A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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A FORUM FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND VIGOROUS DEBATE, CORNERSTONES 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

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Kristina Joyce

 Below is a cartoon I sketched in 2010.  

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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Tim Green Megan O'Reilly Rattle

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The above watercolor depicts Tim Green and wife Megan O'Reilly, editor and co-editor of Rattle, a literary journal (see previous blog on Rattle). Many others could have been selected and put behind the intellectually-restricting established-order bars. Well, I’ve saved them for other satires. I do have to give Tim credit because now and then he, unlike scores of others, does open up to debate, especially debate that cannot further his career. I was disappointed, however, in his censoring of comments made by David Ochs and perhaps others, as well as his closing down of certain debate forums. Censorship in any of its subtle and sleezy rationalized forms should simply not exist in the literary arena, not in a democratic society. If you favor censorship, then become a businessman or politician or professor, not a literary editor. P. Maudit and Mather Schneider are depicted as trolls, which in Internet terminology constitute persons who disrupt the happy-face ambiance of blogs with sledgehammer criticism. In any case, those who would reject vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, normally do so out of fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being exposed for intellectual fraud, and fear of engaging with social “inferiors.” If I were behind an academic pulpet, I’d tell students Do not fear to engage with someone simply because of his name, occupation and/or laurels. What will make you a formidable adversary will be unwavering logic backed by fact and example, and, of course, willingness to bend when proven incorrect.
[This is not a poem!]



Thursday, June 10, 2021

Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young

Intrinsic Intellectual Corruption and Disdain for Democracy in the Poetry Milieu… And Not Just Regarding the Prizes

To possess personal experience actually testing the waters of democracy in the academic/literary establishment milieu will render a poet very different from the mass of poet wordsmiths.  

"On Poets and Prizes," written by Mills College poet professors Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young, published in the BLM-ideologically-bound ASAP Journal (Association for the Study of Arts of the Present), reveals through extensive research just how corrupt the poetry milieu is, though only with regards the prizes.  Oddly, the two authors avoid using the term “corrupt,” though did use the term “nepotism.”   They state that “A few years ago we began a project to understand the literary prize. We were interested in this question of whether the literary prize was impartial or not, who is favored, who left out.”  

Yet it is egregiously evident that rare poets—irrespective of skin color and ethnicity—who criticize the machine will certainly be left out.  In fact, featuring POC poets seems to have become the new ploy of magazines like Poets & Writers and organizations like the Academy of American Poets to divert attention away from the real fundamental problem—the proverbial elephant in the room—confronting the poetry establishment.  And what is that problem?  Well, read on.  

Mills College, by the way, is extremely ideological.   Simply read its webpage statement, “The Power of Community:  Mills Stands with Black Lives Matter,” to discover just how ideologically-bound it is… and NOT to freedom of expression.  Why, one must wonder, have the two poet professors accepted that status quo?   Shouldn’t poets stand for freedom of expression, more than for BLM or anything else?  Well, clearly, poets in general do not!  

Spahr and Young begin their article with a picturesque image of poets:  “Some days we think of poetry as a dead antelope and poets as the wolves, hyenas, and coyotes who come to fight over the innards, teeth bared, growling.”  But I’m not quite sure which poets the authors are referring to.  From my personal experience, poets don’t growl at all, but rather baaa like sheep, write for recognition, and often dwell in academic safe-space cocoons.  Also, many of them are parrots, echoing identity politics and critical-race theory.  Poets, in general, are cattle, as in a stable of writers, certainly not lone growling wolves howling rude truths!  That would be nefarious to careers!  

Spahr and Young provide valuable data that underscores egregious nepotism, as well as friends promoting friends, akin to the revolving door of lobbyists and politicians.  In that sense, they do counter the norm, which has been one of regarding the poetry prizes and their winners with total unquestioning and total awe-stricken admiration.  But somehow the authors seem to think the modus operandi of intrinsic corruption can be repaired, an evident pipe-dream not unlike Biden’s vacuous call for unity.  The two authors do name names and should be given kudos for doing so.  They cite a number of noteworthy examples, reflecting the academic/literary establishment’s intrinsic nature as an insiders club.  The Academy of American Poets Fellowship, for example, is awarded by a Board of Chancellors, nominated by prior Chancellors.  The MacArthur Foundation uses a selection committee of “approximately 12 people” who serve anonymously.  Lack of transparency obviously encourages intellectual corruption and absence of accountability.  And yet somehow Spahr and Young argue, “As liberal organizations, they value transparency and inclusion.”  But “inclusion” has really come to mean promoting the right skin-color and ethnicity, while excluding dissident voices.    

