Take Action: Defend Standing Rock Reporter Jenni Monet

tumblr_okv1lt81ku1qflj9ao1_1280This message is from PEN Center U.S.A. Feel free to re-blog or link to this post.

The information for this campaign was sourced from The Los Angeles Times and the High Country News

PEN Center USA objects to the arrest and the charges made against Native American journalist Jenni Monet (her website), who was covering protests against the North Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

“Monet was wearing press credentials as she covered ongoing protests near the Standing Rock reservation. She provided her credentials to an officer when asked, but was arrested Feb. 1, at 4 p.m., Central, near protest encampments along Highway 1806. Monet was held for about thirty hours and was not released until 9 p.m., Feb. 2. She faces charges of criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot from Morton County prosecutors.” High Country News

A statement was released by Indian Country Today Media Network reiterating her press credentials.

We call on Wayne Stenehjem District Attorney of North Dakota to drop these charges immediately.

Take Action – Please Sign

The first amendment rights of journalists and free press liberties are in danger. Please join us in demanding that the District Attorney of North Dakota drop these charges immediately. ADD your name to the petition that will be sent to Wayne Stenehjem, District Attorney of North Dakota, and Allen Kopp, Morton County State’s Attorney.

“I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.” Margaret Atwood


ORWELL MATTERS, “A Little Poem” and … “Power is not a means. It’s an end.”

George Orwell (1903-1950), BBC Photograph in the public domain an curtesy of Penguin Books, India

George Orwell (1903-1950), BBC Photograph in the public domain, curtesy of Penguin Books, India


A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

And later still the times were good,
We were so easy to please,
We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
On the bosoms of the trees.

All ignorant we dared to own
The joys we now dissemble;
The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.

But girl’s bellies and apricots,
Roach in a shaded stream,
Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
All these are a dream.

It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them:
Horses are made of chromium steel
And little fat men shall ride them.

I am the worm who never turned,
The eunuch without a harem;
Between the priest and the commissar
I walk like Eugene Aram;

And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays.

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn’t born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

– George Orwell


The current state of affairs has many pulling 1984 and Animal Farm off their bookshelves, dusting them off and reading them again, probably for the first time since school days.

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.” George Orwell, 1984

51fgdfc5bl-_sx315_bo1204203200_Eric Arthur Blair (pen name George Orwell) “was born in 1903 in Motihari, Bengal, in the then British colony of India, where his father, Richard, worked for the Opium Department of the Civil Service. His mother, Ida, brought him to England at the age of one. He did not see his father again until 1907, when Richard visited England for three months before leaving again until 1912. Eric had an older sister named Marjorie and a younger sister named Avril. With his characteristic humour, he would later describe his family’s background as “lower-upper-middle class.” MORE


pen_american_center_official_logoYesterday,Tuesday, January 24, President Trump issued orders to several federal agencies to cease all communications with Congress, the press, and the public. PEN America decried the orders.

“This action is incompatible with American democratic values of government transparency and the public’s right to know,” PEN America statement

Multiple sources inside the government have told the press that the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services, ordered employees to cease external communications, including press releases, blog and social media posts and correspondence with other public officials.

Federal employees have expressed concern that the communications blackouts will impede work, disrupt communication across branches of the government and leave the public in the dark.

“Blanket orders from the Trump Administration preventing the staffs and experts of federal agencies from communicating with the public send a chilling message that every governmental communication, no matter how routine or technical, will now be subject to a political litmus test,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America.

“Federal officials are being cut off from the American public, impairing their work and denying the American citizenry access to necessary information and understanding about the work of our federal government. These blunderbuss and draconian measures infringe upon free expression and the flow of information and ideas, imposing constraints that befit an autocracy, not American democracy. They should be rescinded immediately.” Suzanne Nossel

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. It’s mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Public domain illustration.


CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: A Good Prodigious Writer, Living Life Honestly, Dying Gracefully

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), English-American writer, orator, social and literary critic

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), English-American writer, polemicist, social and literary critic

“I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker …”
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot

I was reminded once again of Hitch when his name came up in conversation at our last book club meeting on June 26th. CHRISTOPHER “HITCH” HITCHENS died in December 2011 of esophageal cancer. He was sixty-two. Famous or infamous – depending on your view – for his atheism among other things, he was a writer who wrote well and prodigiously, was unapologetic for his views and his lifestyle, and who died gracefully. When faced with death, he made it clear that he hadn’t amended his opinion as expressed in his best-selling book of 2007, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,

His opinions are controversial and debatable and that’s part of what makes him fun. How dull when there are no differences. Life would be an intellectual wasteland. As long as we take our differences to the debate halls (Hitchens was a splendid polemicist), the op-eds, the magazines/newspapers/blogs and the voting booth and not to the killing fields, it’s okay. When we know who we are, we are not easily shocked or threatened by perspectives and opinions that differ from our own.

I appreciate Hitch’s honesty and acuity. Nonsmoking teetotaler I am, yet I admire the spirit in this – quoted from his New York Times obituary – “He also professed to have no regrets for a lifetime of heavy smoking and drinking. ‘Writing is what’s important to me, and anything that helps me do that…'” He was true to himself right to the end even as he admitted that his lifestyle contributed to his illness.

In his writing and in debates, Hitch did attack our sacred cows. Hitch’s gift was to make us re-examine our dusty old assumptions and the positions we sometimes take for granted, having been spoonfed them since childhood by parents, clergy, teachers and culture.  Indeed, upon examination, there is much that comes up lacking, needing to be abandoned, reformulated or expressed in a more coherent manner.

Perhaps more than anything, I admire the grace with which Christopher Hitchens lived with dying. He did a more principled and dignified job of it than many of us in our faith communities. He was diagnosed in June 2010 and wrote about this journey in his Vanity Fair columns. The “cynical contrarian” had heart, perhaps even a kinder more tolerant and generous heart than many an avowed theist.

I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient.”

He wrote that the …

Prospect of death makes me sober, objective.”

He pursued his craft right to the end.

‘Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,’ Hitchens wrote . . .  but his own final labors were anything but: in his last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frankgraceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.” Vanity Fair

He wrote with excruciating honesty.

Like so many of life’s varieties of experience, the novelty of a diagnosis of malignant cancer has a tendency to wear off. The thing begins to pall, even to become banal. One can become quite used to the specter of the eternal Footman, like some lethal old bore lurking in the hallway at the end of the evening, hoping for the chance to have a word. And I don’t so much object to his holding my coat in that marked manner, as if mutely reminding me that it’s time to be on my way. No, it’s the snickering that gets me down.

“On a much-too-regular basis, the disease serves me up with a teasing special of the day, or a flavor of the month. It might be random sores and ulcers, on the tongue or in the mouth. Or why not a touch of peripheral neuropathy, involving numb and chilly feet? Daily existence becomes a babyish thing, measured out not in Prufrock’s coffee spoons but in tiny doses of nourishment, accompanied by heartening noises from onlookers, or solemn discussions of the operations of the digestive system, conducted with motherly strangers. On the less good days, I feel like that wooden-legged piglet belonging to a sadistically sentimental family that could bear to eat him only a chunk at a time.” Except that cancer isn’t so … considerate.” MORE [Vanity Fair]

Thank you, Hitch, for making us think and rethink.

Thank you, Vanity Fair, for hosting Christopher Hitchens so regularly for us to read.

© 2016, Jamie Dedes All rights reserve; portrait courtesy of Andrew Rusk under CC BY-SA 3.0 license