A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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

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

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Monsters without Constituencies

Colleges certainly do need to be open to the likes of Ayers and Churchill (see www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/04/02/nelson). BUT the tenured radical AAUP president Cary Nelson fails to add they also need to be open to the likes of me, who openly criticize the likes of him. He, of course, conveniently chooses to remain silent with that regard and concerning the criticism I’ve sent his way over the past couple of years. Yet silence is certainly not the reaction of true proponents of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy! Indeed, how can debate really be vigorous at all when academic editors like Doug Lederman (InsideHigherEd.com) insist on running everything through their particular bourgeois sense of taste and aesthetics prior to publishing it?

Besides outright censoring one of my comments, Lederman took four days to publish my highly critical post on Phinney’s article on tenure. By that time, who’d even notice or read it? The fact is the Censor is alive and well in the myriad hearts of the academic Ledermans… and Nelsons. Sure, they don’t refer to themselves as censors, but rather moderators or filters. Did Nelson care about that minor censorship incident or the four-day delay? Of course, he didn’t! After all, he wanted to get his article published by Lederman! Needless to say, I denounced the censorship in an article sent to him and a handful of Chronicle of Higher Education staff. Would I ever receive a response? Experience dictates that to be highly unlikely!

Criticize the Nelsons and Ledermans, and they would remain comfortably silent. After all, the ivory tower was called the ivory tower for good reason! As long as Nelson refuses to dialogue with my ilk, his words remain empty. Sure, he’ll eagerly back causes celebres like Ayers and Churchill, but not give a damn for those who have not made the headlines. That is likely the problem with the AAUP in general. Back when I fought egregious fraud at Fitchburg State College (MA), for example, the AAUP remained silent despite my attempts to interest it. Indeed, how to interest it when some of its very members were perpetrating the fraud? Sadly, Nelson could give a hoot about the Monsters without Constituencies like me. And that is precisely why free speech and expression continue their deplorable decline in Academe (see thefire.org).

“We either must stand firm against these efforts to undermine the integrity of our educational institutions or agree that academic freedom no longer obtains [sic] in America,” notes Nelson. Nice words, but it will take a hell of a lot more than nice words! It will take the likes of Nelson to stand up for the Monsters without Constituencies, and that just ain’t gonna happen for the simple reason that career and money will always be at stake, and the academic Nelsons will always choose to make that Faustian Pact.

By the way, Nelson needs to ask himself what “accomplished” has really come to mean in Academe. Does it mean “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson) and “let your life be a counterfriction to stop the machine” (Thoreau)? Of course, it doesn’t! What it means is being particularly agile at turning a blind eye whenever that may help ones career, that is, to become an integral machine cog. It means pleasing ones colleagues and the corporate university, by not speaking the “rude truth.” The question, of course, remains: how does an “unrepentant radical” become an “accomplished” academic of the collegial variety?

29 comments:

mather said...

What I originally thought was funny about you was that you had been around for so long but still no one knew who you were. Now, because I am on the net and looking around, and because I saw Cunningham and McCreesh and DiGangi and others mention you, I realize that many people DO know who you are, they just ignore you. Ja ja! They pretend you don't exist! But they don't forget, you can be sure of that! You are not a member of Father Luke's Fan Club, you are not blurbing other peoples' books so they will blurb yours, but you lurk in the back of their heads, their dreams and their ridiculous posturing. You are something that no one wants to think about. I would think that very old poets would come to respect you, but then we come to Galing, and there goes that theory...

Your cartoons are getting better. Maybe not the compositions, but the faces. As far as composition goes, I think your kind of awkward non-composition is actually a distinctive style.

That's enough compliments.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, M, that's just what I needed this morning! Thanks much for it. Actually, that's an old toon (several years ago).

Charlotte W. said...

Doesn't the AD take a stern screening of material that will be accepted for publication? Yes it does, and rightfully so.

