Saturday, April 26, 2003

It looks like I forgot to put the hit counter back on the site after changing the look. Dammit. Well, it's back now at least.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Yesterday, I heard what is possibly the worst argument against capitalism ever.

The way I see it, companies within capitalistic rule get bored of paying people full wage and go to countries that don't have that certain law and make the children work for pennies a day. Why? Because Capitalism works only for the people within the capitalistic country. Ultimately, there's a small bit of corruption there, don't you think?

So, in other words, since in a capitalist country, businessmen can take advantage of socialism and forced labor in other countries by moving operations there, we should just force socialism everywhere. There's a sort of hunger for personal attacks because of how terrible that is. It equates to "capitalism only works where capitalism is, so it's flawed." I wonder if anti-capitalists ever even realize how terribly constructed and illogical their arguments are.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Ideally, I would update every day, but I'm a bit strapped for content right now. I'll try to write something good tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Gotta Look Out For the Family

These are some particularly disgusting excerpts from an interview with Senator Rick Santorum, courtesy of Magnifisyncopathological.

We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.

The very fact that laws are in place, and in place for a purpose proves absolutely nothing. Cuba has laws against speaking your mind for the purpose of preventing political dissent, but that doesn't give them any moral weight.

Contrary to what Mr. Santorum argues, his position is undermining the basic tenets of a free society, that most basic and fundamental tenet being each individual's right to his or her own life. Everyone has the right to polygamy, bigamy, incest, adultery, sodomy, and all sexual practices, as long as every individual involved has given their consent to take part in this act. To say otherwise is to say that people don't have the right to their own bodies, and to make choices for themselves.

"And the further you extend it out, the more you -- this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it's my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that's antithetical to strong, healthy families. Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, where it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.

Mr. Santorum is wrong again. Two homosexual people engaging in intercourse will in no way affect other families. Two dudes getting it on in their house with each others' consent does not tear apart the family living down the street. It may be contradictory to "family values," but these are somewhat arbitrary. The idea that a man and woman must be married and a part of a family unit is not based anywhere in reality. A certain amount of men and women must reproduce every generation to keep the species alive, but this doesn't mean that every one of them has to, or that any of the men and women involved have to associate with each other after the reproduction process.

Also, the belief that relationships involving two people of the same sex is wrong because it is antithetical to "strong, healthy families" is tantamount to saying that people not actively involved in a relationship are to be treated as criminals, because their bachelor/ette lifestyle is antithetical to "strong, healthy families." This would of course lead to the state forcing people to marry and reproduce, once again exposing the idea that Mr. Santorum's beliefs are based upon- that the individual has no right to his own life.

Mr. Santorum also asserts that the family is the basic unit of American life, which couldn't be more wrong. The individual is the basic unit of American life. Even families are just collections of individuals.

"The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire."

The state doesn't have the right to limit desires and passions. To say otherwise is to claim that the state has the right to control its citizens' mental content. In other words, some individuals have the right to exercise virtually unlimited amounts of desires and passions in order to control those of others.

The state may intervene if some individuals have initiated the use of force against another, because this is a case of the state protecting the rights of individuals (which is the government's proper purpose) as opposed to arbitrarily forcing people to act against reason.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Art More Important Than Liberty?

This was an opinion letter written in to the local newspaper today, by Bryce Milligan.

"There are some cultural crimes that transcend mere human concerns like life, liberty and the pursuit of oil. Today, we mourn a loss that beggars the imagination. A hundred generations from now, our heirs will curse us for what happened in Baghdad on April 11-12, 2003." [Italics mine.]

Whether it was intended merely for effect or not, that comment is absolutely disgusting. Mr. Milligan's comment seems to fail to take into account the fact that life and liberty are what give rise to this art, and what make him able to value it. The destruction of artifacts may have been recklessness, but even if it were, it's naive to demand total perfection from a military operation. Perhaps these artifacts were destroyed in an effort to limit casualties. Oh, that's right, artifacts are more important than human life. Perhaps one day, when Mr. Milligan is living in his socialist utopia where the state's art ends up being more important than human life, he'll finally be happy.

"The origins of the war in Iraq may have really been the cruelty of the Saddam Hussein regime; they may have been simple revenge or pure capitalist greed. It doesn't matter. The fact is, Saddam did not start this war — we did, and that fact imposed certain responsibilities on us."

In this statement, Mr. Milligan associates capitalism (freedom from government control over your life) with greed (desire for the unearned). Anyone who equates capitalism with greed clearly misunderstands at least one of the concepts in question. I have never seen a greedy proponent of capitalism.

He also seems to be confused about the difference between the initiation of physical force, and retaliation with physical force. A murderer is a murderer, regardless of whether he is the leader of a nation killing his own people, or an angry man killing his wife. They both need to be stopped because they implicitly declare war on human life as a whole by failing to recognize each individual's right to their own life.

"We took the most destructive force ever assembled and unleashed it on the Cradle of Civilization. And we did it so carefully. We only bombed the new palaces, we aimed our oh-so-brilliant bombs and missiles so as to avoid damaging any of the 10,000 known archaeological sites.

