A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ]. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com.
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, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Iconoclast

The above cartoon was drawn in 2006.  The only real question to pose:  Is The Iconoclast at all iconoclastic?  My conclusion was a definite NO.  Iconoclast would definitely imply harsh criticism regarding the academic/literary establishment.  For its editor, Phil Wagner, "Poetry and prose from authors interested in the creation, sharing, and transmission of ideas, imaginings, and experiences. Getting rich or famous from publication here is unlikely, but more people in more places actually read Iconoclast than the vast majority of other small press literary magazines."  Not a single word on The Iconoclast website encourages "iconoclasting" (criticism).  Mind-boggling, or rather numbing, indeed!  Perhaps it is time to give The Iconoclast an award for Literary Magazine Title Misrepresentation!  In essence, The Iconoclast is as establishment as it gets.

In any case, yesterday I was "battling" with a Quebec publisher, Jean-Sébastien Larouche (L'Ecrou) who, for some reason, had not learned the establishment credo:  thou shalt not respond to criticism.  He was recently highlighted in Le Devoir (Montreal) as an iconoclast, which is why I questioned and challenged him... and indeed he was anything but an iconoclast.  Then today I looked over Poets & Writers magazine online and noticed Matthew Zapruder was highlighted.  The name rang a bell.  So, I checked to see if indeed I'd sketched a cartoon on him.  And sure enough I had (see https://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/03/matthew-zapruder.html).  After the posted cartoon is a dialogue de sourds I created with him, questioning and challenging his statements.  He unsurprisingly never responded.  And thus I wondered would The Iconoclast publish it... knowing quite well it would not.  After all, it is listed in Poets & Writers magazine directory, which refuses to list The American Dissident... just like NewPages.com.  For the literary establishment, The American Dissident and I simply do NOT exist...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Supervisor Mike Muehlbauer Fish and Wildlife Service

The following essay account was sent to Fish and Wildlife Service, which never responded, and to Customs and Border Protection, which sort of responded eventually (see response following the essay). But the latter essentially ignored most of the points made in the essay.  It was also sent to Down East magazine, which will likely not publish it for evident reasons.  The CBP response was robotic and was not signed with the name of a human.  What else could one expect from the Government?  The official list of bones taken from me is included after the CBP response.  Below is a photo of my confiscated bones, immense harm to the American environment... of course.

An Open Letter to Customs and Border Protection 
& Fish and Wildlife Service
We’re Just Doing Our Job—Notes on a Border Crossing

