Parent Claims 'Ender's Game' Is Pornographic; Teacher Who Read It To Students Put On Temporary Leave

from the all-those-buggers dept

Like many kids, I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game around the time I was in middle school (where I was from, it was junior high school) — which is about when it came out. I don’t remember exactly when I got the book, but I do remember that the reason I read it was because my father had heard about it and after reading it himself thought I’d like it. He was right. As the next two books in the series came out, I read those too. About five years ago I reread the whole series (including the additional “Shadow” books that came out later) and it’s still an enjoyable set of books, even if the first book is by far the best of the bunch. So it’s a bit crazy to hear that a middle school teacher in South Carolina was put on paid administrative leave for reading part of the book in class, after a parent argued that the book is “pornographic.” I have to admit, I can’t remember anything about the book being even remotely “pornographic,” though, as Julian Sanchez joked, the book is full of “buggers.”

As Reason points out, the police were even called in to investigate, though (thankfully) they quickly determined that no criminal charges should be filed. But, seriously, what is wrong with people that they’d claim that such a popular book, and one that so many young teenagers read, is pornographic, and that a teacher should be investigated for reading it? Since when did we become so fearful of words and stories? Ender’s Game is widely considered a good book for teens to read, and with very good reason.

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Comments on “Parent Claims 'Ender's Game' Is Pornographic; Teacher Who Read It To Students Put On Temporary Leave”

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143 Comments
Steve R. (profile) says:

Re: Stealing Ron Paul's Liberty Theme

Following super-Tuesday, I was flabbergasted when Santorum spoke of preserving liberty. A couple of days later, Santorum evidently made statements (that I have missed)that we need to initiate a “war” on pornography. Seems that Santorum lacks an understanding of the word “liberty”.

Anyway, since this is a forum concerning so-called “intellectual property”; Ron Paul should sue Santorum for stealing the look and feel of Paul’s candidacy. (just joking for those who take this too seriously.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Stealing Ron Paul's Liberty Theme

Seems that Santorum lacks an understanding of the word “liberty”.

He is a religious nutter. No religious nutter understands liberty. That is why religious nutters should never get voted into public office. They have a long record of abuse of power, motivated by their own religious beliefs, to deprive others of their liberty.

Jim Anderson (profile) says:

Re: Wtf???

The reason for the parent’s negative view of the book is probably due to the portrayal of authority figures in a nasty way. I read this is taught in some military academies. The book is very powerful. I read it when I was 18 and had nightmares afterward. I can see a parent saying it was to mature for middle school kids but porno it’s not. This is a book that should be read.

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: Wtf???

The closest closest thing I can think of is the fight between Ender and Bonzo in the shower*.

Yeah, they’re in a public shower, so there’s no clothes.
But they were showering.
Then there was a fight.
And Ender accidentally (Or does he?) kills Bonzo.

As is sometimes the case, this claim of obscenity makes me wonder more about the accuser. They simply had to be going out of their way to find something that wasn’t there.

*Being that this books is over 20 years old now, I consider the spoilers limitation null and void.

Aerilus says:

I had to read it for one of my english classes in middle school or high school and was on the list of accelerated reader book where you could read the book then take a test on it and earn points. I remember big controversies over the goosebumps books. there is always some nut that is going to throw a wrench in the works and make it so we no longer have “Christmas break” or birthday cupcakes in class you know who I am looking at.

Eponymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The pagan outcry was usually pretty loud in my community.

“It’s the feast of Sol Invictus, dammit!”

“It’s not Easter, It’s Eostre, you assholes!”

“If you don’t call it Samhain, I’m gonna Sam-Brain you!”

Granted, it was only one girl protesting, but she’d cast a level 5 Intimidating Shout before she started in, so shit got real very quickly.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Pornographic

Oh no, the book contained the word “naked”.
Clearly that’s pornography.

US culture strikes me as rather peculiarly puritan. Guns and violence galore on tv, video games and in graphic novels. And kids can watch, play and read that all they want. But as soon as there’s even 1 nipple in it, it becomes “BURNINATE ALL THE TEEVEE, VIDJEMAGAMES, BOOKS!” in a hurry.

As if we should all be ashamed to have a body.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: My guess

That’s a possibility, but it seems like the teacher may have read something else and Ender’s Game took the fall. Here’s the link that got slashdotted yesterday with some additional info and some updates: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/03/19/south-carolina-teacher-suspended-for-reading-enders-game-to-middle-school-students/

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: My guess

That theory seems to have been invented wholesale by Orson Scott Card (author of Ender’s Game) in an interview. There’s an update to the story linked at the very top that says the claims the teacher was reading pornography off the Internet (which came from Card) are patently false.

The other two books are another young adult novel and an Agatha Christie novel, neither of which are pornographic.

