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Libertarianism and Child Pornography

One of the issues I sometimes have with Libertarianism is when it is taken to an extreme. They take the either/or view when it comes to many intelligent animals. Consider this post by Skip Olivia over at the Misses blog. In that post and many of the comments we get variations on the “animals have no rights, they are simply property.” In short treating an intelligent animal like a dog just like a table is just peachy with them, or if it isn’t then they have a serious consistency problem. Most people would not flinch if I dragged my dinner table into my drive way and chain sawed it in half. If I dragged one of my dogs into the drive way and did the same thing, all of my neighbors would likely view me as somebody who is profoundly disturbed.

What about children? Children can’t vote, and it isn’t at all clear that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness even apply to children at least to the same level as with adults. I sure know that my son would argue that making him do his homework constitutes and infringement on both his liberty and pursuit of happiness. If he were really precocious he might also argue that my sending to his room for some infraction violates due process and constitutes some sort of illegal confinement. So, are children the property of the adults? If so, how come I can’t treat my son like a table or a car? If a child is not the property of the adult, then how does one reconcile the lack of full rights for children?

One could argue that a child’s mentally faculties are still forming and as such the parents should act as custodians and do things that often have a short term cost but long term benefit (education, teaching responsibility, etc.). Fine, but why not something similar to animals like the dog or other intelligent animals? I admit that there isn’t some clear cut line here and that some could argue that this is possibly a slipper slope, but it seems clear that wantonly killing an animal for enjoyment and profit and doing so in a grisly manner (dog fighting) is different that killing an animal for profit an to feed others and doing so in as pain free a manner as possible (killing a cow for food).

gypsy103.jpg
Who cares what happened to this dog, it was just a piece of property…like a table

Clearly there is some sort of spectrum here, and is it unreasonable to consider that animals “lower” than humans, but that still possesses some level of intelligence be given some moral consideration such as not being tortured to death, forced into fighting, and summarily executed for failing to fight/fight well? Radley Balko, whose comments on the Michael Vick case sparked the post by Skip Olivia writes,

My approach to animal cruelty laws would be about the same as my approach to the abortion issue. Most people would agree that many animals deserve more moral consideration than, say, a table. Exactly what animals have what rights, and how those rights should be protected, are matters of line-drawing–police powers. And police powers are best left up to as local a jurisdiction as possible, so they can write laws that best reflect each state or community’s values.

Skip Oliva also writes,

This is really a case where a majority is trying to punish the minority–which includes the people who watch and wager on dog racing–for holding an unpopular economic preference.

I find this just ridiculous. Suppose we have an individual who decides that there is a lucrative market in trafficking in child pornography? He doesn’t make, he doesn’t like it, but he likes the money he earns from selling it. Are we to turn a blind eye to this fellow and argue, “Hey, this is just a case where the majority is trying to punish the minority for holding an unpopular economic preference. He isn’t actually making the pornography. He isn’t even victimizing the children.”? Seems like a stretch. Further, this might actually be a case where even having federal laws might be a good idea. Granted, there might not be language in the Constitution to currently cover such laws, but the Constitution can be changed.

Note: I don’t intend to hide the picture of Gypsy below the fold. I want everyone to see the results of dog fighting.

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About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research.

Comments

  1. [...] By the way, see Verdon’s comments at OTB. [...]

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  2. Triumph says:

    I admit that there isn’t some clear cut line here and that some could argue that this is possibly a slipper slope, but it seems clear that wantonly killing an animal for enjoyment and profit and doing so in a grisly manner (dog fighting) is different that killing an animal for profit an to feed others and doing so in as pain free a manner as possible (killing a cow for food).

    How about cow fighting? Its not quite as fast-paced as dog-fighting, but it’s sure as hell exciting!

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  3. Steve,

    I understand your anger over the situation and the indignation that leads to your defiant posting of the photo; but, like last time it isn’t what i expect to see when I come over here (or to any political blog, for that matter) and really isn’t something I think I should have to see.

    And I already agree that this is a heinous practice and that some people don’t get it. Somehow I don’t think, however, that subjecting OTB readers to that image is really doing anything other than causing an unpleasant visit for folks who already agree with you.

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  4. floyd says:

    The practice of dog fighting, though high profile in this case, is declining at such a rate as to be already archaic. General cruelty to animals is not acceptable in this society and the penalties are becoming more onerous, just as the enforcement becomes more profluent.
    This does not endow animals with rights. What it does, however, is illustrate the fact that humans have responsibilities toward their animals.
    This is nothing new. There have always been anti-cruelty laws. These will be more clearly defined and enforced to meet with evolving standards of conduct.
    Just as with any crime, we will never eradicate animal cruelty altogether. We can only hope that cooler heads prevail as we all work to minimize it going forward.

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  5. Grewgills says:

    This does not endow animals with rights. What it does, however, is illustrate the fact that humans have responsibilities toward their animals.

