WebDelSol CENSORS FlashPøint!

     On September 17, 2000, WebDelSol, the literary website, censored FlashPøint. Without warning, and with no prior consultation, WebDelSol arbitrarily removed from the EXTRA! title page Andrea Zemel's woodcut depicting a soldier executing a peasant, and replaced it with another graphic from an earlier FlashPøint "galerie" -- and then blocked the editors from access to the site so we could not undo the damage or, if it came to that, remove files from the website. After an immediate protest -- which occasioned a series of astonishing e-salvoes at the editors of FlashPøint both personal and abusive -- we wasted no further breath on WebDelSol. We relocated FlashPøint to its new URL, and decided to invest our breath, instead, in telling the story to you, the readers of FlashPøint.

      We have reason to believe the motives for censorship were as much political as personal, although the stated reason was esthetic: that in WebDelSol's judgment the Zemel woodcut is "ugly". In the judgment of FlashPøint editors, that's part of Zemel's point! It's also what makes the woodcut a thing of beauty. It depicts a soldier executing a peasant, and the brutal ugliness of the style of the image is a visual correlative of the act. Below the image is a caption: "Haiti - East Timor - Panama - Vietnam - Granada - El Salvador - Cambodia - Nicaragua - Laos". All countries whose dominant regimes (in past or present) have received generous American military aid and training to repress rural populations. Ergo, the ugliness has a political point. As the central purpose of FlashPøint is to explore the tensions between art and politics, the Zemel woodcut (like the Sue Coe paintings in issue #2, and the Leon Golub painting in this issue #4) is a dramatic example of those tensions in living play.

     But please note the "East Timor" in the caption. A year ago two of the editors of FlashPøint and one of the managers of WebDelSol got into a backchannel contretemps over the question of American responsibility for the massacres of East Timorese by Indonesian militia. The FlashPøint editors maintained that American political and military assistance to the government of Indonesia over the past 40 years had a great deal to do with Indonesia's brutal suppression of the East Timorese independence movement, which culminated in those massacres, while the manager from WDS objected to the blanket indictment of US foreign policy, insisting that the US had some, but not decisive involvement. Depth of knowledge about the issue was also an issue. The bitterness of the e-mail exchanges has evidently lingered. We believe it has a lot to do with the censorship of September 7.

     For four years WebDelSol has hosted FlashPøint and helped immensely with its design layout as well as promotion on the net. For this we have thanked WebDelSol many times, quite profusely; but the thanks stop when something like this happens.

     In defense of its censorship of FlashPøint, WebDelSol claims "the final say on graphics and design on every single magazine on WDS." We at FlashPøint leave it to the other magazines on WebDelSol to negotiate this point. Never before has anyone intruded upon our editorial turf, changed the content of our magazine, and demanded we submit or else.

     In the end, the motives of censorship are less important than the act itself. The editors of FlashPøint cannot accept such heavy-handed and arrogant interference, which we believe goes against our very raison d'etre.

     We're outta there!

12/15/2000 P.S. As of noon on December 15, 2000, and for how long, who knows? the former official WebDelSol title page for FlashPøint sports a valediction/malediction from the folks at WebDelSol which should clarify anyone's doubts about the possible political motives for the censorship hereinabove cited. The abundant files of FlashPøint remain on WebDelSol behind the mask, at least for a little while longer. In case the new greeting disappears soon we have duplicated it on our new website, minus the refresh segue to another zine.

Jan. 9, 2001 UPDATE: On 1/7/2001 the editors of FlashPøint sent notice to the editors of other magazines on WebDelSol about what had happened, where we had moved, ... and that, a month after our 12/8/2000 request that WebDelSol management remove all FlashPøint files from its website, almost all of them still remained. We also noted that among those remaining files was a backup file of the censored EXTRA! titlepage, which ironically retained the Zemel woodcut WDS management had removed from the index.htm page. Within 24 hours that backup titlepage was altered to respond to our notice. Click here for the latest and, we hope, the last.