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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Quillette Claire Lehmann


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The Following essay was sent to Quillette.  Not only was it rejected, but I ended up permanently banned from participating in Quillette's "free thought" platforms.  Claire Lehman's words are quoted in the cartoon.  Her email (banning decree) is at the very end of this post.  Another essay was sent.  Then an essay on Lehman's grotesque hypocrisy was sent.  They also figure below and with other correspondence.  The platform's statement, as noted in the cartoon, is indeed quite odd:

"Quillette is a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress. Quillette aims to provide a platform for this exchange."

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Black-Privilege Racists
Would it be possible to brainwash citizens into believing that no differences exist between females and males?  Probably.  Would it thus be possible to brainwash citizens into believing that black skin and white skin are the same color and that no differences exist between black-skinned and white-skinned people?  Probably.  Severe indoctrination can likely produce such miraculous transformations.  But just how deeply rooted might those transformations be?  Post-indoctrination former communist countries seem to reveal the transformations to be not permanent in many, if not most, people.  Evidently, the reason for such impermanence is quite simple:  indoctrination is not based on fact and truth.  
The nation’s colleges and universities are plagued with monkey-see, monkey-do copycat group behavior, a safe modus operandi.  Millions or maybe billions of dollars are being spent today on Diversity and Inclusion indoctrination programs, workshops, officers, and deans.  What do these programs really succeed in doing, if anything at all, if not furthering the great racist divide and promoting blacks, while demeaning whites?  
The nation’s colleges and universities are flooded today, especially in the humanities, with indoctrinated professors serving to indoctrinate students.  They push ideology and group adherence to it, while simultaneously scorning individualism and rigorous questioning and challenging of their ideology.  That has been the communist-socialist modus operandi for over a century.
Florida Gulf Coast University is not at all special in this respect, but rather just another monkey-see, monkey-do institution of purported higher education offering not a Democracy and First Amendment Certificate Program, but rather a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program for Students and Employees.  To get the piece of paper, one must attend six designated presentations, trainings, or events, according to a Washington Times report.  However, all such designations are really nothing but “trainings,” an interesting term in itself that ought to evoke dogs or soldiers, as opposed to students and professors.  The Times’ Richard Raps cites three examples:  “Race and Racism in the Trump Era,” “Combating Islamophobia at FGCU,” and “Race, Immigration, and White Supremacy in the Post-Obama Era.”  Now, what about “Increasing the Racial Divide in the Obama Era” or “Combating Islamic Supremacy Doctrine at FGCU”?  Nope!  Insufficiently PC (i.e., incorrect ideology)!  And that is the problem.  Any “acceptable” training speech could easily be inverted and reflect uncomfortable truths.   In fact, any racism statement could likely also be easily inverted.  
One of FGCU’s well-indoctrinated sociology professors, Ted Thornhill, author of the first example presented by Raps, is scheduled to teach his “White Racism” course, which provoked a controversy at FGCU.  But controversy is a good thing in academe because controversy normally provokes vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy.   Now, how about a course titled “Black Racism”?  Again, inversion is ineluctably easy because uncomfortable truths usually support it.  And indeed some blacks, perhaps many blacks, do not like whites and tend to racially stereotype them.  Sadly, the monkey-see, monkey-do climate in academe has reached the point of obligation to the extent that “Black Racism,” as a course, is simply unthinkable for the simple reason that a professor apt to create and teach such a course would risk his or her career by doing so.  And sadly, professors are not known for individual courage and not at all apt to risk career for the sake of truth.  And that in itself explains the monkey-see, monkey-do sad state of today’s academe.  
In any case, the “White Racism” course is likely not very original at all in academe.  And Thornhill is first to admit that:  “Courses such as mine have been taught throughout the country and across disciplines for decades. A course with this very title has been regularly taught at the University of Connecticut for the past 22 years.  These courses provide students with an opportunity to gain a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of race, white racism, racial inequality, and white supremacy.”  
Why the absence of black racism and mention of Affirmative Action?  Uncomfortable facts!  
What provoked the controversy, according to Raps, were the flyers pushing the course with “WHITE RACISM” in bold print.  Thornhill either felt obligated to address the controversy or saw the opportunity to further push the course in a letter to the student newspaper, Eagle News.  
Fact, accuracy, and logic are never the forte of ideologues like Thornhill, who notes in his letter that “Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many individuals in the U.S., particularly whites, believe the U.S. is now a post-racial society, one where color-blindness is the order of the day.”
Where are the statistics to back such a declaration?  Certainly after the event of Obama, Ferguson, etc. most people probably believe the contrary.  Oddly, Thornhill evokes twice-elected Obama as proof of his assertion.  And yet logic would push one to cite the election of a black person as proof that whites are less racist than academics like Thornhill wish to believe.  After all, without white support, Obama never would have been elected.  
Most if not all of Thornhill’s statements are simply flawed, which is why the letter must be critically analyzed.  Oddly, Thornhill argues regarding the twice-elected black person as indicative of whites being far less racist than perhaps in the past: However, not only are such claims factually inaccurate, they are also dangerous.”  He does not at all state why this is “factually inaccurate” or “dangerous.”  After all, ideologues often do not have to back their assertions.  Instead, Thornhill diverts the issue from whites being far more accepting of blacks to “Much evidence, both historical and sociological, shows the U.S. has been and remains a white supremacist society. That is, a racially stratified society where whiteness is more highly valued and therefore associated with greater life chances.”
Of course, one can easily invert his statement to reflect the reality of nations like South Africa.  In essence, whites are in the majority in America and founded America.  Those are facts.  However, law has eliminated any legal basis today for the “white supremacist society” argument.  In fact, the Affirmative Action law and Diversity and Inclusion Programs in both academe and business assure, contrary to Thornhill’s argument, that “blackness is more highly valued.”  That reality clearly challenges the “white supremacist society” narrative, favored by ideologues.  Will Thornhill’s course be devoid of such clear challenges to his ideology?  Probably.  
“Research shows the persistence, durability, and mutability of white racism and the injurious effects it continues to have on those racialized as non-white,” notes Thornhill.  And yet reality shows the opposite.  And why not replace white racism with black racism and mention black on white crime and how about Asian Americans?  Uncomfortable facts always perturb ideologues in the business of pushing stereotypes and double standards!  
Thornhill concludes:  “At its core, my course is about the search for truth. Too many Americans, especially whites, are cocooned in a ‘bubble of unreality’ as it concerns racial matters.”  Yet obviously a real search for truth would include black racism, black racist supremacy organizations, black crime, low black education standards, black family disunity, etc.  But, evidently, the professor lives in his own academic “bubble of unreality,” so clearly does not possess the capacity to evoke those issues… 

