Print

Print


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]
>
>