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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Banned Books Week Farce

Why Banned Books Week Ought NOT to Be Celebrated

If one were to take the celebration of Banned Books Week literally, then it would perhaps make sense.  In other words, the librarians, publishers et al would be celebrating the books, periodicals, and patrons they’ve successfully banned or shunned over the years.  The rampant hypocrisy in the very heart of the American Library Association, which seems to be the chief sponsor of the event,  as well as that of the multitude of library directors spread across the nation like the proverbial layer of stale peanut butter, clearly needs to be exposed.  The celebration seems to have become nothing more than a self-congratulatory act of backslapping.  If there were an iota of integrity in it, a place, no matter how small, would be devoted to criticism of it and of the many librarians, as well as approving poets and writers, who do in fact ban books, periodicals, and even patrons. 

Politically-correct journalist Bill Moyers and wife were named Honorary Co-Chairs of this year’s celebration, which immediately politicizes the celebration.  One must wonder how many books and periodicals published by right-wingers critical of Islam, Obama, and/or PC have been shunned by the likes of Moyers and wife.  And why appoint such a buffered and wealthy couple to be honorary co-chairs?  Why not appoint instead someone who has indeed tested librarians over the years to determine just how open, or rather closed, they really are to new books and periodicals, not to mention criticism of them? 

With that regard, Charles Willett, founding editor of Counterpoise and retired librarian, comes to mind.  At the Fifth National Conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries, he stated:  “In almost all the 45 libraries studied here, and probably hundreds and hundreds more across the country, we have failed our professional duty to seek out diverse political views. [...] These books are not expensive. Their absence from our libraries makes a mockery of ALA’s vaunted ‘freedom to read.’ But we do not even notice that we are censoring our collections. Complacently, we watch our new automated systems stuff the shelves with Henry Kissinger’s memoirs.” 

               So, why celebrate such a despicably deplorable record?  Why not instead satirize the intellectually corrupt bibliotards, philes, and snubs, as I've done regarding the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom
(see http://www.theamericandissident.org/orgs/american_library_association.html )?  The OIF, by the way, remains utterly indifferent to my complaint of being permanently trespassed without warning or due process by Sturgis Library, which celebrates Banned Books Week, though not this year, according to its fascistic director Lucy Loomis?  The only response from the ALA to my complaint was from Valerie Hawkins, though not of the Office of Intellectual Freedom: 

At any rate, the policies of any local public library are set by its board of trustees. Any and all complaints as to your treatment by its employees should be taken up with the library’s trustees, as they would be the ones who would decide if there was library staff misconduct and then could take steps accordingly.

We’re in Chicago. We have no jurisdiction whatsoever over your local public library and your problems with them.

You’ll need to work this out on your own, with your own local resources and legal authorities.

Now, does Hawkins seem at all interested or concerned?  And what happens, as in my case, when the board of trustees refuses to even respond  and when one of the trustees, boyfriend of the director, Dan Santos, dismisses my criticism as “intellectual masturbation” without even examining it, if in fact he's even capable of doing so?  And how might one explain the total refusal of PEN New England (“defending freedom of expression”)  to respond to my complaints of having my freedom of expression truncated here and there in New England at several libraries, including Watertown Free Public Library, which trespassed me for three months for simply trying to get the ref librarian Ardis Francoeur to understand why she should at least consider subscribing to The American Dissident?  Calling director Karen Wulf, calling director Karen Wulf!  Sorry, nobody home.  PEN is of course a Banned Books Week sponsor.  And how might one explain Suffolk University Poetry Center’s refusal to consider subscribing to The American Dissident, a journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence?  In fact, it too would not respond, that is until the student editor I’d contacted confronted Fred Marchant, its director and former PEN New England director.  And why does the National Coalition Against Censorship refuse to respond regarding my complaint against PEN’s blatant hypocrisy?  Well, it too is listed as a main sponsor.  How does one explain the refusal of famous City Lights Bookstore to carry The American Dissident?  Perhaps because it’s been critical of Beatniks?  City Lights is of course a big promoter of Banned Books Week. 

                Could I possibly be the only one in America who’s been banned from a publicly-funded library for written criticism?  Could the periodical I publish be the only one that’s ever been banned from an entire library system like the Clams Library System of Cape Cod?  Could the flyers I attempted to distribute be the only ones ever banned from a publicly-funded library?  Now that’s highly unlikely.  But dissidents like me, who actually question and challenge celebrity dissidents like Moyers, tend to be fully ostracized by the established-order system, be it the biblio or cultural sectors. 

Finally, the ALA stipulates that “Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”  But does it really?  Readers of all types?  Certainly not my type!  And doesn’t the commercialization of such a serious subject as censorship serve to demean it, though fill the pockets of dubious types like Moyers and ALA executives?   Help support Banned Books Week by purchasing t-shirts, buttons, and more.  Shop!”  Christ.

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