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, March 20, 2020

Harry G. Frankfurt

The cartoon below was sketched in 2005.  Surprise!  Frankfurt never responded to it.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Telegram

The following letter to the editor was rejected by The Telegram (St. John's, Newfoundland), which seems content to publish only positive remarks on the public libraries in its vicinity.  Certain subjects like libraries and poetry are rarely, if ever, criticized in the Mainstream Media.  Surprisingly, The Telegram did publish a critique I wrote regarding the poetess laureate of St. John's.

Testing the Waters of Democracy… at the Public Library
Just how free are public libraries really?  Are they free, as in wide-open to criticism and real debate?  That fundamental question was not posed by (axed College of the North Atlantic President & CEO) Bill Radford in his letter to the editor, “The public library – medicine for the soul and the cradle of democracy.”  

If indeed the public library is a “cradle of democracy,” why then, for example, did my neighborhood library permanently ban me without warning or possibility of due process?  After all, is not due process  a fundament of democracy?  If indeed the public library is a “cradle of democracy,” why will not one library in the entire library system, where I live, subscribe to the nonprofit 501c3 journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence I’ve been publishing since 1998?  In fact, my neighborhood library refused a free subscription offer.  Is that democracy in action?  How many other such journals and books are denied access to the shelves of public libraries, including those in St. John’s?  

"I think that we all hold to the vague notion that libraries are repositories of knowledge and thus should be protected but we seem to forget that they are also public spaces that offer places to meet, to interact, to encounter, with significant health benefits,” argues Radford.  But from my personal experience dealing with library directors, I’ve come to a very different conclusion:  libraries are gatekeepers of knowledge, keeping some knowledge, especially that critical of libraries, out of libraries.  How does that constitute a repository of knowledge, as if all knowledge?  Why protect an institution that acts as a gatekeeper and rejects hardcore criticism with its regard?  The American Library Association, for example, absolutely refuses any criticism with its regard!  It’s magazine, American Libraries Magazine, refuses to even respond to such criticism.  

“Many communities have recognized the galvanising and positive effects that a library ‘hub’ can have on the wellbeing of the entire community,” argues Radford.  Entire community?  My very civil rights are being denied in my community because I am not permitted to attend any political or cultural events held at my neighborhood library!  How many others have had their civil rights denied by their neighborhood libraries?  Well, we’ll never know.  My local newspaper will certainly not report on it!  

“This is the time to invest in a space that will bring us together in the context of societal fragmentation, incipient populism and the erosion of our basic freedoms,” argues Radford.  But what happens when libraries themselves are partly responsible for the erosion of our very basic freedoms?   Why should we support them in that case?  “We need a place to meet each other, debate, discuss, construct and learn, the library is that place,” declares Radford, sounding quite like a PR spokesperson for libraries.  What happens when library directors outright reject debate and discussion?  How does that make the library the prime place for such activity?  At another library, I offered to buy a bulletin board to be used for freedom of speech postings by all citizens in the community.  The offer was simply rejected.  

“There is no better investment of our public dollars,” argues Radford.   Well, rather than a library I’d much rather have public dollars invested in a free speech center, one that, unlike libraries, not only brooks hardcore criticism but actually encourages it.  Far too often, blind praise is accorded to some institutions, mostly cultural, including libraries, poetry organizations, and art festivals.  But blind praise only serves to cover up intrinsic faults.  Criticism on the other hand serves to reveal those faults and force the faulty to contemplate them.  If one never personally tests the waters of democracy, including freedom of speech, then one will likely never really know what the de facto reality boundaries are and will end up pushing common tropes, as in the public library, “cradle of democracy.” 

Finally, rather than cite industrialist Andrew Carnegie, as Radford does, why not instead cite a rare librarian who dared speak rude truth in front of librarians?  Charles Willett, Founding Editor of Counterpoise, did that at the Fifth National Conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries:  “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 [American Library Association]’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, what about the St. John’s libraries?  Might one of them be willing to subscribe to the journal I publish and include it in its repository of knowledge?  Hmm.