Category Archives: Free Will Vs. Determinism

The Pornography of Public Grief

Crime, Ethics, Etiquette, Free Will Vs. Determinism, Individualism Vs. Collectivism, Left-Liberalism, Media, Pseudoscience, Psychiatry, Reason

The following is from “The Pornography of Public Grief,” the current column, now on WND.COM:

“A headline on the Huffington Post blared: ‘Comfort Dogs Sent To Newtown From Chicago Area To Help Community After Sandy Hook Shooting.’ CNN’s top dog Anderson Cooper followed—or led the pack; who cares?—with a similar segment about insourcing dogs to comfort the afflicted community of Newtown, Conn.

One day after the massacre of 20 children and seven adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, ‘a group of golden retrievers from the Chicago area made a cross-country journey to … Newtown.’

Woof, woof, or barf, barf?

Are there no companion dogs in Newtown, Conn.? Must expert dogs be brought in to properly minister to the mourners? Apparently so. Even the neighborhood dog is now unqualified for the big time.

The pornography of public grief in our country is almost as warped as the evil (not ill), mother-slaying, mass murderer responsible for the Sandy Hook carnage. There is very little dignity in the freaky spectacle of mass contagion—where members of the public turn professional mourners, flock to memorial happenings for victims they never knew, and mill about for hours in the hope of being discovered by the master of ceremonies, the journalist.

These ritualistic displays are symptomatic of our festering cultural commons.

At the center of this festering culture that turns victims into a backdrop and prop to the state’s army of experts is the journalist. …”

Read the complete column, “The Pornography of Public Grief,” now on WND.COM.

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UPDATE II: National Review Eunuchs (‘Why Come You Don’t Have a Tattoo?”)

Classical Liberalism, Conservatism, Free Speech, Free Will Vs. Determinism, Intellectualism, Journalism, Media, Race, Reason

The following is from “National Review Eunuchs,” my latest column:

In an interview with Brian Sack on GBTV, columnist and author John Derbyshire inadvertently anticipated his future in commenting about the dismissal from mainstream of another iconoclast, Patrick J. Buchanan:

“MSNBC is a private company. They can hire and fire who they like. But Buchanan is a serious guy who talks in a serious way about serious issues. Yet he is out of the national conversation. That’s bad.”

Not long after, Derbyshire was dismissed from National Review, where he freelanced. The “girlie boys” of NR had taken offense to “The Talk: Nonblack Version,” a column Derbyshire published at Taki’s Magazine. …

… National Review used to be conservatism’s flagship publication. These days its ideology reflects “Modern Republicanism’s” “dime store New Deal” proclivities (Barry Goldwater’s characterization). Launching oxymoronic attacks on Obamacare for “endangering Medicare”: that’s the extent of NR’s fight to free minds and markets.

… Tons of pixels have since been spilt in response to Derbyshire’s article and subsequent dismissal. The dimwitted discourse reflects a polemical landscape from which the Derbs of this world have been uprooted. None of John’s critics can write or reason as he does. None has his “range of historical and literary allusion,” as Mark Steyn observed. John Derbyshire’s is pellucid prose at its best.

A staff writer at The Atlantic epitomizes this fluffy, unfocused, Meghan McCain-like waffle (punctuated with a lot of, “I feel”) that lands you a job at a top publication. “As someone who places a high value on both robust public discourse and the fact that racism is now taboo,” he whimpered, “I won’t even try to mediate between these two except to say that Derbyshire’s piece was wrongheaded.”

That’s it? A feeble, frightened assertion is a substitute for an argument?

Such cyber-ejaculate gushed from other similar androgynous androids, possessors of the Y chromosome. The volume of bad writers safely ensconced in high places, and their voluminous, vapid output strengthened this conviction:

More so than enforcing conformity—ousting John was about safeguarding the future of mediocrity. …

… Cognitive consonance is what writing in the Age of the idiot is all about.

The key to success in the scribbling profession is to strike the right balance of mediocrity in writing and thinking, which invariably entails echoing one of two party lines, poorly.

Conservatism once had the genius of James Burnham, Russell Kirk, Frank Chodorov, and Felix Morley; now the brand boasts S. E. Cupp, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Rich Lowry, and their editorial enablers. (Perhaps NR will recruit Jedediah [sic] Bila in place of Derb?) …

Read the complete column, “National Review Eunuchs.”