The two authors state that “Prizes are often the only way that poets will ever receive any meaningful compensation for their writing.”  Yet many poets are academics, who are well-salaried and job-secured.  They do not need additional money from their poetry.  Poets, in general, are certainly not living in poverty, desperate for prize money.   That is an absurd thought.  The two authors note that some poets like Adrienne Rich reaped nearly a million dollars in prize monies (examine the cartoon I sketched on Rich in 2010:  www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/239569862679528067/1316347216818343863).  They evoke Robert Pinsky, who has been a judge in nearly 40 prizes.  In essence, criticize Pinsky, as I certainly have done (examine my 2010 cartoon on him:  www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/239569862679528067/2682697761995933479), and forget about winning a Pinsky-judged prize.  The two authors mention Louise Glück, as yet “another poet with both a strong prize record and close-knit connections to other prizewinning poets.”  They state that “Pinsky, Phillips, and Glück all awarded prizes to a small, overlapping group of poets, many of whom in turn awarded them a prize (or vice versa).”  As for Glück, read my editorial and examine my cartoon (wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2020/11/louise-gluck.html).  And again, I cite my own work because, as a poet, I am a firm believer that poets ought to personally test the waters of democracy in the poetry milieu.  

“We present them as examples of how the system works, not as frauds,” somehow state Spahr and Young.  And yet clearly they (“them”) are frauds!  I think of Pinsky delivering a speech at Fitchburg State University, where I was a tenure-track professor, and his absolute refusal to respond to the issues of corruption at the college, of which I informed him prior to the speech.  Pinsky is simply a corrupt academic of the machine.  How to perceive him and any other poet laureate of the US Congress as anything but that? 

The two authors praise Foetry.com (now dead) and its librarian founder Alan D. Cordle for outing corruption, in particular, regarding Jorie Graham, who directed prizes to her current and former students.  But Cordle is/was by no means a knight in shining armor.  Read the transcript from foetry.com of a forum held to discredit The American Dissident and its editor (i.e., me), initiated by David James Callan, Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, Maytag Fellow, two-time Academy of American Poets prize winner, two-time Bowdoin Poetry prize-winner, Forbes Rickart Jr. Poetry prize winner, Associate Member of the Academy of American Poets, and foet member of now defunct Foetry.com.  As editor, I’d rejected Callan's submission to The American Dissident because Callan had not taken the time to read the guidelines, especially regarding self-congratulating credentials normally forwarded to other poetry journals.  Reading the transcript, one will discover that the foet cohort believed it had succeeded in fully trashing The American Dissident and me.  The cohort felt sad for Callan, concluding I had bullied him. 

In any case, Spahr and Young aberrantly conclude:  “So what is to be done? We are not purists who want to do away with prizes entirely, especially not at the moment they are finally being distributed to a more racially diverse group of writers.”  How original!  Diversity 101… which in reality is nothing more than Diversion 101.  As noted in my cartoon satire of the three Poets & Writers magazine honchos, why should skin color be more important than rare truth-telling individuals apt to stand up and criticize the in-lockstep poet herd?   It appears that race has indeed become far more important than truth and the courage to speak it.  Is that really progress?  

“But nor do we wish to agitate for a further reformed prize,” state the authors, “If there is anything our research has shown us, it is that even as they do their best to course correct towards transparency, equity, and inclusion, prizes will still be prizes.”  Equity and inclusion, perhaps, but only in the Orwellian sense!  Well, I wrote both poet professors Spahr and Young.  Needless to day, they never responded.


From: George Slone

Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2020 10:36 AM

To: syoung@mills.edu <syoung@mills.edu>; jspahr@mills.edu <jspahr@mills.edu>

Subject: Your ASAP article

To Juliana Spahr (Professor of English, Dean of Graduate Studies) and Stephanie Young 

(Adjunct Professor of English, Director of Creative Writing, Director of Graduate Programs, Literature and Languages), Mills College: 
A subscriber of mine just sent your ASAP Journal article to me.  I will likely be dissecting it later today.  In any case, you might wish to examine The American Dissident website and blog site, which essentially specialize in hardcore criticism of poets, artists, academics, journalists, and the academic/literary establishment in general.   

Check out my cartoon on one of the “10 Poets Who Will Change the World” (see wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2020/11/chen-chen.html), which I just posted this week, though sketched in 2018.  In fact, why not share it and the website with your students?  Likely, they have not been exposed to such raw criticism.  Indeed, what other poetry journal presents such criticism?  What other journal would actually criticize BLM?  What other journal would not only encourage criticism against its editor (me) and publish the harshest received in each and every issue?   

