A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone 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, December 29, 2009

Brueghel Part III

Nada de nuevo por aqui, cabrones!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brueghel Part II

Herr Brueghel was actually Herr Celine's favorite painter. How not to like him? In fact, how not to like both of them? Happy Holidays to the lot of you. I shall be spending x-mas eve in the back of my 1991 Honda two-seater CRX... alone. How does he do it? Tonnage of coverage and a spot in Nashua, New Hampshire hidden in the back lot of a Volvo dealership, where the coppers won't find me. Amen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Charles Coe

As part of an ongoing experiment to test the waters of democracy, especially in the academic and literary arenas, notice of this blog entry was sent to each of the persons depicted in the above watercolor (see below). Will any of them dare comment? Likely not. Their shame is that they do not cherish, but rather scorn, vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone. Their shame, at least those in the teaching profession (Pinsky, Marchant, Houlihan, Wright, and Espada), is that they do not seek to expose their students to all points of view and all possibilities for inspiration with regards writing, including and especially dissidence and purposeful conflict with power. Their shame is their contentment that dissidents like me and others are kept out of their festivals, kept from public funding, and kept from the eye of youth. Their shame is that my freedom of expression and that of other American dissidents is being crushed at every corner. Some of them have even become millionaire professor poets. Indeed, how can one possibly expect raw, visceral truth from such persons?

The idea for the above watercolor brewed over several weeks time and was likely sparked by the probable clique connection existing between Joan Houlihan, Director of the Concord Poetry Center, Karen Wulf, Director of Pen New England, Joan Bertin, Director of the National Coalition against Censorship, and Fred Marchant, Director of the Suffolk University Poetry Center. Both Wulf and Houlihan operate from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA). Both Wulf and Bertin refuse to address the freedom of expression and censorship issues I’d brought to their attention. Why?

Again, the only concrete explanation I could come up with was the clique. Houlihan often reads paired with Marchant, who is depicted in a photo hugging Charles Coe of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Coe refuses to address my request to be invited to the Poetry Festival. To that concoction, I added Doug Holder of Ibbetson Press, who interviewed Coe and gave Robert Pinsky, also depicted in the watercolor, a medal or award.

Pinsky seems to be the established-order poet poster boy, invited left and right and everywhere else to read his flaccid poem about a shirt. How mind-boggling can it get? I first contacted him in 1996 or 7, when he was invited to give the commencement speech at Fitchburg State College. I contacted him because of the inherent corruption festering at that institution. He of course was indifferent and did not respond. All he wanted was his 5-10K honorarium. He really does disgust me as a poet.

Doug Holder, on the other hand, has certainly been more open than most poets of the established order. Poesy mag, which he co-edits or co-edited, interviewed me. Doug certainly could have prevented that interview. Also, he did place a link to this blog on his site and even manifested rare established-order poet curiosity by buying an issue of The American Dissident at Grolier's in Harvard Square. So, hats off to Doug... sincerely. Just the same, it is too bad he doesn't push others of the clique like Coe and Houlihan and Marchant to open their doors to dissent. So, come on Doug, give those poet cohorts a little boot in the rump... not for me, but for democracy!

To fill out the picture, I added Martin Espada of the University of Massachusetts for diversity’s sake and for his indifference to dissident poets. Also, I added Franz Wright of Brandeis University, who was invited by Houlihan to read and for his indifference.

Of course, many others could have been added to the picture. Duke University professor Gary Hull, Director of the Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace, for example, could have been added. He refused to respond to my emails requesting he place my signature, as editor of The American Dissident, on a petition he created to decry Yale University’s decision to censor cartoons. Has it perhaps gotten that bad that petitions are only open to certain categories of citizens?

In America, perhaps we are indeed now in the Age of Aberrancy, where censorship has become rampant and censors extolled as moderators of pre-approved bourgeois aesthetics. George Orwell would have gone nuts with so much material to write about!

In essence, the rancid odor of cliquishness characterizes the established-order academic/literary scene. Offend the clique and risk ostracizing. It’s quite that simple. What really concerns the clique is not literature per se and certainly not democracy, but rather the marketing of clique members and their books. It is sad that public cultural councils endorse this kind of cliquishness and hermetic resistance to dissent.

As noted in the watercolor, its idea was also inspired by Brueghel’s painting, “The Cripples” (or “The Beggars”) and Léo Ferré’s 1956 preface to "Poète...vos papiers !" (see www.theamericandissident.org/Essays-Ferre.htm) In the quote, Ferré mentions that poets cut off their own wings, leaving just enough “moignon” (stump) so they may flutter about in the Literary Poultry Yard. He also mentions that we may expect little, if any, hope from poets of that sort.
From: George Slone
To: Charles.coe@art.state.ma.us; ibbetsonpress@msn.com; pen-ne@lesley.edu; Bertin@ncac.org; mespada@english.umass.edu; fjmarchant@aol.com; rpinsky@bu.edu; joan@concordpoetry.org; cpc@concordpoetry.org; fwright@brandeis.edu
Cc: gahull@soc.duke.edu; mina.wright@art.state.ma.us; dan.blask@art.state.ma.us; voltairepress@live.com
Sent: Fri, December 11, 2009 11:57:37 AM
Subject: The Age of Aberrancy, the Poetes moignons & Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

Dear Poets et al:
You are the subject of a new watercolor and blog entry, which is why you're being contacted. Go ahead, curiosity didn't kill the cat. Apparently, it only killed the poet, which certainly must explain his and her incredible incuriosity! http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2009/12/age-of-aberrancy-and-poets-of-moignon.html

G. Tod Slone, PhD and Founding Editor (since 1998)
The American Dissident, a Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence
A 501 c3 Nonprofit Providing a Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy
1837 Main St.
Concord, MA 01742

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Review of Indoctrinate U

Corruption in higher education is a subject of great passion for me. In Academe, to paraphrase Orwell, orthodoxy is democracy; censorship is moderation; and uniformity is diversity. PC seems indeed to be firmly entrenched there. Espouse it, if employed there, or watch out! Vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone, is often scorned there and dismissed as hate speech. Colleges and universities even list amongst job qualifications: “Appreciation of multiculturalism required.” That’s what I found, as an unemployed professor hunting for a job. The quote comes from a job ad published recently by North Shore Community College (MA). I’d brought it to the attention of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which wrote the college a letter and persuaded it to eliminate that particular requisite… at least on paper. As a white liberal male, I find myself often not applying for positions overly emphasizing diversity, which has evidently come to mean: white males need not apply. On another note, though really the same note, a Mongolian immigrant with a green card was chosen over me to teach French at a public university, yet I’d spent seven years in France, wrote a doctoral thesis in French at a French university, and had even published a book in French, while she had not done any of those things. However, she did not question and challenge anything overtly, whereas I dared question and challenge almost everything overtly.

Indoctrinate U is an excellent documentary written and directed by Evan Maloney, who manages quite adeptly with sharp logical argumentation, coupled with cogent, supporting illustrations, to show how free speech is being sabotaged on the nation’s college and university campuses. “When we think of going to college, we think of intellectual freedom,” notes Maloney. “We imagine four years of exploring ideas through energetic, ongoing, critical thinking and debate. But the reality is very far from the ideal. What most of us don’t know is that American college students check their First Amendment rights and individual freedom at the door.” And how right he is! FIRE informed me of this film, and its president even appears in it periodically. When I watched the Lou Dobbs’ interview with Maloney (see http://indoctrinate-u.com/pages/welcome.html), I jumped with joy. Then I asked Maloney for a review copy, received one, and again jumped with joy. When I watched it, I couldn’t stop jumping with joy throughout it!

The film has an excellent fast pace with upbeat background music to keep the tempo. It is certainly not a boring documentary. Maloney, ingeniously, begins it with brief interviews of black educators—Carol Swain, John McWhorter, Ward Connerly, Lewis Ward—who do not think in the expected black paradigm of Affirmative Action, victimization, and general PC. He also introduces the film with footage and commentary on 60s campus protests in favor of free speech. “The notion that students and professors should be free to share their ideas without fear of punishment is the very embodiment of what the university should be,” he notes. “This belief led to what was then known as the campus free speech movement.”

Maloney informs us that he knew about the movement because his parents were amongst the 60s protesters. Well, I probably was too, but don’t quite recall the “free speech” aspect. Such protests were often confused mobs of dope salesmen, dope smokers, and others with higher agendas, not to mention the ambient bath of deafening music. In any case, Maloney informs us that when he went to college he realized that not everyone who grew up in the 60s still lived by those ideals today. How right he is! In fact, probably relatively few do. It’s what we called “sellouts,” a term that seems to have conveniently disappeared. For me, the two greatest “sellouts” were perhaps Bubba and Hillary. “Somewhere along the way the campus free speech movement got killed by university regulations and policies that are supposed to be assuring tolerance and diversity are instead being used to silence people with alternative views,” notes Maloney.

Another brilliant (and I hate the word brilliant) aspect of the film includes the director’s back and forth interview morsels between Noel Ignatiev, a white professor (Mass College of Art), spouting the PC party line, and John McWhorter, a black former professor (UC Berkeley), who points out the egregious faults in that line. Back and forth, back and forth. Priceless! One really has to wonder, after listening to Ignatiev’s spiel on whiteness, whether or not the guy is insane. How did he ever get hired? “My concern is doing away with whiteness,” blathers Ignatiev. “Whiteness is a form of racial oppression. […] There can be no white race without the phenomenon of supremacy. Whiteness is not a culture; it’s not a religion; it’s not a language; it’s simply an oppressive social category.” At least, McWorter makes sense: “You nurture the feeling among the black students that it is a racist campus. You pay people basically to tell them that in the classroom and in administrative offices. Obviously something’s wrong. But you get to satisfy your sense of being a noble person by pretending that the black students are the victims. That’s something that is now not only a personality trait but it’s institutionalized on the university campus.”

