Submerged Classical Values TOTAL

Submerged Classical Values


As of tomorrow, I'm on vacation. I have no idea whether I'll be able to blog. I am going underwater too, and if I can post anything I will let you know what I find.

I stole Glenn Reynolds' idea, except I don't have a decent picture of myself underwater.

This is the best I can do. Let's see if it works.

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Help!!!!! Shark!!!!

posted by Eric at 12:53 PM

Here to there I want

Here to there

I want to get this blogger thing working properly, and I am posting this as a test. Last night the whole damned thing shut down and I lost my last (long essay) which I had to feed up in pieces. When I try to send a post of any length, I get weird "LONG POST ERROR" codes, and the post simply disappears.

Iranian Culture War update: This is an interview with some leading Iranian opposition leaders.

A sample:

the problem that we now face is that these regimes--by that, I mean Iran, China, and so forth--have an object lesson in what not to do, that is, they've seen what happened in 1989 in Eastern Europe. And they have no intention of going down that road.

Given the brutality of the Iranian regime, which clearly exceeds the Shah's, I'd be surprised if it were to collapse quickly. Nevertheless, population trends are clearly not on the side of the mullahs. If they were smart, they'd cede power now rather than face what is sure to be a bloody uprising. But whether that happens in five or ten years is anyone's guess.

I'd also like to say that, while I devoutly wish that the mullahs are toppled, it's not clear to me that a new Iranian government would be all that friendly to the U.S. or Israel.

As they say, read the whole thing.

(End test! Now I get to see whether this feeds through.)

posted by Eric at 08:53 AM

Resolved: Sodomy was never

Resolved: Sodomy was never a Classical Value!

After all of today's earlier and more profound observations by others, I have little to add to the sodomy law debate -- which appears to be over.

Is it time to declare victory and pull out?

Along with Andrew Sullivan, I found food for thought in the Thomas dissent. For years I was taught (by conservatives and liberals alike) that the man was a devout bigot.

These are not the words of a bigot:

[T]he law before the Court today "is…..uncommonly silly." [citation] If I were a member of the Texas legislature, I would vote to repeal it. Punishing someone for expressing his sexual preference through noncommercial consensual conduct with another adult does not appear to be a worthy way to expend valuable law enforcement resources.

As Glenn Reynolds noted, his earlier predictions proved to be correct. (See this, and while you're at it, read Balkin's excellent analysis.)

On the general question of sodomy, please read my post from last year, as well as my proposal for "biblically accurate sodomy laws".

It is very difficult to analyze modern "sodomy" in terms of Classical Values, for the ancients didn't see sexuality this way.

To them, sexuality was just sexuality.

(continued below; is not accepting large posts)

posted by Eric at 12:07 AM

(Continued from above) To many

(Continued from above)

To many modern people, sexuality is so loaded with guilt, morality, religion, and personal judgments as to be incapable of rational discussion.

Complete misunderstandings of the ancients are common to both sides of the debate over homosexuality. Modern gay rights activists often scream about how "gay sex" was common among ancients, while moral conservatives go to great, often tortuous lengths to deny homosexuality. Thus, clear references to sexual relations between men are hailed as endorsements of gay sex by gay advocates -- while indignantly labeled as lies by moral conservatives. Descriptions of the Spartans' sexual conduct (or that of Julius Caesar) are seen as advancing or threatening modern agendas, and in the process it is forgotten that these sexual details mattered to the ancient authors about as much as Julius Caesar's concerns about his hair loss. I spent some time yesterday poring over Diodorus Siculus in New York's wonderful neoclassical Public Library, and as I read about ancient sexuality I realized how pointless was my search for truth -- for my source would be hailed by liberal activists as a champion of a modern position never even contemplated -- and simultaneously dismissed as "unreliable" by today's moral conservatives.

In a logical and dispassionate world, why should it matter whether or not Spartan soldiers were paired as lovers in battle? Or whether the Celts seemed to prefer sex with men to sex with women?

"Despite the fact that their wives are beautiful, the Celts have little to do with them, but instead abandon themselves to a strange passion for other men. They usually sleep on the ground on skins of wild animals and tumble about with a bedfellow on either side. And what is strangest of all is that, without any thought of modesty, they carelessly surrender their virginity to other men. Far from finding anything shameful in this, they feel insulted if anyone refuses the favors they offer..." From Diodorus Siculus
Historical Library, Book V, circa 50 BC

A recent observation by John Derbyshire may, I hope, serve as a starting point not for any debate, but to show the difficulty in judging the ancients by modern standards:
I shall continue to appeal the... WHAT? readers are asking me. Sorry, the e-mail got truncated. The last sentence read: "I shall continue to appeal to the spirit of the Three Hundred, who, I feel sure, neither asked nor told."
I won't make light of this issue, because it reveals a gap between us and the ancients so profound as to defy ordinary understanding -- as well as my ability to write about it.

The irony is that Mr. Derbyshire does not know how right he is. Likewise, the gay activists are equally right, but not for the reasons they think.

The Three Hundred neither asked nor told because there was nothing before them to ask or tell about. We cannot analyze ancient sexuality in modern terms. Any attempt to do so fails utterly. We do not understand true sexual tolerance. No; I am wrong right there. Tolerance is the wrong word. There was a very basic acceptance of sexuality that saw no need to define it. (I say this notwithstanding the additional issues of dominance and hierarchy, which, while complicated by modern standards, nonetheless did not invoke modern guilt or shame.) There was no such thing or such word or category of people as "homosexual." Nor was there any such thing as heterosexual. Putting a question like that in front of the Spartans and expecting an answer is an exercise in the absurd. To "ask or tell" would require a very lengthy modern lecture about such things as sexual guilt and sexual shame. Homosexuality would have to be defined for them as a thing, a concept. While we alternately condemn, stigmatize, celebrate, tolerate, refuse to tolerate homosexuality, we have the concept. Spartans never defined homosexuality, and they would not understand this. Of course Spartan men had sexual intercourse with each other. Anyone who claims they didn't ignores clear historical evidence. But applying the word "gay" or "homosexual" is absurd.

To even begin to understand the ancients is to suspend all modern prejudices and values and visit an alien culture in the truest sense of the word.

That's why I'm here. To try to do that. The very best I can do is not much at all. The more I read, the more I understand, the more I don't understand. (At this rate I'll be completely ignorant by the time I die.)

I am not saying that sexual guilt is entirely a modern concept. (To do so would deny the antiquity of the Old Testament.) However, sexual guilt was definitely not the dominant concept in ancient Greco-Roman times. It set in later. (Much, I think, to human detriment.)

These underlying Classical Values, which burst forth in the Renaissance (and were in turn repressed vigorously by puritanical zealots) can't be kept down forever. They have a way of resurfacing over and over -- no matter how many fig leaves are welded on top of them.

Historical references may shed light on facts, but they do not explain the feelings of the ancients. Sexual guilt -- especially sexual shame -- was not there as far as I can see. Thus, any attempt to judge them by people steeped in sexual guilt (either by enforcers of it or victims reacting against it) will be problematic at best.

However, we are no longer engaged in a simple dispute between guilt-mongers and guilt victims. There is a growing class of people who do not identify with the guilt at all -- people who cannot understand this insistence upon defining and then judging a man by what he wants to do with his penis.

To me, that's a good thing. It is a return to Classical Values.

posted by Eric at 04:53 PM | Comments (1)

Don't make "light" of

Don't make "light" of a serious issue!

Here's another bright idea -- from the folks at

Taiwanese scientists have genetically engineered a variety of zebra fish, making it fluorescent.

….coming soon to a pet store near you.

The so-called Night Pearls are likely the first genetically modified pets anyone will own.

HJ Tsai, a professor at National Taiwan University, created the Night Pearls as a way to make fish organs more visible when studying them under the microscope.

Tsai isolated a gene from naturally glowing jellyfish, extracted it, and inserted it into the DNA of zebrafish.

To Tsai's surprise, the jellyfish gene made zebrafish glow.

Jeremy Rifkin, call your office!

posted by Eric at 10:18 AM

No posts yesterday -- my
No posts yesterday -- my first blank day. I was in New York, and then when I tried to post this last night, was being rebuilt. Funny, because I wanted to post the following rebuilding tip. (A blight idea?)

Things to do with a gaping pit

For the first time since September 11, 2001, today I visited Ground Zero. A gigantic, gaping hole in the ground, it almost glares at you -- a wound still open, unhealed, unclosed, unbandaged.

This was at the end of a long day spent running around New York, soaking up beautiful examples of neoclassical architecture. The best I saw all day was the New York Public Library. Anyone who visits New York should go there, as it is free, and incredibly opulent -- a marble palace of halls, arches, Escher-like stairways, and busts of famous Romans and Greeks. Just incredibly cool; I really think the place would be the envy of any ancient Roman emperor. Check it out!

"the apogee of Beaux-Arts design, [the Library]was the largest marble structure ever attempted in the United States." (Link)

With such an incredible thing of beauty in my mind, imagine how depressing it was to go look at the hole in the ground left by bigoted worshipers of a god said to have commanded it. (The longer it remains, the more likely they are to make false victory pronouncements, too.)

When I got home I looked at some of the proposed designs, and frankly, I think they all suck. Here's a fairly comprehensive collection of proposals from some of the better recognized architects.

Not one renews the Classical tradition that makes New York such a beautiful place. Nor do any of them invoke America's spirit of righteous anger and revenge as they should. I mean, it's all good and fine to propose building another building as big or bigger, but people are still really angry, and they deserve something grander.

It is interesting to note that "elitist" New York is still very angry about what happened. If you don't believe it, ask anyone -- from a business executive all the way down to your regular old New York cabbie or typical working guy. They are all pissed. Much of the elitist East Coast would like to forget (and as to California, well, they were never really connected anyway, and much as I love them they just aren't into worrying their pretty heads), but New Yorkers have not forgotten and they won't forget.

I notice some of the damnedest things, and today what really got my attention was the kind of people who are coming to New York to line up and stare at the gaping wound. How long has it been now? One year and nine months. The people are coming from places like Iowa, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Tennessee. The same places called "flyover country" by the elite. I saw a couple of them crying. They were all very respectful.

Like New Yorkers, they have not forgotten. (Some country music guy even wrote a song about that….)

I have been around, and I never thought I would witness such an emotional display of solidarity between New Yorkers and people once considered the epitome of hick tourists. Not now they're not. It is a very solemn, serious thing.

Anyway, today, along with New Yorkers and with an assortment of ordinary Americans from around the country, I, simply, remembered.

And then I started getting angry, and I thought about the beautiful Classical buildings like the New York Public Library.

Beautiful Classical buildings, need for revenge, gaping wound in the ground.

Suddenly, right there, I saw the Roman Colosseum, in all its splendor, loyally rebuilt. (Note: be sure to move your mouse over the picture to get before and after images.)

Opening day, memorial for the victims, victory celebration, and a festival of revenge. There are a lot of really angry friends and families of the victims, and a lot of very angry Americans out there.

This would give us something to do with all these otherwise useless al Qaeda/Taliban prisoners. They already whine and complain; let's give them an outlet.

No need for gory details; I just got back and it's too late for that. Besides, the ideas would flow in -- just as they did after September 11. (Even famous liberals were advocating such things as torture and public executions…..)

Furthermore, the Colosseum sits on only six acres of land. The World Trade Center complex is sixteen acres, so there'd be plenty of space for buildings larger and more grandiose than the Twin Towers. There's no reason why they couldn't also be done in the classical style.

Take a look at Ground Zero's neighbor, the very Classical New York Stock Exchange. Many have made a killing there:

Its headquarters today is this roman-like temple of finance by George B. Post which dates to 1903. The pediment has an interesting title: "Integrity Protecting the Works of Man."

Note: the correct name of the goddess for Integrity is Fides.

Or take a look at Grand Central Station. Again, a Classical theme, with Mercury, God of Travel, standing guard.

All the best things in New York are literally right out of the Classical mold. Even if the idea of Victory Games is too politically incorrect for the Powers that Be, a Classical design is not.

As it stands, though, that large gaping hole remains a blight. It's just crying out for revenge.

Fun and games are the best revenge.

posted by Eric at 09:00 AM

Some of these Ayatollahs

Some of these Ayatollahs are pretty lively characters....

Events keep confirming my pessimistic view that compromise with religious fundamentalists is utterly impossible. It would seem that on this point at least, the fundamentalists agree with me. I guess I should be thankful that we still have the First Amendment.

First, (from Instapundit) there's this none-too-magnanimous letter to Jonah Goldberg:

No clear-thinking person believes that the homosexual sexual ethic and that of the family-based society can peacefully coexist. The opposing presuppositions about sexuality, marriage, family and culture inherent in these world views are contradictory and mutually exclusive. One must prevail at the expense of the other.
Scott Lively, Founder, Abiding Truth Ministries. Director, AFA, California.

We can't "peacefully coexist?" "One must prevail at the expense of the other?" What does this language mean? Speaking that way -- in the name of any religion -- evokes very dark periods in history, as well as recent periods in the past:

"Death to compromisers!" -- Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

At least guys like Mr. Lively can't issue fatwas against those they deem heretical. What really gets me is what I blogged about yesterday -- the sneaky and underhanded way the radical fundamentalists, like the Communists whose tactics they share, try to hide their true agenda. They don't merely want to cure homosexuals; they want to imprison those who would refuse their "cure." But they keep hiding it, making it tougher and tougher for the public to catch on -- just as the above letter was printed in the hard copy of the Washington Times but never appeared on their web site.

This forces people to scurry around, combing through some very dreary web sites. I don't like it at all, as I have better things to do with my time.

Anyway, because Scott Lively seems to enjoy evasion and obfuscation, I feel obligated to share the fruits of my research with you.

Meet Scott Lively, the man. If he shuts that down, try this lively page.

His primary organization. (Lively launched Abiding Truth Ministries.) This is the same outfit I have been complaining about for constantly changing its web sites.

Really, it's like pulling teeth getting the truth out of these guys. They want to pose as quasi-medical "helpers" of homosexuals, when in reality they want to imprison them. As I said before, I don't think the goal here is to help homosexuals learn the fine arts of vaginal-penile intercourse.

Lively also argues that Hitler was gay, and he has been pestering Jewish organizations and the National Holocaust Museum to stop portraying homosexuals as Holocaust victims and instead tell the world that the Nazi movement was gay. (A fact which, if true, proves what? That we need to copy Nazi Germany's sodomy laws?)

What this means, of course, is that Mr. Lively is a Holocaust Revisionist. His claim that individual Nazis were homosexuals is about as enlightening as "proof" that some Nazis had Jewish ancestry -- or that some Jews helped carry out the Holocaust.

Interesting that Mr. Lively's book was endorsed by R. J. Rushdoony a man well-known for publicly demanding the death penalty for homosexuals, and (why should this surprise anyone?) for his Holocaust denial. Also (again, not surprisingly) Lively has written for Rushdoony's magazine, The Chalcedon Report.

Forgive me for getting carried away here. I know this blog is supposed to be about Classical Values, but I just get a little hot under the collar when a Holocaust denier accuses me of being part of the Holocaust.

Where was I? Oh yes, here are a couple of pieces of Lively advice:

help for Republicans

Sexual immorality caused Columbine killings. A fascinating rebuttal to the famous Michael Moore thesis that Columbine was caused by the guns themselves.

Has anyone ever heard of blaming the murderers?

I thought I was being a bit hard on the fundamentalists yesterday, because for the life of me I try to be fair and I dislike attacking anyone's sincere religious beliefs.

However, sodomy law advocacy goes too far. So does Holocaust denial.

So does threatening my right to peacefully exist.

posted by Eric at 09:16 PM | Comments (1)

Hypocrisy Means Admitting You Were

Hypocrisy Means Admitting You Were Wrong?

There are some very strange definitions of hypocrisy going around.

One of the more ridiculous assertions (see also this story) I've seen in the blogosphere is the notion that because Clarence Thomas might have benefited from affirmative action, he is somehow prohibited from ever being against it. The reason given is that he is a "hypocrite" if he benefited from affirmative action and now dares to oppose it.

This is logic?

Remember Jim Crow? I am glad the white folks who eventually came to see the error of their ways were not condemned as hypocrites, or else change would have been impossible.

How about George Wallace?

In 1982, he ran for governor a fourth time. In a watershed moment, he admitted that he had been wrong about "race" all along. He was elected by a coalition represented by blacks, organized labor and forces seeking to advance public education.

