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

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]

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