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I think you are confused about human rights, those of you who would ban sidewalk pornography and actual public sex acts.

You have created a strawman. I do not think that anybody wished to maintain the position that sidewalk pornography and/or public sex acts should be banned. The issue at hand was providing notification to those who may not otherwise give their consent to see such acts.

Locality is a logical necessity to define when a right is actually being violated.

I am also pretty suspicious of this premise as it insinuates that rights can only be violated if there is some physical damage to a person's body or to his property. What is "locality"? Since you have described it as a logical necessity, what is locality in the context of intellectual property rights? What is locality in the context of slander or libel?

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See this thread: Bill Clinton's Impeachment--The legal aspects of abnormal behavior. It's quite a long one and full of pointless bickering, but there is about 10% or so of the posts where you will fin

I disagree with this in part; positive emotions (or any emotions, for that matter) are not the standard of value, but they are values.

You have created a strawman. I do not think that anybody wished to maintain the position that sidewalk pornography and/or public sex acts should be banned. The issue at hand was providing notification to those who may not otherwise give their consent to see such acts.

That a person could be required to notify ANYONE, absolutely ANYONE who MAY, not who will ultimately because people do have free will, but MAY be subjected to the objectionable is not logically distinct from banning the objectionable. It is de-facto a violation of civil liberties.

Even if the requirements only be that from a distance a person going toward the area be notified, the idea that one has to notify others is rediculous. That it would make somebody a part of the sex act is an invalid concept, since it violates locality.

I am also pretty suspicious of this premise as it insinuates that rights can only be violated if there is some physical damage to a person's body or to his property. What is "locality"? Since you have described it as a logical necessity, what is locality in the context of intellectual property rights? What is locality in the context of slander or libel?

Locality in the context of intellectual property rights means that there is some interaction between the information you create and the person using the intellectual property. If sufficient information about the given piece of intellectual property is given to recreate the essential qualities of the intellectual property, and someone does so, they are in violation of intellectual property.

As for slander or libel, that's trickier, since it assumes that one is entitled to what WOULD be given to them in situations devoid of fraud. But assuming this is true, then the time of the trade that would have taken place that locality is preserved. Furthermore, there is another act of fraud that occurs to the person who is told the mistruth, and that occurs locally as well. That is effectively analogous to killing one's significant other and denying someone the income that the other person would have made, and then the criminal being subject to civil suits. If I hurt someone who was about to do trade with you, and in such a manner that they can no longer do it, the rights violation occurs to both the direct subject and the inderect subject.

All of these explanations infer local abuse. Now you could go on and say that ones rights were violated when one witnesses it, but there is another thing you should know: no coercion has occured. That certain perceptions are evil without being deceitful nor destructive of ones ability to perceive assumes you have a right not to perceive what is actually happening in reality. That is absurd. In fact, that is the crux of the argument against burdens on those wishing to perform non-damaging acts. That someone third-party to the act of sex is being harmed can only exist if there is a right for them not to be causally affeted by anything that is objectionable. That is, their objection to it is more harmful than the methods to remove what is objectionable. That is patently false.

Oh, and one more thing. What if you are entering someone's private property? What if you assumed you were invited? What if you WERE invited, according to law? What if they could not remove you from the premises without violating your rights? Could sex be illegal then, even if the sex did not involve anybody who actually owned the property?

Edited by Starblade Enkai
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You forget: Ayn Rand's statement applies only to sex. I would have to wonder, come to think of it, whether her statement could even be made to apply to beheading videos.

This is a very cogent and persuasive point. The phrases "only one aspect of sex is a legitimate field for legislation ..." and "this aspect includes ..." limit the application of all that follows despite the general language employed. Hence, "the need to protect people from being confronted with sights they regard as loathsome" must be regarded as an "aspect of sex" and "a corollary of the freedom to see and hear, is the freedom not to look or listen" must also be interpreted exclusively within that context. This overcomes what was for me the main interpretive difficulty, namely that the word "loathsome" is thoroughly asexual in itself and seemed to implicate general principles outside the realm of sex. But the more limited interpretation obviates this concern.

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That a person could be required to notify ANYONE, absolutely ANYONE who MAY, not who will ultimately because people do have free will, but MAY be subjected to the objectionable is not logically distinct from banning the objectionable. It is de-facto a violation of civil liberties.

