A good editor is aware of ethics, principles and moral obligations
Stabroek News
January 24, 2002

Dear Editor,

I am tickled that Ruel Johnson went to such great lengths and displayed such verbosity in defending himself in his letter captioned "Mr Haslyn Parris's story highlighted the absurdity of racial prejudices, Dr McDonald's novel captures the angst suffered by an individual and an era" (20.l.2002). Something to note, Johnson, is that decency and integrity never need defending. It is always the indefensible that requires the lengthiest defence.

To Messrs. Haslyn Parris, Ian McDonald, Ruel Johnson, and the management and board of Stabroek News, I say this: racial slurs and derogatory labels for people used in any manner, way or context is indefensible. Further, bald racist statements as made by McDonald in his book tell us clearly who he is. When someone tells you that he finds you "distasteful", you do not defend him but shun him.

Please note that the award given to Kyk Over AI (AA) cannot be used by any individual member associated with that publication. One phone call to the appropriate office would clarify the protocol on the use of National Awards.

And now, Johnson, let's talk about your editorship. A good editor is aware of the ethics, principles and moral obligations involved when he undertakes the responsibility of editing a publication. He is responsible not only to himself but to his readers and to the community in which he works. A good editor, Johnson, would have rejected Parris' story and not only for its lack of literary merit and for its racial slurs but for the immorality it glorifies. Here is a "sweet man" hero. He is promiscuous, has made children with all kinds of women, he is a drunk, and is abusive to his wife. This is outstanding work in a country with a high incidence of AIDS, alcoholism, of abuse towards women, of absentee fathers, single parent families, errant husbands? Where is your responsibility as an editor, Johnson? Is this machismo as promoted by Parris and endorsed by McDonald what you subscribe to as a young man?

Now let's talk about your short story, "Ariadne". I could not get past the first paragraphs filled with such turns of phrase as "neon pink gray sky". It is the eager third former striving for style and creativity and as with all third formers, the striving shows. If you want to be a writer, read. If you want to write short stories, start with Chekov. When you've done that, return to the Caribbean and read Naipaul' s "Miguel Street". Listen to their voices. It is this, the voice, the voice that tells the story that makes a writer great. It is never fanciful, forced, contrived writing. When you have done this reading report back to me and I shall give you a writing assignment to see if you have learned anything.

I fear, Johnson, that the arrogance you display shall always stand in the way of your further education. I believe that you shall always be the third former striving, striving for a neon, pink gray sky. But in a society where mediocrity is king I predict that you shall do very well indeed.

A final note: the Janus logo is not only amateurish and crude again the striving third former but it is horribly ugly. Dump it immediately.

Yours faithfully,

R. Sukhraj

Editor's note

Dr Mc Donald holds an AA in his own right