A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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A FORUM FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND VIGOROUS DEBATE, CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY
[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ]. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com.
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Northeastern University School of Journalism

Open Letter to 
Northeastern University School of Journalism
Against the taboo, I dared question and challenge Dan Kennedy, Associate Journalism Professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.  Unlike most writers, I always seek to push the envelope.  Truth, not career, is my modus operandi.   I criticized Professor Kennedy’s praise of Boston Globe columnist Renée Loth as “…one of the city’s most accomplished journalists…” and directed the professor to my criticism of Loth, “What Is a Journalist?”  “The fundamental flaw in journalist Renée Loth’s Boston Globe op-ed, “Julian Assange may be a hero to some, but he’s no journalist,” is its failure to define what precisely constitutes a journalist.  Does egregious bias define journalist today?”

To my surprise, the professor actually responded, though quite briefly, and not at all regarding my criticism.  The Boston Globe has yet to publish any of my critiques, regarding its editor, Renée Graham, Loth, Jeff Jacoby et al.  If the Globe were indeed such “powerful journalism on tap,” why can it NOT bear to be questioned and challenged, as I have done periodically?   In fact, the same applies to the School of Journalism and its professors!  

Well, I praised Professor Kennedy for actually responding, which in itself was quite rare in the buffered world of academe.  As a former professor, I am all too aware of that sad—very sad—world, where freedom of speech and real vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstones, are not at all cherished.  Part of our very brief debate concerned the lack of contact information for Loth.  The professor explained that absence, stipulating Loth to be a “freelancer.”  Well, perhaps one day all the columnists would be “freelancers” and thus fully buffered from outside criticism. The professor also argued, interestingly, that op-eds like Loth’s were somehow independent of the editor:  

Your comments about McGrory indicate that you have no idea how a large newspaper operates. The editor and the editorial-page editor (Shirley Leung, who's interim) both report directly to the publisher, John Henry. Good newspapers separate the news and opinion operations, which is why McGrory has nothing to do with what appears on the opinion pages. 

But I challenged that statement:  “However, does not the publisher have any say at all in the selection of the editor?” I wrote.  “And if indeed he or she does, then how can ‘op-ed’ism’ be truly independent, as you seem to indicate it to be?”  Clearly, for example, most of the op-eds appearing in the New York Times tend to be largely—very largely—in line with the editor’s points of view.  But again, this is a deflection from my criticism.  Why did Professor Kennedy choose to ignore the egregious faults I’d underscored in Loth’s op-ed (as well as in Graham’s racist op-eds)… and thus the conflict of his praise?  

Sadly, journalism seems to have become a milieu of backslapping and self-congratulating.  Does the School of Journalism even discuss that fundamental problem?  Why will Professor Kennedy NOT, as I suggested, expose his students to the criticism I periodically lodge against journalists, often in The American Dissident, a journal of literature, democracy and dissidence?  Silence was his response.  Will silence also be the response of the purportedly independent Huntington News?  [Indeed, that was the response!]

One major conflict of interest is rarely ever evoked, for evident reasons:  CAREERISM vs. TRUTH.  The two, far more often than not, simply do not mesh.  Because I have always chosen TRUTH, my CAREER as a professor eventually terminated… and I’d have it no other way.  Well, I put that quandary to Professor Kennedy:  “And if you think they can [go together], then please, oh, please, tell me why you don’t seem to give a damn about NU’s horrendous speech-code rating, issued by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.”  In effect, how can journalism thrive in such an ambiance?  The professor did not respond.  Does The Huntington News give a damn that NU was designated Speech Code of the Month in November?   [Apparently, it doesn’t give a damn!]  Did it even report on that?  

Sadly, it seems that silence is indeed golden at NU.  The old student newspaper did not respond to my 2005 email.  

Dear Staff, The Northeastern University Voice:  
Your student newspaper does not sound like a newspaper at all.  It sounds like an organ of NU propaganda.  Is that what they teach in your school of journalism?  Why not publish the attached cartoon I did on your president with this email?  Show some backbone!  Show an openness to criticism, free speech, and vigorous debate, cornerstones of democracy.  BTW, I am class of 1972.  I expect not even a response from you.  So, surprise me!  

