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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Peter Schjeldahl

Text on the bottom of the picture:   
Schjeldahl:  “Like it or not, Christopher Wool, now 58, is probably the most important American painter of his generation.  His works ace the crude test that passes for critical judgment in the art market:  They look impeccable on walls…"
PM:  “Impeccable on walls?  Well, how about these two I just finished? 

NB:  Believe it or not, the pictures on the cartoon wall are exact copies of the art praised by Schjeldahl.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Suzanne Nossel and Frank Bidart

Issue #28  Fall/Winter 2014-15
Entartete Kunst et al
This issue’s front cover features a handful of established-order cogs and is the fifth in a series, Entartete Kunst.  From the established-order point of view, clearly the cover would be dismissed as “depraved art.”  Would PEN America:  Journal for Writers & Readers, Agni, Ploughshares, Poetry magazine, Poets & Writers, Rattle, American Poet Magazine, etc. have published the cover somewhere in their pages?  Of course not!  Why not?  Fear of inconvenient truths!  Criticism against The American Dissident is published in each issue.  What’s the big deal?  In fact, I encourage it!  But not the editors of those magazines!       
Featured are Academy of American Poets former chancellor Frank Bidart (center) receiving PEN’s literary award for established-order poetry, Chair of PEN’s Literary Awards (Poetry Society of America’s queen bee) Alice Quinn (left), PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel, Poesy Judge Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Poesy Judge Peg Boyers, Poesy Judge Toi Derrricotte, and Poesy Idolater Hollywood starlet James Franco.  I’d written a long email to Nossel, who remained silent.  Then I wrote another long email to her.  She responded though rather vacuously and very briefly.  Then I wrote several more emails to her, posing questions.  She did not respond to them.  Why is PEN so un-responsive and so apathetic to the concerns of an unconnected citizen?  For the correspondence, see below.  For my two-part essay critical of PEN, see http://www.globalfreepress.org/contributors/usa/g-tod-slone?start=18 and http://www.globalfreepress.org/contributors/usa/g-tod-slone/3825-pen-an-ethical-consideration-part-ii.

From: todslone@hotmail.com

To: snossel@pen.org
CC: journal@pen.org; dmoran@pen.org; arielle@pen.org; deji@pen.org; kglennbass@pen.org; editor.camelsaloon@gmail.com; sturgislibrary@comcast.net

Subject: Free Expression... or rather Expression Innocuous to the Party

Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2014 10:20:07 -0400

To Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN America:  Please allow me to pose a few questions pertinent to free expression in America: 
1. Is there a reason why PEN America is indifferent to the fact that I, a poet, was permanently banned from commenting on the Academy of American Poets website in 2007?  Is it not somewhat hypocritical to state on your website, “PEN America/ Free Expression, Literature,” while simultaneously awarding a poet, Frank Bidart, who proved entirely indifferent to my complaint of the censorship (removal!) of my free expression by the Academy of American Poets when he was one of its active chancellors?  For the transcript of my censored comments, see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/academy_american_poets_
2. Is there a reason why PEN America is indifferent to the fact that I, a poet, was permanently banned without warning or possibility of due process from my very neighborhood library, Sturgis Library, one of the very oldest in the country?  My speech crime was one of simple written criticism regarding the library’s own written policy that “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view”.  The permanent banning of my point of view and that of those published in The American Dissident prove that hypocrisy.  In fact, is there a reason why PEN New England will not even respond to my correspondence with that regard?  Does it consider me, like Sturgis Library and the Academy,  a persona non grata in America because I dare express my points of view, as opposed to some party-line, pre-approved points of view?  Could the answer to these questions simply be that some “free expression,” although protected by the First Amendment, is simply not condoned or defended by PEN America?  That of course is something for you to contemplate.  It is evident that the academic/literary established order does not approve of “free expression” that criticizes it, its icons (Bidart et al), and its firm control over literature in America.  It is also oddly evident that PEN America seems to favor awarding prizes to those attached to that anti-free-expression established-order.  Again, this is something for you to contemplate.  
Finally, why is criticism like that included in this very letter, for example, kept out, amongst others, of PEN America Journal, Poetry Magazine, and the American Library Association’s American Libraries Magazine?  [No response]