And then we stood by and watched as 7,000 years of artifacts were looted from the National Museum of Iraq. The treasures housed in this museum did not belong to Iraq alone; these were the oldest heirlooms of humanity. They belonged to every one of us."

What constitutes "every one of us" is not specified, but should most likely be taken as everyone. Total public ownership of the artifacts would be entirely self-contradictory. The public is not a definable entity and can not therefore claim ownership to anything. The public is merely a sum of individuals, which would eventually translate into some people owning the artifacts. If the artifacts belong to them, then why can't the looters take them? Mr. Milligan would be unable to formulate a response other than "Because they don't belong to the looters," which would be a contradiction of what he initially said. The right to the property in question is implicit in the concept of "belonging," and the right to property includes the right to dispose of this property as you please. Collective ownership of property leads to contradictions, and contradictions can't exist in reality- a thing can not be mine and not mine at the same time.

"According to the New York Times, American soldiers intervened at the museum only once, for half an hour, during a two-day binge of looting and bizarrely inexplicable destruction. Despite the desperate pleas of museum officials, soldiers refused to intervene further. Were they under orders to allow this madness? Who said it was permissible to kill thousands of innocent bystanders and not to stand our ground in front of a few looters?"

Mr. Milligan's confusion in regard to reality is cleared up somewhat based on his citing of evidence from the New York Times, which seems to have a lot of problems reporting accurate information. Mr. Milligan also fails to mention what he was referring to by "thousands of innocent bystanders" being killed- certainly nothing that has happened Iraq.

"The Geneva Convention is clear about the duties of an occupying force in regard to protecting cultural treasures. Is this why we continue to waffle on our official status? According to Gen. Vincent Brooks, American troops now consti-tute a "liberating force" — a term that has no legal definition and thus no responsibilities. It does not matter that it was Iraqis who did the looting. We created the situation that allowed it to happen, and then we did nothing to prevent it."

The argument of the circumstances created by the U.S. thereby making it responsible is riddled with flaws. By Mr. Milligan's logic, the creator of the art is also responsible for the destruction for creating the art- the ultimate circumstance required for its destruction.

"This loss is more significant than had the British Museum, the Louvre and the Smithsonian all burned to the ground at once. This loss is on a scale with the burning of the Library of Alexandria under the Romans; it outweighs the sacking of Rome. The destruction of the Anglo-Saxon monasteries under Henry VIII pales in comparison."

"There is a special place in hell for those responsible for such crimes and for those in a position to prevent them before they occurred. President Bush had been advised by an international array of scholars months in advance of the consequences of not protecting this repository of the world's oldest artifacts relating to the development of writing and the first documented literary productions of the human mind. This is a war crime, because it is a crime against history itself."

Mr. Milligan's assertion that destroying artifacts from the past is a crime against history is tantamount to asserting that destroying things from the present is a crime against today. If I accidentally ruin a new car, should I be sentenced to my own special place in hell because I committed a crime against today?

"Personally, I would gladly have laid down my life to ensure that future generations had access to these unique records of the beginnings of human culture. I probably would have violated all my own moral convictions about violence: I would have taken human life to protect these antiquities."

Good for you. However, the fact that you're willing to give up your life to protect artifacts does not morally entitle you to force others to do the same. Perhaps you should have joined the military so you could protect the beloved artifacts.

"Every American officer who allowed this to happen should be held to account. This president should be held to account. But there will be no justice in this matter. No one will take responsibility. Bush will not even apologize. All our soldiers will come home as heroes."

The soldiers are heroes. I believe that the soldiers are the ones who fought for your life and liberty (which you value so little) that allow you to speak out about these artifacts. Ultimately, the looters were wrong for looting. They had the opportunity to loot and did. Mr. Milligan fails to see that the Iraqis that looted are the ones who must take responsibility, because they're the ones that did the looting. An immoral act that isn't stopped by the government is still immoral.

"This is hubris, the kind of pride that presages the fall of a civilization. We thought Sept. 11, 2001, was a tragedy; it was only the beginning. We so naively wondered why anyone could hate us enough to wreak such destruction on the innocent folk of New York."

They hate us because they're under the influence of the same bitter emotionalism that you are, Mr. Milligan.

"By wantonly allowing the total destruction of the National Museum of Iraq we have given more than ample reason to untold generations of terrorists to spend their lives taking revenge on America. And this will not be limited to a Muslim jihad. This will be an international expression of disgust." [Italics mine.]

This statement is clearly a moral sanction of terrorism. Mr. Milligan has asserted that the terrorists have reality on their sides, and that it's right to kill innocent civilians who just happen to be a certain government's constituents. Stated explicitly, Mr. Milligan's viewpoint is "Terrorists should initiate more terror attacks, because artifacts are more important than human life, and the pedestrians who can't appreciate art in all its glory should be punished by means of physical force until they submit to the emotionalist opinions of my group."

"Way to go, Mr. Bush. Now the whole world has reason to despise us."

Way to go, Mr. Milligan- you're the paradigm of that reason.