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, May 23, 2022

Cultural Center of Cape Cod

For the unsurprising reaction to the broadside below, read the account of my protest at the Cultural Center in celebration of National Poetaster Month, "Nasty: Notes from a Protest and an Encounter with the Executive Director of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod," here:   https://www.newenglishreview.org/articles/nasty-notes-from-a-protest-and-an-encounter-with-the-executive-director-of-the-cultural-center-of-cape-cod/


An American Dissident Free-Speech Broadside (April, 27, 2022)

The American Dissident, a 501 (c)3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy & Dissidence (Publishing Biannually since 1998)

G. Tod Slone, PhD and Founding Editor  todslone@hotmail.com   www.theamericandissident.org   wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com

217 Commerce Rd., Barnstable, MA 02630

“Some of the Arts for Some of Us”

the Castration, Cooptation, and Corralling of Cape Cod Poets

(A “Dangerous” Poet’s “Dangerous” Statement to the Cultural Center of Cape Cod)

Estoit-il lors temps de moy taire? 

—François Villon, “Ballade du Guichetier Garnier”


FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION is in serious danger of extinction when poets do not give a damn if another poet is ostracized, censored, and/or banned!  That is the sad reality here on Cape Cod, where local poets are far more concerned with government grant money, invitations, publications, tenure, and curatorial/censorial positions, than with FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.   

     The Cultural Center of Cape Cod—its Learning Director Diane Giardi—refused to accord me permission to read at its National Poetry Month “Poetry Marathon.”  Why?  Quite simply, the apparatchiks at the Center are unable to brook hardcore criticism—my criticism! Its motto, “All the Arts for All of Us,” embodies their grotesque hypocrisy. My art and my poetry have been excluded from its Orwellian realm of  INCLUSION IS EXCLUSION. “Join us for an all-day Poetry Marathon in celebration of the beauty and power of poetry in all its forms!”  But certainly not the power of poetry in my form!  

      Why should culture and its apparatchiks be exempt from criticism?  As editor of a poetry journal, I openly ask for criticism and publish the harshest received in each issue.  And I do NOT ostracize and ban!  If my criticism is not on target, then it is up to the Giardis and Demeulenaeres to prove it.  And if they did, I’d have no problem issuing an apology and correction.  How is the Center’s motto not hypocritical?!  Well, the cultural apparatchiks have yet to respond!  And so, as a rejected poet and artist, I stand outside today in protest. 

    In the beginning of this month, April, I wrote the Center’s PR Coordinator, who inspired a poem. Too bad I can’t read it at the “Poetry Marathon”! The PR-Apparatchik chose not to respond.  Imagine, a PR-Coordinator for poetry! On Cape Cod, the Chamber of Commerce has coopted, castrated and corralled the poets!    

To Becky Renaud, PR Coordinator, Cultural Center of Cape Cod:  Well, nothing personal here—I don’t know you.  But my request to read a couple of poems like the ones below at your April open-mic event was simply ignored (i.e., no response) by your Learning Director Diane Giardi.  Sadly, it really does seem that criticism of culture is strictly verboten on Cape Cod.   Please do at least contemplate that thought and what it implies for the state of democracy here in the midst of the tourist industry.  Fear not!  I am neither violent, nor do I ever make threats.  However, I am an ardent critic, especially regarding that which is taboo in the realm of establishment critics.  Finally, perhaps you might convince Mme Giardi to open her closed doors and permit me to read some of my poetry… 

     Oddly, my last solo protest was precisely two years ago on April 27th in front of Sturgis Library in Barnstable, which was celebrating Kurt Vonnegut.  On the sidewalk, I stood with a sign and handed out flyers.  If I had stood on library property, director Lucy Loomis would have called the cops.  Why?  Well, in 2012, she’d permanently banned me from her publicly-funded library w/o warning, w/o due process.  Since she refused to provide a written reason, a poet friend in Georgia, Russell Streur, who has a certain expertise in dealing with corrupt organizations, contacted the Massachusetts State Secretary of Records, which nine months later forced Sturgis to open its records (see sturgisbansdissident.blogspot.com). Only one short email from Loomis to the trustees revealed the reason for the banning: “for the safety of the staff and public” (see theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_library.html).   In vain, I contacted every pertinent organization on Cape Cod, including Cape Cod Poetry Review, Cape Cod Writers Center, Barnstable County Human Rights Commission, Cape Cod Times, Barnstable Patriot, Provincetown Arts, Provincetown Banner, Town Counselors of Barnstable, Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, and the 25 library directors of the Clams Library System (see wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2017/10/free-speech-organizations-apathetic-and.html).  Not one person gave a damn!  Not one Cape Cod poet, artist, or writer gave a damn!  And yet my very civil rights are still being denied today because I am NOT permitted to attend any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library, where the “Generative Poetry Workshop” is being run by.paid-poet hacks Bellinger, Miller, Bonanni, and Chen.  Do they care?  Of course not!  Is there one poet here who cares?  Likely not!  Curatorial censorship of expression IS NOT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION!

