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, November 28, 2015

Seth Allen

The diversity program falls under Seth Allen's sector, which is why he is depicted in the cartoon.  The PC student newspaper editor informed me that there were inaccuracies in the above cartoon, in particular:  one of the two women depicted in it had graduated.  He did not tell me which of the two women.  I responded that both names were the only names listed on the Women's Union website page.  The two women were contacted.  They did not respond.  That is why I am keeping the cartoon as is.  The Women's Union to date has refused to respond.  The editor would not publish the cartoon because it was not authored by a PC-connected person.  Hmm.  Seems like one college has the right initials!  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Michael Finch, FrontPage Magazine

Let No Act of Censorship Go Uncriticized

Left or Right:  Thou Shalt NOT Criticize the Poets! 

FrontPage, an online right-wing journal, had rightfully been denouncing the increasing incidents of left-wing assaults on freedom of speech, especially with regards the shutting down of debate and creation of safe spaces and speech codes, on college campuses across the country from Yale to Missou to Smith to Vasser. 

Hypocritically, its moderators (i.e., censors) also shut down debate.  Indeed, they refused to post my critical comment regarding a glowing review written by Mark Tapson, Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, of a book of poetry written by Michael Finch, Chief Operating Officer also at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.  The egregious hypocrisy of that act of censorship left me fully disgusted.  And not one person at the Horowitz Freedom Center would respond.  

What had provoked me to comment, in the first place, was the very crux of the review, as clearly stated by the reviewer:  “But as many conservative writers such as Andrew Klavan and myself have noted for years, reclaiming America means reclaiming the culture, and that means engaging in the arts.”  Contrast that statement with the rather innocuous verse presented by the reviewer, as if somehow that verse would help in “reclaiming the culture.”  Mind-boggling!

         In my initial comment, I criticized the crux statement as insufficient.  Indeed, mere “engaging in the arts” would accomplish little if anything.  What was needed was active questioning and challenging of the “arts” machine, which I’ve come to term the academic/literary established order. The poem fragments taken from FINDING HOME: POEMS IN SEARCH OF A LOST AMERICA clearly did not even remotely attempt that.  Note, for example:  

My mind remembers a soft, warm wind,
Sweet earth scent, and billows of clouds
In a wide prairie sky of youth’s eternal hope.
Where have you gone?

Now, how might those lines even remotely help the right-wing in “reclaiming the culture” in an effort to establish… its particular forms of censorship, let alone expose the lack of objectivity, egregious hypocrisy, and especially visceral knee-jerk rejection of any criticism regarding the left-wing “arts” machine?  Here’s another verse presented by Tapson:  

Years from now when the winds blow again,
When you stare at the midnight’s blue of
The setting sun, lined mountains black against
A cobalt sky, do one thing for the one who loved you:
Think of me when your eyes gaze at the wondrous sky,
Your eyes searching the heavens for one,
When the breeze blows one last time through your hair,
Do one final thing. Think of me.

Another big problem with the “arts” machine is the M.O. of egregious backslapping and self-congratulating.  In that sense, Tapson partakes in it, promoting the poetry of his admitted “friend.”  What else is new, eh?  Frank Kotter, whose comment was not censored by the moderators, sums up the inanity confronting poetry today.

I have not heard such touching and meaningful prose since Paul de Lagarde. May this also usher in a new era in our nation's consciousness just as those have who come before you.  I have ordered but am disappointed to see it is not offered in hard cover—A shame as this book will be cited in history books in centuries to come.

