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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

hass

It was sad to discover, in Kevin Kiley’s “Occupy Someone Else” article, which recently appeared in Inside Higher Ed (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/12/09/public-universities-question-why-they-not-lawmakers-are-protesters-target), that the Occupy Cal and other Occupy university and college movements were apparently nothing more than protests about MONEY.  It was sad to note Kiley didn’t even evoke or think about that low-point in academe.   Might it be cocoon living—far from the edge—that blinds so? 

Nevertheless, perhaps I shouldn’t have been at all surprised by the Occupy Cal and other university protests over tuition-rate increases,  since most citizens—students and professors certainly included—seem only willing to stand up (albeit in herd formation) when MONEY is concerned.   

Regarding the ivory tower, students ought to be protesting instead against the dubious see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil ostrich-head-in-the-sand behavior of the large majority of their sinecured professors, not to mention the rampant intellectual corruption, including the widespread professorial-effort to restrict, if not kill, the First Amendment on public campuses and spread PC multiculti-ideology like a noose round the neck of truth and democracy. 

Mention those free-speech restricting codes, censorship of ideas and comments, and rampant self-censorship to students and most—the very large majority of them—will likely be uninformed and simply uninterested.  The same goes for their professors, at least those not directly involved in instituting the codes of civility and good taste.    

Financial concerns always motivate.  Threats against democracy rarely seem to do that.  Why didn’t students protest against the University of California’s 1.6 million dollar political contribution to the Obama presidential campaign in 2008?  Should a public-university system be manifesting such egregious Democrat Party bias as Obama’s number-one donor?   Indeed, in doing so, how can it possibly argue that it is a partisan of diversity of thought and opinion? 

In fact, if the Occupy movements were to have had any tangible success at all, they should have been focused 100% on Obama.  They should have put the president to the fuckin’ wall, make him either fulfill his hollow campaign promises of transparency, ending corporate lobbying, and war, or make him fully understand that Occupy would then campaign 100% against his re-election.   They should have put him and Pelosi to the wall to get legislation to end corporate bailouts, congressional insider trading, reduce the high salaries of multi-millionaire senators and congressmen, reduce their high pensions and favorable health-care benefits, and otherwise stop the influence the megawealthy Wall Street financiers continue to have on the Democrat-Party regime.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Robert Hass


Occupy the Academy of American Poets
Unsurprisingly, Robert Hass paints a glowing self-portrait in his NY Times article, “Poet-Bashing Police”
(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/at-occupy-berkeley-beat-poets-has-new-meaning.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=robert%20hass&st=cse), regarding the spread of the Occupy movement to the University of California, Berkeley, and the police violence against protesters.  Hass and wife (Brenda Hillman), both established-order poets, decided to step out of their comfy wainscoted offices to check it out and were kicked around a bit.

Hass has it quite easy:  a sinecure of tenure at Berkeley as poet professor.  As former Poet Laureate of the US Library of Congress—how many asses did he have to kiss and blind eyes did he have to turn to rise to that level?—and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he is clearly a ladder-climbing poet, as opposed to a daring Emersonian rude-truth telling one. 

In the article, which wouldn’t have been published if authored by an unsinecured, unknown poet, Hass mentions the Free Speech Movement back in the 60s at Berkeley, as if somehow that rubbed off positively on him.  The established-order poetry and academic machine, upon which he proudly sucks the teat, however, detests free speech and expression, especially when such freedom might expose the intrinsic corruption within that machine and/or endanger its funding.  

Why didn’t Hass mention in his article the speech-restricting codes in place throughout the University of California (see http://thefire.org/spotlight/codes/220.html)?  Did he help enact them? 

Why did he prove entirely apathetic when I contacted him several years ago regarding the censorship of my comments by the Academy of American Poets, not to mention its banning me, a poet, from participating in its forums?  Evidently, the Academic/Literary Industrial Complex, with which he forms an integral part, detests free speech and expression.  Any simple experiment with that regard will likely prove the point.  Criticism of any of its institutions and cogs will usually result in silence and/or outright ostracizing.  That’s been the normal result regarding the numerous experiments in democracy I’ve performed regarding the Complex.  The various blog entries on The American Dissident blog site serve as proof of the assertion.   

Would Hass stand up to protest against National Poetry Week’s refusal to list The American Dissident, the 501 c3 nonprofit literary journal of which this blog is part, with other such journals listed?  Of course not!  Would he stand up to protest against the NEA’s refusal to accord me more information, besides the vague comment “low” and “poor” regarding its rejection of my funding request for the journal?  Of course not!

