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.
ISSUE #45 PUBLISHED MAY 2023. NOW SEEKING SUBMISSIONS FOR ISSUE #46.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Sunday, January 29, 2023

A Decade Later: No Longer Permanently Banned from Sturgis Library

The following is the recent email exchange that I had with the director of Sturgis Library, who had permanently banned me verbally in 2012.  

..............................................

From: George Slone

Sent: Sunday, October 9, 2022 10:49 AM

To: sturgislibrary@comcast.net <sturgislibrary@comcast.net>; sturgisreference@comcast.net <sturgisreference@comcast.net>

Cc: Bardetti, Andrew <abardetti@sccls.org>; edith@edithvonnegut.com <edith@edithvonnegut.com>

Subject: A citizen's request for an update


To Director Lucy Loomis, Sturgis Library:  

Ten years later and at age 74, I am left wondering if your no-trespass order is still in effect today.  Recall that your reason for issuing the order was “for the safety of the staff and public” (see theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_email.html).  To this day, however, I have never made any threats and have no record of physical violence at all.  Nevertheless, I have been an open critic of librarians, libraries, and the American Library Association.  Is such criticism unsafe?  


When freedom of expression is punished, democracy dies.  Your mission statement seems to be in line with that thought:  “[Sturgis Library] Promotes the free exchange of ideas and serves as a community meeting place.”  However, how can it not be hypocritical when those like me, who openly express critical opinions, are not permitted at that “meeting place”?  Perhaps from your perspective, my criticisms might seem angry, but I certainly do not hate you or Sturgis Library.  I am a critic, not a hater. 


On another note, the email addresses of your trustees ought to be included on the Sturgis Library website.  I would have liked to have been able to cc this email to John Littlefield, President, Board of Trustees, and the others.  However, I cannot find their email addresses.  Perhaps those who wish to remain uncontactable ought to stay out of the leadership limelight.  


In any case, I shall wait a week and a half for your response.  If I do not hear from you, then I shall assume the trespass order is no longer in effect and shall then peacefully walk into Sturgis Library as a local taxpaying patron.  As you can see, however, I shall remain openly critical… in accord with your mission statement.  Thank you for your attention.  


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From: Lucy Loomis <sturgislibrary@comcast.net>

Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2022 9:18 AM

To: George Slone <todslone@hotmail.com>

Cc: Bardetti, Andrew <abardetti@sccls.org>

Subject: Re: A citizen's request for an update

 

Hello Mr. Slone: 


I received your recent email regarding returning to Sturgis Library, and shared it with the members of  the Executive Committee of our Board of Trustees.  I am copying this email to them.


The 2012 trespass order was officially issued by the Barnstable Police Department, and any questions about whether it is still applicable should be referred to them.


If you resume visits to the Library, please know that the following policies, adopted by the Board of Trustees, must be followed by all Library visitors.  


Acceptable Behavior Policy

https://www.sturgislibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Sturgis-Acceptable-Behaviour-Policy-final.pdf 


Posting of Non-Library Materials on the Bulletin Board

https://www.sturgislibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/DisplayandPostingofNon-LibraryMaterials.pdf


Thank you. 

Lucy Loomis, Library Director
Sturgis Library, Barnstable Village
An independent nonprofit library
http://www.sturgislibrary.org
508-362-8448
Please support Sturgis Library


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From:George Slone <todslone@hotmail.com>
Sent:Monday, January 30, 2023 7:16 AM
To:Lucy Loomis <sturgislibrary@comcast.net>
Subject:Re: A citizen's request for an update
 

To Director Lucy Loomis, Sturgis Library: 

Thank you for the response… several months ago.At your suggestion, I finally went down to the police department and mentioned you now have given me permission to enter Sturgis Library.A woman there handed me a sheet of paper, the only thing in my file.And it was the same sheet I’d paid fifty cents for a decade ago.This time it was free of charge.Nothing on it mentioned permanent trespass at all.For a copy of that report, see https://theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_library.htmlon the bottom of the page.The woman explained that the police do not even have to hand me a written document when they trespass a person. All they have to do is tell the person verbally, which they never did with my regard.And of course, since it’s not written, I can’t prove that.The woman also stated that such a verbal order would only be valid for two years.And yet you’d stated permanently.How sad that our laws in America are often vague to the point where they can work against common citizens… to the benefit of directors and, of course, the great legal industry. 

