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

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dan Kennedy

Professors as Information Censors
On a l’impression que le dessin est de moins en moins toléré, que c’est une forme d’expression qui, même au sein des médias, est encombrante. Un peu trop atypique, un peu trop libre…  Même dans les grands journaux, les dessins deviennent extrêmement consensuels, il n’y a pas beaucoup de prise de risque éditoriale, les dessins deviennent un peu insipides.  [You get the impression that cartooning has become less and less tolerated, that it’s a form of expression which, even in the heart of the media, is burdensome.  A bit too uncommon, a little too free…  Even in the big newspapers, cartoons have become extremely consensual, there’s not much editorial risk taking, the cartoons become a bit insipid.  —trans gts]
—Riss, editor of Charlie Hebdo

It is the fifth anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist massacre.  Are Northeastern University students aware of that?  As an alumnus of NU and out of respect for the murdered cartoonists, I request that the student editors of The Huntington News override the decision made by one of their professors, Dan Kennedy, to censor information.  Indeed, Professor Kennedy refused to circulate to his students a cartoon (see wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2020/01/democracy-under-siege.html), which I’d sketched satirizing The Boston Globe.  I’d sent it to the columnists depicted in the cartoon, as well as to the editor and several other journalists.  In a separate email, I’d also sent it to Professor Kennedy, who teaches in the School of Journalism.

To Professor Dan Kennedy, Northeastern University:
It is highly likely you will choose NOT to present the attached cartoon to your Northeastern University journalist students… and that would represent in a nutshell your problem as a professor of journalism.  Why not address it, instead of ignoring it?  

Professor Kennedy was the only one who responded.  For that, I praise him.  From my experience, The Boston Globe tends to ignore/censor hardcore criticism with its regard, something that clearly ought to be a focus for professors of journalism.  Professor Kennedy’s response was brief.

Hi, George —
I like the one of me and Renée Loth much better.
No, I won't be presenting it to my students. It's puerile.

