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, 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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Conversations with Professor Pseudo, PhD

l’ecrivain qui se met pas brochet, tranquillement plagiaire, qui chromote pas, est un homme perdu !... il a la haine du monde entier !... [the writer who does not pimp along, tranquilly plagiary, who does not seek fame, is a lost man ! everyone will hate him!...]
—Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Entretiens avec le professeur Y

Those without spine would inevitably mock those with spine. That had been my experience. The logic was there, for those with spine would inevitably make those without it look and feel bad.

It was amazing to note that perhaps 90% or more of the comments relative to approved-blog articles appearing in both The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed were made anonymously! Somebody ought to calculate some statistics with that regard. Academe certainly did not seem to be attracting courageous citizens. It did not seem to be attracting citizens either who valued vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone. On the contrary, it seemed to be attracting nothing but cowards and careerists.

Now and then, when someone responded to my comments, more often than not, I could not determine who the respondent was, let alone contact him or her with a personal response. That said so much, so much more than anonymous academics would likely permit themselves to even contemplate! Fear and cowardice had overwhelmed the Academy. Democracy could not survive in America, if the traits of fear and cowardice became as dominant as they seemed to have become in Academe. Wherever I’d taught as a professor, I’d always witnessed academics constantly jabbering behind closed doors. It was amazing to me, though perhaps not if one valued job over dignity... as most evidently tended to do. Academics who cowered behind anonymity when expressing their opinions were not to be trusted, let alone believed. It was sad they were given voice in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.

Last week, on a Chronicle of Higher Education blog, I had a joust with one such incognito fellow, “Eddie Guest,” whom I’ll refer to as Prof. Pseudo, PhD. Because his modus operandi, of base unoriginal mockery and failure to disprove a single statement with logical counter-argumentation and/or fact, might be somewhat and sadly typical of academics (not to mention poets) today, I thought I’d expose it here. I’d come upon the ilk before, yet was ever confounded by it. What made Prof. Pseudo, PhD tick? I really didn’t know. Why were there so many of his kind? Again, I had no real explanation.

A second party, Sandy Thatcher, retiring Director of the Penn State University Press, injected himself into the “conversation” momentarily. I thus also include his remarks, which exude the typical indignation of established-order cogs when that order is criticized by an outsider. Thatcher was a businessman in academic garb. Both he and Prof. Pseudo responded as party apparatchiks. When one of the party members was suddenly criticized, instead of ad nauseum praised, they unoriginally attacked the messenger, dissed his message with vacuous epithet, and failed to refute anything in it with cogent argumentation.

Too many on the left seemed to think that by dismissing anyone who criticized them and their orthodoxy as right wing, they deemed the criticism irrelevant and the problems exposed as non existent. That would serve to only weaken the left, not strengthen it.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Folks, you gotta go to Mr. Slone’s website and follow the “censorship” thread! It be a hoot! The guy has a real negative jones for any published poet (Mr. Slone can’t seem to get published much) who has a college teaching job (Mr. Slone can’t seem to get or hold one).

The Editor—Note Prof. Pseudo’s black hip-hop jive jargon. Is he a cutesy black wannabee in black regalia or simply a black professor? Anonymity will protect him and keep that unknown. Because I openly criticize does not logically mean that I have a “real negative jones for any published poet.” To dispute the point, I admire Jeffers, Villon, some of Neruda, some of Benedetti, some of Haushofer, etc. It is important not to speak in absolutes and get the facts straight, unless of course one hides behind anonymity. I had two collections of poetry published in the last year and a half, perhaps a feat considering the highly anti-established-order nature of the verse (see www.theamericandissident.org/Subscribe.htm). Because I do not value collegiality over truth, I cannot hold a college teaching job. Because of my inner Socratic daemon, I am compelled to denounce overtly lies, inconsistencies, double standards, discrepancies, and fraud. Evidently, that does not favor my holding a job in academe. What about Prof. Pseudo? Who knows? Perhaps he can’t hold a job in academe either, but maybe because he’s a skirt chaser or faked his credentials or who knows what. Anonymity will protect him from an inquiry.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I am not now a college professor. I was a college professor, a full professor, too, with tenure and full oak-leaf cluster, in spite of the fact that I do not have a Ph.D. My publishing record was that good. (No, it wasn’t poetry or fiction.)

