A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone 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, May 20, 2012

Kent Curtis

Kent Curtis and his Thoreau Institute are featured in the above aquarelle.  As director of education at Thoreau Institute he rejected my requests to include at the Institute flyers of The American Dissident, which is after all published in the dissident spirit of Thoreau.  However, Curtis refused to even respond, evidently preferring like the Concord Chamber of Commerce to whitewash Thoreau's dissident side in an effort to present him solely as an early ecologist.  Curtis should be ashamed of his evident disdain for democracy and freedom of speech.

The following email was sent on 9/3/2003.  No response was ever received.

Dear Kent Curtis, Thoreau Institute:
Why not take Thoreau one-step further and out of the "working together for higher salaries" (uh, I mean, public education!) MTA-propaganda machine?  Have the children and young adults visit my site regarding Thoreau, Thoreau Society, Thoreau trinket boutique, and Walden Pond, where free-speech is a jail-able offense.  Yes, have them contemplate my arrest and incarceration in Concord for exercising my First Amendment rights at Walden Pond State Facility.  I'd be more than happy to deliver a free lecture on the subject (I do have a PhD, have been a dissident college professor for the past 15 years and have NO CRIMINAL RECORD.). 
Thoreau was much more, at least for a few of us, than a friendly, ardent ecologist.  Read between the lines in his journals!  BE CURIOUS and examine my anti-conformist site.  Teach the children to be curious, rather than indoctrinate them.  Stop perverting Thoreau by placing him in a feel-good museum and context.    

The following poem was written at almost a decade ago and was inspired by Kent Curtis’ evident scorn for dissidence.  I’d sent the poem to him also in September 2003, but no response was ever received.  Did I manage to jolt him even if just a little?  I’ll never know.  I’ve also sent Curtis notice that the current American Dissident blog entry (this entry) is devoted to him.  Will he respond… in the name of vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone, or remain silent in the name of business as usual in Massachusetts?   

The Travesty of Henry David Thoreau

It is no compliment to be invited to lecture before the rich Institutes and Lyceums… There is the Lowell Institute with its restrictions, requiring a certain faith in the lecturers.  How can any free-thinking man accept its terms?…  They want all of a man but his truth and independence and manhood.  (Thoreau, Journal: 16 November 1858)

Is it not the pinnacle of travesty to create “rich institutes,”*

“artificial and complex,” “bolstered up on many weak supports,”

staffed with “preachers and lecturers” who “deal with men

of straw, as they are men of straw themselves,”

which seek to “keep the mind within bounds”?

How Thoreau reviled gentlemen of institutes,

their artificial politeness and eagerness to “drill well,”

their absence of curiosity and robotic civil obedience,

their very lives serving not as “counterfriction,”

but as lubrication to keep “the machine” functioning!

Imagine Henry David Thoreau today in Concord

walking down Main Street, gagging and coughing,

as careening trucks spew exhaust in the name of enterprise,

and searching—between the ubiquitous and massive

three-car garage homes, fringed by blue-tinted chem lawns

—for peaceful space to wander round. 

Imagine him today in Concord, sauntering by Walden Pond

past the bronze sculpture in his effigy, though once

he’d declared “no statue be made of me,” and

past the Walden boutique souvenir shop, where

hazarding to speak truthfully to a park ranger, who,

would have him escorted dutifully from State Property

by a mounted police officer, or two or three.

Imagine Henry David Thoreau today in Concord

standing before Thoreau Society proudly affirming,

while lodging gratis at the Thoreau Institute—

thanks to taxpayer and corporate funding—

“I will not consent to walk with my mouth muzzled,

not till I am rabid, until there is danger

that I shall bite the unoffending…”

Imagine the horror on the faces of the executive directors!

Is it not the pinnacle of travesty to create a “rich institute”

around a man who would have despised it,

for its inevitable condemnation and censorship

of “free-thinking” and “truth and independence”?

How Thoreau loathed the “well-disposed”; those “thousand

and one gentlemen with whom” he met, he met

“despairingly and but to depart from them, for

[he was] not cheered by the hope of any rudeness from them”!

Imagine the despair he would have felt today, meeting

members, managerial functionaries, and sous-secretaries

of the Thoreau Institute and Thoreau Society, while

at a Thoreau Corporate Outing sponsored by the Thoreau Club. 


*All quotes are Thoreau’s.

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