Libraries hould provide materials and information presenting all points of view. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
—Sturgis Library, Collection Development Policy
Despite the policy statement above, not only was The American Dissident permanently proscribed, but the editor was personally banned... for life! Yes, it is amazingly difficult to believe that in the year 2012 (June 19) in America a library director, Lucy Loomis, who celebrates Banned Books Week every September, would permanently ban a patron for written criticism sent to the directors of the Clams Library System of Cape Cod and posted on this webste and on The Amercan Dissident blog site. For the letter to the CLSCC directors sent five daysprior to the permanent banning decree, see #3 below.
Prior to the banning, no warning was issued by Loomis. A year prior to it, Loomis had ordered me to cease leaving my free-speech flyers on library grounds, in particular, where other flyers were kept in the entranceway. I abided and ceased. In fact, one anonymous library staff member had complained to Loomis that I'd left a flyer on her windshield, which I had done because she had a Celebrate Banned Books Week bumper sticker. On the flyer, I'd written "Sturgis banned The American Dissident, so perhaps you ought to also celebrate banned periodicals."
Note since the banning, in vain, I contacted many organisations et al in an attempt to interest them and regain my lost civil rights. Regarding the latter, it is undeniable that I am no longer permitted to attend any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library without risk of arrest and incarceration. Those organizations et al are listed at the very end of this web page and include the ACLUM, NCAC, and the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission.
Minor victory: the Massachusetts State Secretary of Records ordered Barnstable Town Manager Thomas Lynch--aka "His name is Tom Lynch, and he's doing a great job" (Barnstable Patriot) to force Sturgis Library nine months later to open its records to public scrutiny (see documents). Prior to that, "doing a great job" Lynch would not do a damn thing to help me regain my lost civil rights.
Critical blog posts and satirical sketches of Sturgis Library and its director prior to the banning (for all of them, see Sturgis blog posts):
Post-banning blog posts on Sturgis Library et al, including satirical cartoons:
9. Beware of Marm (poem)
Loomis and the library are also mentioned in some of the other blog posts. Not one of the 25 library directors contacted responded. Not one of them gave a damn about the First Amendment issue at hand. Not one of them manifested an iota of interest in the proposal, which sought to make taxpayer-funded libraries accountable to taxpayers and require them to offer due process and respect freedom of expression. The Town Manager Tom Lynch (Barnstable, MA), town councilors, including Ann Canedy, and Barnstable County Human Rights commissioners were also not in the least interested in it. On this site, FACTS are listed. Yet Loomis diehards, impervious to facts and reason, will simply say, "I don't buy it," as one of them did.
No less than three cops showed up in the library on June 19, 2012, one of whom grabbed and twisted my arm, then frisked me. Read more about this incident on The AD blogsite. The library refused to accord me due process and even refused to provide a written explanation for the heinous action. Camel Saloon barkeep, Russell Streur, contacted the Secretary of Records of Massachustts, requesting records. Nine months after the banning incident, the Secretary demanded the library open its records to the public since it did serve a public purpose, and could not thus hide behind its nonprofit designation. Read the Secretary's letter here: Camel Saloon.
The only mention of the banning incident was in an email sent by the director to the president of the library trustees, Ted Lowry, mentioning the reason for the banning: "for the safety of staff and the public" (see email). So, I was deamed a possible public menace, although I have no police record, have never made threats, never been accused of making threats, and had visited Sturgis Library almost on a daily basis for two years prior to the decree without incident. Well, there was one minor incident, where I left a flyer on a staff member's car (see below). Almost three years after the banning, not one staff member has been threatened by me. For an honest person, the key should not be whether or not someone is angry or potentially violent, since that essentially includes all humans, but whether or not the criticism provoking that sort of character assassination is accurate. For a dishonest authoritarian like Loomis, however, the key is to shut up the person who has the gaul to question and challenge the authority.
Amazingly, not one library director in the Clams Library System of Cape Cod proved to be against such harsh punishment against a patron who dared exercise FREEDOM OF SPEECH and FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. Not one of the 25 directors contacted could even comprehend the main point the editor was trying to convey:
1. The library has an excellent Collection Development Policy, borrowed from the American Library Association;
2. The library director, Lucy Loomis, and trustees consciously,willfully, and egregiously violate that policy; and
3. The American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom—replace Office with Ministry and we have Orwell's 1984—refuses to respond to the editor's grievance.
Regarding these concerns, examine the library's policy, read the Open Letter to the Director Lucy Loomis (below) distributed 02/14/2011 and banned on library premises, and the Barnstable Patriot interview. Examine the brief police report at the end of this page, the only document I possess regarding the incident. Loomis refused to provide a written document regarding her decision. Loomis was featured a year ago on the cover of The American Dissident issue #22 (see below).
