh's show, in hopes that if enough sponsors do that, then Limbaugh's show will no longer be cost effective and he'll be taken off the air. I don't take any steps to try and impede Limbaugh's spouting off. But when it was stated up thread that the end game of a Card-oriented boycott was to stop people from hiring him, I did not see a chorus of, "Wait, no, that's not it at all!" So I have to think that people concur with that. And that's what I have a problem with.



Don't you see that you've proven my point for me? You say you don't want to read "Empire" based upon the material itself, or at least based a review based on the material. That's perfectly reasonable, although when I read "Empire" I didn't see the right-wing parroters as heroes. To me, people trying to instigate a civil war are by definition the bad guys, and their right-wing rhetoric was simply their rationalizations. I thought it reflected rather poorly on right-wing dogma myself. Then again, I wasn't comparing it to Card's comments on various blogs and assuming that, since it matched up with the author's sentiments, it was being presented as a de facto positive. I was just assessing the book as a work unto itself, so what do I know?



As for why you should then buy the game? Well, you had no trouble not buying Empire based on a negative review. Since you obviously use reviews as your guide (a reasonable notion) then I would have to point out that "Shadow Complex" is one of the best-reviewed games of the year. So based on your own criteria, you SHOULD buy it.



So, again, thanks for proving my point for me.



PAd

Peter David
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"You say you don't want to read "Empire" based upon the material itself, or at least based a review based on the material."



That should read, "You say you don't want to read "Empire" based upon the material itself, or at least based on a review about the material."



PAD

John Habber
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While your views are admirable on some abstract, vaguely religious (turn the other cheek) level, they are completely and absolutely inapplicable to the real world.



First is the implication that the exercise of free speech should come free of social consequences. That is so asinine that it barely needs addressing. Even more ridiculous is the notion that the social and political rules governing free speech extend to business and/or private transactions - something I've addressed in a previous post. That just isn't the case. You can climb on any damn soap box you want, but if the box isn't yours, don't act all shocked when you hear from the owner.



There is a much graver offense, however, in your suggestion that the victim is somehow immoral for refusing to contribute (directly or indirectly) to the victimizer's stick. I'll remind you that we're not talking about a disagreement about corn subsidies here, but about a man who believes an entire section of society is less than human, and advocates overthrow of any government that would dare give those "animals" equal rights.



Take the Manchester's Hyatt boycott. By your views (and tell me if I'm wrong), all boycotts are wrong, and therefore gay and human rights organizations should have continued to frequent that establishment. Do I really need to explain why that notion is completely, utterly unacceptable?

Peter David
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"While your views are admirable on some abstract, vaguely religious (turn the other cheek) level, they are completely and absolutely inapplicable to the real world."



I like to think that the real world is what we make it. And the best way to make it into something better than it is is to be tolerant of all opinions rather than trying to bludgeon people we disagree with into non-existence.



PAD

Peter David
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And by the way, I think it's kind of funny that you compare my worldview to that of Jesus and then dismiss it out of hand. That just amuses the hell out of me. Then again, Jesus was a Jew who was crucified by his critics, so maybe it's an apt comparison...



PAD

Peter David
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As for Manchester, I think what speaks far greater volumes than boycotts is the fact that Manchester--who claimed that he was driven by his Catholicism to prevent gay marriage--has filed for divorce from his wife of nearly fifty years, even though Catholic teachings frown rather heavily on divorce. Me, I'd be talking that up to underscore to people who might agree with Manchester that he was actually just fulla crap (which, by the way, I did on my blog as soon as that news went public).



But hey, sure, let various organizations just sit on their wallets and pat themselves on a job well done. Just think! Perhaps they can actually manage to put some of his hotels out of business! Wouldn't that be great?



"Hi, I'm from GLAAD, and we're mounting a fund raising drive to try and overturn Prop 8. Would you care to contribute?"



"I wish I could, but I'm newly out of work and don't have the money."



"Oh, bad luck! What did you do for a living?"



"I ran the catering unit at the Hyatt that just closed."



PAD

Danny Day
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@Mike Buskovitz:

I can't claim to be able to retell the recent history of an entire nation, but I suggest you read up on the lead-up to the 1994 elections in South Africa, paying special attention to the role played by FW De Klerk in the years prior. I was still pretty young, but I remember the various policy changes and releases of political prisoners he enacted bringing about change very quickly.



