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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Censored! If Henry Could See THEM Now!

The following comment, “Pipe Dream,” was written in response to Ithaca College professor Michael Smith’s Inside Higher Ed article, “If Henry Could See Us Now” (see http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/11/02/smith). Sadly and unsurprisingly censored by Inside Higher Ed, which exists to propagate PC and the academic established order. Mention of the censorship incident was sent to History/Ecology professor Michael Smith of Ithaca College. Smith, as good academic, chose to accept the censorship incident and remain silent. Mention was also sent to Ithaca College’s student newspaper and members of Smith’s history department, as well as college president. It is particularly reprehensible that my comment was censored because my comment simply sought to present another side of Thoreau, a side that was not happy-face PC-friendly. Was the truth in my comment rude? Well, isn’t truth always rude when spoken to power?

Pipe DreamThe project to build a replica Thoreau shack on Ithaca College’s campus, as noted in Professor Michael Smith’s article, “If Henry Could See Us Now,” is diversionary. In fact, would Henry really be happy to see college students working with professors to build a replica of his shack? Thoreau was mostly a loner, not a team player. “The gregariousness of men is their most contemptible & discouraging aspect,” he stated. “See how they follow each other like sheep not knowing why.” Individualism is hardly a valued trait on college campuses today.
The president of Ithaca College selected Walden as required reading because the book is entirely “safe” from his perspective. Any number of quotes from Thoreau’s journal entries would have proven far more provocative and thus apt to instigate vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, though evidently not of academe. How about this quote, for example: “It suggests that the one great rule of composition — and if I were a professor of rhetoric I should insist on this — is to speak the truth.” Imagine if an English professor at Ithaca College, or better yet the president himself, actually encouraged that on campus! It would set the PC myrmidons aflame! It would free the student newspaper!
Emerson noted, regarding Thoreau: “Such dangerous frankness was in his dealing that his admirers, called him ‘that terrible Thoreau’.” Clearly, Thoreau was not the kind of fellow apt to get tenure today. After all, imagine such frankness before the ruling tenured professors and administrators. Thoreau had written: “A cross man, a coarse man, an eccentric man, a silent, a man who does not drill well,—of him there is some hope. Your gentlemen, they are all alike. They utter their opinions as if it was not a man that uttered them.”
That quote evokes the civility mantra suffocating free speech at so many institutions of purported higher learning today.
Imagine, instead of another replica shack—Yes, there’s one at Walden Pond too. I was threatened by a state trooper for leaving my free-speech flyers in it.—, if professors like Michael Smith actually stepped out from the comfortable academic herd to actively test the waters of democracy on their particular campuses by performing experiments in free speech, that is, by daring to speak what in their hearts they damn well know will get them not more carrots, but rather the ire of the reigning academic established order. Imagine, if we could get them to heed Thoreau’s famous dictum: “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.” The result would surely be not continued academic censorship and corporatization of higher education, but rather fortified democracy and true appreciation for the First Amendment. Then one might truly and proudly ask: “if Henry could see us now.”

6 comments:

mather said...

"civility mantra" is a nice phrase. Also the quotes from Thoreau are great, as usual. I still haven't read those diaries of his.

G. Tod Slone said...

Got a response from the pres. and the prof, so I hammered away. But nothing since. Thanks for the comment. T.

mather said...

animo, amigo!

Lil said...

Liked very much your comment on the Thoreau-Blog and appreciate very much your blog. Think that you are right.

But also think, that Thorau was -as he says in Walden- nothing/nobody you can follow: Tomorrow he might decide not to live in the forests any more. Thus he probably also might have decided (for how long no one knows) not be dissident....

By the way: What would have Thoreau thought about Wikileaks ?

Greetings from Cologne/Germany
Lil

Northland said...

Nice dissent blog. I agree with your generalization of today's college campuses (and society as a whole).
Rant on!

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks much Lil for your comments! Cologne responds, but barely a sole in America will... certainly no academics.