A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ].
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.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Dissident Poet—The Angry Librarian and the No-Trespass Order

[For other cartoons and documents, see below]

Citizens in a free society must have courage—the courage to hear not only unwelcome political speech but novel and shocking ideas in science and the arts. In his opinion in the Whitney case, Brandeis sounded the theme of civic courage: Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, [...] no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion.
—Anthony Lewis, Freedom for the Thought That We Hate

Thursday. It was cold, bleak, dark and gloomy, and arctic-like. That was New England in the winter. I took off at about nine, stopping in West Concord to fill the left front tire of my 91 CRX jalopy, then got on Route 2, where a big box suddenly detached from the truck in front of me and crashed into my windshield like a sledgehammer. I wrote down the plate number, then stopped to check it out. No damage. Lucky me.

My first stop for hawking The American Dissident was Brandeis University in Waltham. I'd had limited luck knocking on doors, but even less sending out letters. I liked Chief Justice Louis Brandeis alot and quoted him now and then. What better place then for The American Dissident, if not Brandeis University! The circ woman in the library was actually nice and helpful. But the acquisitions librarian wasn’t available. So I left a voice mail and would email a follow-up when I got back home. My next stop was Waltham Public Library. There the acq-woman was young... and snooty. I showed her a copy of The American Dissident.

“It has to be done through Ebsco!” she said. “We do everything through Ebsco!” “Well, Ebsco does do it,” I responded. “I gotcha there!” She frowned. “Just joking,” I said… to no avail. I ended up leaving a copy with her, circled my name and address on a flyer, and gave that to her also. “We don’t need that!” she snapped. “We do everything through Ebsco!” Christ, did they do their thinking through Ebsco too? What I should have done, as I contemplated in the car heading down route 20, was tell her off and not waste a copy on her. No way was the harpy gonna subscribe!

Watertown Free Public Library looked more encouraging—a bit bigger and more modern. But the library lot was shamefully metered. “Do they come around and ticket?” I asked a young blond putting money in her meter. “I don’t know, but I prefer playing it safe,” she responded. “Well, you’re smart and I’m not,” I said. She seemed to like that and smiled. Just the same, I put a quarter in the meter. Inside, the circ woman informed me the ref-desk was upstairs. So up I climbed. There, seated behind the counter, a woman in her 60s was jabbering on the phone. On and on, she jabbered. “I’ll be right with you,” she finally said to me. But she continued jabbering, so I walked over to the DVDs. Soon, she was off the phone. I walked back. Then she was back on the phone. So back to the DVDs I went. Back and forth for about a half hour I scurried until finally, she was free.

“Who do I need to talk with regarding subscriptions?” I asked holding up a copy of The American Dissident. “Do you order them?” “Well, no,” replied the woman, somewhat snooty-voiced. “Well, that doesn’t sound encouraging,” I said. “Can you tell me who I need to talk with?” “Well, I’ll take the information,” she said reluctantly. “That never leads to anything,” I replied. “I’d prefer talking with the person who actually does it. Can’t I see the person in charge?” “Well, yes, but I have to take the information,” she answered. “But this is a public library,” I insisted. “I should have the right to speak with the person in charge.” “Well, just give me the information,” she said again. By that time, a younger woman in her 40s or so appeared next to the older woman behind the counter in front of which I was standing.

“Is it available through Cox?” asked the 40-year old. “Who are you?” I asked. “I’m the head of reference,” she snapped. “No, but it’s available through Ebsco,” I said. “Okay, we don’t use Ebsco,” she said. “We use Cox.” “Do you have any information on Cox, so I can make an inquiry?” I asked. “No, you can find it on the Internet!” she said. “But I’m sure I’d find thousands of things under Cox,” I noted. “Is it Cox Magazine?” “Well, you know what, let me tell you right now,” she said testily. “Yeah?” I said. “I’m not going to order that magazine of yours!” she snapped. “I don’t think our patrons are that interested!” “But you didn’t even look at it,” I said. “You can leave!” she commanded. “Are you kicking me out of the library?” I asked. “I’m asking you to leave now, sir!” she insisted. “I want you to get the police to do that,” I said. “I’ve done nothing wrong!” “I’m asking you to leave!” she repeated angrily. “You’ve upset Ellie and now you’ve upset me!” “Well, I think the two of you have thoroughly upset me regarding your indifference to democracy,” I said. “What is your name?” “I’m not going to tell you!” she said. “We are upset now, so you can just leave!” she again ordered. “Just so you know, you now form part of the article I’m writing on libraries,” I said. “There’s only a certain amount of abuse we can take!” she replied. “What abuse?” I asked. “I’m not hollering, I’m not swearing, I’m not threatening! I was just trying to see if you’d subscribe to a locally-published magazine devoted to democracy.”

Had the "danger flowing from [my] speech" been "deemed clear and present," because "the incidence of the evil apprehended" was "so imminent that it” could “befall before there is opportunity for full discussion” (see quote)?

The head of reference walked around the counter, then downstairs to get the cops, I suspected. I walked back to the DVDs. Then, she was back behind the counter again. “So, where are the cops?” I asked. “They already left,” she said. “Well, what you need to do is build a thicker skin and stop moaning about verbal abuse any time you don’t like what a man has to say!” I tell her. She picked up the phone again. “Here, why don’t you read this and educate yourself regarding democracy and free speech,” I said, putting one of my flyers on the counter in front of her. “I suppose you’re a proponent of banned books week?” She immediately grabbed the flyer and tossed it into the garbage bucket, reminding me of the librarian at Nashua Public Library, who’d crumpled the flyer up and ran out furiously to hand the ball to me.