The Editor—Ah, but how can one possibly verify anything stated by a pseudonym?

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Mr. Slone’s website didn’t piss me off. It depressed me—so self-serving, so whiney, and so amateurish. If anything is “a complete catalogue of vile and scabrous epithets which he is ever ready to sling at those who think and act differently,” it’s Mr. Slone’s website, which is one continous stream of epithets, express and implied, hurled at, seemingly, anybody who’s a poet and holds down an academic job. And the attendant blog seems to be a mutual wanking society composed of Mr. Slone and two or three other losers who buck each other up.

The Editor—So many epithets! How can one possibly believe the website did not piss off Prof. Pseudo? Where is his website?

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I don’t have a website. I don’t need one.

The Editor—Ah, he doesn’t need one! So, why does he need all the titles and publications and badges handed to him by the established order!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I’m happy to provide content for Mr. Slone’s blog. Of course he never censors comments; there are hardly any comments to censor. The blog must get, what, eight or nine hits a month. It’s a wonder the server doesn’t crash!

The Editor—The number of hits simply indicates popularity. How can a lifer educator not understand that? Certainly, Brittany Spears or Brangelinas website gets far more hits than the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blogsites together. Come on, Prof. Pseudo! You can do better than that! Besides, if I were any good at marketing or even had a driving compulsion to market, I’d likely be doing something else.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—And since the NEH wouldn’t help fund his practically unreadable magazine and its amateurish editorial cartoons, he doesn’t like it, either.

The Editor—Get the facts right! The NEA, not the NEH, rejected my grant request. Evidently, I cannot argue against simple opinions of ad-hominem-like remarks, including “unreadable” and “amateurish.” They constitute diversionary non-arguments. Of course, I could state that given what passes as “professional” today, perhaps “amateurish” might not be such a bad thing at all.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—At this point, Mr. Slone’s main claim to fame seems that—after round after round of contentious and ever-lengthening e-mails—he was finally banned from some commenting on some poetry site. He’s trying to milk that for all it’s worth. But don’t take my word for any of this. Pour yourself two fingers worth and get thee to that website.

The Editor—Censorship should never be taken lightly, as Prof. Pseudo seems to relish doing. The incident he refers to involved the Academy of American Poets, not simply some insignificant entity. One would expect the Academy, its tenured-professor chancellors, etc. to not only be aware of the requisites of vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone, but also be fervent promoters of them. As the incident indicates, they prove anything but promoters of them (see www.theamericandissident.org/AcademyAmericanPoets.htm). Fact: the Academy banned me permanently from participating as a poet on its online forums for poets.

Mr. Sandy Thatcher—It is unfortunate that Mr. Slone has felt it necessary to use this space [i.e., The Chronicle of Higher Education] for his rant about PC culture, the corporatization of universities, and everything else he doesn’t like about higher education today.

The Editor—Note the typical ad-hominem-like rhetoric used by Thatcher, as in “rant.” How facile and unoriginal to dismiss arguments with the single term “rant.” If mine is “rant,” then why is not his also “rant”—pro-established-order “rant”? The very term is subjective and in that sense entirely vacuous. Sadly, it has become PC to dismiss any argument critical of the left as “rant.” If all the left can do is demonize or otherwise mock anybody daring to criticize it, then it is indeed in trouble today, for how can it possibly grow without harsh criticism of its diverse platforms and icons? That is the shame of higher education today! Does Thatcher only approve of discourse in praise of higher education and the co-opting corporation? Indeed, what I did wrong in his mind was criticize the nomination of an established-order personage, Leach, to the NEH, which was indeed the point of discussion (see also previous blog). Was I supposed to keep quiet if I couldn’t praise Leach? Is that what Thatcher has come to believe constitutes a thriving democracy?

Mr. Thatcher—His accusation about Mr. Leach not being a dissident clearly is refuted by Leach’s bravery in resigning his government job during the Saturday Night Massacre [i.e., Nixon’s firing of prosecutor Cox]. If that is not an act of dissidence, what on earth is?

