Saturday, December 19, 2015

Surrebuttal to Cory

Dear Cory,

We seem remarkably “sympatico” (to indulge in a bit of “modern vernacular,” myself) in terms of style and temperament. Here is my response to your latest reply.

>>Well I finally got around to reading your reply Matthew Bell, and I have to say I’m a little insulted you would assert that I misused the word “parody.”<<

I am a bit surprised that you feel the need to dwell on this part of my text.

After registering my quick complaint regarding your departure from the “basic definition” (your phrase) of “parody,” I went on to write:

However, I may surmise that you really meant that the man in the image, whether deliberately or not, served as (something like) a reflection or a microcosm ‘of the sick gun fetishism rampant in the country.’“

And then I responded to (what I took to be) the substance of your complaint.

>>You say I don’t understand the word parody,…’<<

I never wrote anything of the sort.

>>…’then provide as your evidence the most narrow, basic definition of the word.<<

This puzzles me. You appear to be criticizing me for “provid[ing] …’the …’basic definition of the word.”

I cannot see how I should be faulted for consulting a dictionary or for providing what you admit is the “basic definition” for the word in question.

If you want to stipulate a different definition for “parody” where the word is to be used in a slightly (or even radically) divergent sense than that communicated by its dictionary definition, then go right ahead. As you know, this is a common practice in law and philosophy.

But, as you say, the definition that I provided is the basic definition for “parody.” “Basic,” of course, means “forming an essential foundation…; fundamental.”

Based upon the standard definition and your admission that said definition is “basic,” I could straightforwardly press the argument that “deliberate exaggeration” is an “an essential foundation” for, or is “fundamental” to, a parody.

But I won’t, just like I did not leave my earlier point at the level of semantic tilting.

>>While sometimes the word parody is used in that context (think Weird Al Yankovic) in modern vernacular, parody also means any attempt to show some aspect of our society as absurd, ridiculous or idiotic.<<

You can stipulate a definition or draw from slang (“modern vernacular”) at your pleasure. It would have been helpful, however, for you to have telegraphed your departure from “basic” usage in some way. But, it is fine - and, I hope that you realize, I already assumed this and responded.

>>You say “why think that the individual in the picture is deliberately exaggerating?” but nowhere in my response did I ever assert that the man in the picture was doing the parody, and this should’ve been obvious by my saying later on in the post “a guy wearing confederate women’s underwear waving a powerful assault weapon _doesn’t seem to get the joke_”

Obviously, it was obvious, which was the purport of my reply.

1. Parodying involves deliberately exaggerating.

2. As you recognize, it’s not obvious that the subject of the photograph was deliberately exaggerating anything.

3. Therefore, it’s not obvious that the subject of the photograph was parodying anything.

You reply:

>>The person responsible for creating the meme was doing the parody…’<<

The person “responsible for creating the meme” simply took a photograph and superimposed upon it two (possibly fallacious) assertions. Clearly, the author of this mess intended to make the subject an object of derision and scorn. But I deny that this suffices to qualify the author’s effort as “parody” – according to the basic definition of that word.

>>, and sometimes people can be a parody of something without realizing they’re being a parody.<<

In loose speech, slang or stipulated word use, this is absolutely possible. But if the “basic definition” of a parody includes the provision that parodies include “deliberate exaggeration for comic effect”; and if the “basic definition” of “parody” maps out those features that are “essential foundations” for or “fundamental” to a “parody”; and if an entity cannot exist without displaying those features that are essential or fundamental to it; then, it seems that a “parody” cannot exist without this characteristic deliberateness.

>>For example, if I were to say “Donald Trump is a parody of conservative xenophobia, belligerence, and wealth-obsession” I do not mean to say that he is deliberately exaggerating, but there is a sincere hope within me that he is part of some giant inside joke.<<

I understand the usage, but I take it to be an idiosyncratic departure from what you labeled the “basic definition.”

If I were repeating your opinion to a third party, I would say: “Cory thinks that Donald Trump is the epitome of conservative xenophobia, belligerence, and wealth-obsession,” or: “Cory seems to think that Donald Trump is a caricature of a statesman.”[1]

>>Just taking a photo someone took of themselves, and recasting it in the light of the current gun control debate, falls in line with my definition of “parody” because it shows some aspect or another of it as being absurd or ridiculous.<<

I will stipulate[2] this.