    If they don’t have rights what is the rationale for human responsibility to them?

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  6. floyd says:

    Grewgills; Facetious question right??
    What is the rationale for your responsibility toward the environment? Toward government? Toward principle? Toward finances?
    Our responsibility to treat animals humanely is derived from our responsibility to conform to what it means to be an acceptable member of a decent society.
    If you can not find this sense of responsibility in your principles or your faith, then society will ultimately enforce it’s corporate sense of responsibility. This is the price of membership.

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  7. Why I’m Not a Capital L Libertarian…

    Skip Oliva of the Mises Blog on the Michael Vick indictment:Taking Balko’s endorsement of the Vick prosecution at face value marks a radical departure from traditional libertarian views on the limits of federal power. First, you must accept that the…

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  8. Grewgills says:

    What is the rationale for your responsibility toward the environment? Toward government? Toward principle? Toward finances?

    The rationale for responsibility towards the environment, government, principle and finances all rest on your responsibility towards yourself and the rights of others in varying degrees. If there was no one or nothing else with any inherent rights, what responsibility would you have to the environment, government, or finances?

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  9. M1EK says:

    floyd, Gregills is (perhaps inadvertently) pointing out why Steve linked this issue to libertarianism in the first place, in case you didn’t get it.

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  10. Michael says:

    Our responsibility to treat animals humanely is derived from our responsibility to conform to what it means to be an acceptable member of a decent society.

    This has got to be the coldest day ever in Hell, because I’m actually going to agree with floyd.

    The rationale for responsibility towards the environment, government, principle and finances all rest on your responsibility towards yourself and the rights of others in varying degrees.

    Just like the environment, government and finances, the responsibility is to the future generations of a society. Preventing inhumane behavior towards animals goes a long way to preventing inhumane behavior towards humans, so to that effect our responsibility to protect humans from humans extends to our responsibility to protect animals from humans.

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  11. Beldar says:

    Mr. Verdon:

    There are many, many good causes. There is essentially no limit to the number of shocking photographs that could be deliberately used in an attempt to promote those good causes. Is this now a blog devoted to doing that?

    Publishing that photograph in that size and location is, in my opinion, gratuitously offensive. The accompanying text confirms that such was the intention as well.

    That you believe yourself to have good grounds for offending those who disagree with your position on cruelty to animals does not make it inoffensive, or less offensive, to anyone — notably including those of us who, like you, condemn cruelty to animals. (My own dog is asleep at my feet, in one of her customary and preferred positions, as I type this.) As someone in that latter group, if I feel the need to recharge my disgust, I prefer to do so deliberately.

    But if my only choices are, “(a) Be offended by whatever horrific photograph Mr. Verdon feels the need to shock me with at OTB today,” or “(b) Don’t visit this blog,” then I’ll very quickly find myself obliged to make the second choice. I’d regret that, because I value this blog very highly as something other than a source of gratuitous offense.

    Mine is just one reaction and one opinion. But were you to run a poll, I suspect that an enormous majority of the regular visitors to this blog would agree with me. The proprietor of the blog is free, of course, to ignore all of those opinions — but not without potential costs if the blog continues to display such photographs with comparable unavoidable prominence over time. I hope instead that you’ll conclude that this is a bad idea, and that you’ll stop.

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  12. Steve Verdon says:

    Beldar and Steven,

    When you start hiding stuff like this, it becomes easier to ignore. Yes it is ugly and disturbing (that is dog fighting is, ugly and disturbing), but sweeping it, in this case, below the fold, strikes me as just the wrong thing to do.

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  13. Grewgills says:

    Our responsibility to treat animals humanely is derived from our responsibility to conform to what it means to be an acceptable member of a decent society.

    The fundamental question you miss here is; why does our society judge it to be unacceptable to brutalize animals?
    Do you believe in cultural relativism?

    Just like the environment, government and finances, the responsibility is to the future generations of a society.

    As I said, “all rest on your responsibility towards yourself and the rights of others in varying degrees.” Future generations are certainly among those others with rights.

    Preventing inhumane behavior towards animals goes a long way to preventing inhumane behavior towards humans, so to that effect our responsibility to protect humans from humans extends to our responsibility to protect animals from humans.

    Do you really believe that the only real reason for our responsibility to protect animals from abuse is to protect people from abuse to people that may or may not follow? If it could not be shown that brutalizing animals led to violence to humans, would you no longer want animal cruelty laws on the books? What if it were shown the brutalizing animals allowed people who would otherwise harm humans an outlet and actually result in less violence to humans?

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  14. angelweave says:

    Dogfighting…

    If (man) is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. Immanuel Kant And that real…

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  15. Michael says:

    Do you believe in cultural relativism?

    I believe that every culture has it’s own laws and morals that they believe are best suited to them and the continuation of the culture they want. If that’s what you mean, then yes, I believe in cultural relativism.

