Friday, February 01, 2008

Hollywood Then and Now

Andrew Klavan reminds us of the days when Hollywood was patriotic and what it has become today. From Libertas:

Our Founding redefined nationhood along social-contract lines that Europeans can still only theorize about. Our love of nation at its best was ethical, not ethnic. Our patriotism was loyalty not to race, or even to tradition, but to ideals of individual liberty and republican self-governance.

The films of World War II often reflect just that sort of patriotism. Yes, there’s plenty of pure jingo, not to mention racial slurs so nonchalant that they’re now hilarious: the enemies are always krauts or dagos or—my personal favorite from Fighting Seabees—“Tojo and his bug-eyed monkeys.” But many World War II films emphasize what America stands for. The ceaseless Hollywood roll calls of Spinellis, O’Haras, Dombrowskis, and Steins highlight the e pluribus unum of it all: an ethnically diverse nation unified by democratic ideals. Those ideals were embodied by the characters themselves—by their rough, easygoing demeanor, their friendly interaction over ethnic and class lines, and their suspicion of fascist strongmen. Mussolini “kinda thinks he’s God, don’t he?” says a cynical Humphrey Bogart in Sahara. “Someday that guy’s gonna blow up and bust.”

Most people love their homeland, but these movies understood that, for Americans, the democratic ethos constituted the substance of that land. It was that substance that was worth fighting and dying for, even when the battle was lost. As a doomed soldier remarks in Bataan, “It don’t matter much where a man dies, as long as he dies for freedom.” Hold your breath and wait for a modern filmmaker to say that about Vietnam or Iraq.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

‘Our love of nation was ethical, not ethnic; patriotism was loyalty to ideals of individual liberty and republican self-governance, not to race, or even to tradition.’

This reminds me of Aristotle “it is by small degrees only that one thing takes the place of another; so that the ancient laws will remain, while the power will be in the hands of those who have brought about a revolution in the state.” As he noted, the same words will be used, but with a very different meaning. So the liberals pretend that they remain patriotic, supportive of the constitution, and adhering to ideals, while they now mean the politics of ethnicity, race, and gender, where 'ideals' now mean governmentally distributed benefits.


2/1/08, 1:48 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Good point! And good quote!

2/1/08, 3:18 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Reminds me of the words that got Alan Keyes kicked off of ballots in Republican primaries.

2/1/08, 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regard to the redefinition of nationhood, patriotism, and liberty, let us address the most fundamental redefinitions.

The central ideal of our civilization was 'justice' whereby the individual should get what he deserves. (This was once captured by "As ye sow, so shall ye reap.") The current view is that justice is benefiting the poor by taking from the rich, which is the very antipode.

Next is the means to obtain justice, which is 'morality'. This used to mean avoiding coercion, which is essentially by liberty. The current view is that morality is the use of government to distribute benefits, which is its very antipode.

We may note that justice/morality constitute a dichotomy of end/means, so that they are metaphysically inseparable (although epistemologically distinct).

I would say that this dichotomy is the base of our civilization, where its redefinition has been the source of our demise. Unfortunately, while the liberals have undermined our ideals, those who would defend our civilization have not tried to advocate and defend our ideals. We may note that the Republicans have gone in for 'compassionate conservatism' which convey the vogue definitions for justice and morality.

As Ayn Rand has said, one cannot defeat an adversary by using his premises.


P.S., to Mr. Beamish. I appreciate Alan Keyes, who has outstanding qualities and principles. Unfortunately, he thinks that the American Revolution was fought to prevent a woman from having an abortion.

2/2/08, 1:44 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Good philosophical points, in general But the conclusion seems off. Didn't anyone see "Black Hawk Down?"

Iraq, and to a lesser extent Viet Nam, are poor examples of wars for freedom. Most Americans, including me, believe we were sold the Iraq war on false pretenses. There's plenty of evidence, too, that U.S. troops who've fought there have been subsequently abandoned, in many respects.

It has been some time since the U.S. government consistently supported individual liberty and republican self-governance. A truly patriotic film would be one that exposed this.

As for Hollywood's

2/2/08, 8:53 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I don’t think the author’s was arguing that the military missions are prudent or wise. We have a long tradition of disputing such contentions from the Whig opposition to the War of 1812 to the opposition to WWI; even the so-called isolationist desire to avoid WWII prior to Pearl Harbor is a patriotic America-first movement.

The general view was that our military actions were honorable if imprudent in the sense that our enemies represented illiberal regimes worthy of defeat (or imperialist ones in 1812) but military action on our part wasn’t warranted.

One sees in Hollywood today, not a loyal opposition but a vicious vilification of our side and an implicit (or even explicit) endorsement of a most illiberal enemy. The men and women in are military remain a fighting force for liberty even if one believes they are currently deployed in an over generous mission abroad (which happens too often) to fight a vicious enemy one could have avoided.

I’ve generally avoided foreign policy but talked about the above two years ago.

2/2/08, 10:13 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Hollywood now isn't much like Hollywood of 60 years ago. I find that I don't like very much of what Hollywood now cranks out. So many of today's films seem to have "America is wrong" themes.

Our love of nation at its best was ethical, not ethnic. Our patriotism was loyalty not to race....

I mostly agree. In the past, however, I think that some of our American patriotism was indeed ethnically linked--at least on an individual level.

The next portion of my comment is a bit off topic, but not by much (I hope).

America may well see Obama on the Democratic Party ticket. In my opinion, many Americans still harbor vestiges of racism, both consciously and unconsciously. I believe that many will enter the voting booth in November and cast a ballot based, in part, on race. Some will vote for Obama to prove to themselves that they are not racsits; others will vote for Obama just because he is not white.

Basing one's vote on ethnicity has not before been an issue in an American Presidential election. At least, insofar as I know.

Recently I posted on how voters decide to cast their ballots. I'm not sure if the expert I cited is correct, but I think that what he stated bears thinking about.

2/3/08, 11:23 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


P.S., to Mr. Beamish. I appreciate Alan Keyes, who has outstanding qualities and principles. Unfortunately, he thinks that the American Revolution was fought to prevent a woman from having an abortion.

He thinks no such thing. It would be better to say that his concept of morals and ethics causes him to agree with the justification of the American Revolution and to have a pro-life / anti-abortion stance.

[Stick to Objectivism. Your snark kinda lacks.]

2/3/08, 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Stick to Objectivism. Your snark kinda lacks."

Beamish, my snarks apply to Objectivism as well, e.g., "An Objectivist is someone who at the height of passion calls out his own name."

I would even snark Weingarten himself, if it weren't a contradiction in terms. Such would be the case to say that 'Weingarten did not snark.'


2/3/08, 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


by Joel Phillips
owner: American Coast Title

Mark my words. This bunch of hackers from that V for Vendetta movie are all funded by Islamic Fascists. Some of them have probably even gone to Indonesia to meet with Bin Laden’s followers there!

The root of all terrorism is Islam. It is time to destroy it and remove all memory of it so it will never rise again!

You don’t believe me, well keep reading!

Just look at a few:

First World Trade Center Attack: A blind Egyptian guy was behind it. No one contests it.

Oklahoma City: Do not forget that McVeigh served in the first Gulf War. There is good reason to think he was recruited by jihadists in Iraq who were active at the time.

9/11: Islamic suicide extremists, forget the other theories. They were Taliban zealots hoping for virgins and palaces in Islamic heaven.

Spanish train bombs: More Jihad extremists, basically the same bunch as the 9/11.

London train bombs: Not the same 9/11 and Spain guys, but British Muslims from Pakistan.

Virginia Tech: This one is so sad. Psychiatry started Cho out. Then Islamic recruiters told Cho he would get infinite sex in Muslim heaven from the 172 virgins so he converted. Just like the 9/11 guys he was going to prostitutes but even they knew he wsa evil so they would not have sex with him. By trying to destroy Virginia Tech he thought he was attacking Bush’s aggression in Afghanistan.

London night club bombs: Good for the Brit cops, they have caught some of the guys and it is more of these Pakistan guys. Maybe it is time to have a serious think about what to do about Pakistan.

It is no accident or coincidence the bigots who oppose religious freedom are inspired by Islamic thought. Just look at some of the fine people on

EVERY SINGLE PERSON on there is a zealot, bigot or extremist and you will find that most of them have extensive criminal records. Take a look at these criminal records and you will find the influence of Islam.

Charlotte Kates: this young woman is a card-carrying member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. They are kind of the poster child for Muslim terrorists.

Peter Alexander: this man makes hate films. He is also building some kind of an amusement park in the Arab Gulf. He is clearly doing the bidding of Islamist masters all the way around.

Patricia Greenway: this woman is Alexander’s business partner and lover. She likes to live the high life and Arab money helps out there. Word in Ybor City is that she has her eye on an Enzo.

Kristi Wachter: she puts out a daily hate newsletter. She has paid for the theft of materials from churches. She says she used to run a record company but how much money could it make? It seems to me she is getting her money from bin Laden and his friends.

