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, January 24, 2016

Brenda Smith-Lezama

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Sadly, nobody at The Maneater deigned to respond to the following email.  The president of the Missouri Student Association did, however, respond.  See below...

From: George Slone
Sent: Sunday, January 24, 2016 1:35 PM
To: maneater@themaneater.com; eloutfi@themaneater.com; jherrick@themaneater.com; tblatchford@themaneater.com
Cc: mjp5f5@mail.missouri.edu; msapresident@missouri.edu; bas535@mail.missouri.edu; safp8b@mail.missouri.edu; kmhrf5@mail.missouri.edu; cltc74@mail.missouri.edu; ddwzq3@mail.missouri.edu; tte2m5@mail.missouri.edu; rkf7wb@mail.missouri.edu
Subject: Mizzou Student Association lampooned in a new P. Maudit cartoon

To Elizabeth Loutfi, Ed-in-Chief; John Richmond Herrick, Opinion Editor; Katherine Knott, Managing Editor; and Taylor Blatchford, University News Editor, The Maneater, University of Missouri Student Newspaper:  
Any independence at all from the reigning PC-mindset?  Any real appreciation for vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy?  Any fondness for the First Amendment?  After all, you are touted as “more aggressive” and “an independent watchdog of the university.”  Hmm.  Well, likely that’s just Newspeak blather and your reality is unoriginal fear of offending the cogs of indoctrination.  You know like those on the Black Programming Committee.  Now, that’s an interesting name, since programming can be a synonym for indoctrinating.  

Anyhow, if it isn’t Newspeak, then please do respond and at least consider publishing the cartoon just posted on my blog site on Mizzou’s Student Association:  wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com.  Come on.  Curiosity didn’t kill the cat.  PC did that!!!  :)

Thanks for your attention.


From: MU OSL MSA President
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2016 5:30 PM
To: George Slone
Subject: RE: Mizzou Student Association lampooned in a new P. Maudit cartoon

Mr. Slone,

I really just wanted to reach out and tell you thank you for thinking enough of us to make this cartoon a reality. I imagine it took a lot of time for you to put this together and your work does not go unappreciated. Please enjoy the rest of your evening.

Best,

Payton Head
University of Missouri | Student Body President
Missouri Students Association
2500 MU Student Center | Columbia, MO 65211

P. (573) 882-3383 | @MSAPresident | msa.missouri.edu



From: George Slone
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2016 5:50 PM
To: MU OSL MSA President
Subject: Re: Mizzou Student Association lampooned in a new P. Maudit cartoon

Hi Payton,
Thanks for the response.  You are the only one so far deigning to respond, though your response was robotic (i.e.,  smiley-faced everything's wonderful in Mizzoulandia).  Don't your instructors encourage you to question and challenge and fight for reason, logic, fact, and freedom?  Alas, methinks not in the least.  Ideology always trumps reason.  

G. Tod



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

The following dialogue de sourds was published in the last issue of The American Dissident.  Featured is Charles Brownstein, director of Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  PM (P. Maudit) is my cartoonist sobriquet...


A PC-Peculiarity
Advocating Freedom of Speech, 

while Justifying Suppression… of Freedom of Speech
By the Editor
So anyway, the thing that I come to—I used this phrase on TV the other day— the rise of the “but brigade.” I got so sick of the goddamn but brigade.  And now the moment somebody says ‘Yes I believe in free speech, but,” I stop listening.  “I believe in free speech, but people should behave themselves.” “I believe in free speech, but we shouldn’t upset anybody.” “I believe in free speech, but let’s not go too far.”
—Salman Rushdie, regarding the Charlie Hebdo massacre

The cancellation of [Robert] Spencer’s appearance based on ALA’s silent acquiescence to outside pressure from those who seek to destroy intellectual freedom [CAIR] isn’t inconsequential, and it is more than unsettling.  This is, as Spencer has characterized it, a stealth jihad against free speech, which now claims the American Library Association among the jihadists.
—Attorney William J. Becker, Jr.

