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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fitchburg State College--Free Speech in Peril

[Surprise!  Not one of the following responded:  "thepointfsu@gmail.com" ; "greg@thefire.org" ; "mbruun@fitchburgstate.edu" ; "rdinda@fsc.edu" ; "jfiske@fitchburgstate.edu" ; "mjaramillo@fsc.edu" ; "wjeffko@fsc.edu" ; "swadsworth@fsc.edu" swadsworth@fsc.edu]

To James Sullivan, Boston Globe Correspondant:
Your article “At Fitchburg State: A History Lesson Rekindled” (http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2011/09/15/fitchburg-state-history-lesson-rekindled/2DZ1V3MgFbutrtWZqS0SmN/story.xmlon) grabbed my eyeballs… big time! As a former Fitchburg tenure track professor, I battled against administrative and faculty corruption in 1995-6. Because of that corruption, I won a year’s salary as settlement during my fifth and final year at the college. What was truly disturbing, however, was my inability to interest the student newspaper to cover my story. It would not even note that I was evicted from my office mid-semester and had to have all my classes rescheduled. One professor, Jeannette Scharf, who is now dead, had complained she was afraid of me. Yet, I had and still have no criminal record whatsoever. The Boston Globe and Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise wouldn’t cover the story either. To this day, I could be arrested if I step foot on McKay Campus. Dean Nowotny refused to rescind that order. It is shameful that your article seemed to depict Fitchburg as some kind of Free Speech and democracy advocate. How absurd!

Over the years, I’ve contacted the college’s student newspaper, requesting it to cover my story. To date, student editors refuse to respond to my emails. Some of the old corrupt cronies are still at the college, including Shirley Wagner. Some of the cowardly professors are still entrenched in the Humanities Department, including Walter Jeffko, Susan Wadsworth, Robin Dinda, Jane Fiske, and Maria Jaramillo. It is sad that these professors are unaware that democracy depends on courageous individuals who dare stand up alone if necessary. Other corrupt cronies have become honorable (?) professor emeriti, including Harry Semerjian and Richard DeCesare. Still others, the cowards and phonies are implanted in the Humanities Department.

As a direct result of my horrendous experience at Fitchburg, I ended up creating The American Dissident, a 501c3 nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence. For actual documents et al regarding corruption at FSC, take a look at the journal’s website, in particular, www.theamericandissident.org/FitchburgStateCollege.htm.

In reality, it is thanks to that corruption that I’ve become highly critical of higher education and highly creative. If I’d gotten tenure at that joint, I would probably be fat, fluffy, and pensioned today, and wouldn’t have ended up as a hardcore dissident writer and cartoonist, nor would I have had the interesting opportunity to teach several years in Louisiana, several in North Carolina, several stints on two US Navy battleships, six months on Martha’s Vineyard Island, etc. So, bitter I am certainly not. Nevertheless, I will always raise my voice when confronted with the kind of hypocrisy Fitchburg manifests. Now, when will it be inviting me to one of its Constitution Day forums… to talk about the corrupt president Vinny Mara et al? No, I shan’t be holding my breath.

            By the way, Fitchburg has been accorded the red light designation regarding free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (see http://thefire.org/spotlight/codes/734.html) . That designation is the worst designation. “A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” Now, why aren’t the student newspaper editors covering that story? And why won’t the university’s Constitution Day forum evoke it? Now, will the Boston Globe cover my story? Nope!     

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dawn M. Formo

Open Letter to the Writing Faculty, Cal State at San Marcos
A cartoon depicting Assistant Dean and Writing Professor Dawn M. Formo is currently on The American Dissident blogsite (http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/). It was drawn after Dr. Formo refused to respond to my grievance of being censored by InsideHigherEd.com regarding the article she authored, “Think Like a Colleague.” Thus, I write you in the hope that perhaps one of you might actually be against censorship in academe and even have the courage to speak out against it at your own institution. Rare, of course, that would be. After all, the academic culture demands that “successful” college professors and students learn to wear the muzzle and blinders, rationalize censorship and speech codes, and disdain vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. Indeed, the culture demands that new professors “think like a colleague,” that is, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. Such a culture fosters backslapping, self-congratulating, cowardice, groupthink, and kowtowing, not to mention corruption (intellectual and other). Sadly, student newspaper editors tend to follow in the dubious footsteps of their professors. Moreover, the academic culture seems to have replaced vigorous debate and truth telling with doctrinaire diversity, vacuous civility, and multiculturalism. Your institution, for example, has a Diversity, Social Justice, and Equity Project, but not a Democracy and Free Speech Project. It has a Civility Initiative, but no Initiative for Courageous Truth Telling. In fact, the Civility Initiative appears astoundingly childish and the pledge orientation students take amazingly fascist. Should the mission of a university be to foster your “civility principles of care, respect and empathy,” or should it rather be to foster the questioning and challenging of your very initiatives and projects, the courage to stand up and speak the “rude truth” (Emerson’s words), no matter how offensive, and the building of backbone (as opposed to a nanny mentality) so necessary for survival in this tough world of ours? Well, I know what you likely think… and now you know what I think. One must wonder whether each student after their civility pledge (do faculty also take these pledges?) be given a teddy bear, then urged to enjoin in a hugging session? What has happened to the university today? Quite simply it seems to have been hijacked by marms and nannies. I really hope somebody on campus is lampooning your initiatives and projects, though I doubt there is. Finally, please ask your librarian to subscribe (only $20/year) to The American Dissident, a 501 c3 journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence. Your students will likely get a kick out of it. And it will give them another window into what writing can be. Not one university or college in California subscribes, yet Harvard, Yale, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Buffalo U, Wisconsin U and U of Michigan, amongst others, are subscribers. Comments on the blog are never censored… no matter how damning! Students are encouraged to express themselves, as opposed to what they think some civility initiative wants them to express. BTW, contrary to popular opinion, curiosity did not in fact kill the cat, civility killed him! Then curiosity made him stronger and more creative, though less adept at “thinking like a colleague” and otherwise fitting into academic teddy-bear culture. Thank you for your attention.