Saturday, January 15, 2011

That so-called "Christian morality" in action yet again

Sometimes, by happy serendipity, you discover something that, in a totally non-conspiracy-theory kind of way, allows you to connect a few dots and go, "Ah soooo!" Being someone who makes something of a close-to-full-time hobby of science fiction and fantasy literature, and knowing as I do a number of writers both professional and aspiring, I came across news recently of a potential scam targeting the latter group.

The sad truth of our world is that there are hucksters and con artists out there who latch onto your dreams and hopes and insecurities in order to rob you blind. Religion has refined this so expertly all you can do is stand in awe.

Aspiring writers are easy pickings for vile charlatans. And it is via the blogs of award-winning science fiction novelist John Scalzi and literary agent Janet Reid that I learn of a writing contest for newbie talents, the fine print of which can be summarized as "We Are Going To Fuck You." (What does any of this have to do with atheism and religion? Wait for it.)

The contest is run by one Karen Hunter of First One Digital Publishing. Immediately, to anyone who knows anything about the legalities of actual publishing, red flags are flying all over the map. First flag: entrants must pony up a $149 entry fee. An entry fee isn't problematic in itself, but this one's exorbitant, to put it mildly. I just entered an online screenwriting contest for the princely sum of 12 bucks.

Then there is this tiny little rider that they hope you don't notice, buried deep within the rules.

All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation. Entries that contain copyrighted material must include a release from the copyright holder.

For those of you not up on writing or intellectual property stuff, what an entrant is being told here is that First One Digital Publishing expects you to give away all of your rights to the story you submit, forever. Once they have it, it's no longer yours, and not only will you never get paid a dime if, say, they sell the story to film or TV, you cannot even ask for it back if they do nothing with it. And you're expected to shell out 149 bones for the privilege. I'm reminded of Sarah Palin suggesting that women should be charged for their rape kits.

As Scalzi points out, with rules like these, why would any writer with a story good enough to submit to this contest not simply submit it to a real agent or publisher? Because you see, in traditional publishing, a writer is never expected to sign away all rights. When, for instance, Random House accepts your story or book, they are never flat-out buying up the story, lock stock and barrel. They are simply buying first publication rights, which is a license allowing them to be the publishers of your story, to which you retain full copyright, for a period of time specified by the contract. Once the contract expires, the publisher can choose to negotiate a renewal of it, or not, leaving the author free to take the property elsewhere. (Note: there is a thing called "work for hire," but I'm not addressing that here.)

But this contest is relying on newbie writers being utterly ignorant of their legal rights, which, sadly, almost all of them are. And considering that the accepted length for entries runs up to 65,000 words — right around the low end of what the industry considers a novel — this represents quite a lot of work Hunter is expecting a writer to pay to give up.

The fuckage continues. You don't have to know jack about writing and publishing to raise an eyebrow at this one:

In the event that there is an insufficient number of entries received that meet the minimum standards determined by the judges, all prizes will not be awarded.

Get that?

If an "insufficient number of entries" are received, First One can simply call the whole thing off. How many entries are "sufficient"? Why, they don't say. So they can get 20, or 200, or 2000, and decide, so sorry, we've received an "insufficient number" of entries, but thanks all the same for submitting. And for your entry fee. Wait, don't you get that back if the contest is cancelled? Why, it doesn't say, so I'm going to take that as a "No." So the contest will be off, but they'll still have your cash in their bank, and your story, which they can publish, edit, do whatever with, without paying you or even putting your name on it. Because their rules require you not only to grab your ankles but supply your own lube. Finally they wrap everything up with a kicker that leaves them legally untouchable for anything, including, one fears, any arbitrary decision to turn up at your house one day, shoot your whole family dead and burn the place down.

By entering, entrants release judges and Sponsor(s), and its parent company, subsidiaries, production, and promotion agencies from any and all liability for any loss, harm, damages, costs, or expenses, including without limitation property damages, personal injury, and/or death arising out of participation in this contest, the acceptance, possession, use or misuse of any prize, claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy, merchandise delivery, or the violation of any intellectual property rights, including but not limited to copyright infringement and/or trademark infringement.

No, I'm not sure what kind of writing contest could result in "property damages, personal injury or death," but at this point I'm willing to believe they'll think of something.

Seriously, even the prominent "Writers of the Future" contest, a major competition in SF publishing that has launched several notable careers, and which is run by the publishing arm of the Church of motherfucking Scientology, does nothing that isn't strictly ethically above-board in their own rules. Hopefully, by now, I've made it abundantly clear what an exercise in total fail Karen Hunter's little contest really is.