David Touretzky: don’t be fooled. This man is not a mouse brain researcher, he is a bomb expert. Who is really paying for his research? Could it be the same bomb makers loose in Iraq?

Keith Henson: first, don’t forget that but for this man would not of gone to jail. He is not just a bomb expert but a proved bomb maker. And who wants to pay for bombs? Jihad extremists! Who paid for his toothpaste and cigarettes in jail? Was it a guy called Osama?

Tory Bezazian: She walked away from her husband of many years to engage in hate activities. Where does she get money? The answer is Islam. She is a directly funded agent of the Los Angeles Koranic Council.

Andreas Heldal-Lund: this man supported Middle East bomber Lars Gule, need I say more?

Arnie Lerma: Nazi and leading conspiracy theorist. This man is worse than an anarchist as some day he will probably kill himself just to make a stupid point.

Rob Clark: threatens to blow up a church and a weather station? Who knows why, but when you get to the bottom, you will find a copy of the Koran there!

As to the site,, it is paid for 100% by my company, American Coast Title. I am one of the owners. The other two owners, Frank Berriz and Linda Blood are 100% behind what I am doing as are our parent underwriter Stewart Title.

We also get pretty good support from our employees although it would be illegal of me to impose my political beliefs on them.

Does it surprise you that I am being attacked by Indonesians? Not a coincidence that Indonesia is an Islamic country.

The company is willing to pay a nice reward to the person who will stand up and help me stop them. Please look at my site for details.

Expect without doubt a lot of trouble in Glendale. That is where American Coast Title is located as well as a dense population of Armenians. The Armenians do not like Arab Muslims so the area is getting very tense as the clock ticks down for Islamic terrorism.

So I am calling for the elimination of Islam and to these Anonymous Partyvan Vendetta of February People. Many other religious choices are available. No other religion is associated with state sponsored terror as documented by the US State Department Report on Terrorism.

This is a strong statement but it is time to end these attacks with bombs full of nails and gas. No other group does this. It is all and always back to Islam, Muslims, the Koran and groups like the Taliban and various sleeper cells.

Stand up with me on this one. Stand tall with me against Muslims who commit mass murder hoping for 172 virgins in a palace. Stand shoulder to shoulder with me to stop the next bunch suicidal bigots from burning down your city.

I hope the day will come when all we have left is one Mosque left up somewhere as a museum to the hatred Islam made and the Koran is a book kept in a locked up room at the FBI. Now that will be a banner day for world peace and religious freedom!

2/3/08, 5:10 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


Snark aside, I don't accept your premise that "Alan Keyes thinks the American Revolution was fought to prevent a woman from having an abortion."

I realize you weren't making an Objectivist argument against Keyes' positions on either the American Revolution or abortion, nor applying Objectivist principles in your stated premise.

A is A. Snark is snark.

For what it's worth, I'd love to see an Objectivist moral argument attempt to justify both throwing off the oppressive bonds of Britain AND allowing pregnant women to treat their developing child like tumors to be removed and discarded.

I don't think it can be done.

It's sort of like Bush trying to pretend there's a ban on cloning human life in embryonic stem cell research at the same time "human life" isn't regarded by the government as "beginning at conception." (i.e. what are they banning? Science? English grammar?)

2/4/08, 1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote that "Alan Keyes thinks the American Revolution was fought to prevent a woman from having an abortion." This is of course technically erroneous, for he is too intelligent and educated to believe that, but it expresses his fundamental flaw. This is an important political issue, for it relates to the social conservatives. It is also pertinent to the present topic of the change of meanings that are now given to concepts & words, such as “patriotism”, “liberty”, and “rights”.

First, some facts ( Keyes writes: “If the Declaration of Independence states our creed, then there can be no right to abortion, since it means denying the most fundamental right of all to human offspring in the womb... if human beings can decide who is human and who is not, the doctrine of God-given rights is utterly corrupted…” Let us note that the issue of whether human life begins at conception is not established in the Bible, and that the Jews in particular held that the soul is given at the time of birth. Biologists claim that the fetus undergoes the stages of evolution, so that it is some months before the stage of Homo sapiens is reached. From a social point of view, where human life is considered via the attitudes of the family, it is rare for someone to think of a fetus of several weeks as a human being. (Would people want to prosecute a woman for murder if she took a pill, a week after conceiving?)

However, my point is not to settle the issue, but rather to note that the definition of ‘human life’ is a debatable one, and surely not a matter of a ‘self-evident truth’. On the other hand, the delegated powers of government are surely not those of a theocracy, but are derived from the consent of the governed. Apparently Keyes would say that even if virtually all people (including our Founders) believed that a fetus could be aborted, government should have the power to prevent it. This is akin to Mike Huckabee wanting to amend the Constitution to reflect God’s law. (We would then outlaw drugs, prostitution, gambling, homosexual activity, etc.)

My view is that even if abortion were against God’s law, and were morally wrong, that would not justify governmental prevention. Yet the primary issue is not abortion, but the flaw in social conservatism.

I submit that the essential aim of conservatism is to conserve civilization, which is composed of culture and government. Here culture is the primary component, while the role of government is solely to protect individual rights, and not to intervene in culture.

Consequently, just as there should be no indoctrination of secular values, there should be no indoctrination of religious values (let alone of which religion). *The principled position would not use government to further social conservatism, but to protect our traditions from an intervening government.*

It is a shame that Alan Keyes thinks that the government has the right to prevent abortions, for it undercuts his excellent approaches to protecting the inalienable rights of the individual (not the God given rights of the fetus). Mr. Beamish asks to see a moral argument for liberty from Britain, and permitting abortion. That is simple, for ‘moral’ means non-coercive (or Ayn Rand's non-initiation of force). Britain was coercing Americans, and government would be coercing social behavior. I maintain that the role of government is not to impose morality, but to protect us from having ‘morality’ imposed upon us.


2/4/08, 10:02 AM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Jason: good points re foreign policy and Hollywood as disloyal opposition. I largely agree.

Beamish: I won't make a a full Objectivist case re abortion here, just an outline, but why do individual rights begin at conception? It's humans' unique concsiousness that make rights a prerequisite for human life and civilization. A fertilized ovum doesn't come close to this.

Suppose there's no clearly identifiable point in development at which consciousness begins. Then even a prudent "reasonable man" standard would establish a cutoff at some point after conception for which we think consciousness begins.

One serious problem with a conception definition: an ectopic pregancy will typically kill the woman who suffers it, without having a living baby result. When abortion is banned, with no ecpetions (the typical argument: "abortion is murder, so no exceptions"), an ectopic pregnancy is a senseless death sentence. This is currently the case in Guatemala, for example.

2/4/08, 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Charles Steele that "It's humans' unique con[sc]iousness that make rights a prerequisite for human life and civilization." So from that perspective we "would establish a cutoff at some point after conception for which we think consciousness begins." Here, we would note that even at the point where the fetus reaches the state of the fish, or even the mammal, it would not rise to the level of humans' unique consciousness that permits reason.

Yet again, at issue is not abortion, but the principles on which our nation is to be guided. Let us consider that Mr. Beamish, Steele, and myself, have disagreements about when human life begins. *How would we establish the proper approach for government to take?* One might say that we follow the Constitution, yet there are different ways to infer its intent. Another might say that we should follow the will of God, yet there are different ways to interpret His will, and others (including some of the Founders) did not believe in God. Still another might provide a philosophical position, but others might not accept philosophy, but only that which is self-evident.

Thus the approach of Keyes is not compelling, whether from a religious, philosophical, historical, or political perspective.

The Founders had it right, where there are basic guides that are shared by individuals, while the role of government is to protect us from being imposed upon.


2/4/08, 2:31 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Of course there's allways Saving Private Ryan. Although a lot of folks didn't like the poor film making. Spielberg used ever cliche extant including the smart mouth guy from Brooklyn. Very manipulative but Spielberg never had the guts as a film maker to trust his message to stand on its own

2/4/08, 5:03 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


I would submit to you the book of the prophet Jeremiah :"And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations." [Jer 1:4-5] to strike down the idea "...the Jews in particular held that the soul is given at the time of birth."

This doesn't appear to support your contention, nor make the Orthodox Jewish opposition to the practice of abortion an aberration.

British common law, upon which much of American jurisprudence is founded and which the Founding Fathers were familiar, also codified protections for pregnant women and considered the unborn child just as human as the mother. Under British common / American colonial law, killing a child still in the womb brought the same murder charge as killing a child out of the womb.

It is "the evolution of immorality" that has euphemismistically transformed human life into disposable biological material.

It is still very much human life, begun at conception, otherwise it would be useless in stem cell research. Otherwise, it would never grow tall enough to protected by law.

So now we're back to wondering where America's sense of morality went, and if it is the proper role of government to "re-impose" it.

