ADDED 4/28: Today, I received a letter from PEN, which, in support of releasing 38 Chinese imprisoned writers before the Beijing Olympics, quotes Don DeLillo's views on freedom of speech for writers:
A writer's freedom of expression is synonymous with his right to live. Writing is more than a profession and a duty--it is a writer's life-blood, and when the state denies the free flow of language and ideas, it defines itself in important ways in the eyes of the world. The more nearly total the state, the more vivid and living is the imprisoned writer.Now it might be argued that DeLillo was referring to oppressive societies, and that is absolutely right. Most reasonable people would agree that a government denying its writers freedom of expression is an abomination.
But the same principle could be extended to the oppression of outsider writers in a free society, their views squashed and ignored by "important" publications and forums under the ruse of "civility." In some ways, this kind of oppression is more insidious than the blatant kind because it is widely practiced by those in positions of power and accepted by those who are scrabbling for the top.
Often, those who disagree with the majority viewpoint are trampled by those in power and stepped upon by those on the way up.
April 9, 2008: The "pruning" thread has been "pruned" over at poets.org, so I'm reposting my rationale for Poets.net here:
Poets.net exists because of what has happened [at poets.org] and at another forum.
I assure you all that developing a new forum was not a part of my summer plans.
I used to tell my students (and others) that poets.org was a good space for new writers, but now I'm rethinking that.
ACommoner came to this forum wanting to discuss some important issues facing the literary community (an overall silencing of opposing viewpoints being his major concern). He thought this would be a good place.
But he was told to go somewhere else.
If a poet cannot express (on a forum that accepts public money) controversial ideas and, yes, unpleasant information about known foets, then it's business as usual, no?
In short, if you don't like someone or what he/she has to say, just take away his/her voice, which is apparently what poets.org does with its banning and "pruning" policies.
I welcome ACommoner and whoever else wants to show up at Poets.net.
If you had your text "pruned," feel free to replicate it here.