More often when someone like me questions and challenges the “arts” machine (i.e., the academic/literary established order), the latter will respond with proverbial deafening silence.  Imagine, for example, I had the gall recently to question and challenge the new poet laureate of Boston, Professor Danielle Legros Georges, who, as the Boston Globe headline stated, “wants to make poetry comfortable for all.”  Of course, by simply mentioning that fact here, I greatly lessen my chances of getting this essay published because it contravenes the first commandment of the “arts” machine:  thou shalt not criticize poets!    
Because I’d sent my q&c to the student newspaper editors of Lesley University, Legros Georges’ employer, and only cc’d it to her, she called me “cowardly” in her response and wrote that if I really wanted debate then she was ready for it.  So, I wrote with that regard… and received no response!  Then days later, I wrote again, asking what happened to the will for debate.  And again, no response was received.  In essence, that deafening silence was the reason I’d chosen to write the student newspaper.  My long experience dealing with machine literati was deafening silence.  Sadly, my experience with student journalists had not proven much better, though a little bit.  Considering the innocuousness of the poem fragments illustrated in Tapson’s hagiography (for the entire piece, see 
http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/260860/finding-home-poems-search-lost-america-mark-tapson),  Michael Finch should have no problem at all getting published in “arts” machine magazines like Agni, Ploughshares, and Poetry magazine.  
Finally, Thoreau famously urged:  “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”  To that, I’d add left or right-wing machine.   And tis better to chime with Thoreau, than climb the ladder in search of vacuity, that is, fame, awards, invitations, tenure, and all the other crap serving to muzzle the truly cowardly like left-wing Legros Georges and right-wing Michael Finch…

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Alyssa Janco, Tina Smith


Well, I'd already finished the cartoon when I noted in my search for email addresses that ''George C. Hill has been appointed to serve as Vanderbilt University’s first chief diversity officer and vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion."  If I'd known, Hill would have also been in the cartoon.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Danielle Legros Georges

What I usually do is first create a cartoon from INANITY and VACUITY often culled from the media, both general and literary, though sometimes culled from personal experience with hacks--political, cultural, and/or literary.  In the above case, the new poet laureate of Boston serves as an example.  State funded and/or otherwise supported poets and poet organizations are really nothing more than an incarnation of State Soviet Literature, which also viscerally rejected criticism.  

Then what I do next is send the cartoon to those targeted directly or indirectly in it.  Now, will such rude truth help my literary career or result in absolute ostracizing?  Your guess.  Thus, I sent the above to the following two entities, as well as to the poet laureate herself.  Will anyone respond in the name of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy?  Well, experience dictates that likelihood to be slim...

To Michael Ansara, Exec. Dir., Laurin Macios, Program Director,
Mass Poetry, and January O’Neil, Massachusetts Poetry Festival Executive Director:  Attached is the new cartoon I drew on Boston’s new PL.  So, who was on the “distinguished search committee”?  Why didn’t you even mention that in your hagiography of Legros Georges?  Why not encourage poets to question and challenge in lieu of simply encouraging them to open wide and swallow the lit pabulum?  Why always the silence?  This is NOT the Soviet Union and you are NOT the head of the Soviet Writer's Union.  Well, perhaps things are really NOT so different in America.  Indeed, when one reads Solzhenitsyn's The Oak and the Calf, how not to think of America!  Do you detest vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy?  Apparently, you do!!!  Well, at least you are aware that dissidents against your sad establishment machine like me do in fact exist here in Massachusetts…


To the Student Editors of Lesley Public Post, Lesley University:  Attached is a satirical sketch I’ve drawn on one of your professors.  Will you publish it in the LPP?  Or is the LPP sadly just a wing of the Lad (ministration), which it probably is?  Please do let me know of your decision.  Thanks for your attention.  

[No response from the editors, but Madame the Poetess responded]


From: Georges, Danielle
Sent: Friday, November 6, 2015 4:46 PM
To: George Slone
Cc: dougholder@post.harvard.edu; michael@masspoetry.org; laurin@masspoetry.org; january@masspoetry.org; nicco@masspoetry.org
Subject: Re: Boston's new PL satirized in a new P. Maudit cartoon