Or, we can rack up another 50 million destroyed fetal humans while we ignore the substitution of morality with expediency, and starve the Terry Schiavos of our world to death while we cry "torture" at the sight of terrorists with panties placed on their heads.

The flaw of social conservatism is not that it seeks to preserve culture and restrict government to protecting individual rights, but rather that it has failed miserably at both.

We now have a culture of abortion and a government of human meritocracy - if "it" can't pay taxes, "it" can be killed.

2/4/08, 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beamish, it is true that there are passages of predestination. However, that applies not only to the fetus, but also as you note “*Before* I formed thee in the belly…” (So by that reasoning there was human life prior to conception.) Some mystics in Judaism, such as regards the Kabala, consider what was predestined generations earlier. [Below I provide an analysis of the views regarding when the soul enters the body.]

Next you mention that British common law for killing a fetus “brought the same murder charge as killing a child out of the womb.” OK, tell me, ‘would you prosecute a woman for murder if she took a pill, a week after conceiving?’

You might also note that opposition to abortion does not necessitate that it be treated as a crime. For example, I am opposed to the practice of abortion (though not in all cases) but do not consider it a crime. Similarly, while Jewish law does not sanction abortion without a pressing reason, there is no death sentence for doing so, as there is for killing a human being.

[Halacha (Jewish law) does define when a fetus becomes a nefesh (person)...a baby...becomes a full-fledged human being when the head emerges from the womb…Jewish beliefs and practice do not neatly match either the "pro-life" nor the "pro-choice" points of view. The general principles of modern-day Judaism are that: The fetus has great value because it is potentially a human life. It gains "full human status at birth only." Abortions are not permitted on the grounds of genetic imperfections of the fetus. Abortions are permitted to save the mother's life or health. With the exception of some Orthodox authorities, Judaism supports abortion access for women…Historical Christianity has considered "ensoulment," the point at which the soul enters the body) as the time when abortions should normally be prohibited. Belief about the timing of this event has varied from the instant of fertilization of the ovum, to 90 days after conception, or later. There has been no consensus among historical Jewish sources about when ensoulment happens. It is regarded as "one of the 'secrets of God' that will be revealed only when the Messiah comes."]

However, what is more at issue is whether the role of government should be theocratic, and conform to God’s word. I presume your answer is yes, so please tell me why, and describe which religion should dictate the law. And again “Let us consider that Mr. Beamish, Steele, and myself, have disagreements about when human life begins. *How would we establish the proper approach for government to take?*”


2/4/08, 10:43 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


It isn't about any particular or specific religion at all.

But if it must be, then which anti-abortion religious or ethical constraint truly contradicts the "non-agression principle" - that the initiation of physical force is inherently illegitimate - in such a way that harms culture or negates individual rights?

I say none of them would. Opposing abortion falls squarely within the essence of the non-agression / non-initiation of force principle.

If abortion is not the initiation of lethal force against a human life (the developing fetus) towards the ignoble goal of negating and avoiding the consequences of one's actions and responsibilities (becoming pregnant, raising a child), then what is it?

And further, what culture can claim an objective morality for themselves that denies its own premises? If it is wrong to initiate force against a human life, is this wrong made right by pretending the human life is something else? If it is wrong to deprive a human of their right to live, is the wrong made right by pretending the human is not human?

I'm merely reducing the question to its most stark terms:

How tall must a human be to deserve protection from lethal violence?

I reject the premise that a human fetus is not human. So does true science. We can go round and round on this, but mereologically speaking, fetal humans get bigger. They do not become "more" human. They are not "less" human.

As far as my answer to "would you prosecute a woman for murder if she took a pill, a week after conceiving?"

If the pill (I assume you meant of the abortifacient variety) resulted in the death of her developing child, and it was her intent in taking this pill was to initiate force against that developing child in order to kill it and expel it from her womb, yes. She has commited pre-meditated murder.

And further, if she could do that to her own child... without sanction from her society, does she truly live in a moral culture that respects individual rights?

Does she live in a culture fit to pass judgement upon other cultures?

Do we?

2/5/08, 4:30 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

And before someone muddies the discussion with capital punishment non sequiturs, I'm willing to give up America's 30-something capital punishment average kills a year if the abortion industry will give up their 1.4 something million kills a year.

2/5/08, 4:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beamish argues that no religion violates the non-aggression principle. That is his view, while mine is that if a pregnant woman killed her fetus, and was sent to jail or killed, it would be an initiation of force. The question then is how do we determine which view to follow. His view is based on religion, so this reduces to which religion to follow. I previously noted that in addition to differences between religions (on matters of ‘human life’ and ‘ensoulment’) there are vast differences even within the given religions. So to repeat, I ask *Which religion would he use for authority about abortion?* (He repeatedly states that a fetus is a ‘human life’ but disregards that not all religions accept this.) Yet more pertinent, is whether the criminal justice system is to be governed by theocracy, and if so, why have a Constitution, rather than for example Jewish or ecclesiastical law?

Beamish claims that we should live in a moral society, and presumes that immoral activity should be punished. Again I ask, does he then believe that the government has a moral mission, and consequently should outlaw drugs, alcohol, gambling, prostitution, etc.? Such is the logic of a theology, which I aver initiates force. Why then should it not outlaw immoral teachings and speech?

He presumes that if we do not imprison or kill the woman who takes the pill, that she is “without sanction from her society…” Yet people can sanction all of the aforementioned activities without criminalization. Have we forgotten “That government is best that governs least”? Theocrats disagree, and often hold that totalitarians are best, for they forcefully punish all that is immoral.

So again, if he and I concur that something is immoral, but disagree as to whether the delegated powers of government should apply, how should this difference be resolved. Should we follow his religion, or mine, or the Founders’ (many of whom were deists)? I would only allow powers to government that are derived from our shared notions (i.e., the ‘self-evident’) while he would allow those powers to be based on his faction’s morality.

Allow me to digress to why this issue is significant. When we address the deterioration of our nation, it derives precisely from granting powers to government, which do not fall into its proper role. This was also the fount of the mass murders of the 20th century. The social conservatives in this sense are allied with the liberals, since both believe in using the power of government to further their agenda. The following essay provides my view.


I submit that *the injustice of our age derives from seeking morality via government*. This occurs when being ‘moral’ toward our enemies, criminals, illegal aliens, failing businesses, etc. Now at first glance, one might think that this occurs because we do not have truly moral policies and practices. Thus welfare payments decrease the marriage rate, and increase the illegitimacy rate, while minimum wage laws prevent people from gaining employment. Yet the problem is not the particular moral aim, but having any such aim, since government agencies ought to have solely technical rather than normative objectives. Some people think that because government must not be corrupt, this implies a moral purpose. Yet this only means that the government must retain its objective. Washington said “Government is not reason or eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master.” I would add that its objective is to safeguard our inalienable rights, as does a guard dog who bites intruders. The intruder receives his just deserts, but the guard dog is not a moral agent.

*Morality does not come out of the barrel of a gun.* Rather it derives from free choice, and only on that basis can be built into a culture or a community. Leviticus 19:15 states, with regard to the law, that “you shall not favor the poor, and you shall not honor the great.” Thus the law is to be akin to an umpire for whom all players are confined by the same rules, i.e., equality before the law. The umpire is not a moral agent, but a technician, for whom the chips will fall where they may. Whatever his moral views, they are no substitute for meeting his objective.

Most of us recognize the need to separate Church and State, since it is harmful to the function of each. Yet few inquire as to why it would not be better for them to work as partners. The answer is direct, since *conscience requires the free choice of individuals, while compliance requires collective force*. Were the government to dictate choice, it would not be free, but coerced, while if government were saddled by moral considerations, its functioning would be impeded. As a matter of fact, *the best way to ensure that government’s objective is foiled is to require it to become moral*. In sum, culture, which derives from the aspirations of individuals, must be separated from government, which must forcefully and collectively restrain threats to our civilization.


2/5/08, 11:42 AM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Well Beamish, life begins with self consciousness.

Why don't you and weingarten go chew on that.

2/5/08, 1:46 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.

2/5/08, 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

So much for your claim to have the Founders on YOUR side in this argument, whinegarden... For those purposes are ALL pretty self-evident to me!

2/5/08, 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Whinegarden is into selecting common goods from Nash's Equilibrium Theory, ducky. He's too committed to maximizing the individual goods resulting from Smith's Invisible Hand... aka- mindless consumerism.

Cause isn't it self-evident that mindless consumerism is what the Constitution intends when it calls for the government to "promote the General Welfare"? No "morality" must be allowed to corrupt the non-objective of the objectivist! LOL!

2/5/08, 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dontcha know, ducky, that culture is for chumps and should play NO part in government? Those judges need to take off those gastly wigs and black robes, get rid of those silly hammers, and scratch their asses and throw their poops at the bailiff like the rest of us. There's no room for any of that silly culture nonsense in a courtroom!