It is amazing to me how Maloney managed to capture on film some of the brilliant idiocy spouted by tenured academics. Consider Geoff Schneider, professor at Bucknell University, who seems to have assimilated quite nicely the PC-sociology party line: “A lot of our students, I think, are unconsciously racist. It’s not conscious, so they don’t really see it in themselves. And again, that’s something that nobody would like to admit that they’re unconsciously a racist.” Imagine admitting that you were an unconscious racist. In fact, wouldn’t that be impossible? What inanity! In fact, I was recently accused of being an “aversive racist” by a sociology instructor, Dahn Shaulis, PhD. I’d never heard of the term before, so asked for precision. “It's not surprising that an aversive racist would be blind to his or her own racism, that people might hire an aversive racist/sexist, or that an aversive racist might use quotes from Black authors or publish Black authors." That was about all I got.

Throughout Indoctrinate U, a wide variety of students, professors, administrators, and parents are interviewed. The whole gamut of the PC-party line and modus operandi is thus cleverly dissected and analyzed from Affirmative Action to victimization, speech codes, double standards, stolen conservative newspapers, and simply which topics are generally taboo on campus. Even students at Yale University have systematically had their conservative newspaper, The Yale Free Press, stolen. The administration refuses to even denounce it. Yet Yale’s Woodword Report issued in 1975 took a bold free-speech stance: “We value freedom of expression precisely because it provides a forum for the new, the provocative, the disturbing, and the unorthodox. Free speech is a barrier to the tyranny of authoritarian or even majority opinion as to the rightness or wrongness of particular doctrines of thoughts.” Was that stance just a blast of hot air?

Amazingly, one learns that racially-segregated orientation programs are being sponsored at Tufts, Brown, William and Mary and other institutions of purported higher learning. One student mentioned a Klansman would probably feel quite comfortable on some of those campuses. How not to laugh… sadly, of course! A compelling segment of the film concerns California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), where students complained to police and administrators that they were offended by a poster hung by one of their classmates, Steve Hinkle, at the multicultural center. “That flyer’s offensive. We have a right not to be offended.” Wow. Well, who was teaching those students? Nobody has a right not to be offended! The flyer was a simple announcement that an author, Mason Weaver, a black conservative, was coming to campus to speak about his new book, It’s OK to Leave the Plantation. Hinkle with the help of FIRE fought Cal Poly, which wanted to get rid of him. It took 18 months for a decision to finally be made… in court. Cal Poly lost on every count and was even forced to pay for the student’s court fees! The affair cost $40,000 of taxpayer money. No apology, of course, was ever issued to the student.

Maloney manages to capture some excellent, truly memorable scenes. How not to be amazed, for example, when he approaches with great civility a Cal Poly college administrator, holding his hand out politely, only to have it ignored by the administrator! He asks politely if he could speak with the president. But the administrator asks him to follow him away from the president’s office. Maloney follows him, then holds out his hand again, only to be accused of being “uncivil.” Yes, that’s the PC keyword used to kill vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone. Campus cops arrive, thanks to the thin-skinned administrator, and tell Maloney threateningly: “You need to leave or you’re going to go to jail!” Yet Cal Poly is public property, and Maloney had committed no crimes.

At Stanford University, Maloney visits the Diversity Office in an effort to determine “how diverse the diversity office really is.” Now, how not to laugh at that one? Nobody is present. So he leaves, then comes back in the afternoon. Politely he mentions to a woman that he’d like to speak to someone in the Diversity Office. But she looks at him angrily out of the blue and says “I’m gonna make a phone call!” And she calls the cops. Am I dreaming? Nope. Same thing happened to me at Watertown Free Public Library last Fall. It’s that easy. Feel angry? Don’t like how someone looks? Don’t like the tone of their voice? Just call the cops! Thin skin in America is prevalent. PC teaches citizens to have thin skin, to complain, and to feel offended. “Are you looking for Rosa?” asks a kinder woman. “She’s in and out a lot.” “Well, we’d be happy to wait,” says Maloney… quite politely… almost with deference. “It could be forever,” says the kinder woman. Well, Rosa sounds like one of those full-salaried absentee political appointees we have so many of here in Massachusetts. Then two cops arrive and ask Maloney to leave. Wow. Something is terribly wrong in our democracy!

In the film, numerous students are interviewed from different colleges, each expressing disappointment at the apparent lack of freedom of expression in the classroom. But it would have been even more interesting if Maloney had hunted down a student or two who actually thought they were free to express themselves. At Stanford, he asks where the Men’s Resource Center is located and gets a few bewildered chuckles. Then he asks someone at the Gender Equity Center, who suggests he visit the Title IX Compliance Office. Title IX is a law that prohibits gender discrimination in higher education. Yet only 44% of college students are men, notes Maloney, so where are the Men’s Resource Centers? Good question! PC usually receives an F for logic.

At the end of the film, one learns that a number of campuses have prohibited the American flag for fear it might actually offend foreign students. How not to be mind-boggled? One department chairperson even ordered a department member to remove the American flag hung on her desk at Holy Cross. How did such an ignorant, democracy-indifferent person ascend in the ranks of academe? Now, I’m not a big flag person at all, but if someone else wants to be, I’m certainly not going to shut them down. What is truly grotesque and disturbing is to observe such self-important professors and administrators behaving so smugly, autocratically, and downright unaccountably. They really do look crooked, their faces twisted with subtle anger at being suddenly “called out.” Not one administrator would agree to an interview on Political Correctness despite Maloney’s sending out 100s of emails and making 100s of phone calls. “You were denied permission,” says a nameless administrator. “But we never asked for permission,” says Maloney. “So, I don’t see how we could be denied.” “Well, now you’re denied, so now you can leave,” responds the smug, democracy-indifferent administrator. Maloney rightfully concludes at the end of the film that the Campus Free Speech movement begun in the 60s must have failed. He urges silent academics to speak up. Good luck to that. I know the silent beast quite well. He or she won’t stand up unless there’s a check dangling in front of his or her snout.

Finally, what really got me thinking at the end of the film is the fact that Maloney is a political conservative, whereas I am a political liberal (At age 60, I’ve voted only once, and it was for Ralph Nader in 2000). In other words, Maloney is a friend of corporate America, whereas I am not. The film was in that sense incomplete, though its target was PC. It could have been more powerful and all-encompassing (and more honest and revealing), if a segment on corporate influence in academe had also been included. After all, aren’t the nation’s academic boards of trustees largely comprised, if not almost entirely, of businessmen and women? Also, the nation’s colleges and universities seem to have largely adopted the corporate-business model of rigid hierarchy, absence of dissent (team playing, team thinking, and team prevaricating), money, money, growth, growth, and more growth. Indeed, American colleges and universities have, for the most part, become businesses seeking more now to train students for particular slots in corporate America than to educate them in democracy, etc. In that sense, how can we expect free speech to flourish on campus? In other words, PC needs to be explained not only via 60s “sellouts,” but also via corporate America’s infiltration into and co-optation of the nation’s colleges and universities. How does PC co-exist so well with the corporate-business model? In other words, it must not be a threat to it. Maloney’s remark on Stanford University indirectly reveals something regarding that co-existence: “To this day the Diversity Office still hasn’t explained why Stanford’s faculty has so little intellectual diversity. Maybe they’re so busy making sure people look different that they really don’t care if everyone thinks the same.” Indeed, that seems to be precisely the same diversion that agrees with corporate America, which also seeks, if not demands: groupthink. Chomsky made a politically-incorrect statement with that regard. It also serves to explain the phenomenon. “The United States could become a color-free society. It’s possible. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it’s perfectly possible that it would happen, and it wouldn’t change the political economy, hardly at all. Just as you could remove the “glass ceiling” for women and that wouldn’t change the political economy, hardly at all. That’s one of the reasons why you quite commonly find the business sector reasonably willing, often happy to support efforts to overcome racism and sexism. It basically doesn’t matter that much. You lose a little white male privilege but that’s not all that important. On the other hand, basic changes in the core institutions would be bitterly resisted, if they ever became thinkable.”

In any event, Indoctrinate U ought to be made an integral part of every freshman college orientation and every English 101 class in America. Every college and university should have a core civics course on the principles of democracy, where this film would be of utmost pertinence. How and why has the nation been graduating so many citizens so ignorant of the principles of democracy today? For one thing, that does make for an obedient, self-censoring citizenry easy for corporate America to manipulate. I too was once ignorant with a PhD. Only as a professor when I personally confronted corruption at Fitchburg State College (MA) did I begin to educate myself, and I haven’t stopped since. This reviewer definitely and enthusiastically recommends Indoctrinate U.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

A Mini Review on a Mini Book, etc.
Once again, a new book of poems by Charles Bukowski has been published, The Continual Condition, copy write Linda Bukowski, the author’s widow. I’d been reading Bukowski since the early 80s and have read just about everything he’s written. What I particularly liked about him were his refreshing occasional caustic descriptions on the poetry milieu and poets of his day.

This volume is only 127 pages. Normally, Buk books are three times that. And this book doesn’t stipulate, as preceding books have done, the work to be previously unpublished, noting instead that “several” of the poems were previously published. In any case, who can tell the difference between the several thousand poems written on the racetrack or whoring or boozing and those presented in this volume? Indeed, the work is certainly not new. How could it be, considering the author died in 1994 and has been coming out with a book per year (or almost) ever since? The typical mix of poems is present: whoring, booze, racetrack, one or several on poets and writers, and one or several on the author’s later years as a well-to-do suburbanite. Overall, it is a disappointing volume with few, if any, memorable lines and not one great poem in the batch.

One has to wonder what the widow does with all the money from royalties. If she really wanted to promote her dead husband, the best thing she could have done was stop publishing more of his unpublished poems, the ones John Martin rejected when Buk was alive and participating in the creation of his Black Sparrow books. Evidently, however, her real purpose must be more money, despite what Bukies think (see http://bukowski.net/forum/showthread.php?t=472). What else could it be… diminishing and further diluting the author with poems that shouldn’t have been published because highly repetitive? After all, isn’t one great poem about the racetrack better than 100 mediocre ones?

This book left me wondering, while laying on the floor in the alcove readying to get up to begin the day, whether the poems were really Bukowski’s or were the work of a small team of HarperCollins wordsmithies, experts in the author’s style and subject. No matter. On the positive side, several poems did inspire me to write several poems. Buk’s style entered me—for a moment via poetosmosis. Below, thus, is the second bird.

