Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Rule Five Friday – Liberty and Property, Part Two

2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (1)(Continued from yesterday.)

In a society that prizes liberty and property above all other things, what constitutes morality?

Liberty

In a moral society, any competent adult should be free to do as they please, with the only condition being that they cause no physical or financial harm to another.  The astute reader will be quick to note that I do not mention “emotional” harm, and that is with good reason; emotional harm cannot be quantified or even rigorously defined.  As an utter intangible, it cannot be used as a rational standard in any discussion of public policy.  The free person should be encouraged to avoid causing unnecessary emotional pain as a standard of everyday living, but the government cannot and should not be the arbitrator of behavior affecting such an ephemeral.

In a moral society, competent people are expected to support themselves.  A moral society must not force free persons to labor longer and harder for the benefit of others who can produce but do not.  Only government has the legal power to initiate force, and only 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (2)government has the power to confiscate a portion of a free person’s income and wealth.  (Yes, confiscate is the correct word; government compels taxation by the implied use of force.  If you doubt that, stop paying taxes, and see how long it is before agents of government, men with guns, come looking for you, to either force payment or fling you into jail.)  It is immoral for government to use that power to confiscate income and wealth for no better reason than redistributing it to the indigent – and it is perhaps the height of immorality for politicians to use that power to purchase votes, which is precisely how many political campaigns are run today.

In a moral society, the only acceptable form of financial interaction is free trade.  In free trade, persons exchanges value for value, voluntarily, with both parties realizing gain from the transaction.  This is how wealth grows in a society.  If a transaction is conducted by force, that is robbery.  If it is conducted by deceit, that is fraud.  Any instance of the two should be punished.  Other than that, markets, not government, must be the only arbiter of success in business.  Why?  Businesses can persuade the consumer, but only government can compel.  Since they have this power, government must not be allowed to prop up failing businesses or even failing 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (3)industries; government must not dispense favors in the form of subsidies to businesses or industries they favor, or slap regulations and conditions on businesses or industries they disfavor.  As there is a wall of separation between church and state, so should there be a wall of separation between the government and the free market.

In a moral society, no person should be compelled by threat of government force to engage in business or otherwise associate with persons they find morally objectionable.  This happens today and is all the more egregious because it is so unevenly applied; it is acceptable for college campuses to have dormitories restricted to one ethnic group, but it is not acceptable for a Christian baker to refuse to cater a gay wedding.  It is acceptable for a halal butcher to refuse to provide pork for sale, but it is not acceptable for a Jewish bookstore to decline to stock and sell Korans.  We are either a free people or we are not, and increasingly in matters of freedom of association, it has become clear that some people, some groups are far more free than others – and this is not indicative of a moral society.  If I were to open a restaurant, for example, I would refuse to serve patrons who refused to remove their headgear at the table, and that would be my choice – if I lost business because of it, on my head be it (pun not intended), but the choice – and the consequences thereof – must be 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (4)mine alone.  It is morally consistent, therefore, to assert the right of a businessperson to discriminate against patrons for any reason of their choosing, and in the next day to join the throngs of protestors that form in the street in front of his storefront to shut the bigoted son of a bitch down.

Property

In a moral society, the products of a free person’s labor belong to themselves first.  Government should only take what is strictly required for narrowly defined roles – such as national defense, border security, coining currency, dealing with foreign powers, and so on.  Note that all legitimate roles of government have one thing in common:  The protection of private property.  This completes the two essential elements of a free, moral society:   Liberty and property.

In a moral society, the free person has one right above all others:  The right to protect their own existence.  Your life is the most precious property you can ever possess, and so the rights associated with that life must be the ones we guard most jealously.  Liberty and 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (5)property are meaningless without life itself, and protection of life is a moral imperative.  That translates in modern terms to the right to self-defense and, by proxy, the defense of others.  We have militaries and police forces to aid in this moral imperative, but in the final analysis, it is the right and responsibility of all competent, free people to take responsibility for their own defense and the defense of their loved ones.  For this right to have any meaning, a free person must have access to a reasonable means of self-defense.  That means arms.  There is therefore a moral right to possess and bear arms outside the home for purposes of self-defense and for defense of the community, and that right, as stated in the Constitution, shall not be infringed.