It would be good if print journals provided ample room for comments/criticism from the readers. Does the AD do that? I don't think so. Publishing letters to the editor is not the same as using email correspondence that might not have been submitted for print.

I can somewhat understand the dismay that Ed Galing expressed. I wonder if his message was submitted for publication in the AD? He likes to talk so maybe he agreed. I would guess that most editors receive disagreeable messages from time to time.

I still like the AD even though I am one of the old dissidents who has had a minor tiff with Tod. I don't expect him or the AD to be perfect. Tod is doing a lot of work to keep the AD going. That good work is very admirable. I also admire Tod's spirited direct approach to confronting things he disagrees with.

A Dissident journal should especially be open to criticism and the critic should be able to self-select what they want to be published. Some things that appear in the hard copy of AD are surely worthy of criticism. The AD blog offers the freedom of mini-self publishing since Tod does not censor the comments. It could be interesting to see if dissidents would be willing to criticize a dissident journal.

mather said...

A tiff with Tod? Whatever could you mean?

Charlotte W. said...

Mather, it was a rather minor disagreement that was mainly my own fault. Its not important now. I did learn from it and will try to not make the same mistake again.

I only mentioned it since you brought up Ed. Old poets/dissidents are apt to disagree with just about anyone or anything at times if they feel like it.

mather said...

I suppose you're right about older poets, Charlotte. I was thinking that older poets would finally give up the dream of fame, and this would lead them at least a little way towards Tod. The other comment was just a bit of kidding, because I myself have no idea why anyone would ever argue with Tod. Wink.

Charlotte W. said...

Mather, you have to keep in mind that Ed is in his 90s. He is crippled with multiple ravages of old age and suffers a lot of pain. He also lost his wife not long ago and he is very lonely. He lives alone in the house where they lived for decades. He has only occasional drop in help. He does not use the internet and so he is very isolated. It is understandable that he might appreciate some type of recognition.

Those conditions do matter when trying to understand how he looks at things. If he did not intend for his hard copy letters for publication, it would be unfair to do that. But, its possible he did give approval. He is still a very feisty old guy.

mather said...

Charlotte, I'm not trying to criticize Galing. I just mentioned his name in passing. I like Galing. I mean, I like reading his poetry, usually. I suspect what you're talking about has to do with you and Tod. If you're talking about the compilation of letters that Tod published in AD, and Galing didn't want this to happen or something, I don't know. I do know that in my opinion Galing comes out looking just as valid as Tod does.

G. Tod Slone said...

The most critical comments of me and The AD are always included in the hardcopy issue. That is one thing that definitely makes The AD different. Galing's comments were compiled by me (takes time on my part)and pub. in last issue. Galing thanked me for putting his negative comments in the issue and even said he probably was too harsh (and I have the letter where he says it as proof!). Note in that issue I did not respond. I gave him the last word, since he claimed I always got the last word. Truth is I usually do bec. the other side ceases. With Mather, he didn't cease, so I ceased and he had the last word. I have compiled his harsh comments. They will go in next issue under a special rubric created last issue for Galing: Notes from a Critic of The AD. Charlotte, you're certainly welcome to compile a short page or two of harsh comments for a future issue.
Of course, The AD is limited spacewise, whereas the lit mags getting thousands of taxpayer funds every year from the NEA are not. The NEA simply refuses to give me a cent. The local cultural council refuses to give me a cent. Libraries are not at all eager to subscribe. One librarian issued a no-trespass order against me w/o due process, something the law says I'm supposed to have a right to.
People don't generally want to read the negative. In other words, people will not generally be interested in The AD. Poets don't like negative. They prefer happy-face, self-congratulation, backslapping, self-promoting, calling each other GREAT, etc. They generally don't give a damn about democracy and would rather CENSOR than give opposing points of view airtime. PEN New England won't even respond to my complaints of being censored in New England. Pinsky is on its board. Thus, I'm certainly not surprised of its indifference, despite its self-congratulatory motto: "defening freedom of expression EVERYWHERE."
Not just dissident journals, but all journals, especially those on the NEA pal list, should be OPEN to criticism. If they receive taxpayer monies they should be held to publish contrarian viewpoints in the spirit of democracy. Of course, they do not and are not.
RE Galing, his self-promotion has gone wild. I don't think there's really an excuse for it, no matter how old he may be. And how do you know, he wasn't like that prior to his wife's death? You don't, and neither do I.
Good point on older poets hopefully giving up the dream of fame, M. But look at A. D. Winans. He's in his 70s and he sure hasn't given it up. And I'm not so sure Ed has given it up either. As you damn well know, fame sometimes is the only reason so many poets write.
This is easy to say w/o providing one precise example how and where: "I do know that in my opinion Galing comes out looking just as valid as Tod does." And the same goes for you, M.

