Friday, June 27, 2014

George Will's Sexist Reprehensible Disgusting Remarks

Looks like George Will is going to get away with his sexist remarks. When famous and even powerful people make racist remarks (as the recent owner of a basketball team) they suffer serious consequences. Apparently you can still say horrible sexist things and basically slide.

Here's my Oped, which I tried to publish in a few newspapers, but no one was taking.



Academia Should Rebuke George Will

Universities everywhere, public and private, should officially condemn remarks made recently by George Will in his nationally syndicated column. Will said that being a rape victim in a college environment brings a “coveted status that confers privileges,” and he claimed that “nonconsensual touching” is not a true form of sexual assault. Adding more fuel to the fire, he unreasonably challenged the well-documented statistic that one-in-five women in college will suffer sexual assault or attempted assault. Will recently doubled down on his invidious claims in a CSPAN interview. Four US Senators have written a letter denouncing his statements, and the St. Louis Dispatch has dropped his column in protest. Legitimate moral disgust and outrage at Will’s callous, preposterous, retrograde stance continues to grow and burst into new offshoots.

The institutions of higher learning have a chance not only do the right thing but to impress students, particularly female students. They are the primary targets of sexual assault on campus and are leading the fight to gain more recognition of the problem. Universities are badly lagging in their response to the epidemic of violence that belies collegial images of fun and camaraderie. The recent struggles of Emma Sulkowicz and other students at Columbia University to get justice has brought much needed national attention to the issue.

Any university or college that does not address George Will’s easily falsifiable remarks could, and should, lose moral stature. Over half the students in America are women, and at least half the potential students are women. This is a great chance to make a positive impression with a strong declaration against an absurd and crime-provoking statement, a statement tossed out almost offhandedly by a pundit clearly out of touch with the realities of campus life. Mark Wemple of the Washington Post seems to think so, and he points out, disparagingly, that all three editors who reviewed Will’s piece for print were male: “Women are the predominant victims of rape and sexual assault; therefore, they may have some insight on the editing of a column on sexual assault.”

Let me return to my claim that Will’s words are crime-provoking. They do indeed offer a catalyst of cultural reinforcement, from the pulpit of respected intelligentsia, for terrible illegal behaviors, the sort that break the right to privacy directly and despicably. Ms. Sulkowicz, in her struggle for justice, has already shown how difficult it is to get heard, let alone to motivate action. How much more difficult will it be if Will’s highly memorable claim of “coveted status” sinks into the natioinal psyche? His glossy dismissal of the widespread problem is, in effect, a permission slip for sexual assault. His denial of the plague of rape is great news for the rapist, and yet anathema for anyone aware of the damage, both physical and psychological, induced by the very real scourge on our campuses.

Will’s remarks have been defended on the grounds of freedom of speech. However, you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater; and if you shield and encourage sexual assault (by saying those who are victimized are privileged) you are doing something tantamount. Even if you consider Will’s remarks protected speech, that in no way implies they should be condoned by the leaders of our university system, who have a trust and obligation to provide a safe and open environment. When Cliven Bundy made blatantly racist statements, those who once favored him stepped back with sharp criticism. Is Will’s sexism not as bad as Bundy’s racism? And does not academia have a special obligation in this matter, standing in a direct position of leadership and policy concerning sexual assault on students?

Those ensconced in the Echelons of Ivory need to speak up. If they do not, all students should be offended. Potential students should make this an indicator of appeal, or lack thereof (“you’re condoning a guy who’s promoting sexual assault on campus?”). If administrators won’t act, students have every right and reason to initiate protests. Survivors of sexual assault often feel they are not heard by the system. George Will has added yet another prominent layer of fancy-worded denial, a cultural imprimatur of grave ignorance, despite the sesquipedalian packaging. Screaming at rape-deniers won’t work, but organized protest is a fair way to sublimate that justified internal scream into salient action.

