A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ]. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com.
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, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Experiments in Free Speech & Democracy

University of Pennsylvania
Open Letter to the Professors of the English Department

The American Dissident, a 501 c3 nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence, would like to know what you think, as individuals and, even moreso, what your students think. The journal believes that all icons and institutions should be open game for hardcore criticism. Oddly, or rather conveniently, however, the large majority of established-order poets seem to think that poetry organizations, celebrities, prizes, and journals should be off limits. And indeed, established-order poets tend to live in protective cocoons of incessant praise and funding. It is next to impossible for outsider organizations like The American Dissident to get satire to penetrate those buffered cocoons.

The American Dissident is a firm believer in free speech and vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstones. Yet how can debate be vigorous when, for example, the Academy of American Poets censors opinions it does not like and its professor chancellors respond with indifference (see http://www.theamericandissident.org/AcademyAmericanPoets.htm). And when most college professors seem to favor censorship (either turning a blind eye to it, preferring euphemisms like moderation, civility, and good taste, and/or proferring to be too busy to be concerned), democracy itself is in peril. What do you think? Have you perfected excuses as part of rationalizing your silence?

The cartoon above, inspired by a brief review appearing in Entertainment Weekly, which normally critiques the love-life and attire of Hollywood celebrities, satirizes your colleague Charles Bernstein. Yes, yes, we all know that he is revered by the academic/literary established order and has climbed that ladder, wearing blinders wherever necessary. But should criticism of Bernstein be taboo? What do you think?

For more unusual critique of those who are rarely if ever criticized, examine The American Dissident, which firmly believes that poetry should be more than mere intellectual ENTERTAINMENT and diversion or bourgeois past-time. In fact, why not subscribe to the journal (only $20/year) to help expose your students to alternative negative viewpoints regarding literature and the literary establishment. Are the doors of the English department at the University of Pennsylvania like those of so many other universities hermetically sealed against uncomfortable outside critique? Do you help your students create and fortify “mind-forged manacles” like those observed by William Blake? Your SILENCE will certainly support that hypothesis!

Thank you for your cordial attention.

N.B.: Notice of this blog was sent to The Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper and the following English instructors and professors:

eng111@mailman.ssc.upenn.edu, charles.bernstein@english.upenn.edu, nauerbac@english.upenn.edu, rbarnard@english.upenn.edu, hbeavers@english.upenn.edu, nbentley@english.upenn.edu, tbowers@english.upenn.edu, bushnell@english.upenn.edu, cavitch@english.upenn.edu, pconn@english.upenn.edu, rcopalan@english.upenn.edu, tcorriga@english.upenn.edu, davistm@english.upenn.edu, degrazia@english.upenn.edu, dcherney@english.upenn.edu, deng@english.upenn.edu, jenglish@english.upenn.edu, esty@english.upenn.edu, afilreis@english.upenn.edu, mgamer@english.upenn.edu, jajii@english.upenn.edu, amkaplan@english.upenn.edu, kaul@english.upenn.edu, kazanjia@english.upenn.edu, zlesser@english.upenn.edu, loomba@english.upenn.edu, loveh@english.upenn.edu, cmazer@english.upenn.edu, amparo@english.upenn.edu, jnpark3@english.upenn.edu, perelman@english.upenn.edu, jmrabate@english.upenn.edu, prackin@english.upenn.edu, psain@english.upenn.edu, sanchezm@english.upenn.edu, pstally@english.upenn.edu, steinerer@english.upenn.edu, wsteiner@english.upenn.edu, stillet@english.upenn.edu, dwallace@english.upenn.edu, cmyang@english.upenn.edu, madams@sas.upenn.edu, rallen@ccat.sas.upenn.edu, janthon2@english.upenn.edu, maxapple1@verizon.net, azzolina@pbox.upenn.edu, psethbauer@hotmail.com, beckmank@sas.upenn.edu, benamos@sas.upenn.edu, blochj@english.upenn.edu, broussard@writing.upenn.edu, kbrownie@sas.upenn.edu, dburnham@english.upenn.edu, lcary@english.upenn.edu, ADeCurtis@aol.com, kathydemarco@writing.upenn.edu, tdevaney@writing.upenn.edu, djanikia@writing.upenn.edu, edwards@english.upenn.edu, despey@english.upenn.edu, marciaf@english.upenn.edu, dfox@sas.upenn.edu, lf@lisefunderburg.com, funkhauser@adm.njit.edu, agaedtke@gmail.com, pgaffney@sas.upenn.edu, gautsche@writing.upenn.edu, kg@ubu.com, devin.griffiths@rutgers.edu, adhall@english.upenn.edu, sharzews@english.upenn.edu, khellers@sas.upenn.edu, phendric@english.upenn.edu, mjens@sas.upenn.edu, jjossely@writing.upenn.edu, mkant2@english.upenn.edu, iamblel@aol.com, adlevy@english.upenn.edu, mlotto@english.upenn.edu, rmalague@english.upenn.edu, jmalcolm@english.upenn.edu, maxwellr@sas.upenn.edu, mmazaj@sas.upenn.edu, cmcgrath@uchicago.edu, dianemw@sas.upenn.edu, mamills@sas.upenn.edu, lizmoore1234@gmail.com, susan.murray@nyu.edu, michols@phillynews.com, cristinp@english.upenn.edu, polman@writing.upenn.edu, tipowell@sas.upenn.edu, jrezek@sas.upenn.edu, riebling@english.upenn.edu, krile@writing.upenn.edu, vross@writing.upenn.edu, rydel@sas.upenn.edu, schlatt@english.upenn.edu, rebecca@sas.upenn.edu, a.shonkwiler@gmail.com, scottstein@verizon.com, tarr123@gmail.com, vtodoroz@sas.upenn.edu, traister@pobox.upenn.edu, tricia@pointedpress.com, catumer@sas.upenn.edu, valterza@sas.upenn.edu, wahlert@english.upenn.edu, kwatters@english.upenn.edu, lweissbe@sas.upenn.edu, emilyw@sas.upenn.edu, abrahams@english.upenn.edu, curran@english.upenn.edu, rlucid@english.upenn.edu, vmahaffee@illinois.edu, randkregen@juno.com, jrichett@english.upenn.edu, gweales@english.upenn.edu, swenzel@english.upenn.edu


mather said...

I love the way he's glaring at you.

G. Tod Slone said...

Not one of those professors responded! Can you believe it? Well, I think you can. BTW, I liked your essay a lot and noted that on that website.

mather said...

I saw your comment and appreciate the read!

Charlotte said...

Your message to all of those professors was probably filtered out as spam.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, it was spam... at least in their eyes! And that's the point! If it's critical, it's spam. That's America today. Hope all well, Charlotte.