Open Letter to the Director of the Sturgis Library, Lucy Loomis
Libraries, far from being bastions of democracy, tend to be de facto opponents of free speech
Truth, it seems, is always bashful, easily reduced to silence by the too blatant encroachment of falsehood.
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Gatekeepers are authority figures who seek to limit the choices of others. Gatekeepers are good at justifying their actions through circular reasoning.
—Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity
Not long ago, I was sitting in the Sturgis Library when I overheard a brief discussion: “They’re putting in good windows! They’re Andersen!” Then it arrived next to me: “Let me take a look at these nice windows!” I interjected, noting the library could afford expensive windows but not a $20 subscription to a nonprofit journal devoted to democracy. The people didn’t quite understand me.
As you know, your Board of Trustees and you decided to prohibit this free-speech broadside on your public premises, which is why it is being circulated elsewhere. As you also know, you refused to consider subscribing, even at a future date, to The American Dissident. By subscribing to Poetry magazine, which clearly presents an established-order viewpoint, and rejecting The American Dissident, which clearly presents the opposite viewpoint, you directly and knowingly violate your own Collection Development Policy, especially “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Despite the dubious financial argument, your comments about “family friendly” and “too much negativity” indicate “doctrinal disapproval.” Your reluctance to discuss these issues with me underscores a certain rejection of democracy. Why not instead promote the latter and erect a FREE-SPEECH bulletin board? You could place on top of it: WARNING: CHILDREN TAKE NOTICE. POSTINGS ON THIS BOARD MIGHT BE OFFENSIVE TO YOUR ADULT PARENTS.
Your Collection Development Policy is an excellent one, by the way. Unfortunately, you do not abide by it and, worse yet, have probably convinced yourself that you somehow do. “Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy,” states the ALA’s “Freedom to Read” segment. “Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.” How can you not perceive your banning of this broadside, as yet another instance of “silencing of a heresy”? How can you not understand that your insistence on positivity and “family friendly” not constitute yet another instance of “enforcement of an orthodoxy”? Has diminishing the toughness and resilience of our society become the true role of librarians today? Well, if you are representative, then I think so. And indeed, you are not unique. As confirmed by my decade’s long experience knocking on the doors of librarians and cultural-council apparatchiks, contrary to the lofty ALA statements, most doors remain firmly closed to the heretical viewpoints expressed in The American Dissident. Indeed, the journal has been an ardent critic of the close relationship often maintained between the art and literary milieu with the local chambers of commerce and the resultant censorship (call it what you like) of anything deemed too critical. Hypocrisy is rampant amongst far too many librarians! The ALA’s own Office for Intellectual Affairs refuses to even respond to my grievance.
Regarding the one flyer I left on a car windshield, an adult staff member, as you know, complained to you like a child. You called the instance “harassment”—a grotesque exaggeration! Please have that staff member, whoever she may be, examine the cartoon below. Why does she flaunt the bumper sticker—“Everything I Need to Know about Life, I Learned from Reading Banned Books”—when she is clearly a proponent of banning periodicals and broadsides? Why can’t she and you see the egregious hypocrisy? Your prohibition of my free-speech flyers on public-library grounds might be unconstitutional, as might also your prohibition of my discussing any of this with your adult staff. You behave not as a director, but as a high-school principal, and encourage your staff to act as if children. From the glorious Age of Reason, we’ve sadly retreated into the infantile Age of the Offended, thanks to those like you. “Do you do this everywhere you go?” you asked, deflecting focus from your anti-free speech policies. Well, I do question and challenge everywhere I go. Is that not my citizen’s duty? “If you don’t like it here, why do you come here?” you then asked sadly echoing the refrain: America, Love It or Leave It. But how dare you make such a statement when my tax dollars help pay your very salary? I like the library. You are not the library. You also lazily dismissed this broadside as a “diatribe,” instead of pointing out where you think truth to be lacking. You said I called you “marm.” Well, that term was only used in the cartoon below. But are you not a gate-keeping marm? As director, will you not keep me from obtaining funding from the Cape Cod Cultural Council because of my viewpoints? How far will you go to keep free speech out of your fiefdom: a no-trespass warrant?
Finally, the cartoon watercolor I sketched on you as gatekeeper is now the front cover of the current issue of The American Dissident (see above). A subscription was kindly donated. Will you reject the gift and censor my scheduled art exhibit in September? Will you continue to shame Barnstable’s own revolutionary patriot Mercy Otis Warren with your censorial decrees? This broadside was sent to a number of Cape Cod newspapers. Only the Barnstable Patriot responded with interest. As you know, I met with two of your trustees, Betsy Newell and Eleanor Claus, both of whom refused to discuss the banning of this broadside and expressed no interest whatsoever in the principles at stake—the First Amendment et al. On another note, library director Anne Cifelli, summa cum lauda Wellesley College graduate, argued regarding her rejection of a free subscription offer: “It is outside the scope of this library's periodical collection.” “Why doesn’t that scope include democracy and free speech?” I asked. “The Yarmouth Port Library is a popular lending library,” she replied. She rejected a dictionary donation, but accepted a box of quilting books. Your library holds jewelry sales, wine auctions, and antiques shows, but will not erect a First Amendment bulletin board.