Apropos, the other cartoon, which Professor Kennedy refers to and also refused to circulate amongst his students can be examined here:  wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2020/01/renee-loth-and-dan-kennedy.html.  I just posted it.  “Oh, my God, this cartoon is fantastic,” had written the professor, but again he would not circulate it amongst his students.  In 2013, I’d posted a different cartoon again satirizing the professor, and again he would not circulate it amongst his students (see wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2013/07/rosanna-cavannah-and-dan-kennedy.html).  Moreover, last June I’d posted an “Open Letter to Northeastern University School of Journalism.”  Not one NU professor would circulate the letter to his or her students.  In fact, The Huntington News would not respond.  It can be examined here:  wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2019/06/northeastern-university-school-of.html.  
In any case, rather than issue a general kill-the-messenger message-killing epithet, “puerile,” why not instead contemplate precisely what points are made in the cartoon, then via reason and fact prove the points faulty.  That should be precisely what a professor and any thinking individual does.  But when one is bound by ideology and/or career connections, one tends NOT to do that.  Sadly, to dismiss a message that one does not like with a simple epithet has become a common practice today.  Hopefully, professors are not teaching and encouraging it.  
Was Professor Kennedy’s a worthy response?  Shouldn’t his students be able to make their own determinations?  Should professors serve as academic censors of information?  In essence, would the cartoon NOT encourage debate amongst students of journalism?  And isn’t vigorous debate a prime cornerstone of a thriving democracy, even at a school of journalism?  For a professor to dismiss the clear message in the cartoon as “puerile” is troubling.  
How perchance is it “puerile,” for example, to openly criticize a highly-biased newspaper’s refusal to publish anything highly critical of its editor?  How perchance is it “puerile” to quote the puerile statements of two of its columnists, while simultaneously presenting the newspaper’s latest self-vaunting focus, “Democracy Under Siege”?  Indeed, how does publishing such puerile columns like “Miss Conduct” and “Love Letters” serve to solve the democracy-under-siege problem evoked by the Boston Globe?  How does the latter’s rejection of hardcore criticism/satire like that presented in the cartoon solve the democracy-under-siege problem?  How is it possible that Professor Kennedy seems incapable of grasping these fundamental questions?   Might the Boston Globe constitute one of the hands feeding him?  Any careerist, academic or other, knows and obeys the basic career taboo:  thou shalt not bite the hands that feed.  
How is it “puerile” to criticize/satirize the Boston Globe as a likely contributor to the democracy-under-siege problem?  Might Professor Kennedy (like him or not is irrelevant!) also be a contributor to the problem?  If so, that would explain his dismissal of the satire as “puerile,” thus not worthy of his students’ attention.  Newspapers, like the Boston Globe, publish satirical cartoons, but not when the satire targets them.  With good-taste censors like Professor Kennedy in academic positions and Globe Editor McGrory in journalism positions, democracy will remain under siege.  In fact, one must wonder what Brian McGrory and his journalist colleagues think democracy is.  Do they think it is implementation of ideology, restriction of freedom of expression, and limited debate in accord with the parameters of their particular ideology?  
Finally, for several decades now, as a Northeastern alumnus, I have tried in vain to get the library directors at the university to subscribe (only $20/year) to The American Dissident, a 501c3 nonprofit journal devoted to literature, democracy and dissidence.   So, how can Northeastern, year after year, ask me to contribute money?  Well, instead, I will now contribute a free subscription, but only if the librarian in charge assures that issues will be placed on the shelf and not thrown into the garbage.  The cartoon in question will appear in the next issue of the journal due out in April.  If the librarian in charge accepts the offer, then Professor Kennedy’s students will be able to circumvent his censorship of information and make their own determinations as to the worthiness or unworthiness of that particular expression of freedom of speech.  And the same goes, if the student newspaper editor decides to publish it.  
The American Dissident, unlike the bulk of journals and newspapers, not only brooks tough criticism regarding it and its editor (me), but encourages and publishes the harshest received in each and every issue.  How sad that the Boston Globe rejects that modus operandi, de facto preferring “democracy under siege.”  How about The Huntington News?  Journalism constitutes a part of the democracy-under-siege problem in America.   If it continues to deny that fact, as it tends to do, how can that possibly help resolve the problem?  If student journalists continue in that darkness, how can that help resolve the problem?   In the realm of journalism, careerism and ideology, which ineluctably oppose truth and reason, constitute two of the prime culprits.  
Riss concludes (see above quote), “I think that free expression is in itself a sufficiently fundamental value, which has a future if cartoonists have the courage to inject into their drawings courage and strength.  If it’s only to present nice cartoons which upset nobody, they might as well not sketch at all.”  [« Je pense que la liberté d’expression est déjà une valeur fondamentale suffisante.  Ce genre a de l’avenir si les dessinateurs ont le courage de donner à leur dessin de la force. Si c’est juste pour faire de l’illustration et des dessins gentils qui ne dérangent personne, autant ne rien dessiner du tout » —trans gts]

In sincerity, again, I thank Professor Kennedy for responding… because from his brief criticism, I was inspired to write this essay.  Please, professors, avoid the epithets and embrace vigorous debate and freedom of expression, democracy’s cornerstones.  

Saturday, April 11, 2020

James McBride, Carter Journalism Institute

The following is a cartoon I sketched regarding the intellectually ridiculous icon worshipping of James McBride.   After the cartoon appears the counter critique I wrote regarding McBride's hagiographical essay, which I sent to “distinguished writer in residence" James McBride, Institute Director Prof. Ted Conover, Associate Director Meredith Broussard, Assistant to the Director Prof. Andrea Rosenberg, Cultural Reporting and Criticism Prof. Katie Roiphe, and Literary Reportage Prof. Robert Boynton, Carter Journalism Institute, NYU.  Surprise!  Not one of them deigned to respond.  And to think the CJI actually has a "First Amendment Watch"!  Doesn't that imply a certain openness to criticism?  Or does it really only imply a certain predilection for virtue signaling?  It is astonishing to me, even despite my long experience, that likely not one literary magazine in America (besides The American Dissident) would publish the following criticism.  Freedom in America really has been replaced by in-lockstep PC and consequent widespread cowardice and unwillingness to go against that grain.  How sad, truly sad, that the Sixties brought that about!  For the two cartoons I drew on Toni Morrison, as well as a dialogue de sourds, see https://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/11/toni-morrison_23.html and https://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/11/toni-morrison.html.  