The statement—the very rationale for bureaucratic insanity/inanity—that stuck in my mind during my forced two-hour stay at the border-patrol building in Calais, Maine was indeed:  “we’re just doing our jobs.”  It is a statement that conveniently deflects from any questioning and challenging of policy and/or behavior.  Also, since the Holocaust is being evoked again in politics, well, weren’t the concentration-camp guards just doing their jobs?  Hmm.  
This year, crossing the border had become a royal pain in the neck for me, a common U.S. citizen.  In May, I’d decided to visit Campobello Island just over the bridge from Lubec, Maine.  There, the Canadian border patrol agents rifled through my car and did a computer search on me.  I began getting impatient after waiting an hour.  Finally, I told the agent I no longer wanted to visit the island.  He said, technically I was in Canada and had to wait for the search to be completed.  Eventually, he agreed to let me turn around because the computer search was taking so long.  He stepped out of the building to make sure I turned around back to the U.S. about 200 yards away.  Five minutes later, back at the U.S. border, again my car was searched.  That took about 45 minutes by U.S. border patrol agents.  I asked why they hadn’t simply contacted the Canadian agents.  But one of the U.S. agents said they did not contact them because that was not part of policy.  I asked him what precisely they looked for when deciding to search a person, while not others.  He failed to provide a concrete response.  Last September, Canadian border patrol agents did a search on me when I crossed over at Calais, ME to Saint Stephen, New Brunswick.  They’d found a guy on the computer with a similar name to mine with a criminal record and so questioned and questioned me over and over. 
But the worst by far was yet to come on June 18th, when I crossed back into the U.S. at Calais, Maine.  There, I arrived at the border at 3 pm.  “Please park over there, we’ll do a quick search,” said the border patrol agent in the booth.  And so I parked, while another agent escorted me into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection building.  There I was told to sit down on the long marble bench without back or cushions.  I chose to stand up because I’d been driving since eight in the morning from North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  None of the agents seemed to know precisely what was permitted and what was not permitted.  Not even the supervisor seemed to know.  One of them asked about my Newfoundland experience and mentioned how he too liked to collect bones.  Meanwhile, one or several other guards were rifling through my car and would not permit me to observe the search.  The agent interested in bones informed that the small moose antlers I had in the car might pose a problem.  Yet, I told him that I’d crossed over in September with a moose antler and the agent had said it wasn’t a problem.  “Well, one of the antlers is a bit suspicious because it looked like it might have been sawed,” he said.  “Well, they butcher moose on the beaches in Newfoundland,” I said.  
Time passed and I paced back and forth in the long building… back and forth.  “Sir, do you have a cellphone?” asked an agent.  “No,” I said.  An hour passed… I began losing patience.  The agents would not tell me how much longer I’d have to wait.  “Just sit down,” said another agent.  “That marble slab is as uncomfortable as it gets!” I responded.  “You ought to have a few cushions on the thing.”  No comment.  That was the only place to sit.  There were no magazines to read, nothing at all.  Different agents kept telling me it wouldn’t be long… and to just have a seat.  But I didn’t want to sit.  So, I continued pacing back and forth, back and forth, as if in a jail cell.  I asked one of the agents why I was chosen to be searched and not the cars behind me.  In essence, I wanted to know what guided the profiling.  Eventually, he handed me a pamphlet, “A Look at the CBP Traveler Inspection Process,” which stipulated “CBP officers use random inspections to concentrate on finding those few passengers who are not obeying the law.”  Random?  Hmm.  My neighbor had thought it might be my long unkempt hair… and indeed maybe the hell it was.  “Sir, do you have a cellphone?” asked another agent.  “No,” I said again.
“How much longer will this be taking?” again I asked.  “It’s a process,” said an agent.  “It won’t be more than another hour.”  “Well, is there a reason why the process is taking more than the few minutes you’d said when I arrived?”  Seeing my impatient back and forth pacing demeanor, the agents then got the supervisor, who came over and wanted to shake my hand.  I refused to shake.  “What are my rights as a citizen of the U.S.?” I asked.  “Apparently, I have no rights here.  Why do you not need a search warrant to do what you’ve been doing?”  The supervisor then said, “the problem is the bones and we have to get the fish and game agent now.”   “Is he in another state?” I asked.  “No, he’s in the office next door and almost left for the day,” he responded.  “If he wasn’t there, we would have had to confiscate everything and who knows what else.”  “Well, why is it taking so damn long?” I asked.  “Some people have to wait eight or even 24 hours, you know,” he said.  “Sure, but not because they collected a few old bones on the beach in Newfoundland,” I said.  “Why aren’t there any signs here that clearly stipulate NO BONES?”  No response.  
Perhaps in the mind of a bureaucrat, somehow it was better for the wildlife when hunters were  given licenses to kill the wildlife and throw away their bones, than for a person like me to simply pick up a few of those thrown-away bones when walking on the beach and take them back into the U.S.  Go figure, as my ma used to say.  As time continued onwards, again I got a tad testy and asked what the hell was going on.  One agent found a tomato in the car and showed it to me.  “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that,” I said.  “Can I eat it now?”  “No!” he said.  “Why not?” I asked.  No response.  How much more time I asked again and then again.  One of the agents said, “oh a few more seconds.”  “Well, I’ve heard that before,” I told her.  “Well, not more than a half hour,” she then said.  “Well, I’ve heard that one too,” I said.  She looked at me testily.  It looked like there were six agents working on my case here and there.  With our border crisis, one would think there were more important things for them to do.  But no.  It really disgusted me.  “Mr. Slone you live on Commerce Rd still?” asked an agent. “Yeah,” I said.  Then later, the same questions from yet another agent:  Where did you go?  Why did you go there?  Do you have family there?  Where do you live?   
