You are absolutely free to buy or not buy Orson Scott Card’s Superman comic or tickets to the Ender’s Game movie. It’s your money, you’re allowed to spend it however you like, and “I don’t want to watch anything written by a homophobe” is exactly as valid as “I don’t want to watch anything with a romance subplot” or “I don’t want to watch anything with Bendydick Cummingsnatch in it, I hate his face.”

But I think that it’s wrong to petition DC Comics to fire him or to refuse to stock his books in your store. (I was wrong about this– see comments.)

Firing Orson Scott Card punishes the wrong thing. Not giving money to Orson Scott Card doesn’t punish being a homophobe; it punishes being public about being a homophobe. Homophobic authors who never wrote about their homophobia are not going to suffer from the boycotts. Personally, I don’t want the homophobes to be quiet about their homophobia, smugly self-satisfied about how oppressed and persecuted they are by the pro-gay mafia. I want them to stop being homophobes. I am unclear how harming Mr. Card’s career will persuade him that homophobia is wrong.

Second, I believe that it is wrong to punish writers with loss of career for expressing controversial ideas.

You know why? Because “homosexuality isn’t a sin” is controversial. Because “black people should learn to read” was, and “atheists should be allowed to testify in court,” and “people other than white male landowners should have the right to vote,” and… look, name anything we consider obviously a good idea, it probably went through a period of being controversial. “A lot of people dislike this idea” is absolutely no evidence about whether it’s a good idea or not.

The only way that anyone has figured out to sort out whether controversial ideas are good or bad is to argue about them until a majority of people are convinced. In order to argue about ideas, you have to have people who are willing to support them. And you’re not going to have that if the smartest and most articulate supporters of any given idea– that is, the writers– are punished for expressing ideas that disagree too much with what the majority holds sacred.

–Of course, it’s possible that you just happen to be the only person on the entire planet who is magically correct about everything, in which case you can infallibly sort out which controversial ideas are good and which controversial ideas are bad and punish anyone who disagrees. How lucky we are that you have this power.

I suppose you could say “well, free and open debate is all very well for some things, but homophobia hurts real people! We should stigmatize beliefs that hurt people!” On the other hand, it was the consensus belief for a long time that accepting atheism would lead people to become atheists and thus suffer an eternity of torture in hell. Homophobia does not cause eternal torture. “Yes, but they were wrong about that.” And how the fuck would they have known that they were wrong about that unless atheists were allowed to say their piece?

If homosexuality, as Mr. Card believes, risks destroying society itself via destroying the institution of marriage, this is information I would like to have. At the moment, I have read the best arguments anti-homosexuality people have to present, and I have found them scientifically and anthropologically laughable, morally bankrupt, and utterly unjustified unless you accept the premises of a certain brand of Christianity. But I am glad that I had access to those arguments, and I oppose anything that is going to significantly punish people for offering them up.