>>Here are some other examples of people parodying gun fetishism in this country:




These all seem to be parodies according to the basic definition that I provided.

The first is a Saturday Night Live skit. The persons in the video are actors and, according to their script, seem to be deliberately exaggerating for comic effect. This is as obvious a parody as anything produced by Weird Al Yankovic. It conforms beautifully to the basic definition.

The second I am less sure about, since I could not bring myself to listen to the entire thing. But if the persons in the beginning “commercial” were actors deliberately exaggerating for comic effect, then this too would be a parody according to the standard definition.

Finally, South Park is clearly social satire. I would say that Matt Stone and Trey Parker employ deliberate exaggeration for comic effect and, thus, their cartoons would also qualify as parodies according to the basic definition.

>>I would argue that the meme Angie posted falls within the same vein as the above parodies, pointing out how there is what seems to be a fetishism around guns in our culture. After all, we are at the point where there are nearly as many guns as there are men, women and children in this country. The massive amounts of gun violence going on in this country also adds to the perception that maybe we are a little too obsessed with guns, obsessed to the point of fetishism.<<

I do not understand this paragraph. You seem to be arguing that the picture-text is a parody just because “there is what seems to be a fetishism around guns in our culture.” I do not see how the fact of cultural gun fetishism - even if it be conceded - is relevant to a judgment about whether a particular picture-text is a parody.

I would say that x is a “parody” just in case “x involves deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.” In the relevant case, the picture-text does not appear to involve deliberate exaggeration (presumably, the subject is not an actor, for example, who is intending to satirize gun fetishism). Therefore, the picture-text does not appear to be a “parody,” strictly-so-called.

But let this pass.

We agree:

- that the subject of the picture was not intending to be an object of comedy; and

- that the author of “meme” did intend to make the person an object of derision.

I should say that this makes the picture-text an example of mockery, not “parody.” I deny that the image is a “parody” according to the basic definition. But I don’t think it’s particularly interesting to argue about the label.

If you want to persist in calling it a “parody” based upon your understanding of colloquial speech, then fine. Go ahead. We can call it a “peanut butter and jelly sandwich” for all I care.

>>You go on to argue that most gun owners are not like the person in the picture, to which I would be inclined to agree.<<

I didn’t argue this, exactly. I just denied that the cross-dressing gun-toter could be considered representative. I wrote:

“I just deny that such a person can responsibly be held aloft as the poster-boy for gun ownership. To put it slightly differently, I deny that all gun owners can be glossed as ‘sick gun fetishists.’ I would say that this cross-dresser is unrepresentative of gun owners, and nothing in the text, or in your interpretation, militates against or allays this concern.”

I was merely pointing out that: (a.) if we are to think that the cross-dressing gun-toter is representative of “gun owners” writ large, then we need some evidence for this generalization; but (b.) we have been given no such evidence.

>>It was never my argument that the majority of gun owners are like that.<<

I figured, and I agree: the majority of gun owners are not like the subject of the photograph.

>>My argument was that there are enough morons in this country who, even as you agree, lack appreciation for human life, even so much so as to glorify violent pro-slavery secessionists, that perhaps we should reconsider letting everyone have free and equal access to military style assault weapons.<<

Previously, you wrote:

>>[W]e as a society are neither intellectually or spiritually advanced enough to have full, equal access to assault weapons.<<

I suppose that you now mean to say that “we as a society are neither intellectually or spiritually advanced enough” because “there are enough morons in this country who …lack appreciation for human life”.

However, since you agree that “most gun owners are not like the person in the picture,” I conclude that you think the bad apples are spoiling the bunch.

As I wrote previously:

“I believe that the attack on the Second Amendment is part of [our socio-cultural] degradation. In order to elevate ourselves, intellectually and spiritually, we need to hold fast to our heritage, not abandon it.”

I would resist the notion that existence of a minority of “morons” (whatever that term means) should somehow undermine the Second Amendment for the majority.[3]

(I have elsewhere argued that a minority of “drunk drivers” should not ruin the Fourth Amendment for the majority.)

