A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone 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, March 18, 2010

Experiment in Free Speech and Democracy

Open Letter to University of Richmond, English Department
In case your comfortable, academic protective cocoons have kept you unaware, allow me to inform you that democracy in America is on a steepening decline. With that regard, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has designated the University of Richmond, your university, a "red-light university" because it contains at least one policy that both "clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech." Have any of you done anything at all to question and challenge the policy or policies in question? Or are all of you simply in a state of blissful apathy? What's the difference between a diverse ostrich-head-in-the-sand faculty of blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos and an all white ostrich-head-in-the-sand faculty? Well, not much difference at all with perhaps the sole exception of PC. In any case, columns like Mama PhD (Professor Libby Gruner), published in newspapers like Inside Higher Ed, tend to question and challenge little if anything at all of substance. Please do examine the cartoon I sketched on Gruner aka Mama, PhD and comment: wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com.

Cowardice, careerism, and consequent self-censorship are rampant in higher education, which is, after all, the very intellectual core of the nation. Vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone, is anything but vigorous in the nation’s corporate co-opted colleges and universities, and has been largely replaced by dogma, political correctness, collegiality, careerism, and team playing. All of you likely support this nefarious, pitiful status quo either willingly or by inaction. Gruner’s column is an egregious example. The various experiments in free speech and democracy I’ve performed over the past several years on college and university English departments confirm these statements.

A copy of this email was sent to your student newspaper, since experience dictates the likelihood of a response from any of you to be nil. However, I also expect, given the sad status quo, that the student newspaper is likely a kept newspaper. Indeed, its student editors are likely sycophants and team players, as opposed to individuals with courage. Thus, they too will likely not respond. BTW, your student newspaper staff is by far the largest I’ve yet come across. However, does quantity necessarily translate into quality? Since the paper has a handful of sports editors, why does it not even have one democracy editor to test and report on the murky waters of democracy at the University of Richmond?

Finally, since most persons these days tend to be career and curriculum-vitae preoccupied, why shouldn’t some of us be citizen and democracy preoccupied? These things said, why not invite me to speak to your students and faculty? I have no criminal record and do have nearly 20 years of full-time university teaching experience in both France and the US. Why not also consider subscribing to The American Dissident? The 501 c3 nonprofit journal would provide your students with a refreshing non-happy face, non-PC alternative view of things in academe.

The following are the emails of the professors, student editors, and others contacted: To: editors@mamaphd.com; bashe@richmond.edu; acheever@richmond.edu; ddance@richmond.edu; jessid@richmond.edu; tgivens@richmond.edu; egruner@richmond.edu; bhenry@richmond.edu; dhickey@richmond.edu; rhilliar@richmond.edu; sjones@richmond.edu; plurie@richmond.edu; jmacalli@richmond.edu; eoutka@richmond.edu; kpelleti@richmond.edu; epoore@richmond.edu; arussell@richmond.edu; lschwart@richmond.edu; mwadman@richmond.edu; dstevens@richmond.edu
Cc: editor@thecollegianur.com; maura.bogue@richmond.edu; barrett.neale@richmond.edu; emily.baltz@richmond.edu; nick.mider@richmond.edu; jimmy.young@richmond.edu; jacki.raithel@richmond.edu; jill.cavaliere@richmond.edu; guv.callahan@richmond.edu; ashley.graham@richmond.edu; elizabeth.hyman@richmond.edu; fred.shaia@richmond.edu; anna.kuta@richmond.edu; avril.lighty@richmond.edu; mary.morgan@richmond.edu; stephanie.rice@richmond.edu; michelle.guerrere@richmond.edu; monica.demartin@richmond.edu; mariaelisa.ribas@richmond.edu; margaret.finucane@richmond.edu; jordan.trippeer@richmond.edu; maura.bogue@richmond.edu; liz.monahan@richmond.edu; steve.minnich@richmond.edu; elizabeth.hardy@richmond.edu; zachary.stewart@richmond.edu; doug.lederman@insidehighered.com; KMM104@psu.edu; dorn@mail.usf.edu; nicodeme@westliberty.edu; reader@ohio.edu


Spencer Troxell said...

