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, February 25, 2010

Notes from the Censored—Rattled

The following account of censorship (moderation or whatever the popular euphemism of the day) was written by David Ochs (Santa Maria, CA) and appeared in the latest issue of The American Dissident (Issue #20). The PC-crowd has become expert in the rationalization of banning and censorship and would have made a great partner with the Vatican during the papal inquisition which lasted from the 1200s right up through the mid-1800s. The following is a little poem I wrote with that regard:

A Nation of Citizen Expurgators
Education has taught citizens
today not to cherish vigorous
debate, democracy’s cornerstone,
but rather to serve as little censors.

Comment moderation
has been enabled.
All comments must be
approved by the blog author.


............................................

Notes from the Censored
A few months ago I read Tim Green’s (editor of Rattle poetry magazine) blog on Bukowski. He watched a documentary, Born Into This, and dismissed Bukowski as a self-absorbed, wife abusing, drunken degenerate and probably a racist. He also said except for a few pieces his work wasn’t that good.

I responded to the blog, calling it a hatchet job. I figured if we judged poets and artists on their personal lives we wouldn’t be able to like any of them. I pointed out that no one discredited Amiri Baracka (formerly Leroi Jones) for punching his wife Hettie Jones. Or for espousing his theory that Jewish workers in the World Trade Center knew of the 9/11 attacks beforehand and stayed home from work, leaving their co-workers to die. I also mentioned that Tim Green’s favorite poet, Alan Ginsberg was a supporter of NAMBLA (http://www.nambla.org/).

By then Tim’s cronies were in PC lockstep and a sock puppet named Sandee Lyles, posted a link to a clip of a drunken Bukowski kicking at his wife Linda while laying on a couch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8KJiay6EI0). She presented this as concrete evidence of spousal abuse saying, “he kicked her in the stomach again and again.” If you didn’t see the clip you’d think he caused internal damage. I thought it was no more than a pathetic, drunken spat. For example if you saw a frustrated woman in a parking lot swatting her child on the rear it’d be misleading to say she beat her child.

When Tim read my interpretation he went ballistic. Calling me a “sick, ignorant, coward,” who didn’t understand the nuances of abuse. He also said I was no longer welcome on his blog. I sensed Tim was more upset by my comments about Ginsberg, but someone who supports NAMBLA is difficult to defend. It was easier to accuse me of supporting spousal abuse.

At that point the gloves were off and Tim and his cronies wanted my head on a platter. Megan, Tim’s PC soul mate chimed in and Sandee the Sock Puppet kept putting her two cents in. Not to sound boastful but I was giving Tim and his disciples a verbal beat down and rather than lose face Tim deleted the later round of comments and banned me from the site. The Rattler’s concluded it was ok to disagree but only if you do it in a constructive way, so the ban was justified.

I thought poets were people capable of thinking in the abstract; seeing the different shades of the human condition and reserving judgment. But the Rattle group are like the Salem villagers, where one person yells, witch, and they all gather up with their torches. Ironically these types of group-think conformists are the type of people Bukowski skewered in his poetry.

Anyway since then Tim has posted guidelines for commentary-to be respectful and polite. In other words if you disagree he’ll censor you.

16 comments:

Mr. Spock said...

If you really disdain the academy, then why this blog and journal that seem to be obsessed by it and its petty squabbles? How can you afford to spend so much energy on your bitterness? I grant that I'm not responding to your arguments but I don't understand, from a mental health standpoint, how you can go on making them and making them.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks for your query, Mr. Spock. Curiosity is often a good sign of a thinking mind, as opposed to an indoctrinated one. Allow me to explain. Much of my criticism is directed against academe, which represents in essence the intellectual core of the nation. What I disdain about academe is its general tendency to suppress free speech and vigorous debate and, in doing so, human dignity and democracy. Now, if you don't disdain that part of academe, then you must ask yourself why not. If you consider fighting for free speech and vigorous debate as “petty squabble” and “obsession,” then you need to seriously consider moving to Saudi Arabia or China and perhaps wearing a birka. From my perspective, the time I spend on denouncing fraud in academe is well spent. Most of my creative endeavors concern such fraud and often stem from it. From your perspective, spending time battling for free speech is a sign of “bitterness.” Again, you need to ask yourself why you consider such battle a “bitter” enterprise. The real question is why so many citizens, “from a mental health standpoint,” do not give a damn about democracy and free speech and tend to dismiss anybody who does as “bitter.” Indeed, most citizens seem to prefer positivism, censorship, self-censorship, and authoritarianism to the First Amendment. I hope this explanation has helped.