I think a parent overreacted badly.

BSwiss says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Leeeeap!

“So what you’re saying is, they need to be shown the bible.”

Heck, no!!! They get “shown” the Bible at least once a week, every Sunday.

They need to actually READ the darn thing (and guided study programs that start with predetermined conclusions and circular “reasoning” supported by verses out of context — don’t count).

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Ender's Game' Is Pornographic

That is the most lame way of trying to justify porn I have ever read.

“The book in fact caters towards two related fetishes. The most obvious of these is geek wish-fulfillment.”

“In the best traditions of porn, each chapter is simply a build-up to a catharsis.”

“There is no dramatic tension or genuine excitement about any of these encounters; the only tension comes from how long the inevitable catharsis can be delayed.”

This could be said for the average mystery novel or most van Damme movies…

Basically this person is saying “how dare nerds gratify their wish for revenge on all those righteous jocks who pummelled them in the locker room”.

Kevin H (profile) says:

I see it the other way

I keep reading stories about how Christianity is being attacked by our society and its like a war on religion. I do not actually see that at all.

We are all born atheists. We do not know or believe in any higher being until it is thrust upon us by our parents/family. The only difference between believing in God or Allah is which family you were raised by. What I see is religion loosing more and more control over society and panicking as a result of this loss.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: I see it the other way

I still don’t see where the parent’s faith comes into this at all. There don’t appear to be any reports that the kid’s mom is a Christian, fundamentalist or otherwise, though suddenly that conclusion is being jumped to. Oh, I see. South Carolina. It must be then!

Still, religion or the lack thereof doesn’t prevent monumental stupidity.

Oh, FYI, God and Allah are the same deity. Different names, same deity.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: I see it the other way

I still don’t see where the parent’s faith comes into this at all. There don’t appear to be any reports that the kid’s mom is a Christian, fundamentalist or otherwise, though suddenly that conclusion is being jumped to. Oh, I see. South Carolina. It must be then!

To be honest, if you’ve read the book, it’s hard to see how anyone could jump the conclusion it’s pornographic unless they have an axe to grind of some kind. Which opens up the possibility that the parent’s Christian and overly touchy about some things. So while it may be an assumption it’s not unreasonable in this case. Ender’s Game is not even remotely pornographic.

So if the parent isn’t a Christian with an axe to grind, they’ve still got issues of some kind.

Viln (profile) says:

Re: Re: I see it the other way

“Actually, we are born agnostic. An agnostic is someone who neither believes or disbelieves in the existence of a deity or deities”

Actually, we are born Atheist in that we have “no belief in God(s)” until we’re taught to do so. Agnosticism, like gnosticism, is about knowledge… not about belief. Your confidence in your ability to know something and your belief one way or the other regarding God are two very different things and are not mutually exclusive. The term “Agnostic” defined as someone who isn’t sure if they believe in God is a wretched and deliberately disingenuous label created by Theists as a kinder softer more redeemable middle ground, allowing them to further isolate and demonize Atheists as “people who choose not to believe in God”.

The same arrogant and ignorant campaign to redefine concepts like Agnosticism, or “Scientific Theory”, is what makes these people so despicable, and it shouldn’t be surprising when someone jumps to the conclusion that the latest southern parent to reject a book with hardly any sex as “pornographic” is a fundamentalist Christian. It’s a fairly well founded assumption.

Viln (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I see it the other way

“Wow! you remember what you believed when you were born?”

Our understanding of newborn brains and the human learning process leaves me confident I was also an Aconsumerist, an Acartesianist, an Amazdakist, and quite likely an Azoroastrianist as well.

“I don’t think anyone knows what a baby believes…”

Obviously you’re an Agnostic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I see it the other way

Agnostics belive they dont know.
Atheists know they dont belive.

Since babys dont belive at all you should put them to the later even if they dont know that they are not beliving.

(On the other hand small children belive everything you tell them, even the most ridicioulus bullshit, so maby you should callthem “perfect theist”)

Pitabred (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I see it the other way

No.

You can be an agnostic atheist, where you don’t think there’s a god but you can’t be sure. Or a gnostic atheist, where you claim to know there’s no god. Just like you can be an agnostic theist, where you think there’s a god but can’t be sure. Or a gnostic theist, where you claim to know there’s a god.

Agnostic is not claiming knowledge. Atheism has to do with belief. Seriously… not a hard concept. The dictionary can help you.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I see it the other way

Oh ye gods, I never thought I’d be following this argument not on a Creationist forum but on a tech forum.

What amuses me is how the more ‘religious’ (read: insecure) Christians feel the need to try and ‘disprove’ or deny the existence of atheism, as if by its very existence it negates god.