    Do you really believe that the only real reason for our responsibility to protect animals from abuse is to protect people from abuse to people that may or may not follow? If it could not be shown that brutalizing animals led to violence to humans, would you no longer want animal cruelty laws on the books?

    If it could be shown that animal cruelty has no correlation to human cruelty, then I might not see a need for the laws to exist. However, study after study shows a strong correlation between a person’s desire to harm animals and their desire to harm people.

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  16. floyd says:

    Grewgills;
    My standards are set by the principles of my faith not by the winds of the doctrines of cultural relativism.

    Question; Do I believe in cultural relativism?

    Answer; Cultural relativism has existed in every human society throughout history.The term is almost a redundancy.

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  17. SIV says:

    So was Gypsy a “winner” or a “loser”?

    What other traditional sports would you like to ban?

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  18. Bithead says:

    Do you really believe that the only real reason for our responsibility to protect animals from abuse is to protect people from abuse to people that may or may not follow? If it could not be shown that brutalizing animals led to violence to humans, would you no longer want animal cruelty laws on the books? What if it were shown the brutalizing animals allowed people who would otherwise harm humans an outlet and actually result in less violence to humans?

    The trouble, of course, is that the values you speak of here… moral values… are cultural in nature.

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  19. Grewgills says:

    I should have asked whether or not you subscribe to moral relativism rather than cultural relativism.

    Floyd,

    Our responsibility to treat animals humanely is derived from our responsibility to conform to what it means to be an acceptable member of a decent society.

    is not fully compatible with

    My standards are set by the principles of my faith not by the winds of the doctrines of cultural relativism.

    Which is it? You have not well grounded your objection to animal cruelty on either count. For your objection to be well grounded you must either answer my earlier question

    The fundamental question you miss here is; why does our society judge it to be unacceptable to brutalize animals?

    or point to some biblical proscription from animal cruelty. If you choose the latter what is your reason for having this enacted as US law?

    Cultural relativism has existed in every human society throughout history.The term is almost a redundancy.

    Do you really think that every human society throughout time has interpreted the beliefs and activities of others in terms of that others’ culture? I don’t think you have much ground to stand on here.

    Michael,

    If it could be shown that animal cruelty has no correlation to human cruelty, then I might not see a need for the laws to exist. However, study after study shows a strong correlation between a person’s desire to harm animals and their desire to harm people.

    Your responses seem to indicate that you find nothing inherently wrong with brutalizing animals. If this is your belief shouldn’t the consequence of animal cruelty be counseling rather than incarceration or fines?
    Vick’s actions show a disregard for the well being of the dogs. He probably also likes to watch ultimate fighting or maybe even bum fights, but I seriously doubt that he desires to harm humans. Counseling could reveal this and deal with it if necessary, incarceration and fines will not.

    Bit,
    Do you believe in moral relativism?
    Do you think dog fighting should be legal?
    If not, why not?
    How about cock fighting?

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  20. floyd says:

    Our responsibility to treat animals humanely is derived from our responsibility to conform to “”what it means to be an acceptable member of a decent society.
    is not fully compatible with
    My standards are set by the principles of my faith not by the winds of the doctrines of cultural relativism.”"
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”
    GREWGILLS; Of course it is. The first answer is collective the second is personal.

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  21. floyd says:

    “”Cultural relativism has existed in every human society throughout history.The term is almost a redundancy.

    Do you really think that every human society throughout time has interpreted the beliefs and activities of others in terms of that others’ culture? I don’t think you have much ground to stand on here.”"

    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”

    No if I thought that; I would have said that.
    Just in case you’re confused; I didn’t.
    Apparently we have divergent definitions of “cultural relativism”

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  22. floyd says:

    “”I believe that every culture has it’s own laws and morals that they believe are best suited to them and the continuation of the culture they want. If that’s what you mean, then yes, I believe in cultural relativism.”"
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”
    Grewgills;
    Michael and I agree again [Sorry Michael]
    This is pretty much the definition we were working with.

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  23. Grewgills says:

    Floyd,
    Historically most societies, particularly religiously dominated societies, have believed in some form of absolute morality. This is not compatible with your assertion that cultural relativism existed in every society throughout history.
    That however is entirely beside the point, which you have not addressed. You have still not well grounded your objection to animal cruelty on either your personal or collective criteria.

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  24. floyd says:

    Grewgills; I don’t believe in cruelty to animals or casting pearls before swine. They always choke on them and that would be cruel. Right?[lol]

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  25. Bithead says:

    Bit,
    Do you believe in moral relativism?

    What I believe is not important to this conversation. What is important, in reality is what they believe.

    Please propose to us a method by which we prevent such things from occurring. In this proposal, please account for two things:

    * Mere laws against it, haven’t worked, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation

    * consider use of the phrase “imposing morality”

    I await your answer with interest.

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  26. Michael says:

    Your responses seem to indicate that you find nothing inherently wrong with brutalizing animals. If this is your belief shouldn’t the consequence of animal cruelty be counseling rather than incarceration or fines?