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UPDATE I: “Why Come You Don’t Have a Tattoo?”

About “those androgynous androids, possessors of the Y chromosome,” mentioned in the column on John Derbyshire’s firing. Here is a typical example. His name is Alexander Nazaryan. he writes for the New York Daily News:

“Please, Lord, tell me that this is a joke. Please, please tell me that a human being did not actually think these things and, worse yet, think to write them down.”

Reading Meghan McCain has just about inoculated me to the above form of writing (for it is not a style in any recognizable way).

It conjures the scene in Mike Judge’s genius of a satire “Idiocracy.” To be precise, the dialogue Joe Bauer, the protagonist, conducted with the “‘tarded” doctor character, who discovers Bauer doesn’t have the identifying, state tattoo (listen to it HERE):

Doctor: “And if you could just go ahead and, like, put your tattoo in that shit.”
Joe: “That’s weird. This thing has the same misprint as that magazine. What are the odds of–”
Doctor: “Where’s your tattoo? Tattoo? Why don’t you have this?”
Joe: “Oh, god!”
Doctor: “Where’s your tattoo?”
Joe: “Oh, my god.”
Doctor: “Why come you don’t have a tattoo?”

Doctor: “Why come you don’t have a tattoo?”

[SNIP]

You want to slap this Nazaryan man in the face. “Settle down. Stop it man. Quit the hysterical hyperbole. Stop the overwrought outrage. Calm down and write a simple sentence countering the Derb column.”

UPDATE II: To the ladies, Jeniffer and Scherie: Saddling the state solely for the dysfunction of a segment of the population is a form of determinism. According to this formula, free will and individual agency get short shrift. For the sins of man, hard leftists blame society, and hard-core libertarians, who are also determinist, saddle the state. “The State made me do it” is how such social determinism can be summed-up.

By the way, according to Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, white, middle America is in big trouble too. It isn’t as criminal as black America, but it is shot through with illegitimacy, laziness, unemployment, family and marital disintegration, etc.


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UPDATE VI: Ron Paul: Stand Tall For Middle America (Rape in Norway An Imported Affair)

Drug War, Free Will Vs. Determinism, Left-Liberalism, Multiculturalism, Political Economy, Propaganda, Race, Racism, Republicans, Ron Paul

My new, WND.COM column is “Ron Paul: Stand Tall For Middle America.” Here’s an excerpt:

“Terrible,” “tricky” and “a phony”: Who was the incorrigible racist who thus described Martin Luther King Jr.? Was it the unknown author of the politically improper newsletters published under Rep. Ron Paul’s name during the 1980s and 1990s?

Not quite.

Those were the words of the nation’s most engaging first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.

Audio recordings of Mrs. Kennedy’s historic 1964 conversations on life with John F. Kennedy were released in September of 2011. Conducted with the late historian Arthur Schlesinger—and delivered in her hallmark dulcet lilt and exquisite diction—the exchanges reveal Jackie as a dazzling conversationalist, and a forceful, thoughtful persona.

This Jacky O held a low opinion of MLK, the man America has since deified, and was unafraid to say as much.

There were many reasons not racist for which to dislike MLK, not least of them was the man’s dalliance with communists. “His associations with communists” is why Jacky’s husband, hero of Chris Matthews’ latest book, ordered the wiretaps on King.

Mrs. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Robert Kennedy—recounts Patrick J. Buchanan in his towering “Suicide of a Superpower”—“saw to it that the FBI carried out the order.” Among his other endearing qualities, the not-so enchanting Martin Luther King had “declared that the Goldwater campaign bore ‘dangerous signs of Hitlerism.”

Indisputably, MLK set the tone for “assailing America as irredeemably racist” forever after. Other brothers have built on MLK’s work to sculpt careers as professional race hustlers.

Faithful to this legacy, the media monolith has been fulminating over the reference in the Ron Paul newsletters to …” MORE in “Ron Paul: Stand Tall For Middle America.”

My book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa,” is available from Amazon. (Don’t forget those reviews; they help this cause.)

A Kindle copy is also on sale.

