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ARSCLIST  April 2015

ARSCLIST April 2015

Subject:

Re: Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Museum

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:20:05 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (257 lines)

Hi Aaron:

I think you're correct that we should strive to "do the best we can to see that the ongoing dignity
of our fellow Americans is central to our purpose."

However, this ideal is not and cannot be the basis of "accepted" or "acceptable" artistic creation
and expression. Art, as expressed historically and definitely in the past century plus, is often
about offending people or making people uncomfortable, upsetting norms and pushing boundaries. In
fact, relevant to our current conversation, I'll cite a prime example -- "Huckleberry Finn." That
book was none too subtle about poking at and mocking then-common perceptions of race and human
dignity. Ironically, because today some are offended by some language spoken by some characters in
that book, it is now banned by some academic institutions. I'm sure Mark Twain would chuckle at the
irony of his art being "offensive" to both ends of a spectrum.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message -----
From: "Aaron Levinson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, April 27, 2015 4:05 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Museum


> Dear Vincent and Tom-
>
> I think that in reality you are both correct and that what you are saying is not mutually
> exclusive. I completely agree with Tom and short of shouting "Fire" in a public place the 1st
> Amendment got it's place in line for a damn good reason. Let's not lose sight of that fact no
> matter what else we choose to do.
>
> But Vincent is absolutely correct in that we need to examine all things about our culture and do
> the best we can to see that the ongoing dignity of our fellow Americans is central to our purpose.
>
> Accordingly we must promulgate the kind of society that is moving toward the goal of equality and
> fairness for all citizens as it is in fact the cornerstone of what a democratic society is
> ultimately about.
>
> That's not paying "lip service" to anything my friends...
>
> AA
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
>> On Apr 27, 2015, at 3:36 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> Hi Vincent:
>>
>> I do respect your point of view, but I think it's wrong to try and shelter people from hurtful
>> words by censoring free speech. Plain and simple, free speech should trump any individual's
>> feeling of hurt (and it does, up to the point of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, under our
>> Constitution). I also point to rap/hip-hop lyrics and all too common vernacular among urban folks
>> of color: the "N" word is alive and well there (although some thought leaders in the black
>> community are speaking out about it).
>>
>> Of course it's better when discourse is civil, as a matter of getting along in a diverse and
>> crowded society. Where I think things go off the rails is when there are attempted by
>> self-appointed (or elected) authorities to dictate the terms of discourse. That has to be up to
>> individuals in a free society (we have to choose to be polite to each other, by our own free
>> will). Along the lines of what Paul Stambler said, of course everyone should be polite, but they
>> don't HAVE to be in a free society. No one may or should dictate what is "polite" and what is
>> "rude."
>>
>> As far as music history and historical appreciation goes, we shouldn't "erase" important figures
>> because someone today is hurt or outraged by something written or said in a different time and
>> context. Any individual may decide they are so offended or otherwise put off by the artist that
>> they wish never to hear, study or talk about their music, but that fact alone doesn't take the
>> artist out of their historical context. It's also worth considering the idea that ALL people are
>> flawed, but their brilliance may shine dispite their flaws. And it gets back to the fact that
>> what's "polite" to one person may be patently "rude" to another -- look no further than modern
>> performance-art and visual-arts. Being diverse means being able to accept that much "rudeness"
>> will exist, because everyone's context and aesthetics are different.
>>
>> Sorry to belabor this point, but free speech (and the underlying concept of free thought) is
>> really important. It's a foundation stone of our country, and it's what is taken away first when
>> despots come to power.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Vincent Pelote" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Monday, April 27, 2015 2:24 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Museum
>>
>>
>>> David and Tom,
>> Hi Vincent:
>>
>> I do respect your point of view, but I think it's wrong to try and shelter people from hurtful
>> words by censoring free speech. Plain and simple, free speech should trump any individual's
>> feeling of hurt (and it does, up to the point of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, under our
>> Constitution). I also point to rap/hip-hop lyrics and all too common vernacular among urban folks
>> of color: the "N" word is alive and well there (although some thought leaders in the black
>> community are speaking out about it).
>>
>> Of course it's better when discourse is civil, as a matter of getting along in a diverse and
>> crowded society. Where I think things go off the rails is when there are attempted by
>> self-appointed (or elected) authorities to dictate the terms of discourse. That has to be up to
>> individuals in a free society (we have to choose to be polite to each other, by our own free
>> will). Along the lines of what Paul Stambler said, of course everyone should be polite, but they
>> don't HAVE to be in a free society. No one may or should dictate what is "polite" and what is
>> "rude."
>>
>> As far as music history and historical appreciation goes, we shouldn't "erase" important figures
>> because someone today is hurt or outraged by something written or said in a different time and
>> context. Any individual may decide they are so offended or otherwise put off by the artist that
>> they wish never to hear, study or talk about their music, but that fact alone doesn't take the