Under the logic being used against Clarence Thomas, George Wallace was a hypocrite to change his mind.

Once a bigot, always a bigot?

UPDATE: Be sure to read Don Watkins on the supremely hypocritical Maureen Dowd! A good fisking. Go Don!

posted by Eric at 03:09 PM

Your Taste is NOT

Your Taste is NOT your Business

Anyone who hasn't checked out the latest from my blogfather, Jeff (which I am sure most of you have, because he gave me my start) must read this.

A police officer was fired for smoking -- OFF the job, at a party -- and why? Because some sneak ratted him out, and the law mandated his dismissal. As Jeff says:

I couldn't sleep... And it's stories like this that keep me up at night; the loss of freedom in this country. Did you know that it is against the law for cops and firemen to smoke -- on or off the job -- in Massachusetts?

I've had many police officer friends over the years, and I'm glad I didn't read that before I went to bed last night, or I'd have had problems sleeping too.

Once again, this is an issue which will not go away. As Jeff asks, what's next? Food?

Remember, liberals are never content with just a little social-engineering. They never know when to stop. What's to prevent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from passing further regulations that say that a worker is forbidden from eating junk-food? Will they start testing for the presence of trans-fats and fire anyone who has "Twinkie-blood?"


Dietary laws have an important place in history, they are in the Bible, and people are free to follow them or not. But they are not the business of government in a free country.

Additional Note: by the way, attempts to stamp out smoking are nothing new. Why, they are almost medieval! Sir Walter Raleigh's smoking was a major factor in his execution by the ferociously anti-tobacco James I, and he has been called the first martyr for smokers. Punishments have included flogging, slitting of the lips, and execution. Boy oh boy! It all sounds familiar....

Isn't the Culture War lovely?

posted by Eric at 03:23 PM

Emergency Use Only --

Emergency Use Only -- No Bull!

More not-so-hidden agendas:

Instapundit links to this shocker, which typifies the ruling class mentality our founding fathers wanted this country to avoid. Tom Harkin saw no need to stand in the insufferably long lines he helped impose on the American people, so he flashed his special Apparatchik card, and cut ahead of the 200 ordinary Americans -- "proles" who had been waiting obediently in their long queue.

Tom Harkin, Populist!

"more worried about getting the job done for the people..."


Here's what I've been waiting for all these years. In California and in a growing number of cities, our rulers have constructed so called "environmental" highway lanes, called "High Occupancy Vehicle" or, simply, "HOV."

Anyone who has been sufficiently steeped in Newspeak to bow his head reverently whenever the Holy Environment is mentioned will not question the "need" for these lanes. Only a right wing wacko would maintain that because he pays taxes he has a right to drive on roads he paid for. (Obviously, such misguided thinking must be stamped out. But what really needs to be stamped out is knowledge of history.)

Too many of these right wing wackos recall that the busy Soviet Apparatchiks had their own special lanes. These were strictly "verboten" to ordinary citizens, but after all, their rulers were trying to help them. They were "more worried about getting the job done for the people."

Just like Senator Harkin?

Those who feel entitled to rule want Americans to hurry up and forget about the special Russian lanes. Meanwhile, they look at the "environmental" lanes they have created, and drool longingly.

After all, the police can already drive in them. So can any "emergency vehicles." (Well, once we declare a permanent State of "Red," doesn't that make all cars driven by our fearless leaders "emergency vehicles?")

Emergency vehicles (fire, ambulance, rescue), law enforcement vehicles, public utility vehicles are already exceptions. But after 9-11, shouldn't all government-related vehicles be considered emergency vehicles? (Some busybodies have lots of important meetings to attend -- and lots of emergency regulations to impose...)

Meanwhile, they are encouraging modern Pavlik Morozovs to rat on their fellow drivers.

What a cool number they have for the rat line. I think they've started a trend:

First Seattle:
(206) 764-HERO

And now Texas!

We can all be HEROs -- just like little Pavlik Morozov. One witty blogger thinks Pavlik was ahead of his time.

Gene Healy is right. Guys like Tom Harkin want to reduce our lives to a modern rat race of despair hoping we will lash out at each other instead of the real enemy.

Similarly, Spanish matadors fear the "smart bull." That's the occasional bull who realizes that the stupid red cape is not the real enemy.

It's the guy who's waving it!

posted by Eric at 10:36 AM | TrackBacks (1)

Cultural Freedom? Not Yet....

Cultural Freedom? Not Yet....

Is the Culture War really over?


That's what Jonah Goldberg is being urged not to do, by someone he respects "who toils in the trenches of the conservative movement." Mr. Goldberg (who has my sympathy for trying to be fair) cites the following email as a "common sentiment" among conservatives:

What they seek is not simply a comfortable life and social acceptance. They already have much of that. What they want is 100-percent complete acceptance. Many social conservatives in America believe there is a God and a Holy Spirit and a Bible that condemns homosexuality as an abomination, and they will not be defeated.

The problem is that no one outside a few ragtag religious-right groups is really fighting the tide you cite. Most conservatives do not. The GOP certainly does not. It is considered censorship to fight Hollywood, and religious discrimination to fight it in Washington. But the real "culture war" on this issue is person by person, endangered soul by endangered soul.

Don't be so pessimistic. The last great wave of gay activism was followed by the conservative takeover of 1994. A wave of gay-marriage activism in the United States could be yet another wave of political disaster for the Democratic Party. But it won't be if we wave white flags. Now is the not the time to go wobbly!

Don't go wobbly? What does that mean? No to gay marriage? Or yes to sodomy laws? Upholding the rights of teenage gay bashers to enforce "Traditional Values" by beating up sissies? Shunning homosexuals? Or shunning politicians who employ gay staffers? Or shunning all people who have gay friends? They will not say. I have seen such deceit before -- over on the left.

I don't like to believe in slippery slopes. But when people refuse to tell me what they are seeking, then how am I to know what it is?

How the hell do I know they don't share the agenda of the god they claim is so bigoted that he sent the 9-11 attacks to punish us? Many of them say they do. Take the time to read what which is preached routinely by the "few ragtag religious-right groups," and it becomes clear why they hesitate to tell you what they really think. (Similarly, Communist groups like the anti-war ANSWER do everything possible to conceal their real purpose.) Let me give a few examples -- "a few ragtag religious-right groups" -- of the sort cited in the above letter to Jonah Goldberg:


GOD HATES FAGS (too slick; they pull the cool sites after I notice 'em!)

HOMO FASCIST WATCH (Note that this and the linked HOMO FASCIST guys were both pulled from Abiding Truth since my post on the subject.)

While the above are all fun reading, my personal favorite is Reverend Ovadal, who, in addition to valiantly battling the homosexuals' famous "SODOMITE WAR MACHINE" (won't someone name a blog for that?) has now devoted himself to stopping nudity at a public beach. His website proudly features archived letters from angry beachgoers, called "More Malevolent Mutterings of a Perverted Elite."

Whose souls are endangered? Homos or nudists? Does that depend on whose interpretation of whose god prevails? Is that really up to those who claim to be God's warriors here on earth? They think so.

Is this the Culture War or is it a religious war? To the extent that it is a religious war, then the warriors lost before they started, because they're stuck with the First Amendment, and try as they might, they'll never be able to impose a particular interpretation of a particular book upon a free people. Seen this way, religious warriors in the United States are destined to be little more than permanently sore losers.

But the Culture War, in the pure sense, will never be over -- not as long as some human beings believe they have a right (indeed, a duty) to force others to comply with their beliefs. There are too many issues to fit into a single war, and the attack on homosexuality is only one of them.

I abhor people who attack lifestyles, because telling people how to live is the essence of tyranny.

I'll fight any and all lifestyle attacks, because they strike at human freedom. I don't care whether they come in the form of taxes on the Internet, gun control, drug laws or numerous other attempts to control people. Most of these ideas spring from twisted altruism, which rationalizes one of the most insidious forms of tyranny.

I speak of the modern idea that doing good unto others means interfering with their personal lives. As long as there exist busybodies with ideas about how others should be made to live, there will be a Culture War. The innumerable forms it takes are limited only by the imaginations of the cultural busybodies themselves.

That is the Culture War. On the one side are those who seek to control. On the other are those who wish to be free.

I don't think it's over.

posted by Eric at 06:58 PM

Marriage Fever or Marriage

Marriage Fever or Marriage Allergy?

"If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -- George S. Patton

Instapundit is trying to help a very worthy Canadian blogger, who soon may need to see a doctor. That blogger, Colby Cosh (someone I should have been reading long before), offers intriguing thoughts about gay marriage:

On one hand you have the judges, who have elevated the preservation of "dignity" to the highest legal principle of the land without coming within a parsec of defining it, and the gay and lesbian activists, whose blind worship of the state has them virtually falling over themselves to obtain marriage licenses the very hour Leviathan permits them to acquire one. We've got "dignity" now; I read it in the Globe and Mail. Poor sods, all they've done is relinquish whatever dignity they had to begin with. But on the other hand you have a pack of perspiring Christians (and Muslims and Sikhs) so befuddled about their own doctrine that they believe a change in civil marriage procedure somehow threatens the special status and nature of the marriage sacrament. I swear I'm just waiting for these people to call for a government ban on soda crackers because some consumers might accidentally conclude that they are ingesting the corpus Christi with their Campbell's tomato soup.

Cosh wants to get a note from his doctor so that he can sit this one out.

I guess I should be glad I don't live in Canada, where I read you can go to jail for criticizing people or even listening to Howard Stern.

In an earlier post I expressed misgivings about discussing gay marriage now that the Culture War is over. It is highly emotional, and I don't want to give ammo to anti-gay bigots, many of whom oppose gay marriage chiefly because they hate homosexuals.

I like Colby Cosh's idea about getting a note from my doctor.

First they pass laws saying you can get married so you can be "just like everybody else" but if you avoid that you can still get sued by the piece of trade you managed to con into a "relationship" and if you don't like that and you dump on the gay activists they can put you in jail for creating an oppressive climate?

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's an oppressive climate.

I think I'm allergic; I need a note from my doctor.

posted by Eric at 01:34 PM

Bring Back Gay Blackmail!

Bring Back Gay Blackmail!

I don't know why it didn't occur to me last night (maybe because no one has ever successfully blackmailed me), but with a start this morning I realized that I had forgotten about the blackmail angle of gay marriage.

I don't want to get into an extended discussion of the ethics of "outing" here -- because I think it's a lot of crap. (Nobody's goddamn business what you do except those who do it with you.)

However, extortion by means of legal process adds a whole new dimension to the analysis -- and it is something that Hollywood types would do well to keep in mind.

Scenario: big-shot closeted gay star of a leading daytime soap picks up hustler on Santa Monica Boulevard. Smelling money, the hustler decides to go to a lawyer with a trumped-up, bogus palimony story. Even though he has no case, the lawyer takes it anyway because of the certain publicity -- and because he knows that the star will pay off big time to hush it up. Blackmail is nothing new, but a new legal framework inviting it is another matter.

In fact, in the old days, a hustler threatening to expose his client would have been properly called a blackmailer, and could have been arrested for it. Today, he'd get his fifteen minutes of fame in the tabloids, and the payoff would be called "an undisclosed settlement."

This bit of old history is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are too many hungry lawyers as it is.

Why feed them?

posted by Eric at 01:25 PM

First Acrimony, Then Alimony?

Is the Culture War over already? Should I close down my blog and go party?

It might have something to do with his writing style (and it might be because I don't like seeing someone bashed because the bashers don't like his parents) but despite many disagreements with what he has said, I have always found something likeable about Jonah Goldberg. His amiability came through in his piece today, in which he urges conservatives to face simple reality, and gay activists to be magnanimous in victory.

With the war "over" I don't see much point in regurgitating what I wrote last year (before I began blogging in earnest) about gay marriage, but here's the gist:

Until now, consensual homosexuality has been one of the few remaining unregulated, private sanctuaries of bohemian life in America. I for one would like to keep it that way.

How could I -- a libertarian, someone who believes in maximizing human freedom -- possibly object to gay marriage? Wouldn't this simply allow homosexuals the same rights allowed everybody else?

First of all, from where derives the assumption that I want to be like everybody else? Rights are one thing, but is it really fair to see marriage as a "right?" It is an entire institution -- one which I have rejected for almost my entire life. Who the hell has the right to impose it on me with the threat of governmental coercion?

If you don't think there is governmental coercion involved in marriage, then I ask you, right now, to leave your house, get in your car, or walk -- down to the nearest post office. Look around the place, and somewhere on the wall you will see posters offering rewards for people known as "deadbeat dads." I am not defending them, because I think most of them are either con artists or abysmal failures in life, but how many of them do you think see marriage as a "right?"

What do you think alimony is? Community property? These are rights, but they are also onerous burdens, because they can mean having to give up large sums of money (perhaps half or more of what you own) or else GO TO JAIL.

Rights? The "right" to be jailed if I don't pay up to someone I no longer love? How is that a right? How is it a right to be placed by new laws in a position where I can be compelled to do something to which I never consented, under threat of imprisonment?

What if I do not want such a right? May I simply opt out? Suppose I take pity on an unwashed, down-on-his-luck, young homeless person who'd otherwise be engaged in prostitution or other ruinous pursuits, and I take him in. Suppose I have more money than he does -- a lot more. Suppose further that we work a deal: in exchange for food and rent he takes care of the place and helps out generally. Suppose a mutual sexual relationship occurs. Suppose further that both of us benefit, that he gets a job and improves his life, but that after about two or three years I get tired of his sullen, studied ignorance and ask him to leave. No one has been harmed or taken advantage of.

What would stop him from marching off in a rage to the nearest lawyer? In a state with legal gay marriage why couldn't he simply demand his "share" of so-called "community assets"? Moral conservatives can complain all they want about the immoral lifestyle and how it degrades the courts to be cluttering up their calendars with such litigation, but what about me? What "right" would I have gained? The way I see it, I would have lost, big time, and I would have government in my private life in ways never imaginable before.

I saw too much family law, and I know how evil the system can be. I also know how vindictive an angry ex can be. There is nothing pretty about two people breaking up, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Until now the difference was that homosexuals were simply two free men (or two free women) and if they wanted economic benefits they would have to actually do things such as creating trusts, drafting wills, entering into adoption agreements, signing powers of attorney, and the like. If they didn't want to do those things, then they should legally remain two strangers.

In a word, before gay marriage, they were free. This is a freedom which I do not want to surrender, certainly not because a large and vocal group of people are demanding something they think is a "right."

If you think I am engaging in even the slightest hyperbole, then read this.

Lawyers in New Jersey are already waiting in the wings.

As it stands today, homosexuality does not threaten anyone's freedom in those states without sodomy laws.

But taking away rights -- even if done in the name of giving rights -- does.

Some might ask, how can there be rights without responsibilities? It is one thing to impose a responsibility on those who seek it deliberately, and enter into formal arrangements. It is quite another to create a new cause of action which is a trap for the unwary. To me, it smacks of a totalitarian foot in the door.

One of the arguments often heard in favor of alimony is that it compensates a woman for having given a man "the best years of her life." She being "devalued" as a result of this, it is only fair for him to pay her. This does not apply to gay couples. I remember well breaking up with an ex, who made precisely that argument -- that he had given up his best years. Well, what did that make my years? My worst years? He said that I would never have finished law school without him; I said that I finished law school in spite of him.

Granted, this was all terrible bitchiness, and much was said on both sides which was hateful, although later forgiven and forgotten. But had it been possible to state a legal cause of action, there'd have been hell to pay. Why? Simply because I was making more money? What is fair about that, unless the idea is to impose socialism? Many of the advocates of gay marriage also fight for socialism -- so many, that I am confident that were someone to propose a model gay marriage statute minus the alimony provisions, they would scream, howl (and blame objections to alimony on "internalized homophobia"). Doubtless they would come up with some argument that the "less advantaged" partner was being denied his "rights." I don't get it. If there is freedom, we all have the same advantages under the law, and anything more should never be imposed by force, but only by mutual consent.

But then, I am no socialist. Gay marriage shows every sign of being another step towards creeping socialism.

Glenn Reynolds linked to this story warning about the pitfalls of nanny state involvement with marriage:

...activists on the left and right still want to invite the state deeper into our relationships. They’re both wrong. It’s time to get the state out of our relationships.