    What makes you think I don’t find brutalizing animals inherently wrong? I said if it didn’t lead to harming humans, it wouldn’t need to be put into laws made to protect humans. Similarly, if it could be proved that shooting somebody doesn’t correlate to hurting them, then maybe we woudn’t need laws against shooting people. The fact that it does correlate, just like animal abuse correlates to human abuse, then obviously we need laws against it.

    Since it is a crime, then the punishment of incarceration and fines seem appropriate for any breach of the law, including animal cruelty. Certainly the amount of each should be considered on a per case basis, but I have no objection to either or both being used as reasonably punishment.

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  27. Grewgills says:

    Bit,
    I notice that again you fail to address the questions directed at you. It is easier to ask than to answer isn’t it?

    What I believe is not important to this conversation. What is important, in reality is what they believe.

    By they I assume you mean Vick et al. For the purpose of this discussion on whether and why animal cruelty should be illegal what they believe is of little importance. If they believe their actions were deplorable or completely reasonable is not the issue, or do you believe that their beliefs on this topic should determine whether or not their actions were criminal.

    Mere laws against it, haven’t worked, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation

    That is true of any crime. Mere laws against rape and murder haven’t prevented them either. Surely you can see that this is not a serious argument against laws prohibiting this behavior.

    consider use of the phrase “imposing morality”

    I am not sure what point you are attempting to make here. Elucidate and I will respond.

    Michael,
    The shooting analogy is weak. You have compared an act with some correlation to an act with direct causation. Drinking alcohol correlates exceptionally well with drunk driving, yet alcohol remains legal and few argue that it shouldn’t. That an action correlates with later bad action is not substantial enough reason to make it illegal. If it were we would have few freedoms left.

    What makes you think I don’t find brutalizing animals inherently wrong? I said if it didn’t lead to harming humans, it wouldn’t need to be put into laws made to protect humans.

    Your statements indicate that you do not feel that it is inherently wrong enough to merit laws against it. The laws that are in place are there to protect the animals not people. This is an extreme case, but it is also illegal to mistreat animals by leaving them in squalid conditions without food and water. This is simple negligence and lack of concern about the welfare of animals. It would not likely lead to any harm to humans, certainly it would be at or near impossible to show any significant correlation. By the standard you have set this behavior should not be illegal. Is that your position? Please clarify why or why not.

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  28. Bithead says:

    I am not sure what point you are attempting to make here.

    Mmmf. So I gather.

    By they I assume you mean Vick et al.

    Not singularly, no, but that is most pertinent to this conversation. What I’m suggesting is that what we’re talking about here could be attached to any culture not our own, and its values.

    What Stephen raises in his original post, is a question of moral values. IMV, he’s right to do so. However… it must be understood that moral values are an extension of the culture, and outside of the culture mean very little at all.

    Certainly, we view such things as absolute. The problem with that view is that others do not, thereby, unfortunately, making it less than an absolute.

    That is true of any crime. Mere laws against rape and murder haven’t prevented them either. Surely you can see that this is not a serious argument against laws prohibiting this behavior.

    ‘Course not. In any event, that’s not my argument. I’m suggesting that the laws (And, inherently, the enforcement thereof)… are only part of the issue, and in fact are not the majority of it.

    If they believe their actions were deplorable or completely reasonable is not the issue, or do you believe that their beliefs on this topic should determine whether or not their actions were criminal.

    Clearly, they did not believe that their actions were deplorable or completely unreasonable. Since the law is already on the books declaring those actions so, what was the driving factor here, do you suppose? Answer that question, and you’ll have the key to this whole deal. And indeed, the key to dealing with any other culture, whose values are not our own.

    Including, those of the Middle East, for example.

    I think we can be pretty much assured, Vick knew that what he was doing was illegal. Yet, he did it anyway. Obviously, there was something larger driving that situation.

    What I am suggesting in a larger sense, is that our failure, here, is not teaching these things we hold as absolutes, even to those within our own culture. I would, all else being equal, expect someone born and raised outside of this country to be less inclined to share our moral values, then I would, let’s say, a Vick, who was the beneficiary of being born and raised here. Yet, it was not so.

    So, why, then? It’s because we pay lip service to the laws, these days, and the laws alone… without installing the vision of the culture that is behind them.

    Far be it from us to be JUDGEMENTAL, after all.

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  29. Grewgills says:

    However… it must be understood that moral values are an extension of the culture, and outside of the culture mean very little at all.

    So you are a moral relativist.

    So, why, then? It’s because we pay lip service to the laws, these days, and the laws alone… without installing the vision of the culture that is behind them.

    Where is your evidence for this?

    You still have not answered why you think animal cruelty is wrong.

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  30. Bithead says:

    No, I’m a realist.

    Where is your evidence for this?

