Besides on The American Dissident blogsite, I denounced the mind-numbed apathetic pathetic commissioners several times in front of their faces. Their response was zip. Below is the open letter I sent to them and posted on the website.
Fact: NOT ONE Commissioner or town councilor responded to the following Open Letter. And they say contact your Congressman. Good luck!
Fact: In March, the Human Rights Commission rejected my case of civil and patron rights abuse by Sturgis Library director Lucy Loomis. Accidentally, I discovered its announcement that it was going to collaborate with... Sturgis Library... regarding patron rights! Was I dreaming? Nope! Conflict of interest? Absolutely!!! Sadly, not one Commissioner will likely possess the capacity to perceive it as such. Not one Commissioner deigned to speak with me about the violation of my patron rights...
In the aftermath of the Thaw, the authorities began once again to use psychiatric hospitals to incarcerate dissidents—a policy which had many advantages for the KGB. Above all, it helped discredit the dissidents, both in the West and in the USSR, and deflected attention away from them.
—Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps
You know, it’s one of the ironies of this drive for civility that when you label argument or any kind of offensiveness as incivility and you write all these civility codes and you discourage people from vigorously arguing or engaging in satire that makes fun of other people or makes fun of their sacred cows. The irony is that you end up encouraging incivility because people don’t know how to argue. They don’t know what to do when confronted with an idea they really don’t like. They don’t have an administrator they go complain to, and so they just shout it down because they haven’t learned how to do anything else.
—Wendy Kaminer, “Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity and the ACLU.”
To John Reed, Chair, Rita Ailinger, Robert Freedman, Paul Houlihan, Alan Milsted, Ingrid Muzy Murray, Laura Roskos, and Nancy Wiley: Of course, I could have chosen a hundred other quotes to preface this letter. In your case, Kaminer (see above) failed to mention that some don’t shout down opinions they do not like, but rather present a facade of deafening silence, which is probably even more effective, especially when carried out by those in power. With others still, actual punishment like banning and censoring, more in line with the KGB (see above quote), is the result of inability to formulate cogent counter-arguments.
It is mind-boggling that not one of you, as human rights commissioners, expressed an iota of interest in the fact that my civil rights are being denied in Barnstable, where I am not permitted to attend any political or cultural events held at my neighborhood library, Sturgis Library. If you’ve already forgotten, allow me to repeat that I was permanently trespassed by director Lucy Loomis w/o warning or possibility of due process for a SPEECH CRIME. How to explain your complete apathy with that regard? How can you be satisfied that I am forced to pay taxes that help support a totally unaccountable institution that clearly scorns basic human rights? FREEDOM OF SPEECH, by the way, not access to welfare checks and public housing, is the most basic of those rights. Have you not read Article 19 of the International Declaration of Human Rights?
Moreover, how can you possibly dismiss such an egregious violation of freedom of expression because of some arbitrary 300-day limit to file a complaint? Why didn’t the Town Manager, town lawyer, and town councilors inform me of your existence two years ago when I approached them? In one of your brochures, you note “Mr. Reed reported that even a judge in the Orleans Court had never heard of [you].” So, how was I supposed to have heard of you as a new resident of Barnstable? That 300-day limit is a sham. And how can you possibly be content that infringements on freedom of expression are somehow not part of the scope or mandate of your Commission?
Your minutes for the March 3rd meeting do not mention any of the cases you purportedly worked on, including mine. Why not? The minutes mention money, money, money and food, food, food. So, when was my case worked on, if not at your meeting? Why don’t you encourage people who bring complaints to you to discuss them with you during a question and answer session in front of all of you, not simply your Coordinator? Are you too high and mighty for that? Is that why? One must wonder if any of you really and truly have an interest in human rights. Might the Commission really be nothing but a thinly-disguised social club? And what are your relationships with library director Loomis? After all, this is a relatively small county, where I suspect everyone knows everyone, if you get my drift. How else to explain your aberrant apathy?