Finished, I began walking down the stairs. Ellie suddenly appeared, mumbled something. “You disgust me!” I said in a low voice, looking into her weak eyes, then continued down the stairs. At the circ desk, I checked out two DVDs. “I just had a battle with the head of reference,” I said to one of the women and asked for the chief’s name. “Ardis,” she said. I wrote it down. Another woman with thick Slavic accent behind the circ desk expressed visual interest in the flyer I’d put down on the counter. “Take it and put it in your pocket for later,” I told her. She did… and there was hope.

Outside, two squad cars arrived. I probably could have easily just walked to my car and left. But I was curious, so approached them. Two cops stepped out. “Are you here for the librarian?” I asked. “Yes,” one of them replied. “Well, I’m the guy she called you for,” I said. “I didn’t use any four-letter words, didn’t holler, and didn’t threaten anyone.” “Do you have an ID?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. “It’s here.” I slowly pointed to the pocket (I didn’t want to get shot!), then took out my wallet and driver’s license. “Should I call it in?” said the other one. “No,” said the first one. “So, what’s going to happen?” I asked. “Well, I don’t know what your history is with them,” said the first one. “Well, I don’t have a history,” I said. “It’s the first and last time I’ll ever be walking into that building. I’m not from around here.” The first one was now talking on the phone with the librarian in question, I suspected. “They’re going to trespass you from the library,” he eventually informed. “You’ll get a letter by certified mail explaining it. Then if you violate that, it’s an arrestable offense. She said every time you come here you get worse and worse.” “Well, as I said, I’ve never been here before.” “That’s not what she said,” replied the cop.

Oddly, or perhaps not, the cop station was right next to the public library. They could have walked over. Later at home, I’d peruse the library’s website to locate a few email addresses and found the following:

The Library Board of Trustees has adopted the following code of conduct in an effort to provide a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable library facility.
Any conduct that disrupts the delivery of library services or hinders others from using library materials is prohibited.
Any conduct that is potentially harmful to library materials or facilities is prohibited.
Library staff are authorized to enforce this code, and to call for police assistance or contact a parent or guardian when necessary. The Library reserves the right to revoke or restrict Library privileges in cases of violation of the code of conduct. The Library also reserves the right to inspect personal belongings when the library security system alarm is activated.

Had I violated that “Code of Conduct”? Not at all! I thought about what could happen and did happen to people in this country who didn’t break the law. Authorities didn’t even need a valid, legal reason to expulse someone like me from a public building. Nevertheless, the incident actually left me feeling more elated than depressed. Was it dissidence they hated so much? My long white hair? The lack of deference in my verb and tonality? Was I doomed? Of course, I was. How could a thinking citizen not be doomed in a society like ours? When back home, I’d email Library Director Leone E. Cole, Assistant Director Beverly Shank, and Head of Reference Ardis Francoeur, the woman who sought to have me arrested. I really wanted that no-trespass order as a tangible document.

Doubtfully, you’d be interested in the other side of the incident that occurred at your library Thursday, but one never knows, miracles do happen… or so they say. Thus, I include my account below in detail, transcribed from my recorder and memory. It now forms part of the larger essay I’ve written on my uphill battle trying to get local libraries to subscribe to the periodical I founded and edit. Doubtfully, you’ll take the time to read it, but one never knows, miracles do happen. It is, after all, much easier for you to simply accuse, find guilty without trial, and issue a no-trespass order as punishment. How odd, at least to me, that such things can and do actually occur regarding public spaces in America. BTW, I’ve perused your “Code of Conduct” and note I did not transgress it. Feel free to request a copy of the entire essay. I’d be delighted to share it with you via email. Finally, if in fact, I do not receive your no-trespass order, I will make it a point to come to your library again and talk to Ms. Francoeur.

Not one of them would respond to the email. Not one of them wished to discuss the matter. My Internet search also resulted in Francoeur’s photo (for a future cartoon) and website hosted by “Global Librarians Organizing. Bringing together those creating, organizing, & distributing knowledge worldwide.” Moreover, Francoeur kept a rather puerile blog:

"I mentioned earlier that both kitties took to the litter box right away, with no problems. Well, scratch that (ha! see what I did there?) there have been a few problems, all with Georgia. She doesn't cover her droppings. This isn't a huge issue, but it is a smelly one. She likes to pee right near the edge of the box, and she tracks stuff around: litter, poop."

So many citizens abhorred exchange of different ideas and vigorous debate. Instead, they wanted and needed to inhabit safe havens, where accountability and criticism were all but absent. So many of them were caught in a child’s mentality! After the Watertown experience, I continued on my way to Boston, wondering how many people were sitting in jail cells for doing nothing wrong with the exception of having questioned and challenged the etiquette of the day.

“Can I get you to subscribe to this?” I asked the obese woman at the circ desk at Brighton Public Library. “No!” she said robotically. “Can I get you to purchase this book?” I asked. “No!” she snapped. Not wanting to risk yet another encounter with law enforcement, at least not for the day, I left it at that and didn’t even respond. It formed a good conclusion to the day’s biblio-quest. I grabbed four DVDs but couldn’t find my wallet at the circ desk, so left the DVDs in front of the robotic desk grump. “Do you want me to save them for you?” she asked. “No thanks, I don’t think I’ll be back here again,” I said. In front of the library I’d chatted with a young fellow who said he was an insurance salesman. He was good at chatting, personable. “Do you know Afflac?” he asked. “How could I not?” I said. He was an odd character with a degree in biotechnology and a former vacuum cleaner salesman. He told me he voted for Nader and liked activism, handed me a pirated DVD: America Destroyed by Design. I thanked him and handed him a flyer.