You are claiming that it is self-evident that both the banning of sex acts in public view and requiring notification of such acts are identical. These are certainly not equivalent. Under the first scenario, the acts are banned. Under the second scenario, you may engage in such acts assuming you have a right to the premises; you just need to put up a sign.

That it would make somebody a part of the sex act is an invalid concept, since it violates locality.

Your arguments rely on this notion of "locality" which is still vague and undefined. If you wish to pursue this discussion further, you will need to offer a clearer explanation of your principle or at least provide an accessible source as to where you are getting these ideas from.

What if you WERE invited [on someone else's property], according to law? What if they could not remove you from the premises without violating your rights? Could sex be illegal then, even if the sex did not involve anybody who actually owned the property?

Why do you think it would be a violation of your rights if an individual demands that you leave his property? I doubt that you have a tenant-landlord dispute in mind here. If you are refusing to vacate someone's property when you have no right to be there (a right that generally must be stated in a lease or rent agreement) then you are initiating force against that individual. Since you are the one initiating force, the owner has every right to have you forcefully removed, even if it requires him to initiate violence by having the police drag you off the premises while kicking and screaming.

Simply put, you and your wife do not have the right to have sex on your neighbor's dining room table, even if you were invited over for coffee. Furthermore, nobody has ever said that the sex act needs to involve the owner of the property for the act to be illegal. Such a requirement is ludicrous and unjustified.

Edited by DarkWaters
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This is a very cogent and persuasive point. The phrases "only one aspect of sex is a legitimate field for legislation ..." and "this aspect includes ..." limit the application of all that follows despite the general language employed. Hence, "the need to protect people from being confronted with sights they regard as loathsome" must be regarded as an "aspect of sex" and "a corollary of the freedom to see and hear, is the freedom not to look or listen" must also be interpreted exclusively within that context. This overcomes what was for me the main interpretive difficulty, namely that the word "loathsome" is thoroughly asexual in itself and seemed to implicate general principles outside the realm of sex. But the more limited interpretation obviates this concern.

But it doesn't make sense to limit such principle as "right not to look or listen" only to sex. Aren't you bothered by this new arbitrary limitation?

Besides, I think that she did not say that the only application of this principle is in the field of sex, rather she said that the only legitimate aspect of sex for legislation is the one involving this principle. This does not prevent the principle from being used to justify limitations in other fields of human interactions.

Myself - I see is an error in switching between the true meaning of the right not to look and listen to the meaning of the right to have others take actions to conceal things someone finds loathsome. I see an error - a frightening error.

And the more frightening thing is people who use what Ayn Rand says as a final justification for why things ought to be a certain way, without a thought given to the principles at hand, and their consequences, without caring to validate it.

It is scary especially in light of knowledge of the Objectivist virtues: independence and critical thinking.

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And the more frightening thing is people who use what Ayn Rand says as a final justification for why things ought to be a certain way, without a thought given to the principles at hand, and their consequences, without caring to validate it.

It is scary especially in light of knowledge of the Objectivist virtues: independence and critical thinking.

Amen Sister!

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And the more frightening thing is people who use what Ayn Rand says as a final justification for why things ought to be a certain way, without a thought given to the principles at hand, and their consequences, without caring to validate it. It is scary especially in light of knowledge of the Objectivist virtues: independence and critical thinking.

This error is particularly chilling. Dr. Peikoff called it the "Intrinsicist Approach to Objectivism." This includes when individuals take all of the principles of Objectivism as self-evident and when individuals make arguments from (an Objectivist) authority (i.e. This statement about reality is true because Ayn Rand said so). Fortunately, I do not think that we actually see this error often on this forum.

Edited by DarkWaters
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I have decided there is simply no hope for any of us! I don’t understand how someone can read through these pages of posts and not see a problem (I know there are some but they are in the minority or are just keeping quiet). If Objectivists won’t stand up for rights, specifically property rights, then who will?

The general consensus seems to be that I have a right to not see certain things. These certain things while based on social mores are not based on the majority but what a reasonable man would say. There are some, apparently, reasonable men and women on this forum who have shared certain things that are offensive where one must post a special sign if “the public” might see them. These include but are not limited to:

Sex

Pictures of Sex

Naked People

Pictures of naked people (Unless it’s a painting that’s ok for some “reasonable” reason that I haven’t figured out yet)

Torturing Animals

Urination

Defecation

And Nazi symbols (maybe)

I would consider myself a reasonable man so I would like to add a few more items to the list. You may call these arbitrary however, I am a reasonable man therefore my additions will be just as valid (and no less arbitrary) than the ones already listed.