Free speech does not mean inoffensive speech only.  It means all speech, left-wing and right-wing and in-the-fuck-between… with, of course, the exception of speech that calls for violence… but violence highly LIKELY to occur as a direct result of the speech… and that excludes any heckler’s-veto violence.  Heavy constant indoctrination, however, is creating a populace that tends to disagree with this legal definition of freedom of speech. 
  Rare it was for me to engage in a free-speech fight with a free-speech advocate.  Usually, the response was either very brief, as with PEN America Executive Director Susan Nossel and National Coalition Against Censorship Executive Director Joan Bertin, or simply non-existent, as with PEN New England Executive Director Karen Wulf and New England First Amendent Center Executive Director Rosanna Cavanagh.  When such free-speech organizations are challenged, they usually prefer not to respond. After all, how can one challenge organizations devoted to free speech? Well, quite simply, one can and should when they behave hypocritically and have become politicized and/or prove incapable of accepting outside criticism (i.e., free speech).   
     Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) boasts to be on “the front lines of the fight for free speech.” Yet, as co-sponsor of the American Library Association’s hypocritical Banned Books Week, it sides with librarian gatekeepers, who ban books (and patrons like me). The ALA boasts to be a fervent proponent of “the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular.” So why did it cancel, at the request of CAIR, an Islamic organization, an event that was to feature Robert Spencer, a critic of Islam and such organizations (see http://www.investigativeproject.org/1101/library-association-abandons-principle-allows#)?  Evidently, the reason is because the ALA is suffering from a rather virulent strain of gross hypocrisy.  
    As an evident member of the BUT BRIGADE (see Rushdie quote above), the CBLDF ought to be called the Comic Book But Brigade Defense Fund.  Aberrantly, it refused to publish Bosch Fawstin’s cartoon, the one that won the Garland, TX Draw Muhammad contest, in its second issue of Defender, devoted to “Cartoonists under Fire.” How odd, thought Fawstin, who had been a decade-long member of CBLDF and had been literally under fire in Garland, TX.  “I'm pissed off,” he wrote.  “Bad enough I work in an industry that's dominated by gutless leftists, but even the one place that supposedly defends Free Speech doesn't give a shit about Defending Free Speech if it disagrees with it. This completely undercuts the idea of what kind of speech should be protected. To hell with them.”  The following non-fictitious dialogue was pieced together from actual email correspondance with CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein, whose only response to the concerns evoked in it was that I didn’t have a right to post his evasive and un-responsive opinions.  Yet it seems that copyright law does give me that right (see, for example the  Kansas Law Review https://law.ku.edu/sites/law.drupal.ku.edu/files/docs/law_review/v55/Snow.pdf). How might one explain a purported defender of free speech, who rationalizes why he should NOT defend free speech?  That is the real question here.  Brownstein was sent the dialogue, given the chance to add or contest certain remarks.  He chose not to.  What he and the ALA should do is get the hell out of the free-speech business, since he and it evidently do not believe in it! 