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UPDATE I: IN THIS COLUMN I was trying hard to show how everyone, Paul too, twists into pretzels in order to blame … white, liberal politicians for the problems in the black community. It’s the explanation du jour: Democrats corrupted the black community. The Democrats ate my homework. Nothing, not even hags like Pelosi, can explain away the facts in my column.

But bad habits die hard. Our Myron writes:

There are 500,000 blacks in federal prison for non-violent drug offenses that would be free if that “racist” [Ron Paul] had his way! And there would likely be less “real crime” (against people and property) without the idiotically distorted economy created by the War on Drugs and anti-business regulations.

I oppose the war on drugs, always have. But unlike the libertine perspective that I believe Myron echoes, I have no delusions about the drug dealer. He is NOT a productive member of society, who has been corrupted by politicians. He is unlikely to become a productive member of society once drugs are legalized. If anything, the dealer is more likely a low-life looking for a way to make a living that involves no graft.

On the heels of legalization, the price of drugs will drops as the price is “pushed up by the high costs of circumventing the law as well as by the reduced supply brought on by prohibition.” Once the price of drugs drops, do you think, Myron, that the hoodlums that we’ve just released will open up a mom and pop store supplying medical marijuana to the needy at the new, lower prices?

Our hoodlum will go in search of other sources of easy, no-graft cash. Upward mobility for the drug dealers is the next most lucrative contraband that will yield maximum profit with minimum effort.

“For the sins of man, hard leftists blame society, and hard-core libertarians saddle the state. “The State made me do it” is how such social determinism can be summed-up.”

UPDATE II: As an addiction expert explained to me, many cocaine or heroine recreational users work, are productive, and manage to keep their use under control. It is no one’s business what they do in private, so long as they perform the jobs for which they are hired and do not aggress against others.

I have distinguished the user from the dealer; and the recreational user from the addict. Naturally, none of these people should be arrested, except for property or other crimes perpetrated (for instance, if a used needle was tossed in a park, and someone was stuck and became ill; nab the user for harm done). However, don’t expect a good “career” outcome, post legalization, for the career dealer in the hood. Pimping and stealing will likely be his next “career” options. It is one thing to be pro-legalization on the grounds that an individual owns his body. It is quite another to fantasize about human nature. Were I Paul, I would follow up wishy-washy exhortation to legalize drugs with promises to enforce the law against property crimes and other spillover effects that may accompany the loss of an easy buck.

UPDATE III: Loser Libertarian Lunges At Lew Rockwell. Some loser writes (ungrammatically) on the Daily Paul, no less: “Lew Rockwell ‘may have’ wrote racist newsletters! research this for yourself!”

The corollary of my latest column is that only the obsequious lick-spittle toadies among us libertarians are going to use this mainstream argument to launch a witch hunt against other libertarians. The “Lite” variety of libertarian will relish the ideologically confused in-fighting, for he is indistinguishable from the Left in may ways.

UPDATE IV: Via LRC.COM. Robin Williams’ quips are not “racist”; in the context, they were realistic:

UPDATE V (Dec. 31): RAPE IN NORWAY IS AN IMPORTED AFFAIR.

UPDATE VI: DJ: What the Norwegian officer says is not unreasonable; you don’t want individuals to be stigmatized. At the same time, you’d like these Norwegian girls to be forewarned by their elders to watch out for themselves. You would never find American law-enforcement officers making such an honest admission. Should you, do send it along … before the officer is fired. Europe is way ahead of the US in exposing the unhappy cult of multiculturalism.


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UPDATED: Drug Pusher & Purchaser Innocent In Libertarian Law (On Selecting for Low Character)

Celebrity, Free Will Vs. Determinism, Individual Rights, Justice, Law, libertarianism, Liberty, Pop-Psychology, Psychiatry, War on Drugs

The trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, “the doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death,” drags on. “Authorities contend Murray gave Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol in the singer’s bedroom on June 25, 2009. Defense attorneys claim the singer gave himself the fatal dose.” (WAPo)

Murray agreed to become Jackson’s personal physician for $150,000 a month but was never paid because the singer died before the contract was signed.

Jackson, whom I defended when ‘Mad Dog’ [Thomas] Sneddon picked up the star’s scent and gave chase, was a deeply disturbed, body dysmorphic, drug-addicted man. But he was an adult, not a child. His decisions were his to make. He hired Murray to feed narcotics directly into his bloodstream.

