Helix Quarterly’s William Sanders, or How To Win At Being A Dick In Life

I came upon this story late and I’ve spent a few days gathering some information.

This isn’t about privacy of e-mails or professional courtesy.  It’s about dealing with a man who doesn’t understand that you leave your rascist feelings outside of your professional sphere.  The author who posted the rejection has since been banned from ever sumbitting to Helix again, which is just as well.  I can’t think of why he would want to bother.

Personally, I have no problem posting rejections (saying I got one that was particularly sour), much like I had no problem posting e-mails sent to me from people who vehemently disagreed with things I posted on the Diner.  It’s in my Legal/Privacy Statement there and here.  Have been since 2005.

It started here, with a rejection letter posted by K. Tempest Bradford via Luke Jackson  (who has since removed it, but as the internet goes, it’s forever) from William Sanders, editor of Helix Quarterly (you can google it if you want to, I won’t link to it) in which Sanders refered to the Luke’s story thusly:

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.

Nice.  Nothing says bigot like blatant racism.  And before we discuss context, feel free to read the whole letter and you’ll discover – that *is* the context.  So the letter was posted, appropriate outrage ensued, and an anonymous commenter, resumably Sanders, said:

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. (via this livejournal)

Then he was kinda threated with being sued, a lawsuit which probably would have been thrown out of any court. See, the thing is, when Sanders sent his little missive, he assumed he was talking to a like-minded individual who hated the same groups he hated, all under the guise of what I can only conclude was “accepted internet practice and common courtesy”.  It was very chummy and very personable.  It was also extremely offensive. 

If this is how Mr Sanders perceives being professional, regardless of context, he’s off my list of both places to submit and publications to read. 

Orson Scott Card is next.

There, of course, is more.

Because of this, some authors are demanding that their stories be removed from the Helix archives, since no one wants to be associated (on purpose) with a bigot, and as author’s it’s our right where our work can be seen.

To summarize, first he degrades the author by telling him/her that their story was posted out of pity, then he tells others that, despite claiming earlier that he would handle it (in his own special way), he’ll be charging them $40.00.  Then on the deleted pages he posted:

Story deleted at author’s pantiwadulous request.

In case it gets removed someone has a screencap of it.

I think it needs to  be said that the authors who choose to remain on the pages of Helix as well as continue to submit shouldn’t be penalized, only the publication.  If people want to continue reading and donating, that’s their business, just don’t expect congratulations or kudos.

Much like I don’t begrudge people who continue to patronize Curves, despite the fact that the Owner supports some of the more radical anti-choice groups. I just won’t be giving Curves my money.

It’s no secret that some spec fiction can be both a hiding place and breeding ground for less than open-minded people.  I see lots of complaints on various blogs because you see very little PoC (People of Color) as primary characters in any fiction, much less s/f/spc.  I’m guessing green elves don’t count. We can choose to support this underlying thread of unease, hoping that it’ll work itself out, or turn our backs on the  mewling defenseless demon until it the pointless posturing and hate wither away to  nothing.

Lots of people are writing about this and other related posting issues.  Feel free to read them and form your own opinions (yes I know my links are for only one side, but the other side just doesn’t seem to  be in the posting mood).

2 thoughts on “Helix Quarterly’s William Sanders, or How To Win At Being A Dick In Life

  1. I just heard that Helix is closing down.

    There is rampant anti-professionalism here, both on the part of William Sanders for writing that in a business letter -and- on the part of the writer who posted private correspondence personally (A rapid way to make editors not like you).

  2. Jennnifer – there hasn’t not been a time that a writer hasn’t complained about an editor, either here in the ether or our there in meat space.

    Sorry, I don’t believe it’s privileged or private correspondence. There should be no reasonable expectation of privacy when a “professional” acts like an asshat towards a potential business colleague.

    Seriously – this isn’t about a future editor not liking you – this was abut some very unsavory things a respected man said to someone who didn’t appreciate his brand of racism.

    Here’s an idea – don’t be a racist in your correspondence to writers and you won’t get outed as someone no one wants to do business with.