P. Maudit:  Before I cartoon you guys, I’d like to know why you’ve decided to ignore cartoonist Bosch Fawstin and the near Garland, TX massacre.  
Charles Brownstein:  Our news blog covered Garland in two separate articles at the time that it occurred.  
PM: Yeah, but you didn’t mention the winner of the contest or publish the winning cartoon on your blog devoted to cartoons!  Isn’t that a bit weird?
CB: Fawstin currently appears to be seeking publicity for his cartoon addressing a controversial topic.  
PM:  Yet any cartoonist seeking publication evidently seeks publicity, which includes 100% of those cartoonists you feature on your website.  Don’t you also seek publicity with your organization and sponsorship of Banned Books Week?  And do not most free-speech issues concern “controversial” topics?  After all, non-controversial topics do not need free-speech protection.
CB:  He is not experiencing censorship by any metric, including his own, given the content of an exchange we had on Facebook that was re-run on his website.  His work is widely available, no government restriction of any kind is being placed on his work, and anyone can view it. If Fawstin's First Amendment rights were being restricted, we would certainly rise to defend them.  But they don't appear to be.  
PM:  But Fawstin's winning cartoon was censored by the New York Times, as well as other media organizations, including yours and Fox News, institutions of higher education, and public libraries across the nation.  How can you possibly believe otherwise in this era of islamophobia inanity?   
CB: Editorial outlets choosing not to publish an item is not the same as censorship. Libraries choosing not to select an item is not the same as censorship.  Censorship, as First Amendment jurisprudence illustrates, occurs when government causes the restriction of the publication or dissemination of an idea.  That is not happening in Fawstin's case.  
PM:  Sure, First Amendment jurisprudence exists, but ONLY in America.  So, why do you, for example, champion the cause of an Iranian cartoonist in Iran or that of Charlie Hebdo in France, if you are only concerned with First Amendment jurisprudence? Iran and France do not possess such jurisprudence!  In essence, what you should be concerned with (and probably are when convenient) is the dictionary definition of censorship, not simply the legal one. You ought to be concerned with the suppression, banning, restricting, proscription, interdiction, prohibition, and excluding of cartoons (and opinions) deemed objectionable on subjective moral and/or political grounds, especially by the media and academe.  Public libraries, by the way, are considered government entities.  And many of them do restrict the “dissemination of an idea.”
CB: We ran a news story about the various international cartoonists facing government censorship as the issue we published went to press.  That's not the same as championing them. 
PM: So, now it’s “government censorship” and not “First Amendment jurisprudence.”  By running a story on those foreign cartoonists, you are indeed CHAMPIONING their fight for free speech.  
CB: [Fawstin’s] work is being published, and is widely available. No government agency is restricting access to his cartoons. That some venues choose not to publish his cartoon isn't censorship, it's editorial prerogative.
PM:  A mentality of suppression (i.e., censorship) exists in the press that you seem to think is fine because it’s a matter of “editorial prerogative,” a term that ought to be added to the list of synonyms for censorship.  How about academic prerogative and librarian prerogative and Banning Books Week prerogative and CBLDF prerogative, and on and on?  
CB: Fawstin's cartoon was not the newsworthy element of the Garland, TX contest. The violence that occurred during a peaceful, albeit provocative, exercise of speech was newsworthy.  It follows that most outlets chose to focus on the violence, which is the element of public interest. 
PM: How can you possibly make such an argument? The Islamic assassins wanted to murder because of the CARTOONS! How then are the CARTOONS not newsworthy? If you can NOT understand this, clearly a desire for funding, renown, increased donations, and/or politically-correct mindset must be preventing you from doing so. 
CB:  Fawstin's First Amendment rights were never in peril. 
PM: Yet two Muslims armed with kalishnikovs and with intent to murder CLEARLY were threatening his First Amendment rights. Cartoonist Molly Norris, as you surely know, has disappeared and given up her First Amendment rights in America… because Muslims want to murder her… just as they want to murder Fawstin. It was Fawstin’s CARTOON that made those Muslims want to destroy Fawstin’s First Amendment rights! It was not his haircut or skin color, but rather his freakin’ CARTOON, not to mention his status as apostate! How to understand someone like you, who on the one hand professes to be a free speech advocate, while on the other advocating the suppression of speech such as Fawstin’s “ALBEIT PROVOCATIVE” cartoon.  