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The following is the correspondence that took place after the essay was received.  Also, a second essay was sent.

From: Pitch Quillette
Sent: Sunday, January 7, 2018 12:57 PM
To: George Slone
Subject: Re: The Civility Problem...

Hi George,

Thanks for this submission, but this isn't for us. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

Jamie Palmer
assistant editor

From: George Slone
Sent: Sunday, January 7, 2018 3:03 PM
To: Pitch Quillette
Cc: claire@quillette.com
Subject: Re: The Civility Problem...

Hi Jamie,
No curiosity at all regarding The American Dissident.  Hmm.  Well, thanks for the quick response, though I am left bewildered as to why the essay I sent wasn't at all for Quillette, which purports to exist for the sake of vigorous debate and freedom of expression.  Hmm.  Well, here's one that might touch a nerve, that is, if I'm sensing things correctly regarding Quillette and vigorous debate and freedom of expression...  
G. Tod
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The Civility Problem
I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

As a writer I have had my comments censored and banned in the name of civility, though the term wasn’t usually mentioned.  Often nothing was mentioned.  The Academy of American Poets, for example, permanently banned me from commenting on its online forums, although I hadn’t used prohibited vocabulary or made threats of violence.  But I had criticized via “rude truth” one of its cherished poet icons.  I’ve also been permanently banned from my neighborhood library, Sturgis Library, without warning or due process.  InsideHigherEd.com removed (i.e., censored) a number of my comments and reflects the fact that higher education, above all else, is a business, replete with lack of transparency, lack of freedom of speech, lack of accountability, and ideologically-driven.  One of my censored comments was highly critical of an op-ed posted by the president of Trinity Washington University.  When I’d sent the censored comments to the latter, she agreed that the comments should have indeed been removed because they were “not publishable,” “incoherent,” and “vituperation.” 
One of my poetry chapbooks, Oil of Vitriol, lists on the back cover negative blurbs with my regard—perhaps indeed a good idea to counter the rampant back-slapping and self-congratulating ├╝ber-civility that characterizes the academic/literary establishment today (and probably yesterday too).  One of the blurbs chosen was written by Professor Jay Rubin (College of Alameda), publisher of Alehouse Press (examine our correspondence):

While you are certainly rude in your discussions—i.e., socially incorrect in behavior, lacking civility or good manners, characterized by simplicity and (often) crudeness, and lacking in refinement or grace—and proudly so, it’s no wonder you’ve never made tenure.  