So now we get to that happy serendipity I mentioned earlier. Once word got out in writing and publishing circles — with people tweeting the living hell out of the Janet Reid blog in particular — some folks began to wonder just who this Karen Hunter person was. Particularly when she responded to Reid with an awesomely bitch-ass comment in her blog thread.


While I appreciate your comments. And I understand your vested interest in this business because if we're successful, we eliminate the need for literary agents, the contest hasn't launched yet. So to post our rules and a link telling people that this is a contest to avoid is both self-serving and misleading. Are there issues with the rules, yes. But I think you should wait until the contest officially launches on Feb. 11, 2011, before you tell people to not join it. That's the fair thing to do.

Could I, a 20-year veteran in publishing as a writer and publisher, afford to put out a contest that rips people off? I'm not desperate. The goal is to truly find the next great author, something not too many people are actually looking for. What's been your success track record?

Karen Hunter

PS: I sleep extremely well every night because I operate in truth.

Man. Hunter wasn't done. This comment was immediately followed by "If my response doesn't appear on your blog, I'll know what your true motives are. Thanks again." Well, I'd say the contest, rather than revealing how unnecessary agents are, actually illustrates their extreme importance, as agents make their living running interference between clueless n00b writers and the hucksters like Hunter who try to scam them.

Even given the hilarious defensive petulance and rich irony of much of this whine, there was just a lot in Hunter's language that sounded to me exactly like the kind of butthurt rhetoric we get in emails from creationists, or conspiracy fans, or alt-med anti-vax loons, or anyone who's pissed at us for slamming something they've attached themselves passionately to, and who can't articulate their anger other than to imagine wild ulterior motives driving us.

So it came as little surprise to discover that Karen Hunter has done the right-wing Christian talking pundit thing on cable news.

Do any of you remember the "atheists need their own Hallmark cards" lady? Well, this is that Karen Hunter. And if you aren't familiar with her still, she made an appearance on Paula Zahn's show on CNN about four years ago, where the topic happened to turn to atheism. Appearing alongside the odious Debbie Schlussel, Hunter offered such memorable bon mots as these.

What does an atheist believe? Nothing. I think this is such a ridiculous story. Are we not going to take "In God We Trust" off of our dollars? Are we going to not say "one nation under God?" When does it end? We took prayer out of schools. What more do they want?

If [atheists] had Hallmark cards, maybe they wouldn't feel so left out. We have Christmas cards. We have Kwanzaa cards now. Maybe they need to get some atheist cards and get that whole ball rolling so more people can get involved with what they're doing. I think they need to shut up and let people do what they do. No, I think they need to shut up about it.

And here's my very favorite.

I think they need to shut up about crying wolf all the time and saying that they're being imposed upon. I personally think that they should never have taken prayer out of schools. I would rather there be some morality in schools.

Oh, morality? Would this be the "morality," Karen, that led you to think you could get away with trying to bogart the rights in perpetuity of possibly hundreds of hungry and eager aspiring creative talents, while taking their money and constructing an impermeable legal shield around yourself barring them from any recourse against you, even the right to have the fruits of their labors returned to them if you have no desire to publish them? Or if you do publish their work to great success, and overlook putting their byline on it, having set things up so you don't have to part with a penny in royalties either?

And was it the same "morality" that gave you the smug arrogance to think you could avoid getting called on all this bullshit, by actual established and respected (and godless) professionals in the field to which you're only a pretender? Is that an example of the Christian "morality" you disdain atheists for lacking? Then let me state how proud I am to have missed the lessons in "morality" you took to heart. As a creative person myself, nothing disgusts me more than the idea of a sleaze merchant like you exploiting the naivety behind someone else's dreams, and all for your own petty personal enrichment. But somehow, knowing that you've probably convinced yourself it's what Jesus would do, all I can say is, it figures.


  1. Oh I'll go ahead and say it.

    You know they're all scams.

  2. Wow, sure glad I missed out on Karen Hunter's morals. You'd think that "a 20-year veteran in publishing as a writer and publisher," (isn't some of that redundant?) would understand a few things such as:
    -a writing "contest" that takes advantage of people, and removes their rights
    -how to write a reply that is not defensive (a little guilt here?)
    -how to write a reply that is not insulting (again, are we on the attack?)
    -the real meaning of truth (I'm sure you sleep well)
    -the difference between removing all prayer as opposed to eliminating mandatory lead prayer (well, is she speaking of truth or of The Truth, enough said)

    I'm off to check Janet's blog, good job blowing the whistle on this one!

