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    Tony White
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  1. I would draw a distinction between two cases: 1) The grandparents have an ongoing relationship with the child for a long time, and then, abruptly, that relationship is cut off. A common case is a divorce, mom gets custody, and cuts of grandparents out of anger against the husband (eg, hurt him through his parents), rather than rational concern for the child. I think its this type of case is driving a lot of court cases. And, in terms of its amount, is a _new_ issue: 50 years ago there was much less divorce, and much less reason for this issue to come up. 2) The parent cut the grandparents off from day one, especially when, for example, the parent had been estranged from the grandparents for years. The child has never seen the grandparents, yet they want visitation rights. I actually believe the courts should not be involved in either case, but in the first their is at least an issue of plausibility and genuine concern for the child. The second is just plain fascism. Does anyone know of instances where the grandparents have gotten visitation in the second case?
  2. I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. I did this chore in anticipation of the movie's effect on the election. It was as bad as I expected. Not that the movie isn't a new phenomenon in our culture: it was the most undignified leftist propaganda I have ever seen, of much lower intellectual caliber, for example, than such thoroughly leftist movies as "Wall Street" or "Primary Colors". But I already knew that the liberals have been in intellectual free fall since at least the aftermath of WWII (the intellectual and existential failure of socialism, to the 60's, to the environmentalists/multiculturalists, etc). And I have directly witnessed this downward slide in the last two and half decades. So I expected the movie to be a new low for the liberals, and it was. Earlier, I had seen The Passion of the Christ. I heard the standard complaints about the movie, but I was sympathetic to it before I saw it. How could the priests who brought Jesus up on charges and had him killed be portrayed positively? How can a movie about a man being nailed to a cross not be violent? And what's the big deal about another Biblical movie, anyway? One does not have to be religious to get some value out of a Biblical movie, as literary history, if nothing else. So I went to see the movie almost in a spirit of cultural defiance. I was wrong. It was _not_ just another Biblical movie. Its purpose was to dull the conceptual faculty by means of guilt. Like Fahrenheit 9/11, this movie was a new low, but for the religious conservatives, rather than the secular liberals. Only this new low I didn't anticipate. The reason for the difference is that I know all about the liberals, oftentimes more than I wish I did; but the fundamentalists, on the other hand, I have mostly ignored, simply because they are mostly locked out of (and mocked by) the mainstream culture, and why pay attention to a corruption if it's out of the mainstream of the culture? So my question is: has Christian fundamentalism itself been on the decline, along with the liberals and everything else in the last half century? The Passion of the Christ would make it seem so, since there hasn't been a Biblical movie this bad before. But I haven't followed fundamentalism closely enough to gather empirical evidence. Anyone have data or opinions on this?
  3. >> You haven't actually watched the movie, and yet you have decided that it is the epitome of evil sprung from the bowels of an irrational culture? Some might suggest that you should actually sit through it before making statements such as these. << Well, in the nature of the case, you are going to have to decide your opinion of whether or not it is sanctioning evil to pay for the movie before you see it, so you'd be in a catch-22 to see the movie first. As in much of life, you are forced into making a choice without all the data you might like. And, in this case, Michael Moore is not a complex, subtle, contradictory character. He is not, for example, like Gail Wynand. If Wynand made a movie, you might not know which side of his character was going to come out. Michael Moore is more like Toohey; not quite so bad as Toohey, but bad, and just as predictable. If Toohey made a movie, you wouldn't have to guess at the moral status of its content. You'd have more than information to make a moral decision. As as side note, I now _have_ seen the movie. It was exactly what I expected. There were no surprises in it at all.
  4. Two points that I sould have made earlier: 1. Fahrenheit 9/11 is distributed by Lions Gate, which is a private firm, but which recieves significant funding and subsidies by the Canadian government. So there is a real element of _direct_ government support for the movie. 2. Michael Moore himself says that he opposes the copyright laws, and so has no problem with people downloading the movie on the internet, so long as they are watching it themselves, and not redistributing for profit. Both of these are minor points, but new to the thread and worth saying. Neither makes or breaks the debate.