Note that for quite a while now (perhaps two decades), I have been criticizing poets for not wondering who the faceless judges behind the poet anointments and prizes.  BTW, once upon a time, I too was a professor… but free-speech advocacy KO’d me… though only in academe… and I do NOT regret an iota NOT having achieved tenure and emeritus status.  Rather truth than those career adornments!  Career and truth simply do NOT mesh…  


As noted in that email, The American Dissident website lists and examines numerous instances of intellectually corrupt cogs of the academic/literary establishment, which is precisely why organizations like NewPages.com, Poets & Writers, NPR, Massachusetts Poetry Festival, The Brecht Forum (NYC), Art & Letters (The Chronicle of Higher Education), Poets House, and the Poetry Foundation have chosen not to include the journal in their listings, as if it simply did not exist.  By intellectually corrupt, I mean ad hominem, circular reasoning, insiders club, lamb silence, and full rejection of valid criticism.  What is remarkable is the utter inability of poets (artists, editors, librarians, and journalists) to deal with such criticism.   The big taboo in poetry is, of course, thou shalt not criticize the poets and their organizations, publications, events, anointments, etc.. The usual (i.e., acceptable) criticism tends not to be criticism at all, but rather publicity under the guise of criticism, as illustrated by the Washington Post columns of its poetry editor Elizabeth Lund and the New York Times columns of David Orr (for my Lund and Orr cartoons, see wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/07/david-orr.html, wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2018/05/can-poetry-both-challenge-and-uplift.html, wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2018/03/gregory-orr-and-elizabeth-lund.html, and wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/11/elizabeth-lund.html).  

When poets respond to real criticism, which is rare, ad hominem tends to be their weapon of predilection, certainly not reasoned counterargument.  Zachary Bos, founder of the Boston Poetry Union, for example, simply dismissed me in 2011 as a “malcontent crank” (see theamericandissident.org/orgs/boston_poetry_union.html).  In essence, for him, anybody questioning and challenging authority—literary, academic or whichever—, was a "malcontent crank.”  More recently, I was called a “racist and homophobe” because I dared criticize a poet, who was gay and Chinese-American, though my criticism had nothing to do with that at all, but rather vis-a-vis the inane statement the poet had made (see wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2020/11/chen-chen.html).  

For several decades, I have written many essays regarding how intellectually corrupt and cowardly the poetry milieu tends to be.  My voice has largely been canceled, and I have largely been ostracized into oblivion.  Yet never do I make threats, nor do I have a criminal background of violence.  I have engaged in many instances of testing the waters of democracy vis-a-vis the academic/literary establishment.  And those waters have proven to be remarkably murky.  Below are some interesting instances, which are listed and examined with others on The American Dissident website.  

—In 2001, I was the only poet out of 150 invited poets to challenge the poetry organizer, Gaston Bellemare, at his government-funded Festival International de la Poésie de Trois-Rivières (Québec), for his prohibition of debate during the 10-day festival.  I was never invited back, and not one of the invited poets dared support my demand for free expression, which of course is not free when punished.  The local newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, refused to cover the story.  For details, though in French, examine theamericandissident.org/quebec/quebec.html.  

—On July 6, 2007, the Academy of American Poets permanently banned me from participating in its online forums.  Not one chancellor was willing to protest against the ban.  The Journal of Information Ethics published an article I wrote on the banning, “Censored by the Publicly Funded Academy of American Poets.”  For the actual censored transcript and rather piteous responses from several chancellors, see theamericandissident.org/orgs/academy_american_poets.html.  Below is an email I’d sent to Carl Phillips, mentioned by both Spahr and Young in their article.  Phillips never responded.  And yes, I was a bit pissed off.


Date:  Wed, 5 Dec 2007 12:27:58 -0800 (PST)

From:  "George Slone" <todslone@yahoo.com> 

Subject:  Academy censorship... and YOU

To:  CPhillips@WUSTL.EDU

Dear Poet Prof. Chancellor Carl Phillips:
I doubt you'll ever respond, (Prof. Snyder has yet to respond), but I like to cover my bases, so to speak. and just found your email this evening.  The Academy of American Poets censored (banned) me from participating in its online forums last July.  My assumption is that you, as high and mighty established-order Chancellor, approve of this censorship.  For the details, including the banned transcript, see www.theamericandissident.org/AcademyAmericanPoets.htm.   In July, I contacted each staff member of the Academy and have yet to receive a response, let alone an apology. 
BTW, you might like to subscribe to The American Dissident.  Your students would likely find it refreshing because of its strong stance against the academic/literary established order, which of course includes you and your poet chancellor friends.  BUT it would take a very strong person to accept such critique.  To date, I've only found two such poet professors, one of whom invited me to speak before one of his English classes ( Endicott College ).  BTW, I have a doctorate and, when employed teach as a professor.  BUT when employed, unlike the bulk of professors in America , I am actively, unabashedly, and courageously vocal, so often find myself unemployed.  