    Exactly what I said; Vick, whatever else he is, is not a complete idiot. He knew what he was doing was illegal. But the morality hadn’t been taught him…

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  31. Michael says:

    What the heck is going on with OTB lately? First I’m agreeing with floyd, now I’m agreeing with Bithead? Has the whole world gone crazy or is it just me?

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  32. Bithead says:

    Greg…

    You still have not answered why you think animal cruelty is wrong.

    Actually, I think I have. Again:“What Stephen raises in his original post, is a question of moral values. IMV, he’s right to do so.

    Allow me to further clarify my position by means of quoting something nice edit my own place… I do this because I want you to get the full impact of my feeling, here.

    A long jail term is fully justified.

    Further; a total loss of endorsement income is in order.

    Any company not removing Vick has an endorser of their product, should pay the price of that connection.

    That, by the way includes the NFL, and the Atlanta Falcons. Useless Toady is telling us that The Falcons face an “incredibly difficult decision’ with Vick.

    “It’s an incredibly difficult decision for the team,” said NYU professor Robert Boland, who teaches sports law. Boland is an active sports agent and also has worked in the past on an animal crimes task force in New York.

    “The broader issue in sports is the bad behavior of players and its impact on fans and sponsors,” Boland said. “Teams just don’t know what to do with it.

    If they really think it’s that difficult, it’s probably because the NFL and the ownership aren’t tremendously principled people. To such an individual, the choice here would be a no brainer. s it is, and as the article points out, Vick sells merchandise, Vick sells tickets. Or, at least, he did until this news came out.

    If we were dealing with principled people, Vick would be removed from the team before the echo dies. If that means that the Falcons are out of playoff contention before the season even starts, so much the better. That’s part of the price you pay when you take on such people. of course if you were principled, you wouldn’t be taking on such people.that his removal from the team hasn’t happened yet, suggests to me that principle, and the owners acting on same, isn’t in the cards.

    I will guarantee you, that Vick won’t be selling as much merchandise, he will decidedly NOT be selling as many tickets, if he is still with the team. It’s my judgment at that the fans are more principled than the owners, in this case. And they certainly will not, and should not, be happy with the Falcons franchise if they decide to hang on to this Mongrel mutt. I hope I’m wrong, I hope they’re letting him go, but the bottom line is I don’t think they will.

    For too many years, we have seen too many NFL players getting away with antisocial, and downright criminal behavior. It’s about time we started reversing that trend, and I can’t think of a better place to start them with Michael Vick.

    OK, I hope that makes things a little clearer for you. But let’s go little deeper into the reasoning behind this anger. You accuse me of being a moral relativist. That charge is true but only to a degree.

    Usually the charge of being a moral relativism means that I approve of the morality of other cultures, including that which allows Mr. Vick’s activity, or, at perhaps another extreme, makes arrangements for suicide bombers to fight your war for you. Clearly, I disapprove of such, and I do so on moral grounds, which in turn are extensions of the values of the culture. I do, however, recognize that the cultural ground is what such matters are argued on.

    I make that distinction for the simple reason that we need to identify the field on which this battle will be fought, or we will lose it, in absentia. we cannot argue such matters as Dogfighting on law, alone, as this case indicates clearly. We must deal with this on a morality basis.

    Now;

    Are their moral absolutes? I would answer in the affirmative, however, I do not think us intelligent enough to claim a lock on their definition. I will however say, that the culture and the people who get it the closest are probably going to be the ones who prosper most greatly. At the moment, that would be America, though along with and in parallel to, our moral decline, that situation is starting to change. At least at one time, comparatively speaking, we were the closest to that absolute. These days, however, with so many it has become something of a joke to even bring up the word ‘morality’…. Much less the attempt to define or implement it.

    I, for one, believe the American culture at its base to be superior of the majority of the rest of those in the rest of the world. I am convinced that as a result of our culture being better, our nation has prospered like no other in history. I am willing to hold it so , both in discussions with my children, and with visitors from other lands, and incidentally people I run into on the net.

    That said, there are a number of Americans who are not so willing in those areas. Who, alas!, do not hold American culture so high. one example would be the eurocentrics that tend to inhabit both our coastlines, east and west. They also tend to inhabit our newsrooms and power places of higher learning, in greater numbers than we find in the whole of America. The results of the positioning of these people, is that American culture has not been instilled. It is to the point now, several generations on, where our own children do not recognize American culture as such , except in the most superficial way, despite their having lived here all their lives.

    All this is one major reason why the teaching of history… specifically, American history, is of such vital import. How else, after all, are such values to be passed down?

    One of the reasons for this cultural disconnect,, particularly as regards American blacks, for example, is that we have allowed them… nay, forced them into their own subculture, by means of the welfare state… a subculture with its own values, many of which run afoul of that of the majority.

    To give you an idea of the effects of the cultural value not having been taught:

    Back in July of 2003, the university of central Florida released a study that examined arrest and detention rates for blacks in the Orange county area… that would be Orlando. at the time of the study blacks only made up 18% of the Orange county population, yet they accounted for 40% of all arrests, and on the order of 55 to 60% of the jail population.

