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, 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
Rob,
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.]

24 comments:

mather said...

Great post, it reads like a good story...the man from Holland completes the story, although the message would have been there without him...

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, thank you, my man! And it's all true! Tried finding that Buk blog but couldn't. So instead I sent some poems (hahaha).

Vegas Quixote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G. Tod Slone said...

Ah, perhaps Rob Mitchell actually posted a comment in the name of democracy and its cornerstone vigorous debate, but then had wimpy second thoughts? Yes, it is so much smarter for those in power not to respond! It is so much smarter to act as if Citizen Slone simply does not exist...

Vegas Quixote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G. Tod Slone said...

Come on, Dahn Shaulis! You can do it! I know you can brave the terror of full-scale democracy's onslaught... and comment without withdrawing it!

M.P. Powers said...

A couple questions about this "tale," Slone. First, was it really necessary for you to add the part "(wart removal? skin cancer?)" Why attack the lady's complexion? That has nothing to do anything, and only gives yourself (and your seething bitterness) away. If, however, you do feel the need to berate people's physical appearances (things they can't help), don't you think it should be done with a little humor? I do.

YOUR "JOKE" WENT OVER LIKE A PETRIFIED TURD.

"Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit." -- Aristotle

Lastly, can you really blame these people for ignoring you? Who wants to get accosted by some pamphlet-covered dope moping around in a pair of goofy-ass basketball sneakers? Not me. I don't care what he's saying/selling.

G. Tod Slone said...

Allow us to place this MP Powers character in context! THIN SKINNED!!! I just spent ample back and forth email time working with MP on one of his poems... and that's the thanks I get! Basta! Remember what that means, MP? Basta! It was a completely self-less act on my part. Well, I’ll have to learn from it. I learned a little from criticizing Mather’s poems. I’ll have learn a little from criticizing yours.

The warts et al was a simple description of the person... nothing at all made up. If that is all you got from the entire protest, then you are sans espoir. A little description never hurts unless of course it takes over everything. Clearly, my description in that essay did not take over everything. The woman in question was also fat! Now, if you described me as gray-haired, old man, balding, large chinned, and barrel chested. What the hell. That's true! And so be it.

But to call me “SEETHING BITTERNESS” is another thing… it’s a cop out on your part. One that enables you to avoid each point made in the protest. How easy to dismiss anything that way! It’s amazing to me! It’s base name calling--ad hominem childishness. Because I got off my ass, stood alone in protest in front of a book festival that disdains dissidence and vigorous debate... you call it SEETHING BITTERNESS! How aberrant!

Now this needs to be repeated and analyzed: “Lastly, can you really blame these people for ignoring you? Who wants to get accosted by some pamphlet-covered dope moping around in a pair of goofy-ass basketball sneakers? Not me. I don't care what he's saying/selling.”

I do not blame them for ignoring me at all. I do however denounce their indifference to the concerns of democracy. There’s a big difference. My purpose is not to convince them, but rather to denounce them. They are not convincible. They run in a herd. They behave as a herd. I behave as an individual, and if it’s with “SEETHING BITTERNESS” I’d still prefer it that way.

Those sneakers I got for free. Sorry, if you think they’re goofy or don’t fit your fashion model. I’ve never really been that concerned about physical appearance. Let that be your concern, not mine! “Dope”? I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion with the exception that you are simply pissed off that I wasted so much time trying to help you with that poem of yours… and it did need a lot of work… and I have the email correspondence to prove the assertion. Basta!

Now, when was the last time you stood up in front of strangers all by yourself to denounce them and make a point or two while doing so? NEVER?

BTW, thanks for subscribing, MP! It goes to a good cause.

G. Tod Slone said...

Eventually, I told MP to send that poem elsewhere. And he evidently had a shit fit.

G. Tod Slone said...

That argument of my purported “seething bitterness” has been thrown my way time and again by those unable to take criticism. It is really not an argument at all. It does not further the discussion. It truncates the discussion. To label me “seething bitterness” does not change one iota that PEN New England refuses to respond to my grievances, Concord Cultural Council adopted a no “political nature” regulation, Concord Festival of Authors refuses to respond and selects authors in an autocratic fashion, Concord Poetry Center praises dissidents, but will not permit someone who protests to teach a workshop on protest poetry, Regis College’s student journal will not permit comment on its web page, and I could on and on. Because of your “seething bitterness,” MP, you will not be able to comprehend what I state here.