Mr. Slone,
The time and attention you’ve given to your rendering of the Poet Laureate is impressive and somehow flattering.   
A little research (something good journalists, pundits, and even satirists, engage in) on your part would have provided you with the Poet Laureate position criteria and search committee members.  This information is public knowledge. 
Your approach is cowardly, Mr. Slone.  I see that you have my email address, and also could have been in touch had you really wanted answers to your questions, or to understand my Poet Laureate Program in all its facets.  It seems to me that a thoughtful conversation doesn’t interest you; that you’d rather send inflammatory volleys from the safe zone behind the computer screen at which you cower. 
Also pusillanimous is the attempt to make your confrontation personal.  How you have arrived at your presumptions about me, I don’t know, as we have never met.  Can you, Mr. Slone, discern whether I can relate, or have related, to dissident poets (as you call them), “poor blacks in Boston,” or others?  Methinks not. 
Feel free to contact me if you are interested in a real dialogue on poetry, poetics, and politics.
Danielle Legros Georges
Poet Laureate, City of Boston

From: George Slone
Sent: Saturday, November 7, 2015 12:14 PM
To: Georges, Danielle
Subject: Re: Boston's new PL satirized in a new P. Maudit cartoon

To Danielle Legros Georges, Poet Laureate, City of Boston:
Thank you very much for the response!  Sincerely!  That in itself (from my two-decades of experience) is very rare for an establishment academic and poet.  You will note that I am not “picking” on you per se, since ove the years I have created well over 1,000 cartoons on many different poets, academics, cultural-council apparatchiks, librarians, editors, etc.  You can take a look at some of them here 
http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com. Your cartoon is now posted at the latter.  How sad establishment poetry magazines would NEVER publish such cartoons or criticism!  In fact, a number of them refuse to even list THE AMERICAN DISSIDENT with other literary magazines listed (e.g., New Pages, Poetry Foundation, and P&W magazine).  
Criticizing establishment icons and organizations has become my principle creative activity and in a sense accords me a certain dignity via the exercise of the basic human right of freedom of expression. In fact, where else might one find criticism of Mass Cultural Council, Mass Poetry Festival, NEA, Poetry mag, etc., etc.?  It seems The American Dissident is unique in that sense.  Why do the other magazines normally NOT include such criticism?  The poetry milieu, in that sense, seems somewhat unique.  
Via Google, I did do some research.  How else did I find your email address?  But I could not find the selection committee member names nor the criteria, which you could have provided in your email, but did not.  Mass Poetry will not respond to my request for that.  No matter.  I expect the selectors were surely academics and without doubt part of the academic/literary establishment.  Were they not?  Were there any hardcore critics of the academic/literary establishment on the committee?  I also expect the criteria to be sufficiently vague and include something to the extent of quantity of publications in establishment magazines.  When dealing with art and literature, subjectivity is the prime point in question (like minds usually choose like minds!), though it is often treated as if somehow objective by the establishment. 
So, you choose to respond with ad hominem:  “cowardly.”  Rather than focus on the messenger, why not focus on the message in the cartoon.  Why not underscore precisely where the lies are in the satirical sketch and present a factual counter-argumentation?  If anything, I am NOT cowardly!  Unlike you (most probably), when teaching in academe I have always stood up and openly criticized administrators and colleagues and risked my employment for doing so!  Also, unlike you and other literary ladder climbers, I have always chosen RUDE truth (is there any other kind?) above fame, titles, awards, publications, and invitations.  With that regard, you might wish to contemplate Emerson:  “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.”  Clearly, those words inevitably must directly counter your modus operandi.  
Sure, I could have contacted you prior to contacting your student newspaper editors, who will likely NOT be responding because of an absence of independence of mind and PC-obligation.  But what difference?  