2/5/08, 3:20 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Sgt. Tanaka: When I get out of this, I'm gonna join the Air Force. No more beetle-crushing for me!

Sgt. Zack: Aw, be smart. There's nothing like the infantry. If you're in a plane and get hit, what happens? You still gotta fall. There's two strikes against you. If you're on a ship and get hit, you can drown. In a tank, you can fry like an egg. But in the infantry, you get hit and that's it. One or the other, you're dead or alive. But you're on the ground. Get wise, there's nothing like the infantry.

Sgt. Tanaka: Is he kidding?

2/5/08, 5:01 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Lt. Benson: Battalion doesn't exist. Regiment doesn't exist. Command HQ doesn't exist. The U.S.A. doesn't exist... We're the only ones left to fight this war.

2/5/08, 5:06 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Rivera: It could've been something else. It could've been the engineers or the tanks. It could even have been the Navy. They looked at me and said, "Here's a guy that can walk." They finished me, all right.
Friedman: Everybody walks. Even monkeys.
Friedman: Where are we going, Rivera?
Rivera: I am going someplace where I can set up this weapon. Then I am going to shoot this weapon. I am not gonna walk any more!

2/5/08, 5:09 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Beamish argues that no religion violates the non-aggression principle.


I argued that no anti-abortion stance derived from any religious or ethical system I'm aware of violates the non-agression principle.

You wish to deny that a fetal human can experience agression, therefore it is not the initiation of force to purposefully abort them.

Try again. This time, adress my argument.

2/5/08, 7:18 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

"Well Beamish, life begins with self consciousness."

"Dear Brack,

I hear there is great excitement on the Alb because of the Grafeneck Institution.

The population recognizes the gray automobiles of the SS and think they know what is going on at the constantly smoking crematory. What happens there is a secret and yet is no longer one. Thus the worst feeling has arisen there, and in my opinion there remains only one thing, to discontinue the use of the institution in this place and in any event disseminate information in a clever and sensible manner by showing motion pictures on the subject of inherited and mental diseases in just that locality.

May I ask for a report as to how the difficult problem is solved?"

2/5/08, 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beamish, you had asked which anti-abortion religious or ethical constraint truly contradicts the "non-agression principle". I thought that this was in response to my question 'which religion should dictate the law on abortion?'. If you were not responding to that question, I would not have interpreted it as I did. Rather I would have said, as I did, that imprisoning or killing the mother is an initiation of aggression. (I know you disagree with this, for in your terminology an acorn is an oak tree, and an egg is a chicken, as shown by mereology.)

However, apparently you were not responding to my question, so I can only assume that you are saying that your religion should dictate the law on abortion, and ensoulment, and should define what is meant by 'human life'. If I have again misinterpreted your meaning, please tell me in simple terms which religion should dictate the law on abortion.


P.S., And at the same time, please address whether or not we should have a theocracy, and whether government should have a moral mission.

2/5/08, 8:55 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


Religions answer (or attempt to answer) spiritual questions.

I'm arguing from science. A fetal human is still a human. It is illegitmate to initiate force against a human. It is illegitimate to pretend certain humans are not human (i.e. they're "just a fetus," or "just an untermensh," and so on) to attempt to justify the initiation of force against them.

I don't need a religion or a belief in a soul to tell me it is wrong, it is illegitimate, to initiate force against another human being.

If the class "human life" contains all human life, it is the abortionist that is initiating force against human life, not the adherent of the non-aggression principle seeking to prosecute a murderer for murder.

The decay of our culture, the contradiction of our vaunted "respect for individual rights" stems in part from our unwillingness to define human life as human life.

2/5/08, 9:58 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

To answer Weingarten's post-script, I'll let the symbolic author of religious freedom in America answer:

"Whatsoever is lawful in the Commonwealth or permitted to the subject in the ordinary way cannot be forbidden to him for religious uses; and whatsoever is prejudicial to the Commonwealth in their ordinary uses and, therefore, prohibited by the laws, ought not to be permitted to churches in their sacred rites. For instance, it is unlawful in the ordinary course of things or in a private house to murder a child; it should not be permitted any sect then to sacrifice children. It is ordinarily lawful (or temporarily lawful) to kill calves or lambs; they may, therefore, be religiously sacrificed. But if the good of the State required a temporary suspension of killing lambs, as during a siege, sacrifices of them may then be rightfully suspended also. This is the true extent of toleration." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:547

The question is not "is it a religion that professes that human life begins at conception?"

The question is "how can we pretend human life does not begin at conception while acknowledging that it does via embryonic stem cell research?"

2/5/08, 10:13 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

How do we ban the "cloning of human life" in embryonic stem cell research?

By calling human life something else.

2/5/08, 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Beamish, I simply do not understand where you are coming from. I asked questions regarding what you spoke about previously, such as the religious views on ensoulment, human life, theocracy, and the role of government. These derived from our discussion of Alan Keyes’ advocacy against abortion. You seem to be saying that you are not concerned about religions, but about science. So apparently we are no longer addressing Alan Keyes nor his religious positions against abortion.

Let us then put aside the previous issues, and assume arguendo that you are correct that a fetus is a human being (and an acorn is an oak tree, and an egg is a chicken), which is what I claimed originally about different definitions being given to the same words, such as ‘human being’ (and ‘tree’, and ‘chicken’). Let us also assume that abortion is wrong, and that there is a crisis regarding “our unwillingness to define human life as human life.” *At issue then is where the government would obtain the power to prosecute abortion.* In other words, even if you and I agree, where would the justification for prosecution derive? Surely many do not hold to that definition of the inalienable rights of the individual, so on what basis would that definition dictate governmental action?

Moreover, I do not follow your quote by Jefferson where it is unlawful to murder a child, since most people do not define a fetus as a child. You ask "how can we pretend human life does not begin at conception while acknowledging that it does via embryonic stem cell research?" Since most people, and certainly some, do not believe that a stem cell is a human life, the question is unclear. By analogy, if some of us believe in ghosts, others in flying saucers, and still others in reincarnation, where would the government gain the power to act upon the 'morality' of the related issues?

To repeat, I am not (at this point) arguing with your view that an abortion is the murder of a human being. Rather I am asking where this justifies governmental prosecution, since many people do not accept your view, and not your definitions (particularly that a fetus is a human being). Since you did not address the question as to whether government has a moral mission, I do not know whether you are claiming that it has, or whether it is your view of morality that should determine its role.

Perhaps I am not correctly interpreting your meaning, but I am trying to ascertain it. If it is simply that you believe that a fetus is a human being, but you have no opinion as to the role of government, or the politics of Alan Keyes, then I fail to see why you addressed the subject of abortion in the first place.


2/5/08, 11:55 PM  
Blogger AmPowerBlog said...

Nice post, Jason.

Thanks for commenting on my page.

McCain just took California and Missouri (a winner-take-all state).

He's not only locking it up tonight, but Huck's whipped Romney into shape.

A McCain/Huckabee ticket?

Could be a possibility. McCain takes the West and Northeast, and Huck holds down the South. Sounds almost like the Kennedy/Johnson strategy of 1960.

2/6/08, 12:41 AM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

by Thomas James Merton

For Robert Lax

1. I will tell you what you can do ask me if you do not understand what I just said

2. One thing you can do be a manufacturer make appliances

3. Be a Man-u-fac-tu-rer

4. Make appliances sell them for a high price

5. I will tell you about industry make appliances

6. Make appliances that move

7. Ask me if you do not understand what is move

8. First get the facts

9. Where to apply? Ask industry

10. Do not expect to get by without Mr. and Mrs. Consumer

11. Man-u-fic-tion

12. I am wondering if you got the idea be a manu


14. Apply mind energy they will move

15. Mention one of the others see what happens

16. Now apply that to our problem

17. Try not to understand

18. Be a mounte-fictioner

19. Surpass all others in price and profit

20. Assail the public with lies

21. Home-spun-facts-are-more-fun repeat this

22. Prevent spreading on garments

23. Breathe more than others

24. Supply movement and traction

25. Our epidemix will exceed

26. A homemade appliance: no honorable mention

27. Now you can refer to garments and spread out

28. But there are still more facts

29. For excitement: say whose epidemic may be next

30. Apply this to the facts and see what happens

31. Wear dermal gloves in bed

32. Here is an appliance that will terrorize mothers

33. And fight the impossible

34. Man-u-fac-ture: wear it on your head

35. Beat it here come the mothers

2/6/08, 1:05 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


First let me fix your incorrect mereological extrapolations:

(and an acorn is an oak tree, and an egg is a chicken)

This is false mereology, and further a false analogy to my argument that an embryonic or fetal human is still a human.

An acorn does not become a tree until it is finds itself implanted in suitable soil and nutrients to begin its life cycle. If we were trying to stretch plant life analogies to the animal kingdom, an acorn is more like a sperm cell seeking fertilization than anything like a concieved embryo.