South Africans tend to have a very positive culture (Generalising is a bad idea, I know), but from my experience it's the people who made small changes for positive reasons, not negative or punitive ones, that ended apartheid. Still, no civil war, no bipartisan line-drawing. By the time I was old enough to vote, my vote meant something positive, not a threat to be held over anyone's head.



@Peter David and others:

Mike raises a good point regarding being interested in Peter David's work following this discussion. I'm late to the party in saying this, but I think the core understanding here is being missed: I have been made aware of an artist whose rationality and debate I enjoy, as a consumer I can now go out and find work by that artist to judge on its own merits. I may like it, I may not. That is a judgement that may (and probably should) have very little to do with any ideological or political points expressed in a context that does not encapsulate that work in any way.



Peter, the friend recommendation example is an interesting question, but I can't help wondering why it's implied that you'd "trick" your friend? Surely you could mention that you met the author personally, give your honest opinion of the work and then say that said author is in financial trouble. It's then the friend's decision to make as to whether they buy the work or not, they simply have more information to go on now. Ironically, most of my friends would probably buy the book to help someone, instead of not buy something to harm someone. That's probably part of the reason why I'm friends with them ;)



Finally: There's a big difference between a personal decision to do something - whatever the rationale behind that may be - and starting a political campaign or movement in order to convince more people to do the same thing. Personally, I don't trust movements with appeals to emotion or reactive language, probably because I want to decide for myself, which is why I appreciate movements that provide facts and appear (at least) to be diligent in the vetting of said facts.



I very much doubt people are suggesting that others be forced to do something, but apparently the only visible method of being involved in an issue is commercially along strictly polarised opposites: If your wallet's not involved and there aren't just two sides, it's not important.



Do I really need to explain why that notion is completely, utterly unhelpful?

John Habber
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"I ran the catering unit at the Hyatt that just closed."

"Well that's too bad - but the business just went elsewhere: I hear hotels X, Y and Z are hiring!"



See, I can pull imaginary conversations out of thin air too! As for using the divorce to make a point, that's rather naive, and assumes that the prop-8 crowd's views are rooted in reason. Hint: if that were the case, there would have been no prop 8 in the first place.



And please stop it with the hyperbole. Nobody wants to 'bludgeon [Card] into non-existence', least of all me. You're quick to point out when posters here incorrectly ascribe you feelings or intents, but you keep doing the exact same thing.

Danny Day
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@Christian Keichel: "And of course, if a company is sponsoring someone with a political agenda, they do it, cause they share this agenda, so it is completely ok to boycott this company, not because it is sponsoring somebody, which I want to stop saying what he thinks, but because this company voices an opinion I don't share."



Please could you provide the evidence that Chair as a company is anti-same-sex marriage? Evidence which you're basing that statement on.



What opinions on same-sex marriage has Chair, as an entity, offered?

Peter David
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"Peter, the friend recommendation example is an interesting question, but I can't help wondering why it's implied that you'd "trick" your friend? Surely you could mention that you met the author personally, give your honest opinion of the work and then say that said author is in financial trouble."



Sure, I suppose you could do that. But I think if you said, "Well, I read the book and thought it was lousy, but just so you know, the author is in deep trouble financially and could use the sales 'cause he's a nice guy," I suspect your friend would kind of look at you funny and say, "And that's my problem why?" On the other hand, you may well have more generous friends than I do...



PAD

Peter David
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"So, if you write you "don't listen to Limbaugh" this doesn't include, that you don't buy his books, cause he is a "right-wing blowhard"?"



Christian...I think you know the answer to that. You're a smart guy; you can't be that dense. Are you just, y'know, saying whatever comes to mind with no attempt to draw connecting tissue from one statement to the next because you want to keep saying things to me? I said above, for instance, that if David Duke produced a book about wildlife photographs, I'd be happy to be involved with that, whereas I wouldn't want to go anywhere near a book about evil Jews. So certainly you should be able to carry over that response.



No?



Okay. Apparently you can't.



Fine. The answer is that Limbaugh's books are simply non-fiction restatements of his positions on various topics. So no, I don't buy them. I do not feel guilty about not buying them. I don't suggest that anyone who is at odds with his opinions should buy them.



I do not, however, feel sanguine about boycotting bookstores that choose to sell his books.