Could it get any better than that?  If I were looking at book-back blurbs, I’d certainly be tempted to buy that book.  Chief Justice William O. Douglas argued that “Literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor.”  And how does the civility censor define such highly subjective terms like “socially incorrect,” “civility,” “good manners,” “crudeness,” and “refinement or grace”?  Add to that list, the Washington Examiner’s call for “intellectual civility.”  What other kinds of civility might there be?  For the censors, subjective good taste (i.e., civility) is somehow an objective quality.  Such terms obviously serve as convenient impervious walls of protection, usually of the ideological variety.  
Clearly, “civility” does not jive with “rude truth,” and vice versa.  That is the very crux of the “civility” problem.  What is “intellectual civility”?  Well, I can tell you what it ain’t:  this very essay.
Civility favors thin skin; rude truth favors backbone.  Today, society encourages citizens to be thin skinned, and not to have back bone.  It encourages people to say, right and left, “I am offended.”  Well, I say, so what!  Civility favors society and its faceless apparatchik controllers, while rude truth does not.  And so now we have Civil (getcivil.com), hired by the Washington Examiner in an effort to control and otherwise limit comments and opinions.  It’s a cheaper way—and I hate to advertise for it here—than hiring a full-time moderator (i.e., euphemism for censor).  “Civil is the best software platform for managing community behavior,” boasts Civil.  Is there other such software out there?  Well, we do know that software geeks at YouTube, Google, and Twitter have been working on algorithms in an attempt to diminish or eliminate (i.e., censor) comments, web sites, videos, etc. that might be deemed insufficiently PC (i.e. civil).  And hasn’t Washington Examiner been critical about that?
Social engineering and the Brave New World dystopia certainly come to mind.  As an active dissident (staunch individual, as opposed to staunch commune’ity member), I know what “community behavior” in my particular community is expected to be—see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  Counter that unwritten community dictum and you no longer exist for the community, even if you live in the community.  The local newspapers won’t publish an account of your banning, the local reps won’t help you rectify the injustice, neighbors will ignore it, and even the local human rights commission will manifest pathetic apathy and snub its nose at you.  Yes, the wonders of civility!  
Civility (i.e., getcivil.com) proposes that those who leave comments be the civility judges (i.e., the civility censors) and offers polite, civil guidelines for how to censor, as in “Think about what would be considered ‘rude’ in real life; it’s a good guideline for what we mean by ‘uncivil.’” Can it get any more clear than that?  Civility unsurprisingly states, “We’re strong believers in freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but…”  Recall what Salman Rushdie, post-Charlie Hebdo massacre, had said:  “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.” 

“With Civil Comments, each comment is judged by several people,” notes Civility. “Our patent-pending Behavior Engine then analyzes those judgments and attempts to account and correct for bias and people trying to cheat the system.”  Yes, a Behavior Engine!  The concept civility, above all else, serves to control and push conformity (i.e., groupthink) and otherwise tame dissident individuals in society.  Its intrinsically-subjective nature aids and abets in that endeavor.   In our dystopian society, on college campuses, for example, civility can mean the violent shutting down of unwanted opinions even when the latter are expressed civilly…
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Then the great silence.  So, I wrote an essay on the experience with Quillette and sent it to its editor, Claire Lehmann.  Then finally a response from the high and mighty.
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Testing the Waters of Democracy:
Hypocrites at the Helm... of Quillette
The great Achilles heel of all our so-called community pillars from librarians to journalists, politicians, professors, publishers, etc. is the fervent rejection of criticism with their particular regard.  Try finding a journalist who would actually permit a satirical cartoon or critical essay vis-a-vis the journalist in the pages of his or her newspaper!   Good luck, eh?  Every editor/publisher should not only be able to brook criticism, but encourage it with his or her regard.  Yet I cannot think of one literary journal, besides the one I publish, that will do that.  And that is the crux of the problem.  
Quillette, an Australian online journal edited by Claire Lehmann, publishes some interesting essays and, according to it, “is a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress. Quillette aims to provide a platform for this exchange.”  
Sounds nice, right?  But how many times have I read statements of openness like that—clear reflections of academe’s inclusivity aberrancy, as in whites need not apply—only to find the doors closed!  And indeed such statements need to be questioned and challenged vigorously.  So I sent an essay, “The Civility Problem,” highly critical of those who ban and censor ideas in the name of civility.  In it, I transgressed the usual taboo of naming names, as examples, including Inside Higher Ed and the Poetry Foundation.  Of course, evoking civility, good taste, and wrong tone to dismiss facts, reason, and ideas has become a rather common ploy.  And of course the problem becomes one in which some ideas and criticism can simply never be put forth in good-taste civility.  That’s the crux.  So, how to criticize Quillette in good-taste civility, for example?  