It has been my experience that ladder-climbing academic poets prefer silence when confronted with uncomfortable truths, as in censorship and banning in their very midst and effected by their very colleagues and friends. 

Would Hass stand up to protest against PEN’s refusal to respond to my diverse free-speech grievances?  Of course not!  Would he stand up to protest against the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom’s refusal to respond to my objection regarding the banning of The American Dissident by several public libraries?  Of course not!  

What Hass egregiously, if not incredulously, though quite unsurprisingly, fails to mention in his article is any reference whatsoever to the fat hand that feeds him, that is, to the university administrators who evidently must have requested police presence at Berkeley in the first place.  It is my humble opinion that famous actors, musicians, politicians, wealthy academic writers like Cornell West and sinecured poets like Hass ought to keep their mouths shut regarding any of the Occupy movements.  When they seek to participate in them or opine favorably about them, they end up robbing the movements' very credibility.  When they do enter into the fray, how can one not perceive the hypocrisy of spread the wealth and opportunities, yeah, but not mine? 

How not to feel a bit of joy knowing that Hass was kicked around a bit on campus?  And how not to wonder if his wife is nuts?  Who else but a fruitloop would be lecturing cops they should be at home reading to their children?  Maybe she should have been at home with her husband, having children teach THEM about the First Amendment. 

The question remains:  How does a self-proclaimed "activist" like Hass manage to turn a convenient blind eye to corruption and censorship in his milieu?  
The answer remains:  deafening silence...



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Christian Wiman


“Provocative” and “Upsetting”… Yet Somehow Safe for Bourgeois Consumption:  Poetry Magazine

As editor of a literary magazine, I receive periodic mail from Poetry, asking for money despite its $100 million drug-financed foundation.  Periodically, I stuff the envelope it sends not with money but with a broadside critical of poetry.  To date, I have received no response.  The poets involved with Poetry magazine, including its editor Christian Wiman, evidently live in safe-house cocoons.  They generally have money and security and are often careerist academics. 

In the most recent envelope sent by Poetry, an unbelievably nauseating hagiographic two-page essay by Adam Kirsch, “Poetry Magazine’s Rebirth,” was included. Kirsch notes regarding the magazine that “in its fabled early years helped to establish poetry as a serious American art.”  Allow me to replace “serious” with bourgeois.  Well, Kirsch does mention “stolidly institutional.”  Perhaps that phrase is even more revolting than the term bourgeois in its implication of being run by literary apparatchiks.  It certainly explains why the magazine’s editor and staff don’t seem to give a damn about issues of literary ostracizing and censorship, unless of course a famous poet is concerned.  They don’t give a damn that National Poetry Month (Boston) and Massachusetts Poetry Festival, for example, refuse to even respond to my requests that the magazine I edit be included on their lists of literary magazines.  They don’t give a damn that PEN New England refuses to respond to my freedom-of-expression grievances.  They don’t give a damn that the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights”—specifically article II, “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.l”—is perhaps violated by public libraries across the country.  As an example, Sturgis Library, the oldest public library in the country, subscribes to Poetry, but refuses to even accept a free donation to the magazine I edit, which presents poetry as highly dissident and thus at antipodes to the highly bourgeois verse presented by the former.    

Kirsch goes on to note regarding Poetry that “its age and prestige mean America’s best poets have always been glad to publish there” without questioning in the least what “best” might reply imply (e.g., well-connected, unthreatening to the established order, and academic).  Sadly, the “literary fruits” stemming from the monetary load dropped upon Poetry by the famous drug company will simply serve to bolster and otherwise assure the iron-clad bourgeois grip on poetry.  As a dissident poet, openly and highly critical of that grip, I was invited only once to read poetry despite my persistent contacting of places that periodically invite poets (e.g., libraries, writing centers, and colleges).  That money will serve to make Poetry the prime literary gatekeeper in America.  And gatekeepers, as we all know, serve as censors, assuring bourgeois propriety and good taste—just what poetry needs, n’est-ce pas?  Yes, that money will indeed put Poetry at the center of American poetry. 