>>You ask, what type of argument can be made from this meme? Sure, I’ll take a stab at that. If we take the 2nd amendment[:] “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

>>[P]ars[ing] it, we would conclude that the premise is “a well regulated militia” and that the conclusion is “the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”<<

Of course, what I asked for was the following.

“[W]hat I meant when I asked ‘what is the argument?’ was for a set of premises, drawing upon (perhaps slightly revised versions of) the two sentences plastered on the picture of the bearded, cross-dressing gun-toter.

“My contention was (and is) that no such argument is possible, unless it is something like the ones that I already gave. (E.g., [1] Cross-dressers are morons. [2] Morons cannot be trained in the use of firearms. [3] Therefore, cross-dressers cannot be trained in the use of firearms.)”

You do not draw from the sentences plastered on the picture-text. You merely quote the Second Amendment.

Your argument has independent interest, of course. But it is not what I asked for, since your premise is not drawn from the picture-text. It’s okay. I just wish you would admit that the picture-text’s “caption” is rubbish. Whereas you think that the picture-text is, as a whole, a “parody” of gun-fetishism, I would say that it is an (unintentional) burlesque of sound argumentation.

>>Therefore what the amendment is about, what it is implying, is that private gun ownership should be vis a vis being part of a militia. Otherwise the premise (well regulated militia) would not be part of the same sentence as private gun ownership? In conclusion, the man in the picture is in dereliction of his second amendment right, for the second amendment obliges us to only possesses such weapons as part of a well regulated militia, a militia who’s sole purpose to to combat tyranny. (How so ever you define it, more on that later.)<<

You have abandoned the picture-text’s wording and merely devised your own argument drawn directly from the Second Amendment.

Of course, you have produced a typical formulation. I respond to this sort of argument, here.[4]

As Thomas Jefferson explained:

Jefferson held that:

“…’the militia of the State …’ is …’ every man in it able to bear arms.”[5]

The Supreme Court endorsed Jefferson’s opinion in 1939:

“…[T]he Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.”[6]

As I have written elsewhere:

“[D]isconnecting militia membership from the operative Second Amendment protections seems chiefly construed as a blessing to those who think that the avoidance of militia membership is a boon. Insofar as militia membership is considered an unnecessary burden to lay upon Americans, predication of ‘gun rights’ upon militia membership is considered an arbitrary restriction, imposed simply in order to reduce the number of those eligible to keep and bear arms. But, if one has a more Jeffersonian attitude on the matter, one sees that while it is correct to say that one does not obtain ‘gun rights’ in virtue of one’s militia membership, nevertheless, the ability to join into a citizens’ militia together with one’s armed neighbors is itself an important right.

“Indeed, if we take Jefferson’s gun-possession-being-a-duty comment seriously, we may well infer that membership in a citizens’ militia is itself a duty. It is not, to be sure, the precondition of keeping and bearing arms; but, nonetheless, it is a main reason for the importance of keeping and bearing arms. Hence, membership in a citizens’ militia is no more burdensome than are other crucial ways in which the citizens were intended to participate in their government (e.g., participation in electoral processes), and it is no less essential to maintaining our liberties. …’

“From a Jeffersonian perspective, …keeping and bearing arms is both a right and a duty, such that, in light of the founder’s intentions, the Second Amendment urges citizens to arm themselves as opposed to merely ‘allowing’ for the possibility that they might. And …’the citizens’ militia, being an important protection against coercive governmental force, is far from superfluous or unnecessary given our standing army (and police forces). But, in fact, given the existence of our standing army (and police forces), the citizens’ militia should be viewed as more crucial to the survival of our liberties than such a militia would be if the United States had no standing army (and no police forces, or, at least, much reduced police forces) at all.”[7]

>>Another possible interpretation from the meme is that, considering the time period in which the “well regulated militia” part of the amendment was written, a group of folks marching with musket rifles could indeed overthrow government should it become tyrannical. Nowadays, things are different. A group of people armed like the man in the meme would be easily dispatched with a few sarin gas filled icbms. In other words, people have no business having such weapons - they serve no purpose. Eras change. Technology changes. I don’t believe the framers of the constitution could’ve imagined the destructive power of the firearms of today; hence why the meme points out that the weapon can kill 30 people in under a minute.<<

Your paragraph here contains no hint of the reply that I made to you previously about these matters. Although I cannot confess myself to feel the same level of “insult” that you claimed regarding my argument against your use of “parody,” I am a little put-out that my earlier efforts seem to have gone unnoticed, or un-remembered.