 

—In 2004, Concord Poetry Center director Joan Houlihan wrote an aberrant reply regarding a suggestion I made.  It still echoes in my mind today:  “The idea of your teaching a workshop or delivering a lecture on the art of literary protest or poetry protest, or simply protest (Concord is where it all started!) occurred to me even before you mentioned it, so, yes, it’s something I will consider as we progress (this is only our first event).  However, I must say I don’t favor having you teach at the center if you protest the reading.”  Needless to say, I chose to protest the Center’s opening and choice of Pulitzer Prize poet Franz Wright as speaker.  For details (and cartoons), see theamericandissident.org/orgs/concord_poetry_center.html.  

—In 2004, I applied for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which rejected the request and refused to provide any useful feedback at all, simply stating, “The artistic merit of the publication is low; the design and readability of the publication is [sic] poor.”  For cartoons, an essay, etc. regarding the rejection, examine theamericandissident.org/orgs/national_endowment_for_the_arts.html.  

—In 2012, Sturgis Library, my neighborhood library, refused a free subscription offer to The American Dissident.  Due to an open letter I wrote to the directors of the Clams Library System of Cape Cod, regarding their collection development statement, in particular, “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view,” the director of Sturgis Library, Lucy Loomis, permanently banned me without warning or due process.  For more on that despicable authoritarian decree, see theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_library.html.  No threats were ever made.  And the director never stated that there were any threats.  

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NB:  This essay was sent to Spahr, Young, and ASAP Journal.  No response was ever received.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Pam Frampton, Saltwire Network

The following counter op-ed was NOT published in The Telegram (Newfoundland, CN).  In fact, that newspaper did not respond to it.  Pam Frampton, Outside Opinions Editor for SaltWire Network (corporate owner of The Telegram), kindly responded though not at all to the points made in it...

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The Real Problem with “Hate”

The “hate” narrative serves an important and troubling purpose:  CENSORSHIP and SELF-CENSORSHIP.  What Pam Frampton fails to evoke in her op-ed, "Is there a cure for hate?," is the highly subjective nature of the very term “hate.”  Canadian, American, and European governments don’t seem to comprehend that fundamental problem.  For some people, truth and facts can actually constitute “hate.”  Criticism of government immigration policy can be considered racist “hate.”  Criticism of the Qur’an can be considered racist “hate,” even if factually critiqued.  Criticism of the op-ed itself could be considered “hate.” 

Evoking facts, regarding George Floyd, for example, who Frampton mentions, could be considered racist “hate.”  Even placing “St.” in front of Floyd’s name could be considered racist “hate.”  Merely questioning and challenging the Floyd narrative could be considered racist “hate.”  Was kneeling on a resisting-arrest suspect’s neck in line with training protocols, for example?  Did Floyd die from the heavy amount of drugs in his system and consequent heart failure, as noted in the autopsy, or from asphyxiation due to strangulation?  Why should Floyd be anointed a hero, while many others who die or are murdered are not?  Why should his family receive $25 million in taxpayer funds for Floyd’s death?  Now, am I a racist filled with “hate” for simply evoking those questions?

Does not the accusation of “hate” serve to keep citizens from openly speaking or writing truth, as they perceive it?  Frampton poses the question:  “Can it [hate] be identified and addressed before it spreads further?”  Well, governments in Canada and Europe have done that via hate-speech legislation, which serves to encourage citizens to self-muzzle and not speak truth that might counter the narrative.  Declaring a person to be a hater constitutes kill the messenger in an effort to avoid his or her message—in essence, to eliminate the necessity of cogent counter-argumentation.  That in itself ought to be a reason why we need to stop knee-jerk proclaiming that which we do not like as “hate.”  Such assertions are intellectually lazy and facile.  People need to learn to think, as opposed to echo-bellow racism, racism or sexism, sexism or simply “hate”!    