Praise Is the New Criticism—A Review of a Review
Well, I hesitated with “Toni Morrison:  First Lady of Letters.”  After all, I only had three more free New York Times articles.  But the lead hooked me:  “The Source of Self-Regard, a new collection of essays spanning four decades of the author’s career, cements her status as an unparalleled literary innovator.”  Clearly, for anyone who questioned and challenged establishment utterances, it raised a serious question:   Will the iconographer/hagiographer aka literary critic James McBride, “distinguished writer in residence” at the N.Y.U Carter Journalism Institute, define and otherwise prove “unparalleled literary innovator”?  Was Toni Morrison really somehow better than Orwell, Celine, Solzhenitsyn, Ibsen, and so many other writers?  Illustrating the review, the black and white photo of Morrison looking upwards in a daze of self-composure encompassed in a band of white light presented her as an icon. 
Above the reviewer’s name appears an odd statement:  “When you purchase an independently reviewed book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.”  But how to prove the alleged independence of the reviewer?  In essence, how can a university “distinguished writer in residence” possibly be independent from the academic/literary establishment paying him so nicely? 
McBride begins his praise with a lengthy, seemingly irrelevant account of “when I was a 24-year-old reporter at The Boston Globe, I was sent to cover Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year ceremony.”  Who was celebrated there?  Well, not Morrison, but Ella Fitzgerald.  McBride then praises the latter: “She endured more pain and suffering than I knew or would ever know. Her pain and joys were hers to guard, to share, to translate into her art as she saw fit. She had the benefit of wisdom, which I, a young hothead, did not.”
McBride finally gets into the subject of his essay after his long Fitzgerald eulogy:  eulogizing Morrison!  “Like Fitzgerald, she rose from humble beginnings to world prominence,” he lauds.  “Like Fitzgerald, she is intensely private. And like Fitzgerald, she has given every iota of her extraordinary American-born talent and intellect to the great American dream.”  
All of McBride’s argument is of course subjective.  In fact, when it comes to literature, anything can be argued, thanks to literature’s inherent subjectivity.  The problem arises when those like McBride somehow try to present it as an objective science.  “Morrison has, as they say in church, lived a life of service.  Whatever awards and acclaim she has won, she has earned. She has paid in full. She owes us nothing.”  Perhaps a “life of service” to the academic/literary establishment?  Clearly, if she had criticized the latter, she never would have climbed its ladder to receive its prime anointment—the Nobel Prize.  But just how corrupt has that Prize become nowadays?  Indeed, has McBride ever even contemplated that… or like most writers simply opened wide and swallowed, never wondering who the faceless judges and what their literary biases might be?  
And then, bingo!, surprise!, out of the blue, McBride pushes his Trump derangement syndrome!  Now who would have thought an objective book review would include that?  “The nation staggers from one crisis to the next, led by a president with all the grace of a Cyclops and a brain the size of a full-grown pea,” he argues in full irrationality.  After all, a pea-brain, Republican or Democrat, cannot possibly rise to the top.
Then immediately (in the same long sentence), McBride moves from the Devil [i.e., Trump] to God [i.e., Morrison], lauding:  “the mightiness, the stillness, the pure power and beauty of words delivered in thought, reason and discourse, still carry the unstoppable force of a thousand hammer blows, spreading the salve of righteousness that can heal our nation and restore the future our children deserve.”  And of course McBride fails to present just one example to back his wild acclaim!  Why?
“She is our greatest singer,” praises McBride.  “And this book is perhaps her most important song.”  Yes, I can hear the rap music now:  fuckin mofucka fuckin mofucka you my fuckin nigga mofucka…  Oops!  Should I have written the “n-word” to satisfy establishment word controllers?  But then McBride finally dissects the book in question, noting the three parts, and “It includes a gorgeous eulogy for James Baldwin,” who like me did not write the “n-word,” but instead wrote “nigger.”  And of course McBride fails to evoke the Augsburg University controversy with that regard.  Well, I digress but McBride’s digressions encourage me to do so!   
The reviewer pushes more inflations without illustrations:  “It is through jazz, actually, that one can best understand the imaginative power and technical mastery that Morrison has achieved over the course of her literary journey. No American writer I can think of, past or present, incorporates jazz into his or her writing with greater effect. Her work doesn’t bristle with jazz. It is jazz.”   
And so what does that even mean?  Without an example, one is left in a cloud of hyperbole.  And on and on McBride jazzes:  “One way to appreciate Morrison’s supreme blend of technical and literary creativity — without reading a word of her books — is to listen to the unedited version of Nina Simone’s recording of the swing-era song ‘Good Bait’, made famous by Count Basie.”  
In fact, why bother even reading McBride’s review?  Why not just listen to Count Basie instead?  Ah, but then the reviewer exalts “Simone, a singer and musical genius, doesn’t vocalize on the recording. She plays piano. She begins with a gorgeous, improvised fugue, is joined by a bassist and a drummer and leads the trio in light supper-club swing, and intensifies into muscular Count Basie-like, big-band punches.”  What happened to Morrison?  How did we get on the Simone tangent?  It is insane!  It is laughably insane!  
“She [Simone, not Morrison] then breaks loose from the trio altogether and blasts into a solo, two-part contrapuntal Bach-like invention, which develops momentarily into three parts. She blows through the fugue-like passages with such power you can almost hear the bassist and drummer getting to their feet as they rejoin. But she’s left them. She’s gone! She closes the piece with a flourishing Beethoven-like concerto ending, having traveled through three key changes and four time signature changes. That’s not jazz. That’s composition. It’s also Toni Morrison.”  
Ah, finally back to Morrison!  But then surprise, like Trump, the white bad/black good narrative arrives:  “A few years ago she [Morrison, not Simone] recounted to an interviewer that as a young girl, she had a cleaning job in a rich white person’s home.  Her employer [i.e., the white guy] yelled at her one day for being a useless cleaner.”  
McBride then reverts back to himself as a wide-eyed worshipper then, surprise!, the white supremacy narrative arrives:  “I used to believe that God created Toni Morrison for the voiceless among us, that He knelt down and encouraged a little black girl in Lorain, Ohio, to whisper ‘I want blue eyes’ to her friend Chloe Wofford, who, 30 years, two children, one divorce, one name change and more than four cities later, would sit down at age 39 and stick a pin in the balloon of white supremacy, and in the hissing noise that followed create ‘The Bluest Eye,’ one of the greatest sonnets in the canon of American literature. But I don’t believe that anymore.”
Finally, McBride concludes:  “Toni Morrison does not belong to black America. She doesn’t belong to white America. She is not ‘one of us.’ She is all of us. She is not one nation. She is every nation.”  And thus I conclude, if I may, that McBride ought to occupy a new position at NYU:   hagiographer-in-residence.  He could also teach a new journalism course, Crap 101. 