In 2012, I sent the following:

To First Amendment Center at Northeastern University, Journalism Professor Walter V. Robinson:   
As an NU alumnus, class of 72, can you possibly help me?  Might you know of a pro-bono lawyer?  On June 19, 2012, I was permanently trespassed w/o warning or due process by Sturgis Library director, Lucy Loomis.  The library is publicly funded.  Loomis was apparently angered especially by two letters I’d sent to the directors in the library system the week before.  The letters were partially critical of Loomis, but were written as a last ditch effort to get just one library in the system to subscribe to The American Dissident.   Three police officers accompanied the director to escort me out of the building. One of the cops grabbed and twisted my arm then frisked me because I'd simply asked why three cops were necessary and stated I did not have a weapon.  No written document for the order was issued.  The police report fails to stipulate the duration of the order.   It is ever astonishing to me that a library director could be so scornful of free speech.  One of my subscribers set up the following page on his website regarding my case:  http://sturgisbansdissident.blogspot.com/.  Thank you for your attention.
Well, there was a response, though from Larry Laughlin.  We corresponded a bit, then Laughlin simply and totally disappeared.  Then in 2015, I wrote:

To Justin Silverman, Executive Director, New England First Amendment Center, 
Is there a reason why my alma mater, Northeastern University, would house an organization with your name when said organization proves apathetic to the following? 
Presumption of innocence, as you surely know, is supposed to be a fundament of justice.  Yet I was NOT even charged with anything.  Sturgis Library (Barnstable, MA) director Lucy Loomis simply sentenced me by permanent banning on June 19, 2012, one week after I’d disseminated a critical Open Letter to the directors of the Clams Library System of Cape Cod.  When I asked Loomis for a written document stipulating my crime, the request was rejected.  When I asked for due process, the request was also rejected.  (When I’d offered a free subscription to The American Dissident, the offer was rejected.) 
A FOIA demand made by a friend was approved nine months after the banning by the State Secretary of Records, who then mandated/forced Loomis to open her (i.e., Sturgis Library) records to the public. The only pertinent document in those records was an email Loomis had sent to trustee Ted Lowry, noting that her drastic action was “for the safety of staff and the public.”  Yet I’d NEVER threatened anybody and have no police record!  In fact, I’ve got a doctoral degree and have been a professor for much of my working life.  Almost three years later, not one staff member has been threatened by me and I have not set foot on Loomis’ fiefdom.  How easy it is for corrupt-minded people like Loomis to play the he’s- a-danger-to-society card—no proof needed!  
Today, my civil rights are being denied in Barnstable, since I am not permitted to attend any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library, the one my taxes help support.  Not one person in Barnstable County has expressed an iota of concern.  In vain, I contacted so many pathetic apathetic people from Town Manager Tom Lynch to County Human Rights Commissioner John Reed, state reps Cleon Turner and Brian Mannal, town councilor Ann Canedy, town attorney Ruth Weil, Susan Corcoran (ACLUM), and Karen Wulf (PEN New England).  Editors Paul Pronovost (Cape Cod Times) and Noah Hoffenberg (Barnstable Patriot) both refuse to publish anything regarding any of this.  Why?  Recently, I requested Loomis and library trustees reconsider the permanent trespass penalty for exercise of freedom of expression.  Not one of them deigned to respond.  
Now, would you please reconsider your past pathetic apathy regarding the above facts and help me regain my civil rights and thus prove that freedom of speech when pertaining to institutions that serve a public function must not be punished, especially without due process?  
Thank you for your hopeful attention.  

Well, Silverman responded, but eventually also disappeared.  In October of 2017, I sent the following:  

To Exec. Dir. Jack McCorkie, Office of Alumni Relations, and Amy Lewontin, Collection Development, Northeastern University:
A couple of years ago, maybe three or four, The American Dissident was put on your short list for periodical acquisitions.  Of course, I haven’t heard a word from you.  In fact, as an NU alumnus (Class of '72), it has almost been two decades of my periodically trying in vain to interest you in subscribing.  
How can NU expect me to donate money as an alumnus, when you will not even subscribe ($20/yr) to the unique 501c3 nonprofit literary journal I’ve been publishing since 1998?  Please do give that a thought next time you call me on the telephone asking for a donation...


