Free Markets, Free People

Ed Morrissey Hits A Home Run

If I could see my old buddy Ed Morrissey today I’d give him a hug. A man-hug of course, but still, what he wrote today deserves that.

Ed managed, in a well-written and timely bit of sarcasm, to lay bare the rotten claim that health care is a “right”. And he does it brilliantly by using everyone’s favorite foil – lawyers – and illustrating absurdity with absurdity.

Heh … it’s OK Michael, you’ll enjoy it too.

Go. Read.

~McQ

74 Responses to Ed Morrissey Hits A Home Run

  • But seriously .. why stop at the national takeover of the medical industry, when the law waits .. just around the verizon.

  • That gives me an idea.  think ill find an ambulance chaser, file a frivilous lawsuit, loose, then sue the lawyer for malpractice

  • It’s a right if we choose to make it a right.  It’s been long recognized that rational thought and enlightenment reasons are tools, they cannot give you the answers.  Those who want to claim there are “rights” that are somehow objectively rooted in a transcendent nature have been completely and thoroughly trounced in the fields of philosophy and political thought.  We choose what we want to proclaim as rights, as a society.   And no individual can exist outside a culture and society.  So if the American people (even the AMA, which opposed Medicare and Medicaid endorsed Obama’s plan!) want to make it a right, well, then it is, even if you don’t like it.

    • Something is true once we the majority choose to say it is true. Most of you have declared me a damn fool, for example, and that truth is beyond doubt.
      Those who want to claim things like natural rights are dangerous to those of us who want to live off their substance. That’s why we the leeches of society had to invent things like the right to free education, the right to jobs we like but are unqualified for, and the right to health care. Now, a very slim majority of American voters (and hardly a majority of the American people) voted for Obama, thinking The Anointed One could deliver all these free things he promised to make others pay for. But even now a growing number of his supporters realize that they can’t just sock it to the rich. Uh oh.
      It’s that very reason of living off others’ wealth that the idea of “the individual” must be eliminated. Everyone must become a tool of the system. I am a tool!

      • Or a more succinct rebuttal of the “it’s a right if we choose it to be” might be “yeah, and you can paint a pumpkin black but it doesn’t make it a bowling ball”.

      • Okay, I’m going to venture a guess and say that “Ott Scerb II” is actually docjim505.
         
        Three clues noted:
        1)  He doesn’t hide his own biases very well, and that does not make for good parody.
        2)  Lack of wit.
        3)  Reflexive use of the term “The Anointed One.”
         
        So, do I win a prize?
         
        Cheers.
         

        • I don’t think so – Docjim meticulously formats his replies. OS II lets paragraphs run together.

          BTW, you dense righties do know that the real Ott Scerb has his own blog now, right?

          • Yeah, perhaps I was too quick to guess.  And after having another look, docjim505 usually uses the acronym TAO when he’s not meticulously misspelling The “Annointed” One.
             
            I should stop guessing on these.  After all, it’s so hard to keep up with all of the childish name calling like ChimpyMcHaliburton, or The Clown, or Obamessiah, or The LightWorker, and the like.
             
            Cheers.

          • I did not know Ott had a blog, but I just went and posted a comment!

        • Nope, not me. I don’t use sock puppets.

    • There are natural rights, which are ‘providence’-given, and there are statutory rights, which are extended by the law. Although contested by some (e.g. Burke), the philosophers who actually were founders of — or provided the impetus for the foundation of — our nation (e.g. Locke, Hobbes, Paine) quite clearly did espouse the concept of natural rights. This explicit in The Constitution. Well done though, attempting to support your argument with your own blog post. Are there any bounds to your sense of self-importance?

      • And anyone with an ounce of sense knows the difference between them. What are called “statutory rights” are, in actuality privileges extended by the force of government.

        Guess what – they can be “unextended” just as easily. Not so with actual, negative inalienable or natural rights. That difference makes the use of the word “right” when meaning “privilege” ignorant at best.

        • No, statutory rights are properly “civil rights,” extensions of natural rights within the context of civil society. They are not just made up rights. So, a right to counsel presupposes a legal system in which one’s right to liberty, or life, can be forfeited as punishment for a violation of someone else’s life or liberty or property. Civil rights are largely rights of process attached to the underlying natural rights.

          Legal positivists insist that all “rights” are legal creations as opposed to ontological principles of individual human beings. Hence the idea that one can create new rights by statute or judicial fiat.

          Conservatives got in the habit of repeating after Robert Bork that there is no right to privacy in the Constitution. That is wrong on at least two levels. Privacy is implicit to serveral of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and the Ninth Amendment specifically states that the Bill of Rights does not specifically enumerate all rights that people can justly claim.

          As I have said about Bork’s dictum and anyone who repeats it: You cannot tell the American people that they do not have a right to privacy, because they know very well that they do, and that it inheres in their very human being.

          • Agreed. Consider the right to self-defense.

            Do you have an inherent right to self-defense? If your answer is “no” and you believe all such rights must be conferred by government, society or other men, then how does one justify their actions to preserve their life against a mountain lion, up to and including killing it if the threat requires that, if such a right, in any sense, hasn’t been so conferred?

            Naturally (pun intended) you couldn’t justify it “legally”. But you wouldn’t have much difficulty justifying it morally, would you?

            Why?

    • For the first 90 years in this country, there was a “right” to own anonther human being. Majority rule being what it was at the time… just saying….

    • Erb: “It’s a right if we choose to make it a right.”

      No. You don’t know what a “right” is if you think that.

      Goods and services are not “rights.” Rights are claims that are just, and they are analytically secure. Your claim on your own life (though in the past, Erb, you have refused to claim a right to your own life) is true and correct and just. So is your claim on self-defense. Your claim on self-expression is just. You have no just claim on someone else’s productivity, either directly or indirectly. Using government to take that product from someone else in order to give it to you is not a right.

      Charity is the proper way to characterize any exigent giving, but again, when the government takes in order to give, that is not charity, either.

      Exigent care can be seen as a last resort government responsibility, where no charitable care is available or forthcoming, but it is neither a right nor is it charity. It is a private exigency and should be seen as a last resort public responsibility, certainly not so as the first option, certainly nothing that can legitimately be called a right, even if the final argument for it is that it is the right thing to do.

      Under your theory of “rights,” Erb, “we” could decide that the government will exercise “our” right to cut off your balls for the good of future society. In fact, one of the earlier theoreticians of such legal positivism, Oliver Wendell Holmes, opined that sterilization was an acceptable option for those deemed imbeciles.

    •  

      It’s a right if we choose to make it a right.

      Says a modern day Roger B.Taney.
      And in response, I say…
      Yeee haww…I’m gonna own me a college Pro-fesser and have it  mow my lawn.
      Let’s see if we can get enough people together to vote we have a right to own College professors from Maine and treat them as farm machinery instead of a person.
      You see how easily your lame ass progressive arguments are disproved?