    And the first charge that came up , as regards the difference, was poverty. But, no, the fact is that young white males living at the same poverty levels is young blacks do not commit crimes to the same extent according to the study. So, we take it one step further and we charge racism. Yet, that doesn’t explain for the location of the crimes involved, which has it happened were in areas of higher black population percentages.

    This study, as accurate picture is it paints, is however not seminal. We’ve been hearing this kind of report for decades, and done nothing. We’ve let ourselves get tired up with charges of racism, instead. As I said on this very blog about a year back, and others over the lastv7 years, It’s not race, it’s the culture.

    The difference as I’m sure you know I’m leaning here, is the culture. we’re talking about a culture that embraces violence and crime has a way of life.

    Another example, I take to be Michael Vick. that he was operating outside of the cultures values, is plain to see. Is also plain to see that he had no moral problems with the activity he undertook.. At least until such time as the authorities showed up at the door.

    Finally, let’s take music… not as a ‘value of the music’ argument, but rather as a fuzzy indicator… let’s speak to Rap music, certainly a part of the subculture we’re talking about here (From my own blog a few years back):

    Can anyone come up with big name Jazz acts having this kind of reputation? Bigtime Rock acts? When’s the last time we heard of a knife fight at the Philharmonic? I don’t recall anything like this at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in all the years that’s been running, do you? I’ve been unable to find records of anything of the like happening down at the theatre district in Branson, MO. I haven’t seen anything like this on the Gospel Music circuits, or the Modern Christian music circles, either. Ya know, at some point, someone’s going to figure out that there’s a rather well-established pattern, here. And no, this is not a ‘racial profiling’ thing. This is a ‘rap profile’ thing, and it’s getting as predictable as the outcome of tossing a can of gasoline on a campfire.

    I certainly could offer other examples, and I suppose that were I to do so, I would receive less flock from those who would call me a racist, but I think that would get over a long, and I’ve already taken up plenty of James’ bandwidth here.
    The points are making, however, are not racial, but rather, cultural. Let’s just bridge that gap by saying these are some of the larger sore thumbs we’ve been dealing with.

    And yet, very shortly, if I don’t miss my guess by much, we’re going to find ourselves inundated with other people who do not share our basic values, a situation that the British and the French and the Danish and to a lesser extent, the Canadians are already finding themselves in. And does anyone really think that the battle over immigration with Mexico isn’t about cultural values?

    All this stuff has been sitting on the back burner for quite some time now, and this case with Vick has brought them all out to the front burner, if only temporarily. Vick will likley get off with a short jail term, (Highly public) and a few thousand hours of community service, ad he’ll likely be back on the field this year… and nobody will have learned anything, except that money, particulary the large kind of money that sports figures make, gets federal prosecutors off your butt, like nothing else.

    And our culture is further erroded.

    I’ve said it often enough in the past, and I will say it here. Government, when it was first invented, was invented by the culture to provide a mechanism to reinforce the culture. The different kinds of governments that we’ve seen around the world, are in direct response to the different kinds of cultures that they supported. On that basis I submit that the government’s first duty is to nurture and project that culture. Governments failing in that responsibility, will not stand for long.

    It will be interesting to see how our government response to this breach of cultural values. I find myself interested, but frankly, not very hopeful about it.

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  33. Bithead says:

    Aside to James;
    Sorry for the length… IN my attempt to get my exact meaning across, I got overlong.

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  34. Grewgills says:

    I largely agree with you until

    I will however say, that the culture and the people who get it the closest are probably going to be the ones who prosper most greatly.

    Some pretty abhorrent cultures have been tops for their time. I have various problems with some of your points after this, but that is not the topic at hand.

    BTW when jazz was the music of the urban poor it had largely the same reputation rap now has. Remember the zoot suit riots?

    You still have not answered why you think animal cruelty is wrong. To say that it is because of morals does not say why it is immoral. To say that it is a cultural value does not say why it should be a cultural value. For instance, do you think these animals have a right (God given or otherwise) to not be abused as Steve seems to? Or are you more in agreement with Michael?

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  35. Bithead says:

    Some pretty abhorrent cultures have been tops for their time.

    The point you seem to be missing is that such measurements are relative to each other. The other part of the problem with your assessment is the issue of long-term measurement. In other words these aberrant cultures of which you speak; how long did they last?

    As to the nature of their fall, how many of them handed their rule over the others one time enemies who in their contempt and in their laziness they tried to absorb and forgot to fear? Or as the examples I brought earlier, paid lip service to the laws without understanding the vision of which they were founded? In short, how many of them became imoral, or amoral?

    There… that last, you see, lies the problem I see us facing; we’ve tried to absorb antagonistic cultures, and if the reaction of the democrats to work current situation in the middle east is of any indication we have forgotten to fear them. In our efforts to be “multicultural” we have also become “amoral”, for the two are inexorably connected.