[Full Disclosure:  I have not read the Bible, nor have I read Toni Morrison, nor do I feel compelled by McBride’s eulogy to do so… and I do not listen to Ella Fitzgerald and I did not vote for Hillary.  My review is a criticism of the critic, not of the critic’s icon.]

From: George Slone
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 10:28 AM
To: jamesmcbride@jamesmcbride.com
Cc: maggiesaunders820@gmail.com; katie.freeman@us.penguingroup.com
Subject: Your review et al

To James McBride, “distinguished writer in residence” at the N.Y.U Carter Journalism Institute:  
I send you this review of one of your reviews in the hope it might possibly encourage you to rethink your status as well-remunerated sell-out and somehow step out of your safe-space identity politics box to embrace individuality, real “rude truth-telling” individuality.  Fear not, the likelihood of my getting it published is close to nil.  
G. Tod Slone, PhD (Université de Nantes, FR), aka P. Maudit, Founding Editor (1998)
The American Dissident, a 501c3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence
217 Commerce Rd.
Barnstable, MA 02630

From: George Slone
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 10:35 AM
To: ted.conover@nyu.edu; merbroussard@nyu.edu; andrea.rosenberg@nyu.edu; cultural.program@nyu.edu; robert.boynton@nyu.edu
Cc: editor@nyunews.com; mgmt@nyunews.com; jamesmcbride@jamesmcbride.com
Subject: A review of a review by one of your own et al

To Institute Director Prof. Ted Conover, Associate Director Meredith Broussard, Assistant to the Director Prof. Andrea Rosenberg, Cultural Reporting and Criticism Prof. Katie Roiphe, and Literary Reportage Prof. Robert Boynton, Carter Journalism Institute, NYU:

Well, if this is journalism, then you really need to take a deep look at yourselves!  Read my review of one of your “distinguished professor” reviews below.  Why would professors of journalism at NYU likely NOT discuss it with their students?  Why would the New York Times NEVER publish it?  Why would NYU’s student newspaper, Washington Square News, likely NEVER publish it?  Why is journalism rated so amazingly low today by the public… amidst journalism’s great cloud of backslapping and self-congratulating?  Think!  Think about your particular contribution to that low rating!  Ah, the silence of the professors and business-as-usual in their ivory tower…


G. Tod Slone, PhD (Université de Nantes, FR), aka P. Maudit, Founding Editor (1998)
The American Dissident, a 501c3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence
217 Commerce Rd.
Barnstable, MA 02630

Jonathan Haidt

From: George Slone <todslone@hotmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 8:49 AM
To: jhaidt@stern.nyu.edu <jhaidt@stern.nyu.edu>
Subject: Haidt satirized in a new P. Maudit cartoon
To Professor Jonathan Haidt, 
No response from you (see below).  Anyhow, apparently I didn't send you the cartoon satire I drew on you.  Perhaps you'd like to share it with your students, since you are supposed to be a proponent of debate.  Yes, I am currently writing a counter essay regarding "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate," of which you are a signatory.  The cartoon will be part of that essay.  

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

Founding Editor (1998)

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




217 Commerce Rd.

Barnstable, MA 02630

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Cape Cod Times

On the American Dissident bulletin board in front of my house on Commerce Road in Barnstable, Massachusetts, I posted the ollowing poem:  

The Cape Cod Times
What makes a “newspaper of the year”
and “New England General Excellence Winner”?

Sanitized script for the easily offended, of course!
Promotion of Chamber-of-Commerce tourist art!
Echo-news on the nation’s vacuous celebrities!  
Tedious feel-good articles by the same columnists!
Knee-jerk rejection of anything critical of the editor!
Reluctance to print hardcore criticism of community pillars!
General apathy to local issues of freedom of speech! 

Yeah, all of the above—
the Cape Cod Times… and why you shouldn’t buy it!

Julie Lipkin Cape Cod Times

To Julie Lipkin, Letters Editor, Cape Cod Times:  
First, is truth more important to you than your career?  Second, who is the new editor?  Is it Eric Gongola?  Now, for my letter, which you will likely not/cannot publish due to the first question:  

Seeing the term “democracy” in the Cape Cod Times grabbed my attention because the Times has been anything but “democracy” (i.e., freedom of expression)!  Instead, it has been 100% Chamber-of-Commercracy… not quite the same thing.  It would not publish anything I sent critical of its overly-lauded editor, Paul Pronovost.  The latter would not cover, let alone even respond to, any of my criticism regarding Cape Cod institutions.  Why would it not cover, for example:  “Barnstable taxpayer permanently banned from Barnstable library w/o due process or warning”?  Contrary to Jerry Kibbe’s letter to the editor, “Shutting doors on part of society never works in a democracy,” Pronovost seemed to prove the opposite:  shutting doors always seems to work in a democracy, at least on Cape Cod!  But when one never really tests the waters of democracy like most citizens, one often has a cloudy, rather than clear, sense of reality.  
Over the past decade, I have tested the waters of democracy on Cape Cod—all over Cape Cod—and have yet to find just one institution open to democracy (i.e., freedom of expression).   The doors were simply shut, right and left, by the Cape Cod Times, Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Clams Library System of Cape Cod, Barnstable County Human Rights Commission, Provincetown Arts, and on and on.  Now, wouldn’t that make an interesting story for the Cape Cod Times?  No way, Jose!  How to wake up those like Kibbe to the reality of undemocratic life on Cape Cod… beyond the Corona Hysteria?  Kibbe’s is an easy, risk-less concern:  “I cannot hide my disdain for the comments I read today of closing the bridges because of COVID-19.”

Sadly, closing part of society, contrary to Kibbe’s opinion, always seems to work in a democracy like ours!  Hell, I’ve been closed out left and right.  Do the Kibbes of Cape Cod give a damn about that?  Certainly not!