An egg, on the other hand, does not ever become a chicken, but rather encases an embryonic chicken when fertilized, in much the same way a placenta encases an embryonic human when an ovum is fertilized by a sperm cell.

In both cases, life of the new tree or the life of the new chicken "begins with conception" - in the manner ascribed by nature for both acorns and soil or chicken eggs and chicken sperm.

Mereologically, you can only reduce tree to a sapling or sprout, and chicken to chick inside a fertilized egg.

Nice try though.

And so here we are, back in actual science's warm embrace, with human life beginning with conception, the fertilization of a human female's ovum cell by a human male's sperm cell.

And now, for the rest of your response:

I initially objected to your quip about Alan Keyes' thinking "that the American Revolution was fought to prevent a woman from having an abortion." Clearly Dr. Keyes thinks no such thing about the American Revolution, as abortion was illegal both in British and colonial American common law. (I need not defend him from assertions born of snark rather than fact.)

And so we find ourselves in a discussion of the ethics of abortion itself, and of embryonic stem cell research.

I do not need to appeal to religion or spirituality or concepts of "ensoulment." Other than my brief quoting of Jeremiah to demostrate that Jews do, or at least once did believe life began before birth, I do not intend to make the matter a religious imperative at all.

Embryonic stem cells are harvested from human embryos - concieved human life from the fertilization of a human egg and a human sperm.

Abortion destroys a human embryo or a human fetus - concieved human life from the fertilization of a human egg and a human sperm.

The principle of non-agression can not be sidestepped by labelling human life something else and pretending not to have done so.

Abortion and embryonic stem cell research is not unethical because "God said so."

It is unethical (and inhumane) because it is in fact the initiation of force against human life.

The false beliefs of others concerning what is and what is not human do not change this.

As far as government having a "moral mission" to prosecute murderers, yes, it does.

Or should.

Or rather, should against ALL murderers.

2/6/08, 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beamish, you write that an acorn is not an oak tree until it “finds itself implanted in suitable soil and nutrients to begin its life cycle.” Okay, so plant the acorn and then (according to you) in two days it is an oak tree. Similarly, the fertilized egg is then a chicken. So your mereology concurs with my understanding of it, whereby the common definition of a fertilized acorn or egg is incorrect, for it is not viewed as being an oak or a chicken. *We can agree on the moment of conception, but that is not by common definition a human being, an oak or a chicken.*

Your stating that Jews did once “believe life began before birth” is puzzling, since everyone knows that. At issue has been whether there was ‘human life’. Perhaps that is what you meant, but if so it is based on your continual presumption of ‘human life’ which others deny. Why not simply say that you insist that it is human life, since once that is taken as given, the rest follows? Similarly, I shall contend that it is not human life (for that is not the lexical definition).

Next you write that government should have a moral mission, namely to prosecute murderers. Again we disagree, for its role is to protect our rights, rather than to practice morality. It is necessary to protect innocent people from being murdered. However the imperative for government stems from protecting the citizens and the nation, and not from doing what is moral. Similarly, a judge decides in accordance with whether the accused has (or has not) violated the law, and not because it is (or is not) moral to convict him. The following demonstrates how this works.


Plaintiff: I had a contract to plant a dozen oak trees on my client’s property, which I met by planting a dozen fine acorns. Now my client refuses to pay, on the grounds that an acorn is not an oak tree.

Judge Meyer Ogilve: The acorns have been found to be fertilized, and shall grow into perfect oaks. Moreover, by mereology they are already oak trees. So I rule that the defendant meets the terms of the contract, and in addition must take the course on Mere Allergy. Next case.

Plaintiff: The fetus whom I represent is threatened by a mother who does not give it a choice as to which diet he receives. Yet the Declaration of Independence states that that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I grant that the defendant has protected his life, but she has deprived him of liberty, and he cannot pursue his happiness.

Judge Meyer Ogilve: Of course a human being cannot be deprived of his liberty and happiness. I order the defendant to take this into account when she tries to lose weight, and to remember that ‘fetus’ means ‘fete us’. Next.

Plaintiff: My daughter demands the liberty to go barhopping to pursue her happiness. Please restrain her from doing so.

Judge Meyer Ogilve: It is you who must be restrained, for if I do not do so it will prevent her from having a fetus. Note that it is just as bad to prevent the fetus from arising, as to murder him, for it precludes his life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.


2/6/08, 3:54 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


Usually you do not deprive me of exposure to your keen intellect. Why do you do so now?

If you do not understand mereology, you're not going to convince me that you do understand it by demonstrating that you don't understand it.

You acorn = tree and egg = chicken analogies are buffoonery, not mereology, for the very reasons I stated in my previous post.

These caricatures certainly do not resemble anything like an analogy to my argument, nor do they serve as anything but a fallacious strawman substitute to actually addressing my argument.

Please address my argument - that embryonic and fetal human life is still human life - and that aborting or vivisecting this life is an example of the illegitimate initiation of force.

If you wish to take up the contrarian position, discard the attempts to convince me that you're obtuse, and explain precisely why it is not unethical and illegitimate to initiate force against an embryonic or fetal human.

Try not to include any logical fallacies in doing so.

2/6/08, 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beamish, perhaps I am obtuse, but I fail to follow your argument. You previously referred to an acorn as a cell seeking fertilization, so I corrected for that quibble by referring to the fertilized acorn. Now you use a different word for what exists at the moment of fertilization. *Yet whatever word you use, at the moment of fertilization the life form is not considered an oak tree.* Similarly you said that the egg encases an embryonic chicken when fertilized. Yet whatever word you use, at the moment of fertilization the life form is not considered a chicken. Are you saying that for human beings, at the moment of conception the life form should be considered a human being, but for an oak tree (or a chicken) the life form should not be considered an oak tree (or a chicken)?

[If instead of referring to a human being, you say “that embryonic and fetal human life is still human life” then the same analogy refers to oak life and chicken life.]

As to addressing your argument that the fetus is a human being, I acknowledged that it follows from your definition of ‘human being’ but that it was not the lexical definition, just as the fertilized acorn (by whatever word you call it) can be defined as an oak tree, but that is not the lexical definition.

Consequently, by ordinary language, killing a fetus is not killing a human being, killing the fertilized acorn is not killing an oak tree, and killing whatever you call the moment of conception for a chicken is not killing a chicken. Again, since the initiation of force refers to human life, killing a fetus is not an initiation of force.

However, since we cannot agree on the issue itself, permit me to summarize where we disagree:

You believe that a fetus is a human being, I do not;
You believe abortion immoral for harming the fetus; I believe it immoral only for harming the mother and her family;
You believe that issues of morality (and different beliefs as to what is moral), should be handled by the government; I believe that the role of government is not to deal with moral issues (or different beliefs);
You believe that the terms in the Declaration of Independence can be defined scientifically; I believe that they can only be defined in our common language;
You believe that moral terms can be defined scientifically, I do not.

Please let me know if the above does not cover our differences, and if so what does.


2/6/08, 9:45 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


An oak tree begins as a sprouted acorn.

Take the growing sprout from a acorn, you can still identify it genetically as an oak tree regardless of how tall it is or can become. And further, you can detect whether or not the sprout is alive.

A chicken begins as an embryo inside a fertilized egg. You can examine a fertilized egg, and identify the embryo inside genetically as a chicken, regardless of its morphological shape or shape to come. And further, you can detect whether or not the embryonic chicken within the egg is alive.

May we dispense with the biology lessons already? After all, your counter-argument amounts to little more than a fallacy of inference - an "appeal to tradition" vis a vis the way people "usually speak."

The way people traditionally frame their vocabulary, "ordinary language," does not change the scientific fact that the growing sprout from a acorn in fertile soil is a living oak tree plant, does not change the scientific fact that the embryonic chicken growing in a fertilized egg is a living chicken, does not change the scientific fact that the concieved human embryo is a human life.

I asked that you avoid logical fallacies.

I don't see the point of your continued references to the Declaration of Independence. While it is a widely read, regarded, and revered document from early US history, before the laws of the land it is just, after all, merely a famous letter to King George III.

You want to define human life by consensus. I want to define human life by fact.

Your consensus definition of "human life" is transient and mutable enough to render and enable the non-aggression principle to be void of actual meaning. In fact, it has.

You seemingly see no flaw or inconsistency in defining human life as being "conscious" or "self aware" in order to abort the life of a human fetus or vivisect a human embryo for experimentation free of constraint by the non-aggression principle. Yet you would cry "murder!" if someone were to kill another human being that is sleeping or knocked unconcious. You would righteously be alarmed if someone began harvesting blood or organs from a human who does not or can not give consent to do so. You would be horrified at the idea of someone killing someone else with the justification that the murdered human was an "infidel, cursed of Allah."

My factual, scientific definition of human life, from embryo to adult, can not sidestep the meaning of the non-aggression principle via convenient euphemism or inconsistently applied definition.