From: todslone@hotmail.com

To: snossel@pen.org
CC: journal@pen.org; dmoran@pen.org; arielle@pen.org; deji@pen.org; kglennbass@pen.org; editor.camelsaloon@gmail.com; sturgislibrary@comcast.net

Subject: RE: Free Expression... or rather Expression Innocuous to the Party

Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2014 11:33:28 -0400

To Suzanne Nossel:  Well, I doubt you’ll respond.  After all, what could you possibly write in your defense… of apathy and bourgeois elitism?  Hopefully, you’ve not become so high and mighty that you won’t even be able to focus on anything this lowly plebe has to write here… hopefully.  Thus, I simply continue this dialogue de sourds.  Currently, I’m sketching the next front cover of The American Dissident, #28, which will feature Frank Bidart, you, and other literary elitists (Quinn et al) involved in your Literary Awards (the images of you on Google portray a NY West Side Vanity Fair cocktail-party socialite… how odd for the head of PEN America!)  Regarding the awards, you state:   “The PEN Literary Awards bring together writers, editors, and members of the literary community to celebrate the ultimate fruit of free expression: great literature.”  But what about those writers and editors NOT of the “literary community,” as you term the closed community of mostly established-order academics and their poet/writer acolytes.  How to become a member of that community?  Well, the response is obvious:  play the game of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil PC-expression-only. The “ultimate fruit of free expression,” as you term it, is certainly not academically-approved, promoted, and designated “great literature.”  The “ultimate fruit” is rather literature scorned by the elites because it dares criticize the elites.   Far more often than not, “great literature” as you term it, is a subjective—not an objective—term.  Far more often than not, that so-called “great literature” is innocuous, hardly at all threatening to the power structure, which designates it “great.”  You seem quite confused pairing “free expression” with so-called “great literature.”  Have you read The Oak and the Calf?  If you haven’t, do so!  But one would certainly expect that you have read it, considering your position.  In any case, if you recall, Solzhenitsyn’s book depicts the literary scene under the Stalinist dictatorship.  Sadly, that scene is a mirror of today’s literary scene in America.  Of course, Americans are rarely arrested for writing (three cops showed up to escort me out of the library one week after my published writing, but I was not arrested).  Instead, they are ostracized into oblivion, that is, if the established order feels offended by the writing.  Why does PEN America not focus on that?  Why does it not support the few American writers who dare criticize the academics and writers who control the literary scene in America, including the pompous chancellors of the Academy of American Poets (Bidart et al) and the one-percenters of the Poetry Foundation?  The answer of course is that PEN has become an integral part of that scene.  In essence, the scorners of free expression (academics and literati) have infiltrated and taken control of PEN America… unless, of course, it was always thus.  In essence, if that were not true, why would your publication, PEN America Journal, not even respond to, let alone publish, the highly caustic article I wrote on PEN and submitted to it (See http://www.globalfreepress.org/sections/free-speech/3415-pen-an-ethical-consideration). The following is a pertinent quote from The Oak and the Calf to back the above contention:  
The shrill, vainglorious literature of the establishment—with its dozen fat magazines, its two literary newspapers, its innumerable anthologies, its novels between hard covers, its collected works, its annual prizes, its adaptations for radio of impossibly tedious originals—I had once and for all recognized as unreal, and I did not waste my time or exasperate myself by trying to keep up with it.  I knew without looking that there could be nothing of merit in all this.  Not because no talent could emerge there—no doubt it sometimes did, but there it perished too.  For it was a barren field, that which they sowed.  I knew that in such a field nothing could grow to maturity.  When they first came to literature they had, all of them—the social novelists, the bombastic playwrights, the civic poets, and needless to say the journalists and critics—joined in an undertaking never, whatever the subject, whatever the issue, to mention the essential truth, the truth that leaps to the eye within no help from literature.  This solemn pledge to abstain from truth was called socialist realism.  Even writers of love poems, even those lyric poets who had sought sanctuary in nature or in elegant romanticism, were all fatally flawed because they dared not touch the important truths. 
Finally, unlike your journal, The American Dissident will publish the harshest criticism received because it really does believe in free expression… and vigorous debate, democracy‘s cornerstones.  