Tim said...

This whole topic bores me; I can't imagine anyone else being interested. The only thing that's worth a response is the subject of Ginsberg and NAMBLA -- he didn't join because he was a pedophile, he joined to make a political statement about freedom of speech, which is something I'd think you and your vigorous debaters would support. Once the point was made (and continues to be made through the misunderstandings of people like Ochs) he quit immediately. His argument was that nothing should be so taboo as to be off limits for a vigorous debate. And I agree. Fools should be allowed to speak their foolishness. It's ironic that Ochs writes about censorship and then uses another's stance against censorship as an ad hominem attack, but not surprising.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks for your comment, Tim. But I'm not quite sure how a citizen in a democracy got to the point where the topic of censorship bores him. However, I’d have to point the finger at your parents and the educational system. "I can't imagine anyone else being interested," you state. Sadly, you’re right in the sense that most citizens probably would not at all be interested… to which I’d add that my experience has been that most poets and professors would not at all be interested. All over Europe today, Islamists and their PC-European sycophants are fighting against freedom of speech and expression. And we here in America, for the most part, remain ignorant of and indifferent to that fight. Yet it has already arrived here on campuses across the country, where battle is being waged.
As for David’s reason for citing Ginsberg and NAMBLA, it was quite clear and not at all as you stipulate. He simply used that as an example to counter the criticism he received for stating that one Bukowski incident caught on film did not prove Bukowski to be a wife beater. Thus, his reason was not to state that Ginsberg was a pedophile. His reasoning was that if scanty evidence can be used to demonize a Bukowski, then why can’t it be used to demonize a Ginsberg.
Finally, I do wish you’d rethink your role as censor at Rattle and somehow cease and desist with that regard, while at the same time embrace vigorous debate, even when you don’t like the words you hear or read. That’s called democracy.

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Charlotte said...

Tod, I think there may be readers of your AD website and your blog, even old friends, who will not respond on your blog since they would not want to hurt your feelings and may even suspect, like me, that you might be very depressed.

Its easy to get depressed with so many bad things that are going wrong these days, and not just in the halls of the ivory towers.

You seem to be in a giant rut. I wish you would try to get out of it but I am beginning to doubt that you have any other interests at all that would trigger a dissident response.

I have no idea why you would allow a post written in another language. I hope he gave you heck. I think you need it.

sdave1 said...

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sdave1 said...

Hey Tim-sorry you're bored but I think Horn Tootin with numbers is a lot more boring.

As for me attacking Ginsberg with an ad-hominom what was your hatchet piece on Bukowski? And when I disagreed with it you did an ad-hominem on me, "sick, ignorant, coward."

Charlotte I'm pretty sure the Chinese lettering you refer to is spam, and you knew that, didn't you?
dave

G. Tod Slone said...

Charlotte,
Not sure what your beef is. But don't you think the seniors at your senior center would say the very same nonsense about you? That you're a depressed woman and they hope you can get out of your rut. Ha! It's just another form of ad hominem put forth by those who do not like criticism in happy-face America.
You didn't like the fact that I criticized your god Zinn, then you didn't like the fact that I put a cartoon with breasts up to criticize some English prof. As for the Chinese person, I don't know what he/she wrote. All I can say is that he/she is either a coward or trying to sell something. Once again, don't throw dirt at the messanger, find something wrong with his message and show why it's wrong. Take the Zinn cartoon. Why was I wrong to question his being an ordained university emeritus at a university that had a lousy free-speech record? No answer from you of course.
T.

G. Tod Slone said...

Dave,
Glad you got it! I knew you would and could! The problem with someone like Tim is that he doesn't have logical sense. I don't know why. I don't know how one can get the degree he has without having logical sense. He cannot grasp the clear logic that you put forth. It's just beyond his reach, and I don't know why.

Ian Thal said...

Well, Slone, you are probably as surprised as I am that I am largely in agreement with the points you bring forth in this essay.