Back at the car, I couldn’t find my wallet. I hunted and hunted, entering into severe panic mode. Shit, had I left it at Watertown? That was the last time I recall having it, pulling it out for the cops. I shut the door, walked back to the library, but then decided to do a final thorough hunt in the car. I opened the other door this time and lo and behold. What a fuckin relief! I would have had to cancel Tufts. Now, time was getting short. I sped off, got a tad lost in the suburbanitic jungle of roads and traffic, then hopped on to the Pike and roared 75 mph into Boston, hopped off at Storrow Drive, then to the parking lot, up eight flights to the goddamn roof until finally a free spot. And there upon the curb before me was an unopened bottle of foreign beer like a miracle! I grabbed it and put it in the car, then headed to the dental clinic, 10 minutes early. Amen.

Inside the jam packed elevator to the fourth floor, I said aloud out of the blue: “Question number one: Does democracy permit verbal abuse?” Nobody, of course, responded. In Massachusetts, if one spoke to strangers one might be a nutcase. Well, I supposed I was in a sense. Heather greeted me, then had me sit on the dental gurney waiting for 30 minutes, twiddling my thumbs, while she engaged in her one pm group huddle, as announced on the intercom. When she finally got back, she proceeded to shoot my left side up with Novocain, which was once cocaine, as she explained. She was a friendly student dentist. I liked her. We chatted a tad waiting for the drug to kick in. She asked if I like music. I mentioned Van M., and she seemed to love the guy.

Heather ended up doing a nice job scraping away the deep pocket calculus and plaque and had even attempted to explain via drawing what the hell she was doing. I didn’t quite get it all, but some of it I did. Then she had me sit for 30 minutes again, twiddling my thumbs, this time in the hope she could do the other side of my mouth, since there was ample time left. Finally, her dental prof arrived and explained a tad testily because he’d noticed I was getting a tad testy waiting and waiting that I should wait a month for the other side because he hadn’t noticed any calculus. Fine with me. Heather handed me another tooth kit and off I went back to the parking garage, then on to the mobbed roads and highway. I headed straight back to Concord—a tad less than an hour it took. Gloomy day indeed.

Back home, after detailing the day for J, I made flax noodles and ate four soy dogs for dinner. A little later, I began drinking red and watched Juno, a delightful (oh, I hate that word) film.

Days later I did in fact receive the order of no-trespass. I'd been accused, adjudged guilty, tried, and punished all by the same librarian! The order was replete with lies, including "disrupting patrons' use of library with inappropriate remarks and behavior." Patrons seemed not at all purturbed, let alone even aware, of the event. "Threatening remarks to staff" were never ever made. What precise inappropriate remarks and behavior and what threats are of course not mentioned. As mentioned above, one must wonder just how many citizens might be spending a day in jail for such hollow and unproven accusations. As for the "general disturbance" accusation, few patrons were even in the area. What constitutes a "general disturbance"? The term is so general that it could be applied to anyone at the whim of anybody.


mather said...

Nice blog but it seems hard to believe you didn't say something else to those librarians to get such a reaction. I'm not saying librarians can't be total bitches without cause, but...Is it possible you forgot you'd been to this library before? You say you had never been there; they say you've come in before. You must look exactly like the local nutcase, either that or your brain is addled. I'd say it's 50-50.

Charlotte W. said...

Who would the local police believe Mather? Its a he-said, she-said sort of thing that she does not have to prove. I'm sure Tod would remember if he had been there before. I seriously doubt that he would claim on his blog that he had not been there if that was not true.

I know who I would believe and it wouldn't be the irritated library staff person.

Thanks Tod for sharing this story.
I know I will be interested to hear about similar visits to other libraries. Such recorded travels could even lead to a future very revealing book. I'd go armed with a hidden recording device.

G. Tod Slone said...

Hi Mather and Charlotte. Without doubt, it was my very first time ever in that library. Thanks for the "addled" comment, Mather. But I'll resist returning a similar comment. The only reason I went there was to try to get the library to subscribe. It is simply out of my way to have gone there otherwise. I actually have a small part of the conversation with the librarian on tape. In it, one can easily perceive I was not hollering, not badgering, not threatening, and not cussing. Eventually, I hope to put that sound bite on the website as proof. I'm doubtful I'll receive a no-trespass order in the mail. In fact, I wrote the director of that library, challenging her... because I really do want that document. I told her I would make it a point to return to the library and talk to that head of reference if I do not receive the order. How exciting life can be, eh? Just kidding. I wrote it all up and inserted it into my 8 pp library essay, "You Have Been Spam Foldered." The title was borrowed from a reviewer-librarian for Library Journal.

mather said...

All right, you'd never been to that library before. And of course you wouldn't call me "addled" in a public forum, only a private one, and you'd be more likely to use words like "hypocrite" and "egomaniac" or make fun of the fact that I don't have a college degree. I would post all the "ad hominems" you've ladled onto me over the years, but I wouldn't want to upset Charlotte. As for the librarian, there's this x-factor of hostility you bear with you that you never seem to want to admit. I understand it, because I've seen it and felt it applied to me, of course solidly in the name of free speech, democracy and vigorous debate. It's strange: when you call someone's work crap it's healthy debate but when they call your work crap they're trying to avoid truth. There is a basic human reaction to hostility that goes back much farther than society, and this is the unspoken grain in many of your run-ins with people. Hostility can be dealt-out in a calm voice without obvious threat of violence, but it's still hostility, it's still condescension and it's still hatred. It's ok to be hostile, hell, more power to you, but it cracks me up how you're always so innocently suprised when people react to your hostility accordingly, and by that I mean they react like any human being would react, whether they are in or out of the so called "herd", whether they are a librarian or a taxi driver. You say they need thicker skins; they say you need better manners. Who the fuck cares! You're all nuts in my book. I mean, this could happen to anybody one time and I'd believe it and I wouldn't think twice, but you make a life of it, and that's when it starts to smell funny and that's why I'm talking about it. Plus, I know you. The whole thing seems like a set-up: you walking around insulting people under your breath and then preening indignant when they call your bullshit. Your incident with the librarian had nothing to do with the contents of your journal, you say yourself they never even looked at it, so what exactly is it that makes the situation turn into a near-arrest? Dumb as they are, most people know when they're being shit on. The fact that a public institution in your area should subscribe to your journal goes without saying. But your little escapade had nothing to do with that, I dare say.

