Saturday, December 09, 2023

A Shutting of Doors

—Poetry by Michael Ceraolo, South Euclid, Ohio
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain
Michael says: "Here are five poems about the abridgment of free speech by nearly everyone, something that equates to doors being shut:"


The Broadway theater in the 1920s
was considered risque by some:
Mae West's Sex and The Captive,
a play about a lesbian relationship
were foremost among those so deemed.
Both plays were closed by the police,
but that wasn't enough for those
with the overpowering urge to censor,
so in 1927 the state passed a law prohibiting
"depicting or dealing with the subject
of sex degeneracy, or sex perversion"
And theater owners could lose their licenses
for leasing to any such production,
and their theaters padlocked to prevent
further viewing of "any obscene,
indecent, immoral or impure drama,
play, exhibition, or tableaux"
The law remained on the books for forty years

Even before
it was officially the national anthem,
the state of Massachusetts
(ignorant of, among many things,
that if one didn't sing Key's crappy poetry
it wasn't "The Star Spangled Banner”,
it was the English drinking song
"To Anacreon in Heaven"),
passed a law to 'protect' it:
"Whoever plays, sings or renders ‘The Star
Spangled Banner’
in any public place, theatre, motion picture hall,
restaurant or café,
or at any public entertainment other than
as a whole and separate composition of number
without embellishment or addition in the way of
national or other melodies . . .
shall be punished by a fine of not more than one
hundred dollars"
During World War Two Igor Stravinsky
added a dominant seventh chord to the arrangement,
and conducted it twice as a demonstration of
But on January 15, 1944, the Boston police
warned him he would violate the law if he led it
so he reluctantly removed it from the program
Yet another example of Banned in Boston


And tonight's episode is

   Are You Smarter than an Education Bureaucrat?

and you can play along at home

We will be talking about Keith Sampson,
a man in his fifties at the time
he was a student at
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
(IUPUI, appropriately pronounced ooey-pooey)
Mr. Sampson was also working as a janitor at
the school at the time of the incident to be related

Mr. Sampson was interested in history
and was reading, on his work break,
a book titled Notre Dame vs. The Klan,
a book that told of how Notre Dame students
battled the Klan in the 1920s
A co-worker claimed his reading the book
constituted racial harassment,
one education bureaucrat,
not merely not having learned the proverb
You can't judge a book by its cover,
went on to say, without having read the book,
that the book contained Klan propaganda,
that Mr. Sampson had used
"extremely poor judgment by insisting
on openly reading a book"

If you at home judge a book by its cover,
and/or opine on its content without having read it,
you too can be an education bureaucrat


August Spies
Albert Parsons
Adolph Fischer
George Engle
All had used inflammatory rhetoric in the past,
but on May 4, 1886, speaking at the Haymarket
at a rally to protest the police violence
against strikers at McCormick the previous day,
they were restrained, and Engel wasn't even there
Someone threw a bomb,
some police officers were killed,
though there was no evidence any of the four men
threw the bomb, that didn't matter:
"Anarchism has been on trial
ever since May 4th;
it now has got its verdict
Death is the only fitting penalty"

The Supreme Court has recently held
that corporations were people too,
and thus had constitutional rights,
unanimously upheld the verdict
that stripped the four of theirs,
and on November 11, 1887,
the state of Illinois implemented
the ultimate censorship


Frank Little was a Wobbly organizer,
and a successful one,
got him beaten up, with impunity,
in Minnesota
    Arizona (where he called for the return
                 of the Bisbee deportees),
the thugs always stopping short of the ultimate
But, when organizing in Butte, he dared to say
"the Capitalist class was making money out of
the war",
he was lynched on August 2, 1917,
once again with impunity,
and a sign attached to him:
                        "Others Take Notice
                         First and Last Warning, 3-7-77"
                              (the dimensions of a grave)


Today’s LittleNip:

Free speech isn’t just about speaking. It is also about listening…

—Tim Cook


—Medusa, with thanks to Michael Ceraolo for today’s fine poetry!
. . . a tricky balance . . .
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Too many NorCal poetry events 
to list here today!
To see them all, click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today)

raindrops on
a spiderweb
bring stars to
this dark grey