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

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Benjamin D. Carson, Department Chairperson


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The following constitutes my brief correspondence with Bridgewater State University's Benjamin Carson.
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“Applicants should be strongly committed to excellence in teaching and advising, and to working in a multicultural environment that fosters diversity. They should also have an ability to use technology effectively in teaching and learning, the ability to work collaboratively, evidence of scholarly activity, and a commitment to public higher education.”  
From: George Slone
To: "benjamin.carson@bridgew.edu"
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2011 1:28 PM
Subject: Adjunct English Courses
December 18, 2011
Dear Dr. Benjamin D. Carson, Dept. Chair, English Department, Bridgewater State University: 
Please consider me for adjunct English courses. Also, please consider my attached course proposal on “Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence.” I’ve got a doctorate in English Studies and extensive college teaching experience and numerous publications. Currently, I teach online courses for American Public University and have been invited to Dr. Dan Sklar’s English classes (Endicott College) each semester for the past several years to discuss “Literature, Democracy and Dissidence.” Thank you for your attention. 
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From: "Carson, Benjamin D."
To: George Slone
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2011 3:07 PM
Subject: RE: Adjunct English Courses

Dear George,
I appreciate your interest in teaching part-time at BSU.
We do not currently have openings for adjuncts in our department. The administration, against my wishes, keeps the advertisement for VLs listed on the HR website, even though no adjuncts are needed. So there is no search for adjuncts at this time. If you have uploaded your material to the HR website, it will be available to me if I do need to go into the adjunct pool.
Best,
Ben
Benjamin D. Carson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of English
Tillinghast 339
Bridgewater State University
508-531-1456
bcarson@bridgew.edu
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From: George Slone
To: "Carson, Benjamin D."
Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 1:01 PM
Subject: Re: Adjunct English Courses
Letters to a Young Department Chairperson: 
I do appreciate your quick reply. Yet how is it possible that “one of the most vibrant departments” at a state university would not express an iota of interest in The American Dissident, a unique journal devoted to Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence? Well, it is true that“vibrant” means “pulsating with vigor and energy” (i.e., a lot of running around), and not necessarily with curiosity and courageousness. You note the “rich array of courses” at your institution, yet do not offer any courses even remotely similar to “Literature, Dissidence, and Democracy,” the one I created and in which you also failed to express an iota of interest. In fact, how does such lack of interest and curiosity reflect the statement preceding your job ad for English adjuncts: “Applicants should be strongly committed […] to working in a multicultural environment that fosters diversity”? Or am I quite wrong in thinking that by “diversity” you meant diversity of opinions, as opposed to superficial skin color, and diversity of guts, as opposed to mere ethnicity? 
Finally, why not mention in your “Chair’s Welcome” that you encourage student and faculty questioning and challenging of all things, including and especially multiculti ideology and the Academic/Literary Industrial Complex—its mass of institutions (e.g., NEA, Guggenheim, state cultural councils, and universities), prize-winning icons (Beatniks et al), award-winning journals (Agni, Poetry, the Bridge et al), grant-receiving professors, and of course Holy Canon. 
Remember: the noble title of "chairperson" must be earned rather than claimed; it connotes conformity and safety rather than mere agreement. Yes, I did paraphrase that from Christopher Hitchens’ Letters to a Young Contrarian

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[Chair's Welcome
Thank you for visiting the English department website. English is one of the largest majors at Bridgewater and one of the most vibrant departments. With twenty-five full-time and many more part-time faculty, we offer a rich array of courses and programs designed to give our students broad introductions to the craft of writing and the study of literature, along with many opportunities for in-depth study. English is a diverse and dynamic field, and our faculty bring their expertise and enthusiasm to everything from Beowulf to the Beat poets; from creative non-fiction to the teaching of writing; and from contemporary film to literature from around the world. 
A major in English allows you a great deal of flexibility in designing a program of study that best meets your needs, whether your goal is a career in teaching, writing, or business, further graduate study, or a deeper appreciation for the texts that shape our culture. Majors can choose to concentrate in secondary education or writing, and are encouraged to take advantage of our internship program and opportunities for independent study. Creative writers are invited to participate in the award-winning journal theBridge; students of literature are encouraged to take part in a yearly symposium hosted with Stonehill College and a variety of other venues for undergraduate research. We have a chapter of the international English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, along with a program for departmental honors. We award several scholarships each year. 
In addition to first-year composition, we offer non-majors many courses in literature and writing, most of which offer credit in the CORE. For graduate students, we offer an MA in literature and an MAT in conjunction with the School of Education. We also offer a program of post-baccalaureate study for students seeking their initial teaching license.
Thanks again for your interest - please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Benjamin D. Carson,  Bridgewater State University, English Department
He is currently at work on an article on anarchism and the 'politics of reading.' 
Benjamin Carson
Chairperson and Associate Professor of English]
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From: "Carson, Benjamin D."
To: George Slone
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2011 1:01 PM
Subject: RE: Adjunct English Courses

