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. Comments are NOT moderated (i.e., CENSORED)!]
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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lucy Loomis

Lucy Loomis stands as an example of an authoritarian gatekeeper. She banned an American Dissident broadside and even banned me from discussing the banning with library staff. For this, she is mocked on the front cover of the latest issue of The American Dissident. The banned broadside follows.

An American Dissident Free-Speech Broadside (distributed 02/14/2011)-
The American Dissident, a 501 (c)3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence, Offering a Forum for Vigorous Debate
G. Tod Slone, PhD, Editor (todslone@yahoo.com) (www.theamericandissident.org) 217 Commerce Rd., Barnstable, MA 02630
Open Letter to the Director of the Sturgis Library, Lucy Loomis
Libraries, far from being bastions of democracy, tend to be de facto opponents of free speech
Truth, it seems, is always bashful, easily reduced to silence by the too blatant encroachment of falsehood.
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Gatekeepers are authority figures who seek to limit the choices of others. Gatekeepers are good at justifying their actions through circular reasoning.
—Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity

ot long ago, I was sitting in the Sturgis Library when I overheard a brief discussion: “They’re putting in good windows! They’re Andersen!” Then it arrived next to me: “Let me take a look at these nice windows!” I interjected, noting the library could afford expensive windows but not a $20 subscription to a nonprofit journal devoted to democracy. The people didn’t quite understand me.
s you know, your Board of Trustees and you decided to prohibit this free-speech broadside on your public premises, which is why it is being circulated elsewhere. As you also know, you refused to consider subscribing, even at a future date, to The American Dissident. By subscribing to Poetry magazine, which clearly presents an established-order viewpoint, and rejecting The American Dissident, which clearly presents the opposite viewpoint, you directly and knowingly violate your own Collection Development Policy, especially “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Despite the dubious financial argument, your comments about “family friendly” and “too much negativity” indicate “doctrinal disapproval.” Your reluctance to discuss these issues with me underscores a certain rejection of democracy. Why not instead promote the latter and erect a FREE-SPEECH bulletin board? You could place on top of it: WARNING: CHILDREN TAKE NOTICE. POSTINGS ON THIS BOARD MIGHT BE OFFENSIVE TO YOUR ADULT PARENTS.
our Collection Development Policy is an excellent one, by the way. Unfortunately, you do not abide by it and, worse yet, have probably convinced yourself that you somehow do. “Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy,” states the ALA’s “Freedom to Read” segment. “Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.” How can you not perceive your banning of this broadside, as yet another instance of “silencing of a heresy”? How can you not understand that your insistence on positivity and “family friendly” not constitute yet another instance of “enforcement of an orthodoxy”? Has diminishing the toughness and resilience of our society become the true role of librarians today? Well, if you are representative, then I think so. And indeed, you are not unique. As confirmed by my decade’s long experience knocking on the doors of librarians and cultural-council apparatchiks, contrary to the lofty ALA statements, most doors remain firmly closed to the heretical viewpoints expressed in The American Dissident. Indeed, the journal has been an ardent critic of the close relationship often maintained between the art and literary milieu with the local chambers of commerce and the resultant censorship (call it what you like) of anything deemed too critical. Hypocrisy is rampant amongst far too many librarians! The ALA’s own Office for Intellectual Affairs refuses to even respond to my grievance.
Regarding the one flyer I left on a car windshield, an adult staff member, as you know, complained to you like a child. You called the instance “harassment”—a grotesque exaggeration! Please have that staff member, whoever she may be, examine the cartoon below. Why does she flaunt the bumper sticker—“Everything I Need to Know about Life, I Learned from Reading Banned Books”—when she is clearly a proponent of banning periodicals and broadsides? Why can’t she and you see the egregious hypocrisy? Your prohibition of my free-speech flyers on public-library grounds might be unconstitutional, as might also your prohibition of my discussing any of this with your adult staff. You behave not as a director, but as a high-school principal, and encourage your staff to act as if children. From the glorious Age of Reason, we’ve sadly retreated into the infantile Age of the Offended, thanks to those like you. “Do you do this everywhere you go?” you asked, deflecting focus from your anti-free speech policies. Well, I do question and challenge everywhere I go. Is that not my citizen’s duty? “If you don’t like it here, why do you come here?” you then asked sadly echoing the refrain: America, Love It or Leave It. But how dare you make such a statement when my tax dollars help pay your very salary? I like the library. You are not the library. You also lazily dismissed this broadside as a “diatribe,” instead of pointing out where you think truth to be lacking. You said I called you “marm.” Well, that term was only used in the cartoon below. But are you not a gate-keeping marm? As director, will you not keep me from obtaining funding from the Cape Cod Cultural Council because of my viewpoints? How far will you go to keep free speech out of your fiefdom: a no-trespass warrant?
Finally, the cartoon watercolor I sketched on you as gatekeeper is now the front cover of the current issue of The American Dissident (see above). A subscription was kindly donated. Will you reject the gift and censor my scheduled art exhibit in September? Will you continue to shame Barnstable’s own revolutionary patriot Mercy Otis Warren with your censorial decrees? This broadside was sent to a number of Cape Cod newspapers. Only the Barnstable Patriot responded with interest. As you know, I met with two of your trustees, both of whom refused to discuss the banning of this broadside and expressed no interest whatsoever in the principles at stake—the First Amendment et al. On another note, library director Anne Cifelli, summa cum lauda Wellesley College graduate, argued regarding her rejection of a free subscription offer: “It is outside the scope of this library's periodical collection.” “Why doesn’t that scope include democracy and free speech?” I asked. “The Yarmouth Port Library is a popular lending library,” she replied. She rejected a dictionary donation, but accepted a box of quilting books. Your library holds jewelry sales, wine auctions, and antiques shows, but will not erect a First Amendment bulletin board.
N.B.: The purpose of The American Dissident is to question and challenge what normally is not questioned and challenged: the cultural-commercial established order, its gatekeepers, institutions, and icons, especially on the local level. As for poetry and art, they are left undefined and ought not to be limited to abstract landscapes, the female nude, and high-brow metaphorical feelings, but also include harsh criticism, the kind gatekeepers disdain. Let the poet and artist take risks, go against the grain, and stand apart to speak, as Emerson stated, the “rude truth in all ways.”