A Correspondent Wrote Bitterly
and like the/ dead/ I/ didn’t/ reply.
—Bukowski, “A correspondent wrote bitterly”

A correspondent wrote bitterly:
“the pettiness and the
and the
that pervades
your stories
and quasi-debates
is what bothers me.”

And it bothered him
so much
that pettiness and
his correspondence.

And like the

Poem for a Rank-Out Artiste
(try to talk to them/ and you become one of/ them.)
—Bukowski, “heavy dogs in cement shoes”

A fellow wrote me, pissed off—really pissed off—
that I’d described the sister of the director
of the local book festival, which only invited
Chamber-of-Commerce-friendly writers and poets,

as “a chubby woman with red marks on her face
(wart removal or skin cancer?).”

Yet it was only a simple descriptive line of reality,
written in the middle of the essay I’d posted.
But he claimed I was making fun of the woman’s
appearance, for which he exploded in epithets:
“your poetry has all the grace and dance of a
defunct air-conditioning unit” and
“the wit and liveliness of a retired chamber pot.”

Could the “wart comment” alone have elicited
such antipathy for me and my writing?
Well, just days before he’d sent a poem,
which I edited patiently, but then suggested
he send it elsewhere.

Then the onslaught assailed: “ya dork,” he called me,
“lost cause,” “MisterFlawwwwless,” and even

Twas the old academic two step, barely disguised—
the thin, vacuous rhetoric rolled out as artillery
always in an effort to divert attention from the crux,
and how successful it could be!

“How can I dismiss your arguments
when I don't even know what they are?”*
*The words are M.P. Powers’.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jennifer Le Blanc

An Experiment in Democracy: Regis College
[For academics and poets, who shamefully do not understand and, for that reason, tend to scorn the very concept of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, cite the Supreme Court (Terminello vs. Chicago): "A function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute… is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment..."]

If you don’t challenge or question something, you’ll never know what its true substance and nature are. So, you think your college is a great place? But have you ever viscerally questioned and challenged it? Have you ever spoken or written overtly what in your heart you know damn well others at your college will likely not appreciate? Or have you simply and unoriginally conformed to the collegial herd of smiley-faced self-censors?
—P. Maudit

[N.B.: Notice of this essay and above cartoon was sent to the Writing Faculty of Regis College (Weston, MA) jayson.baker@regiscollege.edu; marie.cicchese@regiscollege.edu; jason.clemence@regiscollege.edu; jan.donley@regiscollege.edu; patricia.elliott@regiscollege.edu; mary.gormley@regiscollege.edu; andrea.humphrey@regiscollege.edu; julia.lisella@regiscollege.edu; rachel.may@regiscollege.edu; barbara.mintz@regiscollege.edu; kreg.segall@regiscollege.edu]

First, I mean no emotional harm to student-client Jennifer LeBlanc, depicted in the above cartoon. Hopefully, for her intellectual development, she will get to examine the cartoon and this essay. Hopefully, that might actually push her to think out of the safe academic box.

What an opportunity, I thought, to be able to honestly and fully criticize a member of the protected species—the student-client! Hell, I don’t have to please the student-client at all. Regis College isn’t my employer. I can actually be honest! Need I be fearful of a libel suit? Not in the least! Contemplate the following, written by constitutional lawyers French, Lukianoff and Silverglate, FIRE’s guide to Free Speech on Campus:

“The concept of defamation includes both libel (usually, written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation), although the two are frequently confused and lumped together. […] If you are accused of libel, don’t panic. Although defamation is one of the most frequently made claims in law, it is also one of the most frequently dismissed. […] If a statement is true it is not defamatory. […] A statement of opinion, by itself, cannot be defamation. […] In other words, defamation is about objective harm, not about subjective hurt.”

The purpose of the above cartoon is to open the academic PC-cocoon a little bit and inject a dose of appreciation for democracy into it. To shelter or not to shelter, tis always the question in academe! Happy-face nursery school straight on through college?! That’s great for fragile self esteem, but not very good for building citizens with spine and democracy. Too bad, I cannot locate student-client LeBlanc’s email address. So, it is up to one of her English professors to show her the cartoon, which might prove more valuable to her than an entire English writing course on “great” bourgeois poetasters.

The idea for the cartoon was first sparked by the ad for LeBlanc’s new book appearing on Doug Holder’s website (dougholder.blogspot.com/2009/09/madras-press-non-profit-press-that-will.html), which essentially serves little purpose other than to advertise (push) the poetry of friends and self. It is a safe art-for-artsaking site without any particular ideas at all… with the exception of the Happy Face. A friend indicated that a rather lame interview of a poet had been posted on the site (Barbara Trachtenburg, self-proclaimed “prison” poet… who’s never been incarcerated). So, I took a look at it. There I noticed the ad, which eventually brought me to the Regis College student literary journal (Hemetera) web page (regiswritingprogram.pbworks.com/Hemetera) and LeBlanc’s photo. What really took fire was the slap in the face of democracy on the bottom of that page: “YOU DON’T HAVE PERMISSION TO COMMENT ON THIS PAGE.” Well, va funculo or rather va te faire foutre, calisse de tabarnak, I thought. Democracy demands vigorous debate, not “you don’t have permission” bouse de vache! Why aren’t LeBlanc’s professors instilling that idea?

“Professor Pat Elliott and I selected Jenn to represent Regis [at the Greater Boston Intercollegiate Poetry Festival] because of her dedication to her craft and her service to fostering creative writing at Regis,” noted Assistant Professor Julia Lisella of the English Department in an article on the college website. Of course, the real reason she was selected is her likely obedient role as see-no-evil, hear-no-evil student acolyte. We can also imagine what “creative writing” would not encompass at Regis, including this very essay!

“According to Professor Lisella, Jennifer has grown exponentially since the Poetry Workshop she took as a Regis freshman,” noted the article. The comment is clearly a base example of academic backslapping, which thrives throughout academe due to absence of accountability! What does “grown exponentially” mean? Why don’t students and professors question such statements? Does it mean becoming more and more like ones professors (i.e., bourgeois, unquestioning, unchallenging)? Likely and sadly.

“LeBlanc’s poetry is inspired by her observations of the world, her personal feelings and emotions, and what she reads in great literature,” noted the article, as if “great literature” was somehow objective and off bounds to vigorous questioning and challenging. Is that what higher education has become today: a fence of commonality off limits to questioning and challenging?

“She is ‘listening to the occasional/piano key or clarinet note/warble or squeak,’ as she remarks in a poem called ‘Singing Goodbye’,” noted the article. Yet can one get any more banal than that? Which of her professors will teach her to question and challenge everything, including the professors themselves and Regis College? Which of them will have the courage to give LeBlanc the courage to write more than poems about warbles and warbling? Well, likely, not one of them, which is why the college esteems them.

Is the “great leadership” that LeBlanc “has provided” simply a mirror image of the great leadership that continues destroying democracy in America? Apparently, that’s precisely what it is.

What an interesting and unusual experience for Regis College students if they were actually encouraged to question and challenge the statements made by LeBlanc on the student journal web page, as I did in the cartoon! What a refreshing, if not unique, experience for students! Sure, if LeBlanc has a delicate ego, she’d have trouble dealing with the critique. BUT I’m certain she’s got a huge support group behind her like a giant fluffy pillow with a yellow smiley-face tattooed reassuringly into it. Yet how else to get her to strengthen ego and backbone? Certainly, academic coddling and nourishing will not serve to do that at all! And what if she decides to become a smiley-faced politician? How would she ever be able to deal with the ineluctable criticism?

Democracy depends on a citizenry with strong backbone. Democracy depends on the open questioning and challenging of all citizens and institutions. Regis College English professors are urged to reflect, if at all possible, on that. Ascending in higher education, of course, depends on not reflecting upon it at all and always implies stifling the mind, muzzling the mouth, and turning a blind eye… in fact, becoming blind.

These things said, if any of the Regis College professors contacted have actually managed to read this far, I urge them or him or her to please consider requesting Regis College library to subscribe to The American Dissident, the unique 501 c3 nonprofit literary journal I created as a forum for questioning and challenging things literary and things academic. Also, please do consider hiring me to teach adjunct English courses, including one I put together, “Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence.” With a PhD and a lot of full-time higher ed teaching experience in both America and France, I am qualified. These things said, please consider inviting me to read in the context of the Regis College Writers Read program. Students might find me refreshing, as opposed to the déjà vu Fred Marchants that tend to be invited, right and left.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rob Mitchell,Concord Festival of Authors

[N.B.: Interestingly, the only person to express sincere interest in my protest regarding the Festival's autocratic selection process, viewpoint bias, exclusionism, and complete absence of democratic fairness was a foreigner from Holland. Even high and mighty Democrat Party Chairman Howard Dean didn't give a goddamn. See below.]

At two in the afternoon, Wednesday October 21st, I stood in front of the Emerson Umbrella for the Arts building flyers in hand. Already people were arriving. “I don’t understand the sign,” said an elderly woman walking up the steps. “Democracy Needs More Than Safe Writing” was the sign by my feet. “Well, it means that here at this Festival only writers who don’t question the system are invited,” I replied. “Well, I agree with that,” she said to my surprise. “Everyone who knows anything has to know that.” She didn’t take a flyer. Then a number of incurious citizens whisked past me, up the steps and into the building. “Concord Festival of Authors prohibits Concord dissident authors from participating,” I said to another bunch. It seemed like a more or less old crowd. Even the young ones somehow looked old. “Concord Festival of Authors won’t invite dissident authors from Concord!” I repeated. “I’m a Concord author and I’m not permitted to participate. If Thoreau were alive today, he wouldn’t be invited either.” A couple of broads chuckled. “Oh, I think they would invite him,” one of them said. “Only if he were famous,” I said. They didn’t want flyers and entered the building.