Furthermore, if Limbaugh produced a novel that was, by all accounts, compelling reading and came recommended to me by friends and/or sources I trusted, I would not hesitate to buy it.



PAD

Peter David
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"And please stop it with the hyperbole. Nobody wants to 'bludgeon [Card] into non-existence', least of all me. You're quick to point out when posters here incorrectly ascribe you feelings or intents, but you keep doing the exact same thing."



Not Card himself, granted. Just his career. When I asked if that was the intended end game of a boycott against him, I was told that it was so obvious that it didn't need to be said. That obviously the ideal situation was that either he be forced to change his mind or that publishers are afraid to hire him. Now if you disagree with that sentiment, say so. But you haven't so far.



And by the way, have you checked to see if the owners of the Hilton are anti-semites? if the owners of the Holiday Inn are white supremacists? If the owners of Marriott are opposed to interracial marriages? Is it REALLY about how people feel...or is it about, as we both really know, that they're just willing to say how they feel, and you want to punish them for it?



In the words of President Josiah Bartlett, your indignation would be a lot more interesting to me if it weren't quite so covered in crap.



PAD

Peter David
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"Chair is part of the publishing of a novel, that is believed by many people (including me) to have a right winged propaganda."



And if many people say it, why, it must be so. Hey: I heard many people said that gay marriage should be outlawed. In fact, most people in this country say it, including the President. Hell, that's good enough for me.



PAD

Peter David
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"I have certain principles, about who gets my money, it may hurt you to hear that, but I want to have the right to decide who I spent my money for and I want to have the right to say in public, why I don't support somebody with my money"



Oh my God.



Okay, obviously SEVEN times saying it isn't about your rights wasn't enough.



Will someone PLEASE tell me how many times I have to say it so that it will actually stick?



PAD

Peter David
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"You on the other side want to stop me and others from saying so, so it's clearly not me who wants to cut back your right for freedom of speech, it's vice versa."



Christian: I didn't say that. And you know I didn't say that. I didn't say anything like that. What are you trying to accomplish by just making stuff up and claiming that that's what I'm saying? Are you trying to get me to boycott you? Because that would be appropriate, wouldn't it.



PAD

John Habber
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Completely incidental to the conversation, but the president in fact wants to end DOMA.



Also:

http://gaygamer.net/2009/08/update_the_shadow_complex_conu.html



PAD you're quoted at length in there. Note that GayGamer is not calling for a boycott.

Peter David
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"With accusations like that, it is difficult to see, that you don't argue against my right for free speech."



GAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!



Yeah, okay, Christian, just...forget it. Okay? Forget it.



PAD

Peter David
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"PAD you're quoted at length in there. Note that GayGamer is not calling for a boycott."



Yes, I noticed. Good for them.



PAD

Jeff Beaudoin
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@Peter David

I appreciate the lengths you have gone to in order to explain your position in a reasonable way. I am one of those people who is now more interested in your work because of this, so thank you very much.



@most of the other posters

I think the key here is the difference between boycotting an object and boycotting a person.

Both are within your rights. Your rights are not at issue here.

Declining to purchase an object because it contains objectionable content makes sense.

Declining to purchase everything a person creates because their beliefs differ from yours, even though the content they create may not espouse those beliefs is irrational, petty, and as Mr. David has pointed out, an attempt to discourage them from expressing those beliefs.

Jeff Beaudoin
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What is it an attempt to do, if not discourage their beliefs or their expression of them?



Your course of action in your examples is perfectly reasonable, because their actions have soured you to their products, just as in Meredith Katz' example above, OSC's anti-gay stance soured her to his. Maybe this is the case for you, but it isn't the same as boycotting someone because of their beliefs. Their products are simply less appealing to you because of associations you have with them, as Meredith stated.

Erin Burke
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Jeff - That's essentially the position I find myself in. I'm not going to call for an organized boycott of OSC's work. I'm just not going to buy it because his extremely vocal bigotry makes his work less appealing to me.



There seem to be enough straw men present in this discussion to populate a Wizard of Oz chorus line, though.



Peter David keeps bringing up the point that it's about OSC's expression of his ideas, rather than that he simply holds those ideas.



Well...yeah. Obviously. Likewise, in a job interview, they may not ask me "Hey, are you a racist?", yet if I go around the office spouting racial epithets, I'll probably get fired. I would point out again, though, that OSC has done considerably more than just make statements, and that changes the equation substantially.