>> artist out of their historical context. It's also worth considering the idea that ALL people are
>> flawed, but their brilliance may shine dispite their flaws. And it gets back to the fact that
>> what's "polite" to one person may be patently "rude" to another -- look no further than modern
>> performance-art and visual-arts. Being diverse means being able to accept that much "rudeness"
>> will exist, because everyone's context and aesthetics are different.
>>
>> Sorry to belabor this point, but free speech (and the underlying concept of free thought) is
>> really important. It's a foundation stone of our country, and it's what is taken away first when
>> despots come to power.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Vincent Pelote" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Monday, April 27, 2015 2:24 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Museum
>>
>>
>>> David and Tom,
>>>
>>> As one of the pitifully few members of ARSC who are of African descent ('Black" if you need me
>>> to spell it out), I must say that I always find it interesting that the most outspoken critics
>>> of political correctness are usually NOT the people for whom political correctness was meant to
>>> shelter from racist speech, images, etc. I happen to have a thicker skin than most, yet I find
>>> myself subconsciously cringing every time I hear the so called "N" word no matter what the
>>> context (and I don't buy that clap trap that the "N" word wasn't offensive in the day). Since
>>> neither of you gentlemen will ever have that word hurled at you the way it has been at me, I
>>> think your calling political correctness a "cancer" instead of racism interesting and while I
>>> understand that political correctness can go overboard at times, I see nothing wrong with trying
>>> to ease the years of hurt that certain people in this society has had to endure for so long when
>>> racist words and images were "acceptable." Think about it gentlemen. Do we really need to call a
>>> football team the Washington Redskins, if it offends Native Americans? Just my 2 cents worth and
>>> I really don't want to go into a long series of emails about this.
>>>
>>> Vincent Pelote
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>
>>> From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Sent: Monday, April 27, 2015 11:38:28 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Museum
>>>
>>> Hi David:
>>>
>>> This is the politically "correct" thought police at work. It's a cancer on American society,
>>> created
>>> and nurtured in academia. It's disgusting to me, because it's dishonest and anti-truth. It's
>>> straight out of George Orwell, as are most far-left academic notions. Totally agree about
>>> Stephen
>>> Foster. He was a major part of American musical and cultural history, whether his lyrics
>>> "offend"
>>> people whose default stance is moral "outrage" or not.
>>>
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "DAVID BURNHAM" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Monday, April 27, 2015 11:21 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial Museum
>>>
>>>
>>>> I think one of the sadest developments in American musical history is the ostracizing of
>>>> Stephen
>>>> Foster's music because he is described as being "racist". Stephen Foster wrote prolifically
>>>> about a
>>>> period in history which was cruel to African Americans, (although, of course, he never used
>>>> that
>>>> expression), but he always described them as honest, God fearing, family oriented, loving
>>>> people.
>>>> Sure, some of his songs containg the "N" word, but he lived in a time when that word wasn't
>>>> used as
>>>> offensively as it is today.
>>>> Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan was a very morally upright person who would not knowingly
>>>> offend
>>>> anyone, but he used the "N" word twice in "Mikado", (which is occasionally described as
>>>> offensive
>>>> to the Japanese).
>>>> "Showboat" is often described as racist. When it was to be shown in Toronto to open a new
>>>> concert
>>>> venue over 20 years ago, there were huge outcries from protesters who obviously didn't
>>>> understand
>>>> the work at all. "Showboat" was a curageous statement AGAINST racism at a time when racist
>>>> sentiments were quite acceptable, (late '20s). The very first word in "Showboat" is the "N"
>>>> word,
>>>> (I'm not spelling it out because I don't want to offend anybody and if there is automatic
>>>> monitoring of ARSC posts, the presence of the word would cause the post to be rejected), and
>>>> that
>>>> word is used throughout "Showboat", but anyone who knows "Showboat" knows it's anything but
>>>> racist. Paul Robeson was a very outspoken critic of anything racist and would not participate
>>>> in
>>>> anything which was offensive to anyone, yet he was proud to appear in "Showboat" and "Old Man
>>>> River" almost became his theme song.
>>>> db
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Monday, April 27, 2015 10:56 AM, "Williams, Tim" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Though not as big or eccentric as the Bayernhof Museum, Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster Memorial
>>>> Museum is much more accessible and quick to tour:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> http://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/Museum.htm
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> It's on Forbes Avenue (lots of buses go from Downtown up Forbes) in Oakland, at the foot of the
>>>> University of Pittburgh's gigantic Cathedral of Learning and across the street from the
>>>> Carnegie
>>>> Museums and Library and the Dippy the Dinosaur statue.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> See lots of you folks a month from now!
>>>>
>>>> Tim
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Timothy R. Williams
>>>>
>>>> Librarian
>>>>
>>>> Music, Film & Audio Department
>>>>
>>>> Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Check out this list of Pittsburgh jazz musicians:
>>>>
>>>> http://carnegielibrary.org/research/music/pittsburgh/pittsburghjazzmusicians.html
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> Vincent Pelote
>>> Interim Director
>>> Institute of Jazz Studies
>>> Rutgers University
>>> Dana Library
>>> 185 University Avenue
>>> Newark, NJ 07102
>>> phone: 973-353-5595
>>> email: [log in to unmask]
>>>
>
>

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