In any event, what you did with my regard was certainly not democratic in nature, but rather authoritarian: permanently banning me with no warning and no due process at all… and justifying your decision that somehow I was a public danger, as in “for the safety of the staff and public”?After all, never did I make any threats of violence and certainly do not have a police record with that regard.And how sad that your library trustees fully backed you on that authoritarian decision.Hopefully, former trustee Vonnegut is still rolling in his grave.Such authoritarianism seems to rule here on Cape Cod in the cultural sphere.Alas.

In any case, I am glad that you finally decided to permit me to enter Sturgis Library, my neighborhood library, once again.However, at this point in my life, I just might never do that for I have no desire whatsoever to see you again.Also, in contrast with Sturgis Library, the women at Yarmouth Port Library have been very kind.We have gotten along quite nicely over the past decade since your banning decree. 

Please forward this email to the Executive Committee of your Board of Trustees, including John Littlefield, President; Marcia Lay, Vice President/Secretary; and Paula King, Treasurer, since trustee email addresses, for some reason, are not publicly divulged on your website.As Chief Justice Brandeis had rightfully stated:“sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”Oh, well…

By the way, to this day, not one library on Cape Cod has been willing to subscribe to the nonprofit 501 c3 journal I publish on Cape Cod devoted to literature, democracy (i.e., freedom of expression and vigorous debate), and dissidence.What might that imply? 


Au plaisir,


G. Tod Slone (PhD—Universit√© de Nantes, FR), aka P. Maudit, Founding Editor (1998)

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

www.theamericandissident.org

wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com

todslone@hotmail.com

217 Commerce Rd.

Barnstable, MA 02630



Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2023 6:47 AM

To: George Slone <todslone@hotmail.com>; Lucy Loomis <director@sturgislibrary.org>

Subject: Re: A citizen's request for an update

 

Hello Mr. Slone:


I am glad you were able to clarify the trespass order with the police. To be clear, we never stated that the trespass order was permanent.  I have copies of all of our correspondence and  neither the Trustees nor myself ever declared it a permanent ban. That was an assumption you made at the time, and chose not to clarify with the police or legal counsel. 


It is therefore your choice to return to the Library or not, as long as you are willing to abide by our policies. At the time you asked to be reinstated in 2015 and 2017, our Board did not feel, from your correspondence with me and them, that you were willing to do that.  I hope that you will be going forward. 


Please be aware that if you visit this week and possibly next week we have limited services and hours  because we are getting new carpeting. If you plan to visit please enter through the front door. We’ll be open 10-3. We hope to resume regular services and hours next week. 


Thank you. 


Lucy Loomis

Library Director 


Sent from my iPhone



From: George Slone <todslone@hotmail.com>

Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2023 12:39 PM

To: Lucy Loomis <sturgislibrary@comcast.net>

Subject: A citizen's request for an update

 

To Lucy Loomis,

Confusion, lack of clarity, and absence of written documents always serve those in power.  Surely, you must know that… and have taken advantage of it.  

Again, the problem with verbal trespass orders like the one you issued with my regard in 2012 is that what was said cannot be proven.  My journal entry for that day (see below) does in fact note that you did say yes, when I asked if the trespass was permanent.  If you had taken five minutes to write the order on paper and give me a copy, then you could have proven you never stated such a thing.  

Also, the police report fails to mention at all the duration of your (or its?) trespass order.  See the actual report on the bottom of this webpage:  https://theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_library.html.  

In an email, I’d written to Ted Lowry, president of Sturgis trustees, in 2013, I clearly stated “permanently banning me.”  Lowry responded, but did not argue the ban not to be permanent.  Why?  See the correspondence here:  http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2013/09/ted-lowry-enemy-of-first-amendment.html.   

