• Exposure Needed for Bad Ideas

    • Posted on Sep 03, 2017

    Today's Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier column.  Free speech really does mean just that, especially on a university campus where debate and discussion form the heart of higher education.   UNI's "Controversial Speakers" program was memorable not only for the speakers it brought before students and faculty, but also for the spirited defense of free speech set for by President J.W. Maucker as well as Cedar Valley ministers, no less.  


    Imagine a university program that actually invites controversy, that sets out to make sure opposing viewpoints get aired, that seeks speakers who generate discussion and debate.  

     That’s exactly what happened at UNI just over a half-century ago, in the spring of ’66.

    UNI’s student and faculty Senates created a “Controversial Speakers” program.  
    This event gets explained in “A Century of Leadership and Service,” a wonderful two-volume history of UNI written by Professors William Lang and Daryl Pendergraft.  They detail UNI’s attempt to challenge students and faculty with speakers they might not otherwise hear. 

    The Iowa Board of Regents fully supported the program, saying it was “designed to demonstrate that in a democratic society all citizens have not only the right but also the obligation to inform themselves on issues of contemporary concern including politics, religion, ethics, and morals.”  

    I began my UNI teaching career as the program was gearing up.  I heard many of the speakers, including Black Panther Stokely Carmichael, civil rights activist Dick Gregory, beat poet Allen Ginsburg, and most bizarre of all, hippie/yippie Jerry Rubin, who in 1970 harangued 5,000 UNI students and faculty at O.R. Latham football field.  

    Some legislators were outraged, most prominently Charles Grassley, who roundly objected to speaker American Communist Party speaker Herbert Aptheker, calling Aptheker’s invitation to speak “deplorable and shameful,” and that “compulsory student fees and buildings paid for by the taxpayers were used to support this un-American philosophy under the guise of freedom of speech.” Other legislators chimed in, putting pressure on UNI to bar such speakers from campus.  

     However, 22 Cedar Falls and Waterloo Ministers defended the program, writing in a letter to the Courier, “. . . an integral function of higher education in a free society is to provide free discussion,” and that SCI students “exhibited a high degree of maturity in evaluating. . .speakers and opinions.” 

    President J.W. Maucker, speaking of Jerry Rubin’s wild speech, insisted that Rubin’s appearance “proved to be a worthwhile experience of a large majority of students and faculty because they got a chance to see this man in action firsthand and judge for themselves the soundness of his views.”  

    “Maturity.”   “Judge for themselves.”  Such words and phrases seem almost quaint these days, when “free speech” means huge protests during the speech and often cancellations out of fear of violence. 

    Let’s face it, a certain degree of faith in listeners’ maturity and judgment is required to invite such speakers as Ann Coulter or David Duke. As Oscar Wilde put it, “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”  

    I’d like to see the return of a UNI Controversial Speakers program. Speakers on contemporary critical issues, fringe or not, would demonstrate how much we value free debate. Bad ideas only grow stronger when opposed with violence and censorship.   

    Open peaceful debate remains the best way to expose charlatans. 







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    • Censorship
  • Is Mark Louviere Healing Himself?

    • Posted on Aug 17, 2017
    The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier published this a week ago, on August 10.  It was the first information in the area about former medical doctor Mark Louviere, who is just out of 10 years in prison for trafficking in meth.  I interviewed him at length, and boiled it down to this essay.  

    There's much more to say, and I will be following up with him as his situation evolves.  

    I've already completed a fair amount of research on his medical practice and multiple patients and colleagues who knew him before his arrest.   If any readers out there want to discuss him and his current or past situation, email me at s.cawelti@uni.edu.  I'm more than happy to continue the research.  

    Photo taken Aug. 3 at St. Vincent de Paul Warehouse in Waterloo, Iowa.  

                “Physician, heal thyself,” said hometown citizens to Jesus. By which they meant “prove you can work miracles here like you’ve done elsewhere.”  Jesus, knowing their skeptical put-down, replied, “A prophet is without honor in his own hometown.” (Luke 4: 23-24, slightly modified)

                Which brings me to former Waterloo physician Mark Louviere, now returned from a decade in prison for facilitating methamphetamine sales—part of a ring of suppliers and dealers. 

                A doctor helping supply meth? First, do harm?  It didn’t add up, and the news hit the Cedar Valley in 2007 like an E5 tornado. It devastated patients, colleagues, and friends. Some remained loyal, others turned on him, wanting nothing more to do with him or his partners.     

                 When Louviere was arrested in 2007, agents discovered over twelve pounds of methamphetamine in a neighbor’s Cedar Falls garage—street value around a million dollars.  Because Louviere stored guns in his house, they added years to his sentence—up to 100. Under the law at time, he was required to serve 33 years, and that minimum was reduced to 22 because of his guilty plea. 

                No trial. He confessed, and the details of his crime were frankly sordid and shocking.

                Louviere himself was addicted, admitting that he had lived the life of an addict toward the end.