Conclusion

Personally, I do not need a god to tell me these things; I find these facts to be self-evident.  I live by the moral standards I mention above, I advocate for those standards, and I think (I do not feel, I do not believe, I think) that these standards apply to us due to our existence as moral, thinking beings.

Unfortunately, it is in the nature of government to grow ever more restrictive, ever more intrusive and ever more dominating.  It is also in the nature of government to reduce liberty, and in so doing to become ever less tolerant of individual moral decisions.  That is the pass at which we find ourselves today, and if you are a student of history, an examination of other societies at similar times does not give one much cause for optimism.

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Animal’s Daily News – Liberty and Property, Part One

Thoughtful-BearCan an atheist be a moral person?

I have seen plenty of my fellow GOP members say no.  I say bullshit.  As an atheist and a moral being, I can say without reservation that an atheist can be, and most are, moral people.  There is a key difference.  We do not base our morality on the dictates of a higher power, but on our own conscience, our own sense of right and wrong, and our own convictions, reasoned and arrived at through reflection, experience, thought and consideration.

Speaking for myself – and I presume to speak only for myself, in itself a moral decision – I do not need a higher power to tell me what the right way is to behave.  I already know the difference between right and wrong.  I live a moral life not because someone or something else requires me to, but because I choose to do so, because it is the right thing to do.  I have distinct ideas on how a moral person should comport themselves in a free, moral society.  Moreover, I have very distinct ideas on how human society should conduct itself, morally.  How do I define right and wrong?  Conducting yourself in a moral manner is right.  Conducting yourself against accepted codes of moral behavior is wrong.

On what things do I, as a moral person, base my morality?  I base morality on that highest of human conditions, the only one that truly reflects the concept of natural rights:  Liberty.  I base morality on the fundamental right to the fruits of one’s own effort:  Property.

Remember that:  Liberty and Property.

For a person that prizes liberty and property above all other things, what constitutes morality?

Relaxing BearLiberty

A moral person accepts responsibility for his or her own actions and decisions.  If a person chooses to start a business and in so doing accept personal financial risk, they deserve not only the fruits of their effort should they succeed but also the responsibility of the consequences of their errors in judgment should they fail.  If a person chooses to have one, three or nine children, they, not their neighbors, are responsible for clothing, feeding and educating those children.  If a person chooses to drink to excess or to use harmful drugs for recreation, then that person is solely responsible for any health issues that arise from their poor decisions.  To quote the Old Man again:  “You got yourself into it.  You get yourself out of it.”  The result of responsibility is liberty.  To put it simply:  You are free to make your own decisions, to live your own life as you see best, because in the end that life is yours and no one else’s.

A moral person takes care of their family.  This goes hand in hand with the principle immediately above, that of accepting responsibility for your own actions and decisions.  Having and raising children is a choice, and in making that choice you accept responsibility for the little lives that come along in that process.  You accept the responsibility to house them, clothe them, feed them, protect them and educate them.  You may delegate some of those responsibilities – for example, most of us delegate responsibility for education to the schools, however unwise that may be becoming in recent years – but you cannot morally abdicate those responsibilities, and y ou cannot expect someone else to shoulder the burdens of those responsibilities.  Children and the responsibilities that come with them are yours, the product of a choice you made, even if that decision was as fleeting as a one-night drunken hookup.  That decision binds you for life in a way that surpasses even marriage – you can divorce your spouse, but you cannot divorce your kids.  Another quote from the Old Man, who is now 91, with his five children (including yr. obdt.) in their fifties and sixties and who is still very much our father:  “You never, ever stop being a parent.”

A moral person exhibits integrity.  There can be no reliable social interaction without it.  There is no higher esteem known than being someone with whom a person can enter into an agreement based on a handshake.  Integrity is the essential harbinger of trust; trust is the essential aspect of human interaction without which the very foundations of society crumble.  Integrity and trust are essential in marriage, in family, in trade, and in social interaction.  None of those things are possible without integrity and trust.