CB: Fawstin’s safety was at risk, but his rights never were.  The government placed police at the organizers' disposal to protect the First Amendment protected activity occurring at the event he was participating in. 
PM:  Clearly, real death threats serve to reduce rights, serve to provoke self-censorship, and when carried out serve to completely eliminate rights… for what free speech does a dead man possess? What rights does Molly Norris possess?  The right to go into hiding here in America.  
CB: Fawstin is clearly seeking additional publicity for his work, which is his right.
PM: Seeking publicity is a damn weak justification for the suppression of Fawstin’s cartoon (i.e., his free speech) by you and the media. Who gives a damn what he’s seeking?  Free speech is free speech!  Dismissing the speaker (cartoonist) as a publicity seeker or egotist or islamophobe or whatever other epithet you can come up with to belittle him will NOT eliminate the fact that he stands for free speech and possesses the unusual courage to continue to do so.  
CB: It is also the right of the media outlets you mention not to run that work. Simply put, there is no censorship issue here. Nobody is suppressing Fawstin's cartoon. Not running something is not the same as suppressing something.
PM: Why not try being HONEST and state outright why you did not include Fawstin in your latest issue of Defender, devoted to “cartoonists under fire”?  After all, the response is evident: Fawstin is a conservative and anti-Islam.  Moreover, the two articles written by Maren Williams posted on your site regarding the Garland, TX near massacre are clearly biased against the Garland, TX organizer Pamela Geller and Fawstin… and thus pro-Islam. 
CB:  Fawstin has the right to cartoon as he sees fit, and no one is restricting those rights, so there's nothing to cover. 
PM:  Sure, he has that right.  But what about the serious death threats he now faces?  Aren’t they affecting those rights?  Shouldn’t you be speaking out in his favor and against the Islamic ideology that seeks to eliminate his rights in America? 
CB:  [No response]
PM: Moreover, I’d be leery, rather than open wide and swallow, regarding Banned Books Week, which your organization sponsors, and the nation’s public libraries that celebrate it.  As an example, my books (and cartoons!), the poetry of those I publish, and my very person have been PERMANENTLY banned by my local public library, Sturgis Library (Barnstable, MA), which celebrates Banned Books week.  And the 25 other libraries in the Clams Library System of Cape Cod and the American Library Association don't give a damn about that, nor does the ACLU, NCAC, PEN… and, apparently, CBLDF.
CB: [No comment]
PM:  Well, we do agree on one thing: the right of the media to suppress (censor, ban, exclude, etc.) Fawstin’s cartoon. And it is also the right of the media to suppress anything else it does NOT like in accord with its political bias, right or left-wing.  What we seem to disagree on is that the media should NOT be in the business of political bias, but rather in the business of NEWS and that includes Fawstin’s newsworthy cartoon.  In essence, your organization is a sham because of its nitpicking with regards the term censorship. 
CB:  [No comment]
PM:  Contrary to your very restricted and convenient definition, EXCLUSION (i.e., excluding certain cartoons, ideas, criticism, and comments) is a definite form of censorship. The mentality of censorship is one of EXCLUSION. In essence, the politically-biased media (right or left-wing) chooses to EXCLUDE what it does not like. That is a definite form of censorship. Libraries and universities that boast INCLUSION tend to EXCLUDE what they do not like… and often that includes criticism of them. How can you, as a free-speech advocate, not denounce the egregious hypocrisy?
CB:  It’s clear that we have a difference of opinion on this matter.  I appreciate that you disagree with our efforts in this area. Such disagreement is the soul of free expression.  
PM:  The “soul of free expression” would be manifest in your willingness to publish this dialogue and the cartoon I sketched satiriziing CBLDF on your website. Will CBLDF, which is purportedly “in the business of fighting government censorship and providing news about the censorship climate,” rise to defend my First Amendment rights vis-a-vis the PERMANENT banning of my cartoons from a public institution (i.e., government)? If so, you would be unique and the first to do so.  

