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Yes to Violence, No to Sex

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Posted on Jun 28, 2011
AP / Paul Sakuma

Jack Schooner, 16, looks at a copy of the “Grand Theft Auto” video game at GameStop in Palo Alto, Calif., on Monday.

By Robert Scheer

This American life of ours has long been pro-violence and anti-sex, unless the two can be merged so that violence is the dominant theme. The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that historical record on Monday in declaring California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors unconstitutional while continuing to deny constitutional protection to purely prurient sexual material for either minors or adults.

The California law that the court struck down prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to minors “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,” unless the work, taken as a whole, possessed redeeming literary, artistic or social value—qualities that limit censorship of sexually “obscene” material.

The Supreme Court, in essence, said no—“sexually assaulting an image of a human being” is protected speech, but depicting graphic sexual activity that is nonviolent and consensual is not. 

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“California has tried to make violent-speech regulation look like obscenity regulation by appending a saving clause required for the latter,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. “That does not suffice. Our cases have been clear that the obscenity exception to the First Amendment does not cover whatever a legislature finds shocking, but only depictions of ‘sexual conduct.’ ” 

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As Scalia put the prevailing argument that says yes to violence and no to sex, it is only violence that possesses deep cultural roots going back to our favorite fairy tales. Arguing that “violence is not part of the obscenity that the Constitution permits to be regulated,” Scalia made clear that the problem is with the sex and not the violent or misogynist behavior that some critics argue will result from material the court defines as obscene: “Because speech about violence is not obscene, it is of no consequence that California’s statute mimics the New York statute regulating obscenity-for-minors that we upheld in Ginsberg v. New York. That case approved a prohibition on the sale to minors of sexual material that would be obscene from the perspective of a child.”

Scalia’s opinion is actually quite thrilling in enunciating an extremely broad definition of the free speech rights of minors. But it is simply bizarre in dismissing the claimed harmful effects of violent depictions while still insisting on the strictest puritanical view of the dangers of sexual imagery. “No doubt a State possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm, but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed,” he said. Unless sex is involved, in which case, as Scalia quotes an earlier court decision: “Speech that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate proscription cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legislative body thinks unsuitable for them.”

In that regard, Scalia’s view is a vast improvement over that of Clarence Thomas, who held in his dissent that minors have no First Amendment rights at all. But Scalia is unnerving in his dismissal of the concurring opinion of Justice Samuel Alito Jr., in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined. Alito argued that the California statute addressed “a potentially serious social problem” but that “its terms are not framed with the precision that the Constitution demands. …”

Scalia’s withering dismissal of Alito’s concerns is revealing of his tolerance for violent imagery as opposed to that which is merely sexual: “Justice Alito has done considerable independent research to identify video games in which ‘the violence is astounding. … Victims are dismembered, decapitated, disemboweled, set on fire, and chopped into little pieces. … Blood gushes, splatters, and pools.’ Justice Alito recounts all these disgusting video games in order to disgust us—but disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression. … Thus, ironically, Justice Alito’s argument highlights the precise danger posed by the California Act: that the ideas expressed by speech—whether it be violence, or gore, or racism—and not its objective effects, may be the real reason for governmental proscription.”

Hear, hear to such a bold defense of the right of minors to consider a full range of controversial thought, but if the claimed harmful effects of minors’ exposure to violence, gore and racism do not warrant a governmental limitation on free speech, why isn’t sexually prurient material—for adults if not minors—deserving of equal First Amendment protection? The unspoken answer that runs through Scalia’s opinion, and that of the court down though the ages, is that violence is normal while sex is obscene.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


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By datruth852, October 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

Violence? Sex? It doesn’t matter, if parents actually
did their jobs raising their children we wouldn’t need
any of these laws.

Vicky
special occasion dresses

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By datruth852, October 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

Violence? Sex? It doesn’t matter, if parents actually
did their jobs raising their children we wouldn’t need
any of these laws.

Vicky
[url=“http://sequencedresses.org/shopping-for-
special-occasion-dresses”]special occasion dresses[/url]

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By Jorge X Rodriguez, July 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“.....it was traditional in Western culture to depict violence in explicit detail, while similar depictions of sex were taboo”  So the logic is, once we start to screw up, it set’s precedence?

—————————————————————————————

That’s what “stare decisis” means.  If Scalia read the Constitution, he would understand that the government is not allowed (constitutionally) to make _any_ law against free speech.  People making video games could put in all the sex and all the violence they wanted; it’s not the government’s business unless they can prove direct incitement, which of course they can’t.  But the SC does not read the Constitution, it reads the election returns, when it doesn’t write them.  And they’re still afraid of the anti-sex league.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

“My sacrilege inspired all sorts of frothing here.  It seems many ‘progressives’ cannot conceive of the government as having anything to do with coercive force.”——And yet again, for the 3rd or 4th time, Anarchissie frames the issue in a way which suits her agenda, ignoring the issue of degrees of force from ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ governments.

Video games are ‘Political speech’?  Get real.  Anarchissie says, “...games may contain ideas….”  So?  what about a game that encourages suicide?  That’s an idea.  Suppose it’s an “ideology or political commentary”  should it be “protected in the First Amendment”?  Scalia merely lowered the bar for ‘free speech’ to include “letting kids initiate simulated shotgun blasts to a realistic looking person at close range”.

“.....it was traditional in Western culture to depict violence in explicit detail, while similar depictions of sex were taboo”  So the logic is, once we start to screw up, it set’s precedence?  Like I said, “it’s not the entire ‘government’ meaning the will of the people,.....it’s a cadre of warped freaks within the government”

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By Anarcissie, July 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Gary Mont, July 13 at 9:57 am:

‘... How come everyone is going on about the Guv using force to prevent kids form getting their digital kill’em and maim’em fix, when its pornography, or apparently anything that refers to sexuality in any non-violent way, that the Guv is pointing their “don’t buy, don’t sell, or else” finger at?’

Part of the answer to your question lies in Scalia’s part of the decision, for which I gave the URL (which I found on Google; you can look it up there also).  Basically he said that it was traditional in Western culture to depict violence in explicit detail, while similar depictions of sex were taboo.  This meant that violence-depicting games were protected by the First Amendment, whereas sex-depicting games, following stare decisis in matters of obscenity, were not.

The other part of the answer is that I said I thought it was ironic to propose the certain use of the ‘monopoly of violence’ or, in Weber’s exact words, the ‘Gewaltmonopol’ to suppress games which might inspire violence in those who play them.  My sacrilege inspired all sorts of frothing here.  It seems many ‘progressives’ cannot conceive of the government as having anything to do with coercive force.

I have also been told that, although games may contain ideas and, therefore, ideology and political commentary, they are not ‘speech’, and are therefore not protected in the First Amendment.

I think I’ve said everything I have to say three or four times now, so I’m not likely to return to the issue.  Maybe, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, I have provoked a little thought in a few persons.  I hope so, but there is little evidence of it.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 13, 2011 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

Gary, it’s not the entire ‘government’ meaning the will of the people, it’s a cadre of warped freaks within the government.  The so-called ‘christian conservatives’ though I’ll bet Jesus would have a lot less of a problem with sex than violence.  These people call themselves ‘moral’, and ‘Christians’, but they are neither.  They give Christianity a bad name.

And not that our government is so perfect, far from it, but this idea of letting kids initiate simulated shotgun blasts to a realistic looking person at close range, with high def video and sound is an inversion of the will of the People.  The supreme court is stacked with freaks.  Remember all the hub-bub about Janet Jacksons boob?

These people inside our government have hang-ups, and I suspect violence might be a substitute for sex.  It’s all about dopamine release, right?  Perhaps America is being trained to ‘get off’ on violence so we can be a less moral police force for the world.

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By Gary Mont, July 13, 2011 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

This post seems to have landed in the Goldman Sachs forum somehow, so I’m reposting it here again.
=================================================

OK, hit me with a stick, but I thought the High Court of the Humpty Dumpty Set said Violence was peachy keen fun and everybody loves it and every kid should have as many violent computer games as he can possibly fit into his bedroom… or something similar.

How come everyone is going on about the Guv using force to prevent kids form getting their digital kill’em and maim’em fix, when its pornography, or apparently anything that refers to sexuality in any non-violent way, that the Guv is pointing their “don’t buy, don’t sell, or else” finger at?

Did I miss something somehwere??

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 13, 2011 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

Anyone want to see brute coercive force???

The peaceful civilized legal mechanisms to keep kids from experiencing the mind-altering gratuitous violence of video games are no comparison for what force these people would impose. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jetla5RBAHA&NR=1

And somehow they’re managing very nicely to destroy our system of education, and other social programs.

If anybody knows how to stop them, please speak up.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 12, 2011 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

@Inherit The Wind…...  Where did you go?  If anyone knows where ITW is hanging these days, please let me know or let him/her know I’m looking for him/her.  Got a proposition.  Thanks.

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By Leefeller, July 10, 2011 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

I want to become an anarchist,... where do I sign up?

By the way are there evangelical anarchists?

My pet rock is an anarchist.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 10, 2011 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Yea Anarchissie, what She said.
Give it up.

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By Anarcissie, July 10, 2011 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 10 at 8:45 am:

‘Framing it as a desire to be dominated by force is naive….’

Well, it would certainly be naive to assume that in a situation of ‘brute force against those who would violate such a good amalgamation of a good peoples will as their government’ one is always going to find oneself on the ‘good’ side, although a lot of people seem to do it.  I can’t help thinking, though, that the dark side of the drama must occur to them and actually enhance the appeal of the ‘brute force’. irrational and risky as that appeal may be.  No?  How not?

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2011 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Framing it as a desire to be dominated by force is naive, or
pretends to be naive.  It could be said to be the lesser of two
evils, if and only if coercion, ala force, is defined narrowly.  It
leaves out the entire history of domination by a monarchy or
other forms of tyranny and the struggle for independence, as
a people.  Certainly individuals like their freedoms, but within
the scope of a society, there is no such thing as absolute freedom.
Haven’t we gone over this before?  The kind of force that is by
consent of the people is one for a couple of purposes, one of them
being collective protection or Per Populi (democratically), which is
praeterquam singula (beyond the individual).  We have already gone
over the prius societas (or priority of the society), and silly to return to
it.  I don’t see why it is such a difficult thing to apprehend.