The Editor— Implying Leach’s resignation to be an act of courage (30+ years ago!!!) is absurd. He resigned his government job only to get more government jobs. Leach is a system cog, deferent and obedient. He’s been on the public dole for over 30 years. Regarding the Saturday Night Massacre, one would have to wonder what Leach was doing in the government in the first place and thanks to Dick Nixon! It is an easy thing to be a dissident when one has a Democrat Party mob to support ones dissidence. Leach’s act was nothing but facile party-supported dissent, certainly not an act of individual courage, as implied by Thatcher.

Mr. Thatcher—I wonder if Mr. Slone can boast of any comparable act of his own?

The Editor—If Thatcher had any curiosity, he would have done the research. After all, my website is not hidden and is replete with numerous acts of individual dissidence, which cost me letters of recommendation and a career in academe. Yes, some of those acts did take courage, much more courage than a political lifer like Leach would ever have had the guts to exhibit.

Mr. Thatcher—For myself, as a university press director (using my own name, please note) and past president of the Association of American University Presses, and as one who has lobbied on Capitol Hill during National Humanities Day to obtain more funding for the NEH, I feel confident in saying that the news of Mr. Leach’s appointment is being welcomed with great cheer in our community of scholarly publishers, and we look forward to working with him and his staff in the years to come on projects of mutual interest, not least in supporting the advance of digital scholarship and publishing.

The Editor—Generally, to rise to positions of director and president, especially in the university milieu, one must compromise ones dignity, ones principles, and inevitably the truth. Thus, I, for one, never knee-jerk admire anybody boasting such titles. “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions,” had noted Emerson. Well, I too am ashamed to think how easily so many capitulate. Moreover, lobbyists on the right and left are to be scorned. They have irrevocably perverted democracy in America today. And one must wonder what that “community of scholarly publishers” refuses to publish… in the name of the established order! And what good is “supporting the advance of digital scholarship and publishing” when that scholarship and publishing only serve to advance that order? These questions, Thatcher will knee-jerk reject as entirely incomprehensible. Indeed, how can a system man ever understand anything exterior to the system that has fed him so very nicely?

Mr. Thatcher—Mr. Slone does not appear to have a correct understanding of what “peer review” means in the NEH evaluation process. It is not run by “mid- and lower-level cultural apparatchiks” but, like the similar process employed by university presses, depends upon reports from experts in the various humanities disciplines.

The Editor—The problem with the humanities, especially with regards literature and art, is that the so-called anointed “experts” tend to always be bourgeois in taste and aesthetics and, in that sense, promote bourgeois taste and aesthetics. That is what is wrong with the peer-review system as it stands today. Anything apt to viscerally question and challenge it and the literature and art it tends to support will automatically be dismissed as “rant.” Sadly, Thatcher will likely be entirely incapable of even considering that argument as a viable alternative point of view.

Mr. Thatcher—Mr. Leach’s affirmation of the importance of respecting this process [i.e., peer review] is very encouraging, especially in light of the politicization of the process under some previous NEH heads (whose names will be known to anyone who has followed the history of the NEH over the years).

The Editor—Leach’s affirmation is for me just another example of business as usual, or rather culture as usual. The peer-review process will always be highly politicized, like it or not, deny it or not. Under Bush, it headed right, while under Obama it will be highly PC and multiculturalist, in lieu of rude truth, as in “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson). The problem with closed communities like the university-press community, Thatcher’s community, is the homogenous attitude. “This is a hive attitude. Criticism of one is a criticism of all, a threat to the hive's existence” (Cornelia Yarrington Snider).

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Mr. Slone should be thanking me—instead of berating me—for recommending (albeit for reasons unflattering to him) his website to “Brainstorm” readers. But since he replies with such indignant ferocity, I’ll get calmly specific about its shortcomings: 1. Visually, it’s a total mess, maybe a half step above those smeary, photocopied typescripts sent out by the rightwing fanatic, “Cincinnatus,” in Missouri, but that’s about all. The labels on the plastic bottles of Dr. Bronner’s soap look better than The American Dissident. (And we’re not asking for elegance here, just a pinch of legibility.)