  5. >> I don't think that actual advocacy of criminal activities is considered appropriate behavior on this board. Consider yourself warned, for future reference. << Roark blew up a building, knowing it was a crime. Ragnar was a pirate, knowing it was a crime. In "Think Twice" the hero committed murder, knowing it was a crime. In all these cases, the protagionist consciously, coldly, with full intention commits a crime. But there is obviously a wider context, which is made in clear in the story. Leonard Peikoff has, on tape, explicitly answered some question regarding Howard Roark's crime. He makes it clearly explicit that civil disobedience can be morally justified. It is not true that Objectivism has an absolute prohibition against crime. It can be morally justified. In this case, I went to great pains to say why I thought that this movie was the product of the initiation of force, and that in not paying for it, you were taking money away from a thief, just as Ragnar was. My request is that you remove the warning beside my name, because I have said nothing remotely hostile to Objectivism. I have merely interpreted one complex application of it differently than you have.
  6. >> Anyone can say what he thinks about your psychology as far as I'm concerned .... <snip> ....The one thing you are not allowed to do now is to start calling everyone here non-intellectual because they criticize you. << That is quite a distinction. For the record, I do regard the statement "This isn't just rationalization: it's a psychologist's wet dream" as ad hominem, and therefore non-intellectual. But I'll not express this opinion again because, 1) there is not much point to discussing it further, and 2) I am under instructions from the moderator not to do so. >> Its your turn now. << What seems to missing here is an understanding of the difficulty of applying abstract principles to concrete events and decisions. It's very often "messy" and complicated. Ayn Rand wrote, on the first page of the first issue of Harry Binswanger's Objectivist Forum: "Since philosophy deals with the broadest abstractions, which subsume and incalculable numbe of concretes, the application of basic principles is open to innumerable errors and to disagreements." For example, there is the issue of an Objectist voting for a candidate who is gleefully in favor of the initiation of physical force. Dr. Peikoff advocated Bill Clinton in 1992, and was accused of pragmatism for it. This year, Dr. Peikoff is intensely opposed to Bush, and in favor of voting for Kerry. In fact, he is extremely intense on this issue. Robert Traczinski is in the opposite direction: he is leaning towards Bush (although hasn't presented his final recommendation on it). I respect both men, and their opinions, and their reasons for them. This is not an endorsement of contradictions on my part, its my recognition that the application of abstract ideas to concrete problems and decisions is very difficult. This is especially true in a mixed economy - a _very_ mixed economy in our case. You cannot always expect the application of philosophy to be straigtforward. For example, consider the question of whether an Objectivist can accept a public scholarship in good conscious. Ayn Rand wrote: "The recipient of a public scholarship is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarships have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not its victims." As Objectivist, we should expect these kinds of issues, and not make snap-judgements about another Objectist's psychology or thinking methods. Its a messy, semi-free, semi-statist world out there. I part, this is still America, in part, this no longer America. Its not always easy to know what do. Which is why I wrote this little piece about the Michael Moore movie. I knew that Objectivist were going to see this movie, because it is clearly having an impact on the current election. As silly as the movie is, it address itself to the most pressing issue of the day, and it is being taken very seriously by the intellectual establishment and a lot of people in general. It is the first "documentary" ever to come out as the number one movie in the country on its first day. Like it or not, this movie is going to affect the political situation on whichour physical survival depends. Yet I can't stand the thought of sanctioning such trash, of putting money in Michael Moore's pocket for producing this garbage. So in thinking about, I came up with the pay-for-another-movie idea. I believed, then and now, that the mess of the mixed-economy public education welfare state means that it is perfectly valid not to pay for this movie. And I thought that other Objectivists would be interested in my solution, so I posted it here. That was my motive for posting. It certainly wasn't for the purpose of starting this long discussion. I thought that there might some exactly-where-you-would-draw-the-line type of questions, but I expected to be agreed with, in the main. I was certainly wrong about that expectation. (Interestingly, I did get one email from a frequent poster to this website who explicitly agreed with me, but did not want to get caught up in the disussion.) At this point, I certainly don't see much in hashing this out further. Unless some really new issue is brought up by somebody, hopefully we at least agree to agree that its not worth discussing our differences further. By the way, I did see the movie, yesterday. I'll probably post a review of it later. The movie was what I expected. I paid for the movie ticket using the method I recommended here. I didn't feel much but boredom during the movie, but when it was over I did have sort of a queasy feeling in being in the same room with most of the audience (they applauded at the end and laughed and jeered during the stupidist parts of the movie). The fact that I did not pay for the movie really cut against this queasy feeling. So, for me, it's not merely that I feel justified in doing what I did; for me, paying for this movie have been would be the explicit sanctioning of evil. My emotions and mind are in complete agreement on this issue, even if everyone else disagrees.