Charlotte W. said...

Mather, The "tiff" I mentioned has nothing to do with Ed Galing. I have no intention of going into it further. I already said all I wanted to say on the matter.

Tod -- I have absolutely no interest at all in displaying the details of that disagreement. Like I said, I learned from it.

I like your email exchanges with publishers and etc, but letters to the editor with a word count limitation might be worth considering. You might never even get any but it might be fun to try. As for other journals on the subject, I did say previously:

"It would be good if print journals provided ample room for comments/criticism from the readers. Does the AD do that? I don't think so. Publishing letters to the editor is not the same as using email correspondence that might not have been submitted for print."

I haven't read the last AD issue yet. I'll check it at the library soon.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, I did not mention the tiff to anyone, including Mather. I'd be most curious to know what you learned from it. Also, I'd certainly be open to letters to the editor and with necessary word limit of course. But as you noted I just might not get any at all. What I've noticed from 10 years of publishing The AD is that most of the poets published in it, don't comment on the mag, and seem only interested in seeing their names in print. Period. Thus is the sad state of the American poet today... essentially indifferent to dissidence and democracy. As for publishing letters, unless a person is ashamed of what they wrote and/or knowingly lied, he/she ought not to be against it? And that's why I publish what comes my way, like it or not. Never do I try to make a person look bad by quoting out of context. From 10 years of experience with The AD, I've never had to do that to make someone look bad. The person makes him or herself look bad w/o my help. Thus is the Literary Letters section of The AD. Glad to see you back at the blog, Charlotte.

Charlotte W. said...

I think that most people write a letter to the editor a bit more carefully than writing a hurried email that wasn't submitted for print. I think there could be room for both.

G. Tod Slone said...

C, I understand what you're talking about. BUT The AD has a very restricted audience. Those who I criticize openly rarely ever respond. It would be HIGHLY unlikely that any of them would write a carefully formatted letter to the editor. When I write comments and emails to people, I am careful and often reread them several times. Why do you think they are not careful? Often I do inform enemy respondants of the established order that I shall be publishing their inane comments. They rarely if ever respond to that. As I so often mention, intellectuals in power are not big fans of democracy.

Charlotte W. said...

Tod, I was not thinking of letters to the editor from only people who dislike the AD. It is somewhat possible that an AD supporter might offer a short letter to the editor for possible print in the AD but would not want to engage in a difference of opinion exchange with you through emails.

I know you make the rules for the AD just like other editors do for their journals and rightfully so. I know you have very limited space and that you have to use it carefully.

G. Tod Slone said...

Actually, the most positive comments I've gotten on The AD concern the Letters rubric. So, if trying to please is the goal, I ought to keep it as is. People like seeing the intellectual jousting under that rubric with academics and poets of the established order.

mather said...