For a refresher, see my “A Few Words on the Second Amendment’s Historical Meaning,”[8] specifically beginning with the question: On the historic meaning of the Second Amendment: Is the entire amendment “irrelevant”?

>>As far as your remarks regarding the civil war, I can only rebuke them in the harshest of terms. You quoted this: “The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederacy who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.”

>>I mean seriously??? Self determination, for whom? Certainly not for the slaves.<<

By way of preface, I have to be quite clear. Nothing I write constitutes a defense of the institution of slavery per se.

I can defend the “South,” broadly construed, because (I believe that) the “South’s” actions in the “Civil War” were not primarily aimed at protecting slavery; they were aimed at protecting the spirit of the Constitutional agreement that the individual States had entered into during the late 18th century. That said I proceed to my reply.

“Self determination, for whom?” strikes me a little like the questions “When was the War of 1812?” or “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” Simply put, the free Persons in the South were thus fighting for themselves.

The Confederacy was comprised of those Southerners whom the Constitution designates “free Persons” (Article 1, Section 2) as opposed to “other Persons” for whom “representative and taxes” were “apportioned” at a fraction of “three-fifths.”

As I already noted, the historical fact is that the United States’s federal government was created in virtue of the ratification of the Constitution by the individual States.

When the “North” reneged on its endorsement of the Constitution, the “South” was within its rights to declare the “Union” null and void.

The idea that the North was on an idealistic crusade to free “poor negroes” from the heel of Southern oppressors is risible.

As I pointed out but that you seem to have ignored, Lincoln publicly and explicitly disclaimed the idea that he was primarily concerned with freeing slaves. There were underlying economic and political factors and forces at play. Reducing the “Civil War” to some imagined heroic northern struggle against recalcitrant southern slave-owners is just bad history – if not balderdash.[9]

Additionally, the northern factories were, as anyone who has listened attentively to Noam Chomsky should be able to tell you, every bit as horrifying and oppressive as any plantation described by the plagiarist Alex Haley or ABC television.

>>Later you argue: “In the American “Civil War,” the North fought to destroy the South’s economic base while simultaneously keeping its people and land in the “Union” fold. The South fought for self-determination and merely wanted the North either to keep to the Constitution or to allow peaceful secession. The North, of course, did neither.”

>>To which I would counter that regardless of their legal argument (more like justification), the South fought for a cause which is more than inhumane or misguided, to my mind, it was evil.<<

As I pointed out, the South’s “cause” was that it not be bound to a “union,” the terms of which were being changed without Southern ratification.

>>If the southern states wanted to make an argument for self-determination, the first thing they should’ve done was looked at was is said in the declaration of independence, which states unequivocally that “all men are created equal” and that, by right, all men are entitled to “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”<<

Since the Declaration of Independence (DOI) speaks of “all men” being “created equal,” but the Constitution (C) speaks contrasts “free Persons” (counted as 5/5 of a person for representative and tax purposes) and “other Persons” (counted as 3/5 of a person), seemingly one must say something like one of the following.[10]

i.) The Founders contradict themselves in the DOI and C;

ii.) The Founders held that being “created equal” didn’t necessarily entail being treated equally socio-politically; or

iii.) The Founders held that “all men” didn’t really mean every single man.

Let me briefly argue for view iii.

First, consider an argument premised on my supposition that many people would probably not recognize a right of the People, under U.S. positive law, to overthrow the government.

3.) Either the Founders intended the (preamble to the) DOI to be part of the positive law or they did not.

4.) If the Founders intended the (preamble to the) DOI to be part of the positive law, then they intended “all men are created equal” to be part of the positive law.

5.) Short of a principled reason to the contrary, if any of the preamble is positive law, then all of the preamble is positive law.

6.) For example, if “all men are created equal” is positive law, then “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish [the Form of Government], and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness” is also part of the positive law.

7.) But if “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish [the Form of Government], and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness” is part of the positive law, then BOTH it was the right under positive law for the antebellum South to secede AND today it remains the right of the People to alter or abolish the Government whenever it becomes “destructive of [the end] …’of secur[ing]” their (other) rights.