Periodically in response to my growing frustration, the agents would say, “well, I’m just doing my job.”  And I’d respond, “some job!”  “It’s all bullshit 101!” I said to one of them.  “With all the human trafficking and drugs, you’re just doing your job wasting time looking over some old moose antlers.  Insane!”  Then one of the agents handed me two sheets of paper he’d just printed out.  I’d told him that prior to my departure I had looked on the internet to see what was permitted over the border and saw nothing on bones at all.  The first sheet was titled “Lacey Act” (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—International Affairs).  It stipulated:  “Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold…”  The second sheet was titled, “Marine Mammal Protection Act” and stipulated:  “All marine mammals are protected under the MMPA.  The MMPA prohibits, with certain exceptions, the “take” of marine mammals in US waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S.”  Were bones necessarily products?  [When I eventually got back home I again googled “what can’t be brought into the U.S. from Canada.”  The first entry was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):  https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1273/~/food--bring-personal-use-food-into-the-u.s.-from-canada.  And so I read through the webpage… and not a single mention of bones!  Why not?]  
After a while, I asked one of the border patrol agents if the fish and game agent had come.  He pointed to another guy who was walking around behind the long counter.  “What the hell is going on?” I finally said to the fish and game agent.  “Well, I’m just doing my job!” he said.    
The supervisor, a nice guy, asked if I were thirsty and brought me a bottle of water and packet of saltines.  He also gave me a comment card and said I could fill it out.  But why bother?  It was just more bureaucratic bullshit.  The game agent was now actually bagging up the bones he’d taken out of my car, as if they had been found at a freakin’ crime scene.  “Can I take a photo of the bones?” I asked.  To my surprise, he said I could.  So, accompanied by a border patrol agent, I got my camera out of the car and took several photos.  Hell, the bones were my property.  “Can I take your photo too?” I asked.  “No!” he said.  “Why not?”  No response.  “Can I take a photo of the long marble slab seat in the building?” I asked.  “No!” said the border patrol agent.  I was surprised they didn’t cuff and put me into a holding cell in the basement.   “Sir, what’s your address?” asked the game inspector.  “How much more time is this going to take?” I asked.  “We’re just getting the paperwork done now,” he said.  And I paced back and forth, back and forth.  Those bones meant something to me.  I knew where I got each one.  They were personal souvenirs of my exploring.  They ended up taking the whale tooth I’d found on the beach in Frenchman’s Cove, the moose spinal cord I’d picked up on the beach in Three Rock Cove, as well as the two moose teeth and three small antlers.   
The only reasonable explanation for the seizure of the bones was that somehow I might have been trafficking in moose and whale bones, perhaps even killing the creatures to get them, which of course was absolutely absurd.  Besides, the moose antlers were old and gray.  And the whale bone was only a foot and a half long.  And the tooth, well, how the hell did I obtain one whale tooth… if not on a beach amongst the pebbles and jetsam?  
The border patrol agents failed to respond precisely how my bringing those items into the U.S. could possibly constitute a danger to wildlife.  How did that affect #4 on the “Comment Card,” which stipulated that “The CBP [Customs and Border Protection] process is necessary to ensure the security of the United States”?  Insane!  Bureaucratic insanity!  Clearly, the agents illustrated that America was a bureaucracy, not a democracy!  “Three and a half minutes and I’ll have you out of here,” then said the fish and game inspector. 
I wondered how much public taxpayer money the agency spent on the six color paintings called “Glacial Erratics,” which were hung high on the wall above the area where the agents sat with their computers.  Anyhow, the agents left my car in a total mess.  They’d gone through everything and did not even try to put things back where they had been.  They should indeed need a warrant to search cars like they did mine.  They didn’t even ask me for my registration.  They just hunted in the car and grabbed it.  It really disgusted me, left me feeling helpless and emotionally depleted, nearly erasing the joy of the month spent in Newfoundland.  Those agents were not good guys; they were good bureaucrats.  And there was a big difference between the two.  Truth and reason inevitably fell victims to thriving bureaucracies.  What mattered was the bureaucracy, not truth and not reason.  
Two hours and 15 minutes later, they allowed me to leave.  First, the game agent showed me two printouts, “Property Receipt” (Department of the Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/ Office of Law Enforcement), listing the items confiscated and said I had a choice.  And so, I signed the printout that said I wanted the stuff they confiscated back.  And if that meant a fine, then I’d fight the fine.  He placed a paste it with his name and supervisor’s name and phone numbers on it. 
Brent Lyons, Wildlife Inspector, was his name.  Mike Muehlbauer was his Supervisor.  “We’ll be getting in touch with you,” said the inspector.  
And so off I drove, just wanting to get the hell out of there.  Eventually, I stopped and got a coffee at Dunkin Donuts, then drove endlessly, now and then past signs:  “This Is a High Frequency Moose Area.”  Finally, I stopped at 7:30, opened a can of herring, ate it, then continued.  Hours later, I passed through Boston, my goal, so in the morning I wouldn’t have to go through the bumper-to-bumper traffic nightmare.  Somewhere in Hingham though, it was bumper to bumper stop/go near midnight.  Road work was the culprit.  Well, it didn’t last too long.  No place to park on 93, so I continued, reached route 3 Cape Cod and drove until finally a rest area sign.  I pulled over.  12:30 a.m.  I crawled into the back of the car, pushed the piles of my jumbled up stuff over, making a narrow path for my carcass to lie down.   Finito.   Why was I always being searched at the border nowadays?   From the border patrol building, I’d watched the other cars pass right through—no problem at all for them.  One would think the “we’re just doing our job” agents would keep a record of their past searches… and consult that record.  But apparently they didn’t…
Post Scriptum:  Well, on June 24th, I received a certified letter ($7 postage!) from Supervisor Mike Muehlbauer.  Bureaucrat language was akin to legalese, purposefully never quite clear at all.  It said I could file a “seized asset claim” and obtain the form from the US Fish and Wildlife Service office on request.  It did not state whether or not I’d have to go to court, a 6-7 hour drive, up in Calais, Maine.  Clearly, I did not want to do that or spend money on a freakin’ lawyer to get the assets, valued at 0$ by the supervisor himself, returned to me.  However, “storage costs” might be involved!  What about postage costs?  Would I be forced into a lengthy process every time now when I crossed back into the U.S.?  I thus sent my nightmare account to the supervisor and requested he respond to my questions, including the court question, so that I might make a decision as to whether or not to just give up.  My dad had said, “you can’t fight City Hall.”  Well, evidently, it was a hopeless battle to fight Big Gov and its vast army of faithful just-doing-our-job bureaucrats…

