So you can read my books

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Concerning the difference between man and the jackass: some observers hold that there isn't any. But this wrongs the jackass.
- Mark Twain's Notebook, (1898)


THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT was taking shape as I typed in Meilori's.

I was just on the verge of remembering Samuel McCord's exact description of Queen Oyggia's eyes that fateful 1895 afternoon in Cairo on the terrace of the Shepheard's Hotel 

when the ghost of Mark Twain drawled,

"Roland, just how do you start off an application letter to a University these days, anyway?" 

I sat back in shock. "You want to go to college?"

"Why how else am I gonna take a class in what you folks call Porn, of all things, and brace a bully, if I don't?"'

I squeezed the bridge of my nose.  "You do this to me on purpose, don't you, sir?"

He happily fluffed out a newspaper and read:
"Feminist studies Professor Mireille Miller-Young is facing assault charges after an incident in the Arbor last Tuesday, March 4, 

in which she took and allegedly destroyed posters depicting graphic images of aborted late-term fetuses displayed by members of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a Riverside-based pro-life group."

"Taking the posters does seem a bit much, sir.  But freedom of speech --"

Mark Twain said, "Don't include freedom to steal or to hurt.  That professor left bloody scratches on the arm of a 16 year old girl who protested her property being taken away."

He snorted, "Move aside son.  Let me at your laptop."

He busily tapped the keys, bringing the web page of Professor Miller-Young to the screen.  "There!  Look at the classes she teaches and what her PhD doctorate was on."

I read:

Areas of Study: 
Pornography; Sex Work; Black Film, Popular Culture and Art; Feminist & Queer Theory; African American & African Diaspora Studies; Visual Archives; New Media; Ethnography; Oral History.

 Dissertation: "A Taste for Brown Sugar: The History of Black Women in American Pornography."

I sighed, "That's not exactly a field of study that promises to make you much money, sir."

"Really, son?  Look at who published her essays -- "

I read further:
'Dr. Miller-Young has written essays for The New York Times, Feminist Theory, Colorlines,,,and $pread, a sex worker magazine.'

I frowned. "So you're against abortion?"

He knocked on the top of my head as if it were a door. 
 "Son, I reckon a gal's body is her own to do with as she pleases

 -- but then, again the little unborn critter inside the gal don't have nobody standing up for her or his rights, does she now?"

"You mean fetus ..."

"That is a damn fool name for a human being, son.  Sounds like some form of foot fungus, don't you know?"

"Well, sir, there's some that think that before 3 months the fe- ---  (I saw Mark's scowl) ah, unborn critter isn't human."

"Well, what in tarnation is it?  A Kumquat?"

I made a face.  "So you want to go to this professor's classes to study Pornography?"

He flicked ghost cigar ash my way. 
 "Son, according to some critics I wrote it.  No, I just plumb hate bullies.  That Doctor set her students on girls that voiced opinions she disagreed with.  

She snatched that poster away, using her position as teacher to tell her students that it was all right to steal, to taunt, and to bully folks who think different than you."

He sighed, "And smile while you do it."

Mark Twain grew sad.  "As long as our institutions teach our children that, this sorry world will be washed in the tears of those without power."

"Roland, never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life.  Insist on defining yourself.”

He squeezed my shoulders with fingers I almost felt.   "The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; to be kind, but not weak; to be bold, but not bully; 

To be thoughtful, but not lazy; to be humble, but not timid; to be proud, but not arrogant; to have humor, but without folly.”


  1. An interesting twist. In my experience it is the pro-lifers who are the bullies, and sometimes also kill (despite their stance). And neither side appears open to reason...
    Radical anything scares me.

  2. I can agree with this advice that Twain gave you:

    "Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life. Insist on defining yourself.” I learned that lesson in my twenties.

    What is a 16 yr. old girl doing on a college campus if she isn't attending the school? An prof employed at the school can take action on something she deems inappropriate.

  3. Correction: any professor employed. . .(unless things have changed a lot).

  4. Elephant's Child:
    Yes, fanatics on any subject tend to drive me away and are hurtful to their cause. Sad really.

    It was a University-permitted event in a Free Speech Area, and the 16 year old was a sister of a student who was by her side.

    And a professor who teaches pornography is really in a shaky position to object to someone else's images.

    That a professor swept down with a group of her students to bully, disrupt a university-sanctioned event and take property that was not hers because it disagreed with her position jarred the anti-bully in me. That she clawed the arm of the 16 year old seemed needless, immature, and against the law.

    Mark Twain just found it proved his belief that donkeys have nothing to fear in a comparison between us and them! :-)

  5. Bullies are never good. And abortion will forever be an issue. I agree with Elephant's child that one side in particular tends to be more violent. We have had bombings of abortion clinics here. Extremist behavior much worse than a teacher ripping off a poster. Genetic selection isn't the only reason for abortions.

  6. D.G.:
    Yes, bombing is definitely worse than a teacher ripping the flesh of a girl with her nails.

    Mark Twain says, "Some of my friends are for abortions. Others are against abortions. I am firmly for my friends."

    To claim the path of Jesus and bomb hospitals is an oxymoron. And yes, the ghost of Samuel Clemens did make the remark you expect of him at that!

  7. In our culture, we are not taught to respect and learn from those who look or think differently. A few of us are taught tolerance and maybe a little acceptance. And some of us eventually learn respect, but there are many more who do not.

    Early on, the U.S. had this "great" ideal, the melting pot, where different peoples and different ideologies would all mix together in perfect harmony. The result was a horrible homogenization based on the dominant white male culture.

    Then came the era of group actualization with women's studies, Jewish studies, black studies, etc. etc. etc, which divided us even further. The vast majority who focus on women's studies are women. The vast majority of black studies scholars are black, and so it goes. Taking pride in who you are is a wonderful and amazing thing. But pride without respect has led to our becoming so self-important, we believe we have the right to bully and victimize those who look, believe, or think differently.

    I have no answers, but our society is growing further and further apart. All we can do as individuals is respect others and try to be the best human beings—NOT woman, man, black, white, Christian, Muslim, but HUMAN BEINGS—we can be.

    VR Barkowski

  8. Bravo, VR, you nailed it.

    Thanks Roland for letting me know what Twain said. . . I do like his ideas about some things. In others we might have a good 'discussion'.

  9. VR:
    I do not think anywhere in the world is respect for what is different taught.

    Chickens will peck to death that bird which is different. Man is the same world over.

    You are right: it is ironic that all the ______ studies professors fill the blank of what they are teaching.

    The feminist professor in question who taught black studies was a black woman.

    Folks demand respect for themselves, their race, their cause but usually do not give it in return.

    You echo Twain's thoughts at the end of the post. We must lead with compassion, honor, and respect. We must try to live at peace with one another as much as we are able as fellow human beings or the cockroaches will rule the radioactive graveyard we will have made of the world.

    As technology advances, terrorism increases, group hates fester, and Man becomes increasingly insular, the world grows scarier.

    As D.G. says: you nailed it.

    Twain is a product of his times and experiences as are you and I. Twain would have fun "discussing" matters with you! "-)