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

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.


Timothy Bearly said...

It is unfortunate and ironic that academics (ostensibly promoting dialectic reasoning) intellectually stagnate as a result of sameness and cowardice.

Unabashedly, in this woman's case.

G. Tod Slone said...

Quite on target, Tim! It is also quite unfortunate that MOST academics disdain vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. Not one of the academics contacted at Cal State at San Marcos has commented so far. And from my experience, that tends to be the sad norm.

G. Tod Slone said...
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Timothy Bearly said...

I just finished reading the "think like a colleague" article.

I am pretty amazed with the shameless attempt to rationalize and promote unmitigated conformity. I am not being hyperbolic when I say that I was deeply disgusted reading the "career advice" of these two authors. They—and the sentiment of "submitting to the consensus in hopes of advancing your career"—represent much of what is wrong with higher education today.

I suppose that I shouldn't really be shocked to hear an Assistant Dean proselytizing this type of acquiescent behavior. Shutting up, falling in line, working harmoniously with the group, and kneeling down at the altar of the zeitgeist, are requisites for achieving and sustaining such a position.

Sadly, she is right. If your main priority is advancing your career (this includes the private sector), then you should shut your mouth, do what your told, and never question authority. A desire to advance your career and a desire for truth are mutually exclusive. History serves as a testament to how truth-seeking individuals are treated.

I would just love to see these two authors put out a help wanted ad.

"Regarding the available position, the Giordano Brunos, Socrates', and Galileo's, need not apply. For we are not interested in those who disrupt the system, but we are seeking those who "think like a colleague".

I am glad that you added the letter you wrote to Formo, I enjoyed reading it. Great toon as well.