Unanswered questions
1. How does bringing across the border a few bones found on beaches affect wildlife in the U.S.?
2. Why was I not permitted to eat the tomato found in my car?  
3. Who gets to keep the bones (or are they eventually destroyed) and how does that affect wildlife in the U.S.?
4. Why are bones not even mentioned on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website?  
5. Why do search and seizures at the border not necessitate a search warrant?
6. Why can citizens be held indefinitely w/o a clear statement of the length of the holding?
7. Why is there only a long marble cushion-less/back-less slab for citizens to sit on at the CBP building in Calais, Maine?  
8.  Why is the profiling for searching a person not precise?  In essence, why precisely was I searched and not people behind me?  

For the most part, the six border patrol agents and fish and wild-life inspector, who dealt with me, seemed like nice guys.  But then what was a nice guy?  Was it a faithful bureaucrat, who followed all bureaucratic rules, no matter how crazy?  

Why not publish the following in Frontline magazine? Or is SILENCE GOLDEN at CBP, not just in Maine? No answers were ever provided for the questions posed at the end of it!!!
G. Tod Slone (PhD—Université de Nantes, FR), aka P. Maudit, Founding Editor (1998)
The American Dissident, a 501c3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence
217 Commerce Rd.
Barnstable, MA 02630
From: Customs and Border Protection Information Center
Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:16 AM
To: todslone@hotmail.com
Subject: Search Authority [Incident: 190807-000775]
Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reopen it within the next 7 days.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Good morning,

Thank you for taking the time to write to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Compliments and Complaints Branch.

You asked us to respond to the following questions:

1. How does bringing across the border a few bones found on beaches affect wildlife in the U.S.?
     ANSWER:  The admissibility of animal bones is determined by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  FWS has the final determination, not CBP.    Here is our FAQ on bones:  https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/63/kw/bones  Paragraph 3 "Bones, horns and hoofs that are imported as trophies may be imported without further restrictions if they are clean, dry and free of un dried pieces of hide, flesh, or sinew."  Unfortunately, until the bones are inspected, there will be no definitive answer if the bones are enterable. 

Furthermore, bones found in nature or on the beach can pose several concerns.  The bones could be infected, contain bugs, debris from the beach or other areas, etc.  This can introduce pests and diseases into the United States causing severe damage to the United States Eco system, agriculture, etc.

2. Why was I not permitted to eat the tomato found in my car? 
    ANSWER:  Because the food was undeclared and was already pending seizure.  The food must have been eaten prior to your arrival and once arrived, you are not permitted to eat something pending seizure.

3. Who gets to keep the bones (or are they eventually destroyed) and how does that affect wildlife in the U.S.?

    ANSWER: Bones that are seized are done so by the FWS.  Please contact FWS at www.fws.gov for further assistance.  Anything not declared even if not prohibited will be subject to seizure.  Most likely, the bones are then destroyed in accordance to regulations to avoid any introduction of pests or diseases into the United States.

4. Why are bones not even mentioned on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website? 
     ANSWER:  Simply go to https://help.cbp.gov and in the search field type "Bones"  I provided you with the link in question 1.

5. Why do search and seizures at the border not necessitate a search warrant?
     ANSWER:  U.S. Supreme Court decisions have upheld the doctrine that CBP search authority is unique and does not violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.  No warrant is required while in any Federal Inspection Service (FIS) are of an airport, land border, or seaport of entry.

6. Why can citizens be held indefinitely w/o a clear statement of the length of the holding?
     ANSWER:  We do not hold citizens of the United States indefinitely.  However, we have the authority to inspect your person, vehicle, luggage, vehicle contents, and electronic devices as necessary.  Further more, we have the authority to ensure you are who you say you are.

Please understand; CBP Officers may not answer specific questions about an examination that is underway.  Failure to comply with the CBP Officer’s requests, or attempts to evade questions, can result in a more intensive examination, which would extend the time to process a traveler’s admission into the United States. 

7. Why is there only a long marble cushion-less/back-less slab for citizens to sit on at the CBP building in Calais, Maine? 
    ANSWER:  You will need to ask Calais, Maine for clarification.  However, please understand, CBP is not in the hospitality business so our first priority is to secure the United States.

8.  Why is the profiling for searching a person not precise?  In essence, why precisely was I searched and not people behind me? 
     ANSWER:  CBP officers use diverse factors to refer individuals for targeted examinations and there are instances when our best judgments prove to be unfounded. Although CBP does use information from various systems and specific techniques for selecting passengers for targeted examinations, sometimes risk management is a completely random referral for most travelers.

