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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Peter Schjeldahl

 
Text on bottom of picture:   
Schjeldahl:  “Like it or not, Christopher Wool, now 58, is probably the most important American painter of his generation.  His works ace the crude test that passes for critical judgment in the art market:  They look impeccable on walls…
PM:  “Impeccable on walls?  Well, how about these two I just finished? 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Anne Speyer


The only thing an unconnected citizen can do to get his opinion into the arena of debate is the Internet.  Long live the Internet!  One day, however, the censors (i.e., the civility gatekeepers) will sadly gain full control over it.  Now here's a great quote by UCLA Professor Michael Meranze that I just came across.  It's perfect for librarian gatekeepers like Ann Speyer and Lucy Loomis, as well as for journalist gatekeepers like Paul Pronovost (Cape Cod Times) and Noah Hoffenberg (Barnstable Patriot)...

"The demand for civility effectively outlaws a range of intellectual, literary, and political forms: satire is not civil, caricature is not civil, hyperbole and aesthetic mockery are not civil nor is polemic. Ultimately the call for civility is a demand that you not express anger; and if it was enforced it would suggest that there is nothing to be angry about in the world.  The call for civility in discourse confuses the enforcement of administrative time, place, and manner restrictions with the genuine need to defend people from personal threat.  The result is that the administrative desire trumps all else." 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Barnstable Village Cultural District

The following is an American Dissident broadside, which I handed out in front of Sturgis Library on October 10th during its Celebration of Kurt Vonnegut.  90% or more of those arriving refused to take one.  The cartoon on Vonnegut below was part of the broadside. 

What is the point of confronting ambulating brick walls like the 90%?  That question I have to ask myself every time I stand alone protesting against local corrupt pillars of the community.  Sure, I know it is 99% unlikely that I’ll meet anyone even remotely interested in the free speech issues I evoke.  No matter.  During the protests, I often have interesting thoughts and obtain grist for my mill of creativity. 

At the library, the arrived like dignitaries to a gala.  But dignitaries of what?  Bourgeois conformity and propriety?   How sad it all was.  Nobody was willing to focus on the facts I presented.  Nobody gave a shit.  The common reaction is to scorn and mock the rare person who dares question and challenge  such people. 

Barnstable is a town dominated by an elite of stepford wives and husbands, a representative microcosm of the nation.  They are why I do not love America...  


Vonnegut’s Clapboard Tomb…
And Its Gravediggers of Liberty

—An Open Letter to the Apathetic, Easily Offended, and Ignorant Citizens of Barnstable—
It really is a sorry kind of person who makes it to the top.
        —Kurt Vonnegut

     Kurt Vonnegut called Sturgis Library a “clapboard tomb,” upon quitting his job as library trustee.  A tomb, of course, is a place for the dead.  Has Sturgis gotten any better since Vonnegut’s time in Barnstable?  Experience tells me it’s actually gotten a lot worse.  Lucy Loomis, its director, is totally unaccountable and totally autocratic.  Upset her fiefdom with a dash of freedom of expression and be prepared for permanent punishment, which is precisely what happened to me in June 2012. 

     My speech crime consisted of an open letter published on my blog site and sent to the directors of the Clams Library System of Cape Cod, not one of whom responded.  Not even director Ann Speyer, who lectures on censorship and book banning, gave a damn.  Only Sturgis Library trustee and Loomis boyfriend Dan Santos responded, though indirectly, dismissing as “intellectual masturbation” my argument that Loomis was a hypocrite regarding her written collection development statement that ”libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view.”  Loomis and not one other library director in the system would subscribe to The American Dissident (only $20), published in Barnstable and presenting a viewpoint at antipodes to that of Poetry Magazine to which Sturgis subscribes.  I’d even offered a free subscription, but Loomis rejected it, thus proscribing the points of view of all those published in it… permanently. 