Kirsch notes regarding the magazine that “it has become one of the most interesting literary periodicals of any kind published today.”  But “interesting” is a highly subjective term, not objective.  Kirsch bases his evaluation on quantity:  from a circulation of 11,000 in 2003 to 27,000.  Popularity thus equals “interesting” in his mind.  And that’s fine, but should that factor be applied to poetry?  One could also wonder, though Kirsch doesn’t, how many of those copies are given away.  Money certainly enables Poetry to reign in regards to circulation.    

Kirsch goes on to praise editor Wiman, comparing him to Joshua, though Jesus would probably have been even better.   But, well, Wiman has 100 million dollars at his disposal.  So, Jesus was out of the question.  Thanks to Wiman, we’re informed, “Poetry has done what so few magazines of literary and political opinion ever dare: It has confronted its readers with new, potentially upsetting ideas.”  Oh, my!  Well, again, he doesn’t have to worry about losing subscribers.  But what might constitute “upsetting”?  Would this essay be upsetting… or rather too upsetting to publish?  

Kirsch tells us that the origins of the new version of the old magazine can be found in Dana Gioia’s 1991 essay “Can Poetry Matter.”  Gioia, however, was a poet bureaucrat in charge of the NEA, which is manned and womaned by cultural bureaucrats.  Kirsch mentions that the key solution in that essay was to decloister poetry from the confines of academe and to “address and care about the common reader.”  Now, that’s a good one.  In fact, I wrote a satirical dialogue several years ago on the “common reader.”  Somebody had criticized me for not writing for the “common reader.”  So I’d asked who the common reader was?  Would the common reader understand what I write here?  How might I better address the uncommon reader?  Should I use common vocabulary and common themes to attract the “common reader’?  If so, what were those themes?  The notion of a “common reader” is of course absurd.  In fact, the “common reader” likely never reads poetry at all and would hardly think of lifting Poetry off of a library shelf.  Perhaps he or she would pick up People magazine or the Boston Herald.  The “common reader” idea was nothing but a transparent ploy to propagate a veneer that poetry was somehow not in the hands of elite bourgeois poets. 

            Because of Poetry and other such well-distributed literary magazines like Agni, New Letters,  Ploughshares, and on and on, poetry would remain a filler item of the type published in The New Yorker, hardly, in Kirsch’s words, “the highest branch of literature.”  The contradictions in Kirsh’s essay are egregious.  For Poetry to suggest that the “entrenched institutions of the poetry world are stultifying” is in itself absurd, since Poetry represents one such entrenched institution.  Why does Wiman on the one hand decry the professionalizaion of poetry while publishing so many professional poets?  Where is the sense in that?  Kirsch notes that the poetry in each issue of the magazine is generally of a “high standard” without mentioning what that means or rather implies.  And again, one must emphasize safe for bourgeois consumption.  Finally, Kirsch notes that Poetry is “intelligently provocative.”  Hmm…

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fitchburg State College--Free Speech in Peril


[Surprise!  Not one of the following responded:  "thepointfsu@gmail.com" ; "greg@thefire.org" ; "mbruun@fitchburgstate.edu" ; "rdinda@fsc.edu" ; "jfiske@fitchburgstate.edu" ; "mjaramillo@fsc.edu" ; "wjeffko@fsc.edu" ; "swadsworth@fsc.edu" swadsworth@fsc.edu]

To James Sullivan, Boston Globe Correspondant:
Your article “At Fitchburg State: A History Lesson Rekindled” (http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2011/09/15/fitchburg-state-history-lesson-rekindled/2DZ1V3MgFbutrtWZqS0SmN/story.xmlon) grabbed my eyeballs… big time! As a former Fitchburg tenure track professor, I battled against administrative and faculty corruption in 1995-6. Because of that corruption, I won a year’s salary as settlement during my fifth and final year at the college. What was truly disturbing, however, was my inability to interest the student newspaper to cover my story. It would not even note that I was evicted from my office mid-semester and had to have all my classes rescheduled. One professor, Jeannette Scharf, who is now dead, had complained she was afraid of me. Yet, I had and still have no criminal record whatsoever. The Boston Globe and Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise wouldn’t cover the story either. To this day, I could be arrested if I step foot on McKay Campus. Dean Nowotny refused to rescind that order. It is shameful that your article seemed to depict Fitchburg as some kind of Free Speech and democracy advocate. How absurd!