    As to the rest of it, I suppose “God given” is a useful description, though it tends to conflict, in this context, with the Biblically expressed idea of man as a manager of the earth and it’s other inhabitants.

    I think that more correctly, the answer to your question comes back down to culture, specifically, cultural memory. As in, the lessons learned over the centuries both in this culture and the preceding ones from which we descend… The lessons that we as a people, as a culture, have learned, over that time… The morality that sprung from those lessons, the purposes for which are not always clear to us, after all the millenia. Unfortunately, we as a people need to be reminded once in awhile that those morals are there for a purpose.

    As for how those lessons directly relate to the case in question, (Vick) I’d have to say it comes down to “what goes around, comes around”.

    We as a culture, we as a people, have always drawn a distinction between necessary and unnecessary violence. Certainly, at least in our world view, arranging for Dogfighting, (Cockfighting, what have you) is by definition, unnecessary violence. To swipe a phrase… “no socially redeeming value”. We (most of us) recognize that violence is often necessary. In wartime, as an example. Yet, violence outside those areas, is discouraged. Why?

    Because, over the millennia, we, when added to the cultural memories of those who came before ours, have begun to recognize that violence, whether necessary or unnecessary, becomes a self feeding monster. Therefore, our morals state that unnecessary violence is immoral.

    (Granted, we end up arguing back and forth over whether a particular violence is necessary, or not, and again, granted, these are all very general estate terms. )

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  36. Bithead says:

    Oh, almost forgot… Here’s an example of the morality of other cultures that some would have us treating with respect. Again, culturally driven, of course.

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  37. Grewgills says:

    Might does not indicate right in the small or large scale. The Aztecs, Assyrians are two examples of abhorrent cultures (also by the standards of their times and their neighbors) that dominated their regions for centuries and were defeated by external forces.

    Dog fighting, cock fighting, bull fighting, and bear bating have only very recently in our culture been deemed repugnant. Boxing, wrestling, football, and ultimate fighting are all forms of unnecessary violence widely accepted in our culture. The major difference in these forms of unnecessary violence is choice and control. This, I think is the key.

    As for how those lessons directly relate to the case in question, (Vick) I’d have to say it comes down to “what goes around, comes around”.

    How Buddhist of you.

    As to the moral disintegration of our culture, that is a common complaint throughout history. It seems every generation thinks the succeeding generations are in moral decay. Today, the 50s, back to Thomas Jefferson and even Socrates have all said the same.
    Culture values change over time and as we get older and the values of our culture shift around us it is easy to look back at the time of our youth when we were sheltered from the harsh realities of the world and see a better time and see the present as going to hell.
    The time in American history that many on the Right hold out as the moral high point in our past is the 1950s. This was a time marred by rampant racism and sexism. Jews were reviled, African-American men could be beaten to death for looking at a white woman wrong etc etc. Coincidently many of these same people see our culture beginning its decline concurrent with equal rights movement and women’s liberation.
    There have been some negative changes since that time but many positive changes as well. Taken as a whole we are a freer people with greater equality of opportunity now than we were then and that is a very positive development that IMO outweighs any of the negative developments since that time. I think most anyone who wants a career and is not a middle class white Christian male would likely agree (and a good many of them would agree as well).

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  38. Bithead says:

    Interesting mesh with Boortz, this morning… particularly given the subjects I chose as examples:

    Now … let’s address the race angle. I’ve been reading some of the blogs out there, and I did have a chance to listen to some sports talk radio over the weekend. What I’ve read and heard is entirely predictable. Everyone is out to get Michael Vick because he’s black. The whole investigation is racially based.

    This isn’t about race. It’s about culture. Black urban culture, to be more precise. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that organized dogfighting has increased by well over 300% since 1992. In many cases the dogfighting takes place in conjunction with drug dealing. The director of the Capital Area Humane Society in Ohio told the Cincinnati Inquirer “”Dogfighting is a family event, often held in a large warehouse. Children watch and there can be concession stands at one end, gambling somewhere else, and over in this corner they’ll be selling cocaine and crack.”

    I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that dogfighting has been glorified in rap music. DMX and Snoop Dog have promoted the practice in their “music” videos.

    Eileen Lou-Harrist wrote “In recent years, pit bull terriers have become a macho accessory in urban culture, where kids are attracted to the animals’ reputation as inherently mean dogs. Add the hard-edged glamour of the dogfight—the gambling, drugs and weapons; the illegality; the ‘fight ’til you die’ credo—and dogfighting flourishes in places where cultivating a tough reputation is often paramount to survival.” Now is Lou-Harrist describing any sort of a racial characteristic with those words? Hardly. She’s describing a culture; urban street culture. Gangsta culture. So for all of you out there who will try to make this whole Michael Vick affair into a racial issue, put a sock in it. We’re talking culture here, not race; a violent, immoral and cruel culture that promotes violence and disrespect for common decency and the law; a culture now vividly represented by Michael Vick.