G. Tod Slone said...

So, you’re holding on to the grudge you’ve built up with my regard! How sad.

As I reflected last evening, I suddenly realized why the cop got the story wrong. What the librarian must have told him was not that I’d been there before but that I came back to the counter three or four times to address her.

You imply I drove 30 minutes out of my way just to INSULT a local librarian… and that had nothing to do with my attempts to get libraries to subscribe. There’s no logic in your assertion.

People in positions of authority should not be so easily INSULTED. That’s the whole point! As editor, I am not so easily insulted.

As you recall, it was I who suggested we bury the hatchet. Well, I’m still willing. I hold no grudges. I don’t harbor hatred in my heart. I’m much more interested in truth, democracy, and exposing hypocrisy. I know, you wrote you’re not at all interested in those things. You’re only interested in getting published, in becoming “known.” So be it.

Our “battle” began, as I’m sure you recall, with your criticism of my poetry. That was fine. Most people do not like it. So consider yourself in the majority with that respect. You criticized my poetry again, then again, then I criticized your writing… and you went whacko and decided it was time to truncate our correspondence! Fine. Then several weeks later you wrote a response to this blog. I thought, well, that’s nice. Maybe he’s lightened up a tad. Ah, but you couldn’t resist calling me “addled” with the evident implication that I was old, as if that were a crime of sorts in today’s America. And you were still harboring the grudge! Am I possibly the first person ever to have criticized your writing, your very lack of reason to write… with the exception of getting published? What I was actually attempting to do was tell you that you wrote well and that you ought to go back to college, get a degree, and maybe teach writing. And I’m certain if I looked hard enough I’d find in my correspondence those very words. That was a compliment, one that you’ve twisted into an INSULT. How amazing. Do you want me to publish here that email you sent apologizing for a previous altercation you began with me? Yes, I’m certain you recall. And if you don’t, I’ll put it up right here to help you recall.

Of course, my diverse encounters with authority figures can appear humorous! I sure hope so! But there’s something else involved under the humor… and it is a sad exposition of the very lack of democracy in so many areas in America. That’s why I label it testing the waters of democracy. And if you or that librarian want to call my tests INSULTS, that’s not only your problem, but also democracy’s problem.

One day, if not one day soon, people like me WILL be thrown in jail for doing what I do now because people like you and that librarian don’t give a damn. All you want to do is get published!

Reread the quote that precedes this blog. Then read some of what Chief Justice Brandeis had to say about thin-skin and the needs of democracy.

mather said...

I kept asking myself why I continue to write you and I think I know now: it's because I'm endlessly entertained at how well you dodge and posture in your dance around the point. Ok, here we go again, I'll take your issues one at a time so you don't get confused.

1) Yes, I am holding a grudge. I am a human being. My grudge is built around the fact that you treat people like shit and then claim they are ruining democracy when they get sick of being treated like shit. You talk to people as if they were second class citizens and then wonder why they get pissed and forget their logic. Of course you hold grudges too, though somehow you see Ramakrishna when you look in the mirror. Your moral highground is sickening, truly, and is only a smokescreen to hide your groin digs. Look, man, I am not a political scientist, I don't even UNDERSTAND democracy, I never went to college, but I can tell you this has nothing to do with democracy: the spirit of the world is falling apart, and democracy isn't going to fix our sick souls. I've got a sick soul and you've got one too, if you'd only admit it.

2) Well, at least you've admitted that the librarian didn't actually LIE to the cops. That's a step. Coincidentally, this came to you in contemplation, after I questioned it. Maybe you should contemplate a little more in the first place, instead of racing home to write a story in which you are again the clear and innocent victim, the soldier of truth against a tyranny of librarial and professorial oppressors. Funny that you are a professor yourself, pardon me, DOCTOR, reminding people all the time, and earning your dollars that way, and funny also that you think I should do the same, as if I ever would, or would want to. What else about that incident at the library was fogged over or seen through a distorted lense?

3) I didn't imply you drove 30 minutes to insult a librarian. I implied you insult pretty much everyone wherever you go as a matter of course, and then say you don't. And, yes, you ARE easily insulted. I asked you if you talked to Dan Sklar about his publishing mania the way you talk to me about mine. You responded by calling me "jealous", an "egomaniac", called my work "horseshit" and said if I wanted to be Dan Sklar's friend too I should "go back to college and stop driving that shit mobile." (That's the "compliment" you refer to.) This from a guy who doesn't get insulted or supplant logic with ad hominem. I am a publishing maniac, sure! Why then do Dan Sklar and yourself both seem to be doing more publishing than I am? Why is it you fill half your journal with your own writings, and then on top of that have a web site and now a blog?

4) I'm willing to correspond with you but only in a public forum. If you don't want me to write here I won't.

5) Somehow because I appear in 5 or 10 journals a year, this means I'm not interested in democracy, exposing hypocrisy or (the big one) TRUTH. Here's the truth: I'm exposing YOUR hypocrisy right now, though you can't see it.

