There’s been a lot of chatter in the threads dealing with the William Sanders rejection letter fiasco to do with my post last week where I said “The fact that Gardner Dozois brought up the specter of a lawsuit makes me wonder what’s hiding in his rejection letters.” Some people (generally people who already dislike me, but perhaps also some who I respect) feel that I was, in a roundabout, backhand way, calling Dozois a racist, sexist, bigot. I have two things to say to that.
The first is: if I felt this way about Dozois, I would actually just say it. I’m pretty damn blunt. And I’m not afraid to call out racism where I see it, even if the racist happens to be an editor. If I had actually felt that Dozois was racist, it would not have been a sidelong comment.
The second is: when I said “it makes me wonder” and elsewhere in the post “I’m extremely wary” I meant just exactly that. When people don’t address the elephant in the room, and that elephant happens to involve bigotry, my spidey sense starts to tingle. I do wonder what that means about them. I particularly wondered what it meant about Dozois, because I wouldn’t have thought he’d have anything in particular to worry about regarding rejections in the wild. His talking about lawsuits and copyright made me rethink that.
However, it turns out that my assumption about why Dozois wasn’t addressing the elephant in that Asimov’s thread was wrong. According to people on that board, he was attempting to follow the rules of that space. He also posted elsewhere that the issue of professionalism and ethics is very important to him. His priorities are not my priorities. And much as I may disagree about priorities, I don’t feel that makes him a racist.
There’s a difference between not addressing bigotry and being a bigot. I do definitely feel that not addressing is wrong–it should always be addressed. Not just in this situation, but in the SF community at large. But calling someone out for not addressing is and should be different from calling them a bigot. (Heck, he may be addressing it in places I don’t see. I just don’t assume people do because, in my experience, people don’t.)
If Dozois himself feels that I called him a racist or similar, then I’m definitely sorry about that. (The if is only because I don’t actually know how he feels on the issue.) If people I know and respect feel I did that, hopefully they don’t anymore. I don’t particularly care what certain other parties think on the issue. They get pissed when I wake up in the morning instead of dying in my sleep. At that point you just can’t win.