Writing for The Ethical Spectacle

If you are interested in writing for The Ethical Spectacle, please read the Mission Statement, which includes the following:

(T)o shine a lantern on the intersection at which ethics, law and politics meet (or collide) in our civilization, particularly that part of it known as the United States of America.

The Spectacle accordingly has a very broad scope, and I will accept a wide variety of content. One of the key features of the Spectacle is that it is intended to illuminate ethical issues, not to represent a particular viewpoint, so I routinely publish articles espousing positions with which I radically disagree. However, the Spectacle is a private publication and my own "property",and accordingly I reject some content. Here is a non-exhaustive list of reasons why I may not choose to publish something: It advocates hatred, racism, or violence (as opposed to discussing them); it advances a viewpoint which has been well expressed in the Spectacle, without adding anything new; it is poorly written to the point where it does not successfully communicate a viewpoint on the subject matter; it involves a private situation of the writer and lacks general interest or applicability.

The Spectacle is a part time, amateur, extremely non-commercial undertaking, and this has a couple of consequences. First, I cannot pay for any content. Secondly, pieces that I publish receive little or no editing; mainly I just correct spelling errors when I spot them. Therefore, I ask that you send me your best version of your work, as it is very burdensome to upload multiple versions, and I will not typically do so at all after an issue is online.

Manuscripts can be of any length; there are no space, style or format limitations whatever. However, keep in mind that people are less likely to read extremely long works on the Web, and may in fact not wait for them to download.

You will have my long-lasting gratitude for sending me your work in cleanly-formed HTML (you have no idea how rarely this happens). Over the years, most word processors which give a "Save as HTML" option have produced badly broken code, and it would often take me longer to clean it up than it would to put a text file into HTML in the first place. I do all HTML coding by hand, so the longer your article, and the more complicated the formatting, the more unlikely it becomes I'll be able to publish it. For example, if your work would require me to create a lot of tables, I probably won't get around to doing it.

I can handle text files or Microsoft Word documents. On the whole I would rather receive a text file, which you can accomplish in Word by using "Save As--Plain text with line breaks" or in other applications by saving your document as a .txt file. If you do send me a Word file, please make sure you include an email explaining what the attachment is, as I don't open Word files from people I don't know where the email says only something like "Please see the attached."

I can't handle other document formats unless they can be opened cleanly by Microsoft Word. Occasionally someone wants to send me hard copy, and naturally I don't accept these because it would make me do too much typing.

It is a good idea to include a brief bio of yourself (a line or two) at the bottom of your article or in the cover email.

A query email telling me what you want to write is useful but not required.

I routinely publish anonymous contributions that meet the other criteria given here. I do not need to know your identity myself.

I am a firm believer in the morality of copyright laws, in that they protect an author's property rights in her work, and I will not knowingly do anything to violate them. Therefore, I expect that the work you send me is yours and that you own the copyright free of any restrictions. You will continue to own the copyright of anything you publish in the Spectacle and may do anything else you want with it. I routinely publish work that has already been published elsewhere, but please let me know that this is the case and that you can legally publish the work again.

If you are forwarding me someone else's work, please make clear that you are doing so and let me know why you think it would be legal for me to republish it. Please include the author's contact information if you have it.

I occasionally publish editorial cartoons and artwork, but am not publishing poetry or other people's fiction these days.

I also have a couple of rules about the Spectacle letters column. If you write to me about something you read in the Spectacle, I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will also respect that. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with attribution. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. No dice.

Thank you for being interested in the Spectacle! I look forward to receiving your work. If you have any questions, please write to me at jw@bway.net.

Jonathan Wallace