      • And oh, by the way Scott, according to you, we can do that “even if you don’t like it”.
        Welcome to the DEMOCRACY you think you live in (you do know the difference right?  Surely one of those Political Science books you’ve read will explain the difference between a Republic and a Democracy)
        Ya know, I really think someone should review your postings – there has to be enough material available from you by now to question your capabilities as a professor of Political Science.
        Are you tenured yet?
         

  • So?  Follow the established process to amend the Constitution and have at it …

  • Trial lawyers were probably a large supporter of Democrats this last time out as usual and will be untouched directly.
    However, they will be shut out of medical malpractice eventually.  That will be part of one of the first waves of reform to the health system when it first gets in trouble.  A small piece of poetic justice.

  • Once again, Cap’n Ed demonstrates why he’s one of the best bloggers in the biz.

    On the subject of “rights”:

    ERB has a point: a right only exists if it has some legal standing. This issue is eloquently discussed by Colonel DuBois in Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”. I paraphrase:

    “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What ‘right’ to life does a man adrift in the middle of the Pacific have? The ocean will not hear his cries. Pursuit of happiness? This is something internal that cannot be taken away: one can ‘pursue happiness’ even in a dungeon. Liberty? There is no ‘right’ to this: it must be jealously and vigorously defended, ultimately by force of arms. The men who wrote that great prose understood this and pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to PURCHASE their liberty.”

    The problem we’ve run into is that the word “right” has been perverted to mean “obligation of others”. A right historically has actually meant a RESTRAINT on the government: it is not allowed to stop or otherwise interfere with various actions that a person MAY take if he chooses. With only one exception (trial by jury), there is no requirement in the Bill of Rights for POSITIVE ACTION by the government and no levy of anybody else’s time, labor or money. A man has the right to free speech, but there has never been a requirement that the government provide him with a soapbox. A man has the right to bear arms, but there has never been a requirement that the government provide him with a rifle. A man has the right to be secure in his possessions, but there has never been a requirement that the government provide him with a safe or an armed guard.

    Now, however, we have a growing list of “rights” that DO require positive action by the government and DO place a levy on the time, labor or money of other people. The “right” to education means that other people have to pay for it, NOT that a person can go to school or read a book without government interference. The same can be said of the alleged “right” the health care: it is not a right, but rather an obligation on other people. This is actually a form of slavery: when slaveowners 200 years ago asserted a “right” to own slaves, what they really meant was that the slaves had an OBLIGATION to work for them without pay. Is there a difference between this and saying that one man’s right to health care actually means that somebody else has an OBLIGATION to pay for it?

    Once again, we see how the left has perverted the English language to a political end. Orwell knew these people so well.

    • Uh, no, he doesn’t have a point – tell me Docjim – who owns your life? And is that ownership dependent upon “legal standing” or the fact that you exist? And if it is the latter, which came first – existence or “legal standing”?

      Try Hayek, Machan and Locke instead of Heinlein on this subject.

      • How about Stephen Crane:

        — A man said to the Universe, “Sir, I exist!”.

        “However,” replied the Universe,”the fact has not aroused in me a sense of obligation”. —

        As for who “owns” my life… If you are arguing that we are each responsible for ourselves and ought to be left alone to live as we each see fit, then we are in accord. But my “right” to it… Did the Jews herded into gas chambers by the nazis have a “right” to their lives? The Cambodians massacred in the killing fields? A prisoner being taken to the death chamber in one of our prisons? In all cases, somebody with more power decided that they had no more right to life than an animal in a slaughterhouse.

        What about the slaves working on antebellum plantations or in the pharoah’s brickyards? Did they “own” their own lives? I think that the answer is an unequivocal “no”. In Dred Scott v. Sanford, the Court writes:

        “… [The Declaration of Independence] proceeds to say: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’

        “The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration…” (1)

        Clearly, then, the US Supreme Court did not believe that the black slave had the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; citation by the court in the decision make it clear that this was also the prevailing opinion of most (if not all) courts and legislatures in the United States of the day. As an example, consider the case of Celia, a slave woman in Missouri who murdered her master when he allegedly attempted to rape her. She was tried, convicted and hanged for murder in 1855 despite of an 1845 Missouri law that allowed a woman to defend herself against a rapist; Judge William A. Hall instructed the jury that a slave woman had no right to resist her master, and the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the verdict. (2)

        How can it therefore be plausibly argued that Dred Scott’s or Celia’s rights existed (or not) by anything other than the weight of law? Those of us who oppose abortion argue that a fetus is a human being who has the right to life; over thirty million aborted children bear silent testimony to the fact that our assertion of that right is meaningless because it is not codified as law.

        My view is that the world is a harsh place, and a person’s rights exist only to the extent that he and sympathetic fellows can assert and defend them. When we say that we have a right to life, liberty, and happiness, we are claiming these things for ourselves and asking our fellows to respect them while promising that we will do the same.

        ———-

        (1) http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=60&invol=393

        (2) http://law.jrank.org/pages/5076/Celia-Slave.html

        • Who owns your life, Docjim? The question has nothing to do with what the SCOTUS did or didn’t believe. The SCOTUS didn’t even exist, nor did this country, when slaves were first brought here.

          It’s a simple question with far reaching implications. It has nothing to do with who can, by force, make you do something you don’t want to do.

          Here’s a better way to ask the question: who inherently owns your life?

          • Who “inherently” owns my life? I do.

            I think we’re arguing past each other on this. As a matter of principle, I believe that men “own” their lives and have those unalienable rights; this, along with the need to maintain a tranquil, happy society, is why I believe that various crimes (e.g. murder, robbery, rape) that violate these rights ought to be punished. As a matter of REALITY, I believe that those rights exist and are only secured by the government and laws we make. Hence, I may “own” my life, but my claim would have no effect if I were a slave working for pharoah or a death camp victim being herded into a gas chamber.

          • No one is arguing how the rights are protected, docjim. The point is their source. For real inherent rights such as life and property, the source is not other men, “society” (which is a true creation of man) or government (another creation of man). The source is our existence as discreet human beings. We have the right to our life and its preservation. That entails the right to property and self-defense.

            Man’s rights preexist those entities and in fact those entities exist as a means of protecting our inherent rights. In fact, that is precisely the point our founding fathers made many times over.

            An inherent right doesn’t mean it is inviolable. A common misconception is that if someone has a right, then it isn’t a right unless it is impossible to violate it.

            A right gives its holder a legitimate moral claim to action should someone or some man-made entity choose to try to violate it. That’s it. Why, do you suppose, we knew that what Nazi Germany was doing to the Jews was inherently immoral and a violation of the rights of the Jews? How did we make that judgment when it was clear that Nazi Germany had legalized what they were doing?

            Having an inherent right doesn’t mean you’ll be successful in your defense of your life, liberty or property, but it certainly does mean that morally you don’t need anyone’s permission to act.

            “Rights” that are handed down by other men through society or government aren’t real rights in the sense I describe natural rights. You certainly need someone’s permission to act on them. They’re arbitrary privileges handed out which can just as easily be taken back. Inherent rights, otoh, are universal and non-transferable. We all have them.