I have nothing against consensus, mind you. But when I see activists on the left and right agreeing on the need for more regulation, I become wary. As the gay activists bask in victory, instead of thinking about what rights they are getting, I wish some of them would ask themselves what they might be losing in the process.

I don't want the state in my relationships.

I don't want to visualize gay alimony.

There but for the grace of the gods went I -- and it wasn't a pretty picture.

posted by Eric at 12:07 AM

I, CLONIUS, promise to

I, CLONIUS, promise to love, honor and obey -- me!

Hey if the war for gay marriage is over can I be a mother AND a father? I wanna be a mom and a dad, God damn it! I found a link to this story about how they can make an egg from a man's semen, and then fertilize it with semen from the other man. I want to be the other man and the best man! The father of the groom and the mother of the bride!

How about if I have them make the egg from my sperm, then fertilize it with own semen? That would be really cool 'cause then I can be both the mom and the dad!

How many people can do that? I know, I know, it's bound to catch on as an idea, but can't I be the first?

I will hear no condemnation of auto incest because it's MY business; I am only doing it to -- ME!

Hey, why can't I improve on myself? My own superline! The ME generation! I will raise ME myself!

I am me! Why can't I be more of me?

Deep, super inbreeding -- in me! My purest essence! More pure and more essential than I am myself! There can be no purer blood imaginable!

ME times ME equals ME squared!

Of Caesar it was said with much fondness by his soldiers, that he was "every woman's husband, and every man's wife!"

How jealous of ME would Caesar be! He never could be his own husband and his own wife at the same time!

posted by Eric at 11:21 PM

Children are adults because

Children are adults because guns kill adults who are children, so let's take away all guns including toys!

Deliberately misleading statistics fascinate me. And now that I am blogging, I can share my concerns about them publicly.

A newspaper headline in today's Philadelphia Inquirer reads, "Murders of the young in Phila. are more likely to be with guns -- A study found that 90 percent of slayings of people ages 7 to 24 are done with firearms." The article goes on to say that "according to a roundup of statistics on city children released yesterday by Philadelphia Safe and Sound, a group funded with nonprofit, corporate and city money" (that's taxpayer's money, folks!), "of the 110 victims between the ages of 7 and 24 last year, 90 percent were killed by guns."

Well, OK.... What that means is that 99 people between 7 and 24 were shot to death in Philadelphia. 11 were murdered by other means. The implication, obviously, is that if there were no guns, 99 "children" would be alive.

The word "children" is key to understanding what is going on. The word "children" is used ten times in the article, while the ill-defined weasel words "young" and "youth" are seldom used ("youth is used three times; "young" is used only in the headline and the first sentence.) You don't suppose someone might be planting suggestive ideas, do you?

Most ordinary citizens, I fear, read their local newspaper uncritically, and are likely to conclude that children are killing each other by leaps and bounds. I doubt very many of them think about what these statistics mean, and I would wager that even fewer would take the time to track them down. That's why I decided to do this -- just this once. I admire my blogdaddy Jeff for going after Yahoo the way he does, and well, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't make a stab at doing my small part, especially because this appeared here in my local newspaper.

The "statistics" come from Philadelphia Safe and Sound, which has a web page where I found the following statement:

Guns and youth homicide in Philadelphia are closely linked. Between 1995 and 1999, more than 85 percent of all homicide victims ages 7 to 24 were killed by guns. Within the broader community efforts to combat crime and violence, intervention must be targeted and focused on youth-related crime. For example, increased efforts to reduce the number of guns available to youth would cut the number of juvenile homicides.

Guns are thus presented as the "cause" of homicide, and no supporting data are offered to explain why "increased efforts to reduce the number of guns" would lead to fewer homicides. (Did such efforts work in Washington DC and New York -- where all firearms are prohibited?)

What about the word "children"? I was amazed and delighted to find that the web page actually displays a graph, because it indicts the bogus message that "children" are being killed in large numbers. No breakdown is given in the newspaper, of course, but here is the telltale graph -- lifted directly from the taxpayer-funded web site (where I hope they leave it):

As you can see, the numbers have gone down slightly over the years; 110 total this year (versus 114 in 1999), which means these numbers (particularly the proportions of 7-17 versus 18-24) are all comparable. But as to the "children"....

The last time I looked at the law, people aged 18 to 24 are adults. Not only are they adults, but this age group is considered to be at the peak age for commission of adult crimes. As anyone can see, those in the 7-17 category are only a small percentage of the total. The rest -- almost 90% of the total -- are simply, adults.


(Do I need to explain the logic of my last statement? No wonder I have such a terrible time with definitions....)

Self apparent though it is to any reasonable person that adults are not children, the message my newspaper presents, masquerading as news, is this: Adults in the peak crime-committing age group are actually "children."

This is what mainstream journalists spend huge amounts of time trying to do; tricking ordinary people into thinking that adults are children. I guess if you read such Orwellian Newspeak long enough to start believing it, you might actually become a sort of child. Maybe that's the goal here.

(Any wonder people feel compelled to blog? Hmmph! Back to the "news....")

Precisely what would this fine paper have its readers to do about this explosion in "child" killings?

One very civic-minded lady named Shelly Yanoff has the answer:

"Adults have got to determine to make this city safer for kids, and one way to do that is to get the guns off the streets and out of our homes," said Shelly Yanoff, executive director of another nonprofit, Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth, who attended a news conference on the report at Julia de Burgos Elementary School yesterday.

Doesn't this woman have anything better to do than interfere with my life? I must assume for the sake of argument that when she uses the term "adults" she does not mean the adults aged 18 to 24 who murder each other, because adult murderers are not interested in getting their guns off the streets and out of their homes. So, she must be referring to ordinary adults. People who don't use their guns to murder others. People like me.

Is Ms. Yanoff actually saying that the "kids" will be "safer" if someone takes my gun away from me? The only children I can think of who might be made safer by that are the small minority of criminally inclined "kids" who might break into my house. If I am disarmed, and therefore helpless in the face of home invasion, through her twisted logic does that make young criminals safer? It would not make law abiding children safer, because I would not shoot law abiding children.

Does Ms. Yanoff want the world made safer for "child" criminals to kill and rob people? That would be bad enough, but when we look at the 18-24 statistics....


Might she want to make the world safer for adult criminals too?

How about making the world a safer place by outlawing even toy guns? Can you believe this insanity? Like Communism, gun control has not worked, but instead of admitting it, they want to extend it.

If you ask me, I think we'd all be safer if children were taught how to shoot safely, properly, and responsibly.

Bring back the high school rifle range! Fewer "children" (whether the adult criminal variety of "child" or real children) got killed in those days.

Curiously, these statistics provide little information about the victims of shootings (especially those who might have been law-abiding as opposed to gang-banger killings). Aren't the law-abiding ones deserving of protection?

Why not offer real protection to the genuinely law-abiding instead of more lame attempts to punish the many innocent for the crimes of a few?

posted by Eric at 12:09 AM

I am truly honored

I am truly honored to discover that two more fine bloggers have linked to me.

Roger L. Simon

is a successful and distinguished author and quite an inspiring guy. I am really flattered that he likes my blog and has linked to me. An award-winning mystery writer, he has a number of famous novels in print, as well as an excellent blog. Read it!

And check out his new book while you're at it. I just ordered a copy, and I can't wait to read it.

The fascinating story of the creation of "hippie private eye Moses Wine," which turned the author's life around, is right there at his blogsite. A "happy accident" (as if hard work and talent are accidental) became a famous book (translated into a dozen languages) and was made into a hit film -- "The Big Fix" -- starring Richard Dreyfus.

That a guy of this caliber would link to me is just too cool for words.


Mike Silverman

is one of the very first blogs I discovered. He so inspired me that one of the first things I did as a blogger was to imitate him shamelessly.

Read Mike's post today about screwball "gay activists" engaged in anti-Israel bigotry. This same outfit (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) refuses to condemn Islamic bigots who kill homosexuals, and they spend most of their time hassling ordinary people whose only crime is to have a cup of coffee at Starbucks. They get a well-deserved fisking.

Also today, Mike links to a fascinating morality test. I took it, and was not surprised to see how low I rank on the morality scale. Too permissive… But then, I never had to raise kids, so I can't be too judgmental about the people out there who are not permissive. (I just don't like the idea of turning the nation into a giant kindergarten.)

Mike Silverman is one of the best in the business, and I am honored for the link.

posted by Eric at 12:36 AM

Homos and Bigots Unite!

Homos and Bigots Unite!

John Derbyshire is not someone I particularly agree with, but he is right to sound the alarm about this:

69-year-old Harry Hammond, arrested last year in England and fined over $1,000 for holding up a placard that said: STOP IMMORALITY. STOP HOMOSEXUALITY. STOP LESBIANISM

I think it's a pretty sorry state of affairs when the government arrests people for voicing opinions, no matter how obnoxious those opinions may be.

This is the crime of which this poor old man was convicted:

....display any writing, sign or other visible representation that is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm and distress thereby.

Hey, man, there goes my month-old blog! In England I am already a criminal. Anyone who opens my blog and sees the "homofascist" posting the other day might very well feel harassed, alarmed, or distressed. Brent Bozell and Bill O'Reilly might also feel the same way about blogs attacking them. As I said yesterday, "You have a constitutional right to be sickened by anything and everything which sickens you. Just don't get mad at me for not puking."

In a free country, we have the following social compact: you promise not to arrest me for making you sick, and in return, I promise not to arrest you for getting sick. What is wrong with that?

Does anyone think criminalization of offensive speech can't happen here? Do you think those who are "offended" could care less whether I am serious or engaging in satire?

What if I get mad and ask, really loudly "Just who are these homofascists, anyway?"

Arrest me! Please! My blog needs the publicity!

posted by Eric at 12:08 AM

Monotheistic Polytheism or Polytheistic

Monotheistic Polytheism or Polytheistic Monotheism?

That master of understatement, Glenn Reynolds, outdid himself here.

I stumbled -- deeply -- upon the best discussion of Classical Values of any blog, anywhere, at Donald Sensing's great blog.

"A bunch of good stuff," said the Instapundit.


(Hey, am I allowed to say "Indeed" when I'm this happy about something? Really, this gem of a post positively drips with scholastic brilliance, and it is so delightful to read that it really doesn't matter whether you agree entirely with the central thesis. That's as things should be.)

posted by Eric at 11:43 PM | Comments (2)

Hanoi, Riyadh: Different Strokes

Hanoi, Riyadh: Different Strokes for Different Folks?

After thinking over the last blog, I have one additional thought about Bill O'Reilly.

O'Reilly's behavior in the Roush matter reminds me of Jane Fonda's infamous duplicity towards American POWs during her wartime propaganda tour of North Vietnam.

Is this a fair comparison? Jane Fonda took at face value statements by POWs that their treatment by North Vietnamese captors was "humane and lenient" -- even though she should have known they'd been brainwashed and tortured.

She will never live it down, no matter what she does.

But unlike Bill O'Reilly, Jane Fonda was not a prominent journalist. She therefore did not have to answer to the higher standard we expect from journalists.

I guess maybe the comparison isn't quite as fair as I thought it was.

posted by Eric at 12:03 PM

White Slaver? We Blog;

White Slaver? We Blog; You Decide!

As Instapundit makes abundantly clear, every blogger worth his salarium (Latin for "salt" -- the salary of classical days) is tearing Bill O'Reilly a new one because of his attacks on the Internet. Instapundit Lileks Volokh Matt Welch, ad infinitum. O'Reilly has taken on the entire blogosphere.

As a lowly little fish, I can't do much more than echo their criticism, and altruistically offer up one more tidbit.

I think I know the real reason O'Reilly hates the Internet: his journalism is so bad that he knows that sooner or later, the bloggers will have at his carcass. The guy has much to hide, and this is not my accusation. I'll just play the parrot fish.

A woman named Pat Roush made the mistake of marrying a Saudi who kidnapped her daughters, taking them back to Saudi Arabia. Imagining that O'Reilly would be on her side, Ms. Roush enlisted his help. According to the Wall Street Journal's Jack McGurn, instead of helping this desperate woman, O'Reilly stage-managed a classic back-stab:

- Stabbing an American mother in the back. Mr. O'Reilly admits he did not tell Pat Roush that her daughters--and her granddaughter--were in London. He arranged that secretly with Saudis. He further admits that he did this because he knew the Saudis would not go for a deal that included the mother.

- Dria Davis. All Mr. O'Reilly seemed to know about her was that she was an American girl who escaped from Saudi Arabia. More pertinent, though, was that she too had been interviewed by a State Department representative who concluded that her father "is clearly fond of his daughter"; this at a time, as we know now, when her father was threatening to kill her. "If he [O'Reilly] had just shut up for a moment and listened," Miss Davis told me, "he would have known why Pat's daughters could not be speaking freely."

- Colluded with the Saudis. Mr. O'Reilly originally proposed to Rep. Dan Burton (R., Ind.) that the delegation meet the Roush sisters inside Saudi Arabia before a Fox camera; the Burton people responded that such a meeting was unwise. Burton staffers say they were stunned to learn, upon their arrival in Riyadh, that the Saudis had spirited Ms. Roush's daughters out of the country on the precise day the delegation was there to press demands the women be brought to America.

Mr. O'Reilly admits that he set the whole thing up with Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudis' point man. As he said, "We convinced the Saudis to fly the women, now ages 19 and 24, to London, where our producer interviewed them." In other words, the deal was: The Saudis supplied the women, he supplied the interview.

In a statement issued on his return, Rep. Burton scored the Saudis for their "bad faith" in removing the Roush sisters out of the country, saying, "It is clear that they [the Saudis] purposefully were involved in an effort to undermine" his visit. If we are to believe Mr. O'Reilly's own words, it all happened at his instigation. My contention is not that Mr. O'Reilly deliberately set out to do Mr. al-Jubeir's dirty work. The point--as I stated on the show--is that Mr. al-Jubeir and Co. were looking for a sucker and they found him.

While O'Reilly denies complicity with the Saudis, there's a contradiction which bothers me.

On the one hand, O'Reilly besmirches the girls for making statements in favor of Osama bin Laden:

That sealed it. If two American citizens are that far gone -- for whatever reason -- there is little anyone can do.

Like Pontius Pilate, O'Reilly now can wash his hands of the whole affair while the crowd he preaches to roars in approval. Those dreadful girls deserve whatever flogging they get from their Saudi captors -- just for being bad Americans.

Except he doesn't end it there. Next, O'Reilly admits they were brainwashed:

...the hard truth is that human beings can be brainwashed, especially when they are kidnapped as young children. Both Alia and Aisha are married to Saudis, and Aisha has a baby. They are not going to fight for their freedom. They are going to stay where they are.

Wasn't that the mother's whole point? That her daughters had been kidnapped and brainwashed? I think she even wrote a book about it.

How about slaves? Can't they also be so brainwashed that they identify with their captors? Wouldn't it be better to just recognize the "hard truth" that they are not going to fight for their freedom, and that they are just going to stay where they are?

Freedom? I guess that depends on whether Bill O'Reilly likes what you say.

posted by Eric at 01:28 AM

Get the Jews Homos

Get the Jews Homos Out of Our Theaters Sewers!

Andrew Sullivan is annoyed by Brent Bozell's amazing discovery that the theater industry is full of (gulp!) homos. This, Bozell claims, makes the theater a "sewer" (presumably from its infestation with the slimy, icky homos -- or as the great William S. Burroughs used to say, "faggot slime oozing osmosis.")

Bozell's startling findings remind me of the way it dawned on some highly perceptive folks back in the 1960s that professional wrestling is "fixed!"

Whoa! You're kidding! No way!!

"Next you'll be telling me Liberace was gay!" "Or my wife's hairdresser!"

These are times that try real men's souls.

Now, I could see Mr. Bozell's point if theater attendance were drying up because the public was turned off by grotesque sodomitic performances. After all, they need to sell tickets, and if they don't, well, they'll all be out of business. But the last time I looked, you had to book theater tickets in New York months in advance (I think it was a year in advance for "The Producers" -- doubtless a gay theme because it involves the very gay Adolf Hitler). So, if tickets are selling, I am not quite sure what Bozell's point is exactly.

I did read once about affirmative action for basketball teams. Apparently, if the teams don't include a smattering of white players, white people just won't buy tickets. Perhaps the homos who run the entire theatrical industry should mull over the Bozell complaint, and treat it as a plea for a little affirmative action. (That way, heterosexual actors won't have to pass themselves off as gay in order to get work.)