It's like this: People only care what Orson Scott Card thinks because he's famous, for certain values of the word. He's famous because of his work and his continued writing success. Why should I, even in a small way, contribute to subsidizing a platform for him to spew things that I find not only abhorent but directly and tangibly harmful?

Jeff Beaudoin
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"Why should I, even in a small way, contribute to subsidizing a platform for him to spew things that I find not only abhorent but directly and tangibly harmful?"



I guess the only reason is that buying Shadow Complex doesn't subsidize his platform, it subsidizes the creation of more content like it. I am paying for the content and the ideas contained within, not the ideas of every person who contributed to that content.



Granted, some of that money may go to people who have different opinions than me, but as has been pointed out, that is likely true with every dollar you will ever spend. Additionally, I don't want to impose sanctions on people for speaking their minds, especially if the ideas they favor don't have any impact on the content I am purchasing.



It comes down to supporting content based on what it is or supporting it based on who created it. I don't necessarily think that these two schools of thought can convince each other of their correctness, since they are based so fundamentally in this difference of perspective.

J Benjamin Hollman
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I can't remember the last time I saw so many comments on a single post on this site.



Well done, Mr. Nutt.

Adam Bishop
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The problem is not that Orson Scott Card believes things that some people find disagreeable. The problem is that he is part of an active effort to use the physical force of law to prevent other people from engaging in actions which have no direct effect on him because he does not like them. And the reason that he is able to do that is because of the platform that being a successful and widely-recognised writer gives him. People who boycott products he is involved in are not in any way trying to take away his ability to believe what he wants. What they are trying to do is eliminate the *platform* that his success gives him which he is trying to use to *harm* people.



If he was merely saying "I don't like gay marriage" then that would be fine. But that's not what is happenning. What is happenning is that he is using his public platform as a means to physically enforce his viewpoint on others. I can't think of a much more commendable course of action than a *peaceful* boycott to try to address that issue.

Erin Burke
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Jeff- a few points:



First of all, I agree that in the case of Shadow Complex, it doesn't really make any difference. I'm speaking to the larger issue raised here, that apparently it's NEVER okay to refuse to buy something because of a well-known individual involved in its creation.



You say you don't believe in people having sanctions imposed on them for speaking their minds, but is that always true? I'll once again refer to my example of a guy being fired for spouting off racist comments. Is that a gross miscarriage of justice or simply a logical consequence of his actions?



You may try to argue that creative content is different, but why? Why does it get to be the exception when other commodities and services aren't?



To your other point: Of course I don't know the political leanings of every person who my money goes to. I don't especially care, and it's impossible to be that picky. However, when a person is famous solely because of their output, and when that person uses that position to very publicly advance an agenda I find abhorrent, it's different. Likewise, I'm not going to go around asking every individual I meet about racism, but if I happen to find out someone is a virulent, unapologetic racist, I might rethink my association with them.

Peter David
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"I can't think of a much more commendable course of action than a *peaceful* boycott to try to address that issue."



A boycott is not a course of action. It is a course of inaction. It's saying, "I feel so strongly about this issue that I'm going to...not do something!"



You want to pursue a course of action? Join activist organizations dedicated to advocacy actions for same sex marriage. Circulate petitions. Pound the pavement. Join rallies. Make your voice heard by actually opening your mouth rather than closing your wallet and telling yourself that you're making the slightest bit of difference.



Boycotts are activism for the inactive.



By all accounts, the assault on "Shadow Complex" didn't work. So if people really want to have an impact on this issue, they may have to consider doing something other than nothing. Me, my think is free speech. To that end, I've been raising money for First Amendment advocacy groups for twenty years. You guys feel that strongly about gay rights? Get out there and work for it. You're gamers; get in the goddamn game.



PAD

Erin Burke
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Peter David - You're making the mistake of assuming that people who choose to boycott aren't also taking other, more active steps. That may sometimes be the case, but it's disingenuous to paint everyone with the same brush.



I still think your argument is fundamentally flawed. If there are two stores (Let's say, Home Depot and Lowe's), and one of them has a history of supporting causes I agree with, is it inherently wrong for me to choose to shop there instead of their competitor? Am I penalizing the other store unfairly?