Dear George,
I find your response both amusing and embarrassing. My email was simply a statement of fact: we have no openings at this time for adjunct faculty. What courses you’ve taught, want to teach, or think we should want you to teach for us, is totally irrelevant. There are no openings in our department. Period. End of discussion. But if there were, based solely on this email I would be very reluctant to offer you a position. How could you teach issues of audience when you yourself have no sense of audience? Sending an email that is condescending and almost hysterical in tone suggests you lack the rhetorical savvy we value in our adjunct faculty. 
Christopher Hitchens was a great stylist; he was also a blustering blowhard. But something tells me that that is why you admire him.
Good luck with your job search. You’re going to need it.
Benjamin D. Carson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of English
Tillinghast 339
Bridgewater State University
508-531-1456
bcarson@bridgew.edu

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From: George Slone
To: "Carson, Benjamin D."
Sent: Sunday, December 25, 2011 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: Adjunct English Courses
True, your email was“simply a statement of fact.” True, by responding as I did and do, I knowingly reduce my chances of ever obtaining work at Bridgewater State University. True also is the fact that you did not and still do not express an iota of intellectual curiosity, regarding my unique course proposal or The American Dissident, which includes as subscribers Harvard U, Buffalo U, Yale U, Johns Hopkins U, Brown U, and U of Wisconsin (U Mass with its rigid anti-democracy PC speech codes and professors will not subscribe). You seem to abhor what is not in the academic pot, including especially visceral questioning and challenging of the multiculti dogma, as well as the nature of department chairperson as institutional apparatchik, as opposed to champion of freedom of speech. Moreover, with that regard, you manifest a typical academic disdain for vigorous debate and freedom of expression, cornerstones of a thriving democracy—certainly not the kind in place at Bridgewater State and most other universities. The proof of that assertion lies in your very statement that if a job opening existed you would be “very reluctant” to offer me the position. And that is your shame, as well as the likely shame of the large majority of your colleagues. Clearly, any such unusual questioning and challenging (your hiring process will of course work to eliminate that) will automatically be met by epithet, as in “hysterical in tone,” “condescending,” “embarrassing,” and lacking in “rhetorical savvy.” Epithet will not, of course, eliminate the pertinent questions raised. Rejecting those questions, as if they did not exist, will only serve to weaken you and the multitudes like you. 
As for Christopher Hitchens, my interest was not at all in the superficial quality of his being a “great stylist” or whatever. Style, rhetorical savvy, tone, metaphor, and other such superficial formes tend to interest academics because focus on such things detracts from the fond or lack thereof. What interested me was his ability to, now and then, make some excellent quotable remarks, including: “The noble title of ‘dissident’ must be earned rather than claimed; it connotes sacrifice and risk rather than mere disagreement.” With that regard, I have certainly sacrificed my academic career. My writing and publishing have often RISKED, a concept you probably cannot even comprehend. What I have not done is sacrifice truth in an effort to climb academic ladders, as you clearly must have done and do—what’s next dean? I have sought to speak and write truth. By speaking and writing truth, where most dare not, I have been ostracized, censored, and banned, while numerous publishing, teaching, and grant opportunities have been lost. Yet I would not have it any other way. 
You state: “How could you teach issues of audience when you yourself have no sense of audience?” What I’d teach is not “issues of audience,” whatever that might be, but rather literature, democracy, and dissidence. It is true that my goal is not to gain a “sense of audience” or even an audience. My goal, as mentioned, is to“go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson). Clearly, such a goal sadly tends to conflict directly with that of obtaining a job in academe and climbing that ladder. The deplorable proliferation of democracy-scorning or apathetic careerists in the ranks of the professoriate has clearly resulted in that conflict. 
These things said, I do not hate you or academics in general. Questioning and challenging you and them should never be equated with hatred, but rather with democracy. Now, how about inviting me to speak to your students on an alternative possibility for literature, that is, democracy and dissidence? A number of writers, now anointed in academe’s literary canon, have touched upon this theme. Note Orwell, Emerson, Thoreau, Solzhenitsyn, Villon, Rushdie, Saro-Wiwa, and Primo Levy. What I’d like to speak to your students about is what I’ve been doing over the past several decades, that is, questioning and challenging authorities, be they academic, library, cultural council, or whichever, then creating literature from it. On The American Dissident website you can read over 50 student comments regarding their meeting with me. Why shelter public-university students from this literary alternative? Do you not do them a clear disservice by doing so? 
Finally, experience dictates me to suspect you will have little backbone for this kind of discussion. After all, it cannot possibly be useful for you in the ladder-climbing endeavor. But please surprise me if at all possible. To date, only one English professor has done so. How conflictual your interest in anarchism! 

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[No further response was ever received from Benjamin Carson, who evidently was not a fervent believer in vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy.]