There are many reasons for deciding to examine someone.  As mentioned above, CBP has a program of random checks that helps us calibrate our information in determining the travelers selected for inspection.  Many people think that CBP Officers only target people who look disreputable or suspicious and are therefore offended when the CBP Officer requests for them to wait for additional inspection. Please be aware that some of biggest contraband seizures have resulted from CBP inspections of "respectable looking" people, such as grandmothers, corporate executives, and college professors.

Thank you.

Compliments and Complaints Branch
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Friday, July 26, 2019

Tina Chang and Marie Howe

The above cartoon was sketched in 2014 and sent to the deaf ears of both Howe, now a high and mighty chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and Chang.  For another cartoon on Howe, sketched also in 2014, see https://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/08/marie-howe.html.  
The student newspaper of Howe’s college, Sarah Lawrence, published both the above and that cartoon (see http://www.sarahlawrencephoenix.com/editorial/2014/8/26/letter-to-the-editor-g-tod-slone-of-the-american-dissident)... a rarity indeed for student newspapers!  However, it would not publish a third cartoon I’d sketched on other Sarah Lawrence employees et al.  That cartoon can be examined here:  
https://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/09/kamden-hilliard.html.  Below it are some interesting comments by Sarah Lawrence students et al with its regard.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Northeastern University School of Journalism

Open Letter to 
Northeastern University School of Journalism
Against the taboo, I dared question and challenge Dan Kennedy, Associate Journalism Professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.  Unlike most writers, I always seek to push the envelope.  Truth, not career, is my modus operandi.   I criticized Professor Kennedy’s praise of Boston Globe columnist Renée Loth as “…one of the city’s most accomplished journalists…” and directed the professor to my criticism of Loth, “What Is a Journalist?”  “The fundamental flaw in journalist Renée Loth’s Boston Globe op-ed, “Julian Assange may be a hero to some, but he’s no journalist,” is its failure to define what precisely constitutes a journalist.  Does egregious bias define journalist today?”

To my surprise, the professor actually responded, though quite briefly, and not at all regarding my criticism.  The Boston Globe has yet to publish any of my critiques, regarding its editor, Renée Graham, Loth, Jeff Jacoby et al.  If the Globe were indeed such “powerful journalism on tap,” why can it NOT bear to be questioned and challenged, as I have done periodically?   In fact, the same applies to the School of Journalism and its professors!  

Well, I praised Professor Kennedy for actually responding, which in itself was quite rare in the buffered world of academe.  As a former professor, I am all too aware of that sad—very sad—world, where freedom of speech and real vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstones, are not at all cherished.  Part of our very brief debate concerned the lack of contact information for Loth.  The professor explained that absence, stipulating Loth to be a “freelancer.”  Well, perhaps one day all the columnists would be “freelancers” and thus fully buffered from outside criticism. The professor also argued, interestingly, that op-eds like Loth’s were somehow independent of the editor:  

Your comments about McGrory indicate that you have no idea how a large newspaper operates. The editor and the editorial-page editor (Shirley Leung, who's interim) both report directly to the publisher, John Henry. Good newspapers separate the news and opinion operations, which is why McGrory has nothing to do with what appears on the opinion pages. 

But I challenged that statement:  “However, does not the publisher have any say at all in the selection of the editor?” I wrote.  “And if indeed he or she does, then how can ‘op-ed’ism’ be truly independent, as you seem to indicate it to be?”  Clearly, for example, most of the op-eds appearing in the New York Times tend to be largely—very largely—in line with the editor’s points of view.  But again, this is a deflection from my criticism.  Why did Professor Kennedy choose to ignore the egregious faults I’d underscored in Loth’s op-ed (as well as in Graham’s racist op-eds)… and thus the conflict of his praise?  

Sadly, journalism seems to have become a milieu of backslapping and self-congratulating.  Does the School of Journalism even discuss that fundamental problem?  Why will Professor Kennedy NOT, as I suggested, expose his students to the criticism I periodically lodge against journalists, often in The American Dissident, a journal of literature, democracy and dissidence?  Silence was his response.  Will silence also be the response of the purportedly independent Huntington News?  [Indeed, that was the response!]

One major conflict of interest is rarely ever evoked, for evident reasons:  CAREERISM vs. TRUTH.  The two, far more often than not, simply do not mesh.  Because I have always chosen TRUTH, my CAREER as a professor eventually terminated… and I’d have it no other way.  Well, I put that quandary to Professor Kennedy:  “And if you think they can [go together], then please, oh, please, tell me why you don’t seem to give a damn about NU’s horrendous speech-code rating, issued by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.”  In effect, how can journalism thrive in such an ambiance?  The professor did not respond.  Does The Huntington News give a damn that NU was designated Speech Code of the Month in November?   [Apparently, it doesn’t give a damn!]  Did it even report on that?  