N.B.: The purpose of The American Dissident is to question and challenge what normally is not questioned and challenged: the cultural-commercial established order, its gatekeepers, institutions, and icons, especially on the local level. As for poetry and art, they are left undefined and ought not to be limited to abstract landscapes, the female nude, and high-brow metaphorical feelings, but also include harsh criticism, the kind gatekeepers disdain. Let the poet and artist take risks, go against the grain, and stand apart to speak, as Emerson stated, the “rude truth in all ways.”
Organizations et al Contacted RE Sturgis Library’s Removal of My Civil Rights
-Town Manager Tom Lynch (argued no jurisdiction/no interest, though the former was clearly a lie or simply not true, considering that months later he did, after being forced by the Sec. of Records, order the library to open its records)
-Town Attorney (no jurisdiction/no interest)
-ACLUM (interested at first, contacted Sturgis, then silence, then a simple, no)
-Police Station (paid 50 cents for the police report, which does not mention precise reasons or even the duration of the trespass order)
-Barnstable Patriot (no response)
-Barnstable Enterprise (no response… and now defunct)
-Cape Cod Times (no response)
-Eleanor Claus, President of the Town Library Committee at the time (no response)
-Ted Lowry, president of the library trustees (no response)
-American Library Association (no jurisdiction over libraries and disinterest)
-ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (no response)
-ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation “Defending the First Amendment in Libraries and Beyond” (No response)
-25 library directors in the Cape Cod Clams Library System (No response) Dan Santos, Sturgis Library trustee, responded to the directors, arguing that my argument was mere “intellectual masturbation”
-Barnstable Council of Aging (No response)
-New England First Amendment Center (Northeastern University/called me/worked on the case, then slowly disappeared)
-PEN New England “defending freedom of expression” (No response)
-First Amendment Center, Nashville, TN (suggested Town Attorney… who said it was out of her jurisdiction!)
-Institute for Justice—Arlington, VA (No response)
-State Senator O’Leary (presented Sturgis with a whopping check. No response)
-State Representative Sarah Peake (also presented Sturgis with a whopping check. No response)
-Elizabeth Hacala, Executive Manager, Massachusetts Library Association (No response)
-Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (No response)
-J. Gregory Milne, candidate delegate to the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates (No response)
-Ann Canedy, town council rep (would do nothing)
-State rep Cleon Turner (got angry, labeled me impolite, then no response)
-State rep Brian Mannal (expressed interest, then no response)
-Massachusetts Secretary of Records (ordered the library to make public all documents with my regard, a minor victory)
-Cape Cod Poetry Journal, editor Bonnani (no response, held workshop at Sturgis)
-Cultural Center of Cape Cod, poetry curator Gouveia got angry because I questioned his sincerity
-Massachusetts Common Cause (11/14/13) [No response]
-Freedom House (11/18/13) [No response]
-Cape Cod Community College English instructors- one puerile, indirect response from Prof. John French “Hi Sally,
I suppose I will be a target soon...LOL I hope he brings it on while I am at 60mg of Prednisone. John” [Pathetic non-response]
-PEW Research Center [No response]
-Center for Individual Rights [No response]
-Center for Inquiry—Campaign for Free Expression [No response]
-Cape Cod Writers Center (Dir. Nancy Rubin Stuart) [3 or 4 different times and never a response]
-Barnstable Village Civic Association [No response]
-Barnstable County Human Rights Commission (sent 12/27/13) (Zero interest)
-Library Journal (1/09/14) Irrelevant, evasive response
-Center for Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chris Peterson, Research Assistant [No response]
-Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Barnstable (3/28/14). Apathetic response.
-Brandeis Center for Human Rights (3/30/14) No response.
-Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (May 2014) No response.
-National Coalition Against Censorship (June 2014) No response.
-Banned Books Sponsors (July 2014): NCAC, National Council of Teachers of English, American Book Sellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Project Censored, and Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. No response.
-Adam Kessel, Principal in the Boston office of Fish & Richardson (July 2014) No response.
-Dr. Nancy Dempsey, Professor and Coordinator of Criminal Justice, Cape Cod Community College, organizer of the local National Human Rights Day forum [No response]
-email@example.com. Requested sunshine success stories, so I sent mine. [No response]
-NPR (Cape Cod) WCAI (Woods Hole)