William Sanders, Senior Bigot, Helix
I love writing science fiction and fantasy, I love reading science ficton and fantasy. I love (some parts of) fandom, I love (many parts of) this community. But there are times when I really feel like I could, and should, and must, walk the hell away before I end up hating all humanity. This is one of those times.
From a rejection letter William Sanders of Helix sent out:
I’m impressed by your knowledge of the Q’uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people – at the end we still don’t really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can – and I was pleased to see that you didn’t engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.
the narrator seems to be saying that it was this incident which caused him to take up the jihad, but he’s being mendacious (like all his kind, he’s incapable of honesty);
You know what makes me so mad about this, beyond the obvious? I want to like Helix. It’s published some great stories by some wonderful writers (some of whom are my friends). But all of that is canceled out by the insane bigotry on display in that letter. And people like this are not shunned, cast out, or made an example of.
As I said. There are times.
ETA: Sanders responds:
Son, hasn’t anybody ever told you that public posting of a private email message is contrary to the rules both of accepted internet practice and common courtesy?
I do appreciate your efforts to be fair – certainly far more so than most of the other people in this ward, ah, group – but the fact remains that you’ve done something both socially and professionally unacceptable in posting it at all. So if you had any idea of submitting anything else to Helix, forget it. I won’t work with people who pull this kind of shit.
I suppose this is what I get for trying to be a nice guy, and give you a little encouragement rather than the standard thanks-but-no-thanks form rejection. Silly me.
(I notice, too, the presence in the lynch mob of another person I’ve tried to help, and to whom I thought I’d been particularly kind. No good deed, etc.)
Of course none of these people have read the story, and so they fail to grasp the context – that I was talking not about Muslims, or Arabs, or Oompa Loompas or any other religious or ethnic group, but about terrorists and violent extremists. (That being, after all, what your story was about.)
But I don’t feel any need to defend myself, or Helix, to these people; indeed I doubt that there’s anybody outside their little Mutual Masturbation Society who gives a damn what they think about anything at all.
They are cordially invited to have intercourse with their precious selves. I’m sure most of them could use the practice.
That makes it all better, right??
The contributions by lwe/Lawrence Watt-Evans on the thread are… special, as well.
Daughter of ETA: There is more commentary here and also here with the full rejection reposted, since apparently the person who was rejected deleted it from the original thread. Speaking of the rejected person, he’s put up a post explaining that we’re all taking Mr. Sanders out of context:
There is a truly despicable Muslim character in my story. Sorry, world. Maybe I was playing into prejudices. Sanders was talking about that character, so it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue rant, it was targeted to the content of my story. In context, his comments were directed at MY character and those types of extremists. People are taking it out of context and interpreting it too broadly if they think that Sanders was referring to all Arabs or all Muslims. I’m sure that if my character was a Timothy McVeigh-like extremist, Sanders would have used different but equally scornful language. The extremism of MY character is what drew his ire, and so if there is any blame it’s MY blame.
I’m sure you can image what I have to say to that. Lucky you, I posted it in the comments. I would cut Luke some slack due to him probably freaking out a little when Sanders was all “You’ll never be published in MY magazine again!” except that from his description of his own story I’m not at all convinced that he didn’t write something sketchy and racist himself. I’m willing to be proven wrong.