A few months ago someone suggested to me to read Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker, as it was available online for free on his website. The novel was pretty good, nothing to remember in the centuries to come but a nice high-fantasy based about a peculiar magic system and that reads very easily. I liked it enough that I decided to dish out some money to buy his next book, The way of kings, which is now sitting on my shelf wondering if I’ll ever finish reading it.
Because today I made a very big mistake: I read his blog. In particular I read this essay on Dumbledore’s homosexuality and this forum thread on his religion.
And I said to myself, I cannot support this man, no matter how much I like his books. This man is OK with discrimination and depriving other people of equal rights under the law because his made-up religion says so. By buying this man’s books, I support him and his church in their efforts to prevent gay marriage.
Now don’t get me wrong: belief is free, and if you want to believe in a god that says that drinking even a sip of alcohol is bad, more power to you. But when you try to pass that as law even for those who don’t believe in your religion, then we have a problem. Freedom is a very nice thing, but it should never be used as a hammer to deprive other people of theirs.
Now a very good rebuttal to Sanderson’s essay can be found here at Ask the Flying Monkey, which clearly illuminates his case of being the nicest homophobe in the room – the one that will say that gays are not all bad, and he has gay friends, but clearly they cannot be given all the rights of normal people, and he’s not a homophobe for saying that.
Except he totally is. These words have been used to stigmatize first people, black people, jews, immigrants, protestants, and so on and so forth. They probably have been used against the mormons as well, the irony of which should not go lost on anyone.
However, since his website has a contact form and it says that Mr. Sanderson tries to reply to all the contacts personally, I decided the least I could do was write him a letter. It came out as a bit of a ramble and a rant, since it was written in anger and during pauses at work, but if I waited to polish it more I know I would never have sent it.
We’ll see in the next few months if he replies, and how. I do not really expect him to change his mind in the slightest on the subject, but at the very least I’d like for him to acknowledge that there are real life consequences to his words – even something as small as losing a reader.
Here’s the rambling, incoherent text:
Dear Mr. Sanderson,
I am one of your readers who will be your reader no more. This because your positions on homosexuality troubles me, and I actually find it far more problematic than those of your more conservative fellows.
I’ll try to express why in the rest of this post but, since it’ll probably descend into an incoherent rambling, I’ll just link to this article which expresses opinions similar to mine and much more clearly: http://www.afterelton.com/askmonkey/11-15-2010
I believe everyone is entitled to his way of life, be it based on a faith, religion, philosophy, or whatever. I myself am a person of a christian faith, more or less (but not exactly) like the Waldensians.
So I have nothing to say to the concept that, if someone is gay *and* a member by choice of the LDS church, they would have to repress their urges, never act on it and find some measure of happiness in their forced celibacy, because that’d be their choice.
As an extension of this, I cannot agree with the points where you say that you would extend this religious choice into a law for all.
Law should apply to everyone, and defend everyone. It should give equal rights and equal responsibility, and it should stand proud against discrimination.
A law saying “gays can’t marry because a religion says so” is not such a law.
Religion and its tenets should be a choice, not an imposition.
You’ve probably heard this example to death but, imagine if the roles were reversed. Imagine if someone passed a law saying that Mormons can’t marry and, even if you don’t agree with it, it’s really in your best interest, because their holy texts said so.
I think you would be devastated. I think you would fight it. You’d probably call them hateful and hypocrites for imposing their world view to someone not of their belief.
However, when saying the very same things to the GLBT population, you ask somehow to be given a free pass, and say that of course you’re neither.
The only difference is, being a white, straight privileged male, religious in a strongly religious part of your country, you have the upper hand. No one’s telling you to repress your love, or your faith, because they don’t agree with it. No one says that your opinion on gay marriage is simply crazy and not even worth serious discussion. You never had to defend your very existence in front of an hostile society, you’ve never been compared to a murderer, a paedophile, a sick person, an epidemic.
When your cousin says he would have chosen not to be gay in this society, what I really hear him say is that he wishes this society were different, not himself.
I will conclude by saying that a ban on gay marriage is not just offensive, discriminative and bigoted, but also useless.
Because if you really feel so strongly about some person that you want to marry him/her in front of the law and/or god, then you’re already married in each other’s eyes. The act of marriage, the contract, is just a way of formalizing something that already exists in order to get the same rights and recognition. You can force love into clandestinity, make it illegal, but you can never stop it.
Just to be clear, this has nothing to do with your ability as a novelist. I stopped reading Orson Scott Card, an old favourite of mine, for the very same reasons.
I quite liked Warbreaker and, when the anger has passed, I’ll probably find it in me to finish reading The way of kings. I’ll just be a little sad that I’ll never know how the series ends.