  7. >> Ad Hominem is an attempt to dismiss your logical arguments because you are an unreliable/immoral person. << Correct. What the person in question said in response to my argument is this: "This isn't just rationalization: it's a psychologist's wet dream." First of all, to call someone's argument a rationalization is bordering on ad homenim: you are questioning the persons psychological motives, not what he said. But he doesn't accuse me of just rationalization, he says that my argument is a "psychologists wet dream." In other words, my argument is a text book case of a person with a psychological problem. Perhaps technically, its not ad hominem (the person making the argument is immoral), its psychologizing (the person making the argument has a psychological problem), but it is certainly an attack on me personally, not the argument I was making. And then you imply that _I_ am a troll for objecting to _that_? You don't object such a statement as "it's a psychologist's wet dream", but you do object me refering to _that_ as ad hominem? Huh??? What are you talking about?
  8. >> Daniel: In fact, it was my understanding that a private producer financed the movie. David's reply: But the ideas in the movie were created to reflect a subculture that could not possibly exist except through state-funded education. That, as I understand it, is the rationalisation. << Yes, that's my argument. I would word it differently and its wrong for you to call it a "rationalization", but that's it.
  9. >> This isn't just rationalization: it's a psychologist's wet dream. << Do you regard this as an intellectual comment? If not, why make it? Why waste your time on ad hominem? In addition, this comment is unnecessarily crude, and I object to it on that ground as well. >> How convenient. << See the above comment. What difference does "convience" make? I am offering a logical argument (eg, like mathematics), not a piece of empirical information (eg, the reporting of something I witnessed). My character or motives or psychogy is irrelevant, so please stop commenting on it and stick to the principles at hand. >> "I don't like Wal-Mart, but they have a great selection of products that makes for convenient shopping. But I don't want to support them by giving them my money." << That has nothing to do with anything. My argument is not that I "don't like" Michael Moore, my argument is that his movie is made possible only by intitiation of physical force against me. Furthermore, I did not see the Michael Moore movie for any kind of fun or good shopping or to gain any such value; I saw it in self-defense, simply because it is affecting the election. >> "Here's what I'll do: I'll go to Wal-Mart, lift a hundred dollars from the store, then go home, take a hundred dollar bill out of my wallet, and put it through the shredder. No extra money in my pocket = I didn't steal anything!" << Actually, in a similar convert the money to gold and put it in Midas Mulligans bank. Or make a $100 donation to ARI. But that is irrelevant to current case, since I am not winding up with extra money in my pocket. >> It has nothing to do with the amount of money in your pocket. It has to do with the amount of money in the person's pocket whose products or services you are using without purchasing their permission to do so. << My entire _purpose_ is to keep money out of Michael Moore's pocket. I concede the point that I am stealing from him. I am coldly, calculated, unemotionally, consciously stealing from him. I am stealing from him, I am stealing from him, I am stealing from him. Theft, theft, theft, steal, steal, steal. My point in saying that there is no extra money in my pocket is simply in reference to all the attacks on my motives and psychology that I keep getting. Usually when someone rationalizes, they are out get some unearned value. That might apply if I were saying to sneak into the theater without paying, but in this case I am not paying the theater owner for his good offices (whatever his cut of the admission ticket is). I must pay the theater owner in order to remain moral since the movie theater would obviously exist without public education. But this doesn't apply to Michael Moore.
  10. >> I can't know whether to concede until I fully understand your logic. Is this your basic argument: If public education, then corrupt society. If corrupt society, then Fahrenheit 9/11. ---------------- Thus, if public education, then Fahrenheit 9/11. Is this your argument? If so, how does that prove that it is correct to steal from Michael Moore? If not, what am I missing? << If public education, then money was stolen from me. If public education, then Fahrenheit 9/11. Ergo, Fahrenheit 9/11 was made with money stolen from me. Ergo, I'm "stealing" back money stolen from me. >> Also, do you believe that you have a right to Fahrenheit 9/11, as Ragnar and others had a right to reclaim their own money from the pilfering government in Atlas Shrugged? << Yes! >> Theft is theft, and putting the word "righteous" before it doesn't change that fact. Theft is wrong, and never right. << If so, then you must have a real problem with Ragnar in Atlas Shrugged. This is a 10 Commandments interpretation of Objectivism. Lying is lying and is always wrong and is never right. Just not true. Seeking to gain an unearned value by fraud or force _is_ never right, but neither Ragnar nor I do that. >> Trying to get away with what? What unearned value am I after? Um, seeing a movie that you haven't paid for? << But I saw a movied and paid for a movie. No extra money in my pocket. Usually when someone rationalizes, there is extra money in their pocket, but there is none in mine.