From: snossel@PEN.org

To: todslone@hotmail.com
CC: Journal@Pen.org; dmoran@PEN.org; Arielle@PEN.org; Deji@PEN.org; kglennbass@PEN.org; editor.camelsaloon@gmail.com; sturgislibrary@comcast.net

Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2014 17:19:16 -0400

Subject: Re: Free Expression... or rather Expression Innocuous to the Party

George—I am on vacation right now. We are happy to read and absorb your comments, no matter how critical. I am sorry to hear you have found your voice stifled in certain settings and glad to know you've created your own outlet. Best wishes, Suzanne  

From: todslone@hotmail.com

To: snossel@pen.org

Subject: RE: Free Expression... or rather Expression Innocuous to the Party

Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2014 19:10:43 -0400

Hi Suzanne,

Well, your response is really a non-response.  After all, you did not respond to one point made in those two emails I sent.  What might "read and absorb" really mean?  Perhaps when you return from your vacation (how not to think of Obama), you'll respond to the various points and questions I made in those two emails.  BUT I certainly will not be holding my breath.  I've been "dealing" with PEN's deaf ears for well over a decade now, which is why it will be highlighted in the next front cover of The American Dissident.  It is likely PEN personnel are simply far too busy with their cocktail parties with rich and famous writers to be bothered contemplating any criticism regarding PEN.  Bonnes vacances a toue (accent aigu)!


G. Tod

From: todslone@hotmail.com

To: snossel@pen.org
CC: fbidart@wellesley.edu; pboyers@skidmore.edu; writecen@pitt.edu; rowan.phillips@stonybrook.edu; journal@pen.org; dmoran@pen.org; arielle@pen.org; deji@pen.org; kglennbass@pen.org; pen-newengland@mit.edu; kwulf@mit.edu

Subject: Suzanne Nossel et al satirized by P. Maudit

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:32:21 -0400
To Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN:  
Well, I expect you’re back from vacation now.  In any case, you, Frank Bidart, Peg Boyers, Toi Derricotte, Alice Quinn, James Franco, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips in the context of the PEN Literary Awards have been satirized as elitist literati on the front cover of issue #28 of The American Dissident, A Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence, which was just published and distributed.  You can examine the cover on the AD blog site here:  wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com.  

The journal is a 501 c3 nonprofit and is unable to obtain any public funding whatsoever from the NEA, Massachusetts Cultural Council, etc., etc.  The journal incarnates an enemy of the people… in the Soviet sense.  The front-cover aquarelle is #6 in my Entartete Kunst series.  As you hopefully know, “entartete kunst” was art deemed depraved by the Nazis and thus removed from the public eye and/or destroyed.  For PC-America today, entartete kunst include any art critical of the academic/literary established order (PEN et al) and its diverse cogs, apparatchiks, and icons.  Get my drift?  

Question:  Why won’t PEN America Journal publish any criticism of PEN?  Is that not oddly perverted?  After all, isn’t PEN supposed to be devoted to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION?  

Question:  Why won’t PEN New England respond to my efforts to re-obtain my civil rights and Freedom of Expression with impunity in New England?  What is wrong with Karen Wulf?   Usually, cronyism and inability to brook criticism explain such silence.  

Thank you for your attention and hopeful input and feedback.

From: todslone@hotmail.com
To: snossel@pen.org
CC: glenn.greenwald@theintercept.com; kwulf@mit.edu; fmarchant@suffolk.edu; editor.camelsaloon@gmail.com
Subject: PEN... not at all like Charlie Hebdo
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2015 20:10:47 -0400