            For anyone to believe that “rights” must come from other men, and sanctioned by government or “society” they must then believe that if other men don’t codify something as a right, it doesn’t exist. Thus, murder can be made “legal” (as it was in Nazi Germany) and they would argue that some men, by “choosing to make it so” have the “right” to murder other men – that’s the Erb claim.

            Certainly not a claim I’d want to identify myself with.

          • And the apprehension of one’s own natural inherent rights is what compels men to engage one another on the basis of reciprocity, which is the golden rule, a fundamental value underlying the network of sentiments we call common sense. Bill Buckley classically illustrated common sense understanding by noting the absurdity of those who treated the U.S. and the Soviet Union as moral equivalents (a popular theme in academia, of course). He said that pushing an old lady out of the way of an onrushing bus and pushing an old lady in front of an onrushing bus did not both reduce to pushing old ladies around.

          • For anyone to believe that “rights” must come from other men, and sanctioned by government or “society” they must then believe that if other men don’t codify something as a right, it doesn’t exist. Thus, murder can be made “legal” (as it was in Nazi Germany) and they would argue that some men, by “choosing to make it so” have the “right” to murder other men – that’s the Erb claim.

             Just so.

            I’m beginning to come around to the view a new commenter posited a few months ago, that Erb is really a put on. It’s hard to believe anybody could be so consistently wrong - factually, logically, and ethically – without doing it intentionally.

          • Based on having been designated the, I think the term is, “Maine Mosquito” by Billy Beck years ago, I would contend that he’s for real, scary though that prospect may be.
            Recall, they issue us no license (yet) to surf the internet and there are no tests (yet) to prove we ought to, and as yet we have not, unlike the French, designated it one of our basic human rights.
            What is startling is not his posting, but his position, and the frightening fact that he actually has the power to grade students for their opinions and knowledge as they seek to obtain their degrees.

          • He’s the intellectual equivalent of a sociopath.

          • Ah, at last, independent verification. I first called attention to his “mild psychopathy” about a decade ago. There’s a clear absence of conscience involved in his intellectual behavior. It is the deep dishonesty called mendacity. And that requires a base of encompassing narcissism.

          • It’s the main reason I don’t bother with what he has to say. He’s dishonest to his core and the only thing he does consistently is prove that point. As you mention, we figured that out about a decade ago. The fact that he still holds a position at Moose U causes one to assume the academic standards there aren’t very high nor the requirements for its academic staff very stringent. In my opinion, based on years of observation, no self-respecting university would allow someone like him on their faculty, much less tenure them. The fact that he’s remained there and hasn’t been recruited by a more respectable school in all this time lends credence to such an observation,

          • Yes, the deconstruction of the Erb method and its depthless mendacity goes back a decade and more. Much is owed to Beck for original work in the field. I was referring specifically to the sociopathic/psychopathic angle, which was the more or less final logical inference that had to be drawn from said mendacity. I got to it not simply on the basis of the mendacity, but also because of the remorseless mental cases and liars Erb happily associated himself with and cultivated as his defenders.

            Many of the regulars here didn’t have the opportunity to witness that, which would make it slightly more difficult to see the basis of your conclusion that in Erb one finds the stirrings of a legitimate sociopath. It’s a very hard conclusion to come to, even on the aforesaid observation of depthless mendacity.

          • As you imply, it’s a conclusion based in years of observation. How many different ideologies has he masked himself in over the years, even once, when apparently it was useful to him, claiming libertarian roots? His real and only value here is entertainment and the fact that his nonsense fuels Ott Scerb’s enjoyable tirades. Of course you have to weigh that against the new commenters who show up here and challenge him thinking they’ll get an honest debate and find, to their dawning horror, that such a thing is an impossibility with him. The most remarkable thing about that is there aren’t, or at least haven’t been since he showed up, any exceptions to that. Even commenters who go after each other on different topics here are unanimous in their disdain for the man. And yet he seem blithely unaware of that. It is indeed an amazing performance.

          • The part that still gets me after all these years, is how he just disappears from a thread.  It follows the same pattern each time -
            1.  Show up
            2.  Make broad statements and generally insult the majority of the readers
            3.  Back up statement with link to his personal blog
            4.  Get UTTERLY DESTROYED by the commenter s
            5.  Disappear
            6.  Find new blog post and repeat.

          • There’s a “7″ – Wait a few days until no one is following the thread anymore and try to get the last word. Sometimes it works, sometimes he gets caught.

          • The philosophical underpinnings call for, require, a put on, but the put on, so to speak, is real. Although Erb believes in nothing, he believes in everything he says, at the moment he says it, subject to immediate revision and backing off, until he says it again.

  • That is too awesome. Of course he will be “flattered.” He’s like that kid in school who kept hanging around the kids who made fun of him just because he had a psychological need for attention.

    • The reply linky thing still doesn’t work right. I didn’t right-click but it DID indent the reply box under the intended comment. However, it still put my reply at the bottom.
      I was replying to the OttScerb blog.

  • “…a right only exists if it has some legal standing.”


    Oh, yeah?  Tell me how the Nazi extinguishment of Anne Frank’s legal standing extinguished her right to her life.  Take your time, and use both sides of the page if you have to.

  • Doc takes Scott Erb to school on this one. I wish such lucidity of common sense thought was a hallmark of our media, but alas, we have no ‘right’ to such, do we?

    • Thank you… but I was sort of agreeing with a point that Scott Erb made.

  • Lol I thought only randroids still believed in fairy tales like “natural rights”

  • Lol I thought only randroids still believed in fairy tales like “natural rights”

    I guess the founding fathers belived in fairy tales.

  • The very idea of legal positivism is in opposition to the founding principle of the American political society: “we hold these truths to be self-evident.” The natural law of self-evident truths (about the inherent ontological facts of human existence) falsifies legal positivism. That means that natural rights, which are the vectors, I would even argue the predicates, of natural law, precede any form of government and its law-making power. Hence the idea that the Constitution protects pre-existing rights rather than creating them.

    Just as all authentic positive law rests on the foundation of natural law, which is equitable, fair, and reciprocal, all authentic civil rights rest on the foundation of natural rights.

    The Declaration of Independence could be footnoted back to Aquinas’s discourses on natural law, and I recommend, even to the confirmed atheists, that attention be paid to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, which has fairly rigorously explicated the natural law over centuries. Its wrongheaded social doctrine of the last century that was initiated with Rerum Novarum, notwithstanding.

    There can be, for instance, no “right” to an abortion. In fact, any serious analysis of rights shows that the right to life begins with life, at conception, and the mother has the duty of stewardship over that right. The analysis of abortion as contingent with a right to privacy is absurd. Can you kill your children privately?

    Acquinas is also a founder of the modern libertarian ethos, wherein acts that are sinful, or contrary to God’s law, are not necessarily suited for proscription by man’s laws, and a sin such as gluttony is accountable to God, not the state, because the person committing the sin harms only himself. Hence the source[1] of the *argument* (about which I remain unconvinced, for the record) for legalizing drugs, and for not prohibiting alcohol or tobacco. Aquinas was very keen on the idea that human nature is defined by free will, which by its nature must allow for errors of judgment if those errors are not in fact direct crimes against others.

