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Thoughts on litmus tests for new acquaintances?

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you have to set your priorities:  a) the nation of Cuba, :) the father's right as primary custodian of Elian, c) Elian's rights, the d) the rights of his extended family in Miami.

Elian's right to freedom is the highest priority, and in fact is the only right that matters here. The "nation of Cuba" is a slave state and can claim no rights at all. The fathers right to custody of Elian is conditional on him not grievously violating Elian's rights. The rights of the extended family in Miami do not enter this at all, other than their graciously caring enough for Elian to offer him a proper home.

Cuba may be *technically* a totalitarian state, but until and unless they are 'charged' with a crime (as we did with Afghanistan and Iraq), then they are officially a sovereign nation and the citizens of that nation's rights are recognized as legitmate by all other nations. Just as the rule of law applies to an individual, so it does to a nation.
As I said before, you really need to learn to think in terms of principles. Cuba is a slave state and has no right to exist. No nation can claim the right to enslave its citizens. I personally think that invading Cuba was in our self-interest many decades ago, but the fact that we did not do so then does not negate our right to do so at anytime. We are under no obligation to respect the sovereignty of Cuba in any way whatsoever, and we should have protected the rights of Elian by allowing him to stay.

There are many times when upholding a principle results in 'unfairness' and other idiosyncracies, but this is what we must do in the name of freedom and order.

The only principle to be upheld in this case is that the slave state of Cuba has no right to exist and Elian's right to freedom should have been supported.

Brian, I find your ideas regarding slave states and Elian to be so personally offensive and so morally perverted that I simply do not want to discuss this issue with you any longer.

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For the last 5 years, the question hasn't changed.  I always find some way to bring up the Elian Gonzalez incident.  This question, better than any other I have used, cuts to the root of someone's personality and soul.  Once I know where they stood on that issue, I know whether I want to deal with them. This issue is so important to me, there are many cousins and acquintances that I no longer even say anything more than a simple "hello" to.  It literally makes me sick to even consider befriending someone who comes down on the wrong side of this issue. 

Hmmm, it sounds like this would be a good test. I doubt it would work in my case however. If I asked the people I met for their stand on Elian Gonzales, I would probably get a reponse like "Wasn't that that Cuban kid?" Since I'm in high school, this is somewhat understandable, but not encouraging. As for the principles that would lead a person to be one way or the other on this issue, I doubt most of the people I know could define one, one way or the other. Talking to this sort of person bores me out of my mind. So instead of relying on a certain case that a person may or may not have heard of, I usually just determine whether I can hold a ten-minute conversation with the person without wanting to go to sleep.

Examples of people who would fail this test:

1. A person who uses the entire ten minutes to explain that they have bad grades and why this is the school's fault

2. A person who says that they hate reading and that books are stupid.

3. A person who quotes from the bible (to promote it)

4. A person who tells me that I am going to hell (for reading Harry Potter, for being atheist etc.)

(these are all real people)

Basically, if a person has an independent thought and seems to have some sense of life, then I give them a (however limited) chance to impress me. Otherwise, yawn. I can't stand being around people who do not think for themselves. It is like trying to talk to a robot. Anyone else, I might not like, but at least they have an opinion to disagree with.

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