The Editor—First, note once again the ad hominem-like rhetoric “berating,” “indignant ferocity,” “total Mess,” and akin to a “rightwing fanatic.” Note also that Prof. Pseudo does not present any cogent evidence or argumentation whatsoever to refute anything on the entire American Dissident website. His rhetoric is purely vacuous and diversionary. Shoot the messenger to avoid dealing with the message.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I use a pseudonym because: a) It’s fun. b) As I said before, I want my comments to stand or fall on their own textual merit, unaffected by the magnificence of my credentials. c) It’s rather the norm here on “Brainstorm.” If I’m gutless for using one, then so are 90 percent of “Brainstorm” commenters, even the ones—if there are any—who support Mr. Slone.

The Editor—As previously mentioned those who use pseudonyms are cowardly. Pseudonyms enable such persons to hide and remain entirely unaccountable. Thus, what they say remains entirely untrustworthy and unverifiable. Higher education, rather than encourage the pseudonym, ought to be discouraging it.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—We have only Mr. Slone’s word for it that the reason he can’t hold a job in higher education is that he “speaks truth to power.” I poked around his website and found a lot of ranting and scanned articles about malfeasances at a couple of colleges, but no real evidence of him being unfairly dismissed on account of courageous speech. Perhaps other readers, with more time on their hands, can find some.

The Editor—The American Dissident website is replete with examples of the editor’s speaking truth to power (for example, examine www.theamericandissident.org/Censored.htm). I was not “dismissed” from positions. There’s a big difference between that and not being offered new contracts. The evidence lies in the fact that previous employers did not write me letters of recommendation, a career-death sentence in academe, despite the fact I requested them. Evidence of unfair treatment can also be found on the website.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Anyway, since Mr. Slone quotes Charles Bukowski (a real lifestyle model if there ever was one—I used to know his abused girlfriend, or one of ‘em) to the effect that an academic job murders the soul, you’d think that he wouldn’t even try to have one in the first place. (It’s the old story: He tries to join the club; they won’t have him; he says the club is just a bunch of a**holes anyway. So why did he try to join?)

The Editor—If I had it all to do over again, I certainly would not have chosen a career path in academe. “You know the only way a poet makes real money is by teaching at a university, and that is the final murder of the soul,” had written Charles Bukowski. That statement, however, needs to be amended such that the murder of the soul does not apply to poets like me who do not keep their mouths shut in an effort to climb the academic ladder. Again, there’s a big difference. Prof. Pseudo of course is as ignorant as it gets regarding democracy and chooses the America, Love It or Leave It mantra of the Sixties right wing, as in Academe, Love It or Leave It. Never did I state that all academics are a bunch of “assholes.” Note how he’s been trained to self-censor and fear writing the full word ASSHOLE. Oh, it might offend a dainty colleague or two!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—The writing in the excerpts from the “autobiographical” fiction on Mr. Slone’s website is—not to put too fine a point on it—really bad. Obvious, strident, self-congratulatory, rough, and hackneyed. Mr. Slone badly needs an editor.

The Editor—Again, Prof. Pseudo only comes up with opinion and ad hominem-like comments. Not once does he use logical counter-argumentation.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—The cartoons—which I didn’t “mock”: I simply said they’re amateurish—are worse than I originally said they were. High school “alternative” newspaper is about their level.

The Editor—Ad hominem redux.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—There aren’t any “untrue” statements on The American Dissident website, because “truth” isn’t what the website is about. What it’s about is a one-man-band of complaints of various perceived injustices suffered by Mr. Slone. It reads like a 2am call to Art Bell’s old radio show: the government is against me, the universities are against me, other poets are against me, the NEA is against me, etc., etc. Yeah, it’s “true” that such and such college canned Mr. Slone, and that the NEA wouldn’t help fund his special-pleading journal, and that he’s been rejected more times than Susan Lucci at the Emmys, and so forth. The question is why. (Fifteen minutes on the website and the reason is pretty obvious.)

