Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus, we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated on Monday, January 17, 2022. Some people will just view it as a three-day weekend. Others will have already rejected his nonviolent method in favor of violence, threats, bullying, and agitation. But other Americans remember his significant contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and his continuation of the work of Mahatma Gandhi in India.

Dr. King was a highly-educated Baptist theologian who embraced the message of Jesus Christ to fight hatred with love; violence with peace; injustice with education and peaceful demonstration. He used his powerful voice to expose the forces of hatred, racism, segregation, and elitism in America. And he did not back down, in spite of threats, condemnation, and ostracism. He paid the ultimate price – assassination – and became a martyr for the cause of Civil Rights.

And yet, his message of love and peace has been rejected by many young people as old-fashioned, slow, and ineffective. He was too religious and conservative for their tastes. For them, bullying and violence are the only path to justice.

The ideals of the 1960s died because of two things: violence and the commercialization of those ideals. Most people abhor violence and will not support it unless they feel directly threatened. Right now, we live in a society where safety and security have been compromised by errant politicians. People have been hit over the head with COVID, government overreach, and economic uncertainty. The American people need reassurance and HOPE – not threats and violence. People who believe that violence is the path to justice may be in for a rude awakening.

Let’s keep the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alive and well in 2022.

Dawn Pisturino

January 14, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement

(Mario Savio, University of California, Berkeley)

Anybody who was alive, breathing, conscious, and living in California during the 1960s remembers Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Savio’s energy and passionate speeches helped to bring the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam war protests to college campuses all across America. He was a fierce champion of both FREE SPEECH and DEBATE. Plaques dedicated to his memory still grace the University of California, Berkeley campus.

He is best known for his speech called “The Bodies on the Gears” and his explicit description of the federal government as violent, intolerant, overbearing, over-reaching, authoritarian, paternalistic, and out of control. He believed that speaking out and refusing to comply with unreasonable government demands was a legitimate form of protest. The interesting thing is that, despite Berkeley’s loving remembrance of Savio and the Free Speech Movement, UC Berkeley does not currently practice what Savio preached. Berkeley may still have the appearance of an enlightened, left-wing, politically active college campus, but the administration has squelched lectures and debates sponsored by political moderates and conservatives under the guise of “security concerns” and appears to have no interest in providing a forum for free speech for ALL AMERICANS and ALL POINTS OF VIEW. In the same vein, Antifa memberships and violence have flourished with the support of intolerant, closed-minded teachers and students alike.

Savio and the Free Speech Movement were not about violence and censorship. They were about speaking up, carrying on healthy debates, discussing the issues, and solving social justice issues through reasonable and intelligent channels. All young people, who have the energy, optimism, and idealism, have the option to engage in social activism without the use of violence and bullying. But it takes a certain amount of critical thinking skills, common sense, self-confidence, and mental agility to debate your opponent, listen to his or her views, and offer a rational and intelligent response. It requires patience and a thoughtful formulation of your personal ideas. The American educational system in the 1960s still taught those skills. I cannot say the same thing for our current educational institutions.

Dawn Pisturino

January 8, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Books and Censorship

“Censorship — The Assassination of an Idea.” ~Bookmans Entertainment Exchange~

What’s in the raging flame
of banned books burning?
Knowledge, truth, learning,
courage, freedom, yearning.
~Terri Guillemets~

Banned Books Week will be held from September 18 – 24, 2022. But censorship is an everyday concern, especially for writers, poets, artists, journalists, and other creative people. We’re seeing too much of it right now in the current political climate.

We’ve seen authors mobbed on Amazon and other sites and deliberately given poor ratings simply because the content of a book did not conform to the narrative of the people mobbing the book. This is using censorship and harassment (bullying) to create a politically correct environment where creativity is essentially dead. Show me one writer/artist worth his salt who is politically correct! Only sell-outs conform to the mob.

(Berlin book burning, 1933)

The Nazis confiscated and burned any book that they deemed “un-German.” What does that even mean? No more French porn? No Italian cookbooks? No English poetry? Who decided what was “un-German?” And it wasn’t just books that were condemned. Music, architecture, inventions, paintings, sculptures, and even dress fashions had to conform to a certain German aesthetic. Who wants to live like that? Who wants the government deciding what you can eat, read, think, create?

The Bolsheviks did the same thing after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Anything reminiscent of the previous regime was confiscated, suppressed, burned, destroyed, and labeled “too bourgeois.” The great Russian composer, Rachmaninoff, emigrated to America because his music was condemned by the Communist authorities. The great Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, was censored and suppressed. If his novel had not been smuggled out of Russia, a great piece of literature would have been lost to the world. Doctor Zhivago describes this shameful period in world history.