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By Anarcissie, July 10, 2011 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

I don’t really understand a desire to be dominated by force.  Maybe as play in a carefully limited game, but it seems too dangerous for practical politics.  And what’s the payoff?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 10, 2011 at 5:12 am Link to this comment

I personally draw a distinction between coercion and, let’s say, incentivization, based on the ‘justness’ of the government.  If it’s a good government, of, by, and for the People, then I have no problem with the ‘incentivization’, and I fully support brute force against those who would violate such a good amalgamation of a good peoples will as their government.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 10, 2011 at 5:08 am Link to this comment

Test…TD lost it’s mind.

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By Anarcissie, July 9, 2011 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 9 at 10:33 am:

‘... Since all are affected, some more intensely than others, for the coercee as well as the coercer, more talk about coercion and force continues to not have adequate closure and remains open for discussion.’

In spite of my humorous demeanor, I have to confess that I have been somewhat dismayed by the reaction of several of the participants in this discussion to my assertion that the government is what Weber said it is: the legitimated monopoly of Gewalt, coercive force.  Their reaction does not seem driven by a process of reasoning upon evidence or first principles, either, or I would expect some sort of counter-argument.  It seems to be a deep, quasi-religious intuition.

What I expected at first was something much further down the line: yes, the government is coercive, but under some sort of just-war theory, it can coerce wheresoever its leaders think people’s lives will be improved thereby.  (In fact, in another venue, I am arguing with a Marxist who takes exactly that position.)  But no—we have not even established a fundamental ground of agreement from which to argue.  The prospects of any sort of rational development seem dim at this point.

I’ve just been reading The Cunning Of History so I find this sort of worship of the state rather ominous.

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By Shenonymous, July 9, 2011 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Does cheap preclude quality?

In my tenacity, there is more to resolve regarding coercion and
force by the state.  Sounding vaguely Hobbesian, for sociologist
Durkheim the size of nations precludes participatory democracy. 
But, unlike Hobbes, he theorized that democratic rule, rule of the
people that allows the people to choose the form of life they wish
to live and presupposes that this choice is made against a
background of public debate that is uninhibited, robust, and wide-
open, (you know, that formula made famous ironically by Justice
Brennan, who dissented from Scalia’s Yes to Violence ruling).  The
question has been debatable if the state serves the interests of the
ruling crowd or helps to establish collective attitudes in society?  It
also has to be asked to what extent does everybody get what they want
in society?  Are political decisions made through value consensus? And
if there are any negative responses then how are the dissentions dealt
with?  There is bound to be some form of coercion.  While it comes
down to who controls the community, we have to take into account the
distinction between the egalitarian status of voters and those who are
educated, have wealth and social position, as well as access to
politicians or officials, and many other resources which are not equally
distributed, what is the reality of who governs?  Again coercion comes
into play.  There are a few different perspectives on where community
power resides.  Classical elites in the form of pluralistic oligarchic, or
ruling classes?  Certainly in Marx, contrary to popular belief, power
does not reside in the people.  In his set up, power is in a central
committee elite.

Having gone over the definition of states and governments, no need
to go over that again.  We just keep in mind the monopolistic power
of violence they “legitimately,” definitively have.  Given that 200 years
ago fewer than 20 states existed having the configuration we would
now say deserve the designation of “nation”-states, and given the
reason why states form in the first place, intuited from the social
contracts that have been and are formed, it is not surprising that state
coercion or force, violent or benign is a tool for needed social control. 
In a way, societies can be seen as individuals put in bondage, bondage
to the collective, but it is a willing, or legitimized, bondage.  A voluntary
wish in exchange for something, protection and social assistance,
provision of food and goods, shelter, and human development, such
as increasing knowledge about themselves and the world in which they
find themselves, and to fulfill the art impulse in humans to exercise
their sense of the aesthetic, arguably a society-influenced behavior.

One point that might be overlooked is that the idea of a society, and
a government for that matter, is that these are abstract concepts.  And
with respect to coercion, coercion is of real individuals, either separately
or in groups.  But abstract as it is, we need to look at the basic
elements of any particular society as well as those in the realm of real
individuals in their society as each domain offers unique views about
human behavior and how they operate. The only link here that is
important is the act of coercion or force upon individuals as well as
societies considered as whole and closed systems. 

Since all are affected, some more intensely than others, for the coercee
as well as the coercer, more talk about coercion and force continues to
not have adequate closure and remains open for discussion.

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By Anarcissie, July 9, 2011 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

The aliens were consuming cheap beer?  No wonder they were behaving badly.

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By Leefeller, July 9, 2011 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Since I am a metaphysical believer in UFO’s and a self proclaimed expert on the subject of UFO alien abductions.  You know,... the beaming up of people from their cars and trucks on lonely dark rural roads at night after consuming several cases of cheap beer.  My research shows the aliens; with what seems similar to Republican cloned lock step consistency; never fail to preform their famous coercive anal probes on their willing and unwilling subjects.

I believe it is time to ask those anarchists to get both the aliens and the Republicans to take the coercion off their confidant, consistent anal probes! 

Coercion apparently can become coercive in itself!

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

‘Gewalt’, though, is the basis of everything the government does.  Otherwise, it would be unnecessary to have the government do it.  I was particularly inspired by the present news story because the possibility of some sort of ‘Gewalt’ feared from a few unspecified video gamers was to be suppressed by the greater and far more concrete ‘Gewalt’ of the State of California, and this was to be called ‘peace’—an irresistibly juicy irony.

Differentiating between ‘state’ and ‘government’ is to some extent a matter of choice, since the two terms are often used more or less synonymously.  I choose to denote by ‘government’ the actual agency or organization which exerts coercive power, and the ‘state’ as the whole set of social relations which it upholds, maintains, protects.  Thus, for me, a corporation is a part of the state even when it is not (overtly) a part of the government.  But other people use the words differently.

There could not be an anarchist government or state, if we take the term ‘anarchist’ as meaning ‘absence of rulers’.  Presumably the members of the anarchistic community would have to find some way of performing those functions of the government or state which they wished to continue, but non-coercively.  In fact, this would be a precondition for cultivating such a community. 

In the matter of ringing in the gods, I think the Germans are just being realistic.  Obviously a major problem for all governments is legitimation.  At one time they claimed the support of the gods directly, through Divine Right.  However, in the modern world, except for a few holdouts, the gods are usually referenced indirectly through ‘the people’s will’ or a claim to be ‘just’.  These are somewhat mystical concepts that keep the gods in the game but not uncomfortably nearby.

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2011 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment

Sorry I just can’t resist:  Would we need to know what type of
government would be a monopoly of violence in a state? I.e.,
alphabetically put, Anarchism, Authoritarian, Communism,
Constitutional monarchy, and Constitutional republic, Democracy,
Dictatorship, Monarchy, Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Theocracy and Legalis,
or does it happen to any type?

Far as I recall from my PolySci class and texts a state is an organized
unified body politic occupying a certain territory with an associated
government.  A government to the contrary is a political system for
a definite territory (that is, a state) by which a body of people is
administered and regulated and is organized to have the power to
make and enforce laws. The word ‘govern’ has the meaning of ‘power
to administrate.’  Again we must put the philosophy of forgetting aside
and explain that the monopoly must occur by way of a process of
legitimation, wherein a claim is laid to legitimize the state’s use of
violence.  Weber also said that it is a necessary condition that for
an entity to continue to be a state is that it retains such a monopoly.
It seems to make a lot of sense.  If I lived within a state (and I do!),
I would not want just any agent or agency to have the power of
violence. Of course that violence is predicated on the idea that the state
has de facto been granted that power as long as it is to be the state.
Gewaltmonopol des Staates defines a single entity as it exercises its
authority of violence over a given territory, aka the state.  This really
seems more appropriate here.  Using Gewalt for coercive force carries
with it the concept of God Betrieb unterhalb der Oberfläche,
meaning a sanctioned violence by the deity, there is nothing more
powerful than a god!  It is soooo Chermannn!  The implication also is
that it refers to the ability to execute a scheme that strikes at
the essential core of a matter or structure (notice two words carrying
the connotation of violence, and therefore has an aesthetic aspect!). 
Again, very dramaaaatic.  M’thinks for this discussion Gewalt is
excessive.

Just a tad more…Interestingly enough a state more or less occupies a
certain geographic area and typically has developed a unique culture,
language, as well as a people and their history.  I like this difference
given in the lecture, that a major difference between a state and a
government is that a state is like an organization, say…EyeBeeYem
whereas a government is like a management team.  Now a management
team usually does three things:  creates an environment for success;
prevents or quickly solves problems; and exploits all kinds of
opportunities.  Just exactly what a government is ‘sposed to do.  A state
is an independent entity characterized by certain tasks to be carried out
by the formed government, by whatever method it is formed, for the
proper functioning of the state, which is also determined by the state
when it was formed. It is not a stretch to say that a government has the
complete right to exercise power over people and the region.

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, July 8 at 4:49 pm:

‘... For I refuse to run half or all naked covered in blue paint, to the highest hill during a lightening storm dancing with a long aluminum pole worshiping the law of nature. ...’

Could be fun, for awhile.  But I thought the blue-paint thing went out before aluminum came in.

John Best, July 8 at 6:27 pm:

No, I didn’t read the decision.

“But, anyway, if a video game is not speech, expression, what is it?  And why?”

Calling it speech is bullshit doubletalk.  Why?  Because it is.

Run out of gas already, have we?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

No, I didn’t read the decision. 

“But, anyway, if a video game is not speech, expression, what is it?  And why?”

Calling it speech is bullshit doubletalk.  Why?  Because it is.

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By Leefeller, July 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

All this talk about writing a book, writing a song, making a movie, making cigarettes, especially the making of good Tequila, is making me thirsty and as for the spin, I believe that is what my washer does with the MSM.

Anarcessie, I have little trouble understanding John Best,... but maybe I do not have a dogma barking and dragging me around? Now, I had always considered Anarcessies prehensile skills way above Martha A’s or Ommmmms, but spinning seems to be be an overriding fumbling factor of convenience,... it seems to me?