     Less than one week after that open letter was disseminated, Loomis and three cops approached me while I was peacefully sitting alone in a room at Sturgis, as I’d been doing almost daily for about two years.  There, Loomis said she was permanently banning me.  No warning had ever been issued.  Off I went… a tad angry!  Loomis and later trustee Ted Lowry refused to provide me with a written statement regarding the action and reason for it.  Nine months later the State Secretary of Records forced them to open their records to public scrutiny, so that finally I could read what had been written about me.  Democracy in action! 

     Due process?  We no need no stinkin’ due process!  That is Sturgis Library’s true motto.  Would Vonnegut have embraced it?  Did he embrace it?  Imagine no possibility of due process was offered!  Imagine Loomis having the audacity to deem me a public danger, arguing:  Because of his behavior when the police were here they almost arrested him—he can go from calm to extremely agitated in a matter of seconds.  So l believe this is the correct decision for the safety of the staff and public.”  That was the only damning thing written in the documents made public.  Notice it is an aberrant after-the-fact rationale and, why two years later, has not one staff member been threatened or harmed by me, if indeed I were such a potential danger?  Of course, I have no history at all of violence or of making threats.  How many others like Loomis protect their fragile selves in layers of self-serving deceit and ignorance of democracy, including the Supreme Court (Tinker v. Des Moines Sch. Dist.) argument that “in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.”  Trustees Ted Lowry, Sue Angus, John Ehret, Colin Campbell, and Mike Downs, and others who’ve made it to the top, seem unable to comprehend that America’s greatness lies in her unique FIRST AMENDMENT, not in political correctness!  Any departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble,” noted the Court, “any variation from the majority's opinion may inspire fear.” Thus, my speech crime inspired fear and caused Loomis emotional trouble. 

     The Barnstable Patriot (Noah Hoffenberg) and Cape Cod Times (Paul Pronovost), to this day, refuse to publish anything regarding the above.  Clearly those papers are not independent!  My very civil rights today are being denied in Barnstable because I have been permanently barred from attending any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library, you know, that “clapboard tomb.”  Imagine that I was not permitted to attend Speyer’s lecture on Banned Books Week! Imagine not one community pillar gives a damn, not Town Manager Tom Lynch, nor Town Attorney Ruth Weil, town councilor Ann Canedy, state reps Cleon Turner and Brian Mannal, who’d proclaimed the matter a civil rights issue, was going to help, then didn’t (yes, vote for Mannal!), not local human rights commissar John Reed, nor artists and poets of Robert M. Nash’s Cultural Council of Cape Cod, not the Barnstable Village Civic Association, the writers of Nancy Rubin Stuart’s Cape Cod Writers Center, the instructors at CCCC, including Dan McCullough, John French, and Sarah Polito, not PEN New England, the ACLUM, etc., etc.    

     Now, would Vonnegut have been on their side too?  Surely, none of his living family members and friends give a damn.  “I don’t buy it!” snapped one Sturgis loyalist a few weeks ago.  And how shamefully easy it is for her willfully ignorant ilk to dismiss incontrovertible facts, like those presented above, and the very principles of democracy 

 

Barnstable Village Cultural District


Barnstable Village Cultural District


David Biespiel


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Anne Speyer

The following was distributed in front of Sturgis Library during librarian Anne Speyer's lecture several weeks ago.  The hypocrisy of Speyer and librarian Lucy Loomis is mind-numbing.  Yes, today, those who ban books and people celebrate Banned Books Week.  And those who don't give a damn about banned books in their own neighborhood present lectures on banned books and censorship.  Mind-numbing...


Librarians Banning Books Celebrate Banned Books Week

(What Anne Speyer’s Lecture Will Conveniently Fail to Mention)

Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people—challenging social taboos or political values.

—Jonathan Turley, left-wing legal scholar, George Washington University

 

M

ostly, we have hypocrites in politics.  No surprise there.  We also have hypocrites in higher education.  No surprise there either.  We have hypocrites in the ranks of those professing to be advocates of freedom, including public librarians.  Now, that ought to be surprising…

     Is it not ironical that some (perhaps many) of the very organizations that promote Banned Books Week are either banners of books or apathetic when books are banned?  Is it not equally ironical that some (perhaps many!) of those who attend “Banned Books Discussions,” likeBowdlerized, Banned, and Burned: An Investigation of Banned Books” presented at Sturgis Library by Director Anne Speyer of South Dennis Free Public Library, don’t give a damn when book banning occurs in their own backyards?  How to possibly understand their apathy, if not outright support?  Unsurprisingly, Speyer wouldn’t even respond to that question. 