Commissioners need to be more responsive. It took me over two months just to get your attention. In fact, I had to hunt for your office in Barnstable one day in that endeavor, because your director John Reed and Coordinator would not respond to my emails. Did Mr. Reed really send me a letter, as he argued the other evening at your monthly meeting, informing that I was not permitted to take photos? I really doubt he did. Besides, what is he so afraid of? If you are afraid of photos, then you should not be commissioners of human rights! Thanks to photos, human rights violations are documented! Why does Mr. Reed fear being documented… and criticized? Why do you fear being documented… and criticized?
Why did Mr. Reed evoke some court case that took place the same day “upstairs in this building” at your meeting in which he argued a decision was made rendering it illegal to satirize public figures? Of course, I find that decision completely unlikely, for it would be an egregious breech of the First Amendment! Mr. Reed apparently was trying to put fear in me and otherwise chill my right to freedom of expression… and to otherwise criticize you. And he’s the head of a human rights commission?! Wow.
Totalitarian governments ban satire… and individual dissent in the same manner Loomis (with your tacit accord) permanently banned my dissent. And I suspect she has proclaimed (and perhaps you too) that I am somehow mentally ill and thus dangerous. Communist dictatorships (China, North Korea, Cuba, the former USSR) have treated dissidents in precisely that manner. George Orwell’s 1984, where thought and speech crimes were described, could have taken place in Barnstable today! Freedom of speech in Europe and Canada is facing serious peril. The USA might just be its last bastion, thanks to the First Amendment, which protects satire. Why doesn’t Mr. Reed know that??? Satire and the Internet permit opinions like mine to form part of the public record and discourse, despite those of you who would wish them to be silenced. Thanks to the First Amendment and the Internet, when one Googles, for example, Lucy Loomis or Clams Library System, one will find my criticism. The same will be true when one Googles, for example John Reed and your Commission. Without the Internet I would have no voice at all. And you, Reed, and Loomis would surely be that much happier.
By the way, what I’ve heard about Mr. Reed, as a junior-high school instructor, has not at all been positive! In fact, I even heard he had anti-white racist tendencies. So, Mr. Reed, touché! However, in the absence of proof, I do not know whether those things are true. But then I am forced to wonder if I were black, would he and you have jumped at the occasion to help me?
Mr. Reed did not mention what he and you heard from Lucy Loomis and seemed (unlike me) to swallow the hearsay without question or concrete proof. Why was that not included in your final report? Why aren’t you more transparent? How can you or anyone, for that matter, accept a director’s implicit argument that I was somehow a danger to staff and the public… without any concrete evidence whatsoever to support it? Shame on you, if indeed you did! And if my appearance and voice are sufficient to make a spineless person frightened, then that person should not be in a position of dealing with the public.
At your next meeting, I will perhaps show up and speak for three minutes like the last time. But this time I will be prepared. The three minutes you accord common, unconnected citizens like me is praiseworthy, though perhaps not so praiseworthy, if the words of such common citizens are spoken to a brick-wall herd of apathetic human rights commissioners, as mine were at your last meeting. Not one of you commented after my speech. Why did none of you inform me earlier that I could speak for three minutes?
What really made the meeting worthwhile for me was the document that I haphazardly picked up on the table regarding your proposed workshop on, of all things, library patron rights. Why didn’t any of you make certain that I got a copy of it? Why didn’t any of you step out of your apathetic herd formation to express an iota of interest regarding my personal experience, as a library patron, who had his civil rights truncated? Shame on all of you! Your hypocrisy is egregious… and it is that hypocrisy that really does viscerally anger me!
What clearly seems to differentiate me from you is that I do have a distinct passion for freedom of expression. It seems to me that you possibly believe that if one does not behave as you do in good bourgeois fashion and civility, then one should have ones rights removed. And yes, I did express visceral anger at your meeting. And yes, I did say “YOU DON’T GIVE A FUCKING DAMN!” And you don’t! Is this the new age of Stepford Wives, and have I become that oddball amongst the citizenry, who actually possesses principles, and visceral emotion, and am not afraid to express myself as an individual openly?