She good food for me thoughts… all two of them. I am on a bandwagon of coercion to reign in those wild dogmas of Anarcissie and her running amok with those wild laws of nature. After all, one must hold the line someplace…. For I refuse to run half or all naked covered in blue paint, to the highest hill during a lightening storm dancing with a long aluminum pole worshiping the law of nature.

I would be king and coerce the wildness from those cursed naked savages of nature called ...anarchists.

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, July 8 at 8:58 am:

‘... I cannot imagine or comprehend a society of more than two people without, rules, laws, and regulations,... so Anarcisse please enlighten me, if not Never Never Land possibly Alice in Wonderland with out the Queen of hearts and the Mad Hatter not in charge? ....’

You seem to be passionately interested in the idea(s) of anarchism, but I don’t think the comments section of a news article about a Supreme Court ruling is the best place for me to write my ‘Encyclopedia of Anarchism’, or even my ‘Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Anarchism But Were Afraid To Be Overheard Asking By The Secret Police’.  Did you read the Wikipedia article, which I recommended some time ago?  It’s not bad as an overview.

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

John Best, July 8 at 10:04 am:

‘No, you spin what I said.  Force used by government is force.  We consent to just force.  Coersion is your word, which carries the notion of unwilllingness with it.  So, you are creating an impression by using that word, an impression that is not necessarily there. ...’

Well, there are two spins, your spin and my spin.  I think my spin is more connected with the facts.  In characterizing government as coercive, I’m sort of following Weber’s definition of government as the ‘monopoly of violence in a state’ (Gewaltmonopol des Staates), but I think in the case of this discussion the phrase ‘coercive force’ would be a better translation of Gewalt, because ‘violence’ is often thought of as illegitimate force, and governments always take care to legitimate themselves.  Gewalt can mean simply the exertion of ovewhelming power, hence my preferred translation.


‘Your use of the word ‘coersion’ has the effect of painting all government as bad, regardless of the ‘justness’ of said government.’

Why is it bad to say it, if it’s all right to do it?


‘And equating ‘freedom’ to sell video games with freedom of speech is abhorrent.  Refer to what I’ve said about the abuse of the word ‘freedom’. ...’

I can’t figure out what you’re talking about.  I think it is clear to most people that authoring a video game is a form of expression, just like writing a book, writing a song, making a movie.  It certainly was to the Supreme Court; one of the justices pointed out that video games can be and often are used to promote political and social ideas, so that they were not only speech but political speech.  Did you read the decision?  But, anyway, if a video game is not speech, expression, what is it?  And why?

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

Before answering your last post John Best I want to finish up my
brief on Locke, it might answer your questions, I don’t know.

Succinctly paraphrased, Locke on the other hand, compared to
Hobbes and Rousseau, he saw the State of Nature differently. 
His realm had no crown for a King.  Locke’s second construction
had to do with civil government.  I mean for god’s sake it was
entitled “An Essay Concerning the True Original Extent and End
of Civil Government.”  What is natural to humanity, is a state of
complete liberty, which means to be free to conduct one’s life as one
sees fit, with no interference from others. But he did not mean that it is
a state with the unfettered license to do anything at all as one pleases,
or even anything that one judges to be in one’s interest.

This State of Nature has no civil authority or government to punish
people for breaking the law.  But it is not an amoral state, one that is
without morality.  While the State of Nature is pre-political it is not pre-
moral.  It is an egalitarian state, people are equal to one another and
being equal are all capable of realizing then becoming bound by The
“Law” of Nature, and it is this Law that he sees as the basis of all
morality, given by God, that commands that others not be harmed
either their life, health, liberty, or possessions.  His rationale is that all
belongs to God there fore anyone less than God cannot take away what
is rightfully His, thus the prohibition of a human harming another
human.  The kind of liberty humans have is one where they are free to
go after their own interests and plans, with no interference, and the
Law allows this pursuit to be comparatively peaceful.

Unlike Hobbes, Locke’s State of Nature is not equivalent to a sate of
war.  Not that it can’t fall into it, especially when there is a dispute over
territory, that is, property. Recognizing the Law of Nature and the edict
to not harm anyone, a state of war commences between two or more
when one man declares war on another, stealing from him, or
attempting to enslave him. But, and this is a big but, since in Locke’s
Arcadia, there is no civil power to whom an appeal can be made and
each man must defend their own life, and then they may kill those who
would bring “force” to bear against them.  And war is highly likely to
continue since there is no civil authority.

This is the chief reason men abandoned the State of Nature and began
to contract with each other to form a civil government.

Locke’s “conjugal society” is also unlike Hobbes in that it contains
mothers, fathers, and their children, i.e., families and these collectives
are based on the voluntary agreements to care for children together,
reminiscent of Plato’s Republic, and the relationship is moral not
political.  He theorizes that political society arrives when individual
men, as representatives for their families combine in a State of Nature
and agree that each give up the executive power to punish those who
breaks the Law of Nature.  Can this be a form of coercion, I ask? 
To what degree of giving up is necessary for it to be considered force? 
It is the Law of Nature that coerces conformity to the social contract. 
There are limits to how much property one can own, one is not allowed
to take more than one can use, one cannot take more than one’s “fair”
share or leaving others without enough for themselves.  Government
then protects people and their property and their bodies also seen as
property, that people really want when they leave voluntarily the State
of Nature.  If a particular state does not work out, Locke thought the
people could abandon a particular civil government and return to the
State of Nature and try over again.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 8, 2011 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Well She,  Would it be right to say, we consent to be justly governed?  And is this reasonably close to the sentiment of Rouseeau’s social contract, that we give up anarchical freedom (the freedom to do any stupid thing that pops into our noggins) in order to have the freedom from want, freedom from fear, etc. which some economics system under a just government can provide? 

I do somewhat appreciate the subtleties of difference between Hobbs, the authoritarian, Locke, the individualist, and Rousseau, the borg.  But what they have in common, at least what I took from it, is we agree we’re better off to ‘submit’ to the laws of a just government formed by ‘We the People’, except for Hobbs, who I thought did not emphasize any necessity for democracy, and consent via democracy. 

Would it be right to say just government by consent of the people doesn’t coerce, (unless as a last resort?) 

Then again, perhaps it’s like sexual harassment…...ultimately, it’s what’s in the mind of the harasee.  I ask someone on a date, is it harassment?  To one girl, yes, to another, no.  So, if not being free to do any damn thing that crosses your mind feels like coersion, then perhaps it is.

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2011 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Ooohhhhh forget those question marks, I tried to use the Russian
Cyrillic.  LOL It did not vork!

We have to look at Hobbes as well as Rousseau and Locke when it
comes to coercion by government.

I think for Hobbes, it was a necessity to have an absolute authority,
a sovereign, if you will.  For Rousseau, and his Social Contracts, as
there were two distinct contract, the first, really the Second Discourse,
was an account of the moral and political evolution of humanity over
time, from the state of nature to what we now have as society.  It could
be called a naturalized account of his social contract, which was meant
to provide the means by which to solve the problems that modern
society creates.  Funny that he thought the state of nature was peaceful
and uncomplicated, what with having to hunt for sustenance, living in
caves, and fighting other tribes for territory.  Hmmm…have to think
more on that one.  Rousseau also thought these primitives were
naturally provided with the capacity for pity, of all things! And that
therefore, not so inclined to bring harm to each other.  Ahhh, but then
enters private property!  and that changes everything (I have a book
entitled, Money Changes Everything! 5 Yups) Private property eventually
requires government and hence a social contract to “remedy social and
moral ills” that accompanies the building of Community!  Ergo, the
chains that have fettered the once freeman.  So a new version of the
social contract is necessitated.  This will address the collectivity, and
also renunciation of the individual rights and freedoms where now they
must be transferred to the body politic, and a “new” person is thus
created.  A sovereign (State) is thereby formed when free and equal
persons come together and agree to create themselves afresh as a
single entity, its purpose is the good of all considered together.  The
individual cannot be granted liberty to decide if it is in their own
interest to fulfill their duties to the State, and simultaneously be allowed
to have the benefits of a member of the society.  They must be made,
coerced so to speak, to conform themselves to the general will, in other
words, they must be in Rousseau’s words, “forced to be free.”  He held
this was an extremely strong and direct form of democracy that cannot
transfer one’s will to another, as it happens in representative
democracies.  But he also recognized that this form of government is
only possible in small states.  His two theories in effect become one
where we are born with freedom and equality, but because our nature
becomes corrupted by the dependent society, and only be calling on
our free will we can overcome the corruption by developing a synthesis
of the individual and the collective.

Now for Locke!  Let us unLocke his secrets to good government!  tch
tch Locke also wrote two treatises on government.  The first refutes the
notion that political aurhtority was derived from religious authority (ala
the Divine Right of Kings, was in his mind, using modern idiom, bull
shit).

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2011 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

Quite right John Best, but we are a secular country (allegedly and
contrary to Christian Rightist’s belief), so we need more than
shame and the accepted norms. It is the accepted norms that we
have to use a sextant to steer more correctly.  Correctly to who or
what?  I give myself two good questions, haha!  Well correctly to
the mores we will have to set forth.  I mean the Republicans have
their 10 (or 20) commandments, as do the anarchist and libertarians
have their 1 commandment (Leave me alone!) so the rest of us
rational Americans can regenerate a spirit of the American people. 
Way…elll that is a bit theatrical I admit.  But I think it in the right
vein.  Let us hope there is to be no bloodletting though.  I think
there is reason to get legislation created since this is a democracy,
Volya Naroda! Nebudet odnogo, no tol?kovolya naroda! (Not the will of
one, but only the will of the people!) but because of our multiethnic,
and multi-ideologic nature of a huge population, we have to be much
more circumspect about it.  Do you think I give a damn if Gingrich calls
us proggies Communists? On govorit tol?ko ot svoego sobstvennogo
ada (?? ??????? ?????? ?? ?????? ???????????? ???)

There is more to discuss about coercion and force and what is fair and
just and whether there is ever a justified reason for coercion, force, or
war.

Is that really Locke’s thesis, that coercion by government is not
coercion?  Way…ell, we will see.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 8, 2011 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

No, you spin what I said.  Force used by government is force.  We consent to just force.  Coersion is your word, which carries the notion of unwilllingness with it.  So, you are creating an impression by using that word, an impression that is not necessarily there. 