Women who don’t wear burqas – I think it’s disgusting that women walk around today showing bare arms and legs. Just like sex and labias and breasts should be covered up I think more of a woman’s body should be reserved only for her husband.

Shirtless men – The fact that I am forced to perceive male breasts is an affront to my senses. You may say, “but this is generally accepted!” That is of little relevance here. Male and female breasts are structurally similar. Man in extraordinary circumstances can lactate so clearly just like women should be covered up so should men.

Dancing – Counties used to regulate this disgusting and obviously damaging act but sadly many of those statutes have been overturned. Dancing, especially bump and grind modern dancing, looks like sex and in fact may lead to un-Objectivist sex. The act of dancing is disgusting and a sign should be posted any area where you might see it.

*As an aside Hindu dancing, though not with a partner, is disgusting but ballet and tap are ok. Luckily Ayn Rand reasoned that one out for all of us!*

Crosses – The site of a cross literally makes me sick to my stomach! Crosses were used to crucify people so a cross could also be considered a threat (just like a Nazi symbol)! The Star of David is ok though because I don’t think Jews are objectively threatening.

Belching – Belching is a disgusting and completely socially unacceptable thing to do. People should not be able to belch in public unless they have posted a sign. Of yeah and my neighbor can’t do it in the yard EVER because I might hear him and that would be trampling on my right not to be exposed to certain things that a reasonable (me) has determined are damaging.

I’m sure I could add others to this list! I’ll have to look around tomorrow and figure out what offends me and then I’ll find a way rationalize why the act offends me (and the general public) and why the public should be protected from it.

Many people, including Objectivists, can run into the problem of thinking about something a little too much. So now instead of simply saying “You have a right to do what you want on your property because any perception by “the public” is up to them.” We get you can do almost anything you want on your property unless it involves peeing, or pooping, or a Nazi symbol, etc.

By the way just like you should be warned if I am going to be defecating in plain view I assume I was required to warn you that I would merely mentioning the act. I did not and I am very sorry. Perhaps when the Objectivist’s on this form rule the world I will be punished as I should be. After all if you should be protected from seeing me poop you definitely should be protected from having to read about it!

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Oh my Gosh, Ifat, you really don't get it, do you? Relax, Miss Rand's passage means absolutely nothing of the kind. Having to consent to seeing pictures of cats--basically, to everything--would indeed mean a total absence of freedom, and it wouldn't even be possible to implement in practice. You wouldn't be able to ask for my consent to give me your consent to ask you if you have had a nice day, because you wouldn't know if I consent to your asking for my consent to giving me your consent to...etc. etc. This is most definitely not what Miss Rand meant, nor what those of us who agree with her passage mean.

To explain what the passage means instead, let's divide actions into two groups. The first group is to contain actions like:

  • Touching your hair
  • Riding your bicycle
  • Copying a picture you have drawn
  • Painting your car a different color
  • Killing you
  • Telling someone what your credit card number is
  • Bringing a cat to a picnic you have organized

The second group:

  • Having one's headlights reflected on your car
  • Entering a restaurant you're dining in
  • Carrying a cat past you on the sidewalk
  • Telling you to go to hell
  • Mentioning your name on an online forum
  • Disagreeing with you
  • Telling someone what your favorite color is

I'm sure you see the difference between the two groups: the actions in the first group are ones that require your consent, while the actions in the second are ones that don't.

The way you consent to the actions in the first group varies, ranging from reasonably presumable consent (for bringing a cat to your picnic) to explicit oral consent (riding your bicycle) to emphatic consent witnessed by several police officers (which I think a rational government should require before it lets anyone kill you). But the common characteristic shared by all actions in the first group is that they require your consent at some level. Or, looking at it the other way, they are actions you can forbid--whereas the actions in the second group are ones you cannot forbid, no matter how much you dislike them (unless you own the restaurant, the sidewalk, etc.).