  3. To be fair, the rules as of this moment read "Entries must not be more than 65,000 words long"

    Anything related to an 'E-Book' must be looked at closely, especially when they want you to pay to play.

    Thanks for this

  4. That post had so many grammar and writing mistakes that anyone who really has a chance of having a successful writing career won't be snookered anyway. Running a "writing" contest when you yourself can't write is hubris, which is un-Christian right there.

  5. p.s. I have suspected Paula Zahn of being a fundy. I (and others) caught her fundy fish necklace on CNN:

  6. Hmmm...I think that she knows that too many people are trusting and won't read the fine print. Of course, some of them will, but some of them will not and that is how scams win in the first place. She is just exploiting something that works her pocket. As long as some of them question nothing, then she wins at least a little something.

  7. @MAthiest - Actually, I'm pretty sure Hunter understands perfectly and did exactly what she needed to with her post.

    - Avoided talking about the issues raised in the criticism, as they have no morally defensible reason
    - Shift the goal posts to change the direction of the discussion to be about a battle against the big dogs with her on the side of the little guy (obviously the discussion will be about how much bullshit that is, but it does shift the discussion)
    - Suggest that she's a victim and likely to be censored if not previously censored

    Considering she knows damn well she's trying to strip rights, intellectual property and cash from people by preying on their hope and good will, she's answered in the best way possible to try and persuade the people she might still be able to fool in to thinking she's legit.

    She's certainly been spinning a line of devious crap for 20 years.

  8. truth [trooth]

    1. the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
    2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
    3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
    4. the state or character of being true.
    5. actuality or actual existence.
    6. an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
    7. honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
    8. (often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
    9. agreement with a standard or original.
    10. accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
    11. Archaic. fidelity or constancy.

    12. in truth, in reality; in fact; actually: In truth, moral decay hastened the decline of the Roman Empire.

    13. label used to make the irrational appear rational
    14. justification for irrational or criminal behavior without explanation
    15. relating to no know or provable fact
    16. utter bullshit

  9. @optifaster - agreed

    @Sam - love it

    Here's a link to another blog about the same "contest"

  10. MAtheist: I noticed in the thread, Hunter popped up to insist that non-winning entrants would get their stories back to sell elsewhere. A number of posters promptly responded to point out that she's contradicting the contest's rules as explicitly written, and Hunter has not yet responded to that. A class act, that woman.

  11. Also, notice that on absolutewrite everyone was very reasonable. All asked reasonable questions about why the contest rules (a contract) so directly contradicted her stated intentions. Her response was to accuse them of being "boo-birds" and to withhold judgment until after she had the money... err... I mean until after the contest starts. How very... christian of her.

  12. After reading her posts on AW and doing a wiki search I can say I'm thoroughly disgusted by this woman.

    What I've read forces me to consider the following:

    1. Being a publisher and author, it's probable she possesses some intelligence.

    2. Although it's possible she is mildly intelligent, it's obvious she lacks either critical thinking skills or morality.

    3. If lacking in critical thinking skills, we can infer she is not someone a person should trust, nor want, to publish, pitch, or even judge their work.

    4. If lacking in morality and being a believer that is given morality by God, we can infer that the morality of man is greater than the morality of God or that God doesn't exist.

    The people over at AW were way too kind to her.

  13. I really don't get it... You are right about the rules of the contest, but bashing Christian morality with them is like bashing Obama because a thief said he voted for him!!!

    You are not acting like an atheist, you are acting like a Christian basher. Let me see you try do the same with other religions. I bet you cant!!! You would be afraid of more than... words.

    P.S. I am not a dogmatic christian. I like the teachings (of Christ), but I also believe that if there is a god, he is much more than religions say and very different.

  14. As a one-sided contract I should think that said contract would have a good chance of being unenforceable. Presuming, of course, aspiring writers who had lost their stories were actually willing to go to the trouble to sue over it.

    I think any more I have no tolerance for Christian claims of morality. I'm tempted to just go straight to, "Oh, Christian morality? Like that good Christian, Hitler?"

  15. @Vassilis: You probably haven't watched much of the TV show this blog is an extension of. Or even a regular reader of the blog.

    Examples of taking on, for example, Islam:

    That took all of 5 seconds on Google to pull up. They've tackled Scientology, Budhism, generally dislike Spirituality as a nebulous term etc. etc.