Am I ‘coerced’ into not stealing someones IRA? No.  Even if I wanted to commit the crime, ‘coerced’ would not be the effect the law has, perhaps ‘deterred’.

Your use of the word ‘coersion’ has the effect of painting all government as bad, regardless of the ‘justness’ of said government. 

And equating ‘freedom’ to sell video games with freedom of speech is abhorrent.  Refer to what I’ve said about the abuse of the word ‘freedom’. 

People!!!!  Wake the hell up, they’re now using freedom of speech as justification for child abuse?

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2011 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

John Best, July 8 at 8:41 am:

‘That bit of Locke and Rousseau which, if one knows anything about, knows…..the ‘takeaway message….....that we do indeed consent to just government.  I am not an expert on these people, but is this not basic civics? ...’

Yes, I think the questions I have been focusing on here could be rephrased as ‘What is government?  What is just?’  (In the realm of government, that is.)

We haven’t really gotten past the first of those two questions yet.  I have contended that the fundamental principle of government is coercive force, and you have asserted (it seems to me) that somehow force, when exerted by the government, isn’t really force.

I’d like to set aside Rousseau, whose concept of the General Will seems to me like an invitation to totalitarianism, later to crop up as the Führerprinzip

Down the Lockean path, we find a view of government as indeed forcefully coercive, but a necessary evil.  In order to control the evil possibilities of government, Lockeans like the writers of the U.S. Constitution created various Bills of Rights to limit the powers of the government, regardless of whether it represented ‘society’ or ‘the people’ or some other such amorphous monster.  In the case of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, based on those of several states, was added immediately after the adoption of the Constitution as the first ten amendments.

The very first of these reads, in part, ‘Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….’  It doesn’t say ‘except in cases of violent video games, or where free speech may indirectly cause some children to become obese.’  In fact it gives no exceptions whatever.

I am kind of surprised you brought up Locke, since his view of things seems to strongly contradict your notion of coercion-that-is-not-coercion-because-it’s-government.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 8, 2011 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

She, you state, “But something has to be socially constructed to improve society….”  Didn’t the church used to do this for a while?  Where it impractical to legislate, don’t we have things like shame and a generally accepted norms? 

Now, the libertarians and anarchists want to be enjoy the freedom to do whatever stupid and immoral thing they want.  I suspect that’s not the ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’ freedoms the founding fathers had in mind.

The so-called ‘freedom’ to sit kids in front of mind-rotting video games equates to child abuse, and id debases the very meaning of the word ‘freedom’.  Once again, confused language is destroying us. 

Lefeller….... “as if purposely listing the boat”  Uh huh.  If it looks like a dog turd…..

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2011 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

While those in their right mind would hope fewer crimes are
committed, keeping the police force unemployed does not seem
as important on a scale of 1 to 10 as arresting law breakers. 
Keeping the peace means coercion of some sort.

There are many more justifiable reasons than lightly listed here
why parents should be held accountable for the healthful rearing
of their children. Yeah, it is a classic argument, that the government
could use its coercive powers to insert itself as a sort of auxiliary or
superior parent is only problematic if coercive is seen as detrimental to
children.  In lieu of government intervention, what would be other acute
solutions to chronic problems?

It is idealistic first of all to think that parents are pristine paragons of
virtue and know best what is best for their children.  Rights of children
die even faster under corporate rule since their advertising seductions
of children robs their parents from rational and deliberate thought of
what is good activities for their children.

It is complained enough by all sectors of society that parents do not
exercise their parental duties enough, I get it plenty in the schools, by
teachers, school administrators, and I have witnessed it myself to see
that a good many parents suck bigtime at child rearing.  For instance
when a child is chronically sent to school without any lunch provision,
money or a packed lunch, and who I see mooching off other students, it
is a travesty to humanity, and when the parent is confronted, it is a
mess and only the child gets the brunt.  When I worked as a sub in
public schools for a time I often just bought such a child his/her lunch. 
But that is only a miniscule peep on what kinds of problems parents
bring to child rearing.  Those who do a decent job are not included, but
the number of those who don’t is staggering.  If the number does not
increase, it stagnates around the same number. It does not decrease. 

These children do grow up to be delinquent, maybe not all, and maybe
not even a large portion, but enough that impacts the society at large
in huge ways, not only the effects from the crimes they commit, but all
the incumbent peripherals associated, like court time, police time, jail
time all of which cost the taxpayer money, then there is institutional
help, welfare in many cases, emergency health care, coffin costs, yeah,
because many of them get killed one way or another, which just
cascades the problem affecting others who might have accompanied
the criminal down the same path.  And it is all on the taxpayers dole.  It
is never a simple matter of having flash answers. 

Obesity is a national epidemic and it definitely kills from the diseases it
causes.  Diet care and proper health care is a parents responsibility and
the child, it would seem if he/she has the right to buy violent video
games also has a constitutional right to life sustaining parenting.  Is
there an argument against that?  Frameworks Institute holds parents
solely responsible for the protection, health, and welfare of their
children.  So do I, don’t you?  When it is obvious the child is suffering,
it is the moral duty of the society to intervene whether by coercion or
benign convincing, whatever form that might take.  And yes, it seems
just so obviously academic that there are many forms of child abuse.

I think there is too much negative data to say that Parenting Laws are
effective.  That has shown not to be the solution.  But something has to
be socially constructed to improve society as we as a society are always
moaning, about the immoral and crappy population and their
irresponsibility and ignorance.  And reactions that lead to the morass
that is found in Washington DC today.  Any suggestions on how to
make the situation better?  Just leaving it to fate’s door won’t do it.

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By Leefeller, July 8, 2011 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Overusing words like authoritative, coercive and forced seems most hypocritical and so Republican to me, as if purposely listing the boat we are on to teabaggery!

Hypocritical in the sense of simply instituting a bigger governemnt to eliminate a personal concept of alleged BIG government?

I cannot imagine or comprehend a society of more than two people without, rules, laws, and regulations,... so Anarcisse please enlighten me, if not Never Never Land possibly Alice in Wonderland with out the Queen of hearts and the Mad Hatter not in charge? 

Anarchy appears as the solipsist who feels himself coerced into accepting the existence of fellow human beings.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 8, 2011 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

That bit of Locke and Rousseau which, if one knows anything about, knows…..the ‘takeaway message….....that we do indeed consent to just government.  I am not an expert on these people, but is this not basic civics?

Can I assume you agree it is OK to send in the police to impose control, including violence if necessary, on parents who sexually abuse their children, whether the parents agree with this imposition or not? 

Our dissatisfaction does indeed rise to the level of involving the police in cases of child abuse.  You ignore my point that you don’t have to beat their bodies to be abusing them. And I do not think it too far off topic to continue a discussion regarding the intentional ‘obesification’ of children to be a sneaky passive form of violence.

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2011 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

John Best, July 8 at 7:50 am:

‘I’m merely attempting to repeat what so eloquently has been penned by Locke and Rousseau. ...’

What, specifically?  Locke and Rousseau wrote a lot of stuff, not all of it self-evident truth, and seem rather at odds with one another on certain important points.  If you have something by either of them you think relevant to the question at hand, by all means cite it or quote it.

In regard to your dissatisfaction with other people’s parenting skills, I’m sure many people would concur, but their dissatisfaction and yours does not seem to rise to a level requiring that the police be sent around.  We can get to that later, though, if you like.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 8, 2011 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

I’m merely attempting to repeat what so eloquently has been penned by Locke and Rousseau.

With regard to your second paragraph, I will say that I am sick of the idea that ‘parents’ have some right to raise animals from creatures who presumably have much more potential, and I am sick of paying for their sloppiness, their laziness, their ignorance, disguised as some right to do whatever the hell they want in raising their kids.  Do we tolerate them using their kids as sex toys?  Do we restrain the police in cases of child abuse?  I am simply saying this video/tv zombie generation has crept up on us slowly, and it is time we recognized that allowance of this permissive ‘parental’ behavior for what it is: child abuse.  In this area, child rearing, I strongly disagree with Rousseau.

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By Anarcissie, July 8, 2011 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

John Best—You seem to be saying that if a government forces people to do something they don’t want to do, or prevents them by force from doing something they do want to do, it’s not really force, especially if they submit.  I don’t see the distinction.  Can you clarify?

In the second part of your message you mention the prevention of poor social skills, low grades and obesity as justifications for the California laws.  But none of these are against the law or are generally thought to be attacks on other persons, and in any case a law against violent video games would hardly address an issue in which non-violent video games, computers, television, recorded movies and music, poor diet, and poor parental performance have also been (speculatively) implicated.  Perhaps you would like to arrest the parents of obese children?  You are going to have a very busy police force!  But I’m not ready to go off on this tangent.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

Coercive force is a huge exaggeration for a law prohibiting the sale of video games.  In general, government regulations are backed ultimately by serious force, including death, yes, but,  how often does it come to that?  If society, speaking through it’s government prohibits what it perceives as childrens minds from being turned to mush, and we’ve reasonable belief that a given activity leads to said brain mushing, then let force be used to damp that activity.

Anarchissie, “objects of statistical analysis” is a bit abstract until you are the 1 of 10,000.  And for every 1 in ten million who commits a brutal crime inspired by some bizarre game culture, there are many more who manifest their passive gaming through everything from poor social skills to bad grades to obesity.

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By Anarcissie, July 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

I think the notion that the government can use its coercive powers to insert itself as a sort of auxiliary or superior parent, implied in your proposed extension of my summary of the case, makes the proposed legislation even more problematical.  In a way, I was trying to let the fans of censorship off the hook for that one.

As I think I said before, there are desperate cases of abuse in which most of us feel the government (or someone) must intervene as a parent or guardian of vulnerable children, but these are cases in which some kind of specific, material harm is threatened or has already occurred to specific, identifiable, individual persons, not objects of statistical analysis as in the case of the video games.  I think this is an important distinction.

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

” the California legislature proposed to prevent people (using
whatever coercive force was necessary) from selling video games
portraying violence on the theory that some of the customers might
be inspired by them to commit crimes.”
 

