If you had asked me 12 months ago what I knew about Orson Scott Card, I would probably have answered, "Isn't he that guy who wrote Ender's Game?" That was about the extent of my knowledge. It turns out that he's a devout Mormon and has, as some devout Mormons do, views about homosexuality that the mainstream might not share. This has apparently led to boycotts of the release of the new Ender's Game film in the States.
I don't intend to get into a rant about that issue in particular. Suffice to say that I don't agree with Orson Scott Card, but I disagree equally strongly with associating the political views of a writer or artist with their work - the work should stand on its own merits, and in Ender's Game it more than does. It is one of the most humane and brave novels for teenagers (who are nowadays called "Young Adults" for some reason) ever written. HP Lovecraft was a daft-as-a-brush racist, Wagner was a despicable anti-semite, L. Frank Baum thought that the native Americans ought to be wiped off the face of the earth...none of that should matter if their work is good and those views aren't in the work. I tend to think that boycotting the new Ender's Game film is rather dangerous, in that it subsumes art into a discussion about social values, and thus diminishes it.
Rather, what interests me about this issue is that, wherever you read discussion of the film on the internet, everybody feels bound to dismiss Orson Scott Card as nutty, insane, hateful, bigoted, appalling, and so forth. Even the sensible reviewers, who look at the film as a film, feel the need to preface their comments by saying "Of course, Orson Scott Card is a blithering idiot and a horrendous bigot to boot, but...." or words to that effect.
I think that's too easy. Of course I should preface these comments by saying that I don't agree with Orson Scott Card about homosexuality or gay marriage. Nonetheless, the only real encounter I have ever had with the man is this interview, in which he comes across as an overly-chatty but very nice, extremely warm-spirited and generous man with many interesting things to say about writing, about fantasy and SF, and about creativity. Which is to say, setting his views on homosexuality aside - if this interview was all you had to go on - he would appear as, generally speaking, a good egg.
People are complex, but we seem unduly keen to reduce them to what we hate about them. It's very easy, and tempting, to follow the equation that Card = homophobic = bad person. I think that's inherently dehumanising. For me, the far more interesting issue is: How can somebody who is broadly 'good' have views that are most certainly 'bad'? How can somebody write a book as empathetic as Ender's Game while apparently not having much empathy when it comes gay people who want to get married? Mr Card may be able to explain that, in fact.
It's something that you will inevitably encounter if you look into the political or social views, or the 'off screen' persona, of any creative person you admire. I think China Mieville is a brilliant writer and a really interesting and charming bloke in person too, but his political views in the abstract would probably make my hair stand on end. (Not that I'm comparing his views with those of Card - you understand my point.) Richard Dawkins is an astonishingly good science writer whose books communicate a love of knowledge and expression of wonder at the majesty of life, yet he's capable of sounding like a po-faced and mean-spirited bigot when the mood takes him, which is often. John Lennon wrote some beautiful songs, showing incredible insight into human emotions and how to express them, but he was capable of treating people in his personal life with appalling cruelty. You will be able to think of your own examples.
Part of being a person alive in the world is that you have to recognise that people often can't be pigeon-holed. Sometimes people hold views that you disagree with very strongly, and that doesn't necessarily make them a bad person. Sometimes people do 'bad' things while expressing beauty and empathy through their art. Trying to arrange the world in such a way that it's easy to divide the people you agree with and disagree with into separate camps labelled "hateful bigots" and "on the side of the angels" is extremely tempting, but foolish and mistaken. It's about expressing control over something - other people - that can't be controlled.