Over the years, I’ve contacted the college’s student newspaper, requesting it to cover my story. To date, student editors refuse to respond to my emails. Some of the old corrupt cronies are still at the college, including Shirley Wagner. Some of the cowardly professors are still entrenched in the Humanities Department, including Walter Jeffko, Susan Wadsworth, Robin Dinda, Jane Fiske, and Maria Jaramillo. It is sad that these professors are unaware that democracy depends on courageous individuals who dare stand up alone if necessary. Other corrupt cronies have become honorable (?) professor emeriti, including Harry Semerjian and Richard DeCesare. Still others, the cowards and phonies are implanted in the Humanities Department.


As a direct result of my horrendous experience at Fitchburg, I ended up creating The American Dissident, a 501c3 nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence. For actual documents et al regarding corruption at FSC, take a look at the journal’s website, in particular, www.theamericandissident.org/FitchburgStateCollege.htm.


In reality, it is thanks to that corruption that I’ve become highly critical of higher education and highly creative. If I’d gotten tenure at that joint, I would probably be fat, fluffy, and pensioned today, and wouldn’t have ended up as a hardcore dissident writer and cartoonist, nor would I have had the interesting opportunity to teach several years in Louisiana, several in North Carolina, several stints on two US Navy battleships, six months on Martha’s Vineyard Island, etc. So, bitter I am certainly not. Nevertheless, I will always raise my voice when confronted with the kind of hypocrisy Fitchburg manifests. Now, when will it be inviting me to one of its Constitution Day forums… to talk about the corrupt president Vinny Mara et al? No, I shan’t be holding my breath.


            By the way, Fitchburg has been accorded the red light designation regarding free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (see http://thefire.org/spotlight/codes/734.html) . That designation is the worst designation. “A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” Now, why aren’t the student newspaper editors covering that story? And why won’t the university’s Constitution Day forum evoke it? Now, will the Boston Globe cover my story? Nope!     

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dawn M. Formo

Open Letter to the Writing Faculty, Cal State at San Marcos
A cartoon depicting Assistant Dean and Writing Professor Dawn M. Formo is currently on The American Dissident blogsite (http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/). It was drawn after Dr. Formo refused to respond to my grievance of being censored by InsideHigherEd.com regarding the article she authored, “Think Like a Colleague.” Thus, I write you in the hope that perhaps one of you might actually be against censorship in academe and even have the courage to speak out against it at your own institution. Rare, of course, that would be. After all, the academic culture demands that “successful” college professors and students learn to wear the muzzle and blinders, rationalize censorship and speech codes, and disdain vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. Indeed, the culture demands that new professors “think like a colleague,” that is, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. Such a culture fosters backslapping, self-congratulating, cowardice, groupthink, and kowtowing, not to mention corruption (intellectual and other). Sadly, student newspaper editors tend to follow in the dubious footsteps of their professors. Moreover, the academic culture seems to have replaced vigorous debate and truth telling with doctrinaire diversity, vacuous civility, and multiculturalism. Your institution, for example, has a Diversity, Social Justice, and Equity Project, but not a Democracy and Free Speech Project. It has a Civility Initiative, but no Initiative for Courageous Truth Telling. In fact, the Civility Initiative appears astoundingly childish and the pledge orientation students take amazingly fascist. Should the mission of a university be to foster your “civility principles of care, respect and empathy,” or should it rather be to foster the questioning and challenging of your very initiatives and projects, the courage to stand up and speak the “rude truth” (Emerson’s words), no matter how offensive, and the building of backbone (as opposed to a nanny mentality) so necessary for survival in this tough world of ours? Well, I know what you likely think… and now you know what I think. One must wonder whether each student after their civility pledge (do faculty also take these pledges?) be given a teddy bear, then urged to enjoin in a hugging session? What has happened to the university today? Quite simply it seems to have been hijacked by marms and nannies. I really hope somebody on campus is lampooning your initiatives and projects, though I doubt there is. Finally, please ask your librarian to subscribe (only $20/year) to The American Dissident, a 501 c3 journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence. Your students will likely get a kick out of it. And it will give them another window into what writing can be. Not one university or college in California subscribes, yet Harvard, Yale, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Buffalo U, Wisconsin U and U of Michigan, amongst others, are subscribers. Comments on the blog are never censored… no matter how damning! Students are encouraged to express themselves, as opposed to what they think some civility initiative wants them to express. BTW, contrary to popular opinion, curiosity did not in fact kill the cat, civility killed him! Then curiosity made him stronger and more creative, though less adept at “thinking like a colleague” and otherwise fitting into academic teddy-bear culture. Thank you for your attention.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nancy Gibbs


It is difficult to believe, or perhaps not, that the statement issued by Nancy Gibbs is in fact not a fabrication of P. Maudit! One must wonder if the minds of PC persons simply become inoperant when it comes to PC and multiculti inanity.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cornel West


N.B.: Cornel's words are not fabricated. They were taken from the NYT interview.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Andre Dubus III


The following is the email I sent Dubus in February. No response was received.