Hey, I thought the Jews were supposed to be running these things! What happened, did they sell the theater industry out to the homos, or did the homos just sneak in and take it over?

As I have said before, if homos make you sick, then by all means, go get sick! You have a constitutional right to be sickened by anything and everything which sickens you. Just don't get mad at me for not puking. (In fact, excuse me while I don't puke!)

I have to admit, I have never watched the Tony Awards in my life. (You know, too boring! Too many "theater types.") But I sure am glad Bozell's watching, because somebody has to tell us what's going on.


Next Bozell will claim that he really wasn't demanding the theater industry be purged of homos per se; he just wants to push them back into the closet.

I agree! These awful homo show people should be forced to go straight back into the closet -- right now!

And furthermore, they must do so publicly!

posted by Eric at 07:23 PM

Persian Classical Values --

Persian Classical Values -- Coming Soon?

Don Watkins makes the following very prescient observation:

There's no telling how this particular protest will end, but one thing's for sure: it's only a matter of time before Iran's theocracy tumbles, and when it does, mark my words -- the new Iran will mark the beginning of the end for the remaining Middle East tyrannies. It's not an overstatement to say that we are witnessing the most important event since the American Revolution.

Don is right, of course (as are innumerable bloggers who support Iran) and his analyses of the Iranian situation (and the Mideast) are first rate.

People forget that unlike most of the Middle East, Iran is steeped in its own Classical Values. The Persian Empire was a contemporary and a competitor with both Greece and Rome for hundreds of years.

Iran is Persia, for God's sake! Persia is proud! Persia will not be kept down by medieval mullahs spouting psychotic gibberish. Persia has a long history of culture, civilization and religious tolerance. Not only did monotheism and polytheism lived side by side for centuries during Zoroastrian times, but later Shiite rulers (such as Shah Abbas) were quite tolerant of Christians who practiced their religion openly, building churches and missions.

The Bahai faith (which is to Shiite Islam as Unitarianism is to Puritan Christianity) was born there, during the rebellion which led to the martyrdom -- on July 9, 1850 -- of the Bab. During the Babi rebellion, religious pluralism was declared. The Koran was abrogated. Women were liberated. Veils were removed.

The significance of these events cannot be understated. As Karen Armstrong says in The Battle for God:

The Babi rebellion can be seen as one of the great revolutions of modernity. It set a pattern in Iran.
July 9 was a very BIG DAY in Persian history.

It promises to be a big one this year too. It is the day Iranian dissidents have called for their general strike.

Let's not let our Iranian friends down.

In the middle of this thought, I came across a tantalizing NEWS FLASHBACK from last year!

A truly excellent discussion of Classical Values occurred not on my blog, but on Instapundit, almost a whole year ago! Wish I'd seen it; what the heck was I doing? I should have been blogging, but I am delighted as hell to see it now.

Anyway, here's the one-and-only Reynolds on Ares versus Athena as alternative role models for the United States:

In Stephenson's characterization of Ares as representing war in terms of mindless destruction and the practice of glorying in that destruction (with additional measures of macho posturing and egotism blended with ineptitude thrown in) it's easy to see why someone would be against it. And if you think that the Ares version is the sum total of what war's all about, then it's easy to reject any claim that war might be called for, and to brand people who think it's time to resort to war as, well, Ares-like. Which seems to me to be the essence of the antiwar position among many of the techbloggers.

But, of course, there's more to it than that. (And, if you look at the other side in this war, it's pretty easy to see who's glorying in mindless destruction and engaging in macho posturing.) As Stephenson points out, there's another archetype of war -- one that is defensive, and that is based on cunning and technology. (And it's pretty easy to see which side fits the Athenean archetype, too).

Hey! I'm getting tired! Can Reynolds take over this blog for me? He's cooler than I am anyway, and would make far more people pay attention to the importance of Classical Values. He was, of course, very quick to spot the foolishness of Ares (the mindless destroyer in classical Greek mythology) as an appropriate role model for the United States. The Greeks did not like Ares (god of dumb wars) all that much, which made Athena (goddess of smart wars) the better choice.

If you have to choose between those two, at least as presented in Greek mythology, Athena beats Ares.

The Romans didn't go for the Greek version, however. They made Mars one of the most worshiped and revered gods, the father of Romulus and Remus, and the Conservator of Rome. Even Constantine the Great, though a Christian, put Mars on the back of his coins. (Hedging his bets, perhaps? Mars stayed on the coins until well after his conversion too.) The gods were more than a religion; they were a philosophy of life.

The Romans revised and reinvented their gods as needed, which makes sense.

Looks like the Iranians are getting ready to do the same thing.

Nothing new about that.

(And not all new ideas are good -- especially the idea of some of them crazy folks that everything you need to know about everything is written down in a single book.)

posted by Eric at 12:45 AM | Comments (2)

Corrections -- Old, New,

Corrections -- Old, New, and Undeleted

I received an email from Craig Ceely with the following "Corrections and Updates." (I should pay more attention to detail, and I am delighted to have another blogger helping me out, so THANK YOU CRAIG!).

Craig writes as follows:

1) The Soviet Union 28 years ago thing is for Eugene and Sasha Volokh--THEY left the USSR 28 years ago yesterday. My parents brought me to America 43 years ago--from New York, where I was born.

2) On the altruism/fish thing--Ayn Rand died in 1982, not the late 1970s.

3) I blogged you again yesterday, adding more to the crucifixion discussion--for which, again, thanks for the initial idea, as well as for leaving comments on my blog.



Corrections noted! I do appreciate them, too. Otherwise, how would I know when I'm wrong?

Craig is from New York, not the USSR. ("Don't know how lucky you are....")

I am particularly grateful for the additional information about Ayn Rand, and I am as intrigued as ever by the natural altruism issue.

This bibliography is a good starting point in determining what, if anything, Ayn Rand might have known about animal altruism, and when she might have found out about it. Behavioral research has been going on for some time, but the data on genetic altruism is quite recent, and ongoing in nature. Solid evidence of natural altruism had simply not appeared in irrefutable form in Ayn Rand's day, so it is difficult to speculate about what she might have thought. First of all, the scientific complexities of behavioral genetics were simply not within her area of expertise. Second, her refusal to believe that cigarettes caused cancer -- even when faced with by-then overwhelming scientific data -- evinces a strong contrarian streak. Being a contrarian myself, I love people who think that way, but I think it might have made her quite resistant to newly discovered evidence (even assuming that it existed at the time and was made available to her).

Still, I have long loved Ayn Rand, and I would rather give her the benefit of not knowing these things than shrilly insist that she refused to take into account scientific facts.

But no matter how I look at it, the fact of altruism's natural occurrence in everything from insects all the way up to man militates against the conclusion that altruism is either man-made, or a bad thing per se. My objection to what passes for altruism is that much of it is not altruism, and much more is imposed against a person's natural will -- either by the threat of force (commissars, taxing authorities, and the like), or by manipulating the fear of death (threats of eternal punishments, damnation of the soul, offers of sainthood, etc.).

I appreciated the email from Craig, and I welcome ideas or criticism. As I said before, I am not nearly as well versed in Objectivism as I would like to be, and I would enjoy hearing more about it.

So much for corrections. But what about the larger issue of blog correction in general? (i.e., who polices the police of the police?) It strikes me that this goes to the heart of the difference between blog publishing and the publishing of books or other printed materials. Blogging is always a work in progress, and if you spent too much time worrying about perfect, finished, fact-checked copy, things would take far longer, and you would not have a daily blog. Therefore, corrections must sometimes be made later. The fact that I did not know when Ayn Rand died, and thought it was in the mid 1970s, was good enough for my purposes (my argument being the same even though she died in 1982), but such a guess would never fly with a magazine article or a book. But even now, my correction is based on Craig's word; I assume he is right and I see no need to research the issue any further. Were this to appear in real print, that date would have to be checked, and maybe rechecked.

Still, what about Richard Goldstein's argument that blogging is unreliable because bloggers can simply erase anything they have written? Does he have a point?

Let's examine Goldstein's criticism of blogging (remember, he's Editor of the Village Voice):

This new form of online discourse allows anyone to be a pundit by linking to another piece and then dissecting it. What's more, bloggers can manage their own archives, making it possible for them to say the most outrageous things and then hit the delete key when the objections roll in. Unless you've downloaded the original blog, you can't prove it ever existed. It's gone to that great cookie in the sky.
Is that really so? I would think that any blogger who operated this way would soon gain a reputation as dishonest, and would not last long. I have the right to say things that people might very well consider outrageous, but (fortunately) unless I am engaging in slander or plagiarism, there is not much they can do about it. While I see no problem in correcting links or ordinary typographical or grammatical errors, I would not in good conscience say something and then delete it "when the objections roll in." Anyone who would do that would be without integrity, and worthless as a blogger.

Blogging has no enforceable rules, but I think there is nonetheless a very powerful, self-enforcing honor system. This is as roughly analogous to ebay, where there are few rules, but if you start to accumulate negative feedback, people will shy away from you. Blogging "feedback" is also built on trust, taking the form of links and comments; if you are a dishonest jerk or the type of person who says outrageous things and then deletes them, well, you'll end up with no takers. What I deeply admire about bloggers (I have already seen this quite often) is that many of them link to bloggers with whom they disagree wholeheartedly. Disagreement will not generally earn you a "negative."

I have no idea how to rank myself as a blogger, and because there really isn't an official blogger rating system I can point to (I rank pretty low -- at the "fish" level -- here), I can only remind everyone that I am new to blogging and extremely grateful for the links I have gotten so far, as well as the comments in discussions and emails.

But there is one "official" rating (of sorts) in my favor: I am not new to ebay. Here is my rating. Check me out. No negatives. (Nothing for sale right now, by the way -- unless you are looking for something I just listed as a joke.)

Nor am I new to sounding off on controversial and emotional issues, especially on issues that guys like Goldstein would consider "outrageous." I am a member of the NRA and the ACLU, a pagan Christian Buddhist libertarian Democrat Republican pit-bull breeding Deadhead SCUBA-diving, Ham-radio operating, licensed attorney who hates most lawyers and most litigation. Former nightclub owner, clean and sober for almost seven years (but UGH! how I hate using labels like that to describe myself). For nine years I tried to expose a historical fraud called "Watergate," and reverse what I perceive to be an injustice. For all those years I was almost completely ignored. While this involved Classical Values only in the general sense (and is not the subject of this blogsite), the experience was a major reason I started blogging. And, considering the magnitude of what was successfully covered up in a bipartisan manner, I will always be skeptical of "established history" -- even ancient history. If there is one thing I learned in nine years of trying, it is that you are a fool if you think you can correct history by writing letters.

And if you can't correct history by writing letters, you damned sure aren't going to end the Culture War or restore Classical Values that way either. If I reach only a half a dozen people by blogging, that is better than writing thousands of letters to people who will not listen, because the people I reach this way are neither passive members of the public, nor are they the people I am complaining about. They are bloggers. A few hundred of them made the New York Times come to terms with reality. Had these same few hundred people simply written letters, Howell Raines would still be there, cranking out whatever he deemed fit to print without any accountability. Jayson Blair might still be there, making up stories to his heart's content.

Some journalists say the most outrageous things! (And then they think they can hit the delete key when the objections roll in....)

Journalists don't want to hear about it when they're wrong.

Bloggers do.

posted by Eric at 08:20 PM

The Great Big Penis

The Great Big Penis Debate, Enlarged…

Crucify Jello? Hello?

I guess like many new ideas, my proposal to crucify spammers is already encountering resistance. I may be on "shaky" ground here, so let me be more specific.

"Pinning down a spammer is like trying to nail down Jell-O."
Point well taken. I may have to rethink this gooey business. Anyway, so says Robert Bulmash, president of the privacy rights group Private Citizen. Bulmash is skeptical that Senator Schumer's do-not-spam list would be as effective as anti-telemarketing registries.

So am I.

The hard core professional spammers, who use spoofed email address headers, hidden originating information (sent from computers that are not their own, and which point to websites that disappear a few days after a mass mailing), would only see the Schumer "Do Not Spam" list as a gold mine of email addresses for more -- guess what? spamming.

Putting your name on Schumer's new federal database would be the equivalent of answering a spammer by clicking on "Remove" (which only tells them you are alive and exist).

Gee, I hope Schumer isn't one of those guys who want to regulate what they cannot understand.

Wired also discussed foreign spam, especially concerns that if the FTC is given the broad new powers they seek to regulate foreign ISPs, foreign governments would have reciprocity to regulate American sites. (Something to be kept in mind, particularly in light of what happened to yahoo and ebay.)

But what about stuff like this? Is flying a plane (gratuitously offering a religious "cure" for homosexuality) over a gigantic homosexual festival a form of spam? By its nature, spam consists of unsolicited advertising; while the people who want to fly the planes over Walt Disney World claim to be operating for entirely altruistic reasons:

- It is the duty of individual Christians and Christ's Church to corporately bring the gospel to homosexuals and to speak out against the acceptance of sin in the culture.
- Efforts to convince society that homosexual behavior is normal should be opposed for fear of the judgment of God on individual homosexuals, society at large, and on the nation.

Here we go again. Altruism. Is it really that? Or is it the more insidious, more malevolent disguised form?

Is altruism-based spam less offensive than the commercial variety? Are well-meaning instructions "from God" on how to properly use your penis less offensive than commercial advertisements offering to enlarge it?

I try to be tolerant and understanding. I really do. As I said before, I also believe that there is just as much right to leave a lifestyle as there is to enter it. But I think that if you are bombarded with unwanted messages, you have a right to at least disagree with the "messenger." If they want to fly their plane over Disney World, then others should have similar rights. Commercial spammer A tells me to grow a larger penis. "Altruist" spammer B then wants to inundate me with his god's instructions on how to use it. Spammer B wants to do this based on religious freedom. Well, why can't spammer C proclaim the right to penis worship? (An old idea, revived here for the Great Big Penis Debate.)

As I want to be fair to both sides of the Penis debate, out of respect for tolerance and to increase my understanding I checked out the web site of those who want to tell me how to use my penis. The particular "altruists" who proclaim their right to lure-and-cure the homo tourists by means of aerial overflights, proudly link to this leading "Pro-Family News" site, displaying a prominent a get-tough editorial by a guy who's righteously in favor of sodomy laws:

We cannot successfully contend with the lawless by abandoning God's law ourselves.
In the main, the defense against the sodomite war machine has been built upon a flawed foundation, and it would appear we may soon be able to say "the ruin of that house was great." But should that happen, it will do no good to point fingers at each other; rather survival of our liberties and all hope of pushing back the black night of sexual anarchy which is fast descending dictates that we clear away the rubble of that failed structure which the sodomites so predictably destroyed in their thirty-year offensive. We must get back down to the foundation which caused the collapse and build a new one based on true law and plain truth.

Reverend Ovadal -- who thinks Jefferson's reference to Natural Law in the Declaration of Independence requires criminalization of sodomy in "this nation and every state in this nation" -- keeps a sharp eye on homo fascists:

Wow, that's cool! Did the image make it? (If you don't see it, just click on the rectangular shape above. I promise, you'll like it!)

"Homo fascist." Is that a new label? Let's see. Is it worse than worse than a "homocon"?

This Ovadal guy is almost as good as Richard Goldstein, who cooked up the term "Homocon" to insult non conforming gays like Andrew Sullivan and Camille Paglia.

The bloggers, however, won't let such con artists get away with it. This post makes for some very entertaining reading on the subject. An exceptionally gifted blogger tore Goldstein a new one (and the fact that the exalted Goldstein hates blogging makes it even funnier).

Time out -- for a plug, right here, right now: Read AgendaBender! Not only is he one of the most gifted writers in the blogosphere, but he has been kind enough to link to me. I've lived a long time, but I have never seen anyone with such exceptional talent at tearing someone a new one, or "Fisking" or whatever you want to call it. If you find a blogger who does a better job of new-one-tearings, please let me know.

I am falling behind in my work. I thought this was supposed to be about spam. I'm afraid this has now gone beyond the crucifixion of Jello, and touches upon a central problem with altruism: the misdirected form of it. I spoke of my personal experiences with Cichlid fish earlier, and in another post I cited the work of Pinker and other naturalists demonstrating the omnipresence of altruism in the animal kingdom.