Ginsburg's support of NAMBLA and Baraka's dissemination of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, should be criticized, even ridiculed, but not censored.

The sophistry demonstrated by fans who argue that these two figures, by virtue of being famed poets, are above criticism ought be exposed for what it is.

That said, I think you still need to distinguish between being criticized and being censored when you are the target of criticism.

In fact, despite your insistance on referring to me as a "poets' court jester," I was as near as I can tell, since these things are hard to confirm, barred from one particular stage precisely because I did make public statements that Baraka's "Somebody Blew Up America" was, in fact, anti-Semitic libel-- and I've no regrets on that front.

As to my blogging practice: I do use comment moderation, but only to deal with spammers, or those rare instances when I attract a large number of angry extremists, and I feel that already have a representative sample in the comments section.

G. Tod Slone said...

Ian,
The essay was not written by me, perhaps that’s why we agree. Who knows? I’m glad that you are not a partisan of censorship or moderation or whatever the censors prefer calling it today.

I don’t know what you mean here: “That said, I think you still need to distinguish between being criticized and being censored when you are the target of criticism.”

Well, bravo to you then for hammering Baraka’s anti-Semitism, though I wouldn’t call it libel, which is legal term not normally used with regards races, religions, etc.

Bravo to you also for having a certain pliability that most poets don’t seem to have. Most seem to hold grudges forever. Check out The AD index page for one of my latest cartoons: www.theamericandissident.org.
T.

Ian Thal said...

My comment was that when we first came to contention some years ago, you typified my criticism as, if not censorship, at least sympathetic to censorship.

I generally try to keep my disagreements limited to the topic under contention-- it only extends to the person when the disagreement is so pervasive that I have to take my interlocutor for someone who is essentially disagreeable.

Baraka's statements regarding the 9/11 attacks in "Somebody Blew Up America" were so contra-factual and so rooted in anti-Semitic prejudice that I felt it was my moral duty to respond to anyone in the poetry community who said otherwise. I refer to it as "libel" because it is only yet another variant of what scholars refer to as the "blood libel." Generally speaking, it's not merely an accusation of collective guilt against all Jews, but an accusation where there is also little evidence that can be pinned on any individual Jew. The most pervasive versions were the blaming of the crucifixion upon the Jews and the old canard that Jews ritually murder Christians (usually children) in order to use the blood. So Baraka's accusations (which originate from Hezbollah's propaganda arm) are a 21st century variant.

I was actually more surprised by how many poets were claiming that Baraka's statements were neither unfounded nor anti-Semitic and had a very public dispute with the late Ralph Haselman, Jr. (Lucid Moon Poetry) on just this topic back in 2004.

G. Tod Slone said...

Relative to the Jewish issue, since you’ve emphasized it here, Israel (and oil) seems to be what keeps the US in a state of war all the time. As an atheist, I think religions and religious beliefs tend in general to be childish and inane, and that includes Judaism. Religions serve to divide people. Since, so many Jewish professors are likely in favor of diversity in the university, why are there not quotas for Jewish professors in the same manner as there are for white men and minorities? Clearly, Jewish power is immense in the power structure of the USA. Perhaps that was what Baracka wanted to consider, but somehow got screwed up in his depiction. Am I anti-Jewish? Yes! But am I also anti-Protestant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Muslim? But of course!!! I am for TRUTH and FREEDOM OF SPEECH. You can call that my religion.

Ian Thal said...

Yes, but that's when I think you, like Baraka, drift into the world of contra-factualism and attempt to force the world to fit your ideology.

The only Jewish quotas in academia of which I am aware were historically to place a cap on the number of Jewish students and faculty members at elite universities.

Otherwise, your accusations of "Jewish power" constitute vague prejudice.

G. Tod Slone said...

IT,
This is not vague prejudice. It is not even a prejudice. It is a simple question based on my own university experiences. Where are the statistics? That is what is needed RE how many Jews are professors. It is my experience that perhaps (and I stress PERHAPS) a much higher percentage are professors than represented in the population at large. My question is why are there not Jewish quotas, if in fact there are black quotas, latino quotas, etc., and if in fact Jews tend to favor that quota aspect of multiculturalism. That's all.