8.) Whoever does not recognize a persistent right, under the positive law and set forth in the DOI, to alter or abolish the U.S. government, should not hold that the DOI’s statement “all men are created equal” prescribes any right under positive law.

9.) Therefore, either:

(a.) The DOI sets forth as positive law both the “equality” of “all men” and the right of secession; or

(b.) The DOI sets forth as positive law neither the “equality” of “all men” nor the right of secession.

(Of course, I am assuming that you would wish to avoid the inclusion, in positive law, of the possibility of secession. I have presumed that, all other things being equal - and supposing you endorse premises 3-8 - you would deny 9a. On these presumptions, 9b would be the conclusion. From my point of view, both 9a and 9b seem to me to favor my position and disfavor yours; so I really do not much care which conclusion holds.)

Of course, if the Founders did not set forth the (preamble of the) DOI as positive law, then it may be assumed that “all men are created equal” is a term of art from the point-of-view of positive law.[11]

If we wish to understand the Founders’ view on political equality, we must consult the corpus of federal positive law, beginning with its foundation: the U.S. Constitution.

In the (pre-”Civil War”) Constitution, we read nothing about forbidding slavery. Indeed, we read that a non-“free Person” is to count as 3/5 of a “free Person” for purposes of representation and taxation.

It appears that whatever “all men are created equal” was intended to mean, it by no means precluded the institution of slavery or the counting of some persons differently than others for purposes of representation and taxation.

It is simply anachronistic to read a contemporary, “multi-cultural” meaning of “all men” back onto the Founders’ preambulatory statements.

>>They argued for state’s rights, but somehow failed to see that their legally obscure definition of state’s rights…’<<

I do not understand this sentence. What do you mean by the “South’s definition of state’s rights”? And please explain how said definition (whatever it is) was “legally obscure.” I do not know the meaning of the phrase “legally obscure.”

>>…’[their legally obscure definition of state’s rights] violated a more fundamental subset of rights, the very rights of humans to not be in bondage.<<

Here we get into a sticky place. Again, nothing I write is a defense of slavery.

According to the Founders, implicitly, the rights in view are not incompatible with the institution of slavery.

Now here you come seemingly suggesting that slavery was always indefensible in fact, even if it was not recognized as such. And the reason you give is that there exists “a more fundamental subset of rights [than those issued by the positive law], [namely,] the very rights of humans to not be in bondage.”

On the Founders’ view, explicitly, the rights in view were “endowed by [the] Creator.”

So I have a question for you: Whence comes this “more fundamental subset of rights,” on your view?

I would argue:

10.) If God does not exist, then absolute moral values (including objective duties, rights and obligations) do not exist.

Given metaphysical naturalism, I would argue that there is no such thing as an "absolute right." As philosophers Lucyle Werkmeister and Michael Ruse: “Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. …’Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. …’Nevertheless, …’such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, …’and any deeper meaning is illusory.”[12]

If I perceive aright from other of your posts, you seem hold that God does not exist. It would appear to me that in order for this alleged set of "more fundamental rights" to take precedence over positive law, the set must exist at the level of (something like) natural law. As far as I can tell, the most plausible account of natural law grounds human value, human rights and so on upon human creation by God. Indeed, this is what the Founders seemingly meant by correlating "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to an "endowment our creator."

However, if you hold that there is no Creator, then from where do believe humans supposedly derive this “more fundamental set of rights” of which you speak?

Note carefully that I did not say you were wrong about the existence of this “more fundamental set of rights.” But, if such a set does exist - and I think it does - then:

11.) Objective moral values (e.g., a fundamental set of human rights) do exist.

But if this is so, it would seem to follow that:

12.) Therefore, God exists.

In any case, I stress that there is no contradiction between the two following statements (at least, you have certainly not demonstrated any).

iv.) The institution of slavery, as it existed in the pre-”Civil War South,” violated fundamental, Creator-bestowed human rights; and

v.) The “North” was morally unjustified (i.e., not justified) in waging war against the “South.”

These are not contradictions because, number one, the moral justification for waging war is not decided exclusively by recourse to the question: Is the opponent engaged in a moral evil?[13]

No, at the least, a “just war” - if such a thing exists at all - is one for which there exists no peaceful alternative.