    [1] I’m tracing that back to Aquinas as a source within range of the modern West, but he derived much of his thinking from Aristotle and the Greeks. Aquinas is the Catholic philosopher and theologian who reconciled reason and faith, a topic most recently addressed by JPII in his encyclical Fide et Ratio. Obviously, there are many intervening stages in natural law theory after Aquinas, with Vattel and Locke being important to the American Revolution. But much of that modern tradition originates with Aquinas and is the source of what we in fact call modernity, which I think begins formally with Descartes, but was long in preparation, as a way of living very seriously in this world and not mistaking it for the next one.

  • I would like to thank those, especially McQ, Martin McPhillips and Scott Erb, who have contributed such thought-provoking comments.  I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a blog discussion so much.

    Now, back to it…

    McQ – … who inherently owns your life?

    I’ve thought a bit more about this.

    To own something is not the same as to have a right to it.  For example, I may “own” (possess) something that I stole, but I certainly don’t have a “right” to it.  I also may not own something that I DO have a “right” to because it has been stolen from me.  To the extent that I claim to have a right to my life, it’s a purely selfish one that I deeply hope my fellow men will respect!

    McQFor real inherent rights such as life and property, the source is not other men, “society” (which is a true creation of man) or government (another creation of man). The source is our existence as discreet human beings.

    I see your point: it echoes Blackstone’s definition of “absolute rights”, i.e. “those which are so in their primary and strictest sense; such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is intitled to enjoy whether out of society or in it.” (1)  As I understand this, man has a “right” to life simply because this is his natural state.  He has a right to liberty, i.e. to do as he pleases within the confines of physical and biological laws, because this also is his natural state.  However, can it not be also argued that a dog has a right to life and liberty, because these are its natural state?  Or even that fire has a “right” to be hot, or water to be wet?  Is it the right of an idiot to be an idiot, or a paralytic to be paralyzed?

    If there is a right to self-defense (and, believe me, I’m all in favor of it), is this not merely the natural instinct of a human – or any animal – toward self-preservation, i.e. defending its absolute right to life?  Is any natural state or behavior of man an absolute right?  If we assert that this is true, then it has some interesting ramifications.  Should we say that, for example, a child molester has a right to his disgusting perversion because it is his natural state?  I think Blackstone deals with this: “Let a man therefore be ever so abandoned in his principles, or virtuous in his practice, provided he keeps his wickedness to himself, and does not offend against the rules of public decency, he is out of the reach of human laws.”

    Hmmm….

    OK, I’ll accept that man has certain inalienable, natural rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (though I wonder how a severely brain-damaged person can pursue happiness, but I HAVE seen Joe Biden smile, so I guess it works out somehow).  But where does this take us?  Blackstone notes that man gives up some portion of his natural rights to enter into and enjoy the benefits of society.  Does this not take us right back to Scott Erb‘s original point, that one’s right to life – or, if you prefer, the amount by which his natural, inalienable right to life is limited – is established NOT as a matter of nature, but rather as a matter of society’s law or even the brute force of a stronger person or group?

    —–

    (1) http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/blackstone_bk1ch1.asp

    • Ownership connotes legitimate possession – not something that is stolen or taken without permission. There’s a reason we refer to property such as that as “stolen property”. The person holding it has no legitimate moral claim to the property.

      There is only one legitimate owner of your life that that owner is the only one with a legitimate claim or right to it. That isn’t transferable. And coercive control of a person doesn’t change who maintains the only legitimate moral claim. And that moral claim is the basis of legitimate action (without permission) to change the condition under which that person lives.

      However, can it not be also argued that a dog has a right to life and liberty, because these are its natural state? Or even that fire has a “right” to be hot, or water to be wet? Is it the right of an idiot to be an idiot, or a paralytic to be paralyzed?

      It can be argued that way only with a complete misunderstanding of what a natural [inherent, inalienable] right actually is. Natural rights are necessary to man based on the needs and unique characteristics of his existence. Unlike a dog, who has no choice in how it behaves, man has free will which allows choice as a part of his life. That’s primarily because he’s a rational and non-instinctive actor. Show me a rational and non-instinctive dog or a rational fire and we can discuss natural rights for them. There is no need for such rights with a dog (he’s going to do what is necessary to survive because that’s the way he is wired) and certainly none for an object. You can’t fault a dog for being a dog. There is no morality in a dog’s world. There is in man’s world because he is a rational actor who can choose his behavior.

      If there is a right to self-defense (and, believe me, I’m all in favor of it), is this not merely the natural instinct of a human – or any animal – toward self-preservation, i.e. defending its absolute right to life?

      Show me a dog that won’t fight for its life or run for its life when threatened and I’ll show you an odd dog (dogs will usually fight first and then if getting the worst of something, try to run. Flight is also a hard-wired defense mechanism that is a part of the instinctive decision loop. What they won’t do is refuse to do either – they will predictably do one or the other or, in sequence, both.).

      Man has no such instinct. Man must make a conscious decision to fight for his life. And we can both point to innumerable examples of man choosing not to do that and coming out on the bad end of the event when he does. The reasons will be as varied as the persons making such decisions. But conscious decisions – choices – they are. The bottom line is there is nothing in man’s makeup which requires and in fact drives him to act in a certain way to preserve his life. He still, however, has the right to do so, established by his existence. Unlike a dog, he must muster the desire to extend it and defend it, however.

      But here are the pertinent questions as they pertain to self-defense – if you choose to fight for your life, do you seek anyone’s permission before you do? If not, why not?

      Consider your answers in the context of “legality” and “society” and I think you’ll find that neither of them are required or even necessary for you to take up your own defense. You naturally undertake it without anyone’s permission.

      Why?

      Is any natural state or behavior of man an absolute right?

      You exist as a rational actor and you have an absolute right to do so. It’s really not any more complex than that. From there you extrapolate the rights to liberty, property and self-defense.

      Should we say that, for example, a child molester has a right to his disgusting perversion because it is his natural state?

      Who is the owner of the child’s life? Is what the molester does a violation of that child’s right to live their life in the way they choose to live it (most likely free from molestation and assuming their lifestyle doesn’t violate the rights of others)? There’s your answer. The only person with a legitimate moral claim to that child’s life is the child.

      If, however, you go with the belief that unless we explicitly make what the child molester does “illegal” then he is free (“has a right”) to do what he wishes to whomever he wishes (since we’ve chosen not to ban such behavior). That’s essentially Erb’s view. Its nonsense, but still his view.

      But where does this take us? Blackstone notes that man gives up some portion of his natural rights to enter into and enjoy the benefits of society.

      What we end up giving up is some degree of control over how we and our rights are protected. But the benefits of society, as we’ve learned over the centuries, are much greater when liberty remains mostly unencumbered. It’s a very fine line and one Ben Franklin noted when he talked about trading freedom for security. I’d also note that no one gives up their “right to life” at any time and under any societal construction no matter how totalitarian. The right to life is obviously non-transferable. Again, that doesn’t mean it can’t be violated, but it also doesn’t mean it can belong to someone else if they successfully violate your right.