That is not quite the whole truth.  The essential problem is not
selling to just anybody or just to “some” customers who would be
aroused to violence, but selling to impressionable children.  That
is the real heart of the matter and it is derelict to leave that part
out by couching it in saying “some” of the customers.

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By Anarcissie, July 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

John Best—I will understand you better if you show how the positions or activities of the actors in our drama are reversed.  As I see it, the California legislature proposed to prevent people (using whatever coercive force was necessary) from selling video games portraying violence on the theory that some of the customers might be inspired by them to commit crimes.  Thus it seems to me we have a certainty of the use of force on one side, and a possibility not attached to any specific persons on the other.  If I read you rightly, you say that these roles are actually the reverse.  Can you elucidate?

Leefeller—I am quite impressed with your views of my views.  However, in this particular discussion I would prefer to go one step at a time.  I will say that I don’t know what ‘the people’ want; I know what I want, some of the time, and can sometimes guess what other sentient beings in my general area want, if they express themselves in a way that I can understand, but that’s about it.

Anarchism is concerned, among other things, about the social use of coercive force; you might follow that thread into the present discussion, if you find a discussion of anarchism an irresistible temptation here and now.

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

I am not so sure I have actually resolved myself with Scalia’s view. 
I was perhaps too speedily responding to Anarcissie’s comment
“taking a fairly classical-liberal line in regard to the instance of
proposed government censorship in question, as I and (gasp) Justice
Scalia were.”
  I was as surprised as anyone that I might be in the
same bed… of thought. You know politics makes strange bedfellows,
blah blah blah.  I have to think on it some more. For the life of me I
can’t see how Anarcissie came to that conclusion from my post at
1:41am.  But I will reread the last few posts of both of ours to see
how it might have emerged.

I’ve read Scalia’s rationale as well as the California Code legislation. 
From what I can see, on a first but quick reading, Scalia’s interpretation
of the 1st Amendment did not look like he was far afield except, in my
estimation, with respect to the age group.  Children are not able to
make rational choices, rational in the sense of what is a healthy view of
others, particularly those others perceived as enemies, who actually are
not real enemies but are misperceived as real enemies.  Even though it
was many years ago, I have spent uncountable hours in the classroom
with children K through 6, and their sense of reality is bizarre and
completely fictional at times.  However, the fact that six other Justices
agreed with Scalia’s rationale was influential.  But there is some residual
disgust I feel so the discomfort will have to be ameliorated before I
completely accept the ruling.  Certainly human rights, individual rights
are important.  The law as I said in an earlier post is made for law
breakers, not law keepers.  If the statistics turn out that more and more
desensitized children as children or children who become adults show
an increased occurrence of harming others that can be reasonably be
attributed to desensitization from simulated war games through
empirical investigation, then I think Scalia, et al would have more than
egg on their face, but would be responsible for the increased
occurrence.  His argument about the violence that has been found
historically in other kinds of media, books, storytelling, comic books,
not contributing to excessive violence was persuasive as well.  However,
the paper media is much different than the artificial reality that comes
through electronic media where a submergence of the psyche into the
action happens, and a person delusionally finds theirself in the dungeon
or on the battlefield so to speak.  The military uses simulations for a
real purpose, to get the soldier-in-training used to death dealing
conflict.  Same with airplane teaching simulations. Developers of the
software more and more try to make the experience as close to reality
as possible.  There is an artificial reality that looms very real.  There are
many books out now on artificial reality that should be read, this
“counterfeit” reality. You might check out books on the subject by
Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality.

Well time for some non-artificial reality projects.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 7, 2011 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

She, apologies for being a latecomer…...would you kindly summarize the resolved Shenonymous/Scalia view?  I may be wrong, but I thought Scalia was in favor of the video game manufacturers right to free speech via violent video games?  I suppose I should actually read the opinion, but work calls.

Anarchissie, I may not have done a good job, but I was trying to address your point “....the irony of using actual coercive force to perhaps reduce the possibility of coercive force….”  In addition to my previous post, what you call ‘actual’ and ‘possibility of’ may be reversed.  That is essentially what my post of 5:40 was supposed to say.

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By Leefeller, July 7, 2011 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, High level abstractions, can be used to obscure the meaning of anything I suppose.  As for the meaning of anarchism, yes we do not agree on the meaning, I feel like we are flailing at the abstraction on the existence or not of a supreme being.

Quite clearly from what I have learned about anarchism and perceive as anarchism, does not equate to your rose colored vision of what is anarchism, which sort of sounds like one of the Buddhist versions of Nirvana.

Actually I believe using the word anarchism is what is wrong here. I gather from your selected point of view of what is anarchism, I see glaring similarities to Republicans defining their personal definition of what the people want.

Well,... after all of this, ....I have concluded in my mind once an for all a vision of the land of anarchy,...it seems to be none other than Peter Pan’s ‘Never Never Land’ without the likes of Captain Hook or Michael Jackson.

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2011 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, funny how that turned out.  Good idea about a
discussion of some depth without the usual rancor of intruding
reactionaries.  I usually like to follow an idea wherever it goes.
I do not think I always have the absolutely correct or unobstructed
perspective.  Seems like there is always something to learn
particularly about government censorship, and I gasp as well
having never thought I would be anywhere near a Scalia view.
Wonders never cease to amaze.

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By Anarcissie, July 7, 2011 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

John Best—Like several other people, you seem to have a considerable desire to sidestep points I make or questions I ask with responses of the form, ‘You’re an anarchist; some anarchists do X (X being some sort of unpleasant antisocial behavior or absurd train of thought); how do you account for X?’  ‘Anarcissie’ is obviously a pseudonym, and if I can’t get a reasonable discussion as ‘Anarcissie’ I can disappear and come back as ‘Edmund Burke’ or ‘Attila the Hun’.  Whatever.

Shenonymous—it seems to me you are taking a fairly classical-liberal line in regard to the instance of proposed government censorship in question, as I and (gasp) Justice Scalia were.  I’m wondering if we can get an rational argument going with its fans.  I hope they haven’t all disappeared because I asked a few hard questions, or if they have, they’ve gone off to question some of their assumptions.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, July 7, 2011 at 5:40 am Link to this comment

To Anarchissie, In reply to: “I’d rather focus on a much narrower issue, the irony of using actual coercive force to perhaps reduce the possibility of coercive force—violence—which hasn’t occurred yet.  ......once we start talking about influences and atmospheres and probabilities there is a whiff of metaphysics in the air”

There is nothing metaphysical about game theory, history, and basic ease (economics) of survival.  It is just so much easier to steal than to grow and build.  Unfortunately, our present system is protecting the thieves rather than deter them, but that is not the point.  The anarchy situation you idealists envision is the metaphysical fantasy, having nothing to do with present population levels, existing dependencies on monoculture GM agriculture, oil, and medical technologies.  So, to even suggest ‘anarchy’ without seeing a path from point B (where we are, to A (your vision of Anarchy) is a waste of time.  Additionally, even if we were somehow magically transported to this state, there will be those who will kill you, steal your stuff, and move on.  It is so obvious (look around) this violence is in our nature, and if the threat of legitimate violence, backed by unbiased justice, will curb random violence, so be it.  It’s not ironic, it’s based on the real world. 

None of the aforementioned is to imply we have a system of unbiased justice.  Far from it, and I concede completely this is a major problem in deviating from the Enlightenment ideals which ironically, would have been our best opportunity to approach something like the idyllic state, which you (very wrongly in my opinion) refer to as ‘anarchy’.

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2011 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

Meaning to reply sooner, Anarcissie, but mundane life coercively
intervened.  It was proportionally more than benign as I am left
with a sore shoulder and a tender thumb.  I can recall throughout
my life, like every human undoubtedly has had, having experienced
coercion benign and some not so kindly.  It is never, by definition,
a pleasant ordeal.  No one ever “wants” to be coerced, (not counting
the perverse) regardless of degree from intentional gentle benign
force to anything more than that.  To be coerced is to be compelled
or intimidated against and with disregard for one’s will.  Although I
think with some discrimination the gentlest benign force does take
personal regard into account, which is why, to travel over ground
already covered, we have said children often take “benign” force to
protect their health or to save their bodies. 

As far as being evil, then, it is much too superlative to fall so quickly
into a judgment of immorality, or wickedness.  In the case of children, it
is just the opposite; the moral intention is to prevent harm and thus to
do good.  It is what guardians do.  Unless of course the intention is to
dogmatize them into some specious belief system.

It could also be said that in the case of adults who are not in command
of normal senses, who might be in some state of having an abnormal
mind, might be subject to coercion from gentle benign to strong
coercion also for their safety and the safety of others should these poor
individuals be dangerous.  Whether it is right or wrong, again morality
enters; to use coercion in any case is the question you present.  Is it
ever justifiable?  You say it could be a lesser evil, but evil nonetheless,
as is had in just-wars.  So essentially you say it is never justifiable.

It goes without saying that necessity is the rule before applying coercive
force; definitely without any doubt in the case that some evil certain to
occur is suppressed that is greater than any evil of using coercive force. 
So again there is the moral edict of evil that is cast on coercion.  And
again the implication being there is never any justification.

It is also understood that an agent’s freedom and responsibility is a
right, and to deprive one of those rights demands certitude of the need
for such deprivation.  It also seems to go without saying that before
there is an act of coercion against someone, they are identified as the
actual perpetrator of a crime or a threat to others.  I think that is the
entire basis of our system of law. Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui
negat.  Even though mistakes are made and probably more often than it
should (it should not ever happen), that is the fundamental assumption
that one is innocent until proven guilty. The inference is that most of
us are not criminals and that is what is called the golden thread that
guilt must be proved.  Many times, though, it looks as though guilt is
presumed when nefarious agents are intent to do harm to others.  Such
as when the KKK hangs a black man for a suspected violation of some
whiteman’s rule, or the Spanish Inquisition executed suspected heretics. 
Most of us abhor witch hunts, but they do happen regardless. Today’s
politics testifies to that. The Innocence Project is a major effort to
reform the justice system to prevent injustice.

And lastly, it is definitely, without question, unreasonable to act against
a host of persons, most of whom are innocent, as in the “Just War” of
George W. Bush.

This returns us to the notion of a just war and the legitimacy of the use
of coercion as a reactionary response to some threat however mild it
might be.  Another topic for another time. The hour is late.