To Susan Nossel, Exec. Dir., PEN America:  
Unlike Deborah Eisenberg and other PEN dignitaries, who seem appallingly blind to the Islamic threat to freedom of speech and democracy in general, I applaud your decision to award Charlie Hebdo the Freedom of Expression Courage award.  Perhaps as someone who promotes that award, however, you should have put down your cocktail for a moment and manifested the courage to respond to the aquarelle satire (see attached) I created on PEN and sent to you.  In fact, you should have distributed it to other PEN elites.  As you know, it became the front cover of issue #28 of The American Dissident.  Was that depiction over the PEN red line of acceptable satire?  Perhaps you ought to have also asked PEN New England’s Karen Wulf why she refuses to this day to respond to my requests for help to regain my civil rights here in Barnstable County on Cape Cod.  Am I simply insufficiently PC for Wulf?  "Defending freedom of expression" is supposed to be her and your mantra!  You should have also distributed to PEN elites, rather than completely ignore, my caustic essay, “PEN:  An Ethical Consideration” (see http://www.globalfreepress.org/sections/free-speech/3415-pen-an-ethical-consideration.  And how to explain Professor Emeritus Fred Marchant on PEN New England's board of directors, who essentially banned The American Dissident from his Suffolk University Poetry Center?  Is he afraid his students might notice my satirical work on him and PEN?  What has professor emeritus come to mean today in America, if not professor conventionality and conformity, hardly at all professor temerity and individuality?  Finally, is PEN really so high and mighty as to be above criticism?  Well, uh, you actually did respond to all of my concerns back in August:  

George - I am on vacation right now. We are happy to read and absorb your comments, no matter how critical. I am sorry to hear you have found your voice stifled in certain settings and glad to know you've created your own outlet. Best wishes, Suzanne  

Yes, so sorry...

From: George Slone
Sent: Sunday, April 10, 2016 11:58 AM
To: snossel@pen.org
Cc: antonio@pen.org; arielle@pen.org; shreya@pen.org; kdkarlekar@pen.org; mmark@pen.org; laura@pen.org
To Susan Nossel, Exec. Dir., PEN:  
You never did get back to me after that vacation of yours almost two years ago!  Again, my question is quite simple:  how do you manage to thrive in hypocrisy?  How do organizations like PEN simultaneously boast to be free-speech advocates, while viscerally rejecting free-speech criticism with their regard?  Why will you NOT post negative criticism of PEN on PEN’s website like this email and that of the front cover of The American Dissident featuring you, PEN, and that hypocrisy?  Did you even bother to look at the cover I sent?
PEN of course is not at all alone.  NCAC, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, ACLUM, and American Library Association, for example, share in that egregious hypocrisy.  How do the first two justify ignoring the Garland, TX near-massacre of free speech?  Well, they do not even attempt to do so!  After all, silence is the most effective weapon of hypocrites!  How does the NCAC manage to include Islamophobia hysteria, but not Islam in its “15 Threats to Free Speech 2015”?  See the essay I published with that regard here http://www.globalfreepress.org/contributors/usa/g-tod-slone/3936-15-threats-to-free-speech-2015-an-egregious-and-purposeful-omission .  Go on, check it out, or do you only do that when it’s a question of rich and famous establishment writers like Rushdie or writers in foreign jails or writer murderers and rapists in American jails?  
How do you manage to ignore HR 569, a bill that seeks to be the first anti-blasphemy law regarding Islam in America?  Over 82 Democrat congressmen are co-sponsors of it.  The front cover of the current issue of The American Dissident features the main sponsor next to three members of CAIR.  Would PEN America Journal like to publish a picture of that front cover?  Of course not!  How does PEN manage to ignore Loretta Lynch’s anti-free-speech declaration that she’d look into the possibility of prosecuting blasphemers against Islam?  Yes, that was her mind-boggling reaction to the San Bernardino Islamic massacre, as you might recall.  
Is part of PEN Free Expression Coordinator Shreya Balhara’s job to free-expression coordinate all criticism of PEN into the garbage bucket, unless of course lodged by approved PEN members?  Is part of Editor M Mark’s job to assure the absence of hardcore criticism vis-a-vis PEN in each issue of 
PEN America Journal?  Why the fear of such criticism?  In every issue of The American Dissident, the harshest criticism lodged against me and the journal is not only published, but encouraged.  What’s the big deal?  I just cannot fathom your perspective.  
Finally, I note that out of the 24 staff members listed on your site (http://www.pen.org/pen-staff-directory), only four are men.  One or two are black.  Is that called PEN diversity and inclusion or rather PEN sexism?  [No response]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Anne Speyer

The only thing an unconnected citizen can do to get his opinion into the arena of debate is the Internet.  Long live the Internet!  One day, however, the censors (i.e., the civility gatekeepers) will sadly gain full control over it.  Now here's a great quote by UCLA Professor Michael Meranze that I just came across.  It's perfect for librarian gatekeepers like Ann Speyer and Lucy Loomis, as well as for journalist gatekeepers like Paul Pronovost (Cape Cod Times) and Noah Hoffenberg (Barnstable Patriot)...