Did Ayn Rand know about these studies? It is doubtful that she did, because she died in the mid 1970s before this newer research into animal altruism. I wonder what she would have thought had she seen clear evidence about the biological origins of altruism. I have reached the conclusion that fighting altruism is about as productive as fighting violence, or gravity. What does make sense, however, is to separate altruism from the fear of death, because the two were grafted together improperly. This, I think, might be what Ayn Rand would conclude were she alive today. She correctly spotted the connection which man had established between altruism and death, but incorrectly blamed altruism (as natural a phenomenon as death) for that connection.

It is also a mistake, in my view, to blame "altruism" for such antics as flyover offers of "cures" by the same people who promote medieval laws which would imprison those who refuse to submit to the cures. I know, I know, the people in the cure movement claim not to be bigoted. But I must ask: If imprisoning people for a lifestyle is not bigotry against that lifestyle, then what is?

Similarly, Torquemada claimed he was "helping" the people he put on the rack and burned.

No one -- not even a lowly cichlid -- would call this altruism. That some people still imagine that it is illustrates the problem -- a monstrous philosophical abuse of natural altruism.

(Sorry! I think by now the Jello has melted, and has fallen from the cross...)

posted by Eric at 03:00 PM

Luck is a Virtue,

Luck is a Virtue, Not a Superstition

I have now been blogging daily for one solid month. I started this blog a year ago but let it lie fallow because I thought we might have finally reached a new era of tolerance. Well, that hope turned out to be a bit premature, and after the pro-sodomy law chorus I saw this Spring, I decided to really get my feet wet and blog in earnest. I thought I needed encouragement from a seasoned pro, and I got it in the form of Jeff at Alphecca -- who agreed to be my blogfather. When I feel useless, unread, and unloved, Jeff has always been nice enough to put in a plug for me in his column. He got me started, and I can't say enough good things about this great guy. Amazing to have a feeling of knowing someone I have never met -- and I even call him a "father." Kind of renews my faith in life!

This is my first Friday the Thirteenth post, and while am I having to force myself to write because I am tired, I wanted to thank not only Jeff but the people who have been kind enough to link to me. Bear in mind that I have found these by browsing around and by reading that constantly changing list down at the bottom left (showing only those who visit my site who share the same software). There may be others, but unless they contact me I don't know how to find them. I am honored that the following have either linked to me or (even more flattering) have quoted from my blog:

If you are here, and if you like anything that I have written (or even if you haven't!), then please check out these fine blogs.

Alphecca. (Jeff needs no further introduction; my blogfather -- the famous "Gay Gun Nut in Vermont" -- the one and the only!)

Samizdata. The great and powerful British blog, Samizdata takes on the EU and all evil Statist forces, and ranks up there with blog greats like Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan. I never, ever miss it -- and I am sure no one here does either. I felt very lucky (as well as honored) to get linked there, and I can't speak highly enough of them.

Arthur Silber's Light of Reason. Probably the most distinguished Objectivist blogger, Arthur Silber knew and worked with the legendary Ayn Rand herself. He makes me feel very guilty that I don't know as much as I should, and he was very kind to add me to his links. I read him daily, and so should anyone who wants to understand Objectivism.

Anger Management. Don Watkins is pure genius, whose creative and analytical abilities are second to none. His blog and Arthur Silber's have forced me to reach a new understanding of Objectivism -- even if my reach exceeds my grasp. His three part essay on Altruism should be required reading for anyone interested in libertarianism or Objectivism.

Catallarchy. Four guys -- Jonathan Wilde, Brian W. Doss, John C. Reif, Doug Alle. I love their blog, which provides excellent libertarian analyses of economic and social freedom. Be sure to read this one. which deals with the history of the Culture of Liberty in the US and the UK.

The Anger of Compassion. A cool name, and one of the best libertarian blogs around (appears to be connected to the beloved Society for Creative Anachronism). Craig Ceely is a brilliant writer who is today celebrating his 28th anniversary in the United States; his parents brought him here from the former USSR! In my view, we need more citizens like this guy, because he knows the meaning of freedom.

reflections in d minor. (A music-oriented blog with social commentary, I find it very educational, particularly because my musical background is not what it should be. You really should check this one out, as it is the only blog I have seen like it.)

Walter in Denver -- a really cool libertarian site! "Walter rubs two sticks together, makes blog." Now that makes me feel inferior, as I have to use a computer and a modem.) Charles G. Hill, Oklahoma blogger, describes the origin of the name of his libertarian-oriented, beautifully written blogsite:

we want ritzy suburbia, but we know how hard it is to shake off the red clay of the country. Upscale, but still possessed by poverty: call it Dustbury — the dream home on the edge of nowhere.
Be sure to check it out!

Be sure to check all of them out!

As I said yesterday, I am just a little fish in a big pond. To know that people are reading me is incredibly gratifying, and this is the only way I know how to thank you.

I thank all of the above for linking to me, and anyone else who might be reading this! Please keep coming back! It makes me very happy, and brings GOOD LUCK, for all concerned.

It is quite fitting to promote luck on Friday the Thirteenth. After all, Felicitas the Roman goddess of happiness and luck, was not a superstition at all, but one of the virtues, personified as a goddess.

Imagine happiness and luck as a virtue! Something to be pursued.

A Classical Value?

Do we have to go all the way back to ancient Rome to find such a thing as "pursuit of happiness?"

posted by Eric at 01:10 AM

Altruistic Fish and the

Altruistic Fish and the Morality of Death

I am indebted to two wonderful bloggers, Arthur Silber and Don Watkins, who have forced me to think about altruism in ways I never have before. (Both know more about Objectivism than I do, which I find humbling as well as challenging.)

Bearing in mind that I am a bit out of my depth where it comes to Objectivism's fine points, I think I'll talk about my personal experience with fish altruism. The applicability of this to humans is itself debatable, but as I just finished likening bloggers to fish, I think I'm on the hook...

Knowing what I know about the extremely limited brain power of fish, if I say their behavior is "altruism" I might very well deserve to be called anthropomorphic in the extreme, mightn't I? Well, if altruism is not conscious altruism (but something else -- occurring almost instinctively, and at the neurophysiological level), then it is an error to use the term "altruism" as we normally use it to describe what passes for unselfishness in human beings. But if we are therefore in error -- if the word "altruism" actually describes a baser, more natural process -- then I see no reason why it is erroneous to label certain fish behavior as "altruistic" any more than it is erroneous to so label human behavior.

For years I owned several 50 gallon tanks with large cichlids. What happened during a particular morning feeding routine was that I threw in the usual chunks of corned beef, which I tried to disperse in such a way that each fish got his fair share. The Oscar, being the greediest, was fed first, and then while he snarfed down his portion I'd typically toss the Jack Dempsey a nice morsel, and so on. But one day, the Jack Dempsey was standing right in line for his anticipated beef chunk, which drifted down about two inches in front of him. He was about to snarf it down when -- all of a sudden! -- a juvenile Jack Dempsey I'd added not long before began swimming towards it from the opposite side of the tank. Even though there was plenty of time, the big Jack Dempsey stopped dead in his tracks, and seemed to watch as his little "soul brother" devoured a chunk of beef far too large for him to swallow immediately. This was certainly not a case of intimidation (for the size factor rendered that idea preposterous on its face). Nor was the big guy not hungry, for he immediately grabbed and swallowed the following two pieces.

I had already read about "parenting" behavior -- for which the Cichlds generally (and the Jack Dempsey in particular) are noted, but what on this day I learned about a phenomenon called "flock tending" -- which may arise in apparently unrelated fish of the same species. It was quite obvious; my big Jack Dempsey took a "personal" interest in the wee one, and sometimes, for no reason at all, he'd just poke his head in and check out the little fish up close. This would frighten the little fish a bit, but the big one was very gentle and not once made an aggressive move. (Visually, the big one was eight to ten times larger than the baby.) This display of "unselfishness" was breathtaking to behold, as it was so against the big fish's basic instincts, and seemingly out of character for Jack Dempseys generally.

I never expected to see that in a fish.

What lessons might there for humans I don't know. But if "altruism" is something which occurs at an instinctual level in fish, the implications are quite profound. For starters, we ought to reexamine the whole meaning of the word "anthropomorphism."

If generosity and unselfishness is not altruism in humans, then it certainly is not altruism in fish.

So what the hell is it?

Maybe it depends on which "school" you owe your loyalty...

One thing is for sure; the Oscar would not have done that for a Jack Dempsey!

According to C.T. Onions, altruism simply means devotion to the welfare of others -- so the definition would apply to parental-style sharing in fish as much as it would to the same behavior in man.

Might it be that what concerns us is not so much the behavior, but, rather, the motive? If someone walked up to you on the street and handed you a hundred dollar bill, you would be wise to be wary. But here's a true story I witnessed years ago -- at a gay bar in New Orleans. There was an ancient queen -- really old, really effeminate, and obviously on his last legs. Except he wasn't even on his last legs, as he was in a wheelchair. The man's face radiated pure joy, and I swear to God, he was passing out huge amounts of cash! Hundreds, twenties, fifties -- it did not matter to him. He was having the time of his life just giving money away to attractive young men. Watching carefully, I could see nothing remotely sexual about this behavior, and I doubt that the man was capable of sexual gratification. But even if he was, that was not his goal; he just wanted to see young men happy in a gay bar with his cash!


This behavior irritated the hell out of a young military-looking guy, who was following at the "wheels" of the old man, angrily attempting to stare down all takers, his face contorted into the angriest, most Calvinistic scowl of moral authority he could muster. In some cases, he succeeded in taking back the money (sometimes grabbing it as was dropped guiltily to the floor by those he shamed) and handing it back to the old queen. The old queen laughed at him and tried to hand him the money back -- as if this too was all part of his "fun."

Clearly, most decent people (certainly most altruists) would maintain that an old man like that should be placed in a home and cared for. But I don't know about that. He looked quite happy to me -- and he certainly did not appear senile.

If this was altruism, it was not the type of which society would approve, that's for sure. (By the way, it gave me the creeps at the time, and I did not take any money. It struck me that the old man and the intermeddler were both slightly cracked. Each one was "altruistic" -- but in very different ways. And the whole scene -- in the midst of languid southern humidity and extravagant alcoholic decrepitude -- took on a Tennessee Williams, grand guignol, "Death in Venice" sort of decadence. I knew that the old man was soon to die, and I did not quite trust what might happen to me psychically if I took his money...)

Are we insufficiently trained in the understanding of the guilt mechanism? Is this why we have an entire body of law which attempts to functionally erase last minute decisions by people in contemplation of death? I have noticed that even when reputable charities are involved, "altruism" is given severe scrutiny by the courts. (Of course, the latter bend over backwards in favor of often greedy relatives, who are said to "deserve" "altruism" -- of which they are legally considered to be the "natural objects.")

What's the matter? Don’t we trust the dying? What is "competence" and who gets to decide? And is this ageist? Would we tolerate in a young person behavior we would never allow in the old?

I don't know how altruistic it is, but to contemplate one's mortality, one's own death, is to grow. Therefore, the argument can be made that people who near death are better capable of knowing what they are doing.

Is altruism the Morality of Death? We all die, do we not? I learned something invaluable from contemplating/experiencing the deaths of those I loved, and from contemplating/almost experiencing my own death. Just as all men are created equal, all men die equal. There is a great leveling which we all must face, and which we all tend to deny, try to avoid. Unless you believe that spending huge sums on tombs, embalming, mummification will make any difference, there comes a point where there is nothing more that you can do, and you achieve that true equality which comes from death, whether you want it or not! Running around in this life trying to achieve inequality may be lots of fun, and it may make you feel good, but it does not count with God, gods, infinity, eternity, or whatever you might call it. (And even if you're an atheist, it still doesn't count much when you're dead, does it?) I realized that regardless of religious belief, what you are now, you are eternally. So that means if you are alive, you must try to make each moment count, lest you waste eternity like the rest of the lost souls swimming about. To waste now is to waste eternity, no matter how you look at it.

That said, the difference between us and fish is that we know we will die, and fish do not. We fear death, and fish do not. Altruism being an inescapable, possibly ineradicable, fact of nature, is it not possible that a few people, a long time ago (demagogues who desired great power) tried to create a link between natural altruism and man's profound fear of death? If so, then such a link is man-made, and profoundly evil. It has brought misery to millions.

We cannot undo altruism, but undoing this artificial link is a good idea. Putting an altruistic pricetag on the soul perverts natural altruism, and is NOT a Classical Value.

Altruism as the Morality of Death is unnatural, and I think Ayn Rand was right to condemn it as that.

But -- I say this as someone who believes that altruism is natural.

posted by Eric at 06:56 PM

"School" for Solipsism? (Rule

"School" for Solipsism?

(Rule One: "Never Write about Yourself!")

Hell hath no fury like a fanatic who feels patronized.

If you are dealing with a fanatic or absolutist of any kind, you'd better either agree with what he says or else take the exact opposite position. If you agree with him partially, you'll really piss him off.

Example? When dealing with Christian fundamentalists, don't dare tell them you believe in God or Jesus Christ. Because they will then consider it a moral duty to save you from the error of your ways. Better just to tell them you're an atheist, or a Pagan. That way, they'll be happier, they won't feel as threatened, and their absolutist world view will have been confirmed. You are either on their side or you are on the wrong side.

I found this out firsthand in a lifetime of trying to be a nice guy. I tried getting along with Communists and other Marxist fanatics, with the Christian fundamentalists who hassle the kids on the Berkeley campus, and I even tried it with Moonies. The way they reacted, you'd think I'd stepped into the line of fire.

Gay Guns, 1982, same thing. Some issues, if mixed together (no matter how politely or reasonably), create an instant combustion of emotion similar to mixing vinegar and baking soda. Yet in logic why shouldn't homosexuals be allowed to own guns and speak out in favor of their right to do so?

Even the abortion issue; if I say that the founders left things like that up to the individual states, it is guaranteed to annoy almost everybody. Never mind that it happens to be what I think.

To the ultra-Orthodox Objectivists (even close friends), I am sometimes tempted to say something like, "Ein volk! Ayn Rand! Ein Fuehrer! "

But they wouldn't get it. Besides, it's not really what I think, and it is a cruel, illogical, ad hominem attack. I really believe in tolerance. But no one -- NO ONE -- wants to be merely tolerated.

I'll give you an example: Contrary to popular belief, New England Puritans did not come to this country seeking tolerance. Tolerance they had already found in Leyden, Holland -- but it was the "agreeable nature" of tolerance which the Puritans deemed "dangerous." They came to America get away from tolerance. I know how ugly this sounds, but it happens to be true. You will not make too many friends pointing it out to moral conservatives, either.

This means that I will have to continue as an utter failure. I failed at Marxism, failed at Democratism and liberalism, failed at Republicanism and conservatism, failed at "homoconism," failed at altruism, failed at Objectivism. I am unable to live up to any of these definitions. (A topic which plagues me.)

What about libertarian with a small "l"? I took a test which assigned that label to me, and I am pointing out the results in the interests of full disclosure. If the other small "l" libertarians won't let me have that label, well, find me another one, and I'll ask whoever the people who share that one to tell me whether it fits.

After a lifetime of this nonsense, I have concluded that honesty simply means pissing people off, and it is a great way to ruin your life. Hey, don't take my word for it; Hollywood even made a film about this very subject.

One thing I like about blogging, though, is that being honest is an exercise in the surreal and the absurd -- especially when, like me, you are a small fish swimming among many schools, with many different stripes and labels. You cannot eat the other fish, and they cannot eat you -- which is good. However, the other fish can't be expected to feed you. You might be able to gobble a few crumbs here and there, but the real food has to come from somewhere else.

posted by Eric at 03:52 PM

Some Cures are Worse

Some Cures are Worse than the Disease

"An entire range of federal regulations is going to be necessary if the Internet is to be kept usable"
So says the Weekly Standard. I found this horror thanks to Arthur Silber.

No one is more personally opposed to spam than I, a longtime sufferer. Yesterday, I deleted over 300 spam messages -- 90% of which wanted me to grow a larger penis. I agreed with Howard Owens that spammers should be shot. I even went further with the idea -- suggesting crucifixion as a way to fix the problem. And we would not have to fell that many trees to supply the crosses; a mere two hundred spammers are responsible for 90% of the spam. (Amazing how much damage can be done by so few people; it reminds me of what I saw in Berkeley.)

