Day: April 8, 2021

Free

The question “Does censorship destroy freedom?” is, of course, impossible to answer yes or no. Certainly censorship can be a tool of tyranny and oppression, as we are seeing in Myanmar and Hong Kong today. But in a society which strives to be “free,” if the censor respects his or her jurisdiction and acts as an instrument reflecting current standards and (perceived) values, then a particular act of censorship can be appropriate and harmless, at least in the long run. The wealthy and powerful tend to enjoy “more free speech” because they have the means to reach a wider audience with a bigger splash, of course.
Academics have written about the “tyranny of iambic pentameter” in English-language poetics, lasting till late in the 19th century. The expression is figurative, though, as there was no actual “tyranny”: only a centuries-old tradition of taste, a vogue, a zeitgeist. Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844) is frequently credited with breaking through and “freeing” the metric line with his technique of “sprung rhythms.” But Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman were writing outside of that tradition as early as the 1830s.
Today, many literary journals refuse to publish, and professors regularly tell their students not to write, rhymed or metric poetry. These practices, too, reflect a current zeitgeist. Still, I have noticed that when editors or poetry professors say “free verse,” they really mean “unrhymed, unmetric, and non-formal.” Verse that is not free to rhyme is not really free verse at all.

Unspoken

Censorship is just another way to prevent free speech, a right that is clearly and proudly stated within the First Amendment. People claim that what political preferences call opinion is ‘hate speech’ or, in other words, offensive. This obviously does happen. People can and do use that right with the wrong idea in mind, but getting kicked off of Facebook over political opinion is completely and utterly wrong on a number of levels. Censorship, to most, seems like the responsible thing to do. “It’s to keep inappropriate images and comments off of children’s websites!” Which is fine. But that’s only where it begins. In the end, everyone is too caught up in sparing everyone else’s feelings to realize they’re handing away the precious gift that brave men and women died to uphold and protect. It’s a gift that countries like China do not have, and look where they are now. (If I were in China, I would be killed in a back alley for saying this.) It’s a gift that a few hundred years ago was worth getting publicly executed for. It’s a gift that we have begun to take for granted, and that needs to end. Censorship is a shortcut to destroying our constitutional rights, and we’re letting it slip through our fingers. So, in summary, censorship is ill-advised, unjust, and dangerous to the people of America.

The Problem With Pythagoras

I came up with the Pythagoras argument during one of those tiresome “How can you separate the art from the artist” conversations, and successfully demonstrated how easy it was for us to separate the Math from the mathematician. That prompt, “Would you ask that question about Pythagoras?” turned into this story. In that sense it is definitely the most unrealistic piece I have ever written, but relates to the smothering frustration of Twitter and cancel culture.