Saturday, December 1, 2012

Poetry Police

My hillbilly girlfriend in the 70s was funny. She was even funnier drunk. Her limit was two drinks and then she transformed from an ingenue actress into a white trash beauty. I wasn't sure which I liked better. One night at CBGBs she launched into a tirade about the poetry police coming to arrest Patti Smith and William Burroughs. "Here come the poetry police." I had to pour her into a taxi for the ride home to our apartment on East 10th Street. Alice stopped drinking soon after that night, but I remembered the poetry police this week, when the Qatari government sentenced Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami to life imprisonment for insulting the ruler of that wealthy desert country. Al-Jazeera has made no comment about this draconian punishment in fear of losing their financial backing from the news agency's royal sponsor. This offense against the ruling family was supposedly directed at the crown prince. I couldn't find any copy of the poem TUNISIAN JASMINE online. The US has a big military base in Qatar. No one in our government has said a word in the defense of free speech. Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami has been held since November 2011. His trial was closed to the public. His lawyer said, "The judge made the whole trial secret. Muhammad was not allowed to defend himself, and I was not allowed to plead or defend in court. I told the judge that I need to defend my client in front of an open court, and he stopped me." Ajami was jailed in November 2011. Beware of the poetry police.

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