No response was ever received.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Charles Blow

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The Press… Not So Free… Thanks to the Press
“The Enemy of the People Is Ignorance” was the title presented on the front page of the New York Times and without mention of the author.  So, I clicked on it.  The title became “Defending the Free Press” with the subtitle:  “Expression, and the right to publish it, is a human right. And yet, President Trump continues to disregard this.”  Likely, I would not have clicked on the article if I’d known propagandist (i.e., opinion columnist) Charles Blow was the author, and it was yet another anti-Trump screed.
Blow’s article begins with “The media is not the enemy of the people. The enemy of the people is ignorance — obliviousness to truth, ignoring it or having incredulity about it.  There is no way to have a functioning democracy without a thriving press.”  Well, that sounds fine, BUT until the press takes a long hard look into the mirror, its credibility will continue to shrivel.  Perhaps the “enemy of the people” has also become egregious press bias and all the news that fits the press anti-Trump narrative.  Well, Pravda, the press, certainly thrived in the former Soviet Union.  Thus a “thriving press” certainly does not guarantee a “functioning democracy” at all.  
Egregious bias has certainly killed Blow’s credibility as an objective journalist… and shouldn’t journalists be objective, opinion columnists or whatever?  Does Blow present anything new in his article or simply more of the same ole Pravda-like propaganda?  And by congratulating the press, Blow of course congratulates himself, arguing that “One of the great missions of the press is to hold power accountable by revealing what those in power would rather hide. Corruption depends on concealment. Accountability hinges on disclosure.”  One might ask whether or not the press, Blow included, did that regarding Obama and Hillary, during their reign of power, and also now regarding Spy Gate.   Why not hold press power accountable by revealing what stories editors and journalists in power would rather hide and do not report?  
Blow continues his encomium:  “A free and fearless press is the greatest ally to a free and prosperous people. And, the kind of dogged, unrelenting pressure that reporting requires demands a professional press. People who can make a living and feed a family as they labor away ferreting out the truth.  And, I speak here liberally about the profession, from cable news to YouTube, from a big city daily to a blog.”  He cites statistics, as if somehow they were decisive and inevitably reflected reality.   
The problem of course is whether or not the press is really free or can be free when it is so egregiously biased.  And how can such bias reflect well on a so-called “professional press”?  And what about journalists like Blow, who become millionaires by pushing NOT the rude (career-damaging) truth, but rather the press party-line as in victim and without fault?  And how do we have democracy when only elite privileged journalists like Blow get to express their opinions week after week, whereas plebes like I do not?  And why does Blow not even mention the trend of YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter censorship, as if it weren’t even occurring?  Instead, he states in full willful ignorance, “He [Trump] has threatened Facebook, Google and Twitter, saying they’re ‘treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful,’ whatever that means.”  Yes, whatever that means…
Then Blow gets down to the real purpose of his column:  “No one loves a catchphrase more than Trump.  He loves labeling. He loves to yoke his enemies with silly, derisive monikers, to reduce perceived weakness to bumper sticker legibility.”  Now, if only we could get Blow and his press colleagues to look in the mirror at their own “silly, derisive monikers,” from nazi, racist, anti-semite, islamophobe, white supremacist, and “beastly base.”  What flaming hypocrites!  
Blow argues, “The weaker the media, the strong [sic] the demagogue. The road to authoritarianism winds its way through darkness.”  Well, one could also easily argue that the stronger the media (think Pravda or the BBC), the stronger the authoritarian ideology (think multiculti-diversity-identity politics) it supports and the road to that winds its way through the media itself and state education.
Blow argues, “He [Trump] wants to so blur the line between truth and lies that he’s exhausted our stamina for discernment.”  It seems again that the media, Blow included, is unable to focus on its own blurring of the line between truth and lies, as in Covington, Russian collusion, and islamophiliac delusion.  Surprisingly, Blow in his conclusion argues that the media is not perfect, though in a far too general, thus not really damning, way, failing to inculpate himself with any particulars at all.  

I understand all the issues people have with media.  I understand how damaging it is to the public faith and to the institutional — and professional — reputation when a media outlet or even multiple outlets in concert get it wrong. I understand the issues around the appearance and presence of bias. I understand how disconcerting it is that mainstream media is a public trust, but mainstream media companies are also corporate entities.  I understand all of that, but I also know that we will cease to be truly free if ever the day comes when the free press is cowed.