Sadly, it seems that silence is indeed golden at NU.  The old student newspaper did not respond to my 2005 email.  

Dear Staff, The Northeastern University Voice:  
Your student newspaper does not sound like a newspaper at all.  It sounds like an organ of NU propaganda.  Is that what they teach in your school of journalism?  Why not publish the attached cartoon I did on your president with this email?  Show some backbone!  Show an openness to criticism, free speech, and vigorous debate, cornerstones of democracy.  BTW, I am class of 1972.  I expect not even a response from you.  So, surprise me!  

In 2012, I sent the following:

To First Amendment Center at Northeastern University, Journalism Professor Walter V. Robinson:   
As an NU alumnus, class of 72, can you possibly help me?  Might you know of a pro-bono lawyer?  On June 19, 2012, I was permanently trespassed w/o warning or due process by Sturgis Library director, Lucy Loomis.  The library is publicly funded.  Loomis was apparently angered especially by two letters I’d sent to the directors in the library system the week before.  The letters were partially critical of Loomis, but were written as a last ditch effort to get just one library in the system to subscribe to The American Dissident.   Three police officers accompanied the director to escort me out of the building. One of the cops grabbed and twisted my arm then frisked me because I'd simply asked why three cops were necessary and stated I did not have a weapon.  No written document for the order was issued.  The police report fails to stipulate the duration of the order.   It is ever astonishing to me that a library director could be so scornful of free speech.  One of my subscribers set up the following page on his website regarding my case:  http://sturgisbansdissident.blogspot.com/.  Thank you for your attention.
Well, there was a response, though from Larry Laughlin.  We corresponded a bit, then Laughlin simply and totally disappeared.  Then in 2015, I wrote:

To Justin Silverman, Executive Director, New England First Amendment Center, 
Is there a reason why my alma mater, Northeastern University, would house an organization with your name when said organization proves apathetic to the following? 
Presumption of innocence, as you surely know, is supposed to be a fundament of justice.  Yet I was NOT even charged with anything.  Sturgis Library (Barnstable, MA) director Lucy Loomis simply sentenced me by permanent banning on June 19, 2012, one week after I’d disseminated a critical Open Letter to the directors of the Clams Library System of Cape Cod.  When I asked Loomis for a written document stipulating my crime, the request was rejected.  When I asked for due process, the request was also rejected.  (When I’d offered a free subscription to The American Dissident, the offer was rejected.) 
A FOIA demand made by a friend was approved nine months after the banning by the State Secretary of Records, who then mandated/forced Loomis to open her (i.e., Sturgis Library) records to the public. The only pertinent document in those records was an email Loomis had sent to trustee Ted Lowry, noting that her drastic action was “for the safety of staff and the public.”  Yet I’d NEVER threatened anybody and have no police record!  In fact, I’ve got a doctoral degree and have been a professor for much of my working life.  Almost three years later, not one staff member has been threatened by me and I have not set foot on Loomis’ fiefdom.  How easy it is for corrupt-minded people like Loomis to play the he’s- a-danger-to-society card—no proof needed!  
Today, my civil rights are being denied in Barnstable, since I am not permitted to attend any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library, the one my taxes help support.  Not one person in Barnstable County has expressed an iota of concern.  In vain, I contacted so many pathetic apathetic people from Town Manager Tom Lynch to County Human Rights Commissioner John Reed, state reps Cleon Turner and Brian Mannal, town councilor Ann Canedy, town attorney Ruth Weil, Susan Corcoran (ACLUM), and Karen Wulf (PEN New England).  Editors Paul Pronovost (Cape Cod Times) and Noah Hoffenberg (Barnstable Patriot) both refuse to publish anything regarding any of this.  Why?  Recently, I requested Loomis and library trustees reconsider the permanent trespass penalty for exercise of freedom of expression.  Not one of them deigned to respond.  
Now, would you please reconsider your past pathetic apathy regarding the above facts and help me regain my civil rights and thus prove that freedom of speech when pertaining to institutions that serve a public function must not be punished, especially without due process?  
Thank you for your hopeful attention.  

Well, Silverman responded, but eventually also disappeared.  In October of 2017, I sent the following:  

To Exec. Dir. Jack McCorkie, Office of Alumni Relations, and Amy Lewontin, Collection Development, Northeastern University:
A couple of years ago, maybe three or four, The American Dissident was put on your short list for periodical acquisitions.  Of course, I haven’t heard a word from you.  In fact, as an NU alumnus (Class of '72), it has almost been two decades of my periodically trying in vain to interest you in subscribing.  
How can NU expect me to donate money as an alumnus, when you will not even subscribe ($20/yr) to the unique 501c3 nonprofit literary journal I’ve been publishing since 1998?  Please do give that a thought next time you call me on the telephone asking for a donation...