In the email sent by you to Lowry, the only document made available to me thanks to the State Secretary of Records, you did not contradict my statement that the banning was permanent.  You failed to mention in it the duration of the banning. 

Moreover, in the 2015 email I sent you, again “permanently banned me” was mentioned.  Why did you not correct that statement?  

In 2017, Jeanie Hill, the new Sturgis trustee president, wrote:  “There is a no trespass order in effect; therefore your request to be reinstated at Sturgis Library is denied.”  How does that jive with the police argument that it can only trespass someone for two years?  

Again, confusion, lack of clarity, and absence of written documents serve those in power.  Below is the journal entry I made on the day you permanently trespassed me.  I asked you if it was permanent and you said, yes.  I certainly did not make that up.  Why would I? 
Hopefully, you will at least have learned that you should present a written document with precisions to any future trespassed patrons. They should certainly have the right to such a document! 
Anyhow, onwards…

Au plaisir,

G. Tod Slone




From my journal:  


June 19, 2012

Tues.  I work for Rob from 745 to 245.  Exhausting shit sanding a deck all day.  Then I nap for 20 min and head to the library somewhat dazed and confused.  I check out a couple of DVDs, set up the laptop and do my thing.  Then Lucy and a cop enter the room.  “I do not want you here anymore,” she says.  “This is a no-trespass,” says the cop.  Then two more cops enter the room.  Am I dreaming?  Is this America?  “What did I do?” I asked.  “You’ve been criticizing me and don’t like it here, so now you will not be able to come here.”  “Is that permanent?” I ask.  “Yes,” she says.  “And the no-trespass includes the parking lot,” she says to the other cop.  “Why three cops?” I say.  “I have no record.  I don’t have a weapon.”  Then one of them (Foley, I later find out), twists my arm, holds it, and searches me.  “Are you allowed to do that?  Are you going to arrest me now and put me in a cell?”  “As you soon as you mentioned weapon, we can do that,” he says.  “Keep your voice down.”  “I mean this is fucked up?” I say.  “Don’t use that word!” he says.  “Is fuck illegal here?” I say.  “Is this a democracy or fascism?”  “Do you understand you will be arrested if you come here again?”  “Yes, now where can I file a complaint?” I ask.  “Town hall,” says the first cop.  Then the three of them escort me out the door.  I know it would be easy as hell to get arrested.  Somehow I resist the temptation.  “This is why people don’t have confidence in the police,” I say.






July 4, 2011

 July 4, 2011 / A Free Speech Protest


Superficial, Subjective Civility First… Democracy Last
An Experiment in Free Speech

It doesn’t take a Constitutional amendment to end free speech in America. Apathy in the face of oppression is enough to do the job.  Free speech is already under assault.  

—Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, tried in Austria for criticizing Islam under Austrian “hate crime” legislation


Lots of noise.  I guess that’s what the 4th has come to mean and be:  noise, nothing but noise!  I’d decided to skip my protest idea at the celebration parade and muzzle myself like everyone else.  I’d done enough protests to know that nobody would understand or really give a damn.  Heavy polluting fire engines raced down the road, followed by cars and trucks with commercial logos, as part of the beginning of the parade.  But then the noise pushed me to create a sign:  CELEBRATE THE FIRST FUCKING AMENDMENT, NOT COMMERCE!  Hell, I wasn’t going to do it.  My superego had the upper hand.  Then suddenly my Id took over.  Today could be my last day on the fuckin’ planet.  Who knows?