     On June 19, 2012, Sturgis Library director Lucy Loomis PERMANENTLY BANNED not only The American Dissident and any books I’ve authored, but also me and the ideas of those published in the journal.  On that nefarious day, three cops showed up with the director in the room, where I was quietly working alone on my online college courses, to escort me out of the taxpayer-funded library without warning or even possibility of due process.  Imagine that not one library director in the entire Clams Library System of Cape Cod would respond to my complaint regarding that authoritarian decision, let alone express an iota of interest in it. The only response I received was an indirect one from Dan Santos, Sturgis Library Trustee at the time, current director of Barnstable’s Department of Public Works:  “He is no more than an exhibitionist engaging in intellectual masturbation.”  Yes, just the kind of ignorant fellow we need in public service! 

E

ternally banned, yet I never made threats, never made disturbances in that library, and I'd been going to it almost every day for several years!  What I did, however, was question and challenge IN WRITING, one week prior to the decree, Loomis’ hypocrisy regarding, especially, the written collection-development statement, borrowed from the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights,” that “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view.”  Well, my point of view is certainly not provided in that library, which proves the point I’d made. 

     Loomis refused to present me with a written document stipulating the reason for her decision.  The library trustees also refused to do that.  It took the Massachusetts State Secretary of Records nine months later to order the library to make its records available to me (i.e., the public), since it determined the library was not only being funded by the public but was clearly serving a public purpose.  In those records, only an indirect comment by Loomis to Ted Lowry, president of the library trustees, indicated the reason for the decision:  “Because of his behavior when the police were here they almost arrested him—he can go from calm to extremely agitated in a matter of seconds.  So l believe this is the correct decision for the safety of the staff and public.”  No other reason or incident is mentioned in the library’s records!  In essence, the only reason was thus an after-the-fact one (i.e., after the decision to permanently ban). 

R

eally, I was quite pissed off when I saw three cops enter the room with Loomis!  I hadn't even spoken to anyone in the library for a week.  And yes I was quite pissed off when one of them actually grabbed my arm, twisted it behind my back, and frisked me because I’d said, “I do not have any weapons.”   I’m 66 and not a big guy.  And I was not making threats in any way whatsoever.  Ah, but it turned out that cop was the training officer and showing a new recruit how to frisk a citizen.  And I have no record of violence whatsoever.  In essence, Loomis played the he-makes-me-feel-uncomfortable card.  Since that nefarious day over two years ago, if indeed I were such a danger to the staff and public, why have I done nothing at all to harm the staff and public?  So, here I am today with an almost-arrested police record for the crime of manifesting a little anger in public… and PERMANENTLY punished for it.  Bravo America, or rather Barnstable! 

D

oggedly since that nefarious day in June, I’ve contacted scores of organizations and town officials.  To date, not one of them proved sufficiently concerned to offer to help or even write a simple letter to the director, requesting she rescind the authoritarian decree or at least provide due process.  Not even the ACLUM or State Attorney General Martha Coakley would lift a finger!  To date, not one of the official sponsors of Banned Books Week has been willing to do that either!  So, why the hell not American Library Association, PEN America, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, American Book Sellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Project Censored, and Center for the Book at the Library of Congress?   And why did not one town counselor or commissioner of the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission give a damn either? 

E

ssentially, a responsible citizen does not keep his or her mouth shut in the face of injustice, which is why I stand protesting here tonight next to library property.  Those attending Speyer’s lecture, who had the curiosity to take a copy of this flyer, should ask themselves after the lecture why they too likely do not give a damn.  BTW, featured in the above picture are local hack hypocrites Brian Mannal, Ann Canedy, and Cleon Turner, as puppets of propriety.  Indeed, for them and so many others, some vague notion of propriety is far more important than freedom of speech and expression.