A is A. Human life is human life.

And murder is murder.

2/7/08, 2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beamish, you are simply repeating your definition that a fetus is a 'human being'. The fact that a sprout can be identified genetically as an oak (and that it is alive) does not make it an oak tree (as Judge Ogilve claims), nor does the fact that a fetus can be identified genetically as human show that the fetus has the right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (A fetus cannot have liberty or the pursuit of happiness.) This is not a fallacy of logic, but a denial of the premise that a fetus is a 'human being'. A fallacy in logic (or what is defined as the ‘fallacy of inference’) is where there is acceptance of the premises, but a failure to logically derive conclusions. It is your premise that I reject, and not the conclusions that you derive from it. You begin with the premise that a fetus is alive, and an offspring of humans. Yet to conclude that the fetus is a ‘human being’ is a fallacy of inference, unless that is contained in your definition.

I thought that you were going to show that mereology was science, so that science proves that a fetus is a human being. Then how about citing a consensus of scientists who agree to your position, rather than their debating the metaphysical arguments about it? (Try googling the issue of mereology and abortion, and you will not find any scientific consensus, but rather philosophical differences.)

You discount the common language meaning of the Declaration of Independence as it “does not change the scientific fact that the conc[ei]ved human embryo is a human life.” Yet again there is no scientific consensus that this makes it a 'human being', in the sense of having the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is as though you said that a maggot is a fly, so that fly paper aims at catching maggots, and the number of elephants in a herd includes their fetuses.

I did not define human beings (let alone human life) by being conscious or self-aware, but again in terms by which language is used, because *it is in ordinary language that the meaning of rights is found, and not in science.* (This is not an argument by consensus, but by what the words mean.)

Yet again, if what you are going to do is posit that a fetus is a 'human being', I grant that by your definition the rest follows.


2/7/08, 5:31 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


On the contrary, I think that science does recognize that a embyonic or fetal human is human life.

For example, there is an entire medical field dedicated to pre-natal health care, diagnosis, and treatments. To dip into your "ordinary language" grab bag for a moment, the literature produced by this field of medical science quite clearly recognizes that the doctor has two patients, the mother and the child she is carrying.

I don't think I need to remind you of the controversial ethical debates outside as well as within the scientific field of embryonic stem cell research. If it were a "consensus" that human embryos are not human life, there would be no ethical debate outside or within the field itself, nor would there be an active effort within the field to develop and pursue a method of extracting stem cells from a human embryo without destroying that human embryo if there were no ethical questions about creating human embryos for the purpose of destructively harvesting stem cells from them. Still further, there would be no interest in harvesting stem cells from a human embryo if it were not human life, as the very purpose of the extracted stem cells is for experimental medical treatments for humans. Needless to say, the ethical questions are far from settled.

As a final note, I will recall the case of the State of California v. Scott Petersen, the man convicted of killing his pregnant wife and unborn son. He recieved two murder charges.

Abortion is the initiation of force against a human life.

If the non-aggression principle is to have a coherent and consistent meaning, women who intentionally abort their pregnancies should be charged with murder, as they are quite clearly extinguishing a human life.

2/7/08, 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On page 1 of today’s Wall Street Journal, an article by Nathan Koppel mentions a TV spot by a legal firm in Syracuse N.Y. One ad showed their lawyers offering counsel to space aliens who had crashed their UFO, and one showed their lawyers towering like giants over Syracuse. Not amused, N.Y. court officials said the ads contained patent falsities, so the firm is charged with false advertising. The assistant Attorney General wrote ‘It cannot be denied that there is little likelihood that the lawyers were retained by aliens, have the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or have stomped around downtown Syracuse, Godzilla-style.’

Clearly, the ads were not false advertising. Yet what is it that is mistaken with the assistant AG in his logic that: the ads are false; they advertise a firm; therefore they are false advertising? It is that our common understanding is that ‘false advertising’ means something different from being false and being an advertisement. The assistant AG could counter that it is scientifically proven that the ads are false, they are advertisements, and that logically falsity & advertising yields ‘false advertising’. He would then say that any counterargument stems from someone who is obtuse, and fails to respect empirical science. Moreover, if someone persists in saying that the public defines matters differently, he is making a fallacy of inference. After all it is erroneous to appeal to tradition, or the way that people usually speak, when science and logic prove otherwise.

*The argument that common language does not define the ads as false advertising cannot be refuted by endless references to science or logic, for there are different premises used by laymen, than by scientists & logicians.* To give another instance, consider the ‘Future Like Ours Argument’ by a mereologist.

Premise 1: Killings of adult human beings, are wrong because they deprive them of their future of value;
Premise 2: The fetus has a future of value in the same sense;
Premise 3: Similar cases should be treated similarly;
Conclusion: Killings of fetuses are wrong in the same way, as unjust killings of adult human beings.

Yet some of us who reject that argument disagree with Premise 1 because even if someone has no future of value, it is wrong to kill him, and Premise 2 is wrong because the future of a fertilized acorn does not have a future of value in the same sense as an oak tree. Now I am not claiming that my position is correct, but rather that a difference in a belief about premises, is not a difference concerning scientific definition, nor a difference in logical inference. (As an aside, if one googles the ‘Future Like Ours Argument’, he will find a number of supportive and counter arguments, including one that it leads to homicide not being wrong at all; what will be found are metaphysical differences, and not scientific consensuses.)

To belabor the point, consider the meaning of “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” The scientist-logician responds that: 'all' means every single one, including someone who is brain dead; ‘men’ means males and not females; that ‘equality’ means full equality, and not any inequality; that there is no scientific evidence of a creator, and even if there were, there would be no logical necessity that it endowed anything; also that there is no such thing as an ‘unalienable right’. So although this clause has an operational meaning to the layman, to the scientist-logician it lacks that meaning (although if it conceded a meaning it would be that female fetuses might be able to be aborted).

So again, when someone states that science views a fetus as a human life, it has no bearing on the ordinary definition of what constitutes a 'human being'.


2/7/08, 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to belabor the point, but you're an idiot, whinegarden.

2/7/08, 8:28 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


They came for the acorns, but I said nothing, because I am not an acorn...

2/8/08, 1:19 AM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

If Ayn Rand were taught in university's (which she isn't because the Gramscists are in control) would it be in the philosophy, economics or arts department.

Myself, I hope it isn't art history since her devotion to Soviet heroic realism limits the life of the mind.

2/8/08, 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider the origin of a right. For Judaism & Christianity, there is the God-given right of free-will, or liberty. This is the highest right, since while life exists for all creatures and plants, free-will is distinctive for man. However, Jews & Christians do not conclude that this liberty applies to children, for children are not permitted to date or use alcohol. In many cases the rights held by adults are denied to children, for they lack the capability to be independent. Moreover there are no such rights to fetuses, for these cannot exercise choice at all, let alone moral choice.

For Objectivists, the right to liberty stems from man’s nature. Yet again, it is not applied to children. Moreover, see

Therein, the article ‘Abortion; An Absolute Right’ states: Ayn Rand has shown that the moral standard is what is required for man’s proper survival -– the freedom to use his rational faculty to maintain and enjoy his life. Thus, a pregnant woman, like every other individual, has the right to determine her own body.

Yet for both origins, why not conclude that if something applies to man, it applies to every man (whether or not this includes fetuses)? This is known as the ‘fallacy of division’, where what applies to the whole applies to each part. Thus the fact that a boat floats does not prove that its anchor does, and it would be fallacious to maintain that man’s need to be guided by reason, applies to every man, woman, and child (let alone to fetuses).

Now I am not claiming that either or neither origin is correct, but only that they do not make the fallacy of division.


2/8/08, 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! You claim to know how Christians and Jews divide into parts? You ARE an arrogant *ss! It is NOT a division by "time" and what belongs to one "man" DOES belong to all, yet you accuse the religious of committing a fallacy of division? A PROPER division of man is into body (which is limited and finite and a temporary container) and soul (which is infinite and immortal and 'precedes' time) and their "union" for some finite period of time on earth (which can then be further but IMPROPERLY divided into parts by 'age' if one choses to make that mistake - the fallacy of division).

And soul is much, MUCH more than "reason". . It contains memory of the perfect moral standards and FORMS you claim Christians deny exist in children and fetus'. This is why most Christians will tell you that life begins at CONCEPTION... which is also a "PROCESS" (not a fixed point in the process like "fertilzation") that begins with a male and a female deciding to join and ends with an infant being slapped in the hiney. It's is a purposeful CREATIVE ACT.

As for your fallacy of division, THAT would apply ONLY if one divided man IMPROPERLY. There is NO fallacy of division if one divides PROPERLY.

Plato, "Statesman"

All divisions which are rightly made should cut through the middle; if you attend to this rule, you will be more likely to arrive at classes. 'I do not understand the nature of my mistake.' Your division was like a division of the human race into Hellenes and Barbarians, or into Lydians or Phrygians and all other nations, instead of into male and female; or like a division of number into ten thousand and all other numbers, instead of into odd and even. And I should like you to observe further, that though I maintain a class to be a part, there is no similar necessity for a part to be a class.