  11. >> Another problem with this argument is that what you are describing is not an act of civil disobedience. Notice that Roark allowed himself to be arrested and tried for his actions. You are not talking about making yourself a public example to challenge an unjust law. << I am not even sure that this action is technically illegal. And, as I said earlier, if I did get "caught", then I would take state my reasons and accept the punishment. If blowing up the building were such a minor offence that it would take a lot of work to get the police to even pay attention to him, imo Roark would have done it anyway, and it would still qualify as civil disobedience, even if the police never noticed. >> You are trying to get away with something. << Trying to get away with what? What unearned value am I after? >> Look back at your arguments and ask yourself honestly if they don't seem like rationalizations to you. << I did. They still seem excellent to me. And be careful about this "something seems like something" type of argument. Voting for the lesser of two evils sounds like pragmatism - Dr. Peikoff was accused of just that for his support of Clinton in '92 - but it isn't. Ayn Rand's point that it was valid for an Objectivist to take welfare, but only if he was opposed to welfare, sounds like hypocrisy, but it isn't. Pumpkins look like basketballs, but don't try to bounce one. >> Public education has not corrupted the culture. A bad philosophy has. Public education is not the primary problem here. A bad philosophy can be taught anywhere, even in private schools. << I agree that philisophy is, by a huge margin, the main culprit. But we would not have fallen this far, this fast, without public education. Dr. Peikoff had a radio show on exactly that point. Ayn Rand blasted public education on more than one occasion. I think that we would still be several decades from the time when Fahrenheit 9/11 would be possible, were it not for public education. I grant that this is a judgement call. I concede that if you think that Fahrenheit 9/11 would not exist with or without public education, then you should definitely pay for the movie. Do you concede the opposite? If you _did_ think that the movie was only made possible by public education, would you then concede that my method of seeing it was valid? This is the actually the main point I would like you to answer. >> I think that The Passion was more corrupt than Fahrenheit 9/11. Does this give me the right to steal a copy of Mel Gibson's movie? << Yes. You should use my method to see the that movie if you honestly believe that 1) you need to see it to keep up with current political situation (which certainly affects your life), and 2) the movie was made possible only by public education (which is government looting of your money). >> After all, the corruption of all the private religious schools and churches in society made the movie possible, right? << No. Its more a more subtle point, but I do think that the rise of this religious primitivism is caused by the D1/D2 culture. Its a reaction against it. But there is not much point in us discussing this fine. The real issue is the hypothetical question I asked above. >> But I realize, from personal experience, that understanding Objectivist morality is not the easiest thing in the world to do. << Well said. In fact, it may be the hardest thing in the world to do.
  12. As a type of moral symbol, she like the word. In fact, she originally wanted to title The Fountainhead novel "The Prime Mover". She didn't use that title because this aspect of Aristotle's philosophy is not sufficiently well known, and, in effect, too many people might on the face of it initially suspect that the novel was about a really good furniture mover. (No kidding, this is in the Introduction to Non-Fiction book.) In the quote you give, the "immovable mover" is Aristotles "thinking about his own thinking only" quasi-God, whose self-contemplation causes the rest of the motion in the universe via "moving spheres" which circle the prime mover eternally. This is all discussed in Peikoff's lectures, but as Ayn Rand notes, this is not a great part of Aristotle's philosophy. Although she did think the immovable mover was a beautiful metaphor or emotional groping towards the idea of the great souled man having reverence for himself and existing for his own sake; this is included in the Mayhew's Marginalia book, in the section on John Herman Randal's book on Aristotle. We might try to strip away all the mystical elements, and then try to ask, in cold reason, is there a valid question regarding the unmoved mover, eg, doesn't there have to be something which does not move that itself causes motion? Did Ayn Rand have a viewpoint on this type of a question? To my knowledge, she didn't. If asked, I would guess she would say that she didn't know or need to know and/or that the question was a matter of science, not philosophy. Can you think of anything in the Objectivist ethics or politics, or any problem of human life, with the exception of advanced theoretical science, that really depends on an answer to this question?