    As for:

    Might does not indicate right in the small or large scale. The Aztecs, Assyrians are two examples of abhorrent cultures (also by the standards of their times and their neighbors) that dominated their regions for centuries and were defeated by external forces.

    You’re not taking the long view, here. You’re also not considering what other cultures the Aztecs were exposed to. Understand; a cultural living or dying out, only works on this scale, in reference to exposure to other cultures. If it’s the only one on the block, there’s nothing to cause it to fall over.

    Culture values change over time and as we get older and the values of our culture shift around us it is easy to look back at the time of our youth when we were sheltered from the harsh realities of the world and see a better time and see the present as going to hell.

    But they only change, when the culture and its values are no longer taught as being the goal. As in this case.

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  39. G.A.Phillips says:

    As to the moral disintegration of our culture, that is a common complaint throughout history. It seems every generation thinks the succeeding generations are in moral decay. Today, the 50s, back to Thomas Jefferson and even Socrates have all said the same.
    Culture values are changed over time and as we
    get older and as the values of our culture are shifted around us it is easy for liberals to look back at the time of our youth when we were too sheltered from the harsh realities of the world and see a worse time and see the present as going to much better.
    The time in American history that many on the left hold out as the moral high point in our past is the 1960′s and 1970′s. This was a time celebrated for its rampant Rebellion, Godlessness and religious bigotry. Christians were reviled, American children could be born in the knowledge that the Constitution protected then even in the womb. non-coincidentally many of these same people see our culture beginning its ascent concurrent with the right to murder your own children for the lack of wanting them and the removal of our Cristian heritage from the public arena .There have been some positive changes since that time but many negative changes as well. Taken as a whole we are a more indoctrinated people with less equality of Individuality or rights now than we were then but that is a very positive development for them, and that the A.C.L.U. outweighs any of the negative developments that they see since that time. And to think most anyone who wants a career and is not a middle class white Christian male would likely get one from mandate of law.

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  40. Bithead says:

    But is mandate of law, progress, or regression?

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  41. G.A.Phillips says:

    Sorry Bit, you better get one our liberal friends here with the extra frontal lobe to answer that one, I was just pointing out that I don’t think its fair.

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  42. Grewgills says:

    Bit,

    You’re not taking the long view, here. You’re also not considering what other cultures the Aztecs were exposed to. Understand; a cultural living or dying out, only works on this scale, in reference to exposure to other cultures. If it’s the only one on the block, there’s nothing to cause it to fall over.

    I notice you don’t mention the Assyrians.
    Regarding the long view, the US rose to dominance on the global scene after WWII. Our period at the top of the heap has lasted only about 60 years to this point. That is far shorter than either of the examples I cited or will cite here.
    To the Aztecs and Assyrians I will add the Mongols, the Almohads, Spain (late 15th-17th centuries), France under the Louis (particularly the sun king) and the Medicis. It would be exceedingly difficult to argue that any of these were even approaching the most moral cultures of their day or even the most moral of their neighbors, yet they all were the dominant powers of their regions in their day.
    A few other examples, in no particular order, that were not clearly morally superior to their neighbors yet dominated their regions in their day include the Mayans, the Incas, the Ottomans, the Holy Roman Empire, the Hans, the Chins, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Zulus.
    Dominance is based on technological, military, and economic power not morality. Do you really think that the Soviets were the second closest to getting it right morally? Is China the second most moral nation today?
    I think it is you who is not taking the long view here. You apparently only look to our current empire and the British Empire and conclude that since they can be argued to be among the most moral nations of their time that morality is the cause of their dominance. These are exceptions not the rule.
    The US rise to power largely rests on the aftermath of WWII. Among other things the war ramped up our manufacturing ability while it decimated the manufacturing ability of all the previously viable competition.
    While I love my country and think the values our country was founded upon are a reason for pride, our dominance in the world rests upon our economic and military might more than our morals.
    A majority of the world’s people find our invasion and subsequent action in Iraq to be morally repugnant yet they do little (outside of speeches) to stop us. Why do you think that is? Is it because we are morally superior or is it because they cannot afford to lose us as a trading partner?

    But they only change, when the culture and its values are no longer taught as being the goal. As in this case.

    As previously stated this complaint was made by Thomas Jefferson and in the 1950s and by all those in between. Our cultural values have shifted from well before we were a nation, throughout our life as a nation, and will continue to shift long after we cease to be a nation. Were our cultural values not taught at the inception of our nation? Were they not taught in the 1860s, 1920s, the 1940s, the 1950s or the 1960s? All times of radical shifts in our cultural values.

    GA,
    You should be writing for Whitehouse.org or blogs4brownback.

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  43. [...] embraces, as I do, Steve Verdon’s contrary viewpoint. Bainbridge quotes Edmond Burke as saying there is a point at which forebearance [...]

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