Just a quickie today, since it's all I have time for, but I wanted to write something about this.
YALSA gave out an award to Orson Scott Card for his books Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, and a lot of people are upset because they seem to have based the award on the quality and influence of the works themselves instead of vetting Card's political and social views with the PC Police. It turns out that Card believes that homosexual acts are sinful and same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, views that most likely put him squarely in the majority of everyone ever born on earth, but naturally put him outside the pale of enlightened thought on this issue. Though based on his own writing, it seems to me his ideas are pretty mainstream Christian, especially for a Mormon. Love the sinner, hate the sin seems to be his mantra, but he definitely draws a line between tolerance and acceptance that many would prefer to erase, and he definitely does support the criminalizing of homosexual acts.
Since it's de rigeur when discussing such controversial issues, I'll state some of my own positions, because a lot of people prefer to judge writing on the views of the author rather than the arguments in the work. So, for the record: I don't read science fiction. I never have nor ever will read Card. I don't care what authors YALSA awards. I don't care who marries whom in state marriages or what consenting adults do as long as they don't do it in the street and scare the horses. Keep your laws off my body and everything else of mine.
The question comes down to this: should an award honoring an author's work instead be based on the author's politics? That's what YALSA's critics seem to think. Ignore the actual works and instead judge authors by what they do and say outside their fiction. Thus, we can be assured that we don't give awards for great literature and then find out that the authors have any opinions that anyone might dislike. Is that the idea?
The YALSA committee was faulted for not researching Card's political views more thoroughly. If they had, would they have chosen any differently? If so, that doesn't say much for the integrity of the award or the committee. The committee has mildly defended itself, but it's still an open question of why this decision needs any defense. Does anyone think these Card works don't deserve the award based on their content? They've certainly received science fiction awards. Are the works themselves politically problematic? And if they were, would that be a problem? After all, ALA awards committees are usually happy to give awards to politically charged books, which doesn't seem to bother the critics. But for critics of this particular award, it seems that politics is more important than literature, and possibly more important than everything. If politics trumps literature for a literary award, maybe it's time to get rid of the award.