"The demand for civility effectively outlaws a range of intellectual, literary, and political forms: satire is not civil, caricature is not civil, hyperbole and aesthetic mockery are not civil nor is polemic. Ultimately the call for civility is a demand that you not express anger; and if it was enforced it would suggest that there is nothing to be angry about in the world.  The call for civility in discourse confuses the enforcement of administrative time, place, and manner restrictions with the genuine need to defend people from personal threat.  The result is that the administrative desire trumps all else." 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Barnstable Village Cultural District

The following is an American Dissident broadside, which I handed out in front of Sturgis Library on October 10th during its Celebration of Kurt Vonnegut.  90% or more of those arriving refused to take one.  The cartoon on Vonnegut below was part of the broadside. 

What is the point of confronting ambulating brick walls like the 90%?  That question I have to ask myself every time I stand alone protesting against local corrupt pillars of the community.  Sure, I know it is 99% unlikely that I’ll meet anyone even remotely interested in the free speech issues I evoke.  No matter.  During the protests, I often have interesting thoughts and obtain grist for my mill of creativity. 

At the library, the arrived like dignitaries to a gala.  But dignitaries of what?  Bourgeois conformity and propriety?   How sad it all was.  Nobody was willing to focus on the facts I presented.  Nobody gave a shit.  The common reaction is to scorn and mock the rare person who dares question and challenge  such people. 

Barnstable is a town dominated by an elite of stepford wives and husbands, a representative microcosm of the nation.  They are why I do not love America...  

Vonnegut’s Clapboard Tomb…
And Its Gravediggers of Liberty

—An Open Letter to the Apathetic, Easily Offended, and Ignorant Citizens of Barnstable—
It really is a sorry kind of person who makes it to the top.
        —Kurt Vonnegut

     Kurt Vonnegut called Sturgis Library a “clapboard tomb,” upon quitting his job as library trustee.  A tomb, of course, is a place for the dead.  Has Sturgis gotten any better since Vonnegut’s time in Barnstable?  Experience tells me it’s actually gotten a lot worse.  Lucy Loomis, its director, is totally unaccountable and totally autocratic.  Upset her fiefdom with a dash of freedom of expression and be prepared for permanent punishment, which is precisely what happened to me in June 2012. 

     My speech crime consisted of an open letter published on my blog site and sent to the directors of the Clams Library System of Cape Cod, not one of whom responded.  Not even director Ann Speyer, who lectures on censorship and book banning, gave a damn.  Only Sturgis Library trustee and Loomis boyfriend Dan Santos responded, though indirectly, dismissing as “intellectual masturbation” my argument that Loomis was a hypocrite regarding her written collection development statement that ”libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view.”  Loomis and not one other library director in the system would subscribe to The American Dissident (only $20), published in Barnstable and presenting a viewpoint at antipodes to that of Poetry Magazine to which Sturgis subscribes.  I’d even offered a free subscription, but Loomis rejected it, thus proscribing the points of view of all those published in it… permanently. 

     Less than one week after that open letter was disseminated, Loomis and three cops approached me while I was peacefully sitting alone in a room at Sturgis, as I’d been doing almost daily for about two years.  There, Loomis said she was permanently banning me.  No warning had ever been issued.  Off I went… a tad angry!  Loomis and later trustee Ted Lowry refused to provide me with a written statement regarding the action and reason for it.  Nine months later the State Secretary of Records forced them to open their records to public scrutiny, so that finally I could read what had been written about me.  Democracy in action! 