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By Anarcissie, July 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous—I don’t see any form of coercive force as benign, because I do not want coercive force to be applied to me.  However, I agree that it might be a lesser evil than some other evil which it suppresses or precludes—a kind of just-war theory, I suppose.  However, before employing coercive force, surely we would want to be sure that it was necessary, that the evils which were to be suppressed were certainly greater than the evils of using coercive force and were certain to occur without its application.  Moreover, in any case where someone is to be deprived of their freedom by this force, it seems only reasonable to require that that person be positively identified as a threat, rather than basing the deprivation on some difference in statistical probabilities that the person will become a threat.  In other words, before we act against someone, surely we have to have identified them as either a perpetrator of crimes, or as one who personally, immediately and concretely threatens to become a perpetrator of crimes.  Surely it is not reasonable to act against a host of persons, most of whom are and will remain innocent.

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By Anarcissie, July 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller—High-level abstractions like ‘anarchism’ work well only when people pretty much agree on what they mean.  I don’t think we have that kind of agreement here, and rather than take the time to try to establish one, I’d rather focus on a much narrower issue, the irony of using actual coercive force to perhaps reduce the possibility of coercive force—violence—which hasn’t occurred yet.  Sometimes irony is funny, but it is often tragic instead, not only in Oedipus and Rigoletto but in politics, such as the ‘War To End War’.  There have been many bad outcomes along those lines, such as Prohibition and the Drug War.

I’m trying to remain fairly pragmatic here, although once we start talking about influences and atmospheres and probabilities there is a whiff of metaphysics in the air.  I guess it can’t be helped.

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

You ask a fair question, Anarcissie. Trying to answer I admit my
thinking is not based on actual experience, not having been in any
sense with government nor been personally involved in any war. I
am curious if you have been?  And I could ask you the same
question if your views found their origin in any actual experience?

If facts drove Scalia’s decision, then it would not have to bear the
brunt either of benign or deathly force of unaesthetic reasoning.
That is probably the least thing to worry about in any case.

To put it in one perspective: The witch seems to have won, but a benign
force (Glinda, the good witch of the North, symbolizing Grace) makes it
rain, waking Dorothy up (her first awakening, through Grace ) and
allowing her to continue.  So much for benign force in our everyday life
(although Kansas in Dorothy’s life was hardly usual, but she acted as an
ordinary young girl so in that sense it was an “enhanced” everyday life.) 
so here grace is a benign force. But then we have to ask further what
does grace mean?  Having a few disparate meanings, I think here it is a
paradigm meaning kindness or goodness.  The entire story of Oz could
be seen as a metaphor but that’s beyond the scope of this forum so I’ll
pass on dealing with it.

In relation to whether or not violent video games can instigate violent
behavior in children might be less important to you than whether or
not the California legislature exercised coercive force, it was obviously
benign since no blows were struck except metaphorically, although I fail
to see that the reason for the first is not the reason for the existence of
the second (a different argument for another time?).

It would seem a general truism that any law passed by a legislature is a
law created for lawbreakers, not for lawkeepers. As simply as I can put
it… laws are rules and guidelines, usually enforced not with clubs,
knives or guns. If the law is broken, it is considered a crime, if a crime
is committed the criminal is arrested and brought, physically unharmed,
to trial. If found guilty a fine is paid which might be in the form of
money, incarceration, or execution.  By definition it is a benign system
or an integrated set of instructions that draws some boundaries for
social behavior. Therefore, technically, any legislated code is in effect a
benign form of coercion, or force if you will.

We can use the concept of deterrence as well as a description for
benign coercion. By deterrence is meant the use of threats by one
group to convince another group to refrain from starting some course
of action.  The threat is a benign element, and we use it copiously on
children to train them for the purpose of their safety and health, but in
the adult world it is used to dissuade the carrying out of some
dangerous action for two reasons, the loss of life and property, and the
financial cost it would cause.  It seems to go without saying what
benign force or coercion would mean with respect to governments and
their citizens.  In a democracy of a huge and multiethnic country such
as the US, it runs on a legal system to prevent crimes and exploitation
of its citizens and the citizens sanction this function.

No doubt there will be those insane individuals who would not be
deterred, such as ideologues who would carry out threats such as
suicide bombers, or even the likes of Timothy McVeigh.  There are a
couple of other reasons deterrence as a theory is criticized maybe for
another time, but one that undoubtedly would be most popular among
conservatives is that a military deterrence would greatly affect the
budget and cause an exponential increase in defense spending, may
even restrict civil liberties to a greater degree, and create that hated
entity called the MIC.

Of course deterrence is predicated on the idea that both sides had the
common goal of peace.  And we also have to assume rationality rules.

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By Leefeller, July 5, 2011 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, it seems apparent to me any point of view perceived by the anarchist libertarian, would because of the beast, would dis any authoritative, government, group as being forced. Possibly I suppose this would even include the family unit?

Now I did not know there where peace tables already in schools and never heard of them before, the simple fact I did not know this probably makes me not apart of everybody.

Peace seems a very important part of life just like common sense, compassion and empathy. This may require the tempering of bullies and the capitalistic sense of opportunism. Unfortunately the dumbing down of the huddled masses by major cuts in education, cutting child labor laws will make the peace table a thing of the past just as they seem to be cuting women’s rights.

Vickie Patik, if reference was to me; please accept my apologies for my irreverent ad hominy reparation and sarcasm, I have been here way too long and need to go on holiday.

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By Leefeller, July 5, 2011 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, it seems apparent to me any point of view perceived by the anarchist libertarian, would because of the beast, ... dis any authoritative, government, group as being forced. Possibly I suppose this would even include the family unit?

Now,... I did not know there where peace tables already in schools and never heard of them before, the simple fact I did not know this probably makes me not apart of everybody.

Peace seems it should be a very important part of life, just like common sense, compassion and empathy. This may require the tempering of bullies and the capitalistic sense of opportunism. Unfortunately the dumbing down of the huddled masses by major cuts in education, cutting child labor laws will make the peace table a thing of the past just as they seem to be cutting women’s rights back the the nineteenth century.

Vickie Patik, if reference was to me; please accept my apologies for my irreverent ad hominy reparation and sarcasm, I have been here way too long and need to go on holiday.

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By OzarkMichael, July 5, 2011 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, you are finding it ironic that real force is being used to prevent a possible use of force. Unfortunately, irony always attracts the intellect more than a plain problem, including the one you originally wanted to discuss. Thats why some of us are discussing the concept of force.

Your comment about Sheer’s presentation of the case being rather different than the actual case itself is something which is true of most Truthdig articles, which are written to engender a certain feeling and not to stimulate thought. My first post on Truthdig contained the same observation and here I am back at square one. I assume that everyone knows what Truthdig is doing but they just like it that way. Its the cicada buzz.

You want a good conversation with a Leftist about this California law which the S.C overturned, that might be a tall order.

i will read the Court case tonight. For now i wonder how a teenager buying something is equated and protected as if it was an activity of “free speech”?

How did commerce become speech? I havent looked at it yet.

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By Anarcissie, July 5, 2011 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous—Where do you see ‘benign force’, especially that ‘controlling the violence of war’?  I take it you are speaking in relation to the present discussion, where two forms of coercive force have been mentioned: the postulated violence in which some video gamers might engage, possibly inspired by video games; and the actual physical coercive force which the legislature of California wishes to apply against sale or use of the video games.  I am indeed suggesting that the latter sort of coercive force, of war, so to speak, be considered critically; but that would render Justice Scalia a ‘benign force’, a conclusion I hesitate to jump to for aesthetic reasons.

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2011 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

As I occasionally do, let me give you a present of a beautiful piece
of music this a.m.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goB0QlKzYzk
If you need a sense of well-being, and whatever metaphor you
want to use the word God for, it most likely would fit. 

Without any theological pretensions, for me the word signifies the
personification of what some see as a grand scheme or principles
that govern everything of what is perceived to be the universe, whether
that is scientific accident or as some believe, intention.  I read Steven
Weinberg once where he reminded that theologian Tellich said that
physicists were the only scientists that found it comfortable to talk
about God.  I think there are other nonbelievers who are not
uncomfortable as well.  In this sense the word God is a collective
noun that denotes various concepts or ideas as a single entity. 
Interpretations are unending, for me the song is a metaphor for benign
controlling the violence of war.  If that is coercive force it is as basic
as any energy expended for survival.  Any other view spells early doom
for humans.  Imperfect as we might be we are not like other animals in
one important way.  We consciously can weigh choices reasonably
thought out.  That is where benign force must be summoned.  It is
called the Force of Rational Willing.  Anyway…

Cage the Songbird

God cage the songbird
Before the feathers run brown
God bar the windows
That we may though hollow be sound

And this island be shackled to her waters
Here we vow never to change
Here we will stand at last for something
With no desire to pretend

Send up our prayers to gilded idols
Their names etched in heartwood of palm
And scatter the ashes of the contracts
Their freedom so hollow a song

God cage the songbird
Before the feathers run brown
God bar the windows
That we may though hollow be sound

And the street lamp will be tethered to her station
The poor man be tethered to the flesh
The wise man be tethered to his wisdom
The mother be tethered to her creche

Was your hunger your awareness of salvation
As your chances go slipping to the past
You’re tortured by the changing of the seasons
And each grain of sand in the glass

God cage the songbird
Before the feathers run brown
God bar the windows
That we may though hollow be sound
God cage the songbird
Before the feathers run brown
God bar the windows
That we may though hollow be sound

And this island be shackled to her waters
Here we vow never to change
Here we will stand at last for something
With no desire to pretend

Send up our prayers to gilded idols
Their names etched in heartwood of palm
And scatter the ashes of the contracts
Their freedom so hollow a song

God cage the songbird
Before the feathers run brown
God bar the windows
That we may though hollow be sound

And the street lamp will be tethered to her station
The poor man be tethered to the flesh
The wise man be tethered to his wisdom
The mother be tethered to her creche

Was your hunger your awareness of salvation
As your chances go slipping to the past
You’re tortured by the changing of the seasons
And each grain of sand in the glass

God cage the songbird
Before the feathers run brown
God bar the windows
That we may though hollow be sound

Nimis grave est totius universi ad portandum
My best wishes for a good day to everyone.