How sadly farcical and of course egregiously hypocritical that the CLAMS library system board of directors, who don’t give a damn about my patron and civil rights, approached you, who don’t seem to give a damn about them either, to develop and conduct a workshop regarding patron rights! When I read about that, I really had to ask myself if I were dreaming. Shame on each one of you for not making sure that I had a copy of that document! So, has freedom of expression, thanks to the Clams request, suddenly become part of your mandate now? Of course, not one of you will respond because you exist in a herd formation.
That document notes that according to the President of the Board of Directors of the Clams Library System, “This request is based on various questionable violations that have come to the Board’s attention.” Was the idea for that workshop perhaps instigated by what Loomis did to my patron rights at Sturgis Library, annihilating them? If so, why doesn’t chairperson Stanley Goldstein mention that? And yes, consult everyone with the exception of taxpayers like me who actually had their rights revoked by a fascistic librarian director with the full support of the entire library system! What hypocrites the directors of the Clams Library System! It has gotten to the point, where I no longer approach them with a new book I’ve published… even as a donation. Do I feel like listening to yet another lame excuse from their rejecting it? Indeed, you will make excellent collaborators!
How not to imagine you and they, coming up with some policy statement that will never be enforced, you know, like the American Library Association’s policy statement that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view…” with the exception, of course, of my point of view. After all, why enforce anything in the absence of accountability? As mentioned, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to comprehend any of these questions and challenges. Below this letter is my proposal to make the libraries accountable, presented a year ago to the deaf ears of the Town Manager and councilors. Maybe you can use it during your collaboration.
Why librarian directors would need you to educate them is mind-boggling—the blind leading the blind. You wonder blindly “what laws apply”? Well, the First Amendment applies!!! How can you not know that? And how can Mr. Reed respond to it insultingly with “Mr. Slone, who knows more than we do.” Well, apparently I do know more than you do! And that has nothing whatsoever to do with my doctoral degree and my years of teaching, not as a junior high-school teacher, but as college and university professor.
The libraries serve a public purpose, therefore must be held to the First Amendment, yet are not held to it in Barnstable County. My case proves the point! The First Amendment is far more important than the Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law, which you cite! And indeed, if you only wish to enforce the latter, then white male patrons, homeless or not, those guys Mr. Reed loves so much, will have no rights, especially when daring to criticize librarian hypocrisy. The State Secretary of Records, which I mentioned at your meeting, clearly underscored the public function of your libraries! Why therefore are those libraries completely unaccountable to the public in Barnstable? Why do the town councilors not give a damn about that? Why don’t Cleon Turner and Brian Mannal give a damn? It took nine long months for me to get Loomis to open library records, so that I could attempt to find out why she banned me! (She’d refused to even provide me with a written document!) Why did it take an order by the Secretary of Records of Massachusetts to force her to do that? Why do none of you give a damn about that?
Your document states: “How would such a workshop be presented to the librarians? It won’t be attractive if it sounds like we are going to scold them.” Well, heaven forbid if you were to scold librarians behaving as PC-fascist gatekeepers deciding what patrons can read and what they cannot read at public libraries! I can see it now. At your workshop, Lucy Loomis, so concerned about patron rights, chatting away with you equally so concerned… while I have no patron rights! How much more hypocritical can it get in Barnstable than that? Well, perhaps Loomis will become a Human Rights Commissioner. Or why not suggest her for the next Mercy Otis Warren Woman of the Year Award? Only that could exceed the level of current hypocrisy in this county.
Your document states: “We talked about developing a human rights ‘display’ that libraries could put out for Human Rights Day, along with pertinent books from their collections. Could we get a grant for this work?” Well, make sure to include a copy of The American Dissident in that ‘display’! Oh, I forgot it’s not in their collections. It’s been banned from their collections! (Kathleen Mahoney of Mashpee Public Library had finally agreed to subscribe in December, had me fill out the w-9 form, send her a copy, then two months later inexplicably sent the copy back.) Well, if you ask, I’ll gladly give you a free copy for that purpose! How about the issue featuring Loomis as censoring gatekeeper on the front cover? And what about Banned Books Week? Why not add that to your collaborative effort? Again, you could include a copy of The American Dissident, banned by your very own libraries!
