A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Thursday, February 16, 2006

You Might Be A Zealot If...

As much as I would like to discuss the quiet passing of the chick-lit TREND, something that would bring me an immense amount of joy, there is another issue that needs to be addressed here. While I am not a political animal by nature, I am into the politics of publishing, and free speech is very important to me. I cannot help but be saddened at the recent events sparked by the newspaper cartoons published by a Danish newspaper that depict the prophet Mohammed in a less than flattering way. These cartoons have enraged those who follow Islam, and there have been riots, calls for the executions of those involved, burning of flags, and lots of other attention-getting behaviors involving shouting, grenades, and governmental political posturing.

Reminds me of working with the major NY houses in a way.

But that’s not what I want to say here. I may appear to be a money-hungry, sex-crazed, chauvinistic, wine-soaked, stubborn, willful, arrogant bastard, which is, in fact, true. Hey, not everyone can be a puss like Brad Pitt. And besides, it makes me a hell of an agent. However, I am relatively tolerant of religion—only God knows why—even though I find that, taken all together, the religions of the world somehow manage to discriminate against just about everybody and everything. But I put up with it, only venting occasionally, just like I put up with wannabe writers.

I put up with religions that cruelly oppress women, who I happen to believe are God’s finest creatures, making them wear burkas, those little white caps, or a shroud of marital compliance devoid of almost all of the remotest sexual pleasure except that which is derived only from the knowledge that reproducing is “God’s plan.” I put up with people who insist that their god is the God, knowing that I don’t buy it for one minute, but hoping that I will be embarrassed enough to nod and agree because we are in public—just like the writer who corners me at a conference and won’t let me leave until I say this his idea is the most unique I have ever heard. I put up with people constantly celebrating the oppression, repression, and eventual freedom of their religious group. I put up with listening to people declare that their religion is a peaceful religion and that those who commit atrocities like bombing abortion clinics and flying planes into buildings are on the “fringes,” even though these same people support the death penalty and war, the murdering of people who break their laws even though those people are not of their religion, and don’t speak out against violence/prejudices in their groups even when asked about it. And I put up with nice little old men who live a peaceful life but must cleanse themselves if they are ever touched by a woman.

Are you tired of this bullshit yet?

I am. Here is how is it supposed to work: You can have your religion, but it does not allow you to kill or hurt those who don’t follow your belief system or censor what they have to say about it. Governments don’t have to censor what their citizens say about your fantasy world, because everyone has a right to his opinion. Everyone has a right to his own fantasy, too. Some include deities, others sacred books, and some include rituals involving peyote. Also, keep in mind that screaming and yelling and killing those who have so heartily offended you makes you look sort of cartoonish and just like the stereotypes people have of you.

Do you wannabes see the connection yet?

How many of you have blasted an agent because he didn’t want to see your work or rejected it? How many of you show your asses when an agent or editor rejects your work, becoming the epitome of the awful wannabe all of us have in our heads? How many of your have sent nasty e-mails chastising one of us for being part of the system that won’t let you in? For supporting the publication of garbage when we despise it, too? What about throwing the term “elitist” in our faces? How many of you have done that recently?

Some of the worst offenders here are certain news organizations and governments who refuse to show the cartoons because “they respect the religion.” How’s that again? Respect people who cause riots and call for the slayings of other humans because of someone’s opinion they don’t agree with? That sounds suspiciously solicitous to me, and you all know how I hate solicitous folks. Sounds, too, like the wannabe writer and their watch group friends, who immediately attack and disparage anyone with an opinion or idea that doesn’t benefit them. See why I discourage wannabes? The mindset is the same; the rage and vindictiveness is just as real. And the damage to the global order is just as devastating.

Do you understand now why I don’t like the solicitous literary people feeding off of wannabe power, like politicians trying to appease those who are obviously more bent on harshly beating down opposition to their ideas than tolerating those who think differently? Tolerance doesn’t mean you like someone; it means you don’t agree with the way they do things, but you don’t kill them so you don’t have to put up with them. If that were the case, many editors I know would be in BIG trouble.

My philosophy toward the events of the past few weeks is the same: Someone needs to tell these protesters who are so out for blood that, sorry if you’re feelings are hurt, but you don’t get to kill someone to appease your religious zealotry (and, yes, when somewhere in your religious tenets it says killing the opposition is okay, you are officially a religious zealot). This is the 21st century, and your religion and writing careers have their place.

And it isn’t in my face.


  • At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know, for a foulmouthed salesman, you make a lot of sense.


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