Chairman Mao did the same thing in China. The Chinese Communist Party is STILL suppressing free speech and writers who speak out against oppression. The CCP STILL controls access to information and the content of that information. American companies like Twitter and Facebook help the CCP censor and control information in China. That’s how they are allowed to do business there.

In the United States, the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment GUARANTEE every American citizen the right of free speech and peaceable assembly to express that free speech. Free speech makes some people uncomfortable. It causes some people to feel threatened. It makes some people close their minds to new ideas. It opens the minds of others. It is divisive, combative, uniting, liberating, threatening, and compromising — all at the same time. Free speech is the basis of CREATIVITY. Free speech is the foundation of FREEDOM. Taking it one step further, FREEDOM is the bedrock on which FREE SPEECH and CREATIVITY stand. If we lose our freedom and submit to totalitarianism, we may as well start looking for another universe to inhabit, because the freedom to CREATE and EXPRESS OURSELVES will be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

(NOTE: violence is not an expression of free speech and is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution. Devolving into burning, looting, shooting, destroying private and public property, tearing down statues, committing assault and battery, killing police, and threatening people, is just criminal behavior committed by people who have no respect for law and order. These people belong in jail. Furthermore, there is a big difference between exercising free speech and engaging in a two-way debate and just being rude, ill-mannered, and stupid. There was a time when our society valued good manners and intelligent debate.)

(NOTE: Some famous writers banned or partially banned in Nazi Germany: Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, C.S. Lewis, Jack London, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde.)

Thank you for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Pornography vs. Obscenity

What’s the Difference?

rodin_august_the-kiss

THE KISS by Auguste Rodin

The Supreme Court of the United States has determined that people have a First Amendment (Free Speech) right to own pornographic and obscene materials in the privacy of their own home, including sexually-explicit books, magazines, artwork, and movies, as long as there is no commercial interest involved (Nemeth, 2012).

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union want to abolish all restrictions on all created materials in the name of Free Speech. For them, any form of free expression — including child pornography — would be exempt from government regulation (Nemeth, 2012).

Obscenity is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution (Nemeth, 2012). Pornography may or may not fall into the category of obscenity, depending on its content. Although pornographic material is used to arouse sexual excitement, obscene materials go far beyond this need. Images and descriptions of necrophilia, pedophilia, incest, rape, snuff, bestiality, and extreme violence offend the sensibilities of most people; and most people would consider these “obscene.”

Most state and federal statutes are designed to protect children. Laws have been established prohibiting the public display of lewd and obscene materials; restricting the sale of these materials to adults over eighteen years old; regulating the production and sale of such materials; criminalizing exploitation of minors in the production and sale of obscene materials; and denying inmates the right to receive and circulate these materials (Nemeth, 2012).

The Internet has become a hotbed for the distribution of pornographic and obscene materials. Once again, most laws regulating Internet use for this purpose are aimed at protecting children from exposure and exploitation (Nemeth, 2012).

Miller v. California (1973) set the precedent for defining the nature of obscenity (Nemeth, 2012). Whether something can be called obscene is relative to its quality, and this is determined by how a reasonable average person would react to it. The court left it up to the local community to define obscenity and pornography based on community standards (Nemeth, 2012). What is considered obscene in San Francisco will probably differ from what is considered obscene in Salt Lake City. Does the work appeal to prurient interests, provide images or descriptions of sexual behavior that are repugnant, and lack any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific merit (Siegel, 2012)? These questions are at the heart of Miller v. California.

How do Internet standards apply in this case? If the Internet hosts communities of adult websites that promote lewd, lascivious, pornographic, and obscene materials, what community standards apply (Nemeth, 2012)? It seems like anything goes on the World Wide Web. Even if the Internet was more thoroughly regulated, the Dark Web avoids detection as much as possible, and this is where the truly obscene is mostly found.

History, also, has seen many changes in what is considered pornographic or obscene. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence was considered obscene in early 20th century England (Siegel, 2012). Today, it is viewed as a classic piece of English literature. As Jim Shelley of the UK’s Daily Mail writes, “since it was first published, Lady Chatterley’s Lover has been a byword for illicit, explicit sex and scandal . . . Lawrence’s book has become so synonymous with torrid, florid passions that its once revolutionary frisson has become cliché.” Would Lawrence be shocked by today’s standards of pornography and obscenity? One can only speculate.

Dawn Pisturino

Administration of Justice 109, Mohave Community College, Kingman, Arizona

Copyright 2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

Nemeth, C.P. (2012). Criminal law. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.

Shelley, Jim. (2015, September 7). Lady chatterley’s lover was unfaithful and impotent.

       The Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk.

Siegel, L.J. (2012). Criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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