Howard Dean soon arrived chatting with another man. They walked from the parking lot towards me and the entrance. I was surprised he wasn’t surrounded by cops or toadies. So, I walked towards them as they walked towards me. “I’m a Concord author and I’m not permitted to participate in this Festival,” I said to Dean, who just chuckled. “Democracy is not well in this town. Here, take a flyer.” But Dean wouldn’t stop and wouldn’t take a flyer. “No democracy, no free speech here at the Concord Festival,” I said as he walked by me. “Why don’t you tell them that!” “Well, I don’t think they’d be happy if I mentioned that,” he said chuckling like an imbecile. Pissed me off just the same. Well, that made it all worthwhile. It was surprising to see him in real life and totally apathetic to my protest. I wondered why the hell Mitchell, the organizer, had invited the Democrat partyline to open the festival. Was it the Democrat Party Concord Festival of Authors? I guess so.

Then a guy walked up to me to look at the sign and flyers and coughed without covering. “Schwein flu!” I said, walking off to the side. He didn’t seem to understand, said something, ah, with an accent. “What language?” I asked. “Dutch,” he said. We talked. He was quite fluent in English, really interested in what I was doing, and said he was Stephan Tychon, Chief Officer of Change for the World Stability Council. Well, that was a nice title. He ran a website, Complexxon.org, which was primarily concerned with Exxon corruption, and was visiting the US for three months. Then he asked if he could buy a copy of The AD. Two copies stood next to the sign. He reached into his pocket, but I refused the money and just gave him a copy. He wanted me to sign it, so I did.

“Rob Mitchell’s a good guy,” said a chubby woman with red marks on her face (wart removal? skin cancer?) walking out of the building and towards me. “Yeah, well, he doesn’t believe in democracy,” I responded. “You’re not going to beat me up now, are you?” “Rob Mitchell’s a good guy,” she repeated. “You just have to send him your books then he’ll invite you.” “Invite me?" I said. "He won’t invite me. He won’t even respond to my emails. Why would he respond to my books?” “Rob Mitchell’s really a good guy,” she repeated. “Yeah, I know you already said that,” I replied. “You must have a connection.” “I’m his sister,” she answered. “Ah, well that explains it,” I said. “He’s really a nice person,” she repeated yet again. “All you have to do is send him your books.” “Why waste the postage?” I said. “He's invited Houlihan, who doesn't like me, and Fred Marchant, who doesn't like me either. And the Chamber of Commerce doesn't like me either, and he wants to please it. And the Cultural Council doesn't like me." "If you send him your books, then he’ll invite you,” she said yet again. “All you have to do is be civil.” “Ah, that’s your code word for censorship!” I said. “Civility! What’s your name?” “Martha Mitchell,” she said, standing next to me. But I was more interested talking with the Dutchman. She was the proverbial brick wall. All I could get out of her was Rob Mitchell’s a nice guy. She finally left and went back inside.

“They’re all dead,” said the Dutch guy. He was damn right there. “Do you have an organization?” he asked. “Well, no, I do the protests alone and really for myself and expect little if anything from the attending citizenry.” “They’re all dead,” he repeated. No shit. “It’s more fascist in Holland,” he said. “Well, that’s hard for me to believe,” I said.

A lone policeman was directing traffic and didn’t bother me at all. That was positive. “Concord Festival of Authors disdains different points of view, disdains democracy!” I repeated. “They don’t even understand what free choice means,” said an elderly lady, stopping to gasp for air. “What do you mean?” I asked. “The health care insurance,” she snapped. “Oh, well, this is a writers festival,” I said. “Well, I’m coming here to hear Howard Dean,” she said. “I don’t care about writers!”

Celebrity uber alles. “Concord Festival of Authors hates democracy!” I said to a pod of approaching females. “Oh, I didn’t realize that,” said one of them without taking a flyer. Well, others arrived and did at least take flyers… about 26 of them. “Welcome to Concord where democracy is not flourishing!” I said. “Concord Festival of Authors won’t invite Concord dissident writers. I’m a writer from Concord and not invited.” “Maybe he thinks your writing’s not that good,” said a guy. “He’s never seen my writing,” I said. “Well, maybe it’s not that good,” he repeated. “Well, how the hell would he know?” I said. “Besides, do you really think all the people he’s invited are great writers? Give me a break!” He walked into the building.

Finally, the Dutch guy decides to attend the lecture. He’d asked me if I wanted to come with him, but I declined. Did I really want to hear Howard Dean spout the partyline for the 1,000th time? A somewhat attractive middle-aged female walked by. No interest at all in my protest and didn’t want to take a flyer… just wanted to see Howard Dean. I checked the time and took off at 2:40, walking across the lot and street and into the library, where I left the remaining four flyers. Too early for the red, which definitely entered my mind.

October 22, 2009
Well, your sister found a few minutes to come out to see what I was up to… but not you. She didn't say much, just Rob Mitchell is a nice guy over and over like an indoctrinee. Is she the product of some university? Are you perhaps a cowardly sort… or just another high and mighty sort? Interestingly, I spoke to Howard Dean when he arrived (oh, he didn’t stop, wouldn’t stop), told him about the autocratic nature of YOUR festival… and he didn’t give a goddamn. What an asshole, I thought. He wouldn’t even take a flyer. Then I thought: why did you invite the Democrat partyline to open a book festival? Christ, does anyone else in this town question and challenge anything with its regard and apart from the partylines? Interestingly, the only person to really stop and talk and stay and discuss ideas with me was a man from Holland. Not one American cared to do the same. Well, say hi to the Chamber of Commerce for me. I suspect you must be a card carrying member?
G. Tod
[No response from Rob Mitchell.]

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review of a Review of Worst Instincts

Where the hell is the ACLU?
—Lenny Bruce

It is astonishing that the founding director (Marjorie Heins) of an organization named Free Expression Policy Project would so quickly truncate dialogue with someone like me who does not agree or dares actually criticize what shouldn’t be criticized! In Heins' review of Wendy Kaminer's Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity, and the ACLU (see www.fepproject.org/reviews/kaminer.html), the founding director notes that she was working in the ACLU in Massachusetts at the same time when I attempted to interest the ACLU in my case against Fitchburg State College also in Massachusetts. The ACLU essentially ignored my request for help. Was Heins perhaps friends with Vinny Mara, Franz Nowotny, Richard DeCesare, Harry Semerjian, or Shirley Wagner, dubious administrators at that college? Well, probably not, but anything in Massachusetts like that is certainly possible. The myth of the ACLU exists. "Well, there's always the ACLU," I've been told, now and then. BUT there wasn't the ACLU for me when I needed it.

The established-order mentality always demands the “right tone” or simply truncates discussion. The problem of course is that “right tone” often means readjusting (watering down) the message to the extent where it is no longer the original message which I, of course, refuse to do. Sure, I am a CITIZEN UNKNOWN, but if I were known, left or right, Heins would have likely engaged. Anyhow, I shall continue to communicate with the non-responding Heins, until she places my email address into her spam box, as every English professor at Williams College recently did because I’d sent them a criticism of one of their dear former colleagues, poet laureate Louise Gluck. Yes, vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, but certainly not at our college, nor at our free expression projects! Heins was likely annoyed for two simple reasons: 1. the poem I’d sent her (see below) and 2. the cartoon figuring on the front page of The American Dissident website satirical of PEN New England (see www.theamericandissident.org).

Regarding Heins’ review of Worst Instincts, it is repugnant to think that “fund-raising” has become elevated to the category of “considerable talent,” as Heins thus deems it. Is it now also one of the fine arts? Certainly that “talent” has become a key problem of many universities and colleges today, which tend to select presidents who are expert fundraisers, while far too often advocates of censorship and speech codes. Evidently, the ACLU’s executive director Romero falls into that dubious category. Clearly, one must wonder just how principled and “dedicated” some of the ACLU board members really were if in fact they placed fear of ostracism above principle. Perhaps they entered the organization because of the prestige they’d get from being part of it and the money they’d eventually get elsewhere for that enhanced prestige. (Are not far too many lawyers like doctors and politicians driven to own mansions?) Heins, however, doesn’t quite put it that way: “Her opening chapter insightfully reflects on the herd instinct and the pressures for conformity that sometimes prevent even dedicated individuals like those who comprise the ACLU’s national board from standing up for principle when faced with the risk of ostracism from the group.”

Indeed, Heins seems to excuse corrupt minds (as long as on the left) by citing “the frailties of human nature.” Why shouldn’t author Kaminer have been “uncompromising in her expectations,” especially regarding persons involved in organizations like the highly acclaimed ACLU? Heins seems to excuse Romero’s shortcomings by stating his predecessor also had shortcomings. Should we excuse Obama’s shortcomings because Bush too had them? Truly that kind of reasoning seems twisted in an effort to excuse the corrupt in Heins’ very own milieu. It is indeed shameful how Heins cites herd mentality as an excuse: “Perhaps it is in the nature of executive directors to attract ‘yes men’ and women who will confound loyalty to the boss with loyalty to the organization, and will sometimes put both above loyalty to core principles.” Yet I have seen that kind of perverted reasoning used, time and again, to excuse the corrupt professors and administrators entrenched in institutions of supposed higher education!

Heins states: “Kaminer raises profound and difficult questions about organizational integrity, politics, and personal loyalty.” YET we’re not talking about any old business or for that matter academic organization here. We’re talking about the ACLU, an organization that many regard as the top of the top of integrity! Thanks to Kaminer, we now know that to be a myth.

The following questions raised by Heins are excellent ones that should each be answered with a capital YES, but Heins does not do so: “Were the compromises with civil liberties principles and basic honesty as dire as Kaminer and Meyers thought? On balance, was it worthwhile to ‘go public,’ at whatever cost to the organization’s image or fundraising? Were they right to conclude that the ACLU had been so hopelessly corrupted that only an open airing of their concerns would save it?”

Instead, in good bourgeois fashion, Heins questions Kaminer’s TONE. “[…] the reaction of some ACLU people to Kaminer’s and Meyer’s muckraking was, in her telling, gratuitously insulting […].” Of course, they were insulted! Truth is always extremely INSULTING to the fraudulent. Let them be insulted! Maybe it will do some good, though I highly doubt it.

Oddly, Heins doesn’t see it that way. Yet, if not for the “muckraking,” board members wouldn’t have been forced to show their true disgraceful colors: “[…] and at least one institutional response contributed mightily to the public embarrassment. A proposal to limit board members’ communications with the media, as detailed by the New York Times in the spring of 2006 was one of the politically dumber proposals to be considered by a group whose primary cause is freedom of speech.”

