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NPR, Gay Marriage and Superman: Very Little Considered

As you may have heard, DC Comics decision to have science fiction novelist Orson Scott Card write the initial episodes of the latest series of Superman comics has come under fire. Why? Because — GASP! — Card is opposed to so-called same-sex marriage.

Last Sunday night, National Public Radio weighed in on the issue. What follows is a kind of open letter from me to NPR.

Dear NPR:

I’m writing you about a segment that aired on the February 17th edition of Weekend All Things Considered featuring Glen Weldon talking about Orson Scott Card, same-sex marriage, and Superman.

First, a house-keeping note: I noticed that the transcript of Weldon’s chat with host Jackie Lyden was not available on your website. Instead, there was a blog post that begins with Weldon saying that he’s not an NPR employee.

Given the shoddy nature of the segment, I don’t blame whoever made the substitution.

From the start, it was clear that this was not a fair discussion of the matter. In response to Lyden’s question about why DC chose Orson Scott Card, Weldon replied that Card is a “big name,” as if Card’s competition for the job included the Kardashians.

Listeners unfamiliar with Card’s writing work would not have learned that he has won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards for his science fiction and fantasy writing.

Well, that leaves Card’s views about same-sex marriage. Weldon began by paying obeisance to the idea of tolerance for other viewpoints. Recent experience teaches that this is usually a prelude to an attempt to punish someone for disagreeing with the speaker. In this respect, the segment didn’t disappoint.

Again, the segment tacitly acknowledged that Card’s views on same-sex marriage are irrelevant to his qualifications to write stories about Superman. As Weldon told Lyden, Card’s views on the matter are no more likely to make their way into the stories than are his views on, for instance, Chinese currency manipulation.

Then what’s the problem? Why would Weldon object to Card writing for Superman? Weldon’s calling Card an “activist” on this issue is hardly credible. As the saying goes, “Pot, meet kettle.”

His insistence that Superman is a “progressive” symbol is scarcely better. Some of us on the other side of the issue also hold progressive views, one of which is not persecuting those who with whom we disagree.

You might take exception to my use of the word “persecute,” but tell me, what is the difference between what Weldon is advocating and the treatment of the Hollywood Ten before the House Un-American Activities Committee back in the 1940s? I don’t recall anyone on NPR saying that Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo got what he deserved. So why is a modern blacklist any more acceptable? In both instances, the goal is to punish people for their views, not their actions.

Now, I don’t have a problem with NPR allowing Weldon to express his views — but my problem is that you should have allowed an opposing viewpoint, preferably from someone whom your demographic is inclined to trust.

Someone like Janis Ian, the Grammy Award-winning folk musician. Ian, who is gay, has written of her friendship with Orson Scott Card and how, when she was at her lowest, Card was there for her when “the gay community was nowhere to be seen.”

That’s the kind of coverage I expect from NPR. Unfortunately, it was nonexistent on the 17th, when on this issue at least, very little was considered.

Respectfully yours,

A disappointed listener

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: February 28, 2013

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