November 18, 2006
That post is among those lost when I moved to Munuviana, but I argued that the doctor should have told Tony so that justice could be served.
I no longer agree with that argument.
I can't say that I've really given a whole lot of thought, but suffice it to say that in light of my previous argument, I do certainly sympathize with those whom the state fails or even betrays.
But Diana Hsieh posted a link today in which some commentor on that Forum of Dubious Thought talks about how he would kill judges, regulators, and even neighbors if he would "ruined" by some unjust law.
When I read about these legalized crimes, I can feel the grip of my AR-15 in the palm of my hand, smell the cleaning solvent (I keep 'em clean), see the front sight settling on the target (some bureaucrat, judge, or neighbor's head) and the cool pressure of the trigger against the center of the last pad of my finger...
Um. That's not OK.
My thought on the case with the Sopranos is that there is no doubt about who the criminal is and what he has done. Because the state failed to perform its duty, justice could still be served by the victim going after the bad guy.
The problem with that is that although the case is clear to the victim (and us the television viewing audience) beyond even the faintest shadow of a doubt, the case is not clear to the rest of the people in the community.
If you run off throttling bad guys, even if you are right in doing so, you present a threat in the eyes of those around you who will see your actions as unprovoked acts of aggression.
Let's say that I walk out of my apartment and I see one of my neighbors beating up some other person. I would want to ask why they're doing that, but my neighbor might just be a psycho. As far as I know, my neighbor is a mugger and they now present a threat to me. I can't live in peace because there's a crazy next door.
The point of the government in criminal proceedings is to put all of our minds at ease about the psychos next door. The police come in and collect all the evidence and the in a courtroom they present the evidence to the public and show us all that my neighbor is or is not actually a psycho. Then, if any throttling needs to be done, it is done by the state so that everyone can see that justice is being served.
What if, in the Soprano case, Dr. Malfi wasn't sure who her rapist was? But she told Tony it was some dude who works at the burger joint down the street and then Tony has him killed? An innocent person would suffer that mistake.
Here in America, we rely on the innocent until proven guilty rule and standards of evidence so that we don't accidentally lock up the guy from the burger joint down the street even though he hasn't done a thing wrong.
The point of having a government at all is to ensure that individual rights are protected and in order to do so, we all have to know that both our rights and the rights of those who may be guilty are equally secure and equally subject to the same, cool reason in the eyes of the law.
All of this struck me with a bit more clarity when I saw that lunatic, John Wakeland's comments and the commentors on Diana's site helped clear things up a bit more.
So, much thanks to the folks over at Noodlefood. No thanks to that psycho Wakeland, though. He just freaks me out.
November 16, 2006
I was just over at Leitmotif, reading a "debate" he had with Father FC Copleston back in 1948. I didn't get more than four sentences into it before I had to stop and blog about a bit of idiocy.
Copleston: Yes, but what’s your justification for distinguishing between good and bad or how do you view the distinction between them?
Russell: I don’t have any justification any more than I have when I distinguish between blue and yellow. What is my justification for distinguishing between blue and yellow? I can see they are different.
How about the fact that yellow and blue ARE different? It seems sufficient justification to me to simply point to reality. The color yellow is defined by a range of light within certain defined and accepted wavelengths in the visible light spectrum. Blue is a different range on the same spectrum.
If you're Objectivist, you "justify" moral right and wrong the same way. You point to reality and say "good" is that which sustains and benefits my life as a human being. Evil is that which works to my detriment as a human being and even death.
This mealy-mouthed, widespread skepticism and uncertainty is bothersome and silly. Folks like Bertrand Russell are too scared to put their foot down about anything and declare their certainty even when the fact is, literally, in front of their eyes.
Reality has arrived and that point is not up for debate!
She challenges him to prove the existence of God and they have the following exchange:
Palmer Joss: Did you love your father?
Ellie Arroway: What?
Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much.
Palmer Joss: Prove it.
She is dumbstruck by this and appears thoughtful. It is as if he has won the argument.
There are a couple of things that are ridiculous to me.
First, it's absurd that Palmer Joss is trying to use reason to prove that reason is insufficient to prove things. If that were true, then he would not be able to prove his own argument. Since his case is false, he is unable to prove his argument.
The reverse of a tautology is a contradiction, but I kind of want to call that line of reasoning a "tautology of stupid." Feel free to use that phrase to describe similiarly idiotic lines of reasoning.
Second, it's not impossible to prove that someone loves someone else even if that someone else is dead. You could look at their house and see if they have pictures of that person set in special places. You could watch that person and see if they regard things that remind them of their loved one with special care. You could scan their brain activity and compare their emotional responses to various things including the one they love.
Even if that person doesn't actually love the person in question, the worst situation would be that they're lying to us and the evidence we have is part of a ruse. In such a situation we still are given reasons to believe, whereas in matters of faith, no evidence is offered in the least. None is even possible!
Simply because one is unable to present the evidence for such a phenomenon in a cocktail party does not mean that it is not possible to present evidence at all.
I came across this quotation from Voltaire a while ago. "A witty saying proves nothing." It seems apt for smug, irrational people like Palmer Joss.
November 08, 2006
That show is The Biggest Loser.
In this show, they take some very overweight people and they compete to lose the most weight. They teach good exercise and diet. You get to see before and after shots of these people and the changes are dramatic.
It's just great to see these people affirming their personal efficacy and claiming life (in a very physical sense) as primary value as they realize how detrimental their unhealthy lifestyle was to their enjoyment of their own existence.
And also, when I see them doing the challenges, I want to play, too.
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