The “Sheet Head” Fiasco


Before anyone throws a fit and thinks I’m going to go on an anti-Muslim rant: I’m not. This is in regards to the heated discussion that has sprung up around the posting of a rejection letter sent by William Sanders of Helix Magazine. The link in that sentence is not to the original post, but a different post where the whole letter appears. The original poster recanted and pulled the letter off after Sanders threw a fit and a half over what he considered private correspondence.
Now Tobias S. Buckell has rung in here on the issue and it seems like things are getting even more heated after he posted this about some things said in the Asimov’s Magazine forums. It should be said at this point that any mention of the wrongs of Mr. Sanders has very little to do with being “P.C.” and a lot to do with the nature of being a bigoted idiot. Mr. Sanders clearly used language that is inappropriate. At this point it is irrelevant whether it was right or wrong to post the rejection notice (I think it was wrong to post it, just to weigh in on that). Sanders has said things that are essentially racial slurs, or at least akin to them. “Sheet head” is not some friendly nickname given to Muslim people and while Sanders claims he was speaking about fundamentalist Muslims (namely terrorists), his use of such language indicates not only a bias but a clear injection of personal bigotry on his part.
Tobias S. Buckell has already weighed in on using phrases like “sheet head” and “those people” and even on the nature of the rather psychotic discussions in the forums that seem to center on this idea that pointing out bigotry and claiming it as unacceptable is akin to being a Nazi or some bra-burning hippy/America-hater. Certainly there will always be an aspect of the “P.C.” discussion, but here the focus is more on Sanders’ integrity as an editor and human being than on trying not to step on someone’s toes. No matter how you look at this, this is not good.

And for those that think I’m just another liberal nutjob who wants to step on your freedom of speech, well, you’re wrong. I’m a moderate. I sit in the middle because I don’t subscribe to either heavy-handed approach to things. You have ever right to babble your nonsense, but guess what, I have every right to call you out on your bigoted, idiotic statements. That’s right. Free speech applies to everyone. Mr. Buckell can say you’re all a bunch of right-wing bigoted morons all he wants. Why? Because he has freedom of speech. I can say the same thing. So, if you don’t like it that you’re being called out for your transgressions, that’s just too bad. We’re not trying to stifle free speech. You can say that all you want, but screaming something at the top of your lungs doesn’t make it true. If that were the case then we could all just scream and pretend that oil isn’t disappearing…and it would be true real fast (or scream about something more important if you want). The argument that folks who are pointing out the wrongs of Mr. Sanders are stomping on civil rights by being P.C. liberal Nazis holds little water here.

If you want to read more about this, there’s some here, here, here, here, and here.


About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

2 thoughts on “The “Sheet Head” Fiasco

  1. If he’s actually talking about terrorists then I don’t think he said anything wrong … perhaps not professionally a great idea, but I imagine a lot of people share his view that terrorists are the scum of the earth …

  2. “Sheet head” is a derogatory term used for all Arabic people. It’s akin to calling Blacks the N-word. Hence why the term is unacceptable, especially when in the context of professionalism.

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