But as I noted previously:

“Slavery had been abolished in Britain without a ‘Civil War.’ Had the northern abolitionists really been concerned primarily with freeing slaves, then slaves could have been purchased by interested northerners and then released.”

Besides this, though, I would argue that the North was morally unjustified in waging war against the South “over slavery” because, in having entered into the Constitutional agreement, the individual States agreed that they would not wage war on each other over slavery.


As I previously observed:

13.) The Tenth Amendment makes clear that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution …’are reserved to the States respectively…’”

14.) The United States federal government had, at the time of the ‘Civil War,’ no powers with respect to the issue of slavery.

15.) Therefore, powers with respect to the issue of slavery were then reserved to the States respectively.

This was the agreement in force. It is immoral for one party to a multi-party agreement to unilaterally alter the agreement, and then force the altered agreement on other parties, especially (although not exclusively) when the alteration in question contradicts a basic tenet of the original agreement.

Granted that the institution of slavery was immoral, it remains to be shown that:

vi.) The North had no alternative to war in order to undo the institution of slavery; and

vii.) The North had the moral prerogative to renege on its agreement with the South.

>>The reason I see the confederates as evil is that they were unable to see the people they kept as slaves as human beings.<<

Well, this statement affords me an interesting peek into your psychology.

I will reciprocate by giving you a peek as well. I view all human beings as fundamentally evil as a result of Original Sin. Slavery was a crooked institution. But the “North” was hardly in a position to chastise the “South” regarding moral matters. I view the “Northern” position as tantamount to breach of contract; I view the “Civil War” as unjustifiable; and I view many of the most influential politicians (chiefly, but not exclusively, Lincoln) who embraced abolitionist rhetoric as opportunists.

The idea that the “Civil War” was a moral crusade is as obnoxious to me as the view that Bush II’s Iraq adventure was a moral crusade. In my opinion, both (and most other wars besides) employed moral rhetoric and exploited the public’s desire for a suitable moral justification, but were in fact prosecuted for mercenary reasons.

>>As I’ve already established earlier, being well armed, and being unable to imagine looking out through the eyes of another or imagining them feeling pain the same way you so, is a very dangerous combination.<<

One problem, here, is your word “well” in the phrase “well armed.” Previously you asserted - ignoring my defense of the continued relevance of the Second Amendment - that no amount of arming was of any use against modern military technology.

By this standard, it would appear that no private citizen can possibly be “well armed.”

However, I perceive that your difficulty is this. If you drop the “well” then you appear to be rooting for something like a universal handgun ban. So, you seem to be using “well” as a nod to the line that you are especially concerned about “assault weapons,” but are perhaps willing to “allow” for the possession of handguns. On your view, can “morons” own handguns? Are they merely to be obstructed when they attempt to purchase “assault weapons”? Or are they to be prevented from owning any firearms? Can they own knives? Etc.

Not being able to empathize with your fellows is dangerous, by itself. It is also lamentable.

However, at least as far as I can imagine, it permits of no objective test and is therefore unsuitable as a legal prerequisite for firearm acquisition.

As I have said, the way to elevate our society is not to erode our heritage. It is to reinvigorate it.

>>So I view the confederacy as stupid, both then, as well as today when people try to revive it in spirit;<<

I would say that there is the spirit of the actual Confederacy (that is, of the men who stood for the what the Constitution stood for: the right of free Persons to determine their own futures) and then there is the spirit of what I can only call an “ersatz-Confederacy” (or some nebulous and powerless conglomeration of poor whites who, according to the liberal academy and media, are somehow a worse threat to “liberty” than hordes of immigrants).

>>…’for the very notion of “freedom” espoused by the confederacy is self-defeating. Lincoln said it best with his analogy of sheep and wolves. A quote im sure you are no doubt familiar with:

>>“The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name -- liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names --liberty and tyranny.

<<The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty” - Abraham Lincoln 4-18-1864<<

I am familiar with it.

As far as goes Lincoln-the-man, I am inclined to pass the verdict, as Mencken passed on the Gettysburg address, that he was a master rhetorician. But does his eloquent description of liberty apply to the country that he helped create, or to the one that he helped destroy? Was Lincoln the shepherd, or the wolf?