A moral person shows consideration towards others.  It is popular in this degenerate age to equate ordinary politeness with weakness, but in fact, just the opposite is true.   Good manners and consideration are an unmistakable indicator of strength and confidence.  A moral person considers the people around him, and incorporates that consideration in his actions.  A moral person disagrees politely but firmly when his or her opinions are challenged.  A moral person does not take unfair advantage of others, nor does a moral person act carelessly or thoughtlessly.  It doesn’t matter if you are driving, watching a movie or eating in a restaurant; a moral person considers other people, so that their actions do not intrude or cause discomfort or displeasure to others around.  Now, with that said:

A moral person stands up for themselves and others.  As noted immediately above, a moral person shows consideration, but consideration must come with a caveat:  There comes a time when even the moral person finds himself interacting with someone who does not deserve that consideration.  People who do not reciprocate that consideration do not deserve it.  It is morally acceptable to object to an able-bodied person abusing a handicapped parking space.   It is morally acceptable to object to rudeness, to foul language or bad manners in public.  A violation of civil interaction is an infringement of liberty, and should not be tolerated, but it is the citizenry, not government, who is responsible for rules of personal conduct.

Fishing BearProperty

A moral person produces.  A moral person contributes to the market.  In other words, the moral person works.  That work may be creative, it may be something the person loves doing, or it may be repetitive, low- or un-skilled labor.  However, the key is productivity; any occupation that produces value is honorable and worthy.  As the Old Man is fond of saying, “There are no lousy jobs, only lousy people.”  How does one define value?  This is trivially easy.  If someone is willing to pay you to do the job, you are producing value.  The result of producing value is property.  To put it simply:  If you work, you gain.

Look for Part Two tomorrow, with Rule Five Friday.

Animal’s Daily News

Yum BearThink it’s a good idea to demand service from people who hate you?  Probably not.  Excerpt:

The thing is, freedom of association—and disassociation—aren’t just abstract individual rights dreamed up as intellectual games. They’re practical knife fight-preventatives. If people can’t play nice, you want to keep them separated. If they’re willing to separate themselves, so much the better. Shaming people who refuse to associate with others for contemptible reasons is a perfectly legitimate response. But forcing them into proximity may not produce ideal results.

Even if people aren’t overtly malicious when forced to serve people they don’t like, just how enthusiastic is their work going to be? Do you really want somebody who hates you to photograph your special occasion? Or care for your child? Or serve you food of any sort at any place or time? There’s a good chance you’re just not going to get best efforts.

Sure that’s unprofessional. And?

 And forcing people to act against their perceived interests is never a good idea.  It doesn’t matter what you think their interests are; it only matters what they think.

It’s an inevitable consequence of a free society that people have to right to be arbitrary – even to be assholes, as long as their assholery doesn’t cause physical or financial harm to anyone else.  That’s why we have to let the Ku Klux Klan have rallies and parades.  That’s why we let looney conspiracy theorists rant on the internets.  That’s why Howard Stern still has a radio show.

The obvious answer is to err on the side of liberty.  Let business owners serve who they want.  When I was a tad, it was common to see signs in businesses of all kinds stating “We Reserve the Right To Refuse Service to Anyone.”  We need to bring that philosophy back, and let the free market weed out the assholes.

Rule Five Friday

2015_03_27_Rule Five Friday (1)Speaking as the guy who wrote the book on animal rights kooks, it has been gratifying over the last few years to see that particular brand of nutballery sort of fading away.

But while the animal rights nutbars may be in decline, they ain’t gone yet.  Now they are protesting the use of animals in labs at Yale.  Excerpt:

Students returning to campus yesterday afternoon were greeted by a choreographed demonstration outside of Old Campus of a protestor in a cage being treated by two others dressed in animal costumes.