Digital Consumer (profile) says:

I always meant to read this author because I love science fiction and fantasy, and in school he was always hailed as a great writer by all my English teachers.

/rant

WHY DO YOU FORCE ME TO CAPITALIZE ENGLISH OH RED SQUIGGLE LINE??!! Maybe I don’t think it deserves to be capitalized. In the end, I have bowed to the almighty squiggle line:(

Lauriel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Oh, okay, I get where you’re coming from now.

I didn’t mean ‘proper’ as in ‘correct’. There are two categories of noun – common and proper. A common noun doesn’t have a capital letter, and refers to a person, place of thing. A proper noun does have a capital letter, and refers to a spceific person, place or thing. A person’s name, ‘Marcel’ for example, is a proper noun, whereas ‘person’ is a common noun.

So the sentence I typed was correct:

The Almighty Squiggle Line (name)probably believes that “English”(name) is a proper noun, deserving of a capital letter. Your obeisance to the Almighty Squiggle Line was wise, young Grasshopper.(name, and KungFu reference).

And I try very hard to resist the lure of being a grammar Nazi, but since the OP asked, I thought it was okay to answer. ๐Ÿ™‚

simple simon says:

It's Larry Flynt's Fault...

I haven’t read the book, but the synopsis on Wikipedia basically describes it as a Sci Fi novel about war on Earth against an alien species. If this is the case, the connection to pornography is probably that Larry Flynt described war as the ultimate form of pornography and Larry Flynt published Hustler magizine, therefore the book “Ender’s Game” must be pornographic. All Larry Flynt’s fault.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Rose the Nose

Perhaps the parent didn’t like the part in the book where “Rose the Nose” was laying naked on his cot and had a tablet over his groin with the screen showing a fake animated penis.

Obviously like another person that commented this accusation of pornography had to have come from the deep south or some other place where inbreeding has caused some brain damage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh never mind, RyanNerd remembered better. Here’s a pornographic quote:

“Everybody erupted in laughter. It took Ender a moment to understand why. Rose had programmed his desk to display– and animate– a bigger-than-life sized picture of male genitals, which waggled back and forth as Rose held the desk on his naked lap. This is just the sort of commander Bonzo would trade me to, thought Ender. How does a boy who spends his time like this win battles?”

Watchit (profile) says:

A CLASSIC!

Ender’s Game is a CLASSIC! it’s what got me started in the sci-fi genre to begin with.
Even if books could somehow be thought of as “pornographic”, I’ve read way way worse books from my middle-school library.

Also, Ender’s Game was the best, the sequels were kinda meh, and then Ender’s Shadow and it’s sequels were Amazing!

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A CLASSIC!

Probably because the first one I read was actually Speaker for the Dead, I do like the later books, although they are almost a different sub-genre, and certainly have a very different feel – older, mature Ender is really a different person to child Ender. The newer books are making an interesting attempt to try and show the progression here, which might help. Anyway, the later on books are much more philisophical in a different way, but it all goes into the nature and morality of Xenocide and racial survival.

Anonymous Coward says:

Digital Consumer, read Enders Game. It’s a great scifi romp and a true classic. You’ll love it if you like the genre. You’ll read it again after you’ve read it the first time.

More and more, I’ve had it with religion. Even today, its still killing in the name of peace. While Islam is labeled the religion of peace, there are sure a lot of people dying over it.

The Pope seems to have a lot of troubles between the church, pedophilia, and priests.

Is there much difference between this and Sanatorum wanting to do a war on porno and the whole GOP wanting in your bedroom to see you are doing sex in the approved manner?

Humans didn’t learn a dang thing during the Inquisition and it looks as if they all want to go back to it, one step at a time if the way present laws are made, considered, and approved.

Lord, save me from your followers…

Some Other AC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree with your statement. I am a Christian, but I will not be told what I can/can’t read, watch, listen to, etc… In my recent experiences with attending services, both my current Pastor and previous one(different church) stated that one should always read the entire passage from the Bible that is being quoted/used in a message or service. If you are given 2 verses, be sure to go back at least 5 or to beginning of the chapter and go forward at least 5 or to the end of the chapter. This is the only way to gain context in the verse.

As for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, etc…there are some fantastic authors out there. While have not read Ender’s Game, I will likely do so now and get my 10 yr old son to read it. As for “pornographic” material, if you have read anything by Erik Van Lustbader(spelling?) or any of The Game of Thrones series, one would understand what potentially pornographic material is.

Rekrul says:

It’s ‘political correctness’ run amok. Somewhere along the line the idea of ‘tolerance’ came to mean that we have to tolerate every crackpot who gets their panties in a bunch over something that they heard from a friend, who saw an internet post from someone whose brother read an article about something that might possibly offend them.