If not for the medicine of this admittedly shoddy practitioner, Jackson would have ended-up dead, in a back alley with a needle in his stick arm, a long time ago.

In the libertarian law, Dr. Conrad Murray is innocent (if odious).

A drug purchaser and a drug pusher have agreed on an exchange. If it is voluntary and consensual, then both parties expect to benefit ex ante. A voluntary exchange is, by definition, always mutually beneficial inasmuch as, at the time of the exchange, the buyer valued the purchase more than the money he paid for it, and the seller valued the money more than the goods he sold.

There will always be meddling third parties seeking to circumscribe and circumvent a voluntary activity not to their liking. Some feminists want to stop lovers of pornography from making or consuming it. Other busybodies would like to stop adults from gambling. These third parties have no place in a transaction between consenting adults, unless these transactions infringe directly—not foreseeably—on their property or person.

Any transaction that was at the time of occurrence voluntary, and hence beneficial to the participants, can, retrospectively, be denounced as harmful and regrettable.

The legislator has no place in a voluntary exchange between adults, as dodgy and as dangerous as they may be (like dwarf tossing). Murray might be an unsavory character. He would not be my choice for a medic, but he does not belong in jail.

UPDATED (Oct. 27): ON SELECTING FOR LOW CHARACTER. Some interesting comments have been made below, under Comments. First, not to be schoolmarmish, but addiction is not a disease. Please click “Drug War,” on my Articles Archive, and read some of these titles. The category of “Psychiatry and The Therapeutic State” is also relevant to grasping that the disease model of misbehavior has no place in a free society:

Charlie Sheen’s Out of the AA ‘Troll Hole’
VICES ARE NOT CRIMES
HARRY’S HOUNDERS AND OTHER VILLAGE IDIOTS
Addicted To The Drug War
Tokers Are Terrorists Now
Medical Mumbo Jumbo Does Not Explain Addiction
Addictions Are About Behavior, Not Disease

As to the good points raised in Comments. We live in the real world which is encumbered by positive law. Analysis must avoid, in as much as possible, levitating between what “is” and what “ought to be” (although all libertarian analysis, given its deference to natural law, will so err).

The type of “service” Jackson required from this Murray man was one that few competent, above-board practitioners would agree to perform. I’ve used a similar argument to make the case that our immigration law selects for low character: yes, left-libertarians like to believe that the best and bravest of humanity will cross our borders illegally. As an immigrant who knows a bit about the US visa system, I assure you that this is seldom the case. (Read more.)

It appears that poor Jackson did not have the fiduciary and intellectual wherewithal to sign a contract specifying Murray’s responsibilities. But even had Jackson done that prudent thing, Murray would have likely flouted his obligations, irrespective of the Hippocratic oath he took. See comment above. Risk is implicit in buying a dodgy service such as anesthetizing yourself to sleep every night. However much I paid my doctor, I know she would refuse. She’s a go-by-the-book woman.

What is true is that if all drug dealing were licit, Jackson would have had access to a better practitioner. However, private medical associations would have probably not licensed Murray and would refuse to give their medical imprimatur to individuals who were prepared to anesthetized a man to sleep each and every night (give him his “milk,” as the warped Jackson called this deadly, almost necrophilic practice).

Either way, your best and brightest medics would not be willing to cease practicing in their area of specialty, and contend themselves, as professionals, with the nightly routine of hooking up a celebrity’s IV.

Here’s another clue Jackson ought to have used in assessing the risks of hiring Murray: the man is a cardiologist, for heaven’s sake, not an anesthesiologist. The latter is a specialty in itself.


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UPDATED: Can the Incredible Hulk Strike at Socialism? (Clutching @ Straws)

Barack Obama, Business, Capitalism, Economy, Elections, Free Markets, Free Will Vs. Determinism, Political Economy, Political Philosophy, Socialism

The excerpt is from “Can the Incredible Hulk Strike at Socialism?”, now on WND.COM:

“New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may be planning to join the Republican presidential thrust and ‘Perry.’ … references to Ronald Reagan do not make a speech Reaganesque. To be Reaganesque, Christie will have to expose the spirit of socialism—envy, entitlement, aggression—and juxtapose it with the morality of capitalism: commerce, creativity, comity.

