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Interesting update on the William Sanders/Helix mess from a while back. A number of authors (it looks like fifteen) have chosen to make their Helix-published work available at Transcriptase. Some have removed their work from Helix, while others have chosen to let it remain (for a variety of reasons, including obligation, Sanders' refusal to remove the stories -- which he is within his rights to do, or because they still love the magazine). The author statements are also worth reading.

Reaction to this mess has been interesting. The blogosphere has been pretty strong in its condemnation. In another area, I've watched discussion begin with "What's the big deal" and devolve into people making slut/ho jokes. And in Sanders' newsgroup, I've seen accusations that the only people getting worked up over this are wannabe losers trying to make themselves feel important. To that last accusation, I think it's worth noting some of the names involved in Transcriptase, including Eugie Foster, Jennifer Pelland, Beth Bernobich, and Janis Ian, among others. The author statements are worth reading as well, and I think it's important to note the range of reactions.

Would write more, but I've got a book deadline in 24 hours.

ETA: First paragraph edited to try to reduce my own biases. Thanks, shsilver.


Aug. 1st, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
"Sheet-head" is pretty clearly a not-tremendously-clever play on raghead or towelhead. Both of which are indeed ethnic slurs. Claiming that one can use it only to mean "bad" Middle-Easterners (one can't be much more specific, since the slur itself is based on incredible ignorance to begin with) is rather like saying it's okay to use the n-word because you only mean "bad" African Americans. You're going to tell me that a professional writer isn't aware of the history and the context of the words he uses?

The Jebus Nazi thing isn't in the same category. I have yet to hear anyone use any variation of "Jebus Nazi" to refer to an entire ethnic or religious group. The term doesn't have that history attached to it, where "sheet-head" does.

And I don't want to say that about Sanders, that he'd do that, but the inescapable fact is, whether or not he considers himself to be racist, the use of an ethnic slur is a racist act. If that doesn't match the intention, then the proper action to take is to make the actions match the intention, not insist that nobody should have told on you to begin with, or insult the people who prefer not to associate with such behavior.


Jim C. Hines


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