M.P. Powers said...

I didn't have a shit fit, Slone, and I'm not pissed-off you rejected any of my poems. I appreciated you going back and forth with me on them, and you seemed to be enjoying it too. At least you said you did. The thing that bothers me is just what I said. Going out to an event and getting in snide remarks (and bad jokes) about people's physical features, when really, that has nothing to do with your so-called "brave" bent.

If that's what dissidence is, I don't want any part of it.

As far as your shoes go... I'm not very fashion-conscious either, but I can understand why the people in question weren't overly anxious to "debate" with you. The sight of a smug, condescending unibomber-type drenched in the manifesto papers of your undeniably self-righteous cause is always off-putting. Dressing up like a poor man's Patrick Ewing didn't do you any favors either.

Basta!

M.P. Powers said...

You said:

"A little description never hurts unless of course it takes over everything."

To me, that description did take over everything. It exemplified the "seething bitterness" that everyone (you admitted it!) accuses you of.

M.P. Powers said...

You said:

"It’s base name calling--ad hominem childishness."

What do you call this?

"(wart removal? skin cancer?)"

I call it SEETHING BITTERNESS.

G. Tod Slone said...

MP,
You do precisely what you condemn me of doing… but take it two steps further by avoiding the arguments in my essay all-together and by denigrating my physical appearance, which is not what I did with that woman. If for you, the words warts and skin cancer are in themselves pejorative, that’s your problem. It’s not mine and not the woman’s because she had them removed or it treated. Your lack of argument is absurd.

With that woman, I simply described a salient feature… w/o commenting on the feature. I did not say it was ugly, I did not say it made her look like the Unibomber, your favorite nemesis. May we assume that you sport a military crewcut, Beatnik goatee, and sailor’s gold earring? Well, I’d much rather look like a unibomber than like the functionary, system-friendly fashion of the day. So, you would have had me dress in suit and Jehovah witness tie? Well, that’s not who I am. I despise the suit and what it represents. Are you telling me to get a haircut? Well, then I’ll tell you to let yours grow.

And as you can see, we are as far away from my arguments as one can get: the Concord Festival of Authors as an autocracy, viewpoint discriminating organization with public funding, Chamber of Commerce friendly literature pusher, and outright rejecting of debate.

Well, I never said EVERYONE accuses me of “seething bitterness,” an asinine, diversionary accusation in itself. Just say, he’s SEETHING WITH BITTERNESS, if you don’t like him and that will solve everything. So, why did you write EVERYONE? Why did you feel compelled (perhaps even unconsciously) to alter what I wrote?

You do not understand the concept of ad hominem. Educate yourself! Ad hominem is denigration of a person by calling the person names in an effort to avoid and/or dismiss the person’s arguments. Noting that somebody is overweight or has warts is not ad hominem per se. To state somebody was sitting in a wheel chair is not ad hominem per se. BUT to state someone looks like the Unibomber in an effort to dismiss that person’s arguments and rights to protest in a democracy is ad hominem.

Educate yourself, man! Don’t remain complacently ignorant. Democracy depends on it!

M.P. Powers said...

C'mon Slone... the truth is you were furious Mitchell wasn't paying attention to you, so you took your anger out on HIS SISTER by making bad jokes about her skin condition in a public forum. I call that bullying. Especially in light of the fact that you used her REAL NAME and couldn't wait to get your story (and your "shot") out to as many people as possible, as soon as possible. Secondly, when did I denigrate YOUR physical appearance? All I said was you came off as a smug condescending unibomber-TYPE, and those gorilla shoes on your feet didn't do you any favors. I never said anything about your hairstyle, the barrel-chest you were bragging about or anything else you have no control over. By the way, I also have longish hair, and I'm not clean-cut. I shave about once a week and get a haircut every six months or so. I don't know why I'm mentioning this though. It doesn't matter in the least, unless of course you're one of those guys who still can't get past his longhairpersecutioncomplex, a Johnson-era anachronism if there ever was one. Lastly, I have no problem moving onto whatever other issues you have in mind, as long as you tell me the REAL REASON you attacked that poor lady's complexion (via witless subhumor).

mather said...