Out I went with the sign from the other day, “Sturgis Library Censorship and Hypocrisy,” around my neck and holding up the larger sign on the First Amendment I’d just created.  I walked down Commerce Rd.  “Excellent!” says a woman sincerely.  Well, that bodes well.  But then heading down Millway by the harbor and bridge I pass scorn, scowl, grimace from one adult after the next.  They’re coming back from the parade, which I missed.  “That’s mature!” says some guy with kids.  “Watch your language!” says another guy.  But I didn’t say a word.  “That’s inappropriate for children!” scolds a woman.  Then I walk up by Cobb’s Hill West Cemetery where events for the kids in the park by the church. Scowling humans like rabid dogs confront me.  “Nice!” says some guy with scorn of hatred on his face.  Then an old buzzard walks up to me, looking like he wants to beat me up.  “That’s bad language!” he states.  “You shouldn’t be here.  Go home!”  “You go home!” I say.  “I use whatever the fuck language I want to use.”  He walks right up to my face.  “What are you going to do, beat me up?” I ask, then walk off.  That’s all I need, get caught fighting an old man.  

But there’s hope.  “Great use of the First Amendment!” says a young woman, walking over to me to shake my hand.  I thank her for the encouragement and tell her she wouldn’t believe the looks of hatred I’ve so far gotten.  On 6A heading into town, I step into the potter’s shop where last week I’d chatted with the potter regarding the library censorship.   I show him the sign.  He evidently disapproves, though can’t quite get the words out.  I think he’s afraid he’ll lose business if I hang around.  And indeed he’s got a bunch of clients looking around.  And to think he’d told me last week that people considered him as different because he’d dare do what others often wouldn’t… or whatever.   I ask if I can borrow a pencil.  He kindly gives me one.  I step back outside and write down some of the things people said on the back of my sign.  Traffic is heavy.  I hold the sign up to the autos passing by slowly.  A carload of college-age kids cheers me.  Bumper to bumper.  I stop and chat with them and thank them for the support.  “Great sign!” says one of them.  “I’m glad some of you aren’t dead yet,” I say to them.  They like the comment.  “You have a nice day, sir,” says the driver.  “I’m courageous,” I say.  “I almost got beaten up by some old guy.”  

“Too much white glove cleaning!” I say to a woman driving with White Glove Cleaning printed on her car.  “Just joking!” I say.  She appreciates the comment.  “Come on, man!” says some guy with kids.  “It’s not cool!”  “Well, I’m not cool then,” I say.  “It’s that simple!”  I stand for a moment in front of a cop, who’s talking to a woman.  But he doesn’t pay attention.  Good enough.  Maybe he’s actually First Amendment educated.  Who knows?  

“Why do you use profanity,” says an unaccompanied guy.  “For this, it makes a damn good point, that’s why,” I say.  We talk for a bit.  “What you’re doing isn’t really important,” he says.  “You should be out fighting for health care or other things instead.”  “But there’s always something more important,” I say.  “For me, the First Amendment is very important.  For you, it isn’t.  And what do you do, if I might ask?”  “I’m an IT,” he says.  “That’s Information Tech.”  “You know, I wasn’t even going to do this,” I say.  “It’s much easier to sit at home or just be one of the herd.  But I do it for my dignity as a human being.  I stand up and away from the herd.  You probably wouldn’t understand because you’d never do something like this.  Right?”  “I just think there’s more important things you could do with your life,” he says.  “Like what?  Be an IT?” I say.  

“I believe in freedom of speech, but,” says some guy without finishing his sentence.  “Yes, there’s always a BUT,” I say.  “And that’s the problem.”  He continues on.  “That’s real nice showing that to children!” hollers some guy out of his pickup.  “I appreciate it, sir!” I say.  “Asshole!” mumbles a woman with hubbie and wheeling a couple of kids.  “Now, that’s a good one!” I say.  An old buzzard slows down, reads the sign, then shakes his head in disgust.  “Have a heart attack!” I say.  Then a car with American Civil War written on it passes.  The driver scowls.  The old buzzard from before arrives now in his car, slows down to frown at me.  “What are you gonna do, shoot me?” I say.  “I don’t have a gun,” he says.  “Mr. Charles Manson.”  So, now I’m Charles Manson!  