You note:  “It seems to me that a thoughtful conversation doesn’t interest you; that you’d rather send inflammatory volleys from the safe zone behind the computer screen at which you cower.”  Well, why not invite me to your classes to present my point of view, which is likely at antipodes to your point of view?  In fact, despite my requests, only one professor in America has been willing to do that:  Dr. Dan Sklar, Emerson College.  Also, why not help get me invited to the Mass Poetry Festival to present my point of view?  MPF will NOT even respond, nor will the organizers of the Boston National Poetry Month.  I do NOT hide behind my computer screen.  I have OFTEN stood alone outside in protest against establishment poetry readings et al.  In fact, several years ago, I was permanently trespassed from my neighborhood library w/o due process because of my written criticism.  In fact, I was also trespassed from part of Fitchburg State University, where I was on the tenure track.  One professor had claimed she was afraid of me.  For those in power, the claim of fear is a typical ploy to crush dissidents.  In any case, how can YOU make an assertion of cowardice without knowing anything about me?  BTW, Lesley used to house PEN New England, which shamefully refused (and still does) to respond to any of my correspondance!  It does NOT care about my civil rights!  If Joan Houlihan is still present at Lesley, she too is an absurdity who once told me she would not permit me to teach any workshops at her Concord Poetry Center if I protested in front of the center (see 
http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/concord_poetry_center.html).  Well, this coward chose to protest and to hell with teaching the workshops!  Check that linke to see the cartoon I drew on Houlihan.  And how sad it is that college students are generally NOT introduced to criticism like mine!  Lesley would never subscribe to The American Dissident.
So, where do I find the names of the selection committee members and the criteria for the selection?
Also, why do you NOT give a damn that poets like me are fully ostracized by the establishment, which viscerally rejects criticism, satire, etc.?  Why?  
For you, the one question still remains:  how can one possibly reach the status of PL without groveling, ladder climbing, backslapping, self-congratulating, turning a blind eye, and especially avoiding criticizing at all costs?  For me, the answer is quite simple:  one can NOT reach that status without such less than noble activity.  Even way back, poets of the establishment like Alexander Pope and Lord Byron knew quite well that the position of PL was generally a farce!  Think of Stalinist State Poet Gorky, who’d argued that the archipelago gulags were nice places!  And how to read Solzhenitsyn’s The Oak and the Calf without noting the remarkable similarity between literature under the Soviet dictatorship and that in America today?  
As noted in my satire, the PL is clearly a badge of safety… accorded by the establishment!  How you can NOT perceive that is something you’d have to seriously contemplate.   Could someone like me ever be anointed PL by the poet, cultural-apparatchik, and local hack selectors, who I’ve likely already openly criticized?  Of course not!  And that is the fundament, the crux of the PL problem.
In fact, achieving the position of PL is akin to achieving tenure as a professor.  You might not be tenured, but you surely must know deep down what one must not say, what expression one must conceal.  In fact, the position of PL demands a certain blindness to the fact that dissidents like me are indeed fully ostracized and, for example, canNOT get public funding.  Despite my 501c3 status, the NEA, Mass Cultural Council, etc. will not accord The American Dissident one penny of public funds.  In fact, because of my criticism, the Concord Cultural Council even enacted a policy prohibiting funding to any art it deemed to be of a political nature.  But then because I mocked that policy (see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/massachusetts_cultural_council.html), it quickly withdrew it.  Sure, it’s not on paper today, but it is still firmly implanted in the minds of the establishment apparatchiks on the council.  
Finally, of course, I’d be willing to “dialogue” with you and others.  I have no criminal record of violence and have NEVER threatened anyone.  Why not try using your new power to allot just a tiny little space in the world of poetry to hardcore critical poetry with regards the poetry establishment?  Why not investigate why so many poets have such thin skin and thus cannot bear to be criticized?  Why are not MFA poetry students encouraged to contemplate the poetry infrastructure and encouraged to criticize it?  

[No response]

From: George Slone
Sent: Thursday, November 12, 2015 2:47 PM
To: Georges, Danielle
Subject: Re: Boston's new PL satirized in a new P. Maudit cartoon

To the PL,
So, your definition of a “real dialogue” is to simply and gently close the door?  Or are you just too busy for “real dialogue” now?  Or does “real dialogue” really mean PC-minded dialogue?  I suspect that you only responded to my initial email because it was sent to a few of your colleagues and Lesley University student newspaper editors, all of whom decided NOT to respond.  Surprise?  Not in the least!  And that’s what is so sad about higher education (Lesley University et al) and the literary milieu today:  the absolute rejection of “real dialogue.”  In fact, a poet laureate is normally chosen because of her proven rejection of “real dialogue,” n’est-ce pas?

[No response.   Some dialogue on poetry, eh!]