How surprising that not one of you approached me in an effort to communicate the other evening! Sure, Mr. Reed approached me, but only to berate me on taking photos. Is there not one individual in your Human Rights Commission? Why did not one of you express an iota of interest in my personal experience regarding, in your words, “How libraries might be violating the rights of their patrons”? It is dumbfounding. How fortunate you are that my alternate point of view regarding these matters will never appear in the Cape Cod Times or Barnstable Patriot, thanks to those noteworthy journalists Paul Pronovost and Ed Maroney, whose motto seems to have become, if I may quote Trailer Park Boys, “all the shit that’s fit to print.”
Regarding the “various questionable violations that have come to the Board’s attention,” so, I’m not the only one, eh? But the Board mentions it’s “usually the homeless ones” [i.e., patrons] who come into question. Nevertheless, it is those like me, who constitute the very worst offenders for librarians, far worse than the “homeless ones,” because we dare criticize their hypocrisy and scorn for freedom of expression and vigorous debate with clarity and fact, as opposed to merely causing physical disturbances.
Shame on your collaboration with fascist librarians like Loomis, who detest the fundamental principles of democracy, freedom of speech, vigorous debate, transparency, and due process, and otherwise refuse to “provide materials and information presenting all points of view,” in accord with the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights.” Ah, so you didn’t even know that existed? And yet you’ve been designated to inform the Clams directors! Some collaboration that’s going to be! The lot of you really did make me feel like an enemy of the people the other evening. Well, I suppose that’s who I am. And if you haven’t read that famous play, An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen, then you shouldn’t be human rights commissioners! Enemies of the people, by the way, were what the Soviets labeled dissidents who rejected Soviet groupthink.
From my experience testing the waters of democracy in Barnstable and elsewhere on Cape Cod, I am forced to conclude that people here do not really give a damn about the basic human right of freedom of speech. The town councilors do not give a damn, nor do the town reps, community college instructors, local poets, artists, librarians, and journalists, whom I contacted. Perhaps it’s time you bellowed “Cape Cod, Love It or Leave It!” in the same fashion Loomis implied with her anti-freedom-of-expression rationale of “Sturgis Library, Love It or Leave It!” Yes, you surely wouldn’t want to appear as if berating such fascists, would you?
Finally, I expect nothing from you at all, not even a reply. As mentioned you’ve been highly unresponsive. Likely, I am simply writing this letter for myself, since I sincerely doubt any of you will be able to understand much of anything at all in it. For the record, it will be published in the next issue of The American Dissident, #28, for my subscribers and readers. It will also be posted on the Internet, which sadly is beginning to show increasing signs of censorship and government control, thanks largely to left-wing haters of freedom of speech. Fraud is ubiquitously intrinsic in American society! But it seems to take on an even more egregious malevolency when concerning human rights commissions like yours, institutions of higher learning, state ethics commissions, civil liberties unions like the ACLUM, local newspapers, and community libraries.
Thank you for your attention.
Die Meinungsfreiheit wird immer stärker eingeschränkt
By G. Tod Slone, Citizen of Barnstable
Civil Rights Issue
My tax dollars help support institutions that reject both democratic procedure and public accountability. Sturgis Library, which permanently banned me on June 19, 2012 without warning or due process, serves as an egregious example. My “offense” comprised written criticism of librarian hypocrisy regarding written library policy, especially "libraries should challenge censorship" and "provide materials and information presenting all points of view.” Clearly, this is a civil rights issue. As a law-abiding citizen, I am now prohibited from attending any cultural or political events taking place at Sturgis Library due to the action of director Lucy Loomis with the approval of trustees Ted Lowry, Dan Santos, and Betsy Newell. Why do those people scorn the principles of democracy?