6) Our "battle" is all in black and white and I can print it here to remind you if you need that. It's only the latest of many senseless fights I've had with you. I should have known when you blamed my Mexican girlfriend for ruining the country that you were off balance. In fact I did know, but I thought it was fun, I guess. I mean, at least you wrote me back. I've had my writing criticized by many hundreds of people, many of them better writers than you, and your comment about that is lame. I could wallpaper my room with the rejections I've received. Anyway this isn't about our different writing styles, as I've said to you before. It's about your hypocrisy. Why do you make reference to an apology I made to you about a completely separate incident? That was months ago! Do you want me to apologize again? For what? Being insulted by an insult? How you do jump around!

7) Actually, I don't think your library story is funny at all. What's funny about it?

8) And finally: if all I want to do is get published why would I be arguing with you, a person who's published me? And I've already read the quote above, yes it's great, but I'm not talking about Chief Justice Brandeis, I'm talking about YOU. The honorable Good Tod Slone!

G. Tod Slone said...

Mather, mon caalisse de niaiseux,
Allow me to refer you to these pages: http://www.theamericandissident.org/AdHominem.htm and http://www.theamericandissident.org/Risk.htm.
Well, I was going to let you have the last word, but since you attack my person over and again, I won’t, at least not just yet. Actually, the one thing I’m really terrible at is slickness, as in “how well you dodge and posture in your dance around the point.” So, how you arrived at that conclusion is beyond me. I’d make a terrible politician.
The rhetorical tactic of placing everyone on your side against me is as tedious and as transparent as it gets (e.g., “you treat people like shit”). Why not just come into the arena alone without the mob “people” as your helpers? BTW, I was not aware that you were such a nice guy to “people”!
Why the NEED to be hateful of someone like me who actually has a reason to write besides getting published (e.g., democracy, vigorous debate, free speech)? “Your moral highground is sickening, truly, and is only a smokescreen to hide your groin digs.” Because you apparently have no “moral” ground at all, why hold that against me? Perhaps your life as a cabbie has sheltered you from the rude truth of what is going on in America today. If you don’t stand up, if people don’t stand up, you, Mather won’t be able to write what you’re writing here in the perhaps not too distant future. That’s what I’m fighting for, while you, all you do is fight to get YOUrself published. Therefore, denigrate me because I have a better reason.
One not need go to college to learn about democracy. Every citizen should learn about democracy. The more citizens like you who are too lazy and too disinterested in democracy, the less democracy we shall have. Perhaps one day soon you will be stifled as I was stifled at that library the other day. Perhaps that’s what it takes. You need a learning spur. And to get that you have to get out and test the waters of democracy, as I do. Why you label my democracy experiments as hypocrisy simply points to your own inaction and complacent acceptance.
The librarian did lie and big time. That’s what the no-trespass order underscores. Reread that section. I altered it yesterday to include mention of the order, which I received yesterday. But I’m quite aware now of the pointlessness of presenting you, the cops, or the librarian with proof or logic. The latter is for others, those with open minds, to examine.
Only out of willful ignorance can you issue the following statement: “I implied you insult pretty much everyone wherever you go as a matter of course, and then say you don't.” You’ve never met or even seen me. How is it possible that I’ve acquired 15 libraries to subscribe and have been invited to speak in front of students on three different occasions and will be the poet next semester at Endicott (yeah, go ahead, send a letter there to diss me, that’s cool, I don’t really care) if I insulted “pretty much everyone”? Have you forgotten you called what I do “the insult of truth”? Of course, you’ve forgotten!
Your real failing is logic and the hatred in your heart that you’ve acquired and harbor for me because I simply criticized you… after you criticized me. You’re blinded by it. Get rid of it, and maybe you’ll find yourself more logical. Evidently, a college education might not help you improve in that endeavor.
Some of the points you make I won’t even address because they are lies as in your stating I said, “if I wanted to be Dan Sklar's friend too I should "go back to college and stop driving that shit mobile."” Never did I say that. And why should you necessarily want to be his friend? And why should I want you to be his friend? Zero logic in that!
You’re the one always boasting about getting published. Have you forgotten? “Why is it you fill half your journal with your own writings, and then on top of that have a web site and now a blog?” Quite simply because I have things to say… and not simply about driving a cab everyday. I have things to say about the state of the American democracy, for example, and academe’s role in its continued demise. Yes, I’ve worked as a professor, which is why what I have to say might be of value. In other words, I’ve worked with many professors and know how they tend to operate!
“4) I'm willing to correspond with you but only in a public forum. If you don't want me to write here I won't.” The last thing I will do is censor you or anyone else out of this forum!
Your “Mexican girlfriend” is an illegal immigrant. Illegal immigrants provide cheap labor to corporations at the expense of American and legal immigrant wages. This is why the American Chamber of Commerce funnels millions of lobbying dollars into the American Congress to push for amnesty of the millions of illegals even during times like these of massive unemployment. It wants to keep wages as low as possible. The logic is egregiously present in that fact!
“And finally: if all I want to do is get published why would I be arguing with you…” Because you’re a grudge holder and cannot take criticism at all. That’s why.

Here’s the letter of apology you wrote me. It really concerns the same thing you’re doing now, so is not only pertinent to past issues you’ve had with me: your tantrums and anger and inability to deal with criticism. The next one you write will have to be twice as good and convincing.


I really threw a tantrum didn't I? I went apeshit and I don't really
know why. I am an emotional being, nothing logical about it. I get
very angry... Anyway I don't blame you if you don't want to deal with me, but I thought I'd write and say I'm sorry.

You're gonna laugh at this but I re-worked the god damned piece over
again and got rid of the generalizing and the iffy sentences. I kept
only the vivid imagery and wove it into the critique of the poem itself, so there is no lofty intro. If you don't want it I'll try FTB, maybe. Have no idea who else would even look at something like it.