      Does this not take us right back to Scott Erb’s original point, that one’s right to life – or, if you prefer, the amount by which his natural, inalienable right to life is limited – is established NOT as a matter of nature, but rather as a matter of society’s law or even the brute force of a stronger person or group?

      Absolutely not. Rights may be codified by societies, but the existed before societies. “Societies” are the artifice – not natural rights.

      Again, we’re talking about unique, discreet, rational actors. Each of them is the only one with a legitimate moral claim to their life based on the fact that they exist unique one from the other. And that claim gives them the right to act on behalf of their life and their existence to defend it and to extend it if they don’t violate the very same rights others have in order to do so.

      The idea of reciprocity is critical when talking about rights and functioned well, even before there were established societies that concerned themselves with rights. The history of the development and establishment of trade makes that case most eloquently.

      In the sense societies have had anything to do with rights, they’ve only codified what was obvious and were formed to lend better protection to the rights of man than an individual can provide. This country’s founding is an example of that. Again, the basis of any free society is some degree of recognition of these rights and the concept of reciprocity. How do you suppose, outside of “societal bounds” trade among disparate individuals was first established and then flourished? Recognition of each other’s rights and reciprocity, that’s how.

      A rational man knows that his rights also bring responsibilities with them and he discovers that if he behaves in a way that doesn’t violate the rights of others, they too will see the advantage of such peaceful behavior and act accordingly. This wasn’t something society or the law invented, it was something rational man discovered one-on-one and later codified as free societies formed. Understanding the optimum for human existence isn’t rocket science, it’s mostly common sense. Nor does it require a society to “invent” it. However, as the planet gets more crowded, man finds free society a better way to optimize the optimum, at least for the time being.

  • Oh, that is so cool!  I’m really flattered!

    • Of course you are. You lack the mental capacity to face the truth, which is that you’re such an imbecile even the lefties around here don’t respect you.

      You’re like the retarded kid who hears everyone laughing and goes along by laughing himself, mentally unable to comprehend that they’re all laughing at his stupidity.

  • My point is that in a democracy we can determine what we choose to hold to be “rights.”    Also, political scientists also have to consistently correct people who think that there is a difference between a Republic and a Democracy.  You are confusing crude majoritarianism (51% can enslave 49%) with democracy.   The US is both a Republic and a democracy.  If you think a democracy is crude majoritarianism, you need to take a course on democratic theory.

    • One of the reasons I’ve gone so far as to suggest that you have neurological, not simply cognitive, problems is because of the repetitive sing-song shallowness of your responses and your methodology in getting back to them. The empty-suit narcissism, that Howdy-Doody smiling banality, reminds me of another academic I know who runs back and forth between A and B without a clue that there is a C, let alone a D, out there.

  • A life is not owned, it is lived.   To commodify life is perverse.  “Ownership” of life implies the possibility of slavery.  Ownership has nothing to do with life.   Nobody or nothing owns my life.  I live my life, I do not, nor does anybody “own” it.

    • Like I said, Erb, beware of your democracy deciding that “we” have a right to cut off your balls for the good of future generations. One of your legal positivist forebears (Justice Holmes) already laid positive steps in that direction.

      Keep you eye on the duty to die movement as it runs a parallel track along the “right” to health care.

  • You are confusing your wants and preferences with reality.  The reality is that “rights” imply a society.   They deal with how other people should deal with other people.   Those rules are determined by the people in that society.    There is no other place rights can come from.  And yes, humans have the capacity to say it’s a “right” to murder.  We do that in the US quite a bit — it’s called war.   Military people have already agreed that we have a right to murder

    • No, natural rights are what make a society possible, where society is the free interaction of individual persons within a system of principles of reciprocity.

  • Except, of course, I am not wrong.  In fact, I don’t think you realize just how much your opinions have been destroyed and mocked in modern academia.  Oh yeah, you can criticize academia.  But ultimately, we make a difference.  In this discussion, no one defends the indefensible claim that rights can be proven to exist.   All there is, is an appeal to emotion.  Sorry, that doesn’t cut it.   You’re lost in political bias and narrow thinking.  I do feel sorry for you.  But I work to assure that others don’t suffer your fate.

    • Well, it’s clear that you don’t understand how seriously deficient, and mocked, “modern academia” is. You’re the one in the small fishbowl, pal.

      Serious people are out in the big world, not back in Volvotown building little fantasy models out of popsicle sticks.

  • Yet what people claim to be ‘natural rights’ often are different from each other, and there is no way to prove they exist.  They are ‘ought’ statements based on personal or cultural beliefs.   They have no foundation except a human constructed one.  So therefore, they are a human creation, not from ‘providence.’   Prove otherwise.  You can’t.

    • The infinite regress of hard skepticism is the academician’s favorite tool for not losing an argument he has already lost. Natural rights are as immediate as the golden rule, reciprocity, which is the sine qua non of civil society.

  • Humans have an instinct to fight for their lives, absolutely.   Humans are animals, with instincts, just like other animals.  Psychologists have also shown most of our motives and drives are subconcious, in large part instinctual.  We use reason to rationalize that which we choose for other reasons to believe or do.   The enlightenment fantasy that we can be based on pure reason and rational thought has been thoroughly debunked in philosophy, psychology, and science.
    You simply use concepts of private property to apply to human existence (ownership), which seems odd, though you can construct a belief-system based on that if you wish.  But there is no reason for people with different assumptions and starting points to go along with you.  You can build your edifice (your own construction or interpretation of reality, not reality itself) in a very complex way so it makes rational sense and is interally coherent.  But that doesn’t make it true.   And you believe it because of emotion, your refusal to consider alternate views and your emotional response (holding grudges, being angry, using ridicule) suggests to me that you have a motivated bias not to question that which you’ve chosen to believe.
    Moreover, I don’t think you’ve read enough to truly appreciate how idiosyncratically modern and western your particular interpretation of reality and how things ought to be is.  You have faith.  You think you’ve “discovered” truth, but the faithful always think that.   I feel sorry for you, you’ve closed your mind, embraced dogma, and as such live an uncritical life.

  • Actually, my views are not only common and mainstream, but in academia I’m definitely far closer to the center, and far more sympathetic to the beliefs of people posting and commenting on this blog than almost all my colleagues across the country.   Moreover, you guys play a game of ‘pile on the guy who thinks differently’ and then congratulate yourselves that you’ve engaged in mutual insults in order to prevent you from questioning your beliefs.
    Because this blog seems to be a blog of the faithful, people who embrace a particular interpretation of reality, believe it to be “true” and then attack the heretics.  You aren’t much different than Islamic fundamentalists, you simply have a different faith.   That’s OK.   The final irony is that while you will attack people for thinking differently (not just me, but politicians, other bloggers, etc. — personal attacks against people you disagree with, from Carter to Krugman to Murtha to Pelosi, etc. — are par for the course on this blog and its comments.  That is a sign of faith over reason — the  others are not just people with different opinions, they are bad people, worthy of ridicule.  When I teach, I teach respect for different opinions, and that political differences are not only to be tolerated, but embraced, you need to consider other positions and truly listen to others if you are to avoid groupthink and becoming looked in a kind of ideological orthodoxy.