     Due process?  We no need no stinkin’ due process!  That is Sturgis Library’s true motto.  Would Vonnegut have embraced it?  Did he embrace it?  Imagine no possibility of due process was offered!  Imagine Loomis having the audacity to deem me a public danger, arguing:  Because of his behavior when the police were here they almost arrested him—he can go from calm to extremely agitated in a matter of seconds.  So l believe this is the correct decision for the safety of the staff and public.”  That was the only damning thing written in the documents made public.  Notice it is an aberrant after-the-fact rationale and, why two years later, has not one staff member been threatened or harmed by me, if indeed I were such a potential danger?  Of course, I have no history at all of violence or of making threats.  How many others like Loomis protect their fragile selves in layers of self-serving deceit and ignorance of democracy, including the Supreme Court (Tinker v. Des Moines Sch. Dist.) argument that “in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.”  Trustees Ted Lowry, Sue Angus, John Ehret, Colin Campbell, and Mike Downs, and others who’ve made it to the top, seem unable to comprehend that America’s greatness lies in her unique FIRST AMENDMENT, not in political correctness!  Any departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble,” noted the Court, “any variation from the majority's opinion may inspire fear.” Thus, my speech crime inspired fear and caused Loomis emotional trouble. 

     The Barnstable Patriot (Noah Hoffenberg) and Cape Cod Times (Paul Pronovost), to this day, refuse to publish anything regarding the above.  Clearly those papers are not independent!  My very civil rights today are being denied in Barnstable because I have been permanently barred from attending any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library, you know, that “clapboard tomb.”  Imagine that I was not permitted to attend Speyer’s lecture on Banned Books Week! Imagine not one community pillar gives a damn, not Town Manager Tom Lynch, nor Town Attorney Ruth Weil, town councilor Ann Canedy, state reps Cleon Turner and Brian Mannal, who’d proclaimed the matter a civil rights issue, was going to help, then didn’t (yes, vote for Mannal!), not local human rights commissar John Reed, nor artists and poets of Robert M. Nash’s Cultural Council of Cape Cod, not the Barnstable Village Civic Association, the writers of Nancy Rubin Stuart’s Cape Cod Writers Center, the instructors at CCCC, including Dan McCullough, John French, and Sarah Polito, not PEN New England, the ACLUM, etc., etc.    

     Now, would Vonnegut have been on their side too?  Surely, none of his living family members and friends give a damn.  “I don’t buy it!” snapped one Sturgis loyalist a few weeks ago.  And how shamefully easy it is for her willfully ignorant ilk to dismiss incontrovertible facts, like those presented above, and the very principles of democracy 


Barnstable Village Cultural District

Barnstable Village Cultural District

David Biespiel

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Anne Speyer

The following broadside was distributed in front of Sturgis Library, during librarian Anne Speyer's lecture there in 2014.  The hypocrisy of Speyer and library director Lucy Loomis is mind-numbing.  Yes, today, those who ban books and people celebrate Banned Books Week!  And those who don't give a damn about banned books in their own neighborhood present lectures on banned books and censorship.  Mind-numbing...


Librarians Banning Books Celebrate Banned Books Week

(What Anne Speyer’s Lecture Will Fail to Mention)

Of course, free speech is often precisely about pissing off other people—challenging social taboos or political values.

            —Jonathan Turley, left-wing legal scholar, George Washington University

Mostly, we have hypocrites in politics.  No surprise there.  We also have hypocrites in higher education.  No surprise there either.  We have hypocrites in the ranks of those professing to be advocates of freedom, including public librarians.  Now, that ought to be surprising.

     Is it not ironical that some (perhaps many) of the very organizations that promote Banned Books Week are either banners of books or apathetic when books are banned?  Is it not equally ironical that some (perhaps many!) of those who attend “Banned Books Discussions,” like “Bowdlerized, Banned, and Burned: An Investigation of Banned Books” presented at Sturgis Library by Director Anne Speyer of South Dennis Free Public Library, don’t give a damn when book or periodical banning occurs in their own backyards?  How to possibly understand their apathy, if not outright support?  Unsurprisingly, Speyer wouldn’t even respond to that question. 