CB:  [No comment] 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Department of Creative Writing, University of California, Riverside

NO RESPONSE 

Not one response from over 20 Professors at the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE
DEPARTMENT OF CREATIVE WRITING!  

How sad it is that out of 20 some odd university professors contacted, not one deigned to respond to my criticism.  How do such professors become such detesters of vigorous debate, one of democracy's prime cornerstones?  Clearly, they reflect the closed doors of the general Academic/Literary Established Order.  Clearly, they are part of that PRIVILEGED elite!  How sad they are and how sad it is that NOBODY from the university student newspaper would respond either.  Evidently, those 20 some odd professors have succeeded in indoctrinating the student editors.  Below is the OPEN LETTER I sent.  See also the post after it regarding one of their own...

From: George Slone
Sent: Sunday, January 3, 2016 9:46 AM
To: juan.herrera@ucr.edu; reza.aslan@ucr.edu; charmaine.craig@ucr.edu; josh.emmons@ucr.edu; stephen.erickson@ucr.edu; katie.ford@ucr.edu; nalo.hopkinson@ucr.edu; michael.jayme@ucr.edu; christopher.buckley@ucr.edu; michael.davis@ucr.edu; judy.kronenfeld@ucr.edu; eliud.martinez@ucr.edu; laila.lalami@ucr.edu; goldberry.long@ucr.edu; tom.lutz@ucr.edu; susan.straight@ucr.edu; allison.white@ucr.edu; andrew.winer@ucr.edu; maurya.simon@ucr.edu; ben.stoltzfus@ucr.edu; chuck.whitney@ucr.edu; dwight.yates@ucr.edu
Cc: editorinchief@highlandernews.org; opinions@highlandernews.org
Subject: Open Letter to the Department of Creative Writing, University of California, Riverside

Open Letter to the Department of Creative Writing, University of California, Riverside
As you know, one of your own, Juan Felipe Herrera, is now Poet Laureate of the US Library of Congress.   As you do NOT know, he was lampooned on the front cover of the latest issue of The American Dissident, a 501c3 nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence.  You do not know this because not one library in California is willing to subscribe to the journal.  Universities like Harvard, Brown, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Brown, and a few others are subscribers. For those of you, who still have an iota of curiosity of what goes on outside the California PC-box, you can examine the front cover, as well as the editorial pertaining to it, here:  wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com.  Below the editorial is the Open Letter to Juan Felipe Herrera I wrote in August and sent to Herrera and Michael Rios, student editor of The Highlander.  Neither deigned to respond.  Evidently, neither is a proponent of vigorous debate, one of democracy’s prime cornerstones.  Are any of you?

Why are each and everyone of you likely entirely indifferent to the fact that the Academy of American Poetry censored and banned me, a creative writer and poet, from expressing my views on its website?  Why does academe favor a smiley-faced herd professorate over staunch individuals daring to “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways?” (Emerson)  That is an important question confronting democracy in America today.  Thankfully, I have failed as an academic teamplayer and thus do not possess titles of Endowed, Distinguished, Emeritus, Distinguished Emeritus, Laureate, or any of the other such dubious honors normally accorded those with exceptional turn-a-blind-eye ability.  BTW, the first part of that Emerson quote is “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions…”  Can any of you grasp what Emerson meant by that?  


Finally, might there be one of you, just one of you, who might actually encourage students in a creative writing assignment, for example, to criticize you, your department, your institution, or any of the established-order organisations from Poet Laureate to Poetry Foundation, Poets & Writers magazine, Poetry magazine, the Academy of American Poets, etc.?  Silence seems always to be the “response” of those possessing comfy sinecures, pensions, fringe benefits, titles, badges, and hefty salaries.  Sadly, it seems also to be the response of those they teach like student editor Michael Rios…

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Juan Felipe Herrera

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Editorial The American Dissident #30