Dear Professor Andre Dubus III,
As a member of PEN America, please inform me why you support (via inaction) PEN New England’s refusal to even respond to my correspondence regarding my grievances of viewpoint discrimination in New England and elsewhere in America (see PEN article and partial list below).

As a panel member of the National Endowment for the Arts, please inform me why that organization labeled The American Dissident “low” and “poor” and refused to provide further comment. The American Dissident is, by the way, the 501 c3 nonprofit journal I founded and devote to literature, democracy and dissidence. The Massachusetts Cultural Council refuses to accord grants with its regard and refuses to respond to my criticism. Do you support such viewpoint discrimination?

As a professed lover of poetry, please inform me why you support (via inaction) the censorship effected by the Academy of American Poets regarding my comments, as well as its banning of my participation in its online forums. Please also inform me why you would likely support Massachusetts Poetry Festival’s refusal to list The American Dissident with other journals listed and to invite the editor and why you would likely support the refusal of National Poetry Month (Boston) to invite the editor.

As a full-time university faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, please inform me why you remain indifferent to the following:

1. The designation of your university, by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, as a red light university with at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts constitutionally-protected freedom of speech.

2. The refusal of your university to even consider subscribing to The American Dissident (only $20/year) and its consequent violation of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, in particular, “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” In other words, by subscribing only to established-order literary journals like Agni and Poetry magazine, while rejecting any journal presenting the opposite viewpoint, it clearly violates its own Collection Development Policy.

As a professor of English (Creative Writing), please inform me why you would likely refuse to even expose your students to the literary viewpoints presented in The American Dissident and would likely never invite someone like me to speak to one of your classes? In fact, I’ve been contacting English professors for more than a decade. Only one professor in the country, Dan Sklar (Endicott College), has proven to be sufficiently open-minded to not only invite me to speak but also have his students read The American Dissident.

I look forward to your response. Thank you for your attention.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Zachary Bos


On the Indifference of Poets to the Censorship and Exclusion of Others
It has been my sad experience that most poets would not lift a finger to protest against the censorship, banning, and/or exclusion of a lone dissident poet. Indeed, to do so, would imply risking offending the poet herd responsible for the censorship, banning, and/or exclusion. The logic is there. The principles and courage, however, are not. Not one of the high-and-mighty chancellors—not even famous Beatnik chancellor Gary Snyder—of the Academy of American Poets came to my defense when I contacted each of them regarding the Academy’s censorship of my comments. Not one of them dared say, ‘you know, this is poetry, after all, and we’re even encouraging comments on our website, so maybe we should not be eliminating comments we don’t like, even if we do have the legal right.’

In any case, Zachary Bos is yet another one of those poets who dares not act alone and against the poet herd. He and I had a rather lengthy email discussion recently. Out of the blue, he’d sent me a group email regarding his Boston Poetry Union, which I’d never heard of. In fact, I’d never heard of him either. In the missive, the usual poet suspects Pinsky, Gluck, and Wright were revered, so I hammered. To his credit, Bos responded over and again and then some. Most established-order partisans do not respond at all to criticism because they do not believe in vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. They prefer dismissing adversaries (and their arguments) as “malcontent cranks,” in Bos’ words (with my regard). However, Bos made some, at least from my “malcontent crank” perspective, amazingly daft or outright shameful comments, including the one depicted word for word in the cartoon. He disagreed with everything I presented to him including the fact—I repeat, THE FACT—that my flyers have been banned by Sturgis Library director Lucy Loomis (see a previous post). Below is that segment of our long conversation. If anyone, besides Bos, can explain his reasoning, please do. Evidently, something deep within compels him to disagree with everything vis-a-vis The American Dissident and its editor, no matter how FACTUAL.

Bos argues that my statement of fact is “simply unrecognizable.” BANNED FLYER. Yes, that’s “simply unrecognizable.” Another fact, he cannot seem to recognize is the fact that my comments were CENSORED by the Academy of American Poets, which also BANNED me from participating in its online forums. The AAP actually uses the term BANNED.