I stop and chat with five old ladies seated on a bench by the road, looking like daughters of the American Revolution.  “Hypocrisy at the library?” says one of them looking at my sign.  “Yes, nothing’s perfect, not even the public libraries,” I say.  She wants to know why hypocrisy, so I explain, but don’t think she quite understood.  A rare black dude wants to take my photo next to the ladies.  But the ladies don’t want that.  So he takes my photo in the opposite direction.  I hand him a flyer and ask him to send me a copy.  “I detect a slight accent,” I say.  “West Africa,” he says.  “See, Americans wouldn’t do that, they wouldn’t be interested like you,” I say.  Nice guy.  

Back I head.  I stop at the cemetery again and stand by the road with my sign.  A little kid comes up shoots a photo of me and scurries off.  I tell him to come back.  Nice kid.  He takes another.  “I love America,” I say to him.  “Cause I can do this and not get shot!”  He scurries off, then is back again.  “Can you say what you said before and I’ll take one?” he says.  “Ah, so it’s a recorder too,” I say.  “Sure!”  And I do and he records it.  “Send me a copy,” I say.  “Here’s my email.”  Nice kid.  I decide not to walk up for a second time to the playground where the kid’s activities.  It could get violent if I did.  By the dock, a college kid attendant is talking with a couple of other college-agers in the street.  “Do they teach you this in college?” I say.  “No,” he says with a smile.  “Too bad,” I say.  

Hot blasting sun.  Back down Commerce for a few more scorns, then into the house I go. Interestingly, I think, both liberals and conservatives generally expressed disapproval.  Well, it wasn’t all bad, just 90% more or less.  It’s as if so many of them thought I was the guy teaching the kids bad words.  Holding the placard enabled me to see what fellow citizens were like underneath the veneer. Most apparently learned from their parents and are now teaching their children: Sticks and stones will break my bones AND words will be offensive to me. How they can be so offended by a mere word like "FUCKING," while so indifferent to censorship and banning of ideas in their own backyard, is beyond my comprehension.  And so, I write up the experience, then poemify it.  




Just One Word Is All It Takes
An Experiment in Free Speech

Noise, noise, noise—cop sirens,

fire engine diesel stench, and

local merchants parading their logos 

past my house in the morning.  

It was the Fourth of July, and I’d

decided earlier not to go, 

but somehow they’d gotten under my skin, 

so I grabbed my felt markers, ruler 

and piece of cardboard, got to work, 

then out I went to brave the citizenry 

holding a large red, white, and blue placard:


Celebrate the First

FUCKING 

Amendment,

Not Commerce!


Most of them didn’t say anything.

They didn’t have to—their faces said it all.

One by one they scowled hatred at me.  


Nice! said one of them sarcastically.

That’s real mature! said another.

Watch your language! yet another barked.

But I hadn’t even said a fuckin’ word.

That’s inappropriate for children, sir!

snarled a seething female mommy. 

Ah, a nice neighborly Christian, I replied.

Then a large man seemed like he wanted

to engage in discussion over the issue.

I believe in freedom of speech, but…

he said without finishing.

Yes, there always seems to be a ‘but,’  

I said.  Isn’t that the problem?

Well, he walked off, not quite sure 

how to deal with my response.  

Asshole! whispered a young gal

wheeling a kid with hubby next to her.

Now, that’s ironical, I said, not knowing

if she knew what the hell the word meant.  

That’s real nice, showing that to children,

snapped another concerned mother.

But I’m showing it to you, not to them, I said.  

They could give a fuck about my sign.

Would she have me arrested?  I knew

how easy that would be to do.

Then I got braver and stood for a moment

not far from a cop, knowing quite well

that my expression of free speech 

could easily be interpreted by him 

as disorderly conduct.  But he didn’t respond.  

Come on, man! said a young daddy. It’s not cool! 

Well, I’m not cool then, I said.  It’s that simple!


Most citizens seemed ignorant of their rights

and didn’t give a damn about the subject. 

I was ever interested in it, but still didn’t know

what the hell my rights were.    


In the bleak and dismal, hope suddenly appeared 

—a young college-aged woman approached me

and said, “great use of the First Amendment!”
She shook my hand, but then a minute later 

an old bugger rushed up to my face, snarling.


You, Charles Manson! he yelled angrily.