SOUL is NOT a synonym for "REASON". It is NOT a synonym for "LIFE". It represents the 'infinite part' of man the contains His image of Complete Perfection... that makes the part 'like' the Whole and keeps us connected to it.

But I don't expect you to understand this... you think you KNOW something. You don't BELIEVE in SOUL...which is why YOU commit a fallacy of division.

2/8/08, 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.”-- Albert Einstein

2/8/08, 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mistake of the scientist - Zeno's paradox of Achilles race with the tortoise. Now THAT is TRUELY representative of a "fallacy of division"...the "imaginary" source of all his reasonings...

Nietzsche - Cause and effect.— "Explanation" is what we call it: but it is "description" that distinguishes us from older stages of knowledge and science. Our descriptions are better—we do not explain any more than our predecessors. We have uncovered a manifold one-after-another where the naive man and inquirer of older cultures saw only two separate things, "cause" and "effect" as the saying goes; but we have merely perfected the image of becoming without reaching beyond the image or behind it. In every case the series of "causes" confronts us much more completely, and we infer: first, this and that has to precede in order that this or that may then follow—but this does not involve any comprehension. In every chemical process, for example, quality appears as a "miracle," as ever; also, every locomotion; nobody has "explained" a push. But how could we possibly explain anything! We operate only with things that do not exist: lines, planes, bodies, atoms, divisible time spans, divisible spaces—, how should explanations be at all possible when we first turn everything into an image, our image! It will do to consider science as an attempt to humanize things as faithfully as possible; as we describe things and their one-after-another, we learn how to describe ourselves more and more precisely. Cause and effect: such a duality probably never exists,—in truth we are confronted by a continuum out of which we isolate a couple of pieces, just as we perceive motion only as isolated points and then infer it without ever actually seeing it. The suddenness with which many effects stand out misleads us; actually, it is sudden only for us. In this moment of suddenness there is an infinite number of processes that elude us. An intellect that could see cause and effect as a continuum and a flux and not, as we do, in terms of an arbitrary division and dismemberment—would repudiate the concept of cause and effect and deny all conditionality.

You speak of the "rights" of man. But men/women have NO 'rights' by nature other than those which G_d gave to him and are therefore inalienable. And life is CERTAINLY one of the the MOST precious, but alienable of all rights...

You speak of "free will" but there is NO such animal unless you first acknowledge the existence of a Creator that can "bestow" a man with "rights". Just as there can be no liberty without a rule that first establishes it.

2/8/08, 8:23 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


I'm not talking about a pregnant woman's body, but rather the body of the fetal human inside of her.

Your "woman's body" argument is the equivalent of your hate mail to King George III "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" argument - people trapped within the borders of Saudi Arabia (where the US Declaration of Independence has even less relevance to life than it would in a hypothetical pro-abortion argument born of rationality) aren't really "alive" and therefore exterminating them for whatever "reason" isn't "murder."

You've danced enough. What is "human life?"

2/9/08, 1:07 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

If Ayn Rand were taught in university's (which she isn't because the Gramscists are in control) would it be in the philosophy, economics or arts department.

Gramscists, LOL.

Ayn Rand would be taught in a "creative writing" class.

2/9/08, 2:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like ducky once said... the Randoids can't dance. They've got two left feet (and not all the right 'parts').

2/9/08, 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beamish, I wrote “I am not claiming that either or neither origin is correct, but only that they do not make the fallacy of division.” So you have not only disregarded the issue (of the fallacy of division), but addressed what I said I was not claiming, and reiterated your views on the fetus. So when you refer to my woman’s body argument, or my hate mail to King George III, that is not my (current) argument. But since you will not address my position, let me address yours.

Premise 1: the fetus is part of the human life cycle.
Premise 2: any part of the human life cycle is a ‘human being’.

Now neither I nor anyone else has ever denied Premise I, which can be called “human life”. On the other hand I reject Premise 2. Perhaps you believe that Premise 2 follows from Premise 1, but even if it did, you could not show this by repeating Premise 1. So why do you repeat the arguments for Premise 1, when at issue is Premise 2?

So again, I say that the contract for planting oak trees is not met by planting fertilized acorns (or what you call 'sprouts'). I am not denying that the acorns are part of the life cycle of the oak, but affirming it, while denying its pertinence. Similarly, no one has ever denied that a maggot is part of the life cycle of the fly, but that does not make it a fly. And again and again, the fact that a fetus becomes a human being does not mean it is a human being. The characteristics that yield a human being (and pertain to the laws thereof) do not stem from Premise 1.

So you really believe that repeating the scientifically established Premise I, pertains to the objections against Premise 2?


2/9/08, 9:57 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Perren said...

"One sees in Hollywood today, not a loyal opposition but a vicious vilification of our side and an implicit (or even explicit) endorsement of a most illiberal enemy. The men and women in are military remain a fighting force for liberty even if one believes they are currently deployed in an over generous mission abroad (which happens too often) to fight a vicious enemy one could have avoided." Jason P.


2/9/08, 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not believe that the issue of abortion derives from the life cycle of a human, which is a biological definition. Rather it is a matter of to whom rights apply, which requires a human definition. I submit that the source of rights derives from moral considerations. That is because the meaning of being human, is essentially one of man’s higher qualities, rather than his animal nature. Some people who accept the definition of man as a ‘rational-animal’ focus on his animality, rather than his rationality. Were one to use a biologist to define ‘human-being’ he might easily employ it to include Homo sapiens at a stage just prior to its incorporation of morality, or even of rationality.

Thus, from my perspective, the essential stage of adulthood is where a person can exercise moral judgment. (This excludes the aberrant, where an individual is too debilitated to do so.) There is the prior stage of childhood, where the child can exercise some degree of judgment. Then there is the fetal, or pre-birth stage, which precludes judgment. These stages are not scientifically partitioned, but unavoidably overlap. However, people (using common language) are able to differentiate between a fetus, a child, and an adult.

Inalienable rights apply to adults, who render the moral decisions about their own lives, and the decisions about their communities. Children have derived rights, which are alienable. These can be bestowed or denied by their parents or their community. Here, our society guarantees their right to life, but defends only those liberties that are plausible. Now a society may or may not decide that a fetus should be guaranteed the right to life. (Surely, it would be unreasonable to grant it liberty, such as requiring its consent for medical treatment.) However, that decision stems from a cultural and not a biological view.

However, even if we were to agree as to what is moral and immoral, that would not mean it is the role of government to foster morality or to penalize immorality. The role of government is to secure our rights, where the decision to do so derives in part from history. There, prosecuting ‘victimless crimes’ (meaning crimes without a complainant) is seen to cause more loss than gain. Moreover, differences in morality are to be dealt with by suasion, and not by coercion.


2/9/08, 2:55 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

"One sees in Hollywood today, not a loyal opposition but a vicious vilification of our side and an implicit (or even explicit) endorsement of a most illiberal enemy. The men and women in our military remain a fighting force for liberty even if one believes they are currently deployed in an over generous mission abroad (which happens too often) to fight a vicious enemy one could have avoided."

"Bravo" - Jeff

Thanks Jeff. And thanks Charles for demanding clarity.

Opps, I've corrected my typo but you both got my point.

I see my comments section has been hijack as is usual on the 'net. I'm staying out of this; while the two debaters have stayed civil, I wish others would remain polite.

2/9/08, 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd make a great Nazi whinegarden. You'd be good at writing new laws to help them define and euthanize the mentally ill. Heck, maybe they'd even let you write one to throw all the defective Downs infants off a cliff or something.

Polite? Sounds like a 'moral' deficiency, to me. A little cynical parrhesia can be a good thing, Jason. I'm hoping beyond hope that one day it may help focus whinegarden's mind. I'd hate to seem him fall victim to one of his own policies.

2/9/08, 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason, I apologize for getting off the worthwhile issue that you raised, and shall give Beamish the last word. However, the term 'hijack' refers to denying others their rights (as when a plane is hijacked) whereas your readers (including fetuses) were not prevented from writing about the pertinent issue.


2/10/08, 10:34 AM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Victor Davis Hanson wanted the Greeks to drop the A-bomb on Syracuse.

2/11/08, 2:40 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Any of you far right dudes want to jump on "No Country for Old Men" (and the neocon Coen brothers) as liberal?

I think there have been masterpieces of American right wing cinema (mostly in the crime and horror genre where the cinematic exploitation of audience fear and paranoia can far exceed even a speech by Rudy Giuliani in eloquence). And it may just be another sign of our national schizophrenia that this film may win the best picture Oscar the same year that Obama (an anti-”No Country” candidate if there ever was) gets elected president.

Would you agree that No Country is pretty much right-wing in its view of America? Any right-wing American masterpieces you can think of?