The Editor—Ad hominem redux. Never have I been “canned” by a university or college! Prof. Pseudo does not care about facts. He does not provide one example of a literary journal similar to The American Dissident in scope and nature. He does not need to. All he needs to do is dig into his can of ad-hominem-like epithets and heave. How easily he dismisses censorship, double standards, arrest, incarceration, and legislated cultural proscription as “complaints.”

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I’m not a poet, didn’t know Mr. Slone from a hole in the ground before he commented on this thread and I went to his website. And I’m not a professor of English, creative writing, comparative literature, or any subject within Mr. Slone’s self-assigned purview. So, no incoming bias, no grudge, etc.

The Editor—How can one believe Prof. Pseudo? How else to explain his visceral need to demean my work, my writing, my cartooning, and The American Dissident? Surely, there was a previous encounter!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—I had never encountered Mr. Slone before, either in person, any form of correspondence, or by his meagre reputation. I didn’t know anybody who knew, or had ever heard of, Mr. Slone.

The Editor—Yet, again, how can one verify anything stated by a pseudonym? Note Prof. Pseudo’s blind admiration for “reputation.” Academe clearly failed to instill in him a modus operandi of questioning and challenging. “Reputation” generally implies established order, and the kowtowing, obedience and subservience necessary to obtain it.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—“On my website, many authors are cited to back my opinions and ideas.” Right. This is the typical megalomaniac’s argument: “Why of course, Tolstoy [or whoever] was clearly talking about writers just like me.” All those famous poets “highlighted” on Mr. Slone’s website (I’m sure they’re grateful) are entirely defenseless against his appropriating their words as if they were actually meant in support of him or his ideas. I mean, what did poor ol’ Solzhenitsyn, Emerson, Thoreau, Orwell, Jeffers, Rushdie, Ibsen, Douglass, et al., do to deserve G. Tod Slone? Has Mr. Rushdie, or any other living writer of his reputation, given a voluntary testimonial specifically for Mr. Slone? I thought so.

The Editor—Debating with Prof. Pseudo is akin to debating with an angry child. He will not find one plus on the website or with my regard. Out of the question! Even my attempts to spark interest in democracy are dismissed with epithet. Just call me “megalomaniac.” No need at all to refute anything. Just the same, because I cite known writers does not make me a “megalomaniac.” Where is the logical connection in that? Those writers simply share my ideas or I share theirs. And we share them regarding academe and the established order in general. I imagine that most of those quotes implicate Prof. Pseudo. Perhaps he should thus also be angry at Rushdie, Thoreau, Emerson, etc.? How about this one by Henry Miller? “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.” Surely, those thoughts implicate Prof. Pseudo.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—“Does “I have never been fired from a job” include not being granted tenure, or not having a contract renewed? Or is Mr. Slone limiting being “fired” to, say, being told to clean out his desk and get off campus right in the middle of a semester? I’m guessing that Mr. Slone’s “I have consistently spoken out, expressed my opinions openly and for that I’ve paid dearly regarding career and employment,” “speaking ‘rude truth’ to colleagues and administrators in higher education today automatically results in limited possibilities for future employment,” “any person calling up my former employers will likely not hear kindness from them,” and “I do not feed on collegiality and PC” boils down to his being told more than once that his services would no longer be required.

The Editor—Correct! Et alors? (And so what?) Again, a non-argument!

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—Finally, I’ve stayed away from judging Mr. Slone’s poetry because it’s not my expertise. But I can judge his prose, which is awful, fiction or non. For example, he closes his comment with, “I was indeed very naïve when I began my career several decades ago, thinking vigorous debate would be encouraged and praised. Little did I know PC would become an insidious cancer in its gut.” Note that PC is an insidious cancer not in the gut of academe, but in Mr. Slone’s career. He said it, I didn’t.

The Editor—Ah, I committed one grammatical error! Yes, let’s focus in on that! Again, it’s all a thinly veiled ploy of shooting the messenger to avoid dealing with his message. Distraction and diversion! That’s what established-order cogs do best.

Prof. Pseudo, PhD—There’s a reason why the guy is out there, banished from academe, baying at the moon.