  • Irony alert: Not only don’t my arguments get defeated, you guys don’t even try.  You simply attack and insult and then congratulate yourselves.   You defend your orthodoxy from the heresy of an outsider whose views you dislike.  And as commentators pile on the insults and personal attacks, you label ‘sociopath’ the one person who comes in with different ideas and is ready to engage in friendly debate — and whose ‘insults’ are far less personal than those hurled at him.   As my own blog shows, I believe in real discussion, and respect for other opinions.   What I don’t respect is when people turn their belief systems into a kind of ideological faith, refusing to question that faith, and interpreting all reality through it.   That’s a kind of closed mindedness one sometimes has to try to break down with tough sounding arguments.   It arouses your emotion precisely because it shows the weakness in your world view.
    And your response to me is pure emotion, not based on reason or consideration of my argument.

  • OK, I’ve been busy and I admit I’ve worded things overly provocatively, haven’t had time to check back for comments, and haven’t really been engaging in discussion.  To change tone, I’ll go through McQ’s argument step by step:

    Ownership connotes legitimate possession – not something that is stolen or taken without permission. There’s a reason we refer to property such as that as “stolen property”. The person holding it has no legitimate moral claim to the property.

    Now, note that this linguistic.  Ownership is defined by us as legitimate possession, and we define what is or is not legitimate.   You can have a society (and anthropologists assure me there are some) where all is shared, that people use things and exchange things without a direct concept of ownership or private property.    Complicating this with philsophical defenses of legitimate ownership is a political ought statement, not a philosophical truth.

    There is only one legitimate owner of your life that that owner is the only one with a legitimate claim or right to it. That isn’t transferable. And coercive control of a person doesn’t change who maintains the only legitimate moral claim. And that moral claim is the basis of legitimate action (without permission) to change the condition under which that person lives.

    This is an “ought” statement that reflects McQ’s personal beliefs.  Moreover, while many would not use the term “ownership” here (owning the self seems a linguistic absurdity), the idea of individual dignity, freedom, etc. all imply the moral belief that individuals should have autonomy.   There is a vast difference of opinion concerning how much.   McQ’s approach is what social scientists would call “methodological individualism,” a view that reality is compromised of discreet, autonomous individuals who make choices, and that society, such as it is, is merely the aggregation of those choices.   That is a very controversial position, and has never been proven true philosophically (I am convinced it cannot be), but it is a legitimate way to look at the world.   It is not, however, the only way — and there is a lot of evidence that the individual is not purely discreet or disconnected from social and natural realities.  At the level of identity they are linked (I’ve been blogging about that theme recently myself).

    Natural rights are necessary to man based on the needs and unique characteristics of his existence. Unlike a dog, who has no choice in how it behaves, man has free will which allows choice as a part of his life. That’s primarily because he’s a rational and non-instinctive actor. Show me a rational and non-instinctive dog or a rational fire and we can discuss natural rights for them. There is no need for such rights with a dog (he’s going to do what is necessary to survive because that’s the way he is wired) and certainly none for an object. You can’t fault a dog for being a dog. There is no morality in a dog’s world. There is in man’s world because he is a rational actor who can choose his behavior.

    To call humans non-instinctive would be to deny almost all of modern psychology in this field.   Humans do have instincts (drives, innate desires, things we can’t overcome even as they make people unhealthy, things that eat away in personality disorders, anxieties, etc.)   So you can believe instincts are gone, but it’s an assertion that flies in the face of all existing evidence.  (Also, it’s been shown that animals use various levels of reasoning skills too — the old belief that only humans had reason has also been debunked.
    Still, humans — more emotion-driven than rational — do have choice.   The choice is always constrained by the social and natural world around, no human has complete freedom because he or she is born into a world of opportunities and constraints.   But within that, humans make choices.

    Man has no such instinct. Man must make a conscious decision to fight for his life.

    Do you really believe we don’t instinctively try to save our lives.   If a tree is falling on our heads, do we stop and consider our alternatives?   Again, if your moral theory is based on such really unusual assertions, not supported by experience or psychology, it suggests that you are building your ideology on a weak foundation.

    Consider your answers in the context of “legality” and “society” and I think you’ll find that neither of them are required or even necessary for you to take up your own defense. You naturally undertake it without anyone’s permission.
    You exist as a rational actor and you have an absolute right to do so. It’s really not any more complex than that. From there you extrapolate the rights to liberty, property and self-defense.

    You seem to be asserting you have a right because you have a right.   Because you can choose to do X, you have a right to do X.  But that doesn’t automatically follow.   Moreover, society cannot be ignored.  Young men were sent to kill others in Iraq, mostly people who had done nothing to them, and thought they were fighting for their ideal.   Many civilians were killed in order to limit the number of “our” deaths.  Did that violate their “right to life.”   If so, was it justified?  If  so, then clearly society set rules on how that right is defined and constrained — there are no clear rules, just arguments about what the rules should be.
    Yet I still don’t understand where rights come from in your scheme.   You seem to be saying at one point a more defensible “humans have a natural right to do what they must do in nature to survive,” which is very Lockean (though Locke recognizes that these need to be mediated by social concerns as well).  Now you seem to rest it on a psychological claim that humans are non-instinctual and rationally choose to survive, thus giving them a “right” and then extrapolating it…how do you get “rights” from that, it appears just an assertion.

    Rights may be codified by societies, but the existed before societies. “Societies” are the artifice – not natural rights.
    Again, we’re talking about unique, discreet, rational actors. Each of them is the only one with a legitimate moral claim to their life based on the fact that they exist unique one from the other. And that claim gives them the right to act on behalf of their life and their existence to defend it and to extend it if they don’t violate the very same rights others have in order to do so.

    Again, I’d note that the idea of ‘unique discreet rational actors’ is problemmatic.   Humans have the capacity of rational thought, but as Hume notes, ‘reason is a slave to the passions.’  If we were purely rational, there would be no emotion in blog discussions, just a very clear set of arguments.   Moreover, there is no clear reason  to have these as rights.    Just because humans can think rationally doesn’t mean they have some kind of external pre-existing right.   They can create, claim, pursue rights individually, but that is part of life.  Cultures and societies work through these issues in various ways and have developed different ways of handling the issue of survival and relationship between the individual and society.   Enlightenment thought at its height believed maybe some first principle could yield a ‘proper’ set of ethics, but that hasn’t happened, and that effort in fact ended as they realized the impossibility of such a task.
    So it seems you have a political “ought” argument about rights — how we should as a society conceptualize rights — but not an “is” argument, especially since it rests on assertion and very controversial claims about psychology and the nature of individuals in society.
    And ultimately the question is moot — what matters for actually having any rights truly recognized and respected is cultural and political.