Next we'll try to investigate why weingarten is upset that a free market doesn't produce far right films with a frequency he can approves. We could even discuss Sam Fuller's "Big Red One" as a repudiation of Jason's thesis, or Malick's "Thin Red Line" or even that doofus Spielberg's "Private Ryan" ("earn this", he turns the guy into an instant alcoholic, dumb).

2/11/08, 2:49 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

While you joke about Victor, let’s remember what Jean Paul said;

“Even as Sartre praised totalitarian dictators, he was describing the United States as 'rabid' and Nazi-like, urging France to break off all relations with it. During the Vietnam War, he went so far as to wish for a nuclear strike on America to put an end to its imperialist tendencies.”

2/11/08, 3:39 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


Here is my argument expressed as a syllogism:

Premise 1: The initiation of force against a human life is illegitimate

Premise 2: Murder is the unlawful killing of a human life

Premise 3: Human life begins at conception

Conclusion: Abortion and embryonic stem cell research should be considered as murder

Your problem, to be sure, lies with Premise 3.

And from your last response, it is apparent that you believe there is a height requirement for humans to enjoy a legitimate philosophical defense from the non-agression principle.

Humans are not humans (if "common language" says so).

I'm beginning to appreciate Whitaker Chambers' dismissal of Ayn Rand even more.

"To the gas chambers! Go!"

(Jason, thanks for the forum... Weingarten, thanks for the duel)

2/11/08, 4:56 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/13/08, 12:56 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Come on Jason, why not make a right wing film?

Jean-Luc showed that you don't need a lot of fancy stuff. Hell, in La Caribiniers he made one of the greatest anti anti-war(sic) films (maybe the only one) with just a 35mm blimped Eclair and a speed mag.

Wouldn't Ayn Rand tell weingarten to stop yapping and start filming?

I was also amazed that the so called "free marketeer" Klavan lamented the destruction of the studio system.
"The fall of the business-driven studio system has freed creative types to make more personal films".

Actually that only lasted for a short time. The indie years of American cinema along with the French New Wave, Italian neo-realism, the Czech new wave and Khrushchev's loosening censorship plus the Poles ... it was a wonderful time indeed, but we are back to a business model.

If he's capable, I would enjoy reading Klavan on Kurasowa's "Seven Samurai". The Japanese kept the studio system longest of the major film producing nations but they were extremely critical of the bushido mentality you champion.
If you have a chance watch it carefully from the beginning with Kambei shaving his top knot in his effort to save a child. A new type of samurai indeed.
Then the team is formed. Individuals who can contribute to an institution that will perform a service for the common good. The common good wins, samurai and bandit die down in the mud, no monuments, no heroic folk songs. Just the peasants planting rice and a pan to the samurai graves. Kurasowa commenting on post war Japan and later getting disgusted in "High and Low", "Ikuru" and "The Bad Sleep Well" as the purpose is sold out to corporations (contrast with Ozu's much gentler observations in "Good Morning").

Wish America could make films like that. I sometimes think "Seven Samurai" for all its action is as anti Rand as a film can be. Face it, Jason. The war needed jingoistic films and that movement served its purpose and it's as dead as the Fascist Italian "white telephone" dramas.

I does bother me that you and your right wing brethren would prefer that studio fluff to excellence. Sometimes you don't walk the walk, Jason.

2/13/08, 1:41 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

I'm also surprised that Sahara was chosen as an example. Not a bad film at all but the script is from a Russian story which was written to promote unity and world socialism.

That's why the cast was multi-ethnic.

Objective Burma was another good example. By intimating that the Yanks won the Burma campaign it caused a diplomatic incident and was pulled from circulation till after the war.

2/14/08, 9:14 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Perren said...

If you want to see in cinematic form the clearest possible difference between Hollywood today and Hollywood circa 1942, see a film called Thunder Birds, with Gene Tierney.

Not a very good film, it nonetheless has a whole passel of shining moments.

There's the thrilling moment when Dame May Whitty writes a 25,000 pound check to Winston Churchill, whom she doesn't know, to buy a plane to avenge the death of her son, a pilot recently killed over Germany.

There's the statement by the British pilot-in-training in love with Gene Tierney when they discuss Americans and Brits. She asks him if he likes Americans and he notes that he has traveled the world and seen hospitals, schools, and more -- even in the jungle -- all paid for with American money. But he never saw any such philanthropy by Germany.

Then, there's the best moment -- which is on the DVD extras and not even in the film at all -- when in a short newsreel Gene Tierney christens a bomber and states "May it rain bombs over Berlin and Tokyo to kill the Nazis and Japs."

In particular, this last statement is exactly what is missing from the current war effort -- the sincere determination to win by regarding the enemy as someone who deserves to be killed, not negotiated with via official diplomacy ala Iran. Until America gets on board, aided by the huge propaganda machine in Hollywood and the press rather than opposed by it, this effort will indeed continue to be "The Long War," as Bush has so foolishly named it.

2/14/08, 6:24 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

It always bothered me that Apocalypse Now was set in the Vietnam War when the novel it is based on, "Heart of Darkness" (1899), was about Belgians in the Congo.

The analogy is not perfect at all, but matters not to historically illiterate leftists.

2/16/08, 8:32 AM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


There's the statement by the British pilot-in-training in love with Gene Tierney when they discuss Americans and Brits. She asks him if he likes Americans and he notes that he has traveled the world and seen hospitals, schools, and more -- even in the jungle -- all paid for with American money. But he never saw any such philanthropy by Germany.

It isn't the right-wing supressing stories of hospitals and schools being built in Iraq and Afghanistan by Americans.

Perhaps you ought to step away from media sources that are a year behind the curve on "the surge is working" and "al-Qaeda's operational capacity is disintegrating" stories.

It's your left-wing media that looks like this every time a bomb goes off in Iraq.

Then, there's the best moment -- which is on the DVD extras and not even in the film at all -- when in a short newsreel Gene Tierney christens a bomber and states "May it rain bombs over Berlin and Tokyo to kill the Nazis and Japs."

And yet, it's the left-wingers screaming "Bush is a murderer!"

In particular, this last statement is exactly what is missing from the current war effort -- the sincere determination to win by regarding the enemy as someone who deserves to be killed, not negotiated with via official diplomacy ala Iran. Until America gets on board, aided by the huge propaganda machine in Hollywood and the press rather than opposed by it, this effort will indeed continue to be "The Long War," as Bush has so foolishly named it.

Anti-war films (Syriana!) bomb at the box office for a reason, Ducky.

The same reason anti-war candidates (Kucinich, Gravel, Edwards, Paul, and in November - Obama and Hillary) bomb at the ballot box.

Whenever Americans are given the opportunity to "question the patriotism" of the left - at the movie theater, at the voting booth, we do, in droves.

But please, get back to praising Leni Riefenstahl flicks.

It's too late for you to want to be a right-winger.

2/16/08, 8:47 AM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Beamish, get a damn grip. You fascists act as if there were no hospitals or schools in Iraq before the invasion and occupation.

Fact is the medical structure was one of the better in the Arab world and if we are rebuilding it it's only because we destroyed it.
Schools, they were there before we came. Don't give me this nonsense that while you were shaking in your shoes over the idea that crack Iraqi spec-ops were going to night drop in to put anthrax in your "Lucky Charms" (or whatever child's cereal you eat) that your first thought was to build schools in Iraq. Bore me later.

Thing is that you fall for American propaganda as easily as the Germans did Riefenstahl's. Thing is that the Germans at least needed one of the best editing jobs in film history to be taken in. You'll fall for some mediocre back lot schlock.

Syriana bombed? Sorry Beamish, it did good box office and managed a few awards. The only reason the right wingers didn't show up was the early word of mouth that the narrative line was difficult and required thought.

But cheer up, Beamish. It isn't all bleak for the right. This years award at Berlin has gone to a Brazilian film that absolutely fawns over a retiring police colonel who wants to find a replacement who has strong support for death squads. It's a right wing love fest. Serious controversy especially since Costa-Gravas was on the jury. But, we're leftists. We can handle diverse opinions and free speech.

2/17/08, 12:04 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


We all know you're an ignorant boob. Using the name of a left-wing philosophy, "fascism," to describe right-wingers is overkill.

We all know you're a Leni Riefenstahl fan too.

But the idea that we're allegedly replacing schools and hospitals in Iraq that we allegedly destroyed is new ground in the perennial leftist effort to leave no doubt in anyone's minds that leftists are blithering idiots.

If we actually had bombed any schools or hospitals in Iraq, at all, ever, we'd never hear the end of it.

You defeat your own argument for making war propaganda, just to make sure nobody forgets you're a moron.

Why am I not surprised?

All this time you spend on the internet trying to convince people who might not know that you're a moron could probably be spend educating yourself.

But, hey, it's your electric bill.

2/18/08, 4:21 AM  

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