Granted, that's a positive example rather than a negative one, but it boils down to the same thing: I am choosing to spend this limited resource (money) in place A rather than place B for reasons that do not directly relate to the product I am purchasing.

Peter David
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I'm not assuming people aren't taking more active steps (although I strongly suspect they are, for the most part, not), but I think it's innately inane to respond to active steps with passive ones aimed at the individual. It confuses the issue with the person holding the issue.



"I still think your argument is fundamentally flawed. If there are two stores (Let's say, Home Depot and Lowe's), and one of them has a history of supporting causes I agree with, is it inherently wrong for me to choose to shop there instead of their competitor?"



No, but it's inherently stupid if the store you're boycotting has better prices and superior service. But that's not the point. The point is that boycotts aren't aimed at simply distributing the wealth to preferred sources. They are aimed at demolishing the targeted business. I say again that the stated goal of the (ultimately ineffective) boycott was to try and force publishers/game manufacturers to stay away from Card so that he can no longer earn a living, or until he's forced to recant his beliefs. Granted that goal was stated to/admitted by one individual, but I have yet to see anyone disagree with that. And if someone suddenly says so now, I'll have to think that the demurral is suspicious considering how long it took.



PAD

Meredith Katz
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...lots of people have given their reasons why to boycott and/or not buy works that will provide funding to OSC. They have explained many times that they don't believe that it will ruin his living (thus it can't be the goal), or that it will change his *beliefs*. They HAVE said that they will not themselves give money to products where they *are fully aware* some part of it will go to a man who DOES use his writing as a political platform to *take rights away from others.* (I note that he's not only anti-gay-marriage but also believes that there should be laws against homosexual behavior, period, to force homosexuals to stop and/or to be closeted or hidden so the force of the law doesn't come against them). That IS a disagreement -- one multiple people have made -- they're not trying to destroy him, but they refuse to support him. Regardless of the "stated goal of the boycott", you're talking to people *here*, directly, insisting that their intentions must be different from what they're saying it is or, basically, if they don't argue with the people who agree with that goal they're silently agreeing.



Why should anyone have to disagree or demur with someone else's preferred goal or opinion to have their own goals and opinions relevant in your eyes?

Joseph Cassano
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I know I said I was going to stay out of this earlier, but I just had to comment about this point:



"No, but it's inherently stupid if the store you're boycotting has better prices and superior service. But that's not the point."



Wait, so since Walmart has a lot of the best prices, people should be buying from them even though they have a history of supporting sweatshops and the like? I'll have to respectfully disagree wholeheartedly. I may buy from Walmart personally, but I completely understand and support the viewpoints of those who do not wish to buy there for their sweatshop involvement.



Alright, I'll fade back into the background now. =P

Chuck Jordan
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@Peter David "By all accounts, the assault on "Shadow Complex" didn't work."



No, by your account it didn't work. Because you continue to assume everyone else's motivations and rail against them as petty, mean-spirited vindictive laziness based on those assumptions. Even after people have repeatedly and patiently explained their motivations.



By my account, my personal boycott worked exactly as I intended: I made sure that a small part of my money didn't go to Orson Scott Card, whose writings and political action I don't just find objectionable, but completely abhorrent. And I let people know that this is an issue that's important to me, and WHY it's important to me.



As a side effect, I've seen statements in message boards, and to me personally, saying "I had no idea he'd written that." So the word has gotten out. And I've seen the conversation all over turn from "don't be stupid, it's just a game" into "there isn't enough to keep me from buying it, but I can understand why it's important to you." Proof that videogame players aren't all just obsessed with meaningless diversions and are capable of thinking and talking about things in a larger context. (The point that Christian Nutt was making, when you accused him of advocating a boycott). They're making their own choices, but they're not just saying "it's not important to me, so it shouldn't be important to anyone." THAT would be laziness.



If my goal had been to bring a science fiction writer to financial ruin, force Microsoft, Epic, and Chair into bankruptcy, and bring about a total reversal of Proposition 8 in California, then I'd be pretty disappointed. Fortunately, that wasn't my intention, no matter how much someone wants to assume it was and keep arguing against that.

Mike Buskovitz
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"No, but it's inherently stupid if the store you're boycotting has better prices and superior service."

PAD



"Wait, so since Walmart has a lot of the best prices, people should be buying from them even though they have a history of supporting sweatshops and the like? I'll have to respectfully disagree wholeheartedly. I may buy from Walmart personally, but I completely understand and support the viewpoints of those who do not wish to buy there for their sweatshop involvement."