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From: George Slone
To: "dmohlerfaria@bridgew.edu"
Cc: "greg@thefire.org" ; "fire@thefire.org" ; "benjamin.carson@bridgew.edu" ; "comment@bridgew.edu"
Sent: Sunday, January 1, 2012 10:52 AM
Subject: Red light university et al
Dear President Dana Mohler-Faria, Bridgewater State University:
Why is Bridgewater State still a red light university (see http://thefire.org/spotlight/codes/2595.html)? To refresh your memory, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education gave your institution that designation because it had “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” 
Is it not high time to change that deplorable situation? Is it not high time to accord prime importance to freedom of speech, truth, and democracy, as opposed to multiculti ideology, diversity, and civility? After all, yours is an institution of purported higher learning. Why not strive to be unique in Academe, instead of mere copycat imitator? Why not be a real leader and create an Office of Institutional Democracy at Bridgewater State and appoint a dean to lead it? What a wonderful example that would make for your students! After all, every college and university in America today possesses an Office of Institutional Diversity, but as far as I can tell not one has created an Office of Institutional Democracy. 
Why not be unique in academe and focus your efforts on creating an ambiance favorable to freedom of expression and truth, as well as heralding those who dare speak it, no matter what color or ethnic background. After all, what does it matter if a particular academic department consists of a mosaic of colors and ethnicities, but not a single professor with the courage to speak truth openly as he or she may perceive it? When university departments are replete with collegial, conformist careerists—black, white, male, female, lesbian, transsexual, Asian, African, Hispanic, Iranian and other—bent on avoiding offensive discourse at all costs, though especially to the truth, and never questioning and challenging the usual reigning politically-correct doctrine, how can democracy not be adversely affected? How can student education not be adversely affected? 
Vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, is under assault in the nation’s colleges and universities, which one would have normally expected to actually share and embrace that cornerstone. Should we admire someone for the mere color of his skin or her ethnic background or should we admire someone because he or she behaved as Solzhenitsyn, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, George Orwell, Pierre Falardeau, Kenule Saro-Wiwa, Francois Villon, Ghandi, or Pablo Neruda? 
Finally, as publisher of The American Dissident, I’d be more than happy to speak to your students on the subject. Unfortunately, your English Department chairperson, Benjamin Carson, refuses to invite me. In fact, he refuses to even express an iota of curiosity regarding The American Dissident or the course I created, “Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence.” (My chances for an adjunct teaching position at your institution are nil because of my openly expressed opinions. Moreover, it is highly likely that your student editors will not publish this letter due to PC indoctrination.) In fact, not one state college or university in Massachusetts will subscribe to the journal, yet Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Brown, as well as other universities do. Moreover, Professor Dan Sklar at Endicott College has been inviting me for the past four years each semester to talk to his students on literature, democracy, and dissidence. He is the only English professor, out of the numerous professors I’ve contacted over the past decade, who has thus far proven curious and interested. 
Thank you for your attention. 

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From: George Slone
To: "benjamin.carson@bridgew.edu"
Cc: "comment@bridgew.edu"
Sent: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 1:51 PM
Subject: Satirical Cartoon on Benjamin D. Carson
Benjamin,
Attached is a cartoon I just finished. You may comment on it if you like at my blogsite where it is currently posted. See http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2012/01/benjamin-carson.html. NO comments are ever deleted. Thank you for your attention.
G. Tod

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From: todslone@hotmail.com
To: comment@bridgew.edu
Subject: Censorship at Bridgewater et al
Date: Sun, 13 May 2012 08:46:09 -0400
To the Student Editor of Comment:
Since Bridgewater State is a public university in Massachusetts and I am a citizen in the same state, perhaps you might be open to publishing the attached letter and cartoon. By the way, I have been a professor for the last three decades. For a state university student editor, you seem unusually open in your resisting of administrative efforts to CENSOR the student newspaper. I applaud you for that, although you did not bother responding to the criticism I sent last January. It has been my experience that most student newspapers serve as nothing but PR-organs of image-bolstering. I would perhaps be interested in publishing an article with regards the attempts to CENSOR you. Your April 25th editorial on this was most interesting. Also, I notice a representative of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education will be speaking at your university next week. Interestingly, the criticism I’d sent you over four months ago emphasizes the terrible red-light rating given to Bridgewater by that organization. Perhaps you would now reconsider publishing the criticism in The Comment. That criticism was also sent to the president of the university, as well as the chairperson of the English Department. Neither of those persons bothered to respond. Below is the open letter to the president. Please also consult the cartoon I drew on the English Department chairperson at http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2012/01/benjamin-carson.html. Why would you not publish it in The Comment? Thank you for your attention.

4 comments:

Tim said...

"you lack the rhetorical savvy we value"

An inadvertent complement!

This would be like a politician telling you that you wouldn't make a good demagogue.

That would certainly make me feel as though I was on the right track.

Tim said...

With enemies like these, who needs friends.

mather said...

rhetorical savvy, ha! What a value to have! Jesus...keep the good toons coming, Slone!

G. Tod Slone said...

Hey M,
Thanks for checking in! Yes, I seem to be quite lacking in rhetorical savvy.
T