But, more to the present question, I wonder: which of Lincoln’s definitions of “liberty” do you endorse? Is it your view that “each man to do as he pleases with himself” or that only “some men to do as they please with other men”?

Is it you or me who is arguing that some men, variously the “morons” or the “spiritually/intellectually” deficient, should have their liberty curtailed? Who gets to decide who is “smart” or “educated” enough to escape being smeared as a “moron”? To whom shall we give the authority to decide which among us is “spiritually/intellectually” evolved enough to enjoy a fuller measure of liberty?

Lincoln’s rhetoric is useless in practice unless we simply and literally allow “each man to do as he pleases with himself” – period. For otherwise whoever wishes to limit the liberty of others can simply call himself a “shepherd.” In actuality, it is arguable that “shepherd” and “wolf” are interdefinable. A “shepherd” is “a wolf who has managed to take over the flock”; a “wolf” is “a would-be shepherd.”

Or else, are we to imagine that you have in mind some test to detect “genuine” concern for the sheep?

Lincoln’s entire image, I would argue, is foreign to the Founders.

Jefferson famously warned: "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."[14]

The division of humanity into “sheep” and “shepherds” and “wolves” has a low-view of “liberty” baked into it. Our representatives are not supposed to decide for us or “protect us.” They are supposed to carry out our political will.

I would venture to say, if we wish to keep to Lincoln’s poetic deices of sheep, shepherd and wolf and preserve a high-view or liberty such that “each man to do as he pleases with himself,” then every free Person must surely be his own shepherd.

Of course, this is the spirit of the Second Amendment.

As Alexander Hamilton once said: “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted [sic] with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”[15]

Only the Second Amendment can underwrite a robust ability of every man to “do as he pleases.” Only the Second Amendment can stop a wolf who is masquerading as a shepherd.

>>If your former aquantence did unfriend you over defending or supporting the actions of the confederacy, then I am inclined to agree with him when he asserts that such positions are, indeed, indefensible.<<

One person, male, on the thread ejaculated: “Oh [****] off. Seriously. You’re sea lioning the Civil goddamn War?? Ipso facto, you’re a neo-Confederate [****]bag.”

Another female justified blocking me on the following grounds:

“I’m a xenofeminist. Only cool people get an opinion.”

I would not recommend that you throw your lot in with such cretins.

>>But I’m not going to unfriend you [tongue emoticon]<<


>>You have at least made some articulate arguments for what the confederacy’s position was, even if they in no way take into account the position of black people at the time.<<

Likewise, you have done about as good a job as could be expected defending the lopsided and historically problematic view that the “South,” all by itself, constituted some sort of “evil” that the heroic “North,” led by “Saint Lincoln,” set aright.

I think of this view largely as a fiction authored by the victorious “North” – and endorsed by “Southerners” who were anxious to ingratiate themselves with their new masters.

But even if I did believe the received view, that is, even if I provisionally entertain the notion that the “Civil War” was fought over the dastardly “South’s” rabid anti-black bigotry - and I hope that my repeated denial of any such notion has not escaped your notice - fundamentally, I do not think that the eradication of black slavery was worth a price of 600,000 dead Americans, most of whom were our European-American cousins and relations.

The issue of black slavery was handled abominably.

With mutual respect and regards,


[1] See a similar example sentence using the word “caricature,” here: <>.

[2] In the legal sense: “Law. to accept (a proposition) without requiring that it be established by proof.” <>.

[3] “The most common classification of levels or grades of mental deficiency includes three categories: moron (I.Q. 50-69), imbecile (I.Q. 20-49), and idiot (I.Q. 0-19).” Ann Anastasi, “Mental Deficiency,” William D. Halsey, et al., eds., Collier’s Encyclopedia, New York: Crowell-Collier Publ. Co., 1964, p. 697; previously posted at <>.

[4] Matthew Bell, “Towards a Jeffersonian Appraisal of the SCOTUS ‘D.C. Gun Ban’ Decision,” Liberty Bell [weblog], Jun. 30, 2008, <>.

[5] Thomas Jefferson to A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, 1811; quoted in ibid.

[6] US v. Miller, 307 US 174, 179 (1939); quoted in ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Liberty Bell [weblog], Oct. 7, 2015, <>.