Joseph Cassano



It's the unfortunate business of life: everybody's gotta shop at Wal-Mart eventually. Few are beyond the restrictions of financial concerns to avoid the low prices offered there. And avoiding it can indeed be seen as stupid because you're hurting yourself but not avoiding is just as stupid if the experts are to be believed. As not only does Wal-Mart have certain ethics problems but it also has a documented negative effect on the averages wages of the communities its stores can be found in. Save some money at the checkout, lose some on your paycheck (or through your taxes to the Wal-Mart employees without a living wage), hope it all balances out in the end. That might be the best you can really do these days.



I'll also submit the idea that any idea of self-sacrifice on any scale can be seen as stupid by someone else. Jumping in front of a bullet to protect your child could be argued as stupid because "your body's not going to stop a bullet" or "hey, you've got two" or "you could always make another one" or even "adoption's an option." Can you tell I don't have kids? They're logical arguments but would any loving parent listen to any of them? We do such "stupid" things all the time and I become wary of telling anyone to turn off their emotions so they can be more efficient or economically prosperous. I just feel it's not my place to criticize others for taking the stands they feel they have to make if I do agree with the values behind those stands.



"The point is that boycotts aren't aimed at simply distributing the wealth to preferred sources. They are aimed at demolishing the targeted business."



In solely economic terms, what is the difference between these two notions? Is it just intent? Isn't giving into the marketing of one company over another just aiding the former's quest to demolish the latter? And that's just surrendering to the better trickster. At least with a boycott, you've put a minute amount of thought into which company's aim of world domination you want to support.



Finally, boycotts have always had a side effect of increasing awareness but now just the discussion of the potential for a boycott has done that. I can't even fathom how many individuals have learned about Card's viewpoints just through this little episode. Maybe we don't even need boycotts in the future, we just need to raise the specter of them and then endlessly pontificate on the merits and philosophical underpinnings of the very notion of boycotts. And no one's productivity or livelihood was hurt in the process, just threatened. And really, at the end of the day, what encourages free expression more than staring down your opponent across the room while you whisper to your friends and crack your knuckles?



Am I the only one to feel that this discussion is reaching a "peak oil"-like state where there's no more depth left to mine out and instead arguments just keep getting restated and slammed against one another like the horns of rams? I think it's really just about time for Mr. David to have to say that this isn't about anyone's rights to buy or not buy products. It's been too long since that happened. I almost miss it but I doubt he does.

Peter David
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"No, by your account it didn't work."



Uh, no. When I say, "By all accounts," I'm referring to the various articles that have run on assorted sites that are headlined, "Boycott of Shadow Complex didn't work," basing that opinion on the sales success of the game that appears to be doing just fine. I haven't read a single account that said, "Boycott of Shadow Complex is Working!" So the sentence is pretty accurate based upon available data.



PAD

Peter David
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"I think it's really just about time for Mr. David to have to say that this isn't about anyone's rights to buy or not buy products. It's been too long since that happened."



Well, I've only said it when people respond to me by saying, "But I have the right to do it!" If people who were busy trying to thwart the right of people to say things they disagreed with weren't so up in arms about supposed challenges to their own rights, I wouldn't have to keep reminding them of it.



Comparing a free speech issue to trying to take a bullet for your kid. Jeez.



PAD

Erin Burke
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Peter David - Okay, a few things:



First, I respect your persistence in continuing the discussion, so, well, there's that.



Now on to the actual arguments:



"If people who were busy trying to thwart the right of people to say things they disagreed with"



This a common fallacy I see being tossed around a lot. It's not about anyone's right to say anything. The right to say something does not mean the right to say it without any risk of social censure. There is a right to free speech insofar as the government isn't going to crack down on you, but not a right to "say anything you want, ever, devoid of any potential consequences from society". Person X is free to say whatever disgusting nonsense they want; I am, in turn, free to respond in a number of ways. That's not a bug or an end-run around "free speech"; it's the system working as intended.



"I haven't read a single account that said, "Boycott of Shadow Complex is Working!" So the sentence is pretty accurate based upon available data."