Demonstrators at the performance art protest, staged by Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), alleged that Yale research scientists have been violating U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations for testing on animals for years. The group also claimed that Yale laboratories hold over 2015_03_27_Rule Five Friday (2)150,000 animals in captivity. Two protestors appeared dressed in animal costumes and lab coats, as the demonstration centered around the question “What if the tables were turned?”

“Many of these animals have holes drilled into their brains and are exposed to electrocution or potentially fatal drugs as part of laboratory experiments,” DxE said in a press release Friday. “Lab technicians routinely kill primates, sheep, rodents and other animals after the experiments are completed.”

The protest drew a crowd of 10 residents, most of whom were not Yale affiliates. Many drivers blew their horns in solidarity with the protestors, who were situated at the intersection of College Street and Elm Street.

2015_03_27_Rule Five Friday (3)Before we engage in a serious discussion of the use of animals in research, feel free to indulge in a gratuitous snicker at the “crowd of 10 residents, most of whom were not Yale affiliates.”  That’s right.  Ten.

OK, now that we’ve got that over with; if you were to rate cluelessness on a scale of one to ten, the nuts that protest the use of animals in research, especially biomedical research, would rate at least twelve.  The fact is that medical progress would come to a screeching halt without the use of animals in research.

The animal rights nuts are quick to advocate “alternatives,” but they are (again) clueless.  Some of the alternatives include:

Computer modeling.  It won’t work.  Why?  Because the most complex models we can derive, even today, are laughably crude when compared to biological systems.  There are no models that can simulate the billions of complex interactions that make up the biochemistry and metabolism of a living organism.

2015_03_27_Rule Five Friday (4)Tissue cultures.  They won’t work.  Why?  Because safety and efficacy testing requires a complete organism.

I’ve even seen animal rights nuts propose using prison inmates for pharmaceutical testing – involuntarily.  Too bad about that pesky Constitution, but what are you gonna do?  If it saves just one white rat, wouldn’t it be worth it?

When I was writing Misplaced Compassion back in the late 1990s, I identified four personality traits common to all animal rights nutbars, those being misplaced compassion, denial, intellectual laziness and arrogance.  All four are never more in evidence than when the kooks protest the use of animals in research; they show 2015_03_27_Rule Five Friday (5)compassion for animals over people, they deny the overwhelming benefits of biomedical research that uses animals, they can’t be bothered to actually learn anything about biology and research practices – and they don’t care if the realization of their agenda would be harmful to humanity.

It’s a weird kind of totalitarianism they advocate; an animal-worshipping fascism that would reduce the medical arts back to the 1800s.

It’s just as well that they seem to be slowly fading away.

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Rule Five Friday

2015_03_13_Rule Five Friday (1)Here’s a great piece from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell:  The ‘Disparate Impact’ Racket.  Excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Justice issued two reports last week, both growing out of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown. The first report, about “the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson” ought to be read by every American.

2015_03_13_Rule Five Friday (2)It says in plain English what facts have been established by an autopsy on Michael Brown’s body — by three different pathologists, including one representing the family of Michael Brown — by DNA examination of officer Darren Wilson’s gun and police vehicle, by examination of the pattern of blood stains on the street where Brown died and by a medical report on officer Wilson, from the hospital where he went for treatment.

 

The bottom line is that all this hard evidence, and more, show what a complete lie was behind all the stories of Michael Brown being shot in the back or being shot while raising his hands in surrender. Yet that lie was repeated, and dramatized in demonstrations and riots from coast to coast, as well as in the media and even in the halls of Congress.

2015_03_13_Rule Five Friday (3)The other Justice Department report, issued the same day — “Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department” — was a complete contrast. Sweeping assumptions take the place of facts, and misleading statistics are thrown around recklessly. This second report is worth reading, just to get a sense of the contrast with the first.

In simple language, the first report was factual; the second, political.

It has gone well past annoying to see actors, sports figures and even politicians repeating the “hands up, don’t shoot meme” now that we know it is based on a lie; Michael Brown did not have his hands up, he did not say “don’t shoot,” he attacked a cop minutes after committing a strong-arm robbery.