                His 22-year sentence was further reduced to ten for good behavior, and now he’s out on work release from the Newton Correctional Facility.   Parole will follow, if all goes well, in about five weeks. 

                At his suggestion, I interviewed Louviere recently in his workplace—the Waterloo Saint Vincent de Paul warehouse.  He’s certain that he’s ready to become a contributing member of the larger community, and not necessarily as a doctor.

                I asked how he was feeling.  Since he allowed me to record him, I can quote directly.  “I feel great.  I’m happy to be out, of course. I was able to exercise every afternoon, and became a tutor for inmates earning their high school diplomas, and taught advanced math and science courses.”

                Prison was not too bad?  “I actually returned to my younger days of reading and contemplating. For the last five years, I kept track of all the books I read, and in that time, I read 687 books.  Nobel prize winners, winners of various literary awards.  I actually enjoyed that part of prison, since I had time to read and contemplate.”

                Has he transformed? “I know this sounds like a terrible cliché, but I found religion, or rather returned to my childhood belief in Catholicism.  I went to mass every Sunday, and now work four nights a week at the Catholic Worker House. For work release, I chose to work at St. Vincent de Paul, thanks to Pat Russo, who offered me a job as a computer and fundraising specialist.  I love this work, and might stay on after work release.”

                Russo, incidentally, confirms Louviere’s change, saying “He has a great work ethic, he’s deeply religious, and he’s had a positive influence on everyone.”

                 Louviere continued, “I do feel remorse, especially because I not only betrayed my family, my friends, my colleagues, and the community, I betrayed myself.”

                Why? “During that time I became someone else.  I was no longer myself, and now realize what a hypocrite I had become.”

                So, what’s next?  He hopes to find a new life.  “There are three things that I’m contemplating for my future. One of them is getting my medical license back. They would might restrict me to practicing prison medicine.  This would be an interesting thing for me.”

                “The second option would be mission work—depending on my parole officer, I might be able to work in Africa, or Haiti, or the Dominican Republic.  I don’t know what the requirements would be, but I would have the skills to be a medical worker in missions.”

                Third, “I have a very close friend who’s a nun in Dubuque, and I would happily spend a year at the New Melleray Abbey in Dubuque to continue my contemplative life.”

                Mark Louviere, the wild man, the motorcycle-obsessed free spirit of old, known for his love of wine, women, and living large?  Living a monastic life by choice?

                “They have a program at the Abbey for people who want a quiet life to decide what they want to do next. I’m considering that.” 

                 A glimmer of his old life broke through.  “I still love motorcycles.  Of course I sold them, but I still have access, and I’d like to ride occasionally, though I’ll probably never buy one.” 

                My skepticism came out most when I confronted him with a straightforward question:

    “Do you feel like you might be a sociopath, devoid of any real feeling for those you hurt?” I had heard that from several people. 

                He seemed taken aback.  “My gosh. The only thing I can say that if they knew me before I was involved in the drug culture, they wouldn’t ask.  I can tell you, once you become involved in the drug culture, your ability to make moral, spiritual, and ethical decisions becomes clouded.” 

                “During a period of time, I was still functional, but I did behave in ways I can’t justify.     I am totally, completely, and solely responsible for the decisions I made.”

                He describes himself as a changed man, ready to contribute, utterly uninterested in returning to his old life, and anxious to make a contribution that will justify his ten years of punishment. “I can guarantee you I will never, ever return to an addict’s life.” 

                In fact, he doesn’t even seek to live the good life of a wealthy doctor.  Instead, he’s content to drive his mother’s old Buick, and work in the St. Vincent de Paul warehouse.

                As we ended, he mentioned, “A guy asked me, ‘Are you a bad guy with a streak of good, or a good guy with a streak of bad?’” he laughed.  I had wondered the same.

                I’m still a bit skeptical, since newly released inmates sometimes continue a con by claiming a religious conversion.  But from what I saw and heard, he’s straight-on sincere.  

                I called two of his close recent friends, older women who drove to Newton to play cards with him nearly every weekend for years.  They spoke highly of him, and both were certain that the old Mark Louviere is gone forever.  “He’s a changed man,” they agreed, and were happy to have provided him with Christian friendship and support when he needed it. 

                He’s certainly a high-energy talker, a “hypomanic” Type A personality.  Yet he looked me right in the eye for the whole interview, and our conversation seemed entirely natural and on the level.           

                With the crucial help of his Catholicism, which he reveres, Mark Louviere may well be healing himself. 

                Now to find honor in his own hometown. 




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“Even before the advent of the Internet, Cawelti’s columns went 'viral' in the Cedar Valley… the role of a columnist is to be thought provoking, to take tacks that shed a different light on an issue or possibly cause a reader to reevaluate a position. At the very least, it should bring clarity to a particular perspective, whether you buy into the commentator’s worldview or not.

Scott's work does just that.  Enjoy this collection of his writing.”

-Saul Shapiro, Former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Editor
Read Shapiro's entire introduction.


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