I wasn't aware there WAS an actual organized boycott of Shadow Complex to "work" in the first place. I've seen lots of people discussing the ethics of such a campaign, and a lot of people saying they wouldn't buy it personally because of issues with OSC, but I have yet to see a large, organized movement.



Going back to the business example: What if one business had better prices, but they have racist and homophobic posters and stickers are all over the place, and their employees regularly make comments in line with those opinions? I'd probably feel pretty uncomfortable shopping there; am I still "stupid" for avoiding the place, and would I be unduly infringing upon their free speech by deciding not to shop there?



Finally, I note that no one has ever addressed the issue of a person being fired for blatant racism. Why is that? Is it because it's irrelevant (for reasons no one has managed to explain), or is it because "Well...it's just different!"? The latter is what I often see in these discussions.

Mike Buskovitz
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"Well, I've only said it when people respond to me by saying, "But I have the right to do it!" If people who were busy trying to thwart the right of people to say things they disagreed with weren't so up in arms about supposed challenges to their own rights, I wouldn't have to keep reminding them of it."



Probably didn't indicate my tone well enough but I was really expressing sympathy for you in this area mixed in with an impish desire to see more snark directed at those who fall prey to this repetition. There's nothing I abhor more in a discussion than repetition.



"Comparing a free speech issue to trying to take a bullet for your kid. Jeez."



Not really what I was doing there. It was an attempt to show that objects or concepts of value are not universal and that the relative worth of an action in defense of a valued quantity is in the eye of the beholder. I don't think self-sacrifice has anything to really do with free speech but taking a loss when shopping due to ethical concerns is clearly an example of self-sacrifice, correct? Unless money has no meaning to someone because they're that financially well off, of course. And putting your life on the line for your child is also self-sacrifice, clearly. But to someone who doesn't care about the practices of the stores they shop at or about your personal feelings towards your child, they could easily call your actions in either case stupid.



The child example was chosen because we have an innate biological drive to see our progeny survive and, as such, self-sacrifice for one's child is seen as the height of virtuous action by most societies/civilizations. Thus, everyone's pretty primed to jump in front of that bullet because of their social and biological programming. It's almost unthinkable to not do it.



Taking an active interest in the construction of the products one purchases conversely has no such instinctual drive. It feels like you see this as merely an opportunity for people to make themselves feel better without any real effort expended while I see it more as people doing just what they are able to do or what they feel they are able to do. It's a subjective look at things that would require in depth knowledge of someone's psyche to know for sure and so it can't be conclusively proven either way. It's might just be a perfect mixture of the two extremes. I do believe though that its a poor motivator who looks at individuals with their hearts in the right place that genuinely feel they're trying their best and criticizes them for not doing more.



"I wasn't aware there WAS an actual organized boycott of Shadow Complex to "work" in the first place. I've seen lots of people discussing the ethics of such a campaign, and a lot of people saying they wouldn't buy it personally because of issues with OSC, but I have yet to see a large, organized movement."



http://www.gamezine.co.uk/news/formats/xbox360/the-shadow-complex
-boycott-didn-t-work-$1321205.htm

I found this article hilarious because of the underlying assumption that there WAS actually a boycott that COULD have had an effect on the sales. But it didn't so the story that the boycott was stupid is safely intact. It's all backed up by a source that's really an opinion article that eventually decides that a boycott would NOT be a smart move and shouldn't be undertaken, the same conclusion reached on almost every organized online gaming community even those that cater explicitly to homosexual gamers. It's like watching people make up the news as they go along just to fit the overall conversation they want to have. This is starting to go beyond the pale of Fox News. They may horribly color the news and exert tremendous bias and communicate clear falsehoods from time to time but do they really just make stuff up on this large a scale? I don't know, that's kinda subjective, I suppose. And I don't watch enough Fox News to truly grasp the magnitude of their reality warping effect.



It's only a matter of time till we see a report of someone covering themselves in foam in protest over Shadow Complex and its "hateful agenda" in an underground bunker somewhere in the Rockies. For those unaware, there is a foam gun in the game and it's pretty entertaining to use. Sales will spike for the game when people realize how cool it looks to cover someone in foam and "The Shadow Complex boycott/protest/self-foamation didn't work even more" will be the headline. Really, it's just the next step in marketing. If your product doesn't have any edge, get a boycott going on it. Set up some viral sites pointing out a social dilemma your game can be tied to, get a few very vocal people enraged, and let them tell everyone about how "terrible" your product is. And since nobody cares about the issue at hand but those boycotters, you can just safely cut out the word "terrible" in the minds of the average consumer and replace it with "interesting" or "exciting" and voila: instant free press. Just add outrage. I'm not suggesting Chair had this all in mind (really not suggesting it) but they might want to think about this for the next game they make. I'm personally holding out hope for a Metroidvania-esque game based on the writings of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Financial connections to homophobia was a good start but it's time to move up to the big leagues in terms of actual content.

huey Sheridan
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Mass social disapproval expressed through boycotts is a necessary and pro-social phenomenon.



I may be coming in very late, but I have to point out that I think Peter is being very naive in advocating a world in which what you say has little or no consequence. Of course everyone agrees that everyone should be allowed to say what they want, no-one here is arguing against that straw-man. However, I think its very foolish to advocate that we should respect all opinions and shouldn't express our disapproval strongly, even through social actions such as boycotts when necessary.



Given its subject I imagine that Peter is familiar with Stetson Kennedy's work - he wrote a book about the Ku Klux Klan and how the Superman Radio Show contributed to its decline. He also coined the phrase "Frown Power" and argues that this effect - mass social disapproval - is what has led to the generally positive changes in attitudes over the last hundred years. No one freely expresses racist thoughts anymore - very few people would argue that blacks shouldn't be allowed marry whites. If people believe these things they are very aware of the social backlash that expressing them would entail.



I imagine that Peter would argue that this effect can be negative - sometimes the truth is socially unpopular. True, but speech is still free - and I believe that truth will always overcome. There needs to be some type of corrective for intolerant speech and this type of social disapproval is the most effective and desirable one, imo. Boycotts are just the natural consequence of such disapproval, giving it actual force and power. I really think that this balance in our right to free speech is pretty basic and we all intuitively get it and live with it every day.



I also find it hard to believe that Peter would really always economically support an artist as long as he enjoyed their art regardless of whether he strongly disagreed with their public positions. The John Byrne example is not really comparable with OSC. A more comparable situation would involve a talented but anti-semitical artist who supported (both financially and through advocacy) taking rights away from Jews. In that situation would Peter really help the artist's ability to espouse these positions by buying his work? would he really actually increase his support for him "to kill with kindness" or to further affirm his right to express socially unpopular positions? sorry, but I really find that hard to believe.

Chuck Jordan
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Well, if nothing else, this discussion has taught me there's at least 1 thing I agree with John Byrne about.

John Ingrams
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This, and many debates like this', the way politics is now enacted and media juvinality along with individualism, the 'me' society, the influence of technology, the breakdown of society and climate change inactivity tell me we are but a couple of generations away from the end of Western Civilization.



While we debate subjects like this, there is little debate about the lack of drinking water in the world today and the disasters that will come tomorrow because of it. This, along with the desertification of food basket areas like the midwest of the U.S.A will lead us to changes in the world we can barely imagine.

Mike Buskovitz
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"This, and many debates like this', the way politics is now enacted and media juvinality along with individualism, the 'me' society, the influence of technology, the breakdown of society and climate change inactivity tell me we are but a couple of generations away from the end of Western Civilization.



While we debate subjects like this, there is little debate about the lack of drinking water in the world today and the disasters that will come tomorrow because of it. This, along with the desertification of food basket areas like the midwest of the U.S.A will lead us to changes in the world we can barely imagine."



I'm with you with that second paragraph (if only in thought and not in tenor) but that first was just utter nonsense. Society is breaking down? How do you even begin to qualify a statement like that? Are there mass riots and social upheaval happening somewhere that I'm just not privy to? The influence of technology? Are you expressing Luddite beliefs here? Individualism and the 'me society' peaked in the 80's. I have no idea why you'd think that would be something disturbing happening right now when it was far more prevalent back then and we managed to make it out alive of that dreadful era. You know, I could just as easily pick a half dozen other trends or concepts and say that we're entering a new glorious age for Western Civilization and we'd both be just wildly guessing about what's going to happen next. The conversation died away a while ago but thanks for your irrelevant and insulting prophesies of doom. I mean I've always thought that the best way to get people to care about a topic I care about (like the impending water and food crises) is to invade a discussion on something entirely unrelated to my cause celebre and annoy them into submission with ridiculous hyperbole. Bravo.


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