     On June 19, 2012, Sturgis Library director Lucy Loomis PERMANENTLY BANNED not only The American Dissident and any books I’ve authored, but also me and the ideas of those published in the journal.  On that nefarious day, three cops showed up with the director in the room, where I was quietly working alone on my online college courses, to escort me out of the taxpayer-funded library without warning or even possibility of due process.  Imagine that not one library director in the entire Clams Library System of Cape Cod would respond to my Open Letter regarding that authoritarian decision, let alone express an iota of interest in it. The only response I received was an indirect one from Dan Santos, Sturgis Library Trustee at the time and now husband of Lucy Loomis.  Santos is current director of Barnstable’s Department of Public Works.  His only response regarding my Open Letter was:  “He is no more than an exhibitionist engaging in intellectual masturbation.” 

Banned for life, yet I never made threats, never made disturbances in that library, and I'd been going to it almost every day for several years!  What I did, however, was question and challenge IN WRITING, one week prior to the decree, Loomis’ hypocrisy regarding, especially, the written collection-development statement, borrowed from the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights,” that “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view.”  Well, my point of view is certainly not provided in that library, which proves the point I’d made. 

     Loomis refused to present me with a written document stipulating the reason for her decision.  The library trustees also refused to do that.  It took the Massachusetts State Secretary of Records nine months later to order the library to make its records available to me (i.e., the public), since it determined the library was not only being funded by the public but was clearly serving a public purpose.  In those records, only an indirect comment by Loomis to Ted Lowry, president of the library trustees, indicated the reason for the decision:  “Because of his behavior when the police were here they almost arrested him—he can go from calm to extremely agitated in a matter of seconds.  So l believe this is the correct decision for the safety of the staff and public.”  No other reason or incident is mentioned in the library’s records!  In essence, the only reason was an after-the-fact one (i.e., after the decision to permanently ban). 

Really, I was quite pissed off when I saw three cops enter the room with Loomis!  I hadn't even spoken to anyone in the library for a week.  And yes I was quite pissed off when one of them actually grabbed my arm, twisted it behind my back, and frisked me because I’d said, “I do not have any weapons.”   I’m 66 and not a big guy.  And I was not making threats in any way whatsoever.  Ah, but it turned out that cop was the training officer and showing a new recruit how to frisk a citizen.  I have no record of violence whatsoever.  In essence, Loomis played the he-makes-me-feel-uncomfortable card.  Since that nefarious day over two years ago, if indeed I were such a danger to the staff and public, why have I done nothing at all to harm the staff and public since then?  So, here I am today with an almost-arrested police record for the crime of manifesting a little anger in public… and PERMANENTLY punished for it.  Bravo America, or rather Barnstable! 

Doggedly since that nefarious day in June, I’ve contacted scores of organizations and town officials.  To date, not one of them proved sufficiently concerned to offer to help or even write a simple letter to the director, requesting she rescind the authoritarian decree or at least provide due process.  Not even the ACLUM or State Attorney General Martha Coakley would lift a finger!  To date, not one of the official sponsors of Banned Books Week has been willing to do that either!  So, why the hell not American Library Association, PEN America, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, American Book Sellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Project Censored, and Center for the Book at the Library of Congress?   And why did not one town counselor or commissioner of the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission give a damn either? 

Essentially, a responsible citizen does not keep his or her mouth shut in the face of injustice, which is why I stand protesting here tonight next to library property.  Those attending Speyer’s lecture, who had the curiosity to take a copy of this flyer, should ask themselves after the lecture why they too likely do not give a damn.  BTW, featured in the above aquarelle are local hack hypocrites Brian Mannal, Ann Canedy, and Cleon Turner, as puppets of propriety.  Indeed, for them and so many others, some vague notion of propriety is far more important than freedom of speech and expression. 