    A rational man knows that his rights also bring responsibilities with them and he discovers that if he behaves in a way that doesn’t violate the rights of others, they too will see the advantage of such peaceful behavior and act accordingly. This wasn’t something society or the law invented, it was something rational man discovered one-on-one and later codified as free societies formed. Understanding the optimum for human existence isn’t rocket science, it’s mostly common sense. Nor does it require a society to “invent” it. However, as the planet gets more crowded, man finds free society a better way to optimize the optimum, at least for the time being

    This is another assertion that is not based on evidence in history.   First, rational people disagree and build alternate ideologies.   Marx was an enlightenment rational thinker who tried to figure out the objective laws of history (and he felt he was continuing Adam Smith’s work — he admired Smith).  Reason and rationality are tools, but they do not provide meaning or truth — at least no one has been able to use reason to find truth.   Thus it is in service to human passion — people believe what they want and can build rational edifices to support it.
    Moreover the idea of a single “optimal human existence” is in denial of most social theory and cultural anthropology.   People tend to think their cultural norms (in this case western materialist rational capitalist) are THE optimal human existence.  But that can’t be proven.
    So while I respect your political opinion, I reject the notion that you can state it as truth.  You can believe or hold it to be true, but if you move away from recognizing it is one interpretation of reality to the point where you believe you have discovered the ultimate truth about human morals, you’re moving to dogma and intolerance.  Those who disagree will not be seen as having a rational alternative, but will be seen as in error, ignorant, or possessing some kind of personal failing (as the Soviets did — those who disagreed with their ideology were said to have personality disorders and other moral/psychological failures).  My sometimes harsh critique of your view is because I want to shake you out of what appears to me to be a false faith.   Perhaps I misread you, perhaps I see dogma because of how I react to your insults of me.
    Finally, for all the ill people feel towards me, I feel no ill towards you.  Frustration that we can’t communicate and we rarely get beyond insults, but heck — I still have your blog on my blog’s blogroll, you’re still worth reading.

  • The source is our existence as discreet human beings. We have the right to our life and its preservation. That entails the right to property and self-defense.

    One more point: besides the fact the first sentence is pure assertion, which one can believe or not believe, the notion of rights requires a society.   Without society, claims of rights to property and self-defense would be meaningless.   In nature one acts to survive (and most psychologists would say this is instinctive) and uses what one needs, and fights off wild animals.   Only when it gets complex do people realize that conflicts emerge over stuff and even over ideas.   Then they try to figure out how to handle these, building perhaps a system of rights, or a set of traditions (that’s the most common way historically), etc.

  • Dishonest to the core?   Insulting my job, my character?    Sigh.   Well, I love my job, have served as Faculty President and Union President, won teaching awards, and get along very well with students and community.   The fact is, in the real world, nobody of value to me would hurl the kind of slander at me that you do.   And my crime?   You can’t point to any dishonesty.   You can only insult, and point to others who pile on as “proof” that somehow your ad hominem is correct.   My crime is to effectively, and usually (admittedly not always)  in a polite and respectful manner, show how some of your arguments are wrong (I also note when I agree, or if I change my mind and decide I was wrong — or a few times when faculty errors have been  pointed out), and you don’t like that.   Your attacks are from the gut, not the head, they are not rational.  I also note they came after I made a post very carefully and politely showing how your position on rights rests on dubious assertions and assumptions, and has not been proven.
    The fact that such a posts evokes such a bitter set of insults suggests to me that you do not like being shown wrong, especially not from someone you don’t care for.   Rather than do the rational thing and deal with the argument, you use insult to justify ignoring things that are hard for you to respond to.   Call names if you like — and I’m sure you’ll have compatriots there join in and can all feel good about yourselves.   But the fact is that such an action is really an admission of defeat, it’s showing that you put emotion over reason.   But, as one who carries no grudge, if you want to make an argument and disprove me, I’ll focus on it step by step and be polite, respectful, and courteous.    Any dishonesty from either of us will be made apparent.   Perhaps that is a challenge you are not up to?   That’s OK – you can rationalize it with some insults.   If reason doesn’t work, I guess you can always turn to slander.

  • Bruce, you’re trying to hard.  It shows you’re upset, and it shows that the argument I made against your position has really bothered you, and you want to lash out at me personally.   But in forums like this insults are meaningless, and you know that.   First, “masked in different ideologies”?   My views have been consistent — and I eschew ideologies because they become secular religions.  As a pragmatist I borrow from different perspectives as best fits the situation.   If you expect ideological dogma for a ‘war of isms,’ then yeah, my approach seems out of place.   How can I mistrust government on some issues, but want more of it on others?  But that’s pragmatism, nothing is done by a set of pre-determined rules.
    By the way, I’ve received numerous kind e-mails from various posters, many who don’t comment but have enjoyed my responses, often praising my restraint at vicious attacks.  That’s one reason I kept posting.
    But there would be one way to prove if I am dishonest in debate — actually debate the issue of something like natural rights without ad hominems.   Then pounce on any dishonest or insincere statements I make.   Otherwise, I feel like I’ve issued you a challenge in the old west, and you’re running away from it, hurling insults over your shoulder because you don’t dare stand toe to toe and actually see which of us can make the better arguments.    The only ad hominem I’d offer is based on your refusal to have real discussion combined with sometimes vicious insults: I believe you lack honor.
    But that’s fine.   When you ignore someone, you show you don’t take them seriously.   When you insult, it shows that they’ve gotten under your skin.   Clearly, my argument taking apart your natural rights claim bothered you.   And though you want to portray me as some kind of dishonest idiot, my experience and real world activities show otherwise.   So hide behind your insults like a coward, stand toe to toe and make an argument and, if possible, defeat me with reason, pointing out any dishonesty on my part like a man, or at least show the honor of avoiding public personal insults of someone you’re refusing to actually engage.   After all, you’re only giving me a sense of satisfaction that my argument got to you, you don’t know how to respond to it, and that pisses you off!   Prove me wrong.   I dare you.

    • Bruce, you’re trying to hard. And I’m not either getting so upset that my grammar is slipping so that I put “to” instead of “too” and you should just stop thinking that right now.

      It shows you’re upset, and I’m not either upset as I already said, and it shows that the argument I made against your position has really bothered you. I mean, you don’t sound bothered, you work hard to sound relaxed and blase about it all, but we wise leftists know how to interpret everything, and I’m sure you’re bothered, and you want to lash out at me personally. And it couldn’t possibly be because I deserve it, because I’m a wise leftist with godlike powers of political science who only comes here out of the goodness of my heart to educate you dense righties, especially the ex-military basket cases like you Bruce.

      In forums like this insults are meaningless, and you know that. But, even though they’re meaningless, I have this weird compulsion to respond to them, so I’m going to do that right now. I’m really above it all, as I’ll explain below, and yet I also need to correct you and there’s no contradiction in those positions, so stop saying that!

      First, “masked in different ideologies”? My views have been consistent. Stop laughing! They have! Just because I’ve gone back on forth on massive spending, at times railing about it and other times cheerleading it, doesn’t make me consistent. I decree it! It’s just a wise leftist thing that we brilliant PhDs understand how to use, when to switch arguments. It’s mainly that Republican spending in bad, bad, bad, and Democratic spending is good, but it’s more complex than that. It’s also whatever I need to say at the time to refute you dense righties.