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
Absolut Vacuity
Assaults on Freedom of Expression
Privileged journalists and cartoonists, white and black, seem bent on drawing PC-red lines for satire and, in general, freedom of speech. I say, fuck’em!  In fact, any satirist worthy of his or her salt would say, fuck’em! They argue only the privileged—not them of course—should be targets of satire. But what about stupid statements, hypocrites, believers in idiocy, and speech-code pushers? Shouldn’t they also be targets of satire? Charlie Hebdo criticized Islam because of its fundamental idiocy. But that should have been off limits according to some privileged journalists, academics, and even establishment cartoonists like Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury fame. DIVERSITY/INCLUSION has become the establishment’s mantra. It is an Orwellian term meaning EXCLUSION of anyone not towing the UNIFORMITY of the PC-party line. 
The inspiration for this issue’s cover came from the website of the Academy of American Poets (www.poets.org), which I rarely visit.  Blazened on the main page in large letters were a couple of lines from the new poet laureate of the US Congress, high-and-mighty Academy of American Poets Chancellor Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino academic/literary hack to achieve that dubious position. For those lines of absolut vacuity, see the cartoon below. It is astonishing that only one person chooses/votes for the laureate, the Librarian of Congress (soon-to-be-replaced James Billington). It is even more astonishing that thousands and thousands of poets and academics across the country accept that autocratic- selection process without question or challenge.  Sadly, their open-wide-just-say-ah modus operandi represents the state of literature in a nutshell.  Dare question and challenge any of the literary organizations, organizers, or icons and be prepared for full ostracizing.  It is all very Soviet-like.  And if you don’t believe it, read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Oak and the Calf. The similarities are egregious! By the way, Billington is advised via the James Madison Council, a group of one-percenters led by hedge-fund plutocrat David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group.  Thanks to the Council’s massive amounts of money, Billington has been treated to a one-percenter jetset lifestyle à la Michelle and Barack Obama.
The new editor of Charlie Hebdo, Laurent Sourisseau (aka Riss), was wounded during the Paris massacre and only survived by playing dead. I was tempted to cartoon him for what he’d said in a post-mortem July interview, but decided against it because of what he’d gone through. However, I do think he should have resigned rather than become editor and simply declare DEFEAT (i.e., the magazine would no longer draw Muhammad). Victory went to violent Muslim Islamofascists.  Defeat went to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.  What really ticked me off was what Sourisseau had said: "We've done our job. We have defended the right to caricature.”  Well, that was true.  But now they were not going to do their “job” anymore. It would have been much better for the magazine to close its doors. Sourisseau aberrantly argued, “We still believe that we have the right to criticize all religions.”  Yet evidently that is NOT true for he has given up the right to criticize Islam.  He also put forth the lame everyone-else-does-it non-argument to justify the magazine’s decision not to draw Muhammad:  “The mistakes you could blame Islam for can be found in other religions.” Yet clearly people in those “other religions” are not out raping women, enslaving, beheading, and torturing in the name of their “other religions.”  In the case of Charlie Hebdo, Islamic violence defeated freedom of speech.  Former editor Charb, if he’d survived, would probably not have given up to the dictates of Sharia Law, as in Thou Shalt Not Draw Muhammad.  
Despite the dhimmi media, the Garland, TX draw Muhammad contest proved to be a real victory for freedom of expression in America and a consequent defeat for Islamofascism. Nevertheless, the organizers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, both prohibited from visiting Great Britain, where free speech has been greatly reduced by pro-Sharia-law, hate-speech legislation, must be extremely cautious in America. Their bold outspokenness has cost them the freedom to move about without armed guards.  Why hasn’t Obama spoken out about that?  Why has he not said a word about cartoonist Molly Norris?  Why does he not seem to give a damn about free speech?  Islamofascists in America will not rest until they’ve succeeded in replacing the First Amendment with anti-blasphemy laws. (Both Obama and Hillary worked with CAIR in such an effort known as the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18.) Bosch Fawstin, the winning cartoonist, must also be extremely cautious and keeps his whereabouts unknown. Amazingly, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), a purported advocate of free speech, would not publish Fawstin’s winning cartoon (see right), nor would it even mention Fawstin, as the winner. A “conversation” appears in this issue of The AD with CBLDF executive director Charles Brownstein, who argued I did not have the legal right to publish his email correspondence with me. But I did some research, and it appears I do have the right. If not, I take a chance in the name of free speech. Now, imagine a free-speech advocate like CBLDF suing me over a free speech issue…
.................................................