And in that second report, the DOJ is resorting to empty rhetoric to 2015_03_13_Rule Five Friday (4)appease an angry mob; they rely on the canard of “disparate impact” with no evidence, because the facts of the Michael Brown shooting do nothing to address the desired outcome of that mob- the demonization of the Ferguson Police Department.

And what is the goal of the Justice Department here, anyway?  Is it to eliminate ‘disparate impact?’  That might not be too surprising from an Administration that constantly complains about ‘income inequality,’ the solution to which is always – always  – some variation on taking something away from people who have earned it and giving to people who have not.

Sort of like the Ferguson looters, taking merchandise they have not earned or paid for.

2015_03_13_Rule Five Friday (5)Dr. Sowell concludes:  Even with things whose outcomes are not in human hands, “disparate impact” is common. Men are struck by lightning several times as often as women. Most of the tornadoes in the entire world occur in the middle of the United States.

Since the population of Ferguson is 67 percent black, the greatest possible “over-representation” of blacks among those stopped by police or fined by courts is 50 percent. That would not make the top 100 disparities in the United States or the top 1,000 in the world.

As usual, Dr. Sowell is correct.

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Animal’s Daily Peeves

Office-Bear_SleepSome random observations and pet peeves:

Urinal etiquette:  If you are entering a men’s room that has only three urinals in a row, all unoccupied, it is poor form to use the center urinal, in case some other man comes in immediately after you.  Men prefer to keep an arm’s length distance between themselves and other men while urinating.  I don’t know why this is so, but it is.  Please observe this at all occasions of micturition.

People who park in handicapped parking stalls because they are “only going to be a minute” should be put permanently into such state that they can use those spaces legally.  Besides my own dear Mrs. Animal, my mother and my father-in-law rely on those spaces; abuse of them by smartasses (or dumbasses, the two being frequently interchangeable) may be one of the few things that will drive me to physical violence.

I weep for the death of written and spoken English.  “No one” is two words.  You don’t “loose” a contest, you “lose,” you loser.  “Totes” are bags, not an acceptably abbreviation for “totally.”  “Ur” is an ancient Babylonian city, not an acceptable way to abbreviate “your.”  “Ne1” is not anyone, nor is it anything.  It’s not cool.  It’s not hip.  It’s wrong.  Stop doing it.

Related topic:  Capitalization and punctuation are important.  It means the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.  And what the hell ever happened to the concept of a query in written English?  If you are asking a question, your sentence should end with this piece of punctuation:  “?”  Learn it.  Know it.  Live it.

Yes-YOU-bearWhen the hell did it become socially acceptable to eat dinner in a nice restaurant while keeping your hat/cap on your damn pointy head?  Uncover your damn head while at the dinner table.  The only worse headgear faux pas is to fail to uncover when the flag passes by during a parade or event, or during the playing of the national anthem.  If you don’t have any damned respect for yourself, show some for the other people around you.

Ok, I feel better now.

Rule Five Friday

2015_02_20_Rule Five Friday (1)Why are jihadis so obsessed with porn?  I’ve got a few ideas.  Excerpt:

Recently, London Mayor Boris Johnson described Jihadists as “porn driven losers” who have “low self-esteem and are unsuccessful with women.” He’s on to something important and profound.

According to Syrian doctors in a report in the British media, ISIS fighters are buying frilly underwear for their wives and sex slaves — and subjecting them to abnormal and sadistic sexual practices. They may well have learned this from pornography.

The Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden found a fairly extensive stash of modern pornography in his possession.

2015_02_20_Rule Five Friday (1)The 9/11 jihadists visited strip clubs, paid for lap dances, and for prostitutes in their motel rooms in Boston, Las Vegas and Florida.

Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born imam who fled to Yemen in 2004 and was later assassinated by a US drone, ate a lot of pizza and visited a lot of prostitutes in the months after 9/11.

As a presumably “holy man,” Al-Awlaki mentored at least three of the 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter, the would-be Times Square bomber (Faisal Shahzad) and the underwear bomber.