  16. Vassilis: You are right. You really don't get it.

    I figured it would just be a matter of time before someone turned up with an advanced case of missing the point. As optifaster has saved me the trouble of straightening you out on the tiresome "you're too scared to pick on other religions" whine, I'll endeavor to explain what is obvious to everyone else here.

    The purpose of the post is to list yet another example of the hypocrisy you typically find among the kinds of Christians who pontificate about their so-called moral superiority. Usually, Christians who brag most fervently about morality are eventually revealed to be morally suspect at best and downright sleazy at worst. Not every Christian claims to be better than everyone, just because he belongs to the Jesus Fan Club. But those who do usually have something to hide. See: Kent Hovind and Ted Haggard for two of the most obvious examples.

    Now, pay attention to Karen Hunter's quotes from her CNN interview. It is plain from those quotes that she equates being Christian with being moral. Those mean atheists who took prayer out of the schools (a typical misrepresentation) did more than that: they took morality out of schools. She clearly considers herself, as a believer, morally superior to non-believers.

    Cut to four years later, and Hunter has been caught trying to run a bogus writing contest whose main goal appears to be to collect thousands of dollars in fees from aspiring amateur writers, while offering them terms concerning their rights that are not only contrary to standard business practice, but which have been condemned by some of the industry's top professionals as dishonest and unethical.

    In other words: we have us another pious, sanctimonious hypocrite, who pats herself on the back for her moral superiority while engaging in morally indefensible behavior.

    Get it now?

    Yes, we do bash lying hypocrites, as much as you and Hunter might wish we'd "shut up about it." That so many of them happen to be Christian is what causes these particular instances of hypocrisy to fall under the purview of this blog.

  17. Martin, are you saying there are no... con artists between atheists? What does that say about... Atheists morality!!! I mean, have you run out of... subjects? Come on...!!!

    As for taking on other religions, you are also right. I didn't look it up, I am sorry.

    You have 99,00% Christian bashing (some of it, especially when it comes to dogma is also correct) and a few about the second largest religion, Muslims... and even those articles are about the extremists. Now, living in a mostly Christian country that is to be expected I suppose.

    I on the other hand I am glad I live in a mostly Christian country, because we can have these conversations over the net... Unfortunately for atheists it can easily be proven that Christian morality helps with political freedoms. Just compare that with nations that their political system promotes Atheism, or follow a different "mainstream" religion. What does that say about Christian morality? I would take a few pious, sanctimonious hypocrites every day that I can call them that in their faces, than a gag in the mouth...

    I suspect you will go on bashing, and I will go on enjoying your articles and our conversations.

    Having said that, the article is 100% right about the rules of the contest and Karen Hunter does sound like a pious, sanctimonious hypocrites (love the way this sound in English). The connection with Christian morality however is a little... absurd and clearly an overkill.

  18. "are you saying there are no... con artists between atheists?"

    Oh totally. You've uncovered the hidden message in Martin's post: "All atheists are perfect". Clearly that is the only possible inference one can take away from all this.


  19. My favorite response from Hunter so far is at the Absolute Write fora:

    "If you have attempted to publish a book via one of the self-publishing arenas, you will pay considerably more than $149."

    I haven't priced any self-publishing presses lately, but I'm pretty sure that in return for your money, they'll promise to print however many copies of your book you specify, and will even let you keep your copyright.

  20. Wow, that was so disgusting... Morals like that in school? I think I'm having a stroke...

  21. Vassilis: "Unfortunately for atheists it can easily be proven that Christian morality helps with political freedoms."

    Okay, if it's so easy, do it.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. I on the other hand I am glad I live in a mostly Christian country, because we can have these conversations over the net... Unfortunately for atheists it can easily be proven that Christian morality helps with political freedoms. Just compare that with nations that their political system promotes Atheism, or follow a different "mainstream" religion. What does that say about Christian morality? I would take a few pious, sanctimonious hypocrites every day that I can call them that in their faces, than a gag in the mouth...

    Atheism cannot be the cause of anything, because it's not positing anything. Atheists in general are some of the most avid and active defenders of freedom you'll meet (Secularism).

    I assume you're not referring to hihgly secular nations, for two reasons. First, they are some of the best places on the planet to live. Secondly, secular != atheist.

  24. Instead, I'll assume you're talking about the likes of Stalin, Mao, etc.

    You have a causation/correlation error there. These nations you speak of weren't bad because they were atheistic, but because they were totalitarian. The one thing that totalitarian regemes dislike the most is competing totalitarian regemes - such as Christianity. Thus, religions will tend to be oppressed, and the government of that nation is transformed into a de facto religion, with the dictator as the deity.