What Miss Rand and I and my fellow posters are saying is simply that the action of

  • Having sex in front of you on the sidewalk

belongs to the first group, not the second one. The reason for it being that sex matters ; that you "own" your sex life much like you "own" the picnic you organize, and that when a couple has sex in front of you, they become a part of your sex life by virtue of your witnessing the act. In effect, we're saying that you have a right to what I called "sexual integrity" on the other thread. And that's all we're saying; we're not saying that you have a similar "right to feline integrity" or any nonsense like that.

Okay, can you name the defining characteristic of these groups and then explain why each and every item you listed belongs in there?

Sex matters, obviously, but having sex on the sidewalk does not interfere with anybody else. They can always choose to avert their eyes and put on headphones so that they neither have to see nor hear something which is obviously disguesting. Now if those two were in your way, that would be different, since they are blocking you from getting to your destination, but that's a right-of-way issue, not a sex issue.

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Okay, can you name the defining characteristic of these groups and then explain why each and every item you listed belongs in there?

That would be off topic and it's pretty much basic Objectivism. See Chapter 10 in OPAR.

They can always choose to avert their eyes

How can you avert your eyes if you don't know where to avert them from? The purpose of the warning signs is precisely to let you know: this is where you shouldn't look.

It has been said many times and we will likely have to say it many more times to come:

We do not advocate banning sex on sidewalks. We advocate that sex on sidewalks should be LEGAL, but that it should be properly communicated to parties that may be affected by it.

It is similar to shooting trespassers. I believe that it should be legal to shoot to kill anyone who trespasses on your property, but if you have a policy of doing so, you must put up signs that clearly mark your property and describe your policy, such as:

PRIVATE PROPERTY

TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT

Rational people who know the property is yours and you don't want them on it will be happy to avoid walking on it--provided that you give them a chance to do so by letting them know the boundaries and nature of your property. But you can't just shoot people who happen to inadvertently chance onto your property because they don't know it's yours.

I will also be happy to avoid your street where you have sex on the sidewalk, but I ask that you give me a chance to do so by telling me it's that kind of street.

In the end, it boils down to the question: does having sex in front of someone affect his life, just like shooting him does? This is not primarily a legal question, but one dependent on your view of the nature of sex and its role in man's life. And again, I have to refer you to OPAR on what Objectivism has to say on the subject--Chapter 9, this time.

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But it doesn't make sense to limit such principle as "right not to look or listen" only to sex. Aren't you bothered by this new arbitrary limitation?

Besides, I think that she did not say that the only application of this principle is in the field of sex, rather she said that the only legitimate aspect of sex for legislation is the one involving this principle. This does not prevent the principle from being used to justify limitations in other fields of human interactions.

It depends on whether Rand was actually announcing such a principle or not though, which is why we have to remain aware of the specific context of her remarks. If the only subject under discussion was sex (as appears to be the case), then it's fair to interpret the freedom not to look or listen as a type of sexual freedom applying particularly to sex. No general principle was thereby announced, so no arbitrary limitation on said principle exists.

I have two additional observations. The first is that it is extremely hazardous to try to interpret a passage lifted out of the context of the entire essay. I haven't had the opportunity to read the whole essay. Those who have seem to agree that the principle applies to sex only. Without the context of seeing the whole essay it might be possible to misinterpret the passage.

Second, this particular philosophic principle seems to have been treated lightly in the annals of Rand scholarship. At least, no one seems to have pointed to any authoritative interpretive works by the likes of Rand herself, Peikoff, or others that would be useful in determining what she meant. At the same time, the implications of some interpretations are tremendously troubling in scope and effect. The lack of adequate scholarly points of reference suggests we tread cautiously in adopting those interpretations.

You are correct that others could try to pursue similar lines of reasoning to justify unwarranted government intrusions. But the whole point of this inquiry is to see whether Rand's argument actually lends aid to such attempts, or does not. A sex-only interpretation of the freedom lends no aid whatsoever. The burden is wholly on others to show evidence of man's nature justifying the freedom outside the realm of sex.

Edited by Seeker
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You are correct that others could try to pursue similar lines of reasoning to justify unwarranted government intrusions.

I didn't say such a thing. I said that (according to my understanding of this passage) the very argument that Ayn Rand uses to justify "legal restraints for public decency" can be used to justify many other things. I didn't say that "similar lines of reasoning" can lead to it, but the very argument in the essay;

"the right not to look or listen" is a general one, and not confined to sexual matters. The reason is that she says it is a corollary to the "right to see or hear" (paraphrasing), which is not confined to sexual matters, but is general.