That One Guy (profile) says:

I swear, I only read it for the plot…

Ender’s Game…. Pornographic… man, they must have some amazing drugs down there to come to a conclusion like that.

Mentally reviewing the book, the only thing that comes even vaguely close is the shower scene(s) where for some strange reason the people washing up aren’t dressed.

Of course if that’s the reason I can only assume the nutjob who filed the complaint thinks that beaches and swimming pools are likewise horrid pits of sin and obscenity.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ah, but what you’re forgetting is that this is a clear case of ‘lowly servant venerating wise massah’ from the ‘good old days’ when peons knew their place – so they’ll encourage it as a good example overall.

Besides, he gets safely married and sprogs and only follows his old master when about to die. Not exactly Brokeback Mountain.

Lord Binky says:

This obviously is the consequence of a lack of comprehension of english and the refuseal to use a dictionary. This would not even be possible to come up if the student or even the parent knew what the words in the book actually ment, instead of imagining their definition (and really why is their imagination even going there when thinking of children at school).

david allsebrook (profile) says:

What lesson to learn from this?

Two thoughts come to mind.

First, the awesome power of denunciation. Most of these comments are about the book, not about whether a teacher should be suspended based upon a complaint.

Second, literacy is a very suspicious and those who promote the literate lifestyle need to be closely watched and monitored at all times.

artp (profile) says:

Jeepers, Mr. Wizard!

I don’t know which is worse:

a) trying to get Enders Game banned for being pornographic,
b) using that to prove that religion is a blight on the earth, or
c) getting upset because there are some (numerically indeterminate) nutcases that don’t like [my|your|his|her|its] views.

I think this thread is entertaining. I just don’t know if I can stomach it. Prejudice is not the exclusive property of any one group.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The linked article (on aikenstandard.com) points to commonsensemedia.org as saying parents should be aware of the violence, sex and language in Ender’s Game. If you go to their website, their “sex’ rating is due to “boys and girls are naked in dorms. A boy makes a picture of enlarged genitalia on his computer screen’. Of course, they also say that it’s fine for 12 year olds, and the kid who complained was 14, but whatever.
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/enders-game

“Rose had programmed his desk to display– and animate– a bigger-than-life sized picture of male genitals, which waggled back and forth as Rose held the desk on his naked lap. “

I guess that a vague written description of a video of male genitalia might be pornographic. I don’t really think any part of the human body is inherently pornographic, but I can see how a reasonable person might. I might even have a problem with reading that passage to, say, a 5 year old. But it’s ridiculous to file a criminal complaint for reading it to a 14 year old.

Geoff Maguire says:

Wtf???

Pornography as Justice Potter Stewart is in the eye of the beholder. There are certainly things in “Ender Games’ that would get the prudish upset. The central character Ender is frequently naked albeit in a nonsexual context as are several other boys and a girl character. (Spoiler alert) in a climactic scene Ender and his arch nemesis go at each other boyo a boyo in a nude shower room fight to the death. Enders homerotic relation ship with another boy named Alai avoids consummation but is pretty clear to see as is his near incestuous relationship with his sister. Again nothing ever goes “all the way” but its pretty hard to miss and will provide plenty of fodder for prudes and religious fanatics. Throw in a heavy dollop of racism and anti semitism and bobs your uncle. That Orson Card is an active racist and homophobe in his non literary life is certainly curious.. perhaps the Author doth protest to much….in order to hide his real feelings?
In the end I don’t see what the excitement is about with this book anyway. Its half baked morality play plot is implausable and poorly constructed and the writing formulaic and stilted. Its just not that good.

adg says:

interesting

I just completed the book for a college course and I am looking for essay topics. I find it interesting that this book caused so much controversy in areas that clearly are over analyzed. I my 14 and 15 year old kids will also be reading this book for their home school literature course. I do not see porn. I see kids in the locker room showering after a game just as they do everyday after football or soccer. i do not see homosexuality, I see immature kids being kids. I do not see incestuous relationships, i see unconditional love between siblings. I am a christian and do not see these ridiculous notions at all. What i can see is lack of self control in people who voice ridiculous things that are otherwise to the point descriptions. If you can’t deal with realism just lock yourself indoors and be a monk.

adg says:

interesting

I just completed the book for a college course and I am looking for essay topics. I find it interesting that this book caused so much controversy in areas that clearly are over analyzed. My 14 and 15 year old kids will also be reading this book for their home school literature course. I do not see porn. I see kids in the locker room showering after a game just as they do everyday after football or soccer. i do not see homosexuality, I see immature kids being kids. I do not see incestuous relationships, i see unconditional love between siblings. I am a christian and do not see these ridiculous notions at all. What i can see is lack of self control in people who voice ridiculous things that are otherwise to the point descriptions. If you can’t deal with realism just lock yourself indoors and be a monk.

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