Easy day at work. Friends are hard to come by in this world, so drop
me a line. I realize you were just trying to help, and help you did. I lost control and I hope you understand you are just a small, small
part of the reason. It's the world and myself I get pissed at.

mather said...

Me: "Looks like Dan Sklar has a poem in the Harvard Review. That alone would seem to indicate he's fallen in with the herd, verdad?"

(This is the very first time I'd ever mentioned Sklar's name to you, I believe.)

You: "You jealous? If you're jealous get a fuckin college degree and maybe he'll invite you too! If you're not, then continue driving those shit mobiles for a living."

You're right, the word "friend" wasn't mentioned.

I said "people" because I'm not the only one you've shit on. You've got some people who you haven't pissed off, according to the accomplishments you brag about (which is the exact thing you accuse me of doing, yet strangely without example). I told you I got a poem accepted in NYQ one time a while back, and I said that I would probably regret telling you, and you acted like you couldn't figure out why I would say such a thing, you were happy for me, blah, blah. I knew you'd use it on me someday, and here you are. Good god, you've got a web site dedicated to yourself!

I said you dance around my points because you never address them, you just move right over them, my main one being that you are a hypocrite and that what you are doing has nothing to do with furthering democracy and certainly does not give you the moral right to judge others and place them so far below you. You'll say you don't do this, of course, but you do. You had that librarian placed well below you before you even talked to her. You want more than the right to say your piece, you want people to BUY it from you too! This is not about your supposed principles, this is about money, the money you feel you're being cheated of, no grants, no subs, no sales, no book deals...pobrecito...

All this about "logic" I thought I already made clear: I don't give a damn about logic. Art is not logical and neither is the human heart, and neither are you.

I attack your moral highground because it is false, because you are a hypocrite, you do not really hold in your heart those morals you outwardly profess. This is shown in your behavior. Do as I say, not as I do. You refer me to your ad hominem page after I give you several examples of you calling me names. How does this work? Is this logical?

"Perhaps your life as a cabbie has sheltered you from the rude truth going on in America today." I really can't believe you said that. Do you even hear yourself? Because I am a cabbie I know less about the state of America than someone who goes around arguing with librarians and poetry editors? I talk to people of all nations and all financial brackets and all ages, every day. I read plenty too. I don't really understand democracy but I know everybody's got a different idea about it, and I also know this country is not a democracy and never has been, it was not even set up that way. I know what's going on in this falling failing world and I'll say it again: YOU'RE NOT HELPING. You are not doing what you claim to be doing. You are not "testing the waters of democracy". You are simply jamming your own personal attitude down someone's throat, and then expecting them to give you money for it. There are no absolutes, the world is not black and white, it is not made up of "democracies" and "republics", it is made up of human beings. There I go hiding behind the herd again. This is not how you change policy, if you would want to change police, demanding that people publish you, demanding that people purchase from you; on the contrary, this is probably why the stupid fucking policies are there in first place, because people like you actually harm democracy, by expecting every little personal whim (your precious journal and your mood swings) to be catered to. So, if it is not to change policy, is it to change people, one at a time, from the inside out? As if you are the example people should change into! It's not just that you are ineffective, but that you are insufferably arrogant while being so.

Yes, I remember saying "the insult of truth". That was before I knew you. I feel I know you, if you have a better side you've had years to show me and you've failed, it's always nothing but negativity and insult, and I'm tired of it. I've never met you in the flesh and I don't want to. By the way, I would never write a letter to a college to "diss" you! Are you serious? Get over yourself! But that will be cute, though: you and Dan can ride your bicycles to school together.

As far as my girlfriend is concerned, I think we established last time we talked about this that aside from being unnecessarily cruel you don't even know what you are talking about economically, you don't even know how the system works, and it is nowhere near as simple as your black and white brain would like it to be. You dumb it down worse than Rush Limbaugh, throwing statistics at me.

So, let me get this straight: I publish because I am interested only in publishing but you publish because you have something to say? Very logical. Here's the truth: I say things about the world through my cab driving poems; you say things about yourself through your supposed sayings about the world. You expose the dictator in your heart.

Yeah, I meant that apology when I said it, because I felt I flew off the handle without reason. This time is different. I've explained as best as I can. Just the fact that you posted that irrelevant apology says so much about how your brain works, and your insinuation that I should apologize again, but twice as hard! Talk about taking something out of context! I laughed out loud. But I've stopped by now.

G. Tod Slone said...

You've said nothing at all new, just the same old blablabla ad hominem rhetoric like a little kid calling another names. You fail deplorably to deal with the points I make. For example, regarding the logic I presented vis a vis illegal immigrants depressing American worker wages, you heave the same old ad hominem horseshit: You call me Rush Limbaugh. Wow, that was a cogent counter-argument, one a college kid hopefully wouldn't make, though one never knows given today's faculty! At times, though rarely, I do use ad hominem. BUT most of those times I'll catch myself and cancel it out, because I know ad hominem is no argument at all, certainly not against an argument based on solid logic. BTW, an editor is interested in my 10-page essay on librarians, which contains this blog segment. So, I'm glad you too liked it.

mather said...

I want to say something else because you'll probably jump all over it. The "insult of truth" comment was made in earnest. You do issue insults of truth, sometimes, and I commend you for it. But, when you start attacking me, someone I thought was my friend, for no reason other than because I say your prose is better than your poetry, or because I question your relationship with Sklar, then I see things differently. I see things from the other side, and through a sort of democratic spirit I am put in a position of sympathy with others you've attacked in the same way. Am I an authority figure to whom you should speak your "rude truth to power"? Am I power? Of course not, which is when I realized, once again, that you are more interested in rudeness and insult than you are in truth or bettering society. Again, you are not what you say you are, or what you think you are. I thought we were friends, or we could be friends, but realize now that is impossible because you don't care about such things, at least not with me, someone who can't give you a speaking post.