But the whole point of this inquiry is to see whether Rand's argument actually lends aid to such attempts, or does not. A sex-only interpretation of the freedom lends no aid whatsoever.

What about unwarranted government intrusions on individual behavior which is related to sex? For example, not allowing people to walk around naked, or with revealing outfits? As long as the argument for restrictions is "the right not to be confronted with sights one considers loathsome" as opposed to "the right not to be assaulted psychologically", and as long as a rational standard exists for what is or isn't psychological assault, or something that requires consent, unwarranted government intrusion on individual life is the only option I see.

The burden is wholly on others to show evidence of man's nature justifying the freedom outside the realm of sex.

Can you explain what you meant here? Having problem understanding this.

I agree that reading the whole essay is very important to make sure one draws the right conclusions. If there was an online link to it I would read it by now, but to get a book would take a lot more time for me. So for now I rely on what I have read so far.

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I didn't say such a thing. I said that (according to my understanding of this passage) the very argument that Ayn Rand uses to justify "legal restraints for public decency" can be used to justify many other things. I didn't say that "similar lines of reasoning" can lead to it, but the very argument in the essay;

"the right not to look or listen" is a general one, and not confined to sexual matters. The reason is that she says it is a corollary to the "right to see or hear" (paraphrasing), which is not confined to sexual matters, but is general.

Yet this is where the overall context could make the difference. It is my understanding that the article was mainly speaking against censorship of pornography. Supposing that earlier in the article Rand spoke of the freedom to see and hear sexually explicit material, adding later on that the "a corollary of the freedom to see and hear, is the freedom not to look or listen". It would be clear, in context, that the freedom to see and hear meant the right to consume pornographic material, and the corollary meant the right not to, whereas dropping the context would make it appear as though a general right was being referred to when in fact it wasn't. Hence my emphasis on the importance of knowing the entire context.

What about unwarranted government intrusions on individual behavior which is related to sex? For example, not allowing people to walk around naked, or with revealing outfits? As long as the argument for restrictions is "the right not to be confronted with sights one considers loathsome" as opposed to "the right not to be assaulted psychologically", and as long as a rational standard exists for what is or isn't psychological assault, or something that requires consent, unwarranted government intrusion on individual life is the only option I see.

Again I think it's important to consider that Rand was only addressing the subject of pornographic materials. Had she chosen to address a wider topic, she might have phrased it differently. A wider context would imply a wider meaning of the principle, but that's exactly the mistake of context-dropping that I am trying to avoid.

Can you explain what you meant here? Having problem understanding this.

I simply mean that if Rand's argument applies only to sex, then it won't help building an argument in other areas. Others are free to make such arguments, but not to claim that this part of Objectivism supports their position.

Edited by Seeker
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Ifatart,

I must admit that I am one of those who is in "danger" of applying Miss Rand's reasoning to other areas besides sex, perhaps because this was my position before I even heard of the name Ayn Rand.

Example: suppose MrX hates you so much that he decides to send your daughter a birthday present that you might find a little offensive. As your daughter is opening all those lovely presents, she finally comes to this nicely wrapped box and anxiously opens it, only to find ... an old, ugly dead woman's head! (with her tongue sticking out and one eye hanging out...etc).

MrX sent that gift to express himself, to express how he feels about you and your family (whether it is a logical expression or not is not the issue). He had kept his great grandmother's body embalmed for years until she started looking like ET, and now decides to cut off the head and (unpleasantly) surprise your family with it. (By the way, it is irrelevant, by your arguments, that the direct recipient of this gift is young, because there is apparently no violation of rights involved. And besides, would it make any difference if this human head was sent on your birthday instead?)

I'm guessing you would think that people should not be permitted to do such things, but i also know that this does not fall under your traditional understanding of "initiation of force" since that dead woman's head can not possibly harm you, and neither does it necessarily represent any hidden message of threat from the sender.

Thus, I think that "certain sights" goes beyond just sexual sights. If someone is going to send you such a present, they should clearly indicate that this is what they are sending or have sent (BEFORE you can see it). But if they are just sending a bicycle, there need not be any such notice. That simple requirement is not in any way a violation of anyone's rights of expression (of how they feel, etc). It is instead a protection of the unconsenting, who have an equal right NOT to view certain (generally-regarded-as) loathsome sights.