At least Heins does agree that ACLU members should heed Kaminer’s criticism, as opposed to engaging in facile “ad hominem attacks, as they sometimes did during the course of the battles she recounts.” It is still mind-boggling to me that so many so-called educated people actually do resort to ad hominem attacks. Worst Instincts is indeed an excellent, if not unique, account of left-wing corruption written by someone on the left. Far too often the left proves entirely incapable of dealing with criticism and reacts to it with ad hominem rhetoric, silence, or denial, as in a vast right-wing conspiracy for the angelic Clintons. Think also of ACORN. What the left needs are many more soldiers like Kaminer, standing first and foremost for truth, not for the liberal party line and precious career. They would only serve to strengthen the left… by helping to get rid of its stifling, viscous, putrid muck.

An Unknown Citizen’s Futile Efforts

The American Civil Liberties Union
responded, but then
The American Association of University
Professors never responded,
PEN America responded, then
PEN New England never responded,
“defending freedom of expression
everywhere,” except, of course, here,
The American Library Association’s
Office of Intellectual Freedom
never responded,
The Free Expression Policy Project
responded, but then
The National Coalition Against Censorship
responded, but then
Foundation of Individual Rights in Education*
responded, but then
*At first, this poem did not include FIRE because I really love FIRE. Thus, I found myself self-censoring. So, I finally decided to add FIRE. After all, why can’t I criticize FIRE and still be its friend?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poets House—$11 Million Just for the Interior Decoration

The following is a letter I just wrote to Le Monde (Paris) regarding its article on Poets House in New York. After the letter (sorry, it's en francais) is an email (in English) sent to Poets House to see if it might subscribe to The American Dissident. Poets House collected $11 million in donations to redecorate its interior! So far, no response has been received. Last night I solo protested against Louise Gluck's reading at the Concord Free Public Library. My account of the protest, "Why Don't You Please Go Home," will serve as a future blog entry. The title of the essay was the comment issued by Joah Houlihan, Director of Concord Poetry Center, as she quickly scurried past me like a diminutive troll... and not of the Internet variety. Clearly, Houlihan is not a proponent of democracy, nor of its cornerstones, vigorous debate and virulent protest! She has become a despicable established-order cog... yet another sellout hippie.

Un bon debut de critique sur cette nouvelle Maison (opulente) des Poetes (opulents) qu’on appelle Poets House… mais seulement un debut. Remarque que les poetes bourgeois de notre pays (USA) peuvent gagner des salaires garanties universitaires de plus de $100,000 par an. Il y en a parmi eux qui gagnent encore $500,000 par les bourses (e.g., MacArthur Foundation et Poetry Foundation). Qu’ils sont loin du mythe du poete affame ! Ils ont besoin donc de cette Maison opulente. A propos, les $11 millions ont ete destines pour la redecoration de l’interieur de cette Maison et ne representent donc pas le cout du batiment qui est loue gratis a la Poets House. Imagine ce qu’on aurait pu faire avec ces dollars pour les divers poetes comme moi qui ne reussissent jamais a denicher de bourse. Moi, je publie un journal litteraire depuis 10 ans devoue a la critique dure de la poesie bourgeoise et de sa grosse machine friquee. Les bibliothequaires publiques pour la plupart ne veulent pas s’abonner a ce journal (seulement $20/an) en depit de leur Library Bill of Rights (droits de l’homme a la bibliotheque) qui stipule que les bibliotheques doivent inclure toutes les optiques dans leurs collections. C’est presque certain que la plupart de ces bibliotheques si nombreuses n’obtiennent pas l’optique exprimee dans ma revue. La Maison (i.e., Poet’s House) ne veux pas s’y abonner non plus. Ici, les universitaires et les poetes bourgeois detestent ceux qui osent les critiquer. Comme des enfants, ils n’arrivent pas a encaisser quoi que ce soit. Je sais bien car j’effectue des experiences dans ce milieu depuis plus de 10 ans. En fait, moi je n’arrive plus a me trouver un poste de prof ici car j’ai critique et continue a critiquer ce milieu douteux ouvertement. Et oui, j’ai un doctorat de l’universite de Nantes qui ne vaut pas ni un sou ici dans les States.

En tout cas, cette Maison de Poetes bourgeois montre qu’il existe un vrai chasme entre ces poetes tres bien remuneres et nous autres qui n’arrivent pas a obtenir ni un petit sous des diverses fondations publiques et privees qui distribuent les millions de dollars destines aux poetes et a leurs diverses journaux, festivals et institutions. Les poetes plutot politiques et autrement socialement engages contre la grosse machine bourgeoise (de l’ordre etabli, si tu veux) de la poesie sont systematiquement ignores et autrement gardes a l’ecart par les divers festivals et conseils culturels soutenus par les divers chambres de commerce, qui preferent, bien sur, la poesie de diversion a la poesie engagee. En bref, quelle sorte de poesie peut-on vraiment esperer de la part des poetes universitaires archi-remuneres sinon la poesie qui ne risque rien, qui n’offusque personne sauf les rares poetes comme moi qui osent se tenir debout a part du troupeau poeticailleur ? Hier soir, par exemple, j’ai proteste solo devant la bibliotheque publique de Concord, ville historique des patriotes revolutionnaires et ecrivains engages tels Thoreau, Emerson et Alcott, car elle n’invite que les poetes bourgeois pour lire leurs poemes anodins. Le chef du cercle local de la poesie m’a dit: « Why don’t you just go home ! » Quel beau titre ! Oui, je l’utilise pour le compte-rendu de ma proteste. Oui, cette voix declenchee de Robert Frost a la Maison Bourgeoise de la Poesie rappelle le Big Brother d’Orwell.

From: George Slone
To: lee@poetshouse.org
Cc: jane@poetshouse.org; maggie@poetshouse.org; emma@poetshouse.org; molly@poetshouse.org; robert@poetshouse.org; marsha@poetshouse.org; krista@poetshouse.org; jane@poetshouse.org; stephen@poetshouse.org; mike@poetshouse.org; narisara@poetshouse.org; catherine@poetshouse.org; suzanne@poetshouse.org; carlin@poetshouse.org
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 9:13:52 AM
Subject: Dissidence, persona non grata in Poetry House?

Dear Lee Briccitti, CEO of Poet’s House:

Today, I read the NY Times article on your house of poetry. $11 million… just for the interior decoration! Wow. Can I ask you to consider subscribing to a rare literary journal, one that criticizes established-order poetry, poets and machinery? The viewpoints it offers are likely not offered in Poet’s House. I’ve been contacting professors for the past decade. Only one, Dan Sklar of Endicott College, has been inviting me to speak to his English classes. The others respond mostly with deafening silence. A one-year subscription costs only $20. Even though I have the 501 3c nonprofit designation, I cannot obtain one penny of public funding, not from the NEA, not from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, not from the Concord Cultural Council. Librarians prefer subscribing to Entertainment Today and Mademoiselle. The Academy of American Poets blatantly censored my comments and banned me from further participation. What is going on in poetry today? How did it get so dainty? Why the fear of non-established-order ideas and comments? Trying to open the doors of the established order to vigo rous debate, cornerstone of democracy, has been a near-impossible endeavor.

Evidently, you form part of that order. Are you too hermetically sealed? On a final note, how not to laugh, though sadly, at all the POETRY MANAGERS in your organization: the Managing Director, Office Manager, Chief Financial Officer, and Community Relations Manager. Sadly, that is indeed poetry in America today... highly managed and safe enough for children and those in power. I copy this to the other managers of poetry in your house in case you decide not to respond and one brave or sufficiently indignant individual amongst you does.

G. Tod Slone, Founding Editor, 1998
The American Dissident, a Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence
A 501 c3 nonprofit organization providing a forum for vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy
1837 Main St.
Concord, MA 01742

Monday, September 21, 2009

Yet Another Pitiful Statement of Censorship

Collegiality and an ethic of civility encourage conformity and the suppression of dissent. Group solidarity encourages tribalism. Dedication to mission encourages obedience to people charged with mission control. Loyalty to the group easily subsumes loyalty to the ideals for which the group supposedly stands.
—Wendy Kaminer, Worst Instincts (On internal corruption at the ACLU)

It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live… lying, flattering, contracting yourselves into a nutshell of civility
—Henry David Thoreau

Censors are dead men/set up to judge between life and death./For no live, sunny man would be a censor,/he'd just laugh./But censors, being dead men,/have a stern eye on life.
—D H Lawrence, "Censors"

Editor Tim Green of Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century (sounds like an Orwellian nightmare!) just posted a statement of censorship on the journal’s blog site to further justify his role as yet another lackey of the established order bent on killing vigorous debate, cornerstone of a THRIVING democracy.

Censor Green is paid a salary by the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation to censor voices of which he disapproves and earned awards from Phi Beta Kappa, the Golden Key National Honors Society, and the Academy of American Poets. The latter, fearful of meaningful dissent regarding the general bourgeois nature of its heralded poets, censored and banned me from participating in its forums (see www.theamericandissident.org/AcademyAmericanPoets.htm).

How, a thinking citizen must wonder, do so many students manage to obtain college educations without learning much at all about democracy? Clearly, their professors favor CIVILITY and conformity over dissidence and vigorous debate. The whole civility initiative works against democracy and reminds of the left’s recent “whining”—to use Censor Green’s word of predilection to dismiss anything with which he disagrees—, regarding the recent town hall meetings, where vigorous debate actually took place. Censor Green reminds of Bubba Clinton who stated: “This cynicism is my enemy.” “Cynicism” was, according to Bob Woodward, however, in part, a code word for media criticism. Interestingly, Censor Green dismisses critics with the very same term used by the British government to dismiss American revolutionary patriots: “riffraff.”

Clearly, Censor Green, like all censors, has a deep-seated feeling of inferiority, which explains why he is so FEARFUL of opinions that might prove more cogent than his and why he defines himself as the sum total of awards obtained from the bourgeois established order.

By the way, Censor Green’s blog seems to be attracting a number of democracy-indifferent schoolgirls. How sad. In any case, Censor Green’s statement of censorship follows and is a shameful affront to democracy. You decide.