Slone and I had an extended, ugly argument on his blog. During the argument he told me he'd never publish me again. He also accused me again and again of being a "grudge holder". After a few weeks I cooled off and we started communicating again. I deliberately tried to be civil and not bring up any of the old arguments, or rub salt in any wounds. Immediately after we begin communication again he tells me he's going to publish a compilation of my critical comments from our blog argument, UNLESS I write something else for him. I tell him to publish whatever he wants, which of course he will anyway, just like he did with Galing. He's the one who shut our original argument down, told me to shut up and go away, and now he's back on attack mode, bringing up the old arguments all over again. Who's the child? Who's the grudge holder? Who's the "wacko"?

Slone: Not sure I’m going to run your criticism.
A. The name calling diminishes you.
B. You’re way off by stating my ideas are not mine, but Thoreau’s, etc. They are my ideas. They came to me gradually as a direct result of my fighting corruption in academe. Thoreau etc. confirm my observations, which is why I cite them.
C. As for vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, you’re quite wrong, because it clearly implies debating ESPECIALLY with those whom one does not like. The same goes for freedom of speech, which implies permitting the speech ESPECIALLY of those who one hates. That’s fundamental. You won’t find a lawyer any where in disagreement with me there.
If I run, I will put a note as for B and C. If I don’t, I’ll replace with Shaulis.

Mather: What the fuck are you babbling about now? Run whatever the hell you want to run. Jesus Christ, it was your idea to run them anyway, and now you're acting as if I want you to. I don't give a shit, me entiendes? I am not going to write FOR you ever again. If you want to exchange emails, that's fine. Otherwise, piss off.
M

Slone: It's like dealing with a child. Ok, I've pissed off.

G. Tod Slone said...

Mather, you've got the shortest fuse! That's why I called you childish. It's quite funny, though in a very sad way Perhaps your buddies Ganji and Cunningham would agree with me? Why do you always exclude key info from your discourse? The only reason I said I wouldn't publish you any more back then was because of your explicit statement: "I'm not as high-minded as you, I really don't care about democracy or logic." THE AD IS DEVOTED TO DEMOCRACY, not those who don't give a goddamn about it! The other lit journals are for the ones who don't give a damn.
It took you, not "a few weeks," but rather a few months to cool off.
Just the same, the old arguments as you call them are really key and you list them above. How could I simply bury them?
Either you're lying outright or rage is blinding you. The proof can even be found on this blog that not once as you stipulate, but at least several times I asked you to send a compilation of your most "hateful" comments (all still located on this blog) so I might publish them. And I wanted to publish them to show that The AD is indeed different from the bulk of lit journals in its openness to criticism and vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy.
Prove this: "told me to shut up and go away." That's not true. I simply gave you the last word because the discussion was going absolutely no where... Buck up, Mather, toughen up. Don't be so easily offended! Democracy NEEDS tough, not thin skin...

mather said...

It's deja vu all over again. I honestly can't believe this is happening, that I am really reading this.

Publish my comments. I don't care. As far as I'm concerned they're allready published, that's why I put them on the blog and not in a personal email.

You're really something else...after "a few months" of cooling off, you're immediately back on the same old thing.

Charlotte, I tried. Good luck with him.

G. Tod Slone said...

"You're really something." Conveniently, you ignore each point I made. Maybe you and Shaulis should get together and begin an anti-logic group. Mather, in your heart, you know damn well you're not Mr. Innocent here. DiGangi, Cunningham and probably others would agree. So, play the Mr. Innocent act on someone else, not me.

G. Tod Slone said...

M
Listen man, I’m not at all pissed off at you. But you’ve got to get over these horseshit anger tantrums. They’re childish… and you’re in your 40s! The last one simply proved that you can’t just repress things. When you do, it stands in the way of clarity and honesty. The only reason I suggested not running your criticism was because I really did think it made you look bad. Vigorous debate demands a certain degree of logic and of course a certain thickness to ones skin. Here, the door is always open for you.
T.

G. Tod Slone said...

"Backslapping" is a behavior, not an ad hominem. So is "whoring."

mather said...