Bos likes to ramble on the semantics of the words “censor” or “banned,” diverting the conversation away from pertinent points made. Eventually, I was able to corner him in an area he’d rather not discuss: the fact that his employer, Boston University, has a rather pitiful free-speech record. Bos had stated, prior to my pointing that out, that he was very much against speech codes. So, I asked what he’s done vis-à-vis BU’s speech codes. Well, I’m still waiting for the response… unless of course it was “tearing down flyers” that question and challenge those very speech codes. I suspect that most gatekeepers, including Bos, who censor, ban, prohibit, and/or tear down, likely argue that they too are proponents of free speech and vigorous debate. Hypocrisy is, after all, rampant amongst the educated.

PM (P. Maudit)—The fact is simple: my broadside was prohibited by the library director. It’s mind-boggling that you and likely others would reject that fact as fact.
ZB—You are calling it a fact that what the director did was something that could be called "prohibition." Actually, this isn't a fact, but an interpretation. I can observe the same events, and come up with a
different set of facts. That isn't relativism; just an outcome of your ideological orientation. It's like you're looking through glasses smeared with oil on the lenses. "Everything's filthy!" Well, not really, George. Some things are, sure. But the way you describe events is simply unrecognizable.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lucy Loomis



Lucy Loomis stands as an example of an authoritarian gatekeeper. She banned an American Dissident broadside and even banned me from discussing the banning with library staff. For this, she is mocked on the front cover of the latest issue of The American Dissident. The banned broadside follows.

An American Dissident Free-Speech Broadside (distributed 02/14/2011)-
The American Dissident, a 501 (c)3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence, Offering a Forum for Vigorous Debate
G. Tod Slone, PhD, Editor (todslone@yahoo.com) (www.theamericandissident.org) 217 Commerce Rd., Barnstable, MA 02630
Open Letter to the Director of the Sturgis Library, Lucy Loomis
Libraries, far from being bastions of democracy, tend to be de facto opponents of free speech
Truth, it seems, is always bashful, easily reduced to silence by the too blatant encroachment of falsehood.
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Gatekeepers are authority figures who seek to limit the choices of others. Gatekeepers are good at justifying their actions through circular reasoning.
—Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity

N
ot long ago, I was sitting in the Sturgis Library when I overheard a brief discussion: “They’re putting in good windows! They’re Andersen!” Then it arrived next to me: “Let me take a look at these nice windows!” I interjected, noting the library could afford expensive windows but not a $20 subscription to a nonprofit journal devoted to democracy. The people didn’t quite understand me.
A
s you know, your Board of Trustees and you decided to prohibit this free-speech broadside on your public premises, which is why it is being circulated elsewhere. As you also know, you refused to consider subscribing, even at a future date, to The American Dissident. By subscribing to Poetry magazine, which clearly presents an established-order viewpoint, and rejecting The American Dissident, which clearly presents the opposite viewpoint, you directly and knowingly violate your own Collection Development Policy, especially “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Despite the dubious financial argument, your comments about “family friendly” and “too much negativity” indicate “doctrinal disapproval.” Your reluctance to discuss these issues with me underscores a certain rejection of democracy. Why not instead promote the latter and erect a FREE-SPEECH bulletin board? You could place on top of it: WARNING: CHILDREN TAKE NOTICE. POSTINGS ON THIS BOARD MIGHT BE OFFENSIVE TO YOUR ADULT PARENTS.
Y
our Collection Development Policy is an excellent one, by the way. Unfortunately, you do not abide by it and, worse yet, have probably convinced yourself that you somehow do. “Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy,” states the ALA’s “Freedom to Read” segment. “Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.” How can you not perceive your banning of this broadside, as yet another instance of “silencing of a heresy”? How can you not understand that your insistence on positivity and “family friendly” not constitute yet another instance of “enforcement of an orthodoxy”? Has diminishing the toughness and resilience of our society become the true role of librarians today? Well, if you are representative, then I think so. And indeed, you are not unique. As confirmed by my decade’s long experience knocking on the doors of librarians and cultural-council apparatchiks, contrary to the lofty ALA statements, most doors remain firmly closed to the heretical viewpoints expressed in The American Dissident. Indeed, the journal has been an ardent critic of the close relationship often maintained between the art and literary milieu with the local chambers of commerce and the resultant censorship (call it what you like) of anything deemed too critical. Hypocrisy is rampant amongst far too many librarians! The ALA’s own Office for Intellectual Affairs refuses to even respond to my grievance.
Regarding the one flyer I left on a car windshield, an adult staff member, as you know, complained to you like a child. You called the instance “harassment”—a grotesque exaggeration! Please have that staff member, whoever she may be, examine the cartoon below. Why does she flaunt the bumper sticker—“Everything I Need to Know about Life, I Learned from Reading Banned Books”—when she is clearly a proponent of banning periodicals and broadsides? Why can’t she and you see the egregious hypocrisy? Your prohibition of my free-speech flyers on public-library grounds might be unconstitutional, as might also your prohibition of my discussing any of this with your adult staff. You behave not as a director, but as a high-school principal, and encourage your staff to act as if children. From the glorious Age of Reason, we’ve sadly retreated into the infantile Age of the Offended, thanks to those like you. “Do you do this everywhere you go?” you asked, deflecting focus from your anti-free speech policies. Well, I do question and challenge everywhere I go. Is that not my citizen’s duty? “If you don’t like it here, why do you come here?” you then asked sadly echoing the refrain: America, Love It or Leave It. But how dare you make such a statement when my tax dollars help pay your very salary? I like the library. You are not the library. You also lazily dismissed this broadside as a “diatribe,” instead of pointing out where you think truth to be lacking. You said I called you “marm.” Well, that term was only used in the cartoon below. But are you not a gate-keeping marm? As director, will you not keep me from obtaining funding from the Cape Cod Cultural Council because of my viewpoints? How far will you go to keep free speech out of your fiefdom: a no-trespass warrant?
Finally, the cartoon watercolor I sketched on you as gatekeeper is now the front cover of the current issue of The American Dissident (see above). A subscription was kindly donated. Will you reject the gift and censor my scheduled art exhibit in September? Will you continue to shame Barnstable’s own revolutionary patriot Mercy Otis Warren with your censorial decrees? This broadside was sent to a number of Cape Cod newspapers. Only the Barnstable Patriot responded with interest. As you know, I met with two of your trustees, both of whom refused to discuss the banning of this broadside and expressed no interest whatsoever in the principles at stake—the First Amendment et al. On another note, library director Anne Cifelli, summa cum lauda Wellesley College graduate, argued regarding her rejection of a free subscription offer: “It is outside the scope of this library's periodical collection.” “Why doesn’t that scope include democracy and free speech?” I asked. “The Yarmouth Port Library is a popular lending library,” she replied. She rejected a dictionary donation, but accepted a box of quilting books. Your library holds jewelry sales, wine auctions, and antiques shows, but will not erect a First Amendment bulletin board.
…………….
N.B.: The purpose of The American Dissident is to question and challenge what normally is not questioned and challenged: the cultural-commercial established order, its gatekeepers, institutions, and icons, especially on the local level. As for poetry and art, they are left undefined and ought not to be limited to abstract landscapes, the female nude, and high-brow metaphorical feelings, but also include harsh criticism, the kind gatekeepers disdain. Let the poet and artist take risks, go against the grain, and stand apart to speak, as Emerson stated, the “rude truth in all ways.”

Monday, February 28, 2011

Issue #22

Dear Friends and Foes of The American Dissident:
The latest issue of The American Dissident (#22) has just been mailed out to subscribers. Please note the new address: 217 Commerce Rd., Barnstable, MA 02630.

Besides the usual critical (i.e., offensive) poems, literary letters to and from the established order, and satirical cartoons, this issue contains a negative review of the journal, the editor’s rebuttal of it, a contributor’s negative poetry review, notes on gatekeepers, comments from a contributor on his having been censored by Huffington Post, an article by an activist against welfare fraud, and more notes on urination from a 93-year-old poet. To date, the editor has still not received any public funding, despite requests. To date, only one English professor in America has proven sufficiently open-minded to not only invite the editor, but also to actually use the journal in class. Below is the issue’s table of contents. Thanks again to those who dug deeply into their wallets to help the fragile cause.
The Editor