G. Tod Slone said...

PS: Professor Dan Sklar was indeed published in Harvard Review. But I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, Mather, except the editor of that review liked his poem or essay. I’m not such a fool that I’m going to automatically hate someone who had a poem published in Best American Poetry or Harvard Review or Agni or Poetry. Sure, I might examine the poem or essay, if I’m writing a review on the magazine in question. But evidently there would be so much more to a poet or writer than one piece of writing.

By the way, Dan takes a clear risk when he invites me to speak to his Endicott College students. Some of his colleagues might not like that at all. As you know, I’ve been overtly critical of professors in general and in particular. But kudos to Dan for caring more about truth than offending, for caring more that his students will be exposed to a vast array of viewpoints, mine and Doug Holder’s included, than offending colleagues. Dan seeks to keep the agora of ideas wide open. That’s all I’ve been asking academe and the lit milieu to do. And that’s what 99% of the professors out there do not want to do. That’s been my experience.

You also ignored what I said RE you and college. I'll repeat it. I thought you were a good writer and that you ought to put that to use by going to college, getting a degree, and maybe helping others write. How you twisted that into an insult is in itself aberrant.

mather said...

I'm not going to argue about the illegal immigration issue. You have no idea how much money they pump into this economy, really no one does because the government will not admit it, and if they were all evacuated right now the whole southwest would collapse. The money that illegals pay in taxes help to pay your god damned unemployment bennies! Like many professors and people of privelege you speak from your cozy position with your degrees and ideas about labor issues, smug and superior. I'm sorry I mentioned it because now you've latched onto it to avoid the issue of your own hypocrisy, your own writings and your own behavior. You've put yourself morally above every single "illegal immigrant" (as if they're not human beings) like you put yourself above most everybody else.

And now you brag that the thing will be published. Great! Hallefuckingyooya! I'm sure you'll overwhelm the audience with your pristine logic and I will look like another crazy.

mather said...

You did not originally say that I was a good writer and that I should go back to college to help people. God! You said what you said in the quote, it's right there! You are complimenting me now to soften it, I guess, but I don't care about your after-thought compliments. I don't need you to tell me I'm a good writer! And I don't hate Sklar for publishing in Harvard Review, I don't care about him at all, but I know that if I would have published in Harvard Review, you would most likely have attacked me, whereas you leave him alone. And why is that? Because he is helping to employ you.

G. Tod Slone said...

Debate is important for democracy. However, if you simply reply with childish name calling and do not respond to the points I make, it is no longer debate, but rather dialogue de sourds or dialog of the deaf. “I'm not going to argue about the illegal immigration issue,” you state, then argue about it. Where is the logic in that? If they’re illegal, why and how do they pay taxes? Please respond! Are you entirely unaware that unemployment is currently skyrocketing in America? And since it is, why do the corporations want to AMNESTY for the 10-20 million illegals? Respond! And please don’t respond because they have a conscience! This statement is absurd: “The money that illegals pay in taxes help to pay your god damned unemployment bennies!” Who told you that one, La Raza? Conveniently, you ignored my entire explanation vis a vis Dan and his openness. Reread it!

The following was written to you on Mon, 4 Aug 2008 13:25:27 -0700, a good month prior to your going wacko. “Mather, Glad you're on the net. As mentioned in my previous letter, I'd like to consider you a friend. You're a good writer and the nation needs good writers. T.” The following was written to you on Sat, 27 Sep 2008 19:29:26 -0700 (PDT): “You sound like a guy who should have gotten an MA in English so you could do reasonably easy adjunct courses.” Your response was written on Sun, 28 Sep 2008 9:14:55 -0700: “Yes, it occurs to me from time to time that I could go back to school. Mostly I think about teaching English, possibly in Mexico, if we ever
find ourselves living down there, which I think is likely.” Ahem…!...!

Again, this very dispute you and I are having here is a direct result of your having initiated it by criticizing my poetry. That was fine by me, as mentioned earlier. Hell, one can’t please everyone! But then I criticized your lack of purpose for writing, and you got really angered… beyond belief. In other words, you can dish it out easily enough, but you can’t take it at all. There. That’s POINT #1. Respond to it. See if you can do so w/o resorting to name calling. If you can’t, then you do indeed have a serious problem, one affecting many little children.

What I do demands a thick skin. What you do evidently does not. The American Dissident was created and founded on principles: free speech, risk taking, rigorous logic, and vigorous debate. To date, I have not shut anyone out of that debate. Most literary journals do not abide by those principles. You don’t like principles. That’s your problem, not mine. There. That’s POINT #2. Respond to it. See if you can do it w/o resorting to name calling, as in “hypocrite.” Hmm. This would make a good exercise in a college course on writing and logical argumentation!

Charlotte W. said...

I have a marvelous suggestion for fellow viewers: consider responding to the topic of the blog entry.

If mather has a blog, I'd like to see how open he is toward viewer tirades.

mather said...

I have called you a hypocrite and I will continue to call you a hypocrite, because that is what you are. I'm sorry you don't like that or think there is a more logical way I should present it. I have offered many examples to illustrate it. I never said I was above ad hominem, like you do, and then use it anyway. I like ad hominem, but only when it fits, as it does here especially well.