[9] Abolitionists like John Brown were aided and abetted by a group of financiers. Called the “Secret Six,” the group orchestrated what ought, by today’s standards, to be termed “terrorist” actions in order to destroy the southern economic base and end black slavery. It is often assumed, without argument or evidence, that abolitionists were - one and all - idealistic humanists. Many had ulterior agendas.

[10] Of course, your phrase “by right” is ambiguous. There are potentially rights under Divine Law, Natural Law and Positive Law, etc. Since you do not say which of these three - if not something else - you have in mind, I will assume that you mean to speak of “rights” under positive law. Nothing that I will say militates against the view that the Founders - including Thomas Jefferson, the draft author, and the entire draft committee, including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin - were explicating their views as regards the natural law as opposed to the positive law.

[11] See, again, previous footnote.

[12] Lucyle T. Werkmeister and Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” The Darwinian Paradigm, reprint ed., London: Routledge, 2005, pp. 261-262 and 268-269; archived online at <>; cited by William Lane Craig, “The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality,” Reasonable Faith, <>.

[13] Or else, how would you block George W. Bush from waging “just war” against Saddam Hussein, given that Hussein was clearly guilty of killing and torturing his own people?

[14] "Thomas Jefferson, Resolutions Relative to the Alien and Sedition Acts," Nov. 10, 1798; archived online at .

[15] Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28; archived online at Avalon Project, Yale Univ. Law School, <>.

1 comment:

apsterian said...

Happiness?--It's Matter Of Successful Management Of Spenglerian CYCLIC "Decline Of West," Rhetoric, Hence Christian Vs. satanism

It would seem ur conversation w. respondent has quite degenerated as predicted, respondent defending and justifying the murderous and disastrous aggression of the Northern states in the 1860s war--it's supposedly "justified" as it's MORAL.

And as predicted, the discussion of the 1860s war foundered on issues of slavery and morality, the southerners lacking "feeling" for their fellow humans, the simple issue of Constitutional contract just ignored. Lincoln successfully persuaded the people, enough of them, they were threatened by and attacked by southerners--it was a triumph of rhetoric by Lincoln, persuading the northern folk of their moral superiority.

So once again we see issues of simplest fact being trumped by "morality"--as they so often are. Thus the Spenglerian thesis about CYCLIC history is demonstrated, the culture being corrupted fm the original, initial honesty of the founders who had to work and fight, now betrayed by the effete, indulgent inheritors of following generations who super-impose moralism, trumping facts, indulging moralist hubris, pretending to "good."

And we thus observe continued expansion of world government/dictatorship idea founded upon moralism, ignoring the now emerging facts regarding deliberate creation of ISIS terror group by USA, NATO, Israel, and Saudi in illegal attempt to overthrow Syrian President Assad, none of this being discussed by present candidates running for office due to their dependence upon Jews and the money-power which just legally COUNTERFEITS-up all the money for practical purposes which they demand. See and for expo on central-banking.

Hence it's demonstrated once again the uselessness of arguing w. moralists, moralism always serving as their excuse for trumping logic and facts of reality. For it's truly a contest btwn the two versions of reality, (a) Aristotelian objectivity and thus determinism (absolute cause-effect), there being no "good-evil"; (b) The other Platonist-inspired idea being subjectivism and hubristic assumption of a "free" human will capable of creating reality in God-like fashion.

And there's just not much to be done regarding these moralistic fools: they don't respect or recognize rules of logic or existence of facts; they just want to feel "good" about themselves as "good" people who "chose" wisely. And the inexorable proliferation of these moralistic sort are why/how cultures "decline" in CYCLIC fashion--over-population of fools. Thus human life is so much mere matter of management of this CYCLIC process described so well by Oswald Spengler.

Thus the CHRISTIAN solution to this problem of culture is in successfully characterizing the hubristic moralists as SATANISTS and thereupon making use of people's natural prejudice against this satanism founded in subjectivism and hereticalist "good-evil."

The cultural struggle against satanic hubris become one of rhetoric, and the satanists have the advantage of central-banking which legally COUNTERFEITS-up all the currency by which to buy-up all the organs of propaganda and dis-info. So Christian rhetoric cannot be too careful. In the end, Christian rhetoric must fit the circumstances as satanists are impelled to defeating themselves.