On the other hand, a powerful unilateral condemnation of Will’s sexism by any university serves as a beacon for prospective students, and a magnet of respect for current students, who will then feel that their administration is aware of the tremendous problem, and not just another unresponsive, unhealthy bureaucracy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Acceptance: Offcourse #57

Visit Offcourse

See three of my poems, including the conformity-crushing "Sims," in the latest issue of this hidden gem of a journal, run by the brilliant Editors Ricardo and isabel N/nirenberg. They are humble, modest in terms of presentation--and yet the words, the amazing words! Here you will find the quintessence of the poetic craft, the marrow of the ancient art, the soul-bared revelations of those who grip phrases as if seizing onto the horns of dangerous beasts. There is nothing here but Truth and Beauty as these instantiate in the full spectrum of mud-spackled, air-kneaded, water-drunk, fire-strummed emotions. There is Justice here, as Truth and Beauty meld into such when the heart is free and rides with the Muse in abandon. Ah, this is the most overlooked yet special site on the web, perhaps! I don't know what else to say.

Look, the other day I found this epigraph in a volume of the collected works of Neruda--and it calls out to me as I think of Offcourse, and what these two editors have done. I end with this. Nothing else could say what needs to be said, from my metaphysical throat, right now:

And I tell you that you should open yourselves to hearing an authentic poet, of the kind whose bodily senses were shaped in a world that is not our own and that few people are able to perceive. A poet closer to death than to philosophy, closer to pain than to intelligence, closer to blood than to ink.

--Federico Garcia Lorca


Monday, June 16, 2014

Poem: Guitarist

Originally published in Crack the Spine.

To see my interview with CTS, go here!

Owl Interviewed In CTS

Best To All,




crushes of gapes
in an interlace of sweat.
i walked above them like a sultry key;
like the kind of knife they used
to cut open their fruit.

love was precious, perhaps,
but i could see it in almost every eye,
glistening with the impulse
for regret.

my string-sung songs
fluttered like febrile birds,
uncaged as they rippled,
scudding on young lakes of sighs.

the intimacy was as real
as the rut of a cat,
but in the morning, the rumpus
condensed into dewy pain.

people trickled off, sucked
by the walls of the same grey cubes,
while the sun poured its useless cures
on the ache of their bedraggled heads.

tomorrow the music
would start up all over again,
and the screams and the frays
and the riffs.

there were too many of them,
the sad perky crowds,
blending together yet granular,
spread out across everything

that could be touched.

it was a world of stung myths,
glimpsed under a few brief spotlights:
beacons of the faun,
risen from the aftermath
of clock-numbed days.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Acceptance: Poppy Road Review


My poem "Aria of Was" is currently featured on this beautiful journal's website. Simply follow the above link and look for the June 11 entry. Behind the scenes is that wonderful impressario, empress of the eloquent, Sandy Benitez. For many years she has been generously editing/publishing and thereby supplying the poetry world with moving magical poems. Back in 2007, she published a piece of mine called "Candle Under Stars"--and that acceptance, early in my journey as a poet, provided me with reinforcement on my quest to seek Beauty and Truth through my art, as well as the Justice.

I wish I had more time to write and praise Ms. Benitez. Please visit Poppy Road Review. You'll get to see a poignant love poem by me, something I rarely if ever do. More importantly, there are many other beautiful pieces available, providing a constellation of soul-felt journeys.

Be good to yourself and listen to your own heart's songs.


direct link to "Aria of Was":

Monday, June 9, 2014

The way in which we have been accumstomed to think of ourselves as isolated, cerebral units standing above the natural world blocks our understanding of how deeply and directly what goes wrong with that world can concern us. Here I think that recent propaganda for individualism--most notably the sociobiological literature of 'selfishness'--is still dangerously distorting people's perceptions. A gquite different imagery is needed to make us grasp realistically that we are actually part of the natural world. I shall suggest that an excellent corrective here is the concept of Gaia--of the world as a self-maintaining whole, comparable to a single organism--a whole within which we, like all other creatures, are involved and play our part.

Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Long Shot Over Deepening Waters

I just can’t get over the fact that the ice sheets are melting and, as a result, the topography of the Earth will be far different relatively soon. Great metropolises will be submerged. People don’t seem to care much. We are such strange creatures, so adaptable, and yet also unblinking when group pressure, or cultural pressure, shuts down our independent thought.

Let me step way back for a moment: in a sense, biochemistry and physics are to blame. Life evolves with a simple imperative. Visceral needs dwell in us entrenched. Who wants to question the group norm when it threatens their own survival, or that of those they love? Who wants to be ostracized and ridiculed in their own community?

The elites know how to manipulate our basic concerns very well. The practice of oligarchy is ancient. If there have been UFO's looking down, as if we were a global ant farm, they probably predicted our pathetic crisis.

How do we escape the mass power of social mind control?

When repressive government yields to more open forms, there is more possibility that people will think for themselves. Freedom of speech is a big step in this direction. However, the powerful still control the masses through propaganda (backed by the whip of the job market). Witness how tens of millions of people think global warming is a hoax perpetrated by hated liberals. Insulting and degrading the liberals has become a way for politicians to marshal the constituency. This path moves toward the use of outright violence, if conditions deteriorate enough to water rancor's seeds.

Freedom of speech is not enough. There’s so much more involved. Who can avoid the obstacle of fanatic churches, of political demagoguery, of the consumer tropes on television? Almost none of us can do it alone. Good upbringing can help us. Or the right social groups. Or access and time to read enlightened books and attend open-minded schools.

Some cultural forces push toward freedom of thought (which is so much more crucial than freedom of speech) and some push toward ignorant conformity. The later faction is way ahead. Indeed, plutocratic rule has been around for thousands of years, backed by violence and well-known rhetorical styles, such as hate-mongering.

True democracy, true human rights, true equality for all, these are new and fragile on the scene, not yet widely instantiated. Even less so is awareness of the Earth as a vulnerable living Jewel that we can disfigure and squander. And what about the understanding that animals can feel pain and should be given protections from cruel treatment? We haven't even granted true equality and respect to women or, for that matter, any group outside the macho male white.

All people are created equal, but not all programs of thought. The time-honored doctrines discourage a broad empathy and awareness. Given the history of civilization, and our psychological bent--such as how easily we succumb to hate, fear, greed--I’d say that the human species has little chance of avoiding a nigh calamity: something as devastating as World War III, or the equivalent in pain brought by vast environmental destruction.

Think about it: What, really, are the chances of avoiding another World War? It took about a hundred years after Waterloo for the continents to erupt in sick butchery again (with more terrible weapons and less protection for civilians). Given that baseline, WWIII should happen sometime around 2045, though global warming will tend to aggravate and catalyze conflict.

Hopefully I’m jaded and cynical, making me overly dour. It’s hard to look at Senators, those in the pocket of coal companies, as they claim global warming is a hoax, and not seethe with disgust. Maybe humanity has a 50/50 chance. My thought is that it is more like 85/15 against us. If there are UFO’s up there watching, let them place their own bets.

What makes the maiming of our planet especially tragic is that we have the potential to be better than a pitiable blight. We could be wonderful, ethical caretakers of our Home. The capacity for good reasonable thought exists in our hearts and minds. Sadly, greed, fear and hate have had thousands of years to entrench their iterations. If we can overcome this ingrained feedback loop, it will be an joyous, universe-shaking testimony to the power of the Good.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Release: The Nervous Breakdown


Finally, after months, my poem “Bites” has appeared in that fantastic journal, The Nervous Breakdown. It’s the May 27 post (blog format), right under a teaser from Roxanne Gay’s new book, An Untamed State. Ms. Gay is co-editor of the magazine PANK. I’m in exceptionally good company! Her excerpt is hq professional literature. So well-written the words just flow under my eyes and fill me with a stream of vivid sensations.

I just love TNB and all I have learned and gained from visiting the site!

I recommend accessing TNB via the link above, but if you want to go right to my poem:

To see my review of TNB, go here:

Thanks, as always, for stopping by, whoever you are, wherever, and whenever!