But the Weekly Standard's case for enlarging tyranny is worse fare than any penis enlargement scheme cooked up by the spammers. Here are their thoughts about the Internet:

[A] no-tax, low-regulation regime was devised for the Internet. It was market Rousseauianism, and for several years, the Internet economy has allowed us to conduct a long experiment on how the noble savage comports himself in cyberspace. Libertarianism has proved an attractive creed for the Internet generation in its lifestyle variant of live-and-let-live. But as a market system it has proved a flop.

Note the language about "comporting" and "noble savage." By uttering such telltale phrases, they give themselves away, and reveal the ethos of condescending tyranny. The veneer of refinement barely conceals a crude imperiousness of the George III variety -- a quasi-totalitarian mindset that the Learned Few should literally rule the rest of us great unwashed masses. This is not "American Greatness." It is the same pigheaded smallness our founding fathers overthrew. With great disdain, His Lordship Caldwell has peered down from his throne, proclaiming solemnly the "social necessity that the principle of taxing the Internet be established soon." Here here!

Social necessity? Read their inanities for yourself. What the "Standard" is worked up about is not spam per se, but the content of it. Now that bothers me, because while I don't like seeing hundreds of offers to grow a larger penis (and I have complained about them repeatedly), penis content is not my principal objection to the spam. I just don't like the hassle of having to delete it. But now that I see the control freaks calling for "draconian" regulation, using the penis content as an excuse, well, that makes me almost feel like paying the penises some lip service. As Churchill said, " If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

To my mind, the problem with spam has nothing to do with the fact that it is "filthy" -- only that it is unsolicited and deceptive. But even if the filth offends you as much as the deception and the nuisance, the fact is that these messages can be deleted. Once Big Brother is in there with a tax scheme, no deletion is possible -- now or in the future.

One cent per email. (Really now, that's not much more than the Stamp Act...) Sounds like a minimal intrusion, right? How do you think the bastards are going to collect and enforce this tax? BY KEEPING TRACK OF EACH AND EVERY EMAIL YOU WRITE.

Why is it that they never target the people who are causing these problems? By the Weekly Standard's own figures, 200 spammers are sending 90% of the spam. So why should we all have to suffer for it and be made to literally pay for it? (Meanwhile, the spammers head to another country where the taxing authorities won't reach them; most of the scam spam originates in Nigeria.)

The Weekly Standard's Senior Editor concludes that "the decision to leave [the Internet] unregulated was a serious, ideologically driven mistake."

There you have it. Freedom is an ideological mistake.

At least we know where their unelected Highnesses stand.

Let's see….

200 spammers already slated for crucifixion….

Don't crosses come in Standard sizes?

(I'm sure glad we have blogging, because if there's one thing I can't stand it's the supreme arrogance of liberal media!)

posted by Eric at 10:09 PM

By What Objective Standard?

By What Objective Standard?

This altruism stuff is really cool, because precise definitions are so evasive. One of the best posts I have seen so far on the subject is this post by Don Watkins.

What most fascinates me about altruism is that it is so often used as a cover for selfishly evil motivations that it really shouldn't be called altruism at all. Selfishness can be just as evil as altruism. Take sodomy. (No, you don't have to take it; just take the laws. Or if you prefer, take the drug laws, like the notorious rave laws I criticized earlier.)

A number of people (using God's "laws" as a pretext) would actually lock up homosexuals out of simple hatred. Ditto with the people who want to lock up drug users because they hate them. Both often sell their underlying hatred to the public by sugar-coating it with altruism. Why? Because they know that altruism sells. It has been used as a hatred-marketing tool for thousands of years.

However, especially in light of studies by Pinker and others this begs the question: what is altruism? If altruism is self-sacrifice, then those who use altruism for their own ends are not altruists. Naturalists have discussed the paradox of altruism:

Altruism is the deliberate sacrifice of a portion of an individual’s reproductive capacity in order to increase that of another. This reproductive capacity is more often described as an individual’s genetic fitness, and is precisely defined as the contribution an individual makes to the gene pool of succeeding generations relative to the contributions of other individuals within a population. Thus, an altruist is defined as an individual who decreases his own genetic fitness to increase the fitness of another. The concept of altruism is best understood through example: an African wild dog voluntarily “babysitting” the pups of a pack, while the pack’s hunters search for food ; a bird giving an alarm call to warn others of an approaching hawk, and thus drawing attention to itself in the process ; a man jumping into a swimming pool to save a drowning stranger.

If the above passage were shown to a time traveler from ancient Rome, he might very well conclude that according to the above definition, the two most altruistic groups of people in modern American society are homosexuals and soldiers.

A frequent attack leveled at homosexuals is that they are "selfish" because they are not having children, and thus they are not contributing anything "to society." This assumes not only that altruism is good, but that having children is a contribution. Yet I have heard many angry denunciations of "breeders" by homosexuals who feel strongly that contributing more children harms society, and thus heterosexuals are the "selfish" ones.

I do have a few questions:

Is it selfish (or egoistic) to have children, or is it altruism? (Are people better or worse either way?)

Are homosexuals selfish or unselfish people? (Again, better or worse either way?)

Is consensual promiscuity selfish or altruistic? Is rape the only egoistic form of sexual expression?

Is it possible to have an efficient military without altruism? (The concept of risking one's life just to retrieve dead comrades is an ancient one, and while I am not trying to promote altruism here, the idea behind it is based on morale. Similarly, Roman soldiers would risk their lives simply to retrieve a fallen or captured standard.)

Do these questions matter in the real world, or is this just more libertarian Objectivist theorizing? No doubt greater minds than mine have weighed in with definite conclusions, but I am disinclined to see the world in terms of black or white. Particularly in view of the fact that altruism is so often used as a deception to advance purely egoistic aims, I cannot state with confidence whether a particular behavior (such as homosexuality or heterosexuality or the use of mind-altering drugs -- or falsely altruistic claims that imprisoning these people will "help" them) is altruistic or egoistic.

Far too many shades of gray.

Years ago, I saw a bumpersticker at a gun show, which struck me as very altruistic at the time. Now I'm not so sure. (Is the deliberate spreading of an opinion a form of altruism?) It read, simply,


If you want to practice altruism in private, well, that might be foolish, and you might end up unhappy, frustrated, resentful, and dead. Crazy as it sounds, I draw the line where people cross the line -- between reciprocal and non-reciprocal altruism. Instead of practicing the Golden Rule, some people expect that doing good entitles them to having good done to them in return, or worse yet, that it entitles them to demand that other people do good as they define good -- or else be ashamed.

Do your damned good if you must, but please shut up about it. Above all, don't try to make me pay for it -- and please don't guilt-trip me or annoy me with bumperstickers saying things like


posted by Eric at 02:57 PM

State Education, an Altruistic

State Education, an Altruistic Oxymoron

This article, written by author and blogger Katie Granju, is a very thoughtful defense of school vouchers from a liberal Democratic vantage point. Opinions like this do not conform to the herd mentality, and tend not to be reported in mainstream newspapers, which like to present home-schoolers and those in favor of vouchers as fundamentalist, Aryan Order types.

Actually, it is worse than that; they want to send a message that those who involve themselves in their children's education are criminals who should be imprisoned. Right in the area where I live, attempts to exercise school choice will get you arrested on felony charges, and sent to prison. All for the "crime" of attempting to get a better quality education for your child.

People who can't get their kids into a better school who then opt for home schooling may also face imprisonment.

Even though I am not a parent, I can certainly understand why parents would be willing to face prison. Their children, consigned as they are to dangerous holding facilities promulgating little more than violence and illiteracy, are essentially imprisoned by the educrats. Katie Granju puts it thusly:

….[T]hese policy makers are fighting tooth and nail to protect a system in which less-affluent families are trapped inside the public schools that happen to be closest to their domiciles, no matter how decrepit or even dangerous they may be.

As revealed by the growing body of research indicating that parents who have a choice in where their children go to school and how they are taught are more involved in all areas of their kids' lives, school choice will prove to be an empowering force in the lives of American families. I myself eagerly await the day when I can use some of the money I pay into the public school system to pay for the schools my children actually attend.

I am not a parent, so I am a bit out of my league here. But it strikes me that this is about control, maintaining oppressive bureaucracies, and keeping people down -- all in the name of altruism and "concern for the children."

In ancient times, citizens were considered responsible for their children's education. (Here's a similar link.)

Harsh by modern standards. But how far do we take altruism? In the name of altruism (so often taking the form of "social justice") we imprison parents for trying to educate their children as they see fit. The Romans, while recognizing that benevolence and charity were basically good, did not consider altruism a virtue, and certainly would have been horrified by the way modern man has transformed it into a morbid machine of genocide in the name of building a better world. Certainly, the modern statist idea of gassing children to make the world a better place is more fiendish than the worst cruelties of the ancients, whose slaughter and torture was largely self-aggrandizing, or "egoistic."

In discussing libertarianism with friends, I frequently encounter resistance from those who have had to raise children -- the latter being the most common form of natural altruism. This can lead people to mistakenly think all altruism is good -- or still worse, that our society is a vast kindergarten -- a flock in need of a good shepherd.

This can create a slippery slope. The "nice" idea of "It Takes a Village" ultimately must be accelerated by force, into "It Takes a Gulag".

The ancient Romans, "egoistical" by today's standards, were more balanced in their thinking, and would have seen the folly of this modern triumph of altruism over egoism. (But does that makes all altruism innately bad?)

Spencer saw both sides of human nature as essential and unavoidable:

If we define altruism as being all action which, in the normal course of things, benefits others instead of benefiting self, then from the dawn of life altruism has been no less essential than egoism; for such defect of altruistic acts as causes death of offspring, or inadequate development of them, involves disappearance from future generations of the nature that is not altruistic enough, so decreasing the average egoism. In short, every species is continually purifying itself from the unduly egoistic individuals; while there are being lost to it the unduly altruistic individuals.

Hedonism can, in my view, be unselfish, although I admit to a preference for pragmatism over theory. For some interesting thoughts on the subject, see this:

The Hedonists saw individual happiness as the only good and tended to shun public life as futile or bothersome. Today we still use the term "hedonist" to describe people whose only concern is to have fun and who do not care about their personal or public responsibilities. The other major school were the Stoics who believed that the highest good was to be found in service to the community or in public office and who believed that individual appetites and desires that did not help the public good should be controlled, disciplined, or suppressed. Today we also still use the term "stoic" to refer to people who appear to remain indifferent to their own pain or personal misfortunes.

It would be simplistic in the extreme to characterize hedonism as egoism, or stoicism as altruism, for hedonism can be as unselfish as stoicism can be selfish. Classical Values include systems which compete with each other, and represent different sides of human nature. Out-of-control altruism (with all its mutations, including Nazism, Communism, and fundamentalist bigotry) has brought far too much misery to the world.

History shows that as a "virtue" (particularly an "assisted" one), altruism sucks!

A Classical Value it is not.

Once again, don't throw the Classical "baby" out with the totalitarian "bathwater."

posted by Eric at 04:54 PM

From Ranting to RAVEing

From Ranting to RAVEing

....Our Watered Down Freedom

The RAVE Act is more than just another unconstitutional drug law. It is an attack on free speech, on private property, and on freedom of association. I don't take it as personally as I might have ten years ago, and I will try to explain.

Funny how seemingly unrelated life experiences can tie themselves together as you age.

(Okay, so now I get to tell you a little bit about myself, at the risk of appearing a trifle silly and foolish. Otherwise, it's just "a rant without a rave.")

Life had always had its ups and downs, but by age 30, I had settled down into a fairly comfortable law practice where I could set my own hours, with work which was quite tolerable. I had a whole bunch of friends who were wilder than I was, and I always enjoyed encouraging them, because it warded off my own neurotic inability to really relax and have fun. At heart, I am kind of uptight and miserable, and a shrink would most likely say that because I have suffered from clinical depression all my life, I am unable to appreciate what I never had. Fuck them all; my deal was, I just liked giving other people the space to have fun and be themselves, and in that way I could derive vicarious pleasure from making them happy. That always struck me as better than making other people miserable. Once it became a habit, I enjoyed finding depressed people and cheering them up simply to make myself happy.

Would Ayn Rand approve of such "altruism?" I am not sure it was altruism, but for the sake of argument let me concede that it was, and plead guilty to the dreadful sin of altruism.

What I had not counted on was that fucking AIDS virus. It killed twenty of my friends, each irreplaceable, but the first, an ex, was the worst. He developed all your usual opportunistic infections -- one right after the other -- in 1985, and then died in '86. I could not handle it. Practicing law went from being a fun legal exercise into horrid and pointless drudgery. I mean, who cares about straining your brain to help Trucking Company A screw Trucking Company B when the people you love are dying? I wanted to help, I wanted to stop the disease, but I couldn't. The law became an annoyance.

Once it became clear that I was to lose the people I had carefully chosen in order to thwart a life of loneliness, I grew restive and rebellious. What should have been "normal" depression became a desire to do something to level the scales, balance the karma…

Next thing, an opportunity for a night club presented itself. ...

I knew that I shouldn't start a nightclub, but start a nightclub I did. It was incredibly cool -- a surreal, ghoulishly classical design. I built it myself and simply enjoyed being in the place -- particularly when it was closed and no one was in there. Then, it seemed, the ghosts could dance and frolic, and have fun.

The place was packed, and became famous locally. We helped give birth to the local gothic scene, and won the 1993 San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay Award (for "Best Place to Go Dancing In Black").

Unfortunately, local fame and large crowds did not translate into an ability to pay the $10,000 a month rent. We were always behind with everything and after a three year struggle (with partners dying of AIDS and the IRS about to padlock the place), Thunder Bay breathed its last.

If you really want to hate government, I suggest going into the nightclub business. As an attorney, I considered myself better equipped than most to fend off the bureaucracy, However, the average person would go crazy running a business for three years in the red, with endless bureaucratic hassles including the Health Department, Fire Department, Alcoholic Beverage Control, underage drinkers with ID capable of fooling the CIA, violent rap shows turning into full scale riots, egotistical rock stars, community activists hurling accusations of discrimination, and Federal, State, and local taxing authorities. (All the owner's fault, of course, for being the owner. Such is life.)

So why am I writing about this now? Why relive such a horror after almost ten years?

This fascistic RAVE Act, that's why. I think I must have suffered some form of post traumatic stress when I read about Biden and company's attack on freedom, because I thought, "My God, what if they'd passed this back in 1991?"

My biggest problem as a club owner was that the kids drank water. I was in the business of selling alcohol. Water is free in the bathroom, and cheap as hell in refillable plastic bottles. Imagine how I hated them for drinking water -- ungrateful little brats! I needed to pay my goddamned rent!

Well guess what! Now I could be arrested for selling them water.


(Latin "aqua" -- another substance much in demand in classical times.)

I am absolutely not kidding. Congressional findings state explicitly the intent of the federal government to criminalize water:

"congressional findings" that, according to the Washington Post, declare bottled water, chill rooms and glowsticks to be drug paraphernalia. It also retains the crackhouse law sentencing guidelines: Party organizers whose patrons get busted with drugs can face fines in the millions and up to 20 years in federal prison.

If you think I am making this up, read the story yourself.

While you're at it, by all means read Glenn Reynolds and Dave Kopel's excellent analysis in the far-left, pro-drug National Review Online.

Twenty years for a water crime. Is this supposed to be a free country? Where do they get off, passing such fascist drivel?

As reported by Don Watkins via Arthur Silber and Glenn Reynolds (who deserve great credit for getting the story out as well as activating my Post Traumatic Sress), it is not merely water they want to make a felony: it is FREE SPEECH. That's right; they are using this disgraceful law to stop political benefits the government does not like.

As Don Watkins noted:

In my worst dreams I would never have imagined that the RAVE act would have been used to block speech. I shouldn't have been so naive.

Boy is he right! When water and little glow sticks are made felonies, it is naive not to expect as a logical sequel the criminalization of speech.

But wait. The dead lawyer inside me wants to play Devil's Advocate here.

"Had the founders wanted to protect the right of the citizens to keep and drink water, or to have small plastic sticks which glow in the dark, they would have added an amendment to that effect."

(That's what they say about Drug Laws.)

So why is it that when they wanted to give the federal government power to prohibit alcohol, they had to pass the Eighteenth Amendment?

Glenn Reynolds is right when he says:

I blame Joe Biden -- for sneaking through this abomination -- and Ashcroft's Justice Department, for applying it this way.