    You'll find that 99.99% of atheists would fight totalitarian regemes, and the same amount would fight for YOUR right to have your beliefs.

    Additionally, citing America as an example of "political freedom" isn't a good example. The secularists are fighting, each and every single day, to keep this country from being turned into a Christian-doctrin ran society. Those very same Christians are fighting tooth and nail to "return to biblical law", and it's the rest of us that are battling constantly to defend freedom for all.

  25. Additionally, citing America as an example

    Well, you didn't specify America exactly, but it is often cited as a prime christian example.

  26. Gah, these writing scams are all over the place. Even Amazon has a screenwriting contest now that similarly buries the writers' rights upon submission and leaves Amazon an easy out when it comes to compensating the winners (though at least there's no entry fee). Gotta be careful.

    My favorite part from this Hunter business is, "I operate in truth." That type of lulzy rhetoric should immediately set the sirens off.

  27. @ Vassilis

    "Unfortunately for atheists it can easily be proven that Christian morality helps with political freedoms."

    Have you done absolutely any research on political theory? Actually, democracy is nothing but relativism in a political form. There are no "universal absolutes" in the laws of our country save for those that serve only as a form of a social contract so that each of us people with differing opinions can live communally. This is directly opposed to Christianity, which requires that a set moral standard be attended to by all people.

    The difference:

    In Christianity, the law is above us and we must stick to it despite our consent or objections.

    In democracy, the law serves no other purpose but to serve us so that all people under the law can live communally.

    This being said, democracy is more closely related to an anti-theist, anti-moral-absolute perspective than any perspective that claims absolute knowledge or morality. It's Plato vs Thomas Hobbes, here.

  28. If you wanna know screenwriting surf on over to

  29. I on the other hand I am glad I live in a mostly Christian country, because we can have these conversations over the net... Unfortunately for atheists it can easily be proven that Christian morality helps with political freedoms.

    There's a coherent, worthwhile discussion to be had about Christianity's influence in the formation and development of the modern West - along with that of the classical world's intellectual inheritance, various European folk-cultural influences, the synthesis of all these in the Renaissance and afterward, the epistemological impact of the Scientific Revolution and so on.

    However, Vas, the plain fact of the history is that freedom of conscience and expression, personal privacy and legal/political liberty have advanced in the teeth of opposition from religious dogma and authority.

    Christianity claiming credit for these achievements is like a warden bragging about a jailbreak...

  30. The other English teachers in my building always post the writing contests that come across their desks so students can think about entering them. I appreciate the heads up on this so I can mention it just in case this one ends up in our mailboxes at school.

  31. Oh, if only Miss Snark was still blogging. Come to think of it, there was some speculation that she was an alter-ego of Janet Reid.
    My wife is a writer and was helped a lot by that site.

  32. @JT

    So let me see if I understand this:

    A Catholic priest denies 2 of his parishioners their communion stating "I'll explain after mass".

    The two women decided not to stay for mass and left the church grounds.

    The Rev then has a Dep. Sheriff pull the women over and they are issued trespassing warnings for...leaving when they were invited to stay for an after-mass explanation?

    This guy got the police involved? The Catholic church and the Sheriff's Department said there were "justifiable reasons for their actions". []

    Why didn't they just handle this internally?

    Oh wait, that's reserved for child sex abuse scandals.

    Amazing how fast the Catholic Church wants to use public services paid for by taxes they don't contribute to but when their people are raping children it suddenly becomes a "church matter".

  33. @Vas

    Martin, are you saying there are no... con artists between atheists? What does that say about... Atheists morality!!!

    The point is that atheist generally don't go around telling everyone how morally superior atheists are to everyone else. Christians make a living off doing exactly this so it is appropriate to point out contradictions to their claims.

    Unfortunately for atheists it can easily be proven that Christian morality helps with political freedoms. Just compare that with nations that their political system promotes Atheism, or follow a different "mainstream" religion

    This statement stinks of a bubble boy thinking in the worst way. If you had spent even 10 seconds learning about the world at large you would realize how stupid this statement sounds. I don't feel patient enough tonight to deliver a wall-o-text of facts pointing out the absurdity of it unless it becomes necessary.