Mr. Slone: Good post. I haven't been involved with too many colleges, but I did earn my bachelor's degree from a big university, and got my associate's degree from one of it's satellite 'community' colleges. I found that the academic attitude you're challenging here was much more prevalent in the big 'official' version of the university I attended than it was in the satellite outpost. The professors at the community college were much feistier and open to debate, and generally more passionate about their subjects than their big league counterparts. The funny thing to me was that the big league professors tended to look down their noses at the professors at community colleges, although (the ones that I took classes with at least) were far superior and more memorable.

What is your experience with community colleges, and have you hit any of them up for speaking opportunities?

Of course my experience is totally anecdotal, so the reality could be much different.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks Spencer for taking the time to comment. I wonder how you even found out about this post. To date and to no surprise, not one of the 19 English professors contacted has deigned to respond. Not one of the 20 student editors have responded either, which confirms my thought that likely they are well-trained editors. I haven't really had much experience with community colleges. Your observation is an interesting and understandable one. I have "hit" community colleges too. So, as far as I can tell, they're as closed-minded as 4-year colleges. The professorial mentality is a shameful one. It can easily be explained, however, by the likelihood that most professors were probably brown-nosing students from grade one right through the university. It is likely that most professors rarely if ever questioned and challenged their professors and teachers.

101 said...


Spencer Troxell said...

I heard about you awhile ago. Someone on some website mentioned your website, and it got a pretty strong reaction from a few commenters, and I decided I would look into it. I like to keep up on my gadflies.

I guess I had forgotten about it until the other day, when the phrase 'American Dissident' (for some reason) popped into my head, so I looked you up.

I like that each of your posts comes with a cartoon. If I had any artistic talent, I might be tempted to copycat you on my own blog.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks, Spencer. Nothing like a strong reaction, as opposed to, oh, my, I just love what he does!
As for cartooning, anyone can do it. I took it up 10 years ago and had no experience in art at all. Gradually, but surely, the technique improved. Practice as they say makes perfect (or almost).

mather said...

I mentioned your website on Thieves Jargon blog a while ago and Matt DiGangi said that if I knew and liked you I must be a "cunt". That's probably where Spencer heard of the site.

G. Tod Slone said...

Yeah, I remember that dude Gangi. He seemed to have a problem with clear reasoning! What else is new, right? Here's what I wrote on Gangi (it's on the AD website):

Why do so many today prefer poetry as witty, diversionary entertainment? Does that not render poetry non-vital? Poet editor Matt DiGangi of Thieves Jargon perhaps holds the answer: "Exactly what I want to run! I want people to have fun with what they're reading on the Jargon, I'm looking to give them something to print out and read on the bus ride home, make them forget about the eight hours of neon they've just had to endure."

"If it isn't fun, it's not poetry," wrote Beatnik poet Robert Creeley. One must wonder what the Spanish civil-war, Gulag (see two photos on right), and dissident Latin-American poets would have thought of Creeley and DiGangi. Oddly, while solo protesting C. D. Wright's reading and reception of the Robert Creeley Award in Acton, the editor was suddenly assailed by poet Martin Espada's wife. I thought she might start swinging her fists because she was angry about the flyer I'd been distributing. It had brought Robert Creeley's widow to tears (See cartoon on Robert Creeley Award page). She rapped on and on how great Creeley was (he'd helped husband Espada get tenure at the University of Massachusetts and who knows what else) and seemed utterly incapable of comprehending that to "go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways" was apt to upset somebody. She could not comprehend that a poet thus had to choose between exercising free speech and shutting his or her mouth to avoid offending. She promised to continue the debate by sending an email, which she never did. Husband Espada was too high and mighty and immersed in the dubious world of award presentations to even enter into the "debate."

DiGangi argues "endure." But why not stand up instead, criticize, get ANGRY, step the hell out of the neon mold of enduring, and shake things up a little? How wily and successful power and its money can be! DiGangi also argues "I was with you from the start, but you use language that insulates yourself from a common reader. I've managed to forge more of a connection with cubicle geeks, barstool storytellers and taxi cab drivers, not academics and theorists."

mather said...

Well I'm one taxi cab driver DiGangi hasn't forged a connection with. I have to say, though, that of that crowd Spencer Troxell was about the only one who any sort of open mindedness.