No response was ever received.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Charles Blow

The Press… Not So Free… Thanks to the Press
“The Enemy of the People Is Ignorance” was the title presented on the front page of the New York Times and without mention of the author.  So, I clicked on it.  The title became “Defending the Free Press” with the subtitle:  “Expression, and the right to publish it, is a human right. And yet, President Trump continues to disregard this.”  Likely, I would not have clicked on the article if I’d known propagandist (i.e., opinion columnist) Charles Blow was the author, and it was yet another anti-Trump screed.
Blow’s article begins with “The media is not the enemy of the people. The enemy of the people is ignorance — obliviousness to truth, ignoring it or having incredulity about it.  There is no way to have a functioning democracy without a thriving press.”  Well, that sounds fine, BUT until the press takes a long hard look into the mirror, its credibility will continue to shrivel.  Perhaps the “enemy of the people” has also become egregious press bias and all the news that fits the press anti-Trump narrative.  Well, Pravda, the press, certainly thrived in the former Soviet Union.  Thus a “thriving press” certainly does not guarantee a “functioning democracy” at all.  
Egregious bias has certainly killed Blow’s credibility as an objective journalist… and shouldn’t journalists be objective, opinion columnists or whatever?  Does Blow present anything new in his article or simply more of the same ole Pravda-like propaganda?  And by congratulating the press, Blow of course congratulates himself, arguing that “One of the great missions of the press is to hold power accountable by revealing what those in power would rather hide. Corruption depends on concealment. Accountability hinges on disclosure.”  One might ask whether or not the press, Blow included, did that regarding Obama and Hillary, during their reign of power, and also now regarding Spy Gate.   Why not hold press power accountable by revealing what stories editors and journalists in power would rather hide and do not report?  
Blow continues his encomium:  “A free and fearless press is the greatest ally to a free and prosperous people. And, the kind of dogged, unrelenting pressure that reporting requires demands a professional press. People who can make a living and feed a family as they labor away ferreting out the truth.  And, I speak here liberally about the profession, from cable news to YouTube, from a big city daily to a blog.”  He cites statistics, as if somehow they were decisive and inevitably reflected reality.   
The problem of course is whether or not the press is really free or can be free when it is so egregiously biased.  And how can such bias reflect well on a so-called “professional press”?  And what about journalists like Blow, who become millionaires by pushing NOT the rude (career-damaging) truth, but rather the press party-line as in victim and without fault?  And how do we have democracy when only elite privileged journalists like Blow get to express their opinions week after week, whereas plebes like I do not?  And why does Blow not even mention the trend of YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter censorship, as if it weren’t even occurring?  Instead, he states in full willful ignorance, “He [Trump] has threatened Facebook, Google and Twitter, saying they’re ‘treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful,’ whatever that means.”  Yes, whatever that means…
Then Blow gets down to the real purpose of his column:  “No one loves a catchphrase more than Trump.  He loves labeling. He loves to yoke his enemies with silly, derisive monikers, to reduce perceived weakness to bumper sticker legibility.”  Now, if only we could get Blow and his press colleagues to look in the mirror at their own “silly, derisive monikers,” from nazi, racist, anti-semite, islamophobe, white supremacist, and “beastly base.”  What flaming hypocrites!  
Blow argues, “The weaker the media, the strong [sic] the demagogue. The road to authoritarianism winds its way through darkness.”  Well, one could also easily argue that the stronger the media (think Pravda or the BBC), the stronger the authoritarian ideology (think multiculti-diversity-identity politics) it supports and the road to that winds its way through the media itself and state education.
Blow argues, “He [Trump] wants to so blur the line between truth and lies that he’s exhausted our stamina for discernment.”  It seems again that the media, Blow included, is unable to focus on its own blurring of the line between truth and lies, as in Covington, Russian collusion, and islamophiliac delusion.  Surprisingly, Blow in his conclusion argues that the media is not perfect, though in a far too general, thus not really damning, way, failing to inculpate himself with any particulars at all.  

I understand all the issues people have with media.  I understand how damaging it is to the public faith and to the institutional — and professional — reputation when a media outlet or even multiple outlets in concert get it wrong. I understand the issues around the appearance and presence of bias. I understand how disconcerting it is that mainstream media is a public trust, but mainstream media companies are also corporate entities.  I understand all of that, but I also know that we will cease to be truly free if ever the day comes when the free press is cowed.