Vive la liberté de parole, câlisse ! ! !


Friday, May 6, 2022

Experiments in Free Speech & Democracy

University of Pennsylvania Open Letter to the Professors of the English Department The American Dissident, a 501 c3 nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence, would like to know what you think, as individuals and, even moreso, what your students think. The journal believes that all icons and institutions should be open game for hardcore criticism. Oddly, or rather conveniently, however, the large majority of established-order poets seem to think that poetry organizations, celebrities, prizes, and journals should be off limits. And indeed, established-order poets tend to live in protective cocoons of incessant praise and funding. It is next to impossible for outsider organizations like The American Dissident to get satire to penetrate those buffered cocoons. The American Dissident is a firm believer in free speech and vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstones. Yet how can debate be vigorous when, for example, the Academy of American Poets censors opinions it does not like and its professor chancellors respond with indifference (see http://www.theamericandissident.org/AcademyAmericanPoets.htm). And when most college professors seem to favor censorship (either turning a blind eye to it, preferring euphemisms like moderation, civility, and good taste, and/or proferring to be too busy to be concerned), democracy itself is in peril. What do you think? Have you perfected excuses as part of rationalizing your silence? The cartoon above, inspired by a brief review appearing in Entertainment Weekly, which normally critiques the love-life and attire of Hollywood celebrities, satirizes your colleague Charles Bernstein. Yes, yes, we all know that he is revered by the academic/literary established order and has climbed that ladder, wearing blinders wherever necessary. But should criticism of Bernstein be taboo? What do you think? For more unusual critique of those who are rarely if ever criticized, examine The American Dissident, which firmly believes that poetry should be more than mere intellectual ENTERTAINMENT and diversion or bourgeois past-time. In fact, why not subscribe to the journal (only $20/year) to help expose your students to alternative negative viewpoints regarding literature and the literary establishment. Are the doors of the English department at the University of Pennsylvania like those of so many other universities hermetically sealed against uncomfortable outside critique? Do you help your students create and fortify “mind-forged manacles” like those observed by William Blake? Your SILENCE will certainly support that hypothesis! Thank you for your cordial attention. N.B.: Notice of this blog was sent to The Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper and the following English instructors and professors: eng111@mailman.ssc.upenn.edu, charles.bernstein@english.upenn.edu, nauerbac@english.upenn.edu, rbarnard@english.upenn.edu, hbeavers@english.upenn.edu, nbentley@english.upenn.edu, tbowers@english.upenn.edu, bushnell@english.upenn.edu, cavitch@english.upenn.edu, pconn@english.upenn.edu, rcopalan@english.upenn.edu, tcorriga@english.upenn.edu, davistm@english.upenn.edu, degrazia@english.upenn.edu, dcherney@english.upenn.edu, deng@english.upenn.edu, jenglish@english.upenn.edu, esty@english.upenn.edu, afilreis@english.upenn.edu, mgamer@english.upenn.edu, jajii@english.upenn.edu, amkaplan@english.upenn.edu, kaul@english.upenn.edu, kazanjia@english.upenn.edu, zlesser@english.upenn.edu, loomba@english.upenn.edu, loveh@english.upenn.edu, cmazer@english.upenn.edu, amparo@english.upenn.edu, jnpark3@english.upenn.edu, perelman@english.upenn.edu, jmrabate@english.upenn.edu, prackin@english.upenn.edu, psain@english.upenn.edu, sanchezm@english.upenn.edu, pstally@english.upenn.edu, steinerer@english.upenn.edu, wsteiner@english.upenn.edu, stillet@english.upenn.edu, dwallace@english.upenn.edu, cmyang@english.upenn.edu, madams@sas.upenn.edu, rallen@ccat.sas.upenn.edu, janthon2@english.upenn.edu, maxapple1@verizon.net, azzolina@pbox.upenn.edu, psethbauer@hotmail.com, beckmank@sas.upenn.edu, benamos@sas.upenn.edu, blochj@english.upenn.edu, broussard@writing.upenn.edu, kbrownie@sas.upenn.edu, dburnham@english.upenn.edu, lcary@english.upenn.edu, ADeCurtis@aol.com, kathydemarco@writing.upenn.edu, tdevaney@writing.upenn.edu, djanikia@writing.upenn.edu, edwards@english.upenn.edu, despey@english.upenn.edu, marciaf@english.upenn.edu, dfox@sas.upenn.edu, lf@lisefunderburg.com, funkhauser@adm.njit.edu, agaedtke@gmail.com, pgaffney@sas.upenn.edu, gautsche@writing.upenn.edu, kg@ubu.com, devin.griffiths@rutgers.edu, adhall@english.upenn.edu, sharzews@english.upenn.edu, khellers@sas.upenn.edu, phendric@english.upenn.edu, mjens@sas.upenn.edu, jjossely@writing.upenn.edu, mkant2@english.upenn.edu, iamblel@aol.com, adlevy@english.upenn.edu, mlotto@english.upenn.edu, rmalague@english.upenn.edu, jmalcolm@english.upenn.edu, maxwellr@sas.upenn.edu, mmazaj@sas.upenn.edu, cmcgrath@uchicago.edu, dianemw@sas.upenn.edu, mamills@sas.upenn.edu, lizmoore1234@gmail.com, susan.murray@nyu.edu, michols@phillynews.com, cristinp@english.upenn.edu, polman@writing.upenn.edu, tipowell@sas.upenn.edu, jrezek@sas.upenn.edu, riebling@english.upenn.edu, krile@writing.upenn.edu, vross@writing.upenn.edu, rydel@sas.upenn.edu, schlatt@english.upenn.edu, rebecca@sas.upenn.edu, a.shonkwiler@gmail.com, scottstein@verizon.com, tarr123@gmail.com, vtodoroz@sas.upenn.edu, traister@pobox.upenn.edu, tricia@pointedpress.com, catumer@sas.upenn.edu, valterza@sas.upenn.edu, wahlert@english.upenn.edu, kwatters@english.upenn.edu, lweissbe@sas.upenn.edu, emilyw@sas.upenn.edu, abrahams@english.upenn.edu, curran@english.upenn.edu, rlucid@english.upenn.edu, vmahaffee@illinois.edu, randkregen@juno.com, jrichett@english.upenn.edu, gweales@english.upenn.edu, swenzel@english.upenn.edu