Comment Guidelines
random riff-raff / 1 Comment
Wed 9.9.09
The trolls are ruining this place, and I’m sick of cleaning piss out of a carpet that I don’t even care about. There’s no reason to waste time thinking about comments on this blog, unless it’s to participate in a discussion relevant to the post above them. I’ve spent way too much time this summer trying to decide how to respond to what amounts to ignorant, masturbatory graffiti. I feel like a kindergarten teacher. Well, I’m taking away the scissors.
Comments on this blog are now all moderated. Hopefully very few comments will actually be screened out, but there will be a delay, while I check to make sure they follow these simple rules:
1) Be civil.
2) Be relevant.
That’s all you have to do: Be civil and relevant. Even trolls who keep their whiny rants civil and relevant can voice their opinions. But if you can’t, your comment will sit forever in a queue gathering cyberdust.
Let this be a notice to everyone who’s been warned before: Don’t waste your time. I suggest making your own blog and bitching there.
And to everyone who no longer reads the comments because they raise your blood pressure: You can come back now, the riffraff is gone.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do Not Feed the Trolls

The above watercolor depicts Tim Green and wife Megan O'Reilly, editor and co-editor of Rattle, a literary journal (see previous blog on Rattle). Many others could have been selected and put behind the intellectually-restricting established-order bars. Well, I’ve saved them for other satires. I do have to give Tim credit because now and then he, unlike scores of others, does open up to debate, especially debate that cannot further his career. I was disappointed, however, in his censoring of comments made by David Ochs and perhaps others, as well as his closing down of certain debate forums. Censorship in any of its subtle and sleezy rationalized forms should simply not exist in the literary arena, not in a democratic society. If you favor censorship, then become a businessman or politician or professor, not a literary editor.

P. Maudit and Mather Schneider are depicted as trolls, which in Internet terminology constitute persons who disrupt the happy-face ambiance of blogs with sledgehammer criticism.

In any case, those who would reject vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, normally do so out of fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being exposed for intellectual fraud, and fear of engaging with social “inferiors.” If I were behind an academic pulpet, I’d tell students

Do not fear to engage
with someone
simply because of his
name, occupation
and/or laurels.
What will make you
a formidable adversary
will be unwavering logic
backed by fact and example,
and, of course, willingness
to bend when proven incorrect.
[This is not a poem!]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Experiment in Democracy: University of Iowa

Business-as-Usual Shoes to Fill at The Iowa Review
N.B.: The URL for this blog entry was sent to over 65 English faculty members at the University of Iowa. It was also sent to the university's student newspaper. Will any of them respond... in the name of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy? See below for names.

A friend sent me an editorial from the Press Citizen, “Our View—Big Editorial Shoes to Fill at The Iowa Review,” which immediately grabbed my attention right from the beginning where the editorial seemed to praise the retiring literary editor, David Hamilton, for his rhyming of the names of contributors “arranged into four couplets and a tercet” on the back cover of the latest issue. Wow, I thought, could high-brow writing have really gotten that low? If that literary stunt were any indication of Hamilton’s purported “vision, energy and personality,” which helped create the “magazine's national reputation as a premier literary journal,” then we were indeed in trouble. On another note, journalists—as so many tend to be today—should not be in the business of hackneyed hagiography. They should rather be in the business of caustic questioning and challenging of the powers that be, both grand (e.g., Obama) and small (e.g., Hamilton).
The in-coming editor of The Iowa Review, Russell Valentino, chairman of the University of Iowa Department of Cinema and Comparative Literature (Hamilton will be continuing in that department as tenured professor), noted the journal had "a quiet quality […], contemplative as well as playful.” Could it get any more mind numbing? When big university literature becomes “quiet” and “playful” and praised for it, the nation may very well be in trouble… democracy may very well be in trouble! Imagine the likes of Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Emerson and Thoreau admiring those purported qualities! Literature needs to holler—it needs to be serious in these times of war all the time, corrupt corporate CEOs all the time, and PC censorship all the time.
If The Iowa Review is indeed “such a success,” perhaps we need to rethink what “success” has really come to mean. And if indeed the contributors and collaborators of the journal include an “impressive number of smart, creative, committed folks,” then we also need to rethink what “smart, creative, and committed” have come to mean. Indeed, apparently those glowing epithets must be reflected by the following sentences cited in the editorial taken from Hamilton’s story published in the latest issue: "The fish tasted fine, by the way, grilled, with chemicals infusing the olive oil and lemon. Maybe an occasional fish from the Iowa River is like shots I used to take as a kid, little bits of many things making my allergies manageable. But I wouldn't want to count on that."
What Hamilton writes (and likely teaches) is as banal and safely disengaged as it gets. Indeed, it couldn’t possibly offend in any manner whatsoever the proverbial old ladies amongst us. Perhaps we need to feel badly for the students studying in that English department. In fact, as a little experiment, I will send this to the University of Iowa student newspaper just to see if the student editors have been fully indoctrinated in the mores of the academic happy face.
“The magazine is an expression of his personal connections," noted Valentino regarding Hamilton. But since when did inbred result in quality? What “personal connections” end up giving us is less than best writing. Examine any given anthology of David Lehman’s yearly The Best American Poetry to see what I mean. In any case, with the likes of Hamilton and Valentino at the helm, we can be assured that the University of Iowa Writing University taskforce will not be recommending: 1. more risk-taking in writing, as in encouraging student writers to be critical of their immediate surroundings (e.g., the university and professors); 2. inviting dissident writers critical of the academic/literary established order; 3. writing against the “playful” happy-face grain and 4. real vigorous debate on the issue of writing itself.
According to the editorial, Valentino will be trying to balance the journal’s supposed “inclusiveness and high standards, humor and sophistication.” Yet how has inclusive come to mean excluding dissidence? And doesn’t “high standards, humor and sophistication” sound a lot like euphemisms for business-as-usual bourgeois good taste and established-order friendliness? Indeed, Hamilton will be reading at the Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber in an evident manifestation that writing and writers have become so castrated today that they are quite welcome by the nation’s politicians and chamber-of-commerce business FOLK.
Finally, that “very welcoming magazine” (i.e., The Iowa Review), as the editorial refers to it, would certainly not be very welcoming to those like me who do actually dare, now and then, “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson). In our wildest dreams, could we imagine The Iowa Review publishing this short essay? Of course not… and that, dear thinking citizens of Iowa City, is precisely what renders such magazines less than successful… at least in the eyes of democracy.
NB:  Surprise!  The student editors never responded.

russell-valentino@uiowa.edu; David-Hamilton@uiowa.edu; katherine-thorpe@uiowa.edu; ryan-vanmeter@uiowa.edu; carol-desaintvictor@uiowa.edu; paul-diehl@uiowa.edu; hualing-engle@uiowa.edu; john-grant@uiowa.edu; john-harper@uiowa.edu; john-huntley@uiowa.edu; robert-kelley@uiowa.edu; carl-klaus@uiowa.edu; llj@ia.net; john-mclaughlin@uiowa.edu; alan-nagel@uiowa.edu; rfsayre@mchsi.com; daniel-weissbort@uiowa.edu; Fredrick-Woodard@uiowa.edu; bluford-adams@uiowa.edu; Linda-Bolton@uiowa.edu; Florence-Boos@uiowa.edu; Lori-Branch@uiowa.edu; Matthew-P-Brown@uiowa.edu; Corey-Creekmur@uiowa.edu; john-philip-dagata@uiowa.edu; Huston-Diehl@uiowa.edu; Kathleen-Diffley@uiowa.edu; david-dowling@uiowa.edu; Barbara-Eckstein@uiowa.edu; Mary-Emery@uiowa.edu; Ed-Folsom@uiowa.edu; Patricia-A-Foster@uiowa.edu; Claire-Fox@uiowa.edu; Eric-Gidal@uiowa.edu; Miriam-Gilbert@uiowa.edu; loren-glass@uiowa.edu; blaine-greteman@uiowa.edu; robin-hemley@uiowa.edu; Cheryl-Herr@uiowa.edu; lena-hill@uiowa.edu; michael-hill@uiowa.edu; adam-hooks@uiowa.edu; kevin-kopelson@uiowa.edu; marie-kruger@uiowa.edu; rudolf-kuenzli@uiowa.edu; Priya-Kumar@uiowa.edu; stephen-kuusisto@uiowa.edu; Brooks-Landon@uiowa.edu; Kathy-Lavezzo@uiowa.edu; Susan-Lohafer@uiowa.edu; Teresa-Mangum@uiowa.edu; christopher-merrill@uiowa.edu; Dee-Morris@uiowa.edu; Nazareth@uiowa.edu; Judith-Pascoe@uiowa.edu; Horace-Porter@uiowa.edu; Jeff-Porter@uiowa.edu; John-Raeburn@uiowa.edu; Maryann-Rasmussen@uiowa.edu; Laura-Rigal@uiowa.edu; Phillip-Round@uiowa.edu; robyn-schiff@uiowa.edu; Tom-Simmons@uiowa.edu; Alvin-Snider@uiowa.edu; Claire-Sponsler@uiowa.edu; anne-stapleton@uiowa.edu; Harilaos-Stecopoulos@uiowa.edu; garrett-stewart@uiowa.edu; bonnie-sunstein@uiowa.edu; miriam-thaggert@uiowa.edu; lara-trubowitz@uiowa.edu; Jonathan-Wilcox@uiowa.edu; Doris-Witt@uiowa.edu; David-Wittenberg@uiowa.edu

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Death of an Oligarch

Above is a cartoon I drew quite a while ago (a decade probably). I like emphasizing some of the stupid things the famous say or write. It's not a great toon, surely not one of my best. But, hey, let's celebrate Teddy. It's the only one I've ever done of him, though I'm cogitating another one.

Below is a poem I just wrote. I've reworked it a number of times. The subject isn't easy to cover without getting too rhymy or insufficiently rhymy. Some rhyming is needed to render the flow reasonably smooth. No matter. It just came out. The emotion of barfing out what so many mindlessly ingurgitate serves as its catalyst.