  Frampton notes that Izzeldin Abuelaish, medical doctor and professor of global health at the University of Toronto, instigated her op-ed and concludes with his statement that “The global community must recognize hatred as a public health issue in order to move from the management of hatred to the active prevention of its root causes through promotion, education and awareness. We must measure it and if unable to prevent it, mitigate it.”  

What Abuelaish states, however, is in itself frightening:  how not to think of communist re-education camps and forced groupthink, not to mention today’s Marxist cultural-race theory metastasizing in institutions of education, both higher and lower, which essentially teaches racist-hate against whites?  The fundamental problem is the highly subjective nature of the term “hate,” as well as the fact that such terms serve to replace critical thinking.  What might constitute “hate” for you might be facts and reality for me… and vice versa…  

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Lee Gutkind, Arizona State University

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Below are several emails I sent to Gutkind, who did not respond.  Academics, when criticized, rarely respond.  "How dare you!" had said the child climatologist, Greta.  That too is the motto of professors when criticized...

From: George Slone

Sent: Monday, May 25, 2020 11:43 AM

To: information@creativenonfiction.org <information@creativenonfiction.org>

Subject: Lee Gutkind satirized in a new P. Maudit cartoon

 

To the Godfather Editor, Lee Gutkind:  

You have been satirized in a new P. Maudit cartoon.  Sadly, the professors I’ve criticized (OMG) at Arizona State U, including the Poetaster Laureate, have chosen SILENCE, certainly NOT debate.  I'd ask you to distribute the cartoon to your colleagues and students, as well as request your university librarian to subscribe so the latter might examine such criticism in The American Dissident, but we both know the probability of that to be near ZIPPO...

Sincerely,

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Subj: Criticism of and for you... 

Date: 8/14/03 1:11:28 PM Eastern Daylight Time

From: Enmarge

To: LeeGutkind@LeeGutkind.com


Dear Lee Gutkind, Ed., Creative Nonfiction:
Creative non-fiction has always sounded like another educationist gimmick.  You seem to add another element to the gimmick, that of, cult of personality.  CNF gives educationists reason to hold yet more colloquiums, congresses and workshops.  It gives them (you) reason to write more books, hire new professors, beef-up moribund departments, and pay expense lecturers.  What thinkest thou, oh self-anointed guru?
What I'd be interested in is for you tell me either directly or indirectly what would not be included under this new gimmick Creative non-fiction.  Would an essay mocking creative non-fiction be excluded?  CNF is really nothing more than an educationist invention for something had already been invented.  Thoreau, Emerson and Orwell, for example, had all written creative non-fiction pieces long before the educationists thought up the term.  By the way, I have just written a killer essay, highly critical of poetry and poets, one that makes Gioia's piece look utterly lame and tame.  Where to send it?  Probably no where, for most literary journals have relegated truth and hardcore critique to the far fond of the bus.  


You need to think when applying self-congratulatory terms to your espece, including "respected" magazine, "respected" poet, and "high quality" nonfiction prose.  These terms become meaningless because your espece tends to use them right and left to describe essentially academic phenomena, though not always.  You need to teach your students this.  You need also to teach them to question and challenge all things with regards writing, including the prizes, the grants, the fame-game celebrity writers, cult of personality, and the instructors themselves.  RE the Pulitzer, who are the judges, what are their criteria?  Do you teach those things?  Do any academics teach them?  


Best,
G. Tod Slone, Ed.
The American Dissident
www.geocities.com/enmarge
(Professor of French, Spanish and English when employed.  Now unemployed because I dare speak rude truth to power... and professor colleagues always hate that more than anything else.  Why?  Because they don't dare.  Because it implicates them as sheepish cowards.) 

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Subj: More fraud from the ivory tower... 

Date: 8/17/03 10:57:21 AM Eastern Daylight Time

From: Enmarge

To: LeeGutkind@LeeGutkind.com


Silence is always the best weapon for those in power, no matter how minor, so I am not at all surprised by your silence.  I've since read the Walcott-Gutkind controversy over creative non-fiction… and find it nothing but a lot of blablabla.  Like Walcott, you appear to enjoy indulging in self-congratulations.  I know this is rampant in higher education, along with backslapping.  In reality, I think you're just another literary fraud desperately seeking the limelight, the floor in Vanity Fair.  Do you ever dare criticize the academic hand that feeds you, the functionary deans and First-Amendment indifferent kowtow colleagues?  Well, my friend, I have and do.  Your creative non-fiction is really nothing more than another diversionary smokescreen for the elite in an effort to drown out hardcore criticism. 
Best,
G. Tod Slone, Ed.
The American Dissident