1. Publicly-funded libraries in the Town of Barnstable should be made aware that, despite their nonprofit status and according to the Commonwealth, “The agency relationship between the library and the Town is a public one because the library fulfills an essentially public obligation.” [And therefore must be held to the requisites of the First and Fifth Amendments.]
2. Publicly-funded libraries in the Town of Barnstable shall not punish patrons, who simply and peacefully criticize a library in writing—staff, policies, events, etc. Such libraries should encourage criticism, not punish it.
3. Publicly-funded libraries in the Town of Barnstable shall not be permitted to dismiss peaceful criticism as “harassment,” a term clearly and legally defined. Instead, they should follow that legal definition.
4. Publicly-funded libraries in the Town of Barnstable must provide a written warning to a patron, prior to punishment, noting the precise “offense” and precise punishment if said “offense” continues. In fact, a list of punishable “offenses” should be posted on the bulletin boards of each publicly-funded library.
5. Such libraries must not only offer, but also clearly define, procedure for due process in a written document, so that punished library patrons have the opportunity to question and challenge the “offense” and penalty before an independent committee.
6. Publicly-funded libraries in the Town of Barnstable shall hire library directors with the expectation they possess sufficient spine to be able to deal with criticism in a fully democratic manner, as opposed to in an authoritarian one.
7. Publicly-funded libraries in the Town of Barnstable shall make their records available to the public.
8. Publicly-funded libraries in the Town of Barnstable that choose to ignore the above points will be excluded from further public funding, though given the opportunity to rectify errors in the framework of due-process procedure, a cornerstone of democracy.
Russell Streur, a resident of Georgia, noted regarding Sturgis’ trespass order: “I am outraged. And I want to know how this can happen in the United States of America. I filed the enclosed Public Access Records request to find out, citing 950 CMR 32. I received the enclosed denial, claiming the library was not subject to the Regulation as it was not a Government Entity.”
Streur then appealed the denial, to the Supervisor of Public Records, Office of the State Secretary, “on the grounds of 950 CMR 32.03, which defines a Governmental Entity as ‘any authority established by the General Court to serve a public purpose.’”
Streur notes “The argument that the Sturgis Library is not subject to the Regulation is specious. It is obvious that a town library serves a public purpose. The authority of the Town of Barnstable devolves upon an entity to which it contacts to serve a public purpose. The library cannot claim the rights of the public purpose and at the same time hide behind the skirts of its organizational structure to evade the responsibilities of the public purpose it undertakes.”
Streur also notes: “My purpose in filing this request is to discover the truth of this thing, how an individual can be permanently banned from a public library for no reason, with no hearing, and with no recourse; and how the individuals who have protested this action also end up without a voice in the matter.”
Shawn A. Williams, Supervisor of Public Records, replied on January 4, 2013, “I have directed a member of my staff, Attorney Donald White, to review the matter.”
Shawn A. Williams, Mass. Supervisor of Records, ordered Sturgis via Town Manager Tom Lynch: “Whereas. the Town is the public entity responsible for the custody of the requested records, the Town is hereby ordered to provide Mr. Streur with copies of all responsive records within ten (10):calendar days, or provide a more detailed explanation as to the applicability of an exemption. The Library is expected to facilitate the Town's production of responsive records.”
In other words, the State argued that Sturgis cannot hide behind its nonprofit designation to avoid public responsibility. According to Williams, “The agency relationship between the library and the Town is a public one because the Library fulfills an essentially public obligation. See Fifty-One Hispanic Residents of Chelsea at 608. As a result, it is the finding of this office that the requested records are considered public and subject-to disclosure.
In conclusion, Loomis’ arbitrary decision and the silence of her colleagues have served to reduce democracy in the publicly-funded libraries of the Town of Barnstable. Why should taxpayer money be used to fund institutions that scorn the principles of democracy and individual liberties? Quite simply, it should not be used to do so!