Thanks.

[Edit: changed 'offensive' to 'loathsome' in last line]

Edited by blackdiamond
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You're still missing a reason BD. WHY? WHY? WHY? Why does someone have the right to be warned about sights they might regard as loathesome?????? WHY?

I'm giving situational examples first, to see if there is any point of agreement, before we discuss the first principles. Do you agree with the point of the example in my last post? Or do you think it should be legally okay for someone to send that dead head to your daughter?

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I'm giving situational examples first, to see if there is any point of agreement, before we discuss the first principles. Do you agree with the point of the example in my last post? Or do you think it should be legally okay for someone to send that dead head to your daughter?

Can we have some better examples then please? For one thing, why on Earth did you let your daughter open a package from someone who hates your family? And although I admit to being entertained by the notion of people projecting beheading videos into their neighbors' living rooms, men masturbating in glass display cases being pulled around town in toy wagons, the couple across the street having sex on their front lawn beneath a swastika while reading Nietzsche, and now the enemy of the family MrX with his embalmed grandmother's head scaring the bejesus out of little Suzie - a cartoonist could have a field day - this does not strike me as the correct way to abstract serious principles on which to justify legislation.

I understand that you are trying to find an example on which all can agree, but for my part I'm not going to consider any examples that aren't drawn from reality. So unless someone has actually had the misfortune of dealing with MrX in the manner described, I'd like to see some other, realistic examples before going any further. Can we all agree to this as a ground rule?

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Can we have some better examples then please?

And also, regarding where Blackdiamond is going, I think everyone should understand that he is positing a position of his own, and not an extension of the Objectivist position quoted in this thread. Seeker and Capitalism Forever are correct to state that there is no reason to believe that the Objectivist position applies to contexts other than sex.

I am not saying Blackdiamond is wrong - he may be right (I am undecided); I am just trying to keep it clear here what is part of what Objectivism says on the subject and what is not.

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Yet this is where the overall context could make the difference. It is my understanding that the article was mainly speaking against censorship of pornography. Supposing that earlier in the article Rand spoke of the freedom to see and hear sexually explicit material, adding later on that the "a corollary of the freedom to see and hear, is the freedom not to look or listen". It would be clear, in context, that the freedom to see and hear meant the right to consume pornographic material, and the corollary meant the right not to, whereas dropping the context would make it appear as though a general right was being referred to when in fact it wasn't.

If this was the case, Seeker, you would have seen quotes explaining in "full context" the "right not to look or listen" by now, from people who have read the entire article. But in fact no such special context exists in this case as far as I can see, and I see no reason to interpret it differently.

(I do see a reason to be cautious, but according to what I know by now, the general interpretation seems to be the right one).

Example: suppose MrX hates you so much ...

...

(By the way, it is irrelevant, by your arguments, that the direct recipient of this gift is young, because there is apparently no violation of rights involved. And besides, would it make any difference if this human head was sent on your birthday instead?)

I'm guessing you would think that people should not be permitted to do such things, but i also know that this does not fall under your traditional understanding of "initiation of force" since that dead woman's head can not possibly harm you, and neither does it necessarily represent any hidden message of threat from the sender.

I think that this is a case of psychological assault, regardless of the intentions of the sender (or meaning of dead heads to him).

To make a physical parallel: when someone pushes you aggressively, he didn't cause your body any damage whatsoever, yet it is physical assault, and it is initiation of force.

I think that sending someone a corpse would be a case of psychological assault in a similar way, since corpses represent anti-life ideas (and they are also junk, so on top of everything this case would be like throwing junk in your backyard, since objectively, for a rational person, corpses have no use in one's house, except, maybe, for special cases when the sender has reason to believe that this can be useful/desirable, and then he would have to make sure if it actually is).

And to answer your question: sending it on someone's birthday adds a context that makes the action worse. Sending it to a young person is worse than sending it to an adult, too. But please don't start discussing this aspects with me instead of the real issue here.

However, the last posts I made deal with the basis Ayn Rand lays for "legal restraints on public decency", and not with my own ideas on the subject, so I'm not sure if you were responding to something I said or just starting a new line of discussion.

Edit: spelling mistake

Edited by ifatart
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Can we have some better examples then please? For one thing, why on Earth did you let your daughter open a package from someone who hates your family?