This legislation has always been part of a culture war, not an anti-drug effort, and this application just makes that crystal clear for anyone who hadn't noticed.

End the Culture War now. Restore Classical Values.

Legalize water.

(I am getting old. I never thought I would see the day when I would have to advocate such a thing.)

posted by Eric at 10:33 PM

How to Survive Religion-Based

How to Survive Religion-Based Government Cuts

A sign of the times? Beep beep! Move over John Ashcroft! Latest news on godly government: Highway 666 is gone!

Beastly traffic jams will have to move elsewhere.

I have mixed feelings, but I guess at least stuff like this won't be happening on Highway 666 anymore.

My source for the 666 story, Ibidem, also has a very touching story with tips from Saudi Arabia's new executioner on overcoming stage fright . The guy is a real trip; he cuts off heads, hands, legs off men, women, anybody.

“It doesn’t matter to me: Two, four, 10 — As long as I’m doing God’s will, it doesn’t matter how many people I execute,”
Boy am I jealous!

At first he was nervous because "many people were watching, but now stage fright is a thing of the past." Learn from a pro! (Good advice for any new blogger...)

Get ahead!

posted by Eric at 02:15 PM

Terrorism Sucks -- Fundamentally!

Terrorism Sucks -- Fundamentally!

Arthur Silber links to a New York Times report that the Justice Department is not allowing gay employees to celebrate Gay Pride Day or whatever the hell it was.

Religious discrimination? Don't laugh yet, please.

What is religion? Isn't it a religious belief that God commanded that planes be flown into infidel buildings, because the occupants thereof lived in a country which was too tolerant of homosexuality? Osama Bin Laden and Jerry Falwell are in concordance on this point (see my post), as are other American fundamentalists.

Is such a belief religious terrorism?

I certainly hope that Attorney General Ashcroft doesn't subscribe to this belief, for that might tend to create the appearance that our top Justice Department official sympathizes with religious terrorism. We certainly can't allow even a hint of support for religious terrorism in the Justice Department, can we?

But, let us give Ashcroft the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that he does not personally subscribe to religious terrorism, but instead is merely trying to appease or placate those who do.

If that is the case, the belief that God punished homo-loving Americans on September 11 is still religious in nature, is it not? Does not the First Amendment protect belief systems disagreeing with it? If a group which prays to a homo-hating god so bigoted as to give us 9-11 is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment, then how about a group praying to a different god or gods?

Or how about a cult devoted to phallic worship? Just a thought, folks. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, isn’t it? Are we still allowed to have thoughts about alternatives to bigot gods?


But what if -- just suppose with me for a moment -- what if the god of Christianity is not a bigot? What then? I mean, I am not such a bigot as to claim without any evidence that Jesus was a bigot! I was not there, and I never spoke to him. But there are people who claim to have spoken to him, and I am not 100% certain that they are being heard or respected by the Jesus-believing people at the Justice Department.

Here; I'll even give you an example: at this site, a number of gay Christians claim to have been born again in Jesus Christ, saying that he accepted their homosexuality. Are we to disbelieve them, and on what basis? Who is Ashcroft to contradict a sincere witness to Jesus Christ? Sure, he claims to be a Christian and all that, but then here we have clear evidence that he might be ignoring the will of Jesus Christ. Is he doing that in the name of Christianity? What gives?

Hey give me a break! This is not even my job here at the libertarian/pagan Classical Values blog site! Yet here I am, trying to be fair to Jesus Christ and some of his worshippers (isn't that supposed to be Ashcroft's job?), and what thanks will I ever get for it?

Didn't Jesus say something about rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's? I'm no Bible expert, but wasn't Caesar supposed to be some big pagan Roman emperor or something? If Jesus was willing to be fair to pagans with their alternative lifestyles, then why can't Ashcroft do the same -- especially for those who believe in Jesus but don't think he was behind the carnage on 9-11?

I know, I know, Bush has to win the election, and he might have to throw the homos to the lions. But what about that guy who helped bring down the third plane in Pennsylvania? He was gay, and so are the Justice Department employees who want to hold an event. Can they hold it in his honor?

Or does the bigot god of 9-11 say no?

posted by Eric at 01:54 AM

Damn! Another @#&% test!

Damn! Another @#&% test! How'd I do?

I just got to take a test promising to label me.

I must be a glutton for punishment or something. Anyway, here are (gulp) the results:

Libertarian - You believe that the main use for
government is for some people to lord it over
others at their expense. You maintain that the
government should be as small as possible, and
that civil liberties, "victimless
crimes", and gun ownership should be basic
rights. You probably are OK with capitalism.
Your historical role model is Thomas Jefferson.

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by Eric at 12:29 AM

Update -- Sign the

Update -- Sign the Petition

Amazing how New York Times related things are coming out of the woodwork. I never imagined that Walter Duranty would finally be recognized for the evil fraud that he was. A group of Ukrainian activists have a place where you can sign the petition.

For the most part, American Communists (unlike former Nazi-supporting Americans) are still in denial about stuff like this. As for me, I see no disgrace in having once been a Marxist, because I am a former Marxist.

What is the problem with admitting mistakes?

posted by Eric at 12:12 AM

"Traditional Values Libertarian Theocrats?"

Jerry Falwell is not the only character on the right to declare war on the Bush administration.

He has been joined by Pat Buchanan, now sounding more like a French anti-Semite as he sneers, "Was it oil? Empire? To make the Middle East safe for Sharon?"

I consider myself a libertarian, but such demagogic opportunism makes me sympathize with Bush in spite of numerous disagreements with administration policies.

Might Falwell, whose expressions of philosophical agreement with Osama bin Laden (that the attacks were God's punishment for gays) horrified a shocked nation right after September 11, team up with Buchanan? I don't know, but Buchanan clearly enjoys being a spoiler -- and may well have prevented Bush from obtaining a clear majority in the last election.

Thunder on the right? Justin Raimondo, Pat Buchanan's libertarian whirlwind campaign strategist, now sings a family values line, titling his latest piece "The War Party will get theirs – God willing" while coming to the defense of the anti-Semitic cartoon depicting Sharon as one of Julius Streicher's hook-nosed-Jew stereotypes. I also enjoy the constant red-baiting theme: "neocons" are invariably presented as somehow "Trotskyist" -- echoing, of course, the theme of dark, hidden, Jewish conspiracies. In other columns, Raimondo is a self-appointed "libertarian" hatchet man -- one of his latest targets being Larry Elders.

Is Elders disqualified as a libertarian on Raimondo's say-so? On the other hand, the "neocons" who once were Marxist are stuck with that label forever? Would someone explain this? I know I keep bitching about forcing people into categories to manipulate them, but to see libertarians doing the same thing as liberals and conservatives is depressing -- especially in order to brew up such a distasteful and unwholesome stew as this.

I hope I'm wrong, but there definitely appears to be an attempt to build a coalition between religious bigots, libertarians, and anti-Semitic Paleocons. Libertarians who support such a coalition are in no position, in my opinion, to sit in judgment on the political correctness of other libertarians.

posted by Eric at 09:28 PM

Do lies become true

Do lies become true with age?

My last blog about religion and politics and definitions thereof has me all worked up and I feel another rant coming on….. (Thank you once again, Blogdaddy Jeff, for giving me permission to rant!)

Let me start by posing a question: When history is built upon lies, can the mere act of questioning history become heresy? Glenn Reynolds links to this fascinating story of a thoroughly despicable character -- Stalin apologist Walter Duranty. I have known for years about Duranty and his legacy, and I am flabbergasted to see that apparently, the truth is catching up to him. While millions of Ukrainians died in Stalin's government-orchestrated famine, Duranty lied and covered up for Stalin, winning himself the Pulitzer Prize. Now, 70 years later, they may be taking it away:

"A journalistic wrong may soon be posthumously righted."

Score one for Instapundit! But how do you factor in the millions of dead Ukrainians? Should the New York Times apologize??

One of my hobbies is collecting ancient Roman coins. These days, there are few things in life I enjoy as much as tracking down a good portrait coin. I really don't care so much about the value, or the readability of the inscription, but I want the face to look like whatever emperor or popular figure is on the coin. This hobby made rereading Gibbon's Rise and Fall a real pleasure, the coins bringing it to life as I never thought possible.

One thing which caught my attention was the realization that there is absolutely no relationship whatsoever between cruelty and paganism or between cruelty and persecution of Christians. First, I noticed that the Pagan Roman emperors were no more and no less cruel than the Christian ones. On close examination, there are both bad and good emperors, but the cruelty of the former was by no means always directed against the Christians. Some of the cruelest emperors -- in particular Commodus and Caracalla -- not only failed utterly to persecute Christians, but even liked them! This was a real shock to me, as I blithely bought the standard line (or, maybe, standard assumption) that no Roman tyrant or madman could hold his head up without at minimum, massive lion-feeding spectacles or some such popular entertainment involving Christians.

The dread Caligula is not known to have persecuted a single Christian, although in fairness to the man it is quite possible that he never even heard of them. Emperor Nero is credited with horrific massacres of early Christians, but even this appears questionable, if not doubtful. Gibbon points out that Christians and Jews were indistinguishable from each other to Romans at the time, and while Nero did attempt to scapegoat an early sect for setting the great fire which destroyed Rome, they appear not to have been Christians, but rather Jewish Zealots.

This confusion was created by later Roman writers (chiefly Tacitus, the court historian of Hadrian) who decided that those persecuted by Nero must have been Christians, because by the time of Tacitus Christians were considered troublemakers. Gibbon makes an excellent case for the Zealots as Nero's scapegoats. I think he is right, too. The Christians were simply not established enough in Rome by Nero's time for many people to have even heard of them. The Zealots were fanatics who engaged in direct warfare against the Romans, and who were present and making trouble in Rome, so they would have been a natural group for a desperate Nero to single out for blame. Remember, he did not have time or the personal inclination to worry about starting up propaganda against a new sect; he wanted immediate relief from suspicion himself. Selecting a known, dangerous group would make far more sense than going after peaceful Christians who were small in number, and whose obscure movement was in its earliest infancy.

Even more startling is reading that some of the "best" emperors were some of the most anti-Christian. The ones who liked order and justice -- like Marcus Aurelius -- were adamant about the need to extirpate Christianity, and went to great lengths to carry out persecutions. To their mind, persecution of Christians was the honorable and patriotic thing to do.

We come to tolerance. The worst thing you can do to an intolerant person -- especially one who thinks he is better than you -- is to offer him tolerance. They cannot stand it. I am not sure what the reasons are; perhaps they feel condescended to. But the Romans were between a rock and a hard place in dealing with both the Jews and the Christians. It is interesting that Judaism had always a strong appeal to certain elements in Rome, and no doubt this was well known to Jewish thinkers of the time. Gibbon notes that one of the biggest problems was the closed nature of the Jewish religion, which made it quite difficult to join.

Not the least of the problem was the requirement of circumcision. Ouch! The Romans might have flirted with the general mysticism of Judaism (which especially appealed to Romans from the East or those attracted to Eastern religions -- and to them Judaism and Christianity were Eastern religions), but having to lose a piece of your dick -- such a sacrifice would be too much to bear.

Saint Paul was well aware of this, and I think it accounts for his smoke-and-mirrors treatment of it, which is one of the most brilliant pieces of ancient rhetoric I have seen. That, I am sure, did much to spread Christianity, as a form of Judaism for the unwashed gentile masses.

The ancient Jews were locked in a life-and-death struggle against the Roman enemy, and I think this might shed some light on the identity of the scapegoated troublemakers used by Nero as human torches to illuminate his nocturnal festivals. This was 64 A.D. -- just a few years before the Romans launched a major war against the Judean rebels, and if, as Gibbon claims, the Zealots were present in Rome making trouble, they would certainly have been Scapegoat Number One on Nero's list. This was at a time of great unrest, when war hysteria was being revved up anyway in preparation for a major military campaign. At the time of the Nero persecutions, the great conflagration of Rome had rendered many Romans homeless and in despair, and Nero, already unpopular, had no choice but to open his palace grounds as a campground for homeless citizens. This was precisely where the unfortunate scapegoats were burned alive -- so that all the world could see. I have to agree with Gibbon that burning up Christians would not have made a whole lot of sense under the circumstances, considering Nero's already huge credibility gap.

There is, of course, no way to prove this, and all we have are the writings of Tacitus years later. What we do know is that these people in the sect were called Galileans, and that there were two sects called Galilean: one which followed Jesus of Nazareth and the other (The Zealots) which followed Judas the Gaulonite. According to Gibbon:

The former were the friends, the latter the enemies, of human kind; and the only resemblance between them consisted in the same inflexible constancy which, in the defense of their cause, rendered them insensible of death and tortures. The followers of Judas, who impelled their countrymen into rebellion, were soon buried under the ruins of Jerusalem; whilst those of Jesus, known by the more celebrated name of Christians, diffused themselves over the Roman empire. How natural was it for Tacitus, in the time of Hadrian, to appropriate to the Christians the guilt and suffering which he might, with far greater truth and justice, have attributed to a sect whose odious memory was almost extinguished!

I can see why Gibbon was hated as he was....

But there is yet another wrinkle to this, which Gibbon only touches upon. Nero's name had, from the time of his death onwards, become synonymous with tyranny of the worst, most depraved sort. Almost anything he did was considered a sort of warning and example to future emperors of how not to behave. Nero's victims thus gained a certain honor by virtue of having been killed by him. When Tacitus was writing, it was under the reign of Hadrian, who (continuing the policy of his adoptive father Trajan) was quite tolerant of Christians. Christianity was, by the time of Hadrian, considered quite a problem, but one whose solution was considered to be best achieved by a sort of tolerant forbearance, along with constant pressure on them to mend their ways. It would have served the purposes of Hadrian to have it remembered that previous emperors had done awful things to the Christians, which the latter would do well to keep in mind.... But under Hadrian's enlightened rule, this would have been a sort of historical warning.

I can think of another major reason which would factor into Hadrian's ruling class thinking: the elementary principle of DIVIDE AND CONQUER.

The Romans were well aware of how closely connected were Christianity and Judaism. Yet they were at war with the Jews. It does not take a rocket scientist to grasp that anything which might tend to drive a wedge between them was a thing to be encouraged. This alone would furnish an ideal reason to tone down any persecution of Christians during a major war with the Jews, wouldn't it?

But I'll bet that very few historians have considered it. (Perhaps this might bring us closer to understanding one of the original rationales for early Christian anti-Semitism?)

This is not to argue even remotely that Nero was a good man or suffered from a bad rap. Morally, it makes no difference whether he burned up Christians or Zealots as scapegoats, for his crime is the same.

What also fascinates me is that the Christian Church as we know it was built upon -- literally built upon -- not only this historical tidbit, but the gardens where Nero performed this evil deed is the present day location of the Vatican. St. Peter's basilica is built right on the spot of Nero's notorious nocturnal festivities.

That being the case, I can see absolutely no way to revise history -- no matter what the truth! So why pursue a line of reasoning like this?

Because, I believe the phenomenon of bipartisan cover-ups is an explainable process, if only if we can locate and study hitherto-hidden examples of them. In this case, of course, the early Christians (by then a well-established opposition to Rome's ruling pagans) agreed with Hadrian over a lie which happened to serve the mutual interests of both sides.

When such a thing happens, there is hell to pay trying to set aside the official verdict.

In general, coverups do not work when practiced unilaterally, because the opposition has a vested interest in uncovering the truth. However, when opposite sides agree on an official lie to preserve their mutual view of order, no one has a vested interest in uncovering the lie. Anyone who is interested in such things (for the sake of "truth" or some other such imaginary virtue) will most likely never be able to prevail -- so long, at least, as the officially-agreed lie is important.

Over time, the need for some of these official lies fades, and becomes moot historically. When this happens, someone can come along and manage to get the truth out about someone like Walter Duranty. We are not there yet with everything, unfortunately. Modern politicians, like their ancient counterpart Hadrian, need villains and demons from the past (sometimes even of their own philosophical or political persuasion) to make them look good by comparison. This gives the opposition a target at which to tilt regularly, and is considered healthy for all. There being no consequences to the reputation of a dead man, everyone can agree on his utter villainy, without consequences. His deeds become the standard by which all political evil is measured, and the pundits from his side may evoke his demonic image regularly -- not only to show how good they are by contrast, but also as a way of comparing the deeds of the other side to the man they have all officially agreed to hate.

