by Kort E Patterson, Editor
When I last wrote, I was distressed at what appeared to be an attempt to impose censorship on Port of Call. One result has been a substantial expression of support from readers. I am especially appreciative of all the submissions! It appears that the majority of people who matter (the involved readers) favor continuing Port of Call as the region 7 newsletter. Port of Call's strongest supporter has been our regional director.
But an additional effect of "going public" with what little information was being supplied to me has been to "smoke out the varmints" who were trying to do their dirty work unobserved. The true nature of the attempt to suppress Port Of Call has been dragged kicking and screaming into to harsh glare of public exposure. And it doesn't bear close examination very well.
I'm willing to accept a fair amount of abuse over the numerous mistakes I actually commit, but I'm absolutely unwilling to be gracefully demure when people try to hold me accountable for their own inability to accurately read and interpret my words. And now I'm angry - far too angry to give in and let my detractors win their dirty little game.
To start with, all of the primary complainants live outside of region 7, and only receive copies of Port of Call as officials of Intertel. According to Brewster Gillett, our regional director, authority over the production and nature of the regional newsletter rests entirely within the region, and is solely the domain of the regional director and though him, the newsletter editor. The primary complainants have no legal foundation on which to base their attempted suppression of our newsletter in the first place.
Forced to put their accusations in writing, my detractors have betrayed the total bankruptcy of their assault. One has to wonder at the inner motives that would drive someone to bear false witness in order to achieve their goals, but their moral quandary is a hell of their own making, and outside of my concern. Driven by their own internal need to suppress the "dangerous ideas" and intelligent discourse that makes Port of Call worth reading - but unable to find any valid point of attack - my detractors fabricated an obscene misinterpretation of my submission(s), and attempted to use their own lies as justification to suppress the newsletter.
I had originally intended to print the offensive documents and then address their content in my reply. But I have been advised that since the documents contain statements that constitute legal libel against me, I can not print them without becoming an accessory. I do not at this time intend to seek formal legal remedies for these libels, but I certainly don't want to compromise that option should it become necessary in the future. Even worse, the lengthy abuse of my personal and professional ethics and principles took up so much space in the newsletter that there wasn't room for all the member submissions that have arrived since the last issue. Assuming that Port of Call readers would rather be entertained and informed than insulted, I've chosen to print the good stuff.
Those who wish to read the offending documents directly may request them from the originating officials, or send a SASE #10 envelope to Port of Call and I will supply photocopies. Copies of the offending documents were apparently also sent to Integra, and photocopies can probably be requested from Kim Martin, the Integra editor. Back issues of Port of Call are also available on request for any readers who have mislaid their copies, and wish to refresh their memories in the light of these outrageous insults against both writer and readers.
The core of the "complaints" involve the findings by W.D. Stevens, Intertel Publication Officer and supported by L. Davis, President of Intertel, that the article "Burning the Reichstag in Oklahoma" explained the bombing as a legitimate form of political protest, and advocated that the bombers shouldn't be held personally responsible for their actions. I find this malicious and totally unfounded accusation personally reprehensible and offensive. I defy any rational and honest reading of my article to find any support for this willful and intentional libel.
The actual primary focus of the "Burning the Reichstag in Oklahoma" article was the potential threat to civil liberties posed by the post bombing political manipulation of the tragedy. In the article I did make an intentional digression to properly condemn the bombing - just to make sure there couldn't be any misunderstanding.
Personal responsibility and accountability have been recurrent themes in my submissions to Port of Call, making my strong principles on these issues absolutely clear to anyone who cared to notice. Our civilization is based on the principle of personal responsibility. To take any other position would be to attack the very foundations of our society and way of life. But of course, my article was written with the assumption of at least a minimal degree of accuracy and integrity on the part of the reader. This assumption turns out to be far in excess of reality in the case of Stevens and Davis.
Stevens, for example, feels quite comfortable in libeling and abusing me without any reference to reality. In the second paragraph of his letter he writes: "I found that particular issue of Port of Call objectionable for several reasons. Since I consigned it to the wastebasket (where I felt it belonged) long ago, I can't quote directly, but I believe my generic comments will suffice."
Stevens proudly proclaims that he destroyed the newsletter he now seeks to "review" long before he penned his libelous invectives. And on the same page that he arrogantly brags that his abusive, insulting and totally unfounded accusations were fabricated entirely out of his own fevered imagination, he demands that everything I write be exhaustively documented and "substantiated by direct references from third parties and generally available sources".
The ultimate purpose of the assault on Port Of Call and the members of region 7, is best summed up in the letter to Brewster Gillett by Jackie Matthews, Intertel treasurer, who wrote: "...it seems that there is some confusion about what a regional newsletter is in Intertel! Regional newsletters are supposed to be a way for the director to communicate with the members of the region. Editors are not necessary unless the director wishes to have someone else do the newsletter for them. Some do - some don't. It seems that Kort thinks he is in charge and is in competition with Integra! Actually, his function is to help you. Perhaps you could suggest to Kort that he send his literary creations to Integra or some other publication since they are really not appropriate in regional newsletters. Things that are appropriate for regional newsletters are notices of when dues are due, messages from you conveying what decisions the board has made, announcements of the AGA, nomination forms, encouraging nudges to vote, information that will help members get to know each other better and help them identify others with similar interests, etc. All these things are the function of the regional director and the newsletter is a helping tool. If there is no news or information to convey, save the money and don't publish until there is something to report. I'm sending a copy of "Profiles" that I used in the old Region 9 and more recently in Region 8. Maybe you could adapt the form for your use."
So there you have it. The intent of Port of Call's self declared adversaries wasn't the merely offensive "censorship" it first appeared, but rather the suppression of all meaningful content and intellectual discourse in Port Of Call. You can't get much clearer than Matthews' detailed prescription of what sort of newsletter you should receive.
If the avoidance of all forms of intellectual stimulation was the actual desire of most region 7 members, I would have no interest in continuing as editor. However, your expressions of support have convinced me to stand firm in the face of these latest insults, and continue to support the struggle for freedom of speech and intellectual integrity. Together we can return Intertel to the kind of organization we can all be proud of.
The only point made by Port of Call's detractors I will honor is the complaint that "tripe" and "trash" have no place in Port of Call. Unfortunately, of all the materials submitted to the newsletter, the abusive letters from Stevens, Davis, and Matthews best fit that description, and have therefore been appropriately banned in accordance with the principles advocated by those writers.