The Editor—There’s a reason why Prof. Pseudo is out there, hiding in anonymity, and not banished from academe, and not baying at the moon! That reason is FEAR, COWARDICE, CAREERISM, AND THE OLD FAUSTIAN PACT! No thanks. I’d prefer baying at the moon any day or should I rather say any evening. Again, Prof. Pseudo fails to disprove with cogent counter-argumentation one single argument presented on The American Dissident website.

In conclusion, America had become a business. To me, America didn't even feel like a country. In such a business, it was normal that a Mongolian with a green card, for example, who did not give a damn about democracy's cornerstone, vigorous debate, would be given preference over an American citizen like me who spoke openly and freely and actually valued democracy. Business was certainly not a friend of democracy! That was normal. Yet it should not have been normal for a nation, nor should it have been normal for Academe. But Academe had become a business, co-opted by the corporate model of growth, growth, money, money, and whistleblowers be crushed! The lone critic at a college or university was always to be scorned by his or her fearful and silent colleagues. In fact, if America continued opening its doors to huge influxes of immigrants, wouldn't it be interesting to make some kind of determination as to whether or not the immigrants accepted into the country came here for democracy or rather for MONEY... and how would that affect democracy, as opposed to business, in America? Would it add to the ranks of those desiring to speak anonymously? Quite likely. Well, Prof. Pseudo must have been doing something right! After all, he was the one with the job, not I.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wanted: State Poet Laureate

[N.B.: It is likely that many professors and poets of the established order are so insecure in their verb and rhetorical skills that they dare not engage in vigorous debate with adversaries. Besides, how can one, even if Harvard or Princeton educated, out-reason a reasonably intelligent adversary when one does not have reason on ones side?]

Applicants need to demonstrate proven success at working within the established order—politically, literarily, and academically. They need not be tenured professors, though that would be helpful since all our previous laureates have come directly from that mold. A clear record of successful conformity therefore within the poet and academic communities, as well as friendly connections with public servants and knowledge of grant writing, would certainly be pertinent. Applicants should be able to provide at least three letters of recommendation (five would be better) from well-connected community members, including those of the state chamber of commerce and state cultural council. We would prefer applicants who work well with leaders, as opposed to those who might be apt to question and challenge them. (Wave makers and boat rockers need not apply!) We have no preference with regards to an applicant’s aesthetics and taste, but are especially interested in candidates with a particular bourgeois bent and insertion. Working-class roots, however, would be of interest as long as coupled with the latter. Finally, candidates are required to appreciate diversity and multiculturalism and should be able to demonstrate they can thrive within the limitations set by political correctness.

Interested candidates should send a letter of application outlining interest, qualifications, and preparation for this unique literary position. Also, they should address how they would intend raising public awareness and interest in established-order poetry and canon. We seek candidates with especially-neutral agendas and an emerging record of bridge building. Diversity candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

The above announcement was sent via the following email:

From: George Slone todslone@yahoo.com
To: mswander@iastate.edu; jones@iastate.edu; ferlazzo@iastate.edu; online@iastate.edu; deb-west@uiowa.edu; eptcoutreach@Lcom.net; owlglass@avalon.net; BenjaminPercy@aol.com; engldept@iastate.edu; nbowers@iastate.edu; brottman@iastate.edu; susanc@iastate.edu; jhagge@iastate.edu; sidner@iastate.edu; neiln@iastate.edu; lpoague@iastate.edu; cjpost@iastate.edu; dph@iastate.edu; shenk@iastate.edu; dwiegand@iastate.edu; gbetcher@iastate.edu; consigny@iastate.edu; bdaly@iastate.edu; demaraye@iastate.edu; cgh@iastate.edu; dkienzle@iastate.edu; mendy@iastate.edu; jminkler@iastate.edu; spett@iastate.edu
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 10:07:48 AM
Subject: Experiment in Free Speech: State Poet Laureate of Iowa Wanted

Dear English Department professors, Iowa State University, et al:
Please examine the watercolor created on Mary Swander, Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa, and Governor Chet Culver: http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/. Please do comment! After all, if poets and professors don't appreciate the importance of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, then the nation is truly in deep trouble, as I fully suspect it is. Sadly, experience dictates the likelihood of even just one of you responding to be remote. Think about what that implies! Think about what it implies for students!