Well, that day, the one Blow seems to fear, usually comes periodically whenever Democrats are in power and the so-called free press having endorsed them, becomes perhaps not cowed, but rather fully kowtowed and ever laudatory.  Moreover, to “understand,” as Blow says he does, is by no means an effort to address let alone work to solve those festering problems, which inevitably results in a not-so free press.  The enemy of the people is ignorance.  But then ignorance is bliss.  And the press seems to want to keep the people—well, half of the people—blissful with its continuous flow of propaganda.  So, the enemy of the people, well the other half of the people, is the press.  In other words, it’s a wee bit more complicated than the left-wing’s Trump bad/press good press mantra…

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Jennifer Bardi

Notes on the Religion of Humanism—
An Inhumanist Critique of The Humanist
Wikipedia defines “humanism” as “a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition.”  The Humanist, “a magazine of critical inquiry and social concern,” adds to that definition “hip and high-brow humanism for the modern freethinker,” which inevitably results in a highly-subjective, thus self-protective, definition.  And so, what might happen when a freethinker dares to actually criticize the magazine and its editor?  Perhaps that would  automatically render him or her insufficiently hip, insufficiently high-brow, and insufficiently modern.  And, of course, quite unsurprisingly, the editor in full disdain for democracy, will NOT respond. 
After leafing through three issues of The Humanist, which I’d picked up in a library free magazine box, I inevitably concluded that humanism had been coopted and oddly become a sort of PC-religion for those who purportedly rejected religion.  Humanism, at least that espoused by the magazine, which was an organ of the American Humanist Association, had clearly become an echo of Democrat-Party ideology—black good/white bad identity politics, white-privilege BS, prisoners good/cops bad, global warming fact/not theory, hate Trump ranting, cultural appropriation, transgender bathroom issues, and of course racism, racism, racism ad nauseam.  
The Humanist would have at least been honest if it had instead called itself The DNC, “a magazine of critical ideology and socialist leaning.”  Alas, how can ideologues possibly be honest?  And so, we have members and followers—not real individuals—, conferences, and of course Humanists of the Year, Humanist Arts Award and Feminist Humanist Award recipients.  Ijeoma Oluo was the black-privilege recipient of the latest FHA, who, according to the white Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and Deputy Director of the American Humanist Association, Jennifer Bardi, “challenges white humanists to do the hard work of addressing privilege in order to change the system that so benefits us…”  Original statement… or rather just more PC, where privileged people of one color yack about privileged people of another color?  How exciting!  
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Turns Seventy” is the one article that really grabbed my attention.  It appeared in the December issue and was written by Duane Paul Murphy (Fall 2018 editorial intern at the American Humanist Association).  Its egregious omission of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) mind-boggling decision in October against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Article 19 of the UDHR is shameful, to say the least!  How could Murphy possibly have ignored that horrendous decision, especially since he quoted Article 19?  

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression:  this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Why did The Humanist remain silent regarding that egregious omission?  Well, perhaps ISLAM is the reason.  “The Court found [in conclusion that in the instant case] the domestic courts carefully balanced the applicant's right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected […],” noted the ECtHR, which determined that “religious feelings” of Muslims trumped freedom of speech.  Sabaditsch-Wolff rightly argued with that regard: 

In other words, my right to speak freely is less important than protecting the religious feelings of others.  This should ring warning bells for my fellow citizens across the continent. We should all be extremely concerned that the rights of Muslims in Europe NOT to be offended are greater than my own rights, as a native European Christian woman, to speak freely.  I am proud to be the woman who has raised this alarm.  

Sadly, the ECtHR decision did not ring warning bells at all to DNC, uh, humanist ideologues.  Murphy, hypocritically, concluded his article:  “Humanists must show solidarity in acting to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and continually define and protect human rights and civil liberties for all people.”  Yeah, sure, but what about Sabaditsch-Wolff’s rights and liberties?   And why precisely did my poem, “A Post-Mortem Poem for Maren Ueland and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen,” not suit the “editorial needs” of The Humanist?  Both Ueland and Jespersen were tortured, raped, and beheaded by Islamist haters of Article 19 in Morocco.  What about their rights and liberties?  Silence!  BTW, that poem was rejected less than one hour after I’d sent a satirical cartoon to Bardi, depicting her swearing allegiance to the DNC.  Thin skin?  Perhaps The Humanist ought to add that to its definition of humanism, as in Gen-X thin skin. 
Perhaps also it is time that religion be defined as ANY ideology, including humanism, where fact and reason are rejected whenever they might challenge the doctrine in question, as well as the doctrine’s partisans.  In conclusion, so much unoriginal PC-echoing vibrates intrinsically throughout The Humanist.    Will the editor-in-chief respond to this critique, that is, with something more substantial than “doesn't suit our editorial needs” and “We wish you the best in placing it elsewhere and thank you again for thinking of us”?  Ideologues hate debate.  Ideologues hate freedom of speech.  As a life-time atheist, who rejects ideology, including that of the DNC, what might I be?  Well, I can’t be a humanist because humanists embrace that ideology.  Perhaps I am therefore an inhumanist?