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2011 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

Good Morning
It goes without saying there are as many ways of reacting to the
world as there are people.  Finding the way that stimulates the
happiest and most fulfilling life would seem to be one’s primary
concern.  Because we are naturally social animals, in humans, the
way to realize the best life is in reciprocity, cooperation with other
humans.  These are dependent on trust and compassion. However,
because we seem to have demoted those two words to almost
cavalier meaningless, we are always in danger of giving into a sense
of pride and resentment, then we harvest guilt and embarrassment,
those emotions that sabotage trust.  Yet we constantly sink into
pitilessness and amour propre.  Ideas of individualism, liberty, freedom
blindly intensifies in importance.  Selfishness, self-indulgence, in a
word, greed, are things we always seem to talk about as being
destructive to the human physically and psychically but too many forget
to reflect how these detriments have come to rule our own self. 
Evidence is the dreadful state our country is in and the world.  It starts
at home, I was always taught.  Meaning not the house in which you
were raised, although that is certainly part of it, but the home that is
yourself.  From there, then, is the rest of the world including your
family and all others.

Vickie Patik if you find De Waal’s studies interesting, you might take a
look at Nigel Barber’s “Kindness in a Cruel World, The Evolution of
Altruism.”

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By Anarcissie, July 5, 2011 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

Vickie Patik—I think that mud-slinging is simply an indication that the slinger is unable to form a rational argument, and can usually be ignored.  (Speaking of mud-slinging, those interested in the actual opinion, as opposed to Peter Scheer’s mischaracterization of it, it can be found online as http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/08-1448.pdf.)

Your discussion of metaforce is interesting, but it seems off the subject here, which centers, I think, on the actual use of physical force, or the threat of it, by agents of the government, which is what the California legislature sought to apply.  The evil of violent video games is supposed to lie in the depiction of violence (in the sense of coercive force) which is thought by some to inspire violent acts by others; but if the depiction of violence provokes violence, how much more must we reasonably expect actual violence to provoke?

As for parental authority, I don’t think it can be reasonably introduced into the argument; the government is not anyone’s parent, and when forced into the role by desperate circumstances has a rather poor record of performance.

Besides the rather ironical use of force to suppress the use of force—one is reminded of the ‘war to end war’ and its results, among them the worst war in human history—I am also concerned about the fascination with government power evidenced by so many contemporary liberals and progressives.  Government power is necessarily based on the use of physical force and evidently attracts people who wish to misuse it, as we can see in the references to Food Not Bombs which I inadvertently brought into the discussion.  Government needs to be restrained and watched carefully by the people, not the other way around, as so many seem to desire.

I don’t think either of my concerns here have been engaged yet.

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By OzarkMichael, July 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment

It is only fitting on Independence Day to hear some words from Joe Biden, who spoke to the Teamsters Union during this holiday weekend:

“And don’t any of you, by the way, any of you guys vote Republican,” Biden said. “I’m not supposed to say, this isn’t political. ...don’t come to me if you do! You’re on your own, Jack!”

Instead of Independence day the Leftists should call it “Dependence Day”.

Have a nice “Dependence Day” Leefeller!

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By Anarcissie, July 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller—I’m just not very interested in the Republicans at the moment.  The law under discussion was passed by Democrats.  Those who favor it seem to be the sort of people who call themselves progressives.  Those are the people about whom and to whom I was speaking.

Ozark Michael—I don’t know of any serious theorists of politics, of any flavor, who think that modern governments have consciousness and emotions.  It is true one hears of fluffy stuff like ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ or ‘America’s Staunch Friend, X’ but I hope we know this is ideological fast food for the unwitting.

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By Leefeller, July 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

OM stated:

“Leftist governments stake their claim on having the highest degree of affection for its citizens, and thus it is happy to acquire responsibility for the citizens.”

Conjuring or was this stated someplace by someone who is a real person with a name, or did this come from the Carl Rove “I am gonna get your momma: diatribe plan, which makes it a factoid?

Stake that claim,... so politics is now like the 49ers gold rush? I sorta see that from the Republicans in their affectionate embracing of the huddled masses, especially in the Red States!

Again what liberal governments are you folks talking about?  Self proclaimed experts on liberalism coming from right wing thought tanks, has little sustaining and even less creditability, truth!... Don’t talk truth the masses cannot handle it, thats why conservatives are true leaders especially in their own minds leaders among men and a very few women?

The hypocrisy of the Supreme court verdict has nothing to do with free speech, or Anthony Weaner would not have been pushed out for his free expression.  Of course hypocrisy is not on the table in the mind of the conservative, which some unknown sob may claimed someplace in never never land!

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By Vickie Patik, July 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Been away a couple days, but the growing partisan mud-sling here makes me think it’s time to get outta Dodge. Till now I’ve enjoyed this discussion. Well, I guess some of you like the irreverent ad hominem repartee, which while very creative makes me anxious.

Anyway, to respond to the question posed to me By Anarcissie, July 1 at 12:37 pm:

“But tell me: how does the use of force encourage peace?”

I think there is a misconception that when peace proponents refer to peace they envision a world of hearts and flowers and wimps holding hands singing Kumbaya. Since that is an impossible vision of life in the real world of human beings, the whole notion of “peace” becomes easily dismissible.

I think there is no peace that is not fraught with all the tensions and competing interests that we humans bring into everything we do; that maintaining peace requires constant vigilance; and that there are probably no peace movements that do not include people getting hurt and/or killed. Certainly Gandhi’s resistance movement required everyone to be willing to die for the cause, and some did. What they were not willing to do, however, was kill for it. Peace making is tough business and requires warrior grit and courage.

The other consideration is, how does force go together with peace?

The first example that came to mind is a simple but effective parenting technique: to stop a toddler from doing something dangerous or destructive, FORCIBLY (i.e., pick them up bodily) remove the child from the vicinity, remove implements from their hands, and distract them with something else to do. It does not require beating or blood-letting, but it is forcible action that persists until the undesirable behavior is stopped. I think, OzarkMichael, you were referring to this sort of thing in your post July 4 at 6:40 am.

In her essay “Intersubjective Dimensions of Terrorism…” from THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM, Vol I, A PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING, political psychologist Diane Perlman references the work of psychologist Richard W. Fogg, who “says we don’t need to abolish war, as ‘peaceniks’ claim. We need to replace it. Fogg says we must use force: political force, economic force, social force, psychological, educational, physical, moral, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and aesthetic forms of force in combinations forming complex strategies…. including reducing the opponent’s fear, avoiding cornering the opponent, avoiding retaliating, satisfying just grievances, understanding the meaning of an attack, removing pressure, using mediators, designing win-win solutions, and so on…’

I am thinking boycotts, ostracism, mandatory peace-teaching, (peace tables in schools, anyone?) law, treaties, etc. 

Because we lack the language or even a concept to describe bloodless forms of force, which is reflected in your question, Anarcissie, Perlman coined the term “metaforce” which is similar to the Indian terms “ahimsa” and “satyagraha.”

Okay, I had to look them up:
ahimsa: (in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jainist philosophy) the law of reverence for, and nonviolence to, every form of life
satyagraha: Hindi, equivalent to Sanskrit satya truth + ?graha, strong attachment, persistence. The policy of passive resistance inaugurated by Mohandas Gandhi in 1919 as a method of gaining political and social reforms. 

PBS did a program/book called “A Force More Powerful,” which deals with the whole issue of peaceful, bloodless metaforce.

BTW, Shenonymous, thanks for the references to De Waal’s work with apes. I’ve read several of his books so will relish reading these articles.

For those who feel this thread has gone off topic, I hope my meanderings have been related enough to support my initial post, which echoed what Scheer was decrying.

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By OzarkMichael, July 4, 2011 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie said:

In this case I was thinking of the use of government force, which rests on its legitimated power to initiate unlimited coercive physical force on those within its purview.  Most of the other relationships you speak of are mostly non-coercive, and most are mitigated by other qualities, for example, we can hope that the persuasive and coercive powers of a parent over a child are mitigated by ties of affection and responsibility.  These hardly exist between modern large-scale liberal government and those it governs, which is why it is supposed to be rigorously constrained by constitutional and traditional rights, for example the very right of free speech which is being questioned here.

More succinctly, it strikes me as rather ironic that the sale of video games which are thought to increase the probability of violent behavior will be actually suppressed by men carrying guns.

Leftist governments stake their claim on having the highest degree of affection for its citizens, and thus it is happy to acquire responsibility for the citizens. Many citizens are content with that arrangement. In various ways, deep down, maybe we all are dependent or at least co-dependent at this point.

It is true that at one time our government didnt have so much responsibilty for its citizens, and Leftists believe that in those days governement had less affection. Unfortunately the government’s increased affection and increased responsibility means that laws multiply, legal complexity increases. There are many laws which are so complex that our representatives dont know the details as they vote for them.

The recent House Speaker, who was one of the few people who had some idea what the new laws entailed, found the legislation’s vast reach and complexity too profound for words.  This was all she could say:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoE1R-xH5To

Her statement can only be made sensible if we accept government as something like a parent, whose affection and responsibilty for us, year by year, is matched by our gradual abdication of responsibility for ourselves. We become more like children who needn’t be told what mummy is planning, we merely have to wait and see. Her legislation is thus seen as a gift to us, which we must not open until the proper day.

But back to the California law about depictions of violence in videos and if anyone can be prohibited from buying them. Wasnt there a time when there didnt have to be so much legislation about things like this?

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By Gary Mont, July 4, 2011 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

Best “needs no context” line of the week:

“The pope in his eyes sees his flock as children, who can be buggered with loving affection?

Almost cost me a keyboard!  smile

Thank you LeeFeller.

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By Leefeller, July 4, 2011 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Geeze Anarchssie, Diatribes about Republicans serve no purpose?

Talk about diatribes,  Lincoln was noted for his windy diatribes and he stated; ‘the two parties are just like two drunks fighting on the street and when the fight is over they have each others jacket on.’  What a wasted comment serving no purpose.

I suppose diatribes serve no purpose especially in the empty mind of the target?  Probably the same can be said about wisecracks or as I to call them humor. It seems to always be in the eyes of the beholder and their un-house broken dogmas!