  34. Thanks for pointing this out to people--and also those other guys you linked to, which I also will check out. People don't always realize they need to read the fine print before sending in their work to any contests. I was lucky and had creative parents who pointed this sort of thing out to me the very first time I wanted to enter a contest or send a submission to a magazine, but not everyone is that lucky and too many people are taught to believe and not question.

    This is everywhere, too. One of my animation teachers went on for a while one day about this kind of practice of taking advantage of artists who are too young and/or inexperienced to realize what they are signing up for. She knew one kid who was paid $3000 to create a 30-minute animated show single-handed and he agreed, not realizing that the amount would just about cover the materials, nowhere near enough to subsist on while working on it, and that it would be a miracle if he broke even. And even then, I don't think he lost his right to be credited for the work, so these unethical asshats were a million times more moral than Hunter.

    BTW, why is it that whenever you express disgust at the hypocrisy of a smugly superior Christian behaving in a sleazy way, some True Believer whirls in powered by weapons-grade indignation and accuses everyone of "Christian-bashing" while carefully and deliberately avoiding the point? Even my mom realizes that this is about hypocritically claiming default superior Christian morality while behaving immorally and robbing others blind, and she would never think that my disgust at Hunter somehow translates into bashing her own faith in Jesus. Lots of Christians would understand that perfectly and would say "wow, this person should be ashamed to call herself Christian, and Jesus would be really disgusted with her" rather than "HOW DARE YOU NOTICE THAT CHRISTIANS ARE NOT MORALLY SUPERIOR BY DEFAULT, YOU ARE ASSAULTING ME!!!"

    Well, the fair-minded ones without an inflated sense of religious entitlement would. Fred Clark would, for example, understand the point and express disgust at someone who claims Christian morality while defrauding others. Or at least not whine because others are expressing that disgust.

    Beyond that, how infuriating is it that she is telling people on a forum that she will return the intellectual property w/all rights to anyone who doesn't win, while the actual contract says something different. I think that pretty much proves her scummy plans. This is exactly why my mom always said to READ and UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING, and not just let them tell you what it says before you sign ANYTHING! Because if it goes to court, the court only cares about the agreement you signed, not what you say you were told.

    BTW, I have to find out if that letter is in its original form. Because if it is, that first part is hilarious. It looks like one sentence got dropped directly into the middle of another one, cdesign proponentsists-style. I would expect a "20 year veteran in publishing as a writer and publisher" to avoid such absurd mistakes in her writing.

  35. Vassili, While you live in a mostly Christian country, you live in a country that is (nominally at least) very homogeneous in its religious make-up. There is very little confrontation within Greece between religions, but also between sections of Christianity. There is not as much pressure for people to wear their religion on their sleeves. As such, the type of hypocrisy displayed here is not as overt. However it should be noted that 'atheofovos' (without fear of god) is commonplace as a synonym for wicked, outrageous, depraved. Many Greeks cannot conceive of atheism unless a different dogma (communism usually) has taken the place of belief.

    And as for political freedoms? Organized Christianity supports whatever allows it to thrive, as was apparent in its relationship with the 70's dictatorship in Greece. Political freedoms thrived where several christianities lived together and did not want an opposing number establishing a theocracy, while being unable to establish one of their own.

    (Disclaimer: Vassilis and I know each other and have broken bread several times)

  36. Here's a link a youtube video of Paula Zahn's show that included Karen Hunter-

    I remember this clip since there was such an uproar at the time over there not being an atheist on the show to defend atheists' rights to free speech.

    For a Christian, Steven Smith did an admirable job of defending free speech against the rabid Karen Hunter. But, it would have been nice to have had, for example, Christopher Hitchens on the show.

  37. Two other things struck me about this:

    1. Nobody else is looking for up-and-coming writers? Really? Really??

    2. Do not criticize the contest until after it has begun? The rules are up, so why wait? What does it accomplish, other than giving her a chance to rip off the first wave of contestants?

  38. BTW, Karen Hunter was part of the NY Daily News editorial board that won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for its campaign to save the Apollo Theater. While it is quite an accomplishment, I don't like the way it's implied that she somehow won an individual award in her own self-aggrandizing descriptions.

  39. @Cafeeine Addicted: What you say about Greece pretty much describes the situation in Romania, with its Orthodox Church.

    Now, somewhat on topic: Victoria Strauss also wrote about this contest on the Writer Beware blog.

    That blog (, maintained by Victoria Strauss, Ann C. Crispin and, lately, Richard White, is one of the best (if not The best) sources of information when it comes to dubious business practices in the publishing industry.

  40. Here's the video:


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