In order to keep this going, those who might have a vested interest in exposing official lies (or quasi-official lies in cases like the Duranty Pulitzer Prize) must be pitted against each other through deliberate smear campaigns and disinformation strategies, often carried out by the disinformation strategists themselves, in what has long been passed off as "journalism."

Pretty tough do that to bloggers, I'd say….

For one thing, authors of bad journalism are no longer in charge of the process!

posted by Eric at 09:08 PM

Define and Conquer I

Define and Conquer

I refuse to be a definition victim, which is why I criticize "definitionitis" every chance I get. But that does not make this evil form of black magic stop.

Of course, I love it when other people do my homework for me, because I am lazy by nature, and would rather sit back and comment upon something than have to come up with something original myself (the latter is always a risky thing -- and a good way to find myself defined again, as a kook!).

I found a real nugget today, though. According to Chris Hitchens:

"George Wallace somehow wasn't a WASP, though somehow William F. Buckley is one."

Why? Hitchens shows how a Catholic is a WASP, but a Protestant ain't! I think he is right, but the reasons only make us look as crazy as we are.

A common argument is over the definition of "Christian." Eric Rudolph is described as a "Christian" by Andrew Sullivan, but certain conservative Christians have taken umbrage, saying that merely calling him a Christian is anti-Christian. Isn't this what certain Muslims have been doing, demanding that we stop calling Muslims who commit terrorist acts Muslims? Remember when that young guy crashed a Cessna airplane into that building in Florida? It took quite a while to ascertain that he was of Mideastern descent. Ditto for the long delays in admitting that the terrorist who opened fire at LAX was, in fact, a terrorist.

How about this story? Is accurate crime reporting to be prohibited if certain races feel that a bad act of one tarnishes them all?

Are we to be told now that if a Christian does a bad thing under a religious delusion, then he is no longer a Christian? If so, then are the 9-11 terrorists not Muslims? Many Muslims say they are not. If there can be a Muslim terrorist, is it logical to claim that there can be no such thing as a Christian terrorist? I think there can be both Christian and Muslim terrorists, and that there have been, for years. Wasn't the Inquisition Christian terrorism? Granted, these days the Muslim terrorists kill far more people than any kooky Christian terrorists, and the worst thing they've managed to pull off in the territory of the United States in the name of religion have been the Salem Witch Hunts. Those flames don't even light a candle to, say, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

But the principle is the same. We are talking quality, not quantity. Terrorism in the name of any religion is religious terrorism.

Religious terrorism is, simply, wrong. Why make it complicated?

The lesson is that definitions have great power. People want to:

-define other people

-define themselves

-limit access to the definition itself to their guys

-reserve the right to exclude other people from the category they claim, while relegating others to categories they oppose (usually those of the enemies they've chosen to define)

-disallow discussion by others of all of the above!

If that sounds crazy, it is.

Is this how cover-ups get started? Someone wants his turf preserved by any means necessary?

posted by Eric at 08:25 PM

Hanging by nails…

Hanging by nails…

Howard Owens (found through Instapundit) is cool! First of all (and on the serious side) his statements about blogging are as optimistic as I hope they are correct. These are real gems of wisdom:

....if newspapers don't develop effective blog-related strategies, they'll lose credibility and market share.…..
….What excites me most about the Web is how it subverts centralized power. It is too hard — and I think will remain hard — for centralized power to completely control the flow of information and communication among people.
I see us heading toward greater freedom, not less, the world over, and the Internet is a big part of that trend.

Those who can't relate to the above are most likely enemies of blogging, but they'll have a lot of trouble going house to house, modem to modem.

On the subject of spam (near and dear to my heart) Owens really gets going. (I touched on the penile variety in an earlier blog):

…hope that something can be done about spam — spam is probably the biggest threat to the future of the internet.
….It is the one thing that can and does drive people away. It sucks resources and makes it hard for legitimate companies to do the things they need to do to stay in business. I don't want to lock spammers up. I want to shoot them. Summary executions. I'm voting for that legislation.

How cool! Kill the spammers! But is shooting them really going to be enough? I wonder....

I think I should be allowed a little latitude as a new blogger, so I'll take this one step further. While shooting of spammers would provide a deterrent (at least as to the individual spammer who is shot) I think it would be better for society to make a public example out of these people.

I propose a very modest, classical solution to the problem. An old idea, really. I am sure everyone has heard of it.


Spammers could simply be crucified along the highways, just the way the Romans did it. As in the good old days of public crucifixions along the Via Appia, here the modern Al Gore Information Superhighway could be seamlessly linked to live crucifixions via strategic web cams, viewable at anti-spam websites, where we could watch the spammers die (and other spammers could witness the fates of their comrades). What a deterrent!

A real "Pilate Program!"

Needless to say, no libertarian would seriously propose that the government get involved in such cruel punishments (which obviously violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution), and I am not doing that. Let's keep it in the private sector where it belongs. Spammers flooded the world with shoddy advertisements during their lives, and it is only fair that their deaths be advertising spectacles -- the tackier the better! "Your corporate message and logo HERE! on THIS CROSS!" (Buy as many crosses as you can afford!) "Another spammer nailed courtesy of!" Securely fastened with "Palm Pilate" brand "finishing nails" -- as seen on the Internet!

On a final note is this friendly reminder: A very big conference is coming up, folks! Make your reservations now, and nail things down later!

Link to the conference courtesy of Rand Simberg, indirectly via this guy.

posted by Eric at 12:04 AM | TrackBacks (1)

Forewarned is Forearmed Arma

Forewarned is Forearmed

Arma virumque cano?

Matt Welch led me to this (not a linkable blog, so you have to scroll down to the headline "Scheer Wins Writers Guild Debate On Style, Wit.")

The real story was not about Scheer, who obviously knows how to please a crowd described as "90%" left. As author Luke Ford noted, it was

"hard to hear my tape of the debate because the audience laughs so loudly and applauds so vigorously to Scheer's remarks. He knows his crowd."

Rather, the story was about the rare courage of David Horowitz. Scheer might have won the crowd, but Horowitz won the debate because of his courage and conviction. It is far easier to please a crowd than it is to be shouted down by hundreds of angry leftists at once. And it was also very telling to read about Horowitz incurring the wrath of religious conservatives for speaking up against anti-gay bigotry.

I admire Horowitz even more than I did before I read Luke Ford's account of the "debate" and as my blogfather Jeff Soyer would say, "I feel a rant coming on…."

I have seen it all before, the booing, the yelling, the heckling, the name-calling. I have also seen far worse. The first major instance was in 1982 when I dared to march in San Francisco's Lesbian Gay Parade with a float we called "GAY GUNS." You can read about that nightmare here. A decade later, I faced an even worse situation when I dared to sit on the City of Berkeley's Police Review Commission.

In those days I was terrified of personal, ad hominem style attacks, so I had to shore up my endorphin receptors before the meetings. But even that did not work. I felt this growing, gnawing, horrible sense of dread, guilt, and shame. There I was -- a "public servant" unable, even at a low level of government, to speak my mind because of the tyranny of mob rule. The more I repressed it, the more I was attacked, and the guiltier I felt. I would go home and bitch to my lover about how I hated them and hated myself. Unbearable!

Perhaps I had forgotten the lesson I should have learned with GAY GUNS. Police Review Commissioners were appointed and I was known to be anything but politically correct, so I was warned that I might not like the job. What the hell, I figured. Noblesse oblige and all that stuff. What I did not realize was that it was my job to either do the bidding of the angry left or become, simply, a political punching bag.

I refer here to "grassroots" tyranny. In Berkeley, there is a hard core of a few hundred activists who are able to tyrannize the entire city. They are single-minded, emotionally disturbed people who never outgrew their malevolence -- and that was the severest, most dysfunctional radicalism in recent history. I know this because I flirted with it as a youth myself. They consider themselves to be warriors, yet they do not fight the fair fight. This is because not only are they outnumbered, but fair fighting is against their principles and indoctrination. They may use democratic tactics when feasible, but as a backup and as an ever present threat, they rely on tyranny. The problem is that "good" people -- people who know better -- derive considerable power from (and owe considerable indebtedness to) the political thugs and their tactics, and the power flows upwards through a strange labyrinth of mutual self-support, and socially enforced bullying of all who might entertain thoughts of dissenting.

Aside from an occasional encounter with a menacing laid-off elevator operator, most politicians do not feel the lash of this type of tyranny firsthand. They never had to sit on the Berkeley Police Review Commission. They also have never had to live in the middle of the welfare state hell which they create and abet.

How I used to envy the Berkeley City Council! The United States Congress! They got to sit there and say anything they wanted, and no one was allowed to threaten their lives, spray paint or burn their cars. They even had police present, much the same way a judge -- even the lowest level justice of the peace -- always has a bailiff. Cowards, I thought. There I sat, intimidated because we had no protection against the mob (on more than one occasion the police who were there for hearings fled in fear for their safety) by an inability to keep order.

And we were supposed to be there to "get" the police. The only people who showed up at those meetings were the professional anti-police activists, and they were there to keep score on how well we lived up to their sickening Marxist expectations. I was a traitor if I ever sided with the police. I was the enemy for trying to contribute what I naively thought would be a small public service.

I lost my fear of that sort of mob. It died somewhere. Something burned out. Like the brain cells of a drug user?

Now, ten years later I find myself in the position of being called a "homocon".

That's just the latest label, but for years leftists have been horrified by my gun views. They simply cannot stand the fact that any homosexual might support the Second Amendment. Yet these same people are all for gays in the military?

People who don't want you to have opinions contrary to their expectations will resort to any means to define you, to force you into a category. I don't understand why they do this, because I don't do it, but I think that it may touch on why so many people are turned off by the political process.

Let me examine what I have seen firsthand. I have, it seems, no right to be a liberal, no right to be a conservative, and no right to be middle of the road. That is because the existing political system of stereotypes will not allow people who don't fit. It is a little like organized religion. If you are a Catholic, you must agree with them, if you are a Baptist you must agree with them, on and on except (I guess) for Unitarians and Buddhists...

For refusing to vote as directed, I was on many occasions called a "traitor." What is treason, anyway? I am glad we have a restrictive definition of it in the U.S. Constitution, because while I didn't like being called one, I know that in a legal sense I have never been that and never would be. Unless, of course the United States were taken over by traitors... But morally speaking, what is treason? A number of right-wingers have stated that anyone in favor of legalizing drugs is a traitor in the "drug war." I find that difficult to comprehend, and little different logically from the thinking of the people who called me a traitor for voting not to hear police complaints which were not within the jurisdiction of the Berkeley Police Review Commission. Just insulting, hyperbolic language, really. Like calling people racists who aren't, such labeling only dilutes the term "treason" until it has no meaning. I must say that had those people been thinking clearly, they would not have called me a traitor at the time, for it helped clarify, in combination with their very real threats, my thinking, and set me up for what I am doing now -- BLOGGING. You call me a traitor, I get over that, and then the word ceases to have meaning. It goes back to childhood; if you shame a child unjustly, then later where lies the sting of shame?

Of course, when I was on the Police Review Commission, it escalated from mere words, and instead of worrying about definitions I found myself fearing for my life.

Leaflets were passed out by an angry mob with names and addresses of commissioners coupled with "take whatever action your conscience deems necessary" code language, my truck was burned, another Commissioner had his car torched, and police officers were directed to leave Commission meetings for legitimate fear of "officer safety" (leaving us to face the mob alone). I will never forget a meeting with Berkeley's City Manager, who related his horror story of angry activists visiting his home when he was at work, and threatening his wife and kids.

"YOU CAN HAVE THIS PLACE!" he told me. Shortly thereafter, he quit his job, and went on to greener pastures as City Manager of a lovely, more peaceful place, -- Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So, I have to admire David Horowitz's courage and he gets my vote for winning the debate. I don't know if I could do what he did, but someone has to.

Blogging is the least we can do.

Based on my experience, so is arming ourselves.

posted by Eric at 10:06 PM

Give us this day

Give us this day our daily blog. And lead us NOT!

Perry de Havilland at Samizdata linked to this story about blogging, something "professional" journalists consider "an epidemic of vanity publishing rather than the glorious outbreak of free expression it actually represents."

No doubt the writings of Tom Paine, John "the Devil" Wilkes, and even the Federalist Papers were also considered "an epidemic of vanity publishing" by their betters at the time.

But blogging IS a "glorious outbreak of free expression!" -- something the attacks only prove.

Likewise, Glenn Reynolds linked to this wonderfully optimistic piece praising the blog invasion as "a new way to trade ideas."

It sure is! Where else can you suppressed inside reports like this one from Salam Pax inside Iraq. Or (again from Glenn Reynolds) there's this more optimistic account

What right have we to read freely about events that the forces of quasi-governmental media censorship don't want us reading? And what's next? A blogger crackdown by the FBI? Read this damning story, the third-in-a-row from Instapundit, but I didn't see 'em anywhere else. (Certainly not on the ever more mainstream Drudge.)

Right now, they're only picking on high school students.

But I am not a high school student, so I need not worry….

posted by Eric at 06:37 PM

Boredom Rules! Looks like

Boredom Rules!

Looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't wanna run for office, reportedly because among other things, he hates committee meetings and all that boring, put-me-to-sleep stuff -- the nuts and bolts of politics.

Arnie is right! I did that (attended committee meetings) and instead of making a political junkie out of me, it damned near turned me into a genuine junkie for life.

How can any reasonable person (or even an unreasonable person for that matter) sit though:

- Many hours of stultifying boredom, and tedious horror;
- endless, pretentious displays of loud egotistical pontificating;
- blatant appeals to the mob by people who know better, and;
- (worst of all) fiendish delight with bureaucratic details and endless discussion thereof;
- all for the purpose of a cheap thrill: that vaguely sexual pleasure of simultaneously gratifying the ego while exhausting the opposition to death.

Bloggers are a breath of fresh air -- in stark contrast to lovers of the committee process. Most bloggers (being libertarian freethinker types) would hate committee meetings, and most of them are unlikely to run for office, because such a fate is the inevitable reward of campaign victory.

More fun to be the Terminator than to sit in interminable committee meetings. And the libertarian-minded Terminators of altruistic control-freak bureaucratic bullshit find themselves in an odd position. Those who truly hate "liberal-versus-conservative" mainstream bullshit are naturally disinclined to engage in bullshit in order to defeat it. Thus, the people who love to run for office because they love to hear themselves pontificate at committee meetings are the ones who run and win! Their reward is precisely why they run: they get to sit through endless meetings, each side savoring his endless turn at the mike.

As would be expected of such personality types, they then pass monotonous, commie/fascist laws tyrannizing the rest of us and perpetuating an infinitely expanding bureaucracy. Ultimately, this reduces those paltry few who might want to do something about it to running for local Rent Control Boards with campaign slogans which can only be called acts of political self-emasculation:


Great deal, eh?

(Similarly, those principled few who might have opposed the metastasizing national cancer called the "Patriot Act" did not have or take the time to read it.)

However, once again bloggers give me cause for optimism. I have been reading through many blogs late at night, and I have found a good deal of highly articulate whining and kvetching by some excellent writers who nonetheless manage to help me get to sleep with their love of hair-splitting distinctions and ad hominem bitchiness. (I will not dare put a link here because I want them to love me -- and encouraging them to run for office is not an act of love!) They like to quote exalted libertarian authorities almost line and verse, and I suspect many of them like to hear themselves talk. They remind me of what I encountered before rejecting politics, with a key difference: in this case they are the good guys!

They might be perfectly suited to do something about the petty tyrants who want to ruin our lives.

After all, somebody has to do it.

History shows what happens if those who disdain the petty drudgery of politics defer to the (apparently) hard working plodders -- boring guys with names like Dzhugashvili. Guys like him made me nod out too. Better to just let them do what they want.

You can always complain later...

Of course, the ancients had this crazy notion that civic obligation was wholly separable from the concept of altruism -- something laughable by today's moralistic standards.

posted by Eric at 12:41 PM

Rome Yes; Roehm, No!

Rome Yes; Roehm, No!

As a longtime advocate of allowing homosexuals to serve in the military, I am worried about this story, because of the allegation that the soldiers engaged in sexual acts.

I sure as hell hope that the sex acts were heterosexual acts -- because otherwise we'll all never hear the end of it from the "family" values people.

(Family. Now there's another perfectly good word that's been ruined.)

posted by Eric at 12:22 PM

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