From: todslone@hotmail.com
To: aspeyer@clamsnet.org
CC: sturgislibrary@comcast.net; nsymington@clamsnet.org; ppronovost@capecodonline.com; nhoffenberg@barnstablepatriot.com
Subject: Hypocrites celebrate Banned Books Week... what else is new, eh?
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:55:55 -0400

To Director Anne Speyer, South Dennis Free Public Library:
How do people like you and Lucy Loomis get to be such flaming hypocrites?  I’m truly curious!  How can you possibly deliver a lecture on Banned Books at Sturgis Library during Banned Books Week without mentioning that Sturgis Library bans books… and patrons like me?  Loomis not only permanently banned me in June 2012 without warning or due process for having had the audacity to criticize her hypocrisy regarding Clams library policy; in particular, “libraries should provide materials and information presenting ALLpoints of view.”  My point of view and that of those published in The American Dissident have been permanently banned.   The American Dissident and any books I’ve authored, including Transcendental Trinkets, Leaves of Democracy, and Triumvirate of the Monkeys have been permeanently banned at Sturgis Library.  And you will stand in that library in a week as a grotesque hypocrite and NOT mention that fact.  Bravo!  Perhaps you’ll be the next Mary Otis Warren award recipient.  Yes, you’d be perfect, though Loomis would be better.  Of course, you’ll remain silent in the spirit of Banned Books Week.  Bravo! 

G. Tod Slone, PhD (universite de Nantes, FR) aka P. Maudit,

Founding Editor (1998)

The American Dissident, a 501c3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence

Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2014 13:47:06 -0400

Subject: Re: Hypocrites celebrate Banned Books Week... what else is new, eh?

From: aspeyer@clamsnet.org

To: todslone@hotmail.com


Never having met you, I have no idea why you're using my first name, but know this. The night of my talk, one I had prepared a year ago on the history of book banning around the world, I was with my much loved 89 year old husband who was facing major surgery we knew could kill him.

I was fulfilling a commitment I had made to give the talk long before the medical stuff descended, but neither that, nor someone handing out  leaflets nor much of anything else was my priority. As it happens, I read your leaflet  the night of the talk-- one of the attendees brought one in.  

You have a right to express yourself in your blog. You had a right to hand out leaflets at the end of the Sturgis Library drive. But I have the right not to engage in further discussion with you or be harassed.  I had deleted automatically the first e-mail you sent because I had never heard of you, and I never open e-mail from unknown senders. I have since heard of you so I am responding this once. 

Anne Speyer

From: todslone@hotmail.com
To: aspeyer@clamsnet.org
Subject: RE: Hypocrites celebrate Banned Books Week... what else is new, eh?
Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2014 15:05:42 -0400

To Anne Speyer,

Well, that was a great non-response.  Yes, and you have a right to be utterly apathetic to the banning of patrons, books, and periodicals in your neighborhood while giving talks about banning and censorship at a library that bans and censors.   Whatever makes a person like you and Loomis tick?  I shall NEVER know.  Yes,  you and Loomis have a right to behave as autocrat punishers of FREEDOM OF SPEECH and scorners of DUE PROCESS, while collecting taxpayer funding… on Cape Cod.  That is your shame.  And if you never open emails from unknown senders then you should NOT be a public librarian.  

G. Tod

To Anne Speyer,

Well, that was a great non-response.  Yes, and you have a right to be utterly apathetic to the banning of patrons, books, and periodicals in your neighborhood while giving talks about banning and censorship at a library that bans and censors.   Whatever makes a person like you and Loomis tick?  I shall NEVER know.  Yes,  you and Loomis have a right to behave as autocrat punishers of FREEDOM OF SPEECH and scorners of DUE PROCESS, while collecting taxpayer funding… on Cape Cod.  That is your shame.  And if you never open emails from unknown senders then you should NOT be a public librarian.  Christ!

G. Tod

From: todslone@hotmail.com
To: aspeyer@clamsnet.org
CC: ppronovost@capecodonline.com; sturgislibrary@comcast.net; editor@barnstablepatriot.com; editor.camelsaloon@gmail.com
Subject: Anne Speyer lampooned in a new P. Maudit cartoon
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:16:14 -0400

To Director Anne Speyer, South Dennis Library,
You've been lampooned in a new P. Maudit cartoon (see http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/10/ann-speyer.html).  Thanks to the Internet, my voice WILL be heard.  One day, of course, those like you, Loomis, Pronovost, and Hoffenberg will control the Internet and keep voices like mine out of the arena of debate.  When that day comes, democracy will be no more...

G. Tod Slone