"backslapping" and "whoring" are not ad hominem. Whoever said they were? It's the ACCUSATION that people are backslapping and whoring that is ad hominem, specifically when these comments are used to undermine someone's authority, rather than going directly to what has been said.

G. Tod Slone said...

You don't understand the concept. If somone steals something, he's a thief. If someone congratulates someone to get ahead, he's a backslapper. That is not ad hominem, which is a rhetorical tactic used to avoid dealing with someone's arguments, as opposed to trying to undermine someone's authority. You didn't understand that. Now, perhaps you do, but I doubt it, because that would mean you learned something from me. And that surely you couldn't bear admitting even and especially to yourself. Again, if you can't come up with a precise example of my using ad hominem to avoid responding to a specific argument, then your accusation is nothing but air. I do not engage in ad hominem. It is much more challenging for me to dispute somebody's argument with LOGICAL COUNTER-ARGUMENTATION and supporting ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES. Capiche? Oops, olvido que el cabroncito a el no le gusta esa palabrita. Lo siento.

mather said...

If our last argument was such a dead-end thing which you encouraged to trail off, why are you now starting it all up again?

Charlotte W. said...

Please excuse the intrusion into this boys club, but I have a comment to add about the use "ad hominem".

During internet discussions in my area, the people that I have seen making whimpers about "ad hominem" are thin skinned people who get annoyed by people they seem to consider unworthy of commenting on their lofty opinions. Internet discussions and blog comments are not reserved for scholarly precise talk.

I despise the use of "ad hominem". Its usually used by people who think too highly of themselves and hurled at people who could be called dissidents.

Months ago on this blog, I posted a very good commentary about the over use and misuse of "ad hominem". I should try to find that again.

G. Tod Slone said...

You accused. Therefore I counter argue... because the accusation is not accurate. That's the only reason. How many times must one make his case? If you disagree with a statement I make, prove it wrong and I shall quickly change it. But calling me a fat-head egotist, amongst other things, proves nothing regarding the statement. Now, M, are you taking six months off or aren't you? Society seeks to define us by job. You and I both know that's screwed up. It does a good job making us feel guilty if we don't have a job. The forces are omnipresent and omnipotent. We know they're wrong. Our boy Thoreau knew they were wrong. He chose not to tie himself down to job. Job crushes the mind. Good luck.

mather said...

Whatever I said was weeks ago, if not months ago, and I'm not going to go back and look all that up to refamiliarize myself with the context. All name calling is not ad hominem. Anything can be ad hominem depending on the situation. I understood it then and I understand it now. Are we in a time warp?

Anyway, yes I'm taking some time off work. I gave notice to the job last week, and Thursday is my last day. Might go back in six months, might not. I am already feeling giddy. I'm going to spend the whole time writing Raymond Carver stories and Bukowski poems

mather said...

I didn't appreciate Christopher Cunningham sending me his spam adverts for his and his buddy's books, and I told him so on his web site. All his friends jumped in to protect him and attack me and it got so ugly he erased every god damned comment and made it a comment free blog. You should have seen the shit flying! Now, you can't even read it because it's gone. One of the guys, Father Luke, actually contacted some spam protective service or something and signed my name and address up, so there's a hit on there for me, as if I'm some mad spammer the world needs to be warned of and protected from. All because I gave Cunningham a little compliment, after which he treated me like some star struck groupie and I took offense to it. The thin skin, I guess.

G. Tod Slone said...

Do we really need more Carver stories and Bukowski poems? I don't think so. Hopefully, you're jesting. Good for you, taking off six months!
If true, Cunningham must not know what he is doing. What you told him must have been a truth, one he didn't not care to acknowledge. Your fray sounds like the one I had with the Academy of American Poetlings I had a feeling something might occur, so I saved all the blog entries before they eliminated them and me from their cocoon existence.
Yes, you've got it, the thin skin. It's the way of the future... that and the little protective cocoons to keep truth-telling thugs out... and unemployed if possible.