Well, that day, the one Blow seems to fear, usually comes periodically whenever Democrats are in power and the so-called free press having endorsed them, becomes perhaps not cowed, but rather fully kowtowed and ever laudatory.  Moreover, to “understand,” as Blow says he does, is by no means an effort to address let alone work to solve those festering problems, which inevitably results in a not-so free press.  The enemy of the people is ignorance.  But then ignorance is bliss.  And the press seems to want to keep the people—well, half of the people—blissful with its continuous flow of propaganda.  So, the enemy of the people, well the other half of the people, is the press.  In other words, it’s a wee bit more complicated than the left-wing’s Trump bad/press good press mantra…

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Jennifer Bardi


Notes on the Religion of Humanism—
An Inhumanist Critique of The Humanist
Wikipedia defines “humanism” as “a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition.”  The Humanist, “a magazine of critical inquiry and social concern,” adds to that definition “hip and high-brow humanism for the modern freethinker,” which inevitably results in a highly-subjective, thus self-protective, definition.  And so, what might happen when a freethinker dares to actually criticize the magazine and its editor?  Perhaps that would  automatically render him or her insufficiently hip, insufficiently high-brow, and insufficiently modern.  And, of course, quite unsurprisingly, the editor in full disdain for democracy, will NOT respond. 
After leafing through three issues of The Humanist, which I’d picked up in a library free magazine box, I inevitably concluded that humanism had been coopted and oddly become a sort of PC-religion for those who purportedly rejected religion.  Humanism, at least that espoused by the magazine, which was an organ of the American Humanist Association, had clearly become an echo of Democrat-Party ideology—black good/white bad identity politics, white-privilege BS, prisoners good/cops bad, global warming fact/not theory, hate Trump ranting, cultural appropriation, transgender bathroom issues, and of course racism, racism, racism ad nauseam.  
The Humanist would have at least been honest if it had instead called itself The DNC, “a magazine of critical ideology and socialist leaning.”  Alas, how can ideologues possibly be honest?  And so, we have members and followers—not real individuals—, conferences, and of course Humanists of the Year, Humanist Arts Award and Feminist Humanist Award recipients.  Ijeoma Oluo was the black-privilege recipient of the latest FHA, who, according to the white Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and Deputy Director of the American Humanist Association, Jennifer Bardi, “challenges white humanists to do the hard work of addressing privilege in order to change the system that so benefits us…”  Original statement… or rather just more PC, where privileged people of one color yack about privileged people of another color?  How exciting!  
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Turns Seventy” is the one article that really grabbed my attention.  It appeared in the December issue and was written by Duane Paul Murphy (Fall 2018 editorial intern at the American Humanist Association).  Its egregious omission of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) mind-boggling decision in October against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Article 19 of the UDHR is shameful, to say the least!  How could Murphy possibly have ignored that horrendous decision, especially since he quoted Article 19?  

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression:  this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Why did The Humanist remain silent regarding that egregious omission?  Well, perhaps ISLAM is the reason.  “The Court found [in conclusion that in the instant case] the domestic courts carefully balanced the applicant's right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected […],” noted the ECtHR, which determined that “religious feelings” of Muslims trumped freedom of speech.  Sabaditsch-Wolff rightly argued with that regard: 

In other words, my right to speak freely is less important than protecting the religious feelings of others.  This should ring warning bells for my fellow citizens across the continent. We should all be extremely concerned that the rights of Muslims in Europe NOT to be offended are greater than my own rights, as a native European Christian woman, to speak freely.  I am proud to be the woman who has raised this alarm.  

Sadly, the ECtHR decision did not ring warning bells at all to DNC, uh, humanist ideologues.  Murphy, hypocritically, concluded his article:  “Humanists must show solidarity in acting to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and continually define and protect human rights and civil liberties for all people.”  Yeah, sure, but what about Sabaditsch-Wolff’s rights and liberties?   And why precisely did my poem, “A Post-Mortem Poem for Maren Ueland and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen,” not suit the “editorial needs” of The Humanist?  Both Ueland and Jespersen were tortured, raped, and beheaded by Islamist haters of Article 19 in Morocco.  What about their rights and liberties?  Silence!  BTW, that poem was rejected less than one hour after I’d sent a satirical cartoon to Bardi, depicting her swearing allegiance to the DNC.  Thin skin?  Perhaps The Humanist ought to add that to its definition of humanism, as in Gen-X thin skin. 
Perhaps also it is time that religion be defined as ANY ideology, including humanism, where fact and reason are rejected whenever they might challenge the doctrine in question, as well as the doctrine’s partisans.  In conclusion, so much unoriginal PC-echoing vibrates intrinsically throughout The Humanist.    Will the editor-in-chief respond to this critique, that is, with something more substantial than “doesn't suit our editorial needs” and “We wish you the best in placing it elsewhere and thank you again for thinking of us”?  Ideologues hate debate.  Ideologues hate freedom of speech.  As a life-time atheist, who rejects ideology, including that of the DNC, what might I be?  Well, I can’t be a humanist because humanists embrace that ideology.  Perhaps I am therefore an inhumanist?