Editorial 4
New Poetry et al
Alan Garvey (Carlow, Ireland) 5-6
Doug Draime (Ashland, OR) 7-8
Notes from the Offended—Becky Tuch (Somerville, MA) 9-12
M. P. Powers (Boynton Beach, FL) 13-14
Gary Goude (Riverside, CA) 15
Notes from the Censored—By Rick Ferris (Akron, OH) 16-17
David Ochs (Santa Maria, CA) 18-19
Craig Shay (S. Setauket, NY) 20
Poetry Review—Leonard J. Cirino (Springfield, OR) 21-22
Daniel Senser (Cincinnatti, OH) 23
Kathryn Weinberg (Beverly, MA) 24-25
Notes on Gatekeepers—The Editor 26-28
Ted Stein (Bloomfield, NJ) 29-30
David Pointer (Murfreesboro, TN) 31
Notes from Activists—Russell Streur (Atlanta, GA) 32-33
Mather Schneider (Tucson, AZ) 34-35
Charles Portolano (Fountain Hills, AZ) 36
Notes from Students 37
John Cantey Knight (Metairie, LA) 38-39
Jody Azzouni (Brooklyn, NY) 40-41
Notes from the Golden Years—Ed Galing (Hatboro, PA) 43
The Editor (Barnstable, MA) 44-45
Literary Letters 46-56

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cheryl Young



Per usual, the target of the satirical cartoon was informed of the blog entry. Will she respond? It is likely she will not. Most citizens hate unexpected and unauthorized criticism, cannot deal with it, reject it viscerally, refuse to deal with the possible truths therewithin, and do not favor vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. Sorry, that's been my experience.

Letter Sent (12/29/10) to Cheryl Young, Executive Director, MacDowell Colony:
It will be highly unlikely for you to fathom anything written in this email. In fact, the sad state of art, literature, and higher education in America today would make me believe that it would be equally unlikely for most college students of art and literature to fathom anything in it. In any case, I just read the NU magazine snippet on you… almost enough to make me vomit… almost. But your ilk—smiley-faced, moneyed artist or poet in tie and jacket—has become so banal in America today, I just couldn’t heave. It is people like you, former commodities traders turned CEO artists and poets, who have become the gatekeepers, permitting voice exclusively to bourgeois-friendly art and bourgeois-friendly literature. If only you could see the damage being done. Yes, “the marketplace,” as you stipulate. That says it all. But do we really need more ladder-climbing CEO “midwives” in the milieu or do we need more hardcore rude-truth tellers with balls? Well, I know your response… and you know mine. Women in power have proven no less corrupt then men in power. The old Sixties thought that if women ran things, things would be much better, turned out to be a pipedream load of horseshit. I’ve collided with your ilk frequently over the years. Just recently, the Cape Cod Cultural marm in power and director of Sturgis Library proved her dictatorial nature by refusing anything she deemed not to be “family friendly,” which of course is just another term for MacDowell-friendly or Chamber-of-Commerce friendly. You note that your Colony is a “starstruck place.” Yes, that too says it all. But I’d rather refer to it as a starblind place instead. That’s art today: icon worship. So, you’ve got a BA in Economics. Yes, I’m sure that’s helped you determine what art and literature to allow through the Chamber of Commerce gates and what art to prevent. Whoopee, your endowment has quintupled! That too says it all—MONEY as your artistic goal. How sad that you cannot see. How truly sad for you. So, your Colony received the highest award from the US government, which is really a reflection of the US Chamber of Commerce. When artists and poets shake the hands of businessmen, business women, and politicians, something has really gone awry in the milieu. These things said, how about inviting me to speak at your colony? I live in Massachusetts, so could easily make the trip to NH. Or how about subscribing to The American Dissident (only $20). Yes, you could leave the journal on a coffee table in an effort to expose your art fellows to an alternative point of view. SILENCE is golden, goes the old Chinese proverb. Well, I don’t agree with it. BTW, I’m class of ’72. Yes, I should do a cartoon on you. As you know, I’ve already done one on your Colony.

No response was recieved.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Denis Dutton


Professor Denis Dutton created “Arts & Letters Daily” on The Chronicle of Higher Education website and died recently. "I think that he has been an incredibly passionate advocate for ideas and truth,” noted his son. Yet Dutton refused to permit the ideas and truth of The American Dissident on that website, despite my requests. Dutton was a little-caesar gatekeeper, keeping the doors closed to ideas and truths that he did not like. Should we mourn his death? Not in the least.

Does the following, on the Arts & Letters Daily website, represent passionate advocate for ideas and truth... or business-as-usual in the established-order literary milieu? "Allen Ginsberg had a serene air about him, like Yoda, but with bigger ears. At least that’s what Tyler Stoddard Smith remembers about him. Oh, and that Ginsberg peed on his shoes..."

The cartoon above is a satire of Dutton's book.