      Besides, look at all the things I’ve been consistent about. I’ve talked about what a hero Jimmy Carter is, and how John Kerry is a stainless knight and the swift boat guys are shameless liars, all fifty of them, and how Iraq is the biggest mistake in foreign policy ever, by any nation, anytime, anywhere, and how the violence is going to increase there. Well, it is! Any time now! You just wait, all this calm in Iraq is just Sadr gathering his forces to do the will of his Iranian masters, and Sadr did too win over Maliki, can’t you see it? So how can you say I’m inconsistent when I’ve consistently said the same things on all these issues?

      And I eschew ideologies because they become secular religions. And it’s not because I’m a coward who has no honor or principles, so stop saying that! I’m a pragmatist! As a pragmatist I borrow from different perspectives as best fits the situation. And that’s not either just a rationalization for a complete lack of principles! I could develop a set of principles anytime I wanted to! Do you hear me? Anytime!

      If you expect ideological dogma for a ‘war of isms,’ then yeah, my approach seems out of place. How can I mistrust government on some issues, but want more of it on others? Well, it’s simple; I want more of the type of government where wise leftists tell everyone else what to do, but less of the type like that military stuff prefered by dense ex-military righties like you. But that’s pragmatism, nothing is done by a set of pre-determined rules. It’s just such a straight-jacket to have rules. We wise leftists are completely above that sort of thing. We have the brilliance and high-minded morality to completely make up our rules as we go along.

      By the way, I’ve received numerous kind e-mails from various posters, many who don’t comment but have enjoyed my responses. Numerous ones, I tell you. Well, one. Sort of, I mean he sort of said somethign that sounded a bit supportive. He was another wise leftist who saw my tribulations here, and offered me support. Kind of. He’s no longer coming here because you dense righties drove him off, but he often praised my restraint at vicious attacks. Well, once. Really! I’m not lying! I’ve never lied! Ever! That one responsi is the reason I kept posting. That one guy will keep me posting here indefinitely, and it’s not either from some strange need to find self-validation by talking down to you thick righties, so you really, really need to stop saying that! Right now! You’re just proving how right I am every time you say it! See, we wise leftists can invoke that magical argument and it wins every time.

      But there would be one way to prove if I am dishonest in debate — actually debate the issue of something like natural rights without ad hominems. Then pounce on any dishonest or insincere statements I make. And no one has ever done that. Stop laughing, I said! They’ve never done it, I tell you, I don’t care what they say! And all the guys you’ve talked to, all your precious buddies around here who think YOU’RE so smart, and who have said that they’ve tried to engage me are just lying, ad-hominem flinging nasty righties. Even the ones who ~pretend~ to be left-oriented and you have beer with. Because there are no enemies on the left, so anyone who is supposedly on the left who doesn’t like me is not a real leftist. I decree it.

      Otherwise, I feel like I’ve issued you a challenge in the old west, and you’re running away from it. Yes, running away! Hurling insults over your shoulder because you don’t dare stand toe to toe. Please come and stand toe to toe? Please? We could go back and forth with rich, content-laden argument forever. We could actually see which of us can make the better arguments. Of course, that will be me, and once you accept that I get to be the ultimate judge of everything, it will all work just fine! I’m the only one who gets to decide when I’ve made a mistake, and the fact that everyone else here thinks I’m an idiot is just completely beside the point, and you could show them, Bruce, you could! You could be my friend. The only ad hominem I’d offer is based on your refusal to have real discussion combined with sometimes vicious insults: I believe you lack honor. And it’s not me that lacks honor because I wouldn’t know honor if it kicked me in the face, so stop saying that! I’m not either a dishonorable coward, I’m just a wise leftist who wants to engage with you dense, dishonorable righties, to help you find the true path. Won’t you let me? Please?

      No you won’t. But that’s fine. {Sniff} When you ignore someone, you show you don’t take them seriously. I’ve been ignored by the cool guys my whole life, but that just means they couldn’t measure up to my brilliance. When you insult, it shows that they’ve gotten under your skin. And that means I’m right! Yes, getting under your skin is definitely evidence that I’m right, which is why I use the whole thou does protest too much thing all the time. Clearly, my argument taking apart your natural rights claim bothered you. It did, I say! I can tell, just like I said earlier! I can tell! You’re bothered! You really are!

      And though you want to portray me as some kind of dishonest idiot, my experience and real world activities show otherwise. Yes, from my redoubt in academia, I am bravely trying to educate the world of dense righties, and I’m successful in my career. Well, I am! Stop laughing! Besides the PhD, I have a book. An actual book! And it was not either done by a vanity press who takes advantage of gullible academics, so stop saying that! And I like it here in Maine, and I hear from other places recruiting me all the time. Stop laughing, I said! I do, I really do, but I just love it here so much I’ve never taken any of those prestigious positions. That definitely exist, so stop sniggering! I know what you’re thinking!

      So hide behind your insults like a coward, stand toe to toe and make an argument and, if possible, defeat me with reason, pointing out any dishonesty on my part like a man, or at least show the honor of avoiding public personal insults of someone you’re refusing to actually engage. Oh, gosh, that sentence doesn’t make much sense does it. Well, I’m just so darned eager to tell you all the things you’ve got wrong, and graciously ask you to stop insulting me and engage me in real, content-laden argument, all based on a wise leftist standard of debate. But you won’t. Meany. But that’s OK. Really, it is! I said so, and I decree it! You’re not so cool as you think. And after all, you’re only giving me a sense of satisfaction that my argument got to you, you don’t know how to respond to it, and that pisses you off! Prove me wrong. According to wise leftist standards, of course, and that’s only fair because I’m the one with the PhD, not you! I dare you!

    • “at least show the honor of avoiding public personal insults of someone you’re refusing to actually engage.”

      You don’t want to get insulted? Then quit coming here and posting drivel and nonsense and then acting smug and condescending when people point out that it’s drivel and nonsense.

      ” Prove me wrong. I dare you.”

      What do you think this is, a playground? Well, I double-dog-dare you to prove you’ve got the ability to stop coming here.

      But you can’t. You’ve got to get your fix of talking down to people. You absolutely have to have it to feel good about yourself. No point in denying it, Erbie. We all know it.

  • Oh, I don’t mind getting insulted grocky.   It’s the cheap way to avoid actually engaging other viewpoints.  Insult and dismiss, rather than consider and engage.   It proves that some of you aren’t willing to think critically about what you believe.   And “talking down to people” — sheesh, some of you can dish it out but can’t take it.

    • Evade, evade, evade. You can’t answer the question of why come here, so you evade it. You lack the mental capacity to honestly assess the answer. I don’t blame you. If you looked that question in the face, it could reveal things about you that anyone as cowardly and weak as you doesn’t want to see.

      But, to use your playground taunting, I double dog, sooper-dooper dare you. Explain why you come here. I’ve put forth a reasonable answer — that you need to find others to feel superior to. If you’ve got no other possibility that sounds reasonable, then we can all be pretty assured we have your measure.