I can say Shes Diatribe was informational, if it was not accurate, maybe instead of saying Diatribes serve no purpose, it would be useful to dispute them with an alternative undiatribe?

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By Anarcissie, July 4, 2011 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

Leefeller—I expect rightists to be fond of authoritarian coercion.  It is the growing fondness for it of supposed sort-of-leftists—those who call themselves progressives, liberals—that troubles me. 

‘You are the salt of the earth; if the salt has lost its taste, what will we salt it with?’

Diatribes and wisecracks about Republicans do not answer this question.

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By Leefeller, July 4, 2011 at 9:14 am Link to this comment

Meet at the grinder? Authoritarian, forced and unlimited coercive physical force suggested as liberal? A simplistic look at Red states suggests otherwise! 

In reference to parental affection?... “These hardly exist between modern large-scale liberal government and those it governs” ... Anarcessie, the precipitation must be in the political leaning or proclivities of the beholder. Usual requirement for conservatives being the dropping on their head as a baby. Is it possible anarchists did not quite hit the floor? What large scale liberal government are you referring?

Some people may feel Gadfly in Libya is a loving and benevolent dictator (he sees himself in that light) he may even be left of Hitler?... Some people thought the hanging of Mussolini was not a nice thing to do to such a loving person. The pope in his eyes sees his flock as children, who can be buggered with loving affection?

Using the word forced in front of another word seems Falwell amusing! How about forced compromise or forced not to have an abortion, forced to not have collective bargaining rights otherwise forced to have the right to work for much less? Forced to make it much harder to vote? Forced to recall politicians who have lovingly endeared themselves to benevolent benefactors and not the huddled masses, the dirty commons who voted for them? Teachers being forced to work for lower wages and benefits, public schools forced to close so private ones can take their place?  Forced closing of government prisons so private ones can make a profit.

I like the word forced, it rings and seems so right and authoritarian. especially when uttered by those who would suggest it is liberal bias!

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By Shenonymous, July 4, 2011 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Is it that there is not to be any distinction made between the
human animal and the absolute freedom owned by all other savage
or even domesticated animals?  Has evolution of the human
understanding of morality been nothing but a useless exercise of
conscious arrogance?  Certainly morality is a human invention, but
to what purpose, if the anarchists had their way?  The audacity to
suggest that we humans have not progressed from the jungle is
insolent. Sigh and oh well!

Buzzz bzzzzz bzzzzz Funny how slugs slink in where snails fear to
tread.  A little history of Republicans: There are more factions of the
Republican Party than can be imagined.  There are Traditionalists,
Conservatives of various stripes: Neoconservatives (neocons),
Paleoconservatives, Fiscal conservatives, Social Republican or Social
Conservatives (the word social doesn’t alway gag them apparently). 
There is the Moderate faction, called half-breeds.  Libertarians have the
anarchic flavor and there actually are Liberal Republicans!  Way…ell
these are the old Rockefeller Republicans also called Republicans-in-
Name-Only, tch tch. 

Then the Historical factions. Radical Republicans (radical to the
traditional Republican ideology of self-serving wealthy (laissez-faire). 
They actually supported abolition of slavery as well as equal rights!) 
Hey, whatever happened to these almost Democrat Republicans? yeowie
kazowie!!! These Radicals also pressed for Reconstruction and
narrowing the rights for ex-Confederates. They opposed Republican
Lincoln and Johnson’s Reconstruction program, however, just so you
know what kind of Republican you are dealing with here, these cats
became the Stalwarts, a spoils-system patronage-oriented political
machine, comparable to the power of Tammany Hall Democratic
political machine. It was a Stalwart who assassinated Garfield.  Stalwarts
feuded with the Halfbreeds (uh, the Moderate Republicans) over
financial patronage and corruption! Fighting over campaign money has
not changed in 200 years of American Republican politics either. 
Hmmmm and they keep slithering on. 

Machine politics, Republican (or Democrat), was never able to win the
respect of the general public. Even though today’s Republican say they
have the public’s support, they don’t in reality. When they say “we”
inclusively with all Americans they are just wee weeing. Which is why
they have to have untold riches to outstrip the public that really wants
socially liberal programs to offset their disadvantages, caused by
Republican greed. 

In 1884 Carl Schurz, Edwin Godkin, and Charles Francis Adams left the
Republican Party because they associated its presidential candidate,
James Blaine, with corrupt politics. Wow, Republicans with some
integrity? Too bad they didn’t become archetypical for the Party. 
Hmmmm BTW: The feud ended with a compromise!  Except all those
compromising Republicans are dead and the new batch does not have
that word in their lexicon.  The early 20th c. Progressive Republicans
changed their spots. Usually holding center-left views on most issues,
they supported extensive government involvement in business, and was
particularly interested in breaking ‘trusts’ and limiting the size of
corporations, reforms in government, income taxes, universal heath
care, and other forms of ‘social justice.’  Obviously this faction gradually
passed away to zero moving over to the Democratic Party as it began its
shift to the left.  We can’t leave out the Hate-Conservatives-but-Really-
Fucking-Hate-Liberals South Park Republicans, or Blue-Dogs, Yellow
Dogs, Boll Weevils, Dixiecrats are all Republicans disguised as
Democrats. And everyone knows them, the latest incarnation that
call themselves TeaPartiers.

Why give this mini-history lesson about the Republican Party? Mainly to
show they are extremely diverse and shape shift. A Republican by any
other name is still a Republican.

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By Anarcissie, July 4, 2011 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

In this case I was thinking of the use of government force, which rests on its legitimated power to initiate unlimited coercive physical force on those within its purview.  Most of the other relationships you speak of are mostly non-coercive, and most are mitigated by other qualities, for example, we can hope that the persuasive and coercive powers of a parent over a child are mitigated by ties of affection and responsibility.  These hardly exist between modern large-scale liberal government and those it governs, which is why it is supposed to be rigorously constrained by constitutional and traditional rights, for example the very right of free speech which is being questioned here.

More succinctly, it strikes me as rather ironic that the sale of video games which are thought to increase the probability of violent behavior will be actually suppressed by men carrying guns.

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By OzarkMichael, July 4, 2011 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie said:

Leaving Scalia aside for the moment, I think there is a curious irony at work here: the supposed possibility that violent video games might influence young people to do violence is held to justify the actual use of violence (in the sense of coercive force) to suppress them.  Is not the actuality of violence a more serious matter than the possibility of it?  Does anyone want to speak to that?

There is much ‘force’ at work in society and i want to know if you equate these ‘forces’ with ‘violence’. Here are a few: the force of law, the force of parental guidance, the force of habit, the force of intellectual persuasion, moral persuasion, and the force of peer pressure.

Granted that all of these forces impinge on the individual and limit freedom. Whether that is a bad thing is not the point. Please understand that i am not expressing approval or disapproval of the limitation of freedom(at least not yet) but I want you to clarify if you think those forces are ‘violence’ inflicted upon the individual.

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By Anarcissie, July 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

I don’t mind people having righteous indignation about the difference between how we repress depictions of violence versus depictions of sex.  I think Scalia simply pointed out, clearly for once, that that is what our long-term cultural tradition offers.  Perhaps is is an evil tradition.  The problem is certainly difficult for the Supreme Court because the Constitution does not give even a hint of laxity about prohibiting the suppression of free speech: it says that free speech shall not be abridged by the government, period.  On the other hand it is clear that the people ardently desire that some kinds of speech be suppressed.  The result has been a sort of waffle in which some forms of speech are held to be un-speech, and this judgement is referred back to ‘community standards’, to wit, the aforesaid cultural tradition.

Leaving Scalia aside for the moment, I think there is a curious irony at work here: the supposed possibility that violent video games might influence young people to do violence is held to justify the actual use of violence (in the sense of coercive force) to suppress them.  Is not the actuality of violence a more serious matter than the possibility of it?  Does anyone want to speak to that?

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By Leefeller, July 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Actually Ozark Michael, does not really seem like the Ozark Michael of Ozark Michaels past,  at least he doesn’t sound like the long winded one who spoke from the right side of his mouth utilizing gospel like conservative absolutisms. It is as if Ozark Michael has been taken for a ride into the future is a class project for some intellectually challenged students at the Falwell University of one sided Certainty.

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By vote, July 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

@OzarkMichael
You are whining about other people whining.  That is the whole point of posting, us elitist intellectuals call it criticism.  If you have an original point to make in a positive way, and I don’t have to ask if you can stretch it out to hundreds of words, that is called an article.  Based on your name calling and general lack of objectivity, I’m guessing you do a lot more posting and a lot less article writing, so welcome, join the fun, and whine away…

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By Of this Earth, July 3, 2011 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wonder what the reaction would be if someone was found to be looking up violent death scenes, dismemberment, murder, etc, on a daily basis for hours at a time on the internet. Is there a disconnect in our thinking here? A person that did this might be considered disturbed and dangerous, but we let our children and young adults immerse themselves in taking part in these actions vicariously through what we all call games.

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By OzarkMichael, July 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

Whenever discussing a Supreme Court decision, one really ought to consider precedent. Anarcissie was the only one to attempt to introduce the precedent. The rest of the bloggers just whine about their favorite gripes and want to trip Anarcissie up.

I would like to remind the Leftists here that precedent is very important to them, especially when the Senate has to evaluate a conservative nominee to the Supreme Court. Assuming that the nominee cannot be “Borked” by the Leftists, or a scandal cant be manufactured against the nominee, the confirmation hearings proceed with the most intense questioning of the nominee on the topic of “precedent”.

The questions probe to make sure the nominee understands how solid and reliable and wise it is to respect “precedent”. Particularly in reference to Roe v Wade. oh my yes. Can i get an amen? 

Leftists are very happy with Roe v Wade, and dont want it re-adjudicated. They want the Supreme Court to stand firm against the tide of public opinion which wants to legislate some modification of the existing law. Precedent is what keeps the abortion mills open. Leftists love precedent very much.

What astounds me is how quickly Leftists forget how much they love precedent and seem to forget what the word means. All these posts and nobody looked it up. Wonder why?

Let me say that I think precedent is an important, logical tool for interpreting the Constitution and making Supreme Court decisions. Conservