But that’s nothing compared to his thoughts on homosexuality. He’s not all “kill the gays,” he just thinks we should keep sodomy laws on the books--not so we can apply them indiscriminately; that would be abusive—but so that we can hold them over the heads of homosexuals to control their behavior in public. But that’s not, he assures us, bigotry or homophobia[i]; it’s just protecting society from a threat.[ii]
It started me thinking about science-fiction and prejudice. I’ve always thought of science-fiction as the antithesis of bigotry. I took in the original Star Trek literally with my mother’s milk (ha ha, sorry, Mom). I always wanted to be Captain Kirk (sans scantily-clad space bimbos)[iii], but I identified with Spock, the logical, isolated, unaffected half-alien who didn’t belong to either species.
By the time I was seven or eight and had watched every episode roughly a dozen times, I took for granted that big, scary, human-eating rocks are mothers trying to protect their children, and race is a reflection in a mirror (don’t pretend you don’t know what episodes I’m talking about) and communication is everything, and sometimes it’s the logical, isolated, unemotional alien who provides the empathic mind-meld that makes communication possible.
Can you write sympathetically about aliens without recognizing your own alienation, and how can a science-fiction writer recognize his own alienation and still be a bigot? Or is bigotry our defense against excommunication from whatever community we look to for our sense of belonging? My point is that science-fiction, above all other genres, has the power to replace bigotry as our armor against rejection. Whoops, I’ve descended to platitudes.
So maybe I’m naïve. Okay, I know I’m naïve. Science-fiction isn’t above the human condition, and writers aren’t moral supermen—I mean super-persons—but the new Star Trek is out at the local theater in 3D, so there’s still a place where, as Kirk said in The Undiscovered Country, “Spock, we’re all human.”
[i] Many persons of “conservative ideology” object to “name-calling” when they are characterized as bigots or homophobes. But a person who steals is a thief. A person who murders is a murderer. A person who lies is a liar.
[ii] There’s more. You can read his full opinion here: http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-hypocrites.html He includes an apologia explaining that he was writing to an audience (Mormons) who shared his beliefs and that therefore his arguments were not homophobic or an example of bigotry.
[iii] I just made a joke about scantily-clad space bimbos. Please don’t take away my feminist card. The show was ahead of its time in terms of sexism and racism, but there was only so far they could go in a culture where the idea of a woman on the bridge was scandalous enough, let alone that she was black. At least she wore a nice, respectable mini-skirt and go-go boots. Otherwise, we might have thought she was a bimbo.