This is a tough one, I'm not sure you can understand it, but here goes: illegal Mexicans pay taxes EVERY TIME THEY BUY SOMETHING, every time they go to a restaurant, every time they rent an apartment, every time they fill up their tanks... Do you know how much money they're going to sink into this country in the coming holiday shopping season? Everything costs money in American and nearly everything is taxed. Also many thousands of illegals work over-the-counter jobs where they are issued paychecks, minus state, federal, medical and social security taxes, but can't ever collect on any benefits or tax returns, this is all bonus money fed into the government. The labor they exert here is also unestimable, and labor is wealth. They keep the wages down somewhat, yes, but if you think kicking them all out will automatically skyrocket wages and correct unemployment you are mistaken. The problem is very complicated, and economists will testify to that. I'm not an economist and neither are you, that's why I didn't want to argue about it, but if you keep bringing it back up I pretty much have to, don't I? Especially when you order me to! Respond! Never mind the fact that you were attacking my girlfriend personally, in your greatest democratic spirit, and how in the world do you expect me not to be insulted by that? You called my girl a mojada, a wet back, you said I had abandoned my principles, all because I found someone to care about. But I'm thin skinned because I get upset about it. Why don't you make fun of my mother next.

Ok, you complimented me on my writing. Thank you. You've published me too, thank you for that. I've complimented you too, many times. You're welcome. Our latest argument originated because I told you I thought your prose is better than your poetry, I was complimenting your blog entry, and I called you a journalist, which you took offense to. I tried to explain that I didn't mean it as an insult but that didn't matter, you got pissed and started slinging your old standbys: "egomaniac", "horseshit","jealous", buk clone, etc. So I asked you if you would treat Dan Sklar the same way you treat me, if you would criticize his publishing motives, his devotion to truth, etc., and if not, why not. The only way you've responded is to say he's open. I guess that sums it up.

Of course I've thought about going back to college, but it always passes away almost immediately.

Yes, I have a thin skin. I am very sensitive, and you are too, in fact you admitted it to me in the past. What kind of point is that? Am I supposed to be ashamed?To throw your principles in my face is also not a point. Of course I have principles. One of my principles is honesty. I have others which are evident in my behavior, though I do not have a list printed on my t shirt or a web sit devoted to them.

I can take criticism, even a lot of attitude, hell I've been taking it from you for years! But I've had enough. You attacked me one too many times and now I'm giving it back, and because I can take it AND dish it out we are still going round here, many others would have dropped this long ago, their silence giving you the false feeling that you somehow defeated them with your logic. But, really I'm getting tired of it, and I guess Charlotte is too. Charlotte, are you in love with G. Tod Slone? No I don't have a blog, but you can write me any time you like. And I don't believe there are any other viewers, so we don't need to worry about that. Sklar, maybe.

mather said...

To speak more of Dan since you demand it, it's wonderful that he's invited you to be "the poet at Endicott" whatever that means. How this will expose them to a multiplicity of ideas I don't know. And Doug Holder too! Well, who else do you need? Between the two of you you've got it all wrapped up! I feel sorry for those impressionable youngsters who think you can actually write poetry. Maybe they'll all start copying your style and then get angry because no one will publish them. Maybe they'll start using the same Emerson and Thoreau quotes every second paragraph (while ignoring the many other things both of them said which contradict you. Reread Emerson's essay on the poet.) Maybe you can get those kids to start saying things like "methinks" and using "one" as a pronoun. Certainly their gerunds will be in order. Good for Dan and his opennness! He's a regular fucking Buddha! Creative writing can't and shouldn't be taught in the universities, so in my opinion neither you or Dan will be earning your inflated wages, just skimming off the top, raping the system and adding to the stagnation and arrogance of literature. You're overpaid babysitters as far as I'm concerned. Teaching French, ok, but creative writing, no.

mather said...

If somehow I'm affecting the "children" as you say (I have no idea what you mean there) why don't you let your students read this comment section argument between the two of us and let them decide which of us has more sense, natural intelligence and writing ability.

Also, are you teaching logical argumentation or poetry?

G. Tod Slone said...

I agree with Charlotte. And discourse with you, Mather, has now become a fruitless waste of time. The last word is yours.

ernest said...

I am a Watertown tax payer and library patron. With out exception, I have received nothing but polite, courteous, and effective service from Ms. Francouer and all the other staff in her department.

G. Tod Slone said...

Ernest: Free speech is the issue here, not whether or not some thin-skinned librarian has been nice to you or even others. Yes, corrupt Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has always been so nice to me. How could I not vote for that felon? And yes, half the population did vote for that felon. Can you not see just how faulty your reasoning is? If not, you need to ask why your education has failed you so terribly. Perhaps Francoeur was on the rag that day. Who knows and who gives a damn? What she did is reprehensible. She not only lied to the police and library director, but also denied me my right to exercise Free speech in a public space by calling the police for no reason with the exception that the poor frail gal decided to be upset. I never made any threats, nor did I disturb patrons! I’m 60 years old and have a doctorate. That is not my modus operandi! Leone E. Cole, the director, should be ashamed of herself for so easily issuing a no-trespass order! Why did she give me no recourse whatsoever to contest it? As mentioned, I have a recording of part of that conversation between Francoeur and me. Why is Cole uninterested in it? Why has she refused to respond to my emails? Democracy demands vigorous debate! Few citizens give a damn about it today and what it implies and needs. That's why it's heading down the toilet bowl at an alarmingly accelerating rate and to the joy of those like Francoeur and the US Chamber of Commerce. Thanks for responding to the blog. Unlike Francoeur, I encourage those who disagree with me to exercise their Free Speech rights.

HuntSmith said...

The angry librarian is now the angry bookseller at Toad Hall Bookstore in Rockport. I had a run-in with her too and googled her and found this...and also this from her blog apparently about you!

I also found this from her ex-husband, claiming that she stole her neighbor's kitten, then got a false restraining order against him when he threatened to report it.

I guess this is her pattern. Angry, entitled, intolerant of others, and claiming someone abused her if things don't go her way.