Thanks for this submission, but this isn't for us. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.
Jamie Palmer
Assistant Editor, Quillette

Well, Palmer didn’t capitalize assistant editor.  I did that.  Okay.  But I was curious as to why the ideas presented in the essay were not right for Quillette, which respected “ideas, even dangerous ones.” Were they too dangerous or insufficiently dangerous?  Were they apt not to help “human societies flourish and progress”?  Maybe that was it.  In fact, that sort of echoed the absurd Poets & Writers “change-the-world” poets inanity.  Indeed, one must wonder if Quillette ever published just one essay apt to help “human societies flourish and progress” even just a tiny bit.  For some reason (wrong tone? lack of civility?), Palmer clearly did not appear at all interested in ever hearing from me again.  Go elsewhere was the message implied in his brief email… and not just for that one essay.  So, disobediently, I responded with a cc to editor Claire Lehmann and sent a second essay, “Black-Privileged Racists,” focusing on Ted Thornhill’s “White Racism” Florida Gulf Coast University course.

Hi Jamie,
No curiosity at all regarding The American Dissident.  Hmm.  Well, thanks for the quick response, though I am left bewildered as to why the essay I sent wasn't at all for Quillette, which purports to exist for the sake of vigorous debate and freedom of expression.  Hmm.  Well, here's one that might touch a nerve, that is, if I'm sensing things correctly regarding Quillette and vigorous debate and freedom of expression...  
G. Tod

The articles in Quillette seem to lean right-wing.  As of late, the left certainly does seem to be more anti-free speech than the right.  But, once again, touch a nerve on the right and the same knee-jerk censorship reaction will likely result as it will on the left.  As an example, David Horowitz’ right-wing Frontpage magazine is always publishing book reviews written by friends of the authors to the extent that the reviews are really nothing more than lengthy book blurbs.  So, I posted two critical comments, including “Let No Act of Censorship Go Uncriticized,” with that regard.  Both were immediately censored, uh, moderated into oblivion.  And so I sent an email.

To Mark Tapson, Michael Finch, Daniel Greenfield, and David Horowitz, Frontpage Mag: 
How can Frontpage possibly justify its censorship (i.e., moderation into oblivion) of the comments I posted regarding Tapson’s hagiographical review of Finch’s book of poetry, especially considering the plethora of recent Frontpage articles condemning the increasing incidents of left-wing assaults on freedom of speech, especially with regards the shutting down of debate on college campuses across the country from Yale to Missou to Smith to Vasser?  
After all, by rejecting my comments are you not shutting down debate?  The hypocrisy is truly mind-boggling… considering the very name of your organization:  FREEDOM CENTER!  Tapson notes that “reclaiming America means reclaiming the culture, and that means engaging in the arts.”  BUT does “reclaiming the culture” simply mean replacing left-wing censorship of the culture with right-wing censorship of the culture? Likely so!  
Finally, please re-consider your act of censorship.  What are you so afraid of?  Why do so many poets have such thin skin, Mr. Finch?  As editor of The American Dissident, I always encourage and always publish the harshest criticism lodged against me and/or the journal.  Period.  Can I really be that unique in the world of publishing?  Ideological apparatchiks never admit wrong.  Only staunch individuals do that. 

No response was ever received.  Now, will Quillette follow in those dubious footprints?  Well, it has yet to respond to my second essay.  Will they even read this essay and be at all capable of focusing on its criticism?  Or will they more likely just whip through it in lightning speed, then chuck it into the garbage bucket of the oubliettes and self-congratulate and backslap business-as-usual?  Finally, it would be in the interest of truth if both Lehmann and Palmer listed the free expression and debate that is not right for their Quillette.  Anyhow, time for lone literary sniper P. Maudit to get sketching…
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From: Claire Lehmann
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2018 9:07 PM
To: George Slone
Cc: pitch@quillette.com
Subject: Re: An essay for Claire Lehmann and Jamie Palmer...

Dear Mr Slone,

Please feel free to criticise Quillette and myself in any forum you see fit. 

However please refrain from submitting to us in the future.

Regards,
Claire Lehmann





Wednesday, January 3, 2018

National Coalition Against Censorship

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The following three emails were sent to the NCAC, which chose not to respond... in the name of free speech and vigorous debate, cornerstones of democracy.