Also, please consider subscribing to The American Dissident, a unique literary journal (only $20/year). Your students would surely appreciate its caustic, satirical tone.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

G. Tod Slone, PhD and Founding Editor
The American Dissident: Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence
A 501 c3 Nonprofit Providing a Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy
http://www.theamericandissident.org/
1837 Main St.
Concord, MA 01742

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Censorship Redux, and the New—Same Old, Same Old—NEH Leadership

The following short essay was censored by Doug Lederman, editor of InsideHigherEd.com, who wrote when I asked if he'd blacklisted me as persona non grata, since he'd censored me on four different occasions: "When you post comments that do not engage in ad hominem attacks and are on point, I'll post them. In the meantime, be well." Well, my comments were always on point, though usually quite critical. Also, I avoided ad hominem. To no avail, I immediately pointed out an ad hominem, published by Lederman, authored by someone else: "Since I think George Steiner is a fraudulent windbag, he’s perhaps a bad hypothetical example." Lederman obviously didn't seem to mind that clear example of ad hominem. Negative critique is not ad hominem. Calling a lifer politician, for example, a lifer politician was not ad hominem when in fact the politician in question was indeed a lifer politician. Calling someone a white male was not ad hominem, if that person was in fact a white male.

In any case, the article instigating my comments below was written by Scott Jaschik (see www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/04/leach). Perhaps many citizens were unaware how rampant censorship just might be in America and, in particular, in academe. I brought that to Jaschik's attention. But he too didn't give a damn. He was being paid...

It was sad for me to learn that a lifer politician, James A. Leach, was Obama’s appointee to the NEH. Leach served in Congress for 30 years, as an Iowa Republican, then ended up teaching at Princeton. It would have been interesting to determine how much wealth he acquired from so much “public service,” as the politicians liked to euphemistically refer to it. More political connections were precisely what the “humanities” did not need! Imagine how disconnected somebody like Leach, who spent an entire lifetime kowtowing, networking and teamplaying up the elite ladder of “success,” would likely be from common writers and artists, not to mention the rare dissidents amongst them. After all, Leach’s career was based on anything but dissidence. What kind of “culture” would he end up pushing, if not more unthreatening, unquestioning, unchallenging happy-face culture?

“I believe in standing up for culture, rather than warring on culture,” noted Leach. An independent thinker would have to wonder what that statement meant, if anything at all, especially in the absence of a concrete definition for “culture.” Would Leach simply continue to define culture as necessarily PC, for example, and otherwise entirely unthreatening to the bourgeois status quo? Quite likely! Underscore Leach’s denigration of criticism, questioning and challenging, and vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, with that simple term “warring.”

“I respect peer review and will go out of my way to respect peer review,” noted Leach blindly obedient to that particular institution. Yet the entire peer-review system needed to be examined. Who were the peers? How were they selected? What kind of citizens were rejected as possible “peer” reviewers? What were its intrinsic flaws? The mid and lower-level cultural apparatchiks (i.e., the “peers”) would likely remain essentially the same under Leach or anyone else politically appointed by the Washington power structure. They always tended to be of the established-order variety and quite rejecting of hardcore critical culture regarding it. Business as usual, or rather culture as usual, would likely continue.

The “important public discussions” that Leach wanted to promote would likely be different, but only on a superficial level, than those promoted by his predecessors. Clearly, rampant PC and consequent diminishing democracy in the nation’s institutions of purported higher learning would certainly not be one of those discussions, nor would the increasing censorship by established-order mandarins under the guise of “moderation.” The very praise by the Association of American Universities for the Leach appointment clearly indicated the likelihood of the same old, same old NEH backing of the nation’s academic-dressed business leaders.

“Scholars,” for the most part, had always been playing an important role in society; that of, see-no-evil, hear-no-evil established-order cogs. How else to explain the overall business orientation of and copycat corporate model adopted by the nation’s universities?

Leach would be a defender of the humanities, but only of the humanities deemed palatable by the nation’s oligarchs, of whom he forms an integral part. CENSORED!