I already told you I liked the post. But since you asked, I do think the parenthetical comment about her skin was unnecessary and only intended to be catty. A comment like that doesn't bother me and I think it is funny, but for the fact that if anyone said anything about your appearance like that I know you would be calling it differently.

G. Tod Slone said...

MP,
You’re a great one for skipping the essence of arguments and focusing entirely on the superficial… as in my description of that female’s face. You weren’t there. I was there. She came out to pursue me, not vice versa. Furious? If anything, I thought she was. But she wasn’t. And I wasn’t either. I cannot reach the heights of fury every time I bump into an apparatchik. There are far too many of them. I would have had a heart attack years ago. I even hate to use the word angry. Public money is involved here and when it’s involved equity ought to also be involved. That’s what I’m fighting against… the lack of equity… the rejection of some opinions when all opinions should be permitted… if public money is involved. I don’t think you’ll understand this because you’re so focused on my wart comment…. which was not a joke and not meant to be a joke. People do get warts removed. Shit, I’ve had a few removed from my face. Why does that have to be a joke for you?
You’ve really got a problem with accuracy. I was describing my faults. Since when is having a barrel chest so wonderful? Man, you twist everything.
Well, Mather, you should be a politician. One point against MP and one against me. We now have two opinions regarding the wart comment. Whoopee! So, now I’ve learned from MP and M that any description of a person may be viewed as derogatory, thus to avoid that possibility I should not describe persons I write about. Because if they did that with me, then I’d be very upset. Amen. Just the same, you both need to educate yourselves as mentioned. And I repeat to the two brick walls: if the wart comment was made to deflect from the females arguments, then that would be called ad hominem. Since I did not make the comment to deflect from her argument that Rob is a wonderful fellow. The description was simply made to embellish the bare facts... as descriptions are often used. Would both of you please try to focus on the point made here... please...

G. Tod Slone said...

Below is the wart comment. How do you see it as my trying to make a joke? You're being nonsensical MP. Christ, what college did you graduate from? Maybe I should test the waters of democracy with its regard, eh? Anyhow, she had heavy red blood marks all over her face... and they weren't zits. What makes "chubby" okay, but "warts" not okay? Is this some kind of PC code I'm unaware of?

“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.

M.P. Powers said...

This is from a recent email between Slone and I, further exemplifying my point:

Slone:

If the woman in question had been legless, I would have
mentioned that fact.

Me:

.... and then made a joke about it (wood-chipper? chainsaw?)

G. Tod Slone said...

Sans espoir, toue. Ou calisse se trouve la maudite plaisanterie?

mather said...

The line isn't that big of a deal, it's just one line, but you asked me, and now you want to fight about it. If you don't want my opinion, don't ask. I never called it ad hominem, I said it was catty. And it is. That does not mean I am ignoring the larger point of the essay/story.

G. Tod Slone said...

Okay, you gave me your opinion. And I didn't like it because it really seemed vacuous. Why is my brief description necessarily "catty"? Why is any description of a person that is not positive "catty"? Do you see what I mean by vacuous? First,recall, you actually said you liked it. So, is "catty" something positive? BTW, I'm now being accused of accusing MP of having a crewcut. Wow. The guy is indeed a loon. His whole amazing hostility due to that one little description is dumbfounding! In any case, I stand corrected, the dude doesn't have a crewcut. Christ, until you dudes get out of your little ME, ME, ME cocoons, you'll only be able to see the "catty" or the crewcut accusations or the accusations that I made cheap jokes when all I did was describe a person's face. Get off your asses! Get out there and you stand in front of a herd in protest. But, no, that you won't do, that you can't do. Perhaps it is because you are desperate to be part of the herd despite appearances? Anyhow, enjoy the day. I hope I wasn't too "catty" with you, M.

mather said...

I never said I liked that statement particularly. I said I liked the post. Must I be in love with each individual sentence before I can state I liked the post? Must you think of yourself as absolutely flawless?

G. Tod Slone said...

Always the name calling: "Must you think of yourself as absolutely flawless?"
Rarely if ever a thought-out counterargumentation to points made, as opposed to the person making the points.