From: George Slone
Sent: Saturday, February 6, 2016 9:15 AM
To: ncac@ncac.org
Cc: Justin Silverman; charles.brownstein@cbldf.org; pen@pen.org; mickey@projectcensored.org; dan@bookweb.org; info@abffe.org; bstripli@syr.edu; info@publishers.org; ftrf@ala.org; madler-kozak@nacs.org; dangelo@nacs.org; info@cbldf.org; oif@ala.org; jlarue@ala.org; dstone@ala.org
Subject: Intrinsic intellectual corruption in the heart of the NCAC

To Joan Bertin, Exec. Dir, National Coalition Against Censorship:  
Why not publish (on your website) the essay I recently wrote highly critical of the NCAC?  The Global Free Press just published it here:  http://www.globalfreepress.org/contributors/usa/g-tod-slone/3936-15-threats-to-free-speech-2015-an-egregious-and-purposeful-omission).  I've also attached it to this email.  I'd be highly interested in your take on my take of your apparent egregious intellectual corruption.  Publishing the essay might actually spark a little debate exterior to the PC-limits of free speech acceptability.  Thanks for your attention.  

From: George Slone
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 5:08 PM
To: ncac@ncac.org
Cc: charles.brownstein@cbldf.org; pen@pen.org; mickey@projectcensored.org; dan@bookweb.org; info@abffe.org; bstripli@syr.edu; info@publishers.org; ftrf@ala.org; madler-kozak@nacs.org; dangelo@nacs.org; info@cbldf.org; oif@ala.org; jlarue@ala.org; dstone@ala.org; justin@nefirstamendment.org
Subject: Intellectual fraud et al

To Joan Bertin, Exec. Dir. NCAC:
Was there a reason why you decided to ignore the egregious fault that I underscored regarding your "15 Threats to Free Speech 2015" report?  Might that reason simply be that you and NCAC cannot bear criticism?  In every issue of The American Dissident, I not only encourage hard-core criticism of me and the journal but publish the harshest received.  You should have published my critical essay on your website!  It likely would have provoked a little much needed vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy.  

Why did you choose to ignore the Garland, TX near massacre and the San Bernardino massacre in your report?   And what about the effort made by so many Democrat-Party congressmen in 2015 to try to pass HR 569, an anti-blasphemy law regarding specifically ISLAM, a law that would directly contravene the First Amendment, something you are purportedly interested in?  Why the silence?  Are you getting money from CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood?  If so, you need to take a long look in the mirror.

See attached for the front cover of the next issue of The American Dissident, featuring the sponsor of HR 569 and members of CAIR.  ISLAM should have made your 15 THREATS.  We've seen it in action in Paris and now in Bruxelles.  Will it make your next report?  As a cartoonist, I know damn well that criticizing ISLAM is the most risky of subjects I can sketch.  It is far more threatening to free speech than anything else I can think of.  Cartoonist Molly Norris, wherever she's hiding, would surely agree with me on that!  

And yes, I still do not have my civil liberties here in my town of Barnstable on ole Cape Cod where I am not permitted to attend any political or cultural events held at my neighborhood library.  And yes, neither you nor Karen Wulf of PEN New England nor the ACLUM give a damn about that!  

From: George Slone
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2016 5:40 PM
To: ncac@ncac.org
Cc: charles.brownstein@cbldf.org; pen@pen.org; mickey@projectcensored.org; dan@bookweb.org; info@abffe.org; bstripli@syr.edu; info@publishers.org; ftrf@ala.org; madler-kozak@nacs.org; dangelo@nacs.org; info@cbldf.org; oif@ala.org; jlarue@ala.org; dstone@ala.org; justin@nefirstamendment.org; pamelageller@gmail.com
Subject: Att: Peter Hart and NCAC hypocrisy

To Peter Hart, NCAC Communication Director,
A cartoon I just sketched with your regard, highlighting your bias against free speech, was just posted here:  http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/03/peter-hart.html

Will you respond?  Likely not because likely you will not be able to offer a cogent counter argument to the message in the cartoon.  All you will likely have in your arsenal is ad hominem or thinly-disguised ad hominem, as in “looking to cause controversy”…  BTW, in case Joan Bertin kept it from you, my critical essay regarding NCAC’s “15 Threats to Free Speech 2015” is located here:    

On another note, though really the same note, I’ve come to conclude that far too many proponents of free speech are ideologically bound (i.e., blinded) to the extent they are not really proponents of free speech.  Karen Wulf of PEN New England is an example.  Charles Brownstein of CBLDF serves as another example.  You can read my dialogue de sourds with him here:  http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/01/comic-book-legal-defense-fund.html.  Or perhaps, like Joan, you too are not curious and abhor criticism when it concerns you and your pals.  
If you are into the HATE SPEECH mantra, then why the hypocrisy and need to pretend to be into FREE SPEECH?