The Death of an American Oligarch
The hagiography runs rife on the tube—
even the conservatives praise the dude,
while the populace congeals deer-eyed
before the dead Star of the moment.

The older brother had stepped down,
decades ago to become president;
so the younger one took over the seat,
while the father’s money would serve
to keep him as permanent resident.

The journalists pumped him up periodically,
while the citizenry, mouth agape,
swallowed the superficial swill of the dynasty.

So, now the dude’s finally dead, and the
question posed is not Term Limits
for the sake of democracy,
but rather who will take over the seat
of the family oligarchy:
the wife, one of the nephews, or Caroline Kennedy?

Friday, August 21, 2009

John Donatich

The sketch above depicts author Jytte Klausen sitting on the shoulder of Yale University Press publisher John Donatich, who is wearing a turban similar to the one depicted in one of those 12 famous Danish cartoons regarding Mohammed. I sent the sketch to him and to Klausen, whose book on the Danish cartoon affair was originally supposed to include those 12 cartoons.  Donatich, however, censored them.  He did not respond.  Klausen, however and to my surprise, did respond.  See below. Did she understand the sketch?  BTW, the Yale University Woodward Report is an excellent groundbreaking document on free speech and expression.  Too bad Yale seems to have placed the report in a dusty basement archive. 

From: Jytte Klausen
To: George Slone
Sent: Mon, October 5, 2009 4:03:27 PM
Subject: Re: A cartoon with Prof. Klausen

Dear George; I like your cartoon. Will you give me permission to use it one day? Of course I'll use it with the appropriate credit.


Monday, August 17, 2009

With Their Ilk in Power, How Not to Be Cynical?

David Bottoms, Georgia poet laureate, looks the part of a 60s hippie sellout. The country today is run by sellouts from the 60s. Bottoms' Faustian pact enabled him to obtain numerous awards, not to mention tenure at Georgia State University. He disdains what he calls cynicism and thinks that nobody can write anything really good unless they truly believe in his fairytale god. George Bernard Shaw saw things quite differently: "The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who don't have it." Evidently, Bottoms is lacking it because lacking it is an evident prerequisite for career success in academe. Like Bottoms, Bubba Clinton was always railing against cynicism. "This cynicism is my enemy," he'd said. Bob Woodward noted, however, that for Clinton “Cynicism” was, in part, a code word for media criticism. I suspect for Bottoms, cynicism is a code word for anything critical of the canon, academe, poetry establishment, and of course himself.

Word of this blog entry was sent to about a dozen Georgia State University English department members, including Bottoms. Who knows? One of them might actually respond, though experience dictates that to be highly unlikely. Professors will only debate if money is handed to them and/or if such debate might further their careers in our capitalist society. Kennesaw Review was also informed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Banned by NewPages !!!

Depicted above is the front cover of issue #19 of The American Dissident, which was banned by NewPages editors Denise and Casey Hill.  NewPages.com lists literary magazines.  Thus, for its readers, The American Dissident does not exist.  Poets & Writers mag also banned the magazine.  I sent D&C a copy of the issue, but neither responded, not even a thank you! Utne Reader naively bills NewPages as "the web's alt-press playground." But it is really just another alt-press playground CENSOR. For the brief correspondence I had with the Hills, see www.theamericandissident.org/orgs/new_pages.html.
Here's a poem from the issue by David Ochs:

The Kid Strikes Out Again
I'd seen the kid at
the poetry reading before
he was ambitious
had his work
printed on a broadside
and handed them out
with his phone number
he asked for feedback
like he wanted you
to tell him of
his great potential genius
but they just
weren't that good

the time before when he’d read
he mentioned he’d written “in form”
taught to him by Dr. James Cushing
who teaches at the local university
the poor kid thought
Cushing was some kind of
mountain top poetry guru
and Cushing probably got
huge ego strokes
that the kid thought Cushing
could wave his magic wand
and turn him into the next Ginsberg
but the kid was so star struck
he didn't realize
how lousy and unreadable
Cushing’s poems are

the kid read all serious
but no one paid attention

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Martin Espada

People must be protected from discrimination by virtue of their race, but you cannot ring-fence their ideas. The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it's a belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible. […] If we cannot have open discourse about the ideas by which we live, then we are straitjacketing ourselves.
—Salman Rushdie

To yield subjectively, not merely to a party machine, but even to a group ideology, is to destroy yourself as a writer.
—George Orwell, “Writers and Leviathan”

The Sixties and its many sellouts gave birth to the PC plague, which has since become entrenched in America (for a full history of the term, which actually predates the 60s, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness). The plague's enemy is vigorous debate and logical argumentation. That enemy is the same for all ideologies, left and right. Criticize the plague and expect not logical retort, but rather ad hominem. Indeed, criticize it and be dismissed as a neocon, white supremacist, racist, sexist, or simply asshole. Criticize it and simply be ignored. That is the sad modus operandi of PC indoctrinees and their esteemed professors. PC tends to thrive virally in the nation’s colleges and universities. It also maintains a deep grip upon the literary milieu. National Poetry Month is PC-infected, for example.

Multiculturalism gone wild is part of the PC ideology and inevitably translates into white males need not apply, especially when they might be apt to question and challenge PC. As a white male, I’m disgusted to know that non-white non-citizens might very well be given priority over me for jobs for the simple reason of their non-whiteness. That occurred at Grambling State University where a female Mongolian with a green card (and ambassador father) was accorded priority over me for a position as French professor. I’d spent seven years in France and had a French doctorate. She’d spent a month in France and had a doctorate from a university in Louisiana.

For a listing and legal discussion of numerous examples of PC-infected colleges and universities, see thefire.org. At one college, North Shore Community College, I noticed: “Appreciation of multiculturalism required,” which clearly implied no discussion or other questioning and challenging of “multiculturalism” would even be permitted. I brought that to FIRE’s attention. Its lawyers wrote the college, and the college removed those words from its job ad. No doubt, however, the concept still remains firmly implanted in the brains of the administrators and faculty who enacted it.

It is constitutionally illegal for a public college to demand adherence to a particular ideology.

The Social Thought and Political Economy Program or STPEC (see illustration above), an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, stipulates on its website that it “encourages students to engage in a critical examination of society and to develop their own capacities for critical reading, writing, and thinking.” Yet it certainly does not encourage students to question and challenge the PC-mindset it seeks to promote. Indeed, what it does is encourage students to close the door to vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. That is precisely what happened at the University of Massachusetts this year. Student Vanessa Snow, majoring in Social Thought and Political Economy Concentration [i.e., Social Training and Political-Educationist Correctness], decided to close the door on debate by trashing the university’s conservative newspaper. She, model of university enlightenment, is a founding member of Student Bridges and has been an active student organizer on campus with the Student Government Association and ALANA Caucus, as well as state-wide with Massachusetts Students Uniting (MSU). She also currently holds the SGA position of Commuter Area Governor.

As far as I’m aware, few if any professors at all spoke out against Snow’s actions. Where was poet luminary Martin Espada, a tenured University of Massachusetts professor? Jabbering on NPR? Where was department chairperson Sara Lennox? Rooting wildly behind a tree or bush? Below is what Assistant Professor Ruth Jennison had to say about this blog entry. She is one of the U Mass professors I contacted regarding it. Likely and sadly, she is the rule, not the exception: "Please remove me from your list."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Disorderly Conduct, the Race Card, and Democracy

Rather than pumping more haze into the Gates’ affair, the media should have been more interested in determining what precisely constitutes the law and whether or not Gates had broken it. Gates, a black Harvard professor, was arrested for disorderly conduct in his own home. Imagine if you had a cop at your front door or inside your home and the cop arrested you because he or she didn’t like the tone of your voice. Or what if the same occurred outside on a street or sidewalk? This kind of thing happens perhaps more often than most of us would believe and, evidently, undermines democracy in America… at will… at a cop’s will.

Like Gates, I too was arrested for disorderly conduct in Massachusetts. However, unlike Gates, I am white and not a renowned multimillionaire. Also, unlike Gates, I was not released, but rather incarcerated for a day and had my car towed for a personal cost of $98. If anything, from my perspective, the question is not one of race, but rather one of wealth and renown.

What precisely is “disorderly conduct” and why did the press seem to focus on race, rather than on the law? Sadly, “disorderly conduct” is anything but “precisely.” Britannica Concise Encyclopedia defines it as “conduct likely to lead to a disturbance of the public peace or that offends public decency.” For lack of a definition, “public peace” might be defined as public complacency and absolute obedience to the bourgeois power structure, white AND black, which the police serve and protect. And “public decency” might be defined as bourgeois behavior and taste. Britannica further notes that disorderly conduct often includes “the use of obscene language in public, fighting in a public place, blocking public ways, and making threats.” It does not note, however, whether or not it includes being “disorderly” in ones own home. Purposeful vagueness of course purposefully serves the power structure.

According to Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Elliot Savitz: “Under Massachusetts law, if you cause a disturbance which creates a public hazard, and serves no legitimate purpose, you can be charged with a disorderly person offense, also known as disorderly conduct. A ‘disorderly person’ is defined as one who:

with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or
recklessly creates a risk thereof
engages in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior, or
creates a hazard or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.”

Gates certainly had a purpose: promoting the PC notion of blacks always as racial underdogs (yes, Obama is president and Gates a multimillionaire Harvard professor). But was his a “legitimate” purpose? Again, vagueness serves the power structure. I too had a purpose when I was accused of “disturbing the peace.” I was protesting the lack of free speech at Walden Pond State Reservation. But was mine a “legitimate” purpose? The arresting cop claimed I was “irrate [sic] and confrontational” and had used “offensice [sic] and assaultive language.” Of course, what proves to be offensive to Joe might not be offensive to Jill. Again, vagueness serves the power structure and disserves democracy. Besides, a cop can write whatever the hell he wants in his or her report. The cop, who arrested me, Trooper Crosby, also argued that other people were present and offended, when in fact nobody was present or offended. He failed to produce any witnesses, "offended" or not "offended," at my court hearing.

In any case, free speech, democracy’s cornerstone, demands offensive speech. In fact, in the state of Massachusetts, court cases have upheld that precept (see Commonwealth v. Smith, Commonwealth v. Pasqualino, Commonwealth v. LePore, and Commonwealth v. Johnson). Indeed, in Massachusetts, swearing in public has been deemed perfectly legal… but so has arresting a person swearing in public.