Gov. Christie boasted that his ‘Executive Branch’ showed the requisite leadership, not least in educating the public before enacting solutions to New Jersey’s problems.

If Christie wishes to ‘educate’ the rest of the country, as he claims to have done for New Jersey, he would have to first strike at the assorted zero-sum, socialist notions, whereby one person’s plenty is portrayed as another’s poverty. Chief among these is the concept of ‘the American economic pie.’ This pie-in-the-sky is perverse in the extreme because it feeds the idea of a preexisting income pie from which the greedy appropriate an unfair share.

Wealth, earned or ‘unearned,’ as egalitarians term inheritance, doesn’t exist outside the individuals who create it. Wealth is a return for desirable services, skills and resources rendered to others. Labor productivity is the main determinant of wages—and wealth. Most wealthy Americans produce what they consume—and much more; they don’t remove or steal it from poorer Americans.”

Read the complete column, “Can the Incredible Hulk Strike at Socialism?” on WND.COM.

My new book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa,” is available from Amazon.

A newly formatted, splendid Kindle copy is also on sale.

Barnes and Noble is always well-stocked and ships within 24 hours.

Still better, shipping is free and prompt if you purchase Into the Cannibal’s Pot from The Publisher.

UPDATE (Oct. 1): Clutching At Straws. Rasmussen Reports: Obama 44%, Christie 43%:

Few expect him to run, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is essentially even with President Barack Obama in an early look at a hypothetical Election 2012 matchup. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows that Obama earns 44% support in the matchup, while Christie attracts 43%. Six percent (6%) prefer a third option, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.


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Where Magic Wins Out Over Reason

Africa, Colonialism, Economy, Ethics, Foreign Aid, Free Markets, Free Will Vs. Determinism, Individualism Vs. Collectivism, Political Correctness, Propaganda, Pseudo-history, Racism, Socialism, The West

The following is from “Where Magic Wins Out Over Reason,” now on WND.COM:

“The images coming at us from Somalia are too horrible for words. And I don’t mean the sight of celebrity journo Anderson cooper and his CNN sidekicks standing in the neighboring Kenya, and blaming, against all evidence, the ‘worst drought in 60 years’ for mass starvation in Somalia. As BBC tells it, the drought ‘has gripped only parts of Somalia,’ and then only ‘since June.’

You have flint for a heart if the images of children starving slowly do not reduce you to tears. Aidan Hartley of the London Spectator describes these distended-bellied, dying innocents as ‘martian-headed skeletons,’ whose emaciated little bodies have begun to eat up their fat reserves and muscle proteins. Many, if not most, will succumb to slow and agonizing organ failure.

In conjunction with ‘the drought’—isn’t Texas experiencing one of those—Cooper and company (joined by other cretins on Cable) have mentioned the menace of the Islamist group al-Shabab, which ‘rules over the population in a style reminiscent of Pol Pot’s Cambodia crossed with the Taleban.’

However, Hartley imparts what Cooper is incapable of imparting—and what any vaguely knowledgeable journalist writing about Africa knows: ‘war caused this famine.’ In this case, internecine warfare was compounded by foreign, military intervention courtesy of the duopoly I dub the ‘Anglo-American Axis of Evil,’ in my new book.

Washington and Westminster (and their special forces) galvanized a neighboring Ethiopian gang to invade southern Somalia and occupy Mogadishu. ‘The objective,’ explains Hartley, ‘was to expel Islamists alleged to have been linked to al-Qaeda.’ And never mind that, ‘Under the Islamists, the city was enjoying its first period of relative peace since Somalia collapsed into civil war in 1991.’

Hunger in the Horn of Africa is not something Cooper is capable of understanding, let alone explaining to his fans on twitter. Contra Cooper, Hartley has not pruned the evidence. As jaundiced a journalist as he is, however, Hartley has failed to look deeper into the heart of darkness that is Africa.

“Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa” fills this gap…”

“Into the Cannibal’s Pot” is available from Amazon.

The complete column is “Where Magic Wins Out Over Reason,” now on WND.COM.

If you’re interested in syndicating my weekly, WND column, kindly email me for details at ilana@ilanamercer.com. “Return to Reason is WorldNetDaily’s longest standing, exclusive libertarian column.


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