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Carl Phillips Jackson Poetry Prize


Above is the back cover of issue #42 of The American Dissident.  It features the Jackson Poetry Prize recipient (see last paragraph of the editorial with its regard).  Below is the editorial for that issue.  I post this today because I am in the midst of writing an essay on the new Jackson Poetry Prize winner, 
Sonia Sanchez.  

The American Dissident’s prime purpose is NOT poetry for the sake of poetry, nor is it to help spread poetry as a form of intellectual entertainment—a highbrow game of words.  Its prime purpose is to serve as a rare—very, very rare—platform for hardcore criticism against the academic/literary establishment—friend of the chambers of commerce—, including Poets & Writers magazine, Poetry magazine (run by Poetry Foundation and its $200 million Eli Lilly drug—money donation), the Academy of American Poets, laureate and inaugural icons, Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim, MacArthur Foundation, the nation’s college English departments, etc.  When poetry fails to question and challenge that which promotes it, then it becomes a palatable part of the ruling-class machine of castration, cooptation, and corralling…  


A Metastasizing Cancer

But you can’t turn literature into a business.  But without business, there won’t be any more literature.

A Business Affair (1994 film)


The front cover of this issue features the Freedom Forum Institute… with a touch of satire, of course. For the critical essay I wrote on that organization, “The Fake (Free) Expression Institute,” see www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm?frm=190705&sec_id=190705.  The Institute constitutes a pro-censorship organization, backed by the Democrat Party.  To proclaim an opinion as “misinformation” and thus eliminate it constitutes an egregious act of censorship, a shallow justification for the reduction of freedom of expression.  Democrat-Party-aligned Big Tech (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google) have radically increased de-platforming. The former President of the United States has been censored, as have critics of autocrat-vaccine mandates, critics of Critical Race Theory, critics of Black Lives Matter, critics of the Hunter/Joe Biden scandal, etc. Communism and socialism do NOT embrace freedom of expression! Autocrats do NOT embrace freedom of expression! White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declared in typical hack-circular reasoning:  

Our view continues to be though that every platform, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, any other platform that is disseminating information to millions of Americans has a responsibility to crack down on disinformation.

“Crack down on disinformation” is, of course, simply a convenient euphemistic term for censorship! Psaki fails to address the fundamental problem with Democrat-Party encouragement for increased censorship: the politically-tainted subjectivity inherently involved in determining what is and what is not “disinformation.”  Roman poet Juvenal evoked another fundamental problem:  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  In essence, who will watch over the gatekeepers of information?  

Psaki’s statement incarnates the metastasizing cancer in the heart of freedom of expression, the very fundament of democracy.  Power elites like her hate freedom of expression with a passion and always have and always will!  

The back cover of this issue illustrates the sad state of establishment poetry in America. The verse spewed by poet Carl Phillips in the aquarelle somehow earned him the Jackson Poetry Prize ($75,000).  In elite poetry circles, innocuity rules!  Why?  Because innocuity evidently does not threaten elites at the academic/literary helm.  It assures absence of accountability…