In the years since 9/11, police raids of terrorist cells in the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain have yielded countless images of hard-core child pornography.

Child pornography?

2015_02_20_Rule Five Friday (2)Most Muslims would (honestly) say that watching pornography is immoral.  So what makes jihadi animals different?

It’s probably the same thing that makes them kill people in the name of Islam – they are Bronze Age savages with the moral sensibilities of a rattlesnake.

What’s interesting, though, is to look at the type of sexual activity these assholes prefer – child porn, rape porn, prostitution, sex slavery.  The common theme?  Violence.  The motivation?  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., it’s the same thing that makes them so violently obsessed with killing people who don’t share their wackobird beliefs:

Insecurity.  Cringing, cowardly insecurity.

And what’s also interesting is the strange silence from much of the American Left on this issue.

Worried about ‘patriarchy?’  Well, go to Syria, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, 2015_02_20_Rule Five Friday (3)or northern Iraq – you’ll see a patriarchy that will curl your hair.  A patriarchy that indulges in such things as:

  • Female genital mutilation
  • Child marriage
  • Sex trafficking

Not to mention beheadings, burnings, wiping entire villages off the map and a pretty good start at genocide.

And an odd obsession with porn.  As the article continues:

According to NSA documents made public by Edward Snowden’s leaks, countless “radicals” have called for Jihad by day but watched porn by 2015_02_20_Rule Five Friday (4)night. One damaging piece of evidence shows a “militant” using “sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

This year’s Paris jihadists Amedy Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi both kept child-porn photos on their laptops, which included “sickening pictures of young boys and girls involved in sexual acts with adults.”

In Iran there are honor killings.  In ISIL territory they are cutting off heads.  In Britain there are rape gangs.  And in Scandinavia, Nordic women can’t go about the streets dressed as normal Western women dress without being harassed.  Where will it end?

Incidentally, my choice of today for this commentary is deliberate.  There is a big difference between the kind of brutal pornography favored by Islamist assholes and the representations of the Feminine Aesthetic found here.  Just as there is a big difference – a difference not of degree but of kind – between treasuring women and treating them as property. And if that offends any Islamist nutbars out there, well, they can go fuck themselves.

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Animal’s Daily News

Splashing-BearsThis just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell:  Glib ‘Happy Talk.’  Excerpt:

We will be lucky to get through the remainder of President Obama’s term in office without a major catastrophe, from which we may or may not recover.

Iran has announced repeatedly that it plans to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. But you don’t need an intercontinental missile to reach Israel from Iran. Tehran is less than a thousand miles from Jerusalem. As was said long ago, “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

It was painfully ironic to hear Ms. Rice tell us that the danger we face today is not as serious as the dangers we faced in World War II.

Anyone who has actually studied the period that led up to World War II knows that the Western democracies followed feckless policies remarkably similar to those that we are following today. And anyone who studies that war itself knows that the West came dangerously close to losing it before finally getting their act together and turning things around.

In a nuclear age, we may not have time to let reality finally sink in on our leaders and wake up the public to the dangers.

It is perhaps belaboring the obvious that Dr. Sowell is smarter than anyone – maybe everyone  – on President Obama’s foreign policy staff.

It is also belaboring the obvious to note that there is, protestations of the current Administration aside, a clear, critical and existential to the West in the form of ISIL and their ideological counterparts.  What is not obvious is the Administration’s stubborn refusal to call this threat what it is – Islamic terrorism.

ISIL commits their horrors – burning, beheading, rape, massacre – in the name of Islam.  Al Qaeda likewise.  And the single greatest state sponsor of terror in the world since their 1979 Islamic Revolution?  The Islamic Republic of Iran, with an aggressively Islamist government.

Grizzly-Bear-FaceYes, it is also belaboring the obvious to point out that most Muslims are not terrorists.  But it is also obvious that almost all of the terrorists operating today are Muslims.

That makes the refusal of the Obama Administration to acknowledge the threat that much more baffling.  The civilized world wants these savages destroyed – but we can’t destroy them with half-measures and euphemisms.