Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Michael Ceraolo- Two Poems

Free Speech Canto XXIX

The picture was Salt of the Earth,
a non-documentary film of a fifteen-month strike
against the Empire Zinc Corporation
by Local 890 of the International
Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers,
a film made the IPC
(Independent Pictures Corporation),
a consortium of blacklistees,
Herbert Biberman and Paul Jarrico,
                                                    and starring
Mexican actress Rosaura Revueltas
and a few blacklisted American actors
(Will Geer and David Wolfe)
a number of members and officials
from Local 890,
                        as well as
family of those members and officials

Despite overt harassment
was detained by the INS on a dubious charge,
which turned out to be a governmental error,
other lesser types of interference)
the film was completed,
the level of harassment
                                   (and the level of the harassers)

Union members were told to
"do everything possible to prevent showing this film" ,
the film was fairly successful in the very limited release
to those few brave theater owners,
caused the expected reaction:
"no motion picture made by communists
can be good for America" ,
harassment was stepped up even more

A semi-literate member of Congress,
Donald L. Jackson,
to one of his masters, Howard Hughes,
"Is there any action
that industry and labor
in motion picture field can take to stop
completion and release of picture
and to prevent showing of film
here and abroad?"
                            and Hughes answered,
saying, among other things,
"Be alert to the situation"
"Investigate thoroughly each applicant
for use of services or equipment"
"Be on guard against work submitted
by dummy corporations or third parties"
(those are only for hiding profits, evading taxes, etc.)
"Appeal to the Congress and the State Department
to act immediately to prevent the export
of this film to Mexico or anywhere else"
the suppression was largely accomplished

some involved in the making or showing
wouldn't stay silent,
in a counterattack as yet unanswered:

"A motion picture is a most public document . . .
the public has its constitutional rights
and its human rights to receive or reject it
To interfere with this honored American process
is not merely unconstitutional
but is an insult to the intelligence
and patriotism of the people themselves"
                                                            "a battle . . .
between the book-burners and Americans
who recognize what these forces have in mind
for the rights of all of us
to read and write and speak and think"

Free Speech Canto XXX

"no associations or Societies
among the students
ought to be allowed in the Seminary
except such as have for their immediate object
improvement in the prescribed course of studies"
said an Executive Committee of the Trustees
of Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati
in the summer of 1834,
the full board of trustees ratified this rule
soon after the start of the school year,
added for good measure the following:

"education must be completed
before the young are fitted to engage
in the collisions of active life"

                                            even though
at least thirty of those involved in the dispute
weren't young in the sense the board meant,
at least twenty-six years old

though the school administration,
like most administrations of the time,
held great power,
                          it wasn't absolute,
the attempted suppression didn't work

"Free discussion, being a duty"
"is consequently a right,
                                    and as such,
is inherent and inalienable
It is our right
It was before we entered Lane Seminary;
privileges we might and did relinquish;
advantages we might and did receive
this right the institution
could neither give nor take away"

the students,
                    forty of them,
took themselves away and went to Oberlin

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