Open Letter to Juan Felipe Herrera, Creative Writing Professor,
University of California at Riverside,
Poet Laureate of California & Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets
He had written much blank verse, and blanker prose,
And more of both than anybody knows. […]
—Lord Byron, RE poet laureate Bob Southey 

“Is Poetry Dead? Not if 45 Official Laureates Are Any Indication” was the title of the New York Times article that featured a large photo of you et al.  However, it is not a question of “dead,” but rather one of having or not having pertinence.  Poetry, in fact, really doesn’t matter today in America because, for one thing, poet laureates and other poets accorded voice are largely paid for and/or promoted by the academic/literary established order to essentially push pabulum verse apt not to offend elementary school children… and easily offended, multiculti-minded adult apparatchiks.  The bland poems read at Obama’s two inaugurals—shame on any poet who stoops so low as to be willing to read a poem only after a politician gives it the okay—serve as examples of such pabulum, as does the verse written by you, Juan Felipe Herrera, cited in that article as a kind of “Whitmanesque tribute”:  “Architects engineers laborers drivers Viva!/Lifters callers crane operators Viva!/Cement mixers cable threaders Viva!”  Whitman could indeed be bland and inncouous in his glory, glory hyperbolic rhetoric.  What is wrong with the New York Times, if it really thinks that line of yours worthy of mention?  Indeed, it sounds as if it might have been taken from the “Communist International,” which for some odd reason omitted to include mention of the millions of hard-working kulaks butchered under the Soviet state.  
In any case, I wish to inform you that I was permanently banned from commenting on the Academy of American Poets’ website in 2007 (see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/academy_american_poets.html).  For the transcript of my censored comments, see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/academy_american_poets_transcript.html). If unusually curious you decide to actually check it out, you’ll note the absence of racist or sexist epithets and threats.  However, my comments were not PC smiley-faced.  Fortunately, I saved the transcript prior to its being censored.  Poets should fight tooth and nail against such lowly censorship!  Why did your colleague Chancellors not do this?  Well, for one thing, they tend to be the censors!  My comments were offensive to them because I had (and have!) the audacity to criticize established-order poets and their  academic/literary established-order machine.  For that, I have been ostracized into poet oblivion.  But that was certainly to be expected, for poets are hardly at all staunch defenders of freedom of speech.  What they tend to be is politically correct and gregarious, as opposed to steadfast individuals and fervent advocates of free expression.  
Now, do you care about that egregious incident of Academy censorship or will you attempt to justify it like several of your Chancellor colleagues?  Will you stand as an individual to protest against that act of censorship and RISK upsetting your colleague censors?  As a ladder climber, you will likely respond with a NO, though not directly or to me.  You state in the New York Times article that poets “have to float and be transparent and pick up everything we can.”  Well, what the hell does that even mean?  Most poets don’t give a damn about censorship or issues of freedom of expression.  Hell, if they did, they’d end up ostracized like me and with no grants or speaking invitations, let alone tenure at some university.  So, are they supposed to be “transparent” about their apathy?  Well, that would be a good place to start.  So, are well-fed poets like you blinded by the feed or are they being fed because they were already blind?  Perhaps it’s a little of both?  How long have you been turning a blind eye to rise, as you have, in the ranks of the established order?  As far as poets “floating,” I’d much rather sink and not “pick up” any of those titles, grants, and academic perks you’ve received over the years.  
Finally, since the New York Times would never publish this as an opposing point of view, I send it to The Highlander, your university student newspaper.  Will Michael Rios, editor-in-chief,  publish it?  Will he even deign to respond?  Sadly, experience with such newspapers and journalists tells me that likelihood to be quite low.  These things said, how about getting your library to be the first and only library in California willing to subscribe to The American Dissident (only $20/year), a journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence?  LOL…


[Rios never responded, nor did Herrera.]