He could have used a different name on the package?

I understand that you are trying to find an example on which all can agree, but for my part I'm not going to consider any examples that aren't drawn from reality. So unless someone has actually had the misfortune of dealing with MrX in the manner described, I'd like to see some other, realistic examples before going any further. Can we all agree to this as a ground rule?

Well, there's one small problem with your objection, Seeker. Most of these things are actually already illegal in many societies, if not all - or one would expect them to be illegal. So, you haven't met Mr.X probably because people do not want to go to jail (or pay) for doing such things. What we are discussing is whether they indeed SHOULD be illegal (at least without a warning) as they are. By your rule, we shouldn't even discuss anything about the legality of people walking around in the nude, or indeed posters of totally nude persons: I for one have never encountered such in all my life, or heard of it from anyone. Should we agree to exclude all such examples?

[but also, just to defend my example a bit. I think someone put an animal's head dripping with blood in someone's bed in The Godfather! I think my example is just as "practical" as that. Or is that also disqualified in your books because it's an "unrealistic" movie scene?]

(edit: added "at least without a warning" in the post, for clarity).

Edited by blackdiamond
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I think that this is a case of psychological assault...

Aha. I think we are closing the gap in our disagreement. If you can invoke a charge of psychological assault, you are not too far from my position.

To make a physical parallel: when someone pushes you aggressively, he didn't cause your body any damage whatsoever, yet it is physical assault, and it is initiation of force.

I think that sending someone a corpse would be a case of psychological assault in a similar way, since corpses represent anti-life ideas

Again, your line of argument shows you at least believe that you can objectively draw a case for psychological offences (that do not necessarily involve any physical harm or even contact). Otherwise, you would have to answer the question: WHO determines that corpses represent anti-life ideas and why should everyone in society be forced to accept that they do (for it to be made officially illegal). But even if they do (represent anti-life ideas, etc), why should someone be stopped from expressing such ideas? In short, someone could argue that stopping someone from freely expressing anti-life ideas (to another person) is an infringement on their right to free expression. But I won't argue that. I think that's supposed to be your argument, if I understood your position correctly.

However, the last posts I made deal with the basis Ayn Rand lays for "legal restraints on public decency", and not with my own ideas on the subject, so I'm not sure if you were responding to something I said or just starting a new line of discussion.

I was responding to your statement about how someone can ("dangerously") use Rand's argument to justify other kinds of government restraints besides sexual context ones, and I was pleading guilty to that charge. Maybe you're not the one who made that statement, i thought it was, but that was my point - to whoever made that statement.

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Should we agree to exclude all such examples?

It is entirely appropriate to exclude arbitrary examples as a basis for making generalizations about the real world. I acknowledge that it makes your task harder; so be it. The question I have is, what reason do you have for thinking that a particular example is possible (not arbitrary)? In the case of public nudity, the answer is obvious: because there are particular laws against it, we can reasonably infer that it actually happened at some point. So, where is the law against sending embalmed heads to someone? There isn't one (is there?), and no evidence that I know of that such actually occurred; the example is arbitrary. Ditto beheading videos on the living room wall, masturbating men in Red Flyer wagons, and Nazi hedonists screwing on the lawn of the house next door (what kind of a neighborhood is this? Sheesh!). I am asking that the examples we use be reasonable, i.e. based in reality, if we are to draw real-world conclusions from them. I don't think that's asking too much.

Edited by Seeker
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Since dead things carry disease, it can be seen as an attempt at assault, physical assault, not psychological. Thats why it may, in certain contexts, be a violation of rights. Other than that, if you want to send pornography to someone without their knowledge that is your right, and it is their right to throw it out and ostracise you, boycott you, whatever.

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A larger point is this: you can't derive principles of what should be rights violations by thinking of situations that you "just know" are rights violations and then find out what is similar amongst those situations, that's begging the question. The concept and principle of rights is derived from the nature of man and of value, it proscribes how men should act toward one another just as ethics procribes how a man should act to/for himself. The overiding principle in ethics is "life affirmation of the self", the oveririding principle in politics is "mind affirmation of others." Because in order for a man to be able to affirm his own life, he must first be free to do so; he must have others let his mind be free to function, i.e. to percieve, concieve, and choose his course of action. This is because man sustains his life by the use of his mind.

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