Disturbing the peace falls under Chapter 272 of Massachusetts Common Law. Savitz notes that “The prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that your action created a dangerous situation, and served no legitimate purpose. […] Being angry and yelling at someone, even if that person is a police officer, is not sufficient cause to sustain a disorderly conduct charge. You are absolutely permitted to express yourself and your first amendment rights to free speech.”

Cops are seemingly permitted to arrest citizens expressing themselves and their First Amendment rights. In other words, they are not normally punished for doing so. In fact, the arresting officer in my case was rewarded because cops get extra pay in Massachusetts when they have to show up for court hearings.

Chapter 272. Mass General Laws, Section 53, stipulates that “Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, idle and disorderly persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure may be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

Here, a conflict in the law and court decisions seems to exist with regards “offensive language.” Is it purposeful? Probably. Clearly, the “disorderly conduct” card serves to put a muzzle on free speech and democracy in Massachusetts and elsewhere in America. The highly subjective and general terminology serves to confuse—imagine the array of responses from citizens asked to define “disorderly conduct”—, encourage and enhance self-censorship amongst the populace. Legislators (politicians, lawyers, and politician lawyers) wish to keep “disorderly conduct” purposely vague to do so. And this is why cops who play the “disorderly conduct” card are not normally punished for doing so. Clearly, the power structure wants the populace to be ever self-censoring—ever behaving, if you will.

Randy Cohen in his New York Times op-ed, “Why Henry Louis Gates Should Sue,” was right to argue that to oppose systemic injustice a lawsuit might be in order. Sadly, however, he turned what happened to Gates into a racial issue: “A lawsuit by Gates could lead to a formal examination of the troubled history of police interactions with African-Americans and hence would meet this standard.” Whites too are arrested for disorderly conduct. Indeed, what about whites? The real problem is not race, in this case, but rather the law, its purposeful vagueness and lack of punishment for those abusing it, including cops and prosecutors. If he does sue, Gates should not profit from this. If he writes a book on the incident, he should donate the proceeds to charity. His speaking fees should also be donated. Gates is a multimillionaire, part of the power structure, not a poor alienated black citizen. Could Gates win such a lawsuit? Was he in fact guilty of falling into the “keepers of noisy and disorderly houses” category of Chapter 272? The law needs to be changed and rendered more precise. What is disorderly for Joe is not necessarily disorderly for Jill.

Finally, Cohen notes “There is no law against Contempt of Cop.” But he is wrong here. There is clearly an unwritten law against such contempt, for contempt of cop is clearly contempt of those who cops work for: the wealthy, the powerful, the oligarchs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PC and Poetry; Ad Hominem Redux and Orthodoxy

For The American Dissident, Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence, go to http://www.theamericandissident.org/.

Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics.
—George Orwell

The above satirical sketch, a proposed Rattle cover, was inspired by a post-card advertisement for Rattle, which I received from Rattle, quite unoriginally featuring, given today's PC grip on the nation's psyche, Afro-American Poets. Perhaps a little more original would have been Multi-Millionaire Afro-American Poets, featuring, for example, Rita Dove, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and maybe Amiri Baraka. Ah, but that would have countered the prevailing PC orthodoxy.

First, for Tim Green, salaried editor of Rattle, allow me to present myself. I have a doctorate from the Universite de Nantes (France) and have spent much of my adult life teaching college courses in both America and France, sometimes on the tenure track, sometimes off it. Prior to that I did spend a number of years doing other things including welding at a shipyard, monitoring radiation at a sub base, carpentry, bank examining for the FDIC, translating for the 24 Heures du Mans auto race, check proofing for a bank, etc. True, I can’t hold a job. True, I tend to speak where others tend to wear muzzles. True, the others will and have called me names because I tend to speak when they tend to wear muzzles. And since you wondered, I live in Concord, Massachusetts. That’s no secret.

Second, thanks for manifesting the courage to post criticism of Rattle and you on your site: http://timothy-green.org/blog/2009/06/a-real-caricature. My experience indicates most literary editors would not manifest similar courage and openness to vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone. Agni’s editor recently told me he would not. And I told him that was the crux of the problem. If you want proof of that, just ask, though I will soon be doing a blog entry on that exchange.

ALL of what you write on your blog is ad hominem-type empty rhetoric. Even the title of it is thinly-veiled ad hominem: “A Real Caricature.” If only somehow someday you might actually discover that has been your modus operandi, you could make a giant leap forward intellectually. You manage in that rather long blog entry to produce not one cogent argument against any arguments I put forth anywhere, including in the satirical sketch on Rattle. You rely on name calling and “we” or “the general consensus.” BTW, what is your educational background? How did your teachers and/or professors fail to educate you in the importance of logical argumentation, as opposed to facile ad hominem (name calling) and herd mentality, as in “the general concensus”?

As previously mentioned, ad hominem does seem to have become a rather common modus operandi adopted by educated people today, that is, when their particular orthodoxies are questioned and challenged. Orthodoxy by nature must run counter to truth. The PC orthodoxy (e.g., the diversity mantra) you seem to espouse runs counter to truth. It is not at all difficult to find fault with any orthodoxy. My satirical sketch on Rattle questions and challenges the PC orthodoxy. Since you did not seem to understand it, I’ll briefly explain it: You and Rattle lack the courage to expose the failings of that orthodoxy, the failings in its logic. In other words, if it’s fine to do an issue on black poets, then why is it NOT fine to do an issue on white poets, using the words WHITE POETS? I thought that would be quite simple, that anyone could understand it… and even agree with it. But logic always fails with the orthodox.

You call me “tertiary character, “crated dog” with “ineffectual yapping,” and on and on and on. Did you take a course on cutesy ad hominem metaphorical combinations in college? Is that what they’re teaching today? Try raising yourself above such facile, childish rhetoric. It’s nothing but base name calling. It’s shooting the messenger in an effort to dismiss his message or messages. Try thinking instead! It is far too easy to fall into the ad hominem mind trap, which is why I make a conscious effort to try to avoid it. And I’m first to admit that I’m not always successful in that endeavor. However, never have I written an essay so utterly replete with ad hominem as your blog entry! Sadly, parents today do not seem to be teaching their children that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me.” Instead, they’ve been teaching them to lack spine and cry “offensive!” regarding anything they do not like. This is PC-encouraged behavior. It is your behavior. For more on ad hominem and for more names I’ve been called, see www.theamericandissident.org/AdHominem.htm. Henry Miller, whom I’m sure you admire, wrote “He [man] has invented a complete catalogue of vile and scabrous epithets which he is ever ready to sling at those who think and act differently, that is, think and act as he himself would like to, if he had the courage.”

Do open your mind and take a look at the war PC orthodoxy, your orthodoxy, is currently waging on college campuses across the nation against the First Amendment and vigorous debate. See thefire.org. The evidence is there for you to examine. No ad hominem. Just evidence. BTW and fortunately, the PC orthodoxy has been losing that battle in the nation’s courts of law.

It is sad that you would dismiss vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, as a mere “catch phrase.” It is sad because you’ve gone through the entire educational process in America only to end up with that scornful idea of democracy in your head. Why is Megan, whoever she might be, so fearful and/or disdainful of discussion (i.e., vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone)? What is the point of debating with someone who agrees with ones opinions? None at all. We need to debate with those possessing different opinions. Even CNN and Fox know that. Wake up, Megan, or is it too late?

Regarding your “general concensus” comment, Tim, did you have statistics to support it? Far too many educated persons think that if the “general concensus” is what they speak, they are therefore right. But in effect, that is simply a manifestation of the herd mentality. For you, I cite Henrik Ibsen, “The majority never has right on its side. Never, I say! That is one of these social lies against which an independent, intelligent man must wage war.”

BTW, I cite well-known authors, now and then, here and there, who share my ideas because more often than not those like you will generally never belittle via ad hominem well-known authors.

What you state regarding my alleged “false accusations” is really nothing short of outright prevarication. Shame on you! You clearly know that those “accusations” were two simple errors, not purposefully made at all, which I did rectify and for which you thanked me. If you want proof of that assertion, let me know, since I’ve saved all of our correspondence. Again, rather than challenging any of the ideas presented in that Best American Poetry review of mine, which you evidently liked at the time, but didn’t have the courage to publish in the print journal, you seek to divert attention from them. It is amazing that you would include this link www.theamericandissident.org/Reviews-Rattle.htm, as if it were somehow evidence against me. Yet it serves as clear evidence against you, and you cannot even see it. Wow. “Huffy” you call me. You can’t resist, can you? It’s built into your mind. How sad. Try refuting this blog comment w/o resorting to any ad hominem-type rhetoric. Go on. Just see if you can do it. I bet you can’t… because you wouldn’t have anything to say.

You state I state that “The poetry world is run by a bunch of academic/PC gatekeepers, too comfortable in their cushy jobs to be willing to rock the boat. There’s a small kernel of truth to it…” In effect, that’s basically right, though not in my words. The poetry world has become largely co-opted by the bourgeois mentality of proper taste and aesthetics. Why are all, or almost all, of the Academy of American Poets chancellors tenured professors living the bourgeois dream of job security and monetary comfort? My arguments must be pretty damn potent to get someone like you to actually admit to a miniscule “kernel of truth” in them! Thank you for the admission. Then you ad more ad hominem, more name calling (e.g., “love-child of Chatty-Cathy and the Energizer Bunny”).

What matters to me, and evidently not to you, is not the color of the poet’s skin, or the poet’s nationality, or the poet’s sexual orientation, but rather whether or not the poet actually has the guts to stand up as an individual and speak truth to power, as opposed to sitting as a herd member of a protected species kissing power’s ass. For you, just call it Afro-American, and it must inevitably be good.

Finally, you stated “In any event, I do appreciate debate, and your vigor -- although from what I gather you probably want to debate that, haha...” And you are right that I would debate that because this has not been a debate of ideas at all. The only thing you’ve offered is vacuous name calling. In that sense, you behave as a child. I’m sort of surprised.