  13. >> People on this board need to stop assuming that there are no people with bad thinking methods in this world. Not every bad thinker is a troll. << All disagreements among honest people, especially in the rat's nest of today's culture, do not necessarily depend on bad thinking methods. For example, in 1980, Peter Schwartz voted for Ronald Reagan (albeit reluctantly), even though Ayn Rand didn't, and was deeply opposed to Reagan. In fact, a few years earlier, she put a (half-jokeing) moral damnation on any of her followers who would vote for him. So there was a serious disagreement between Ayn Rand and Peter Schwartz on an important issue, but it was also a messy and complex issue, with no great solution, just as this issue is. (I know all this because of my 23 years in Objectivism, by the way) But neither accused the other of having bad thinking methods because of a disagreement on a complicated issue. In this Farenheith 9/11 issue, I think that you are wrong, but I don't think its bad thinking methods on your part, its just that its a difficult issue. I can see why you would want to pay for this movie,rather than using the method I recommended, even though I disagree with you. And, although am not a Christian, I nonetheless forgive you for accusing me of bad thinking methods, because you are young, and full of zeal, and have many years to learn to disagree properly with honest disputes over complicated issues.
  14. >> ...your argument fails completely because it is based on the unsupported assertion that governmental force is the only way the movie is made possible << The support for this assertion is that the movie is so corrupt that it could not have been made without the support of public education corrupting the culture. In essence, I have too high opinion of the American people to believe that they could have fallen this far, this fast in a free market of ideas. Ayn Rand explicitly stated that we are not living in a culture with a free market of ideas. Since we are not in a free market of ideas, it follows that some cases of civil disobedience may be necessary. >>...you have failed to give evidence that the same argument does not extend to, say, the computer (including hardware and software). The research needed to create modern computers was paid for with governmentally extorted research dollars....<< I covered exactly that point. Modern computers are not made possible by public education. We would have computers (better ones, for that matter) without it. Michael Moore could not get his movies made, reviewed, or watched without the corruption of public education. Do you think that public education has not severely corrupted our culture? Wouldn't it then stand to reason that some products of that culture are so corrupt that they could exist _only_ because of public education? Can you think of anything in our culture right now more pathetic than this movie? Yet its the number one movie in the country right now - the first time ever for a documentary - and will surely have an effect on the election, so there is a valid need to see it, for the purpose of self-preservation. >> Roark designed the building he destroyed, because it wasn't being built to his specifications. Moviegoers have no such claim, whatsoever, on Fahrenheit 9/11. << I am citing Roark as a matter of the principle of the validity of civil disobedience. Government force extends far beyond corrupting the designs of architects. The people who go to see Fahrenheit 9/11 are living in a culture created by government force, by tax money expropriated by them. They have the moral right to engage in civil disobediance. You could just as well argue that Roark valued having his design built. He voluntarily chose to have it submitted to government authority, knowing they might alter it. So what right does he have to complain? He volunteered his design after all. >> while simultaneously stealing a copy of Bill Clinton's book Maybe you want to read the President's book, but you don't want to give money to the lying bastard. << That is not my argument against this movie. I doubt that Bill Clinton's book is as bad as this documentary, nor will have anything like the impact on the election. If this were just a standard bad piece of garbage, ala Clinton's biography, I wouldn't recommend not paying for it. >> In the present case, you are suggesting that people purchase a viewing of a movie they will not watch and steal a viewing of Fahrenheit 9/11. << Damn straight, I am saying exactly that.
  15. >> You are denying him due process of law in deriving a judgement that it's justifiable to steal from his efforts.....Your suggested action can not be deemed or justified as defensive force in nature which only leaves the concept of initiated force (which is also morally wrong) or retaliatory force. << I hadn't thought of it in such legal terms. But I would say I am advocating very, very, very minor form of rational civil disobedience. If I were "caught" by the police, and had to pay the consequences, so be it, I'd tell the truth and pay the consequences, which are presumeably very minor, knowing that I did the moral thing. By the way, for all I know, there isn't even an explicit law covering this, so, technically, it may not even be illegal. I have seen people change their mind in the popcorn line and go see another movie. I can't remember if I have ever done so myself, but perhaps I have. Surely if Howard Roark can rationally blow up a building in civil disobedience to government coercion, I can put $8.25 into some more benign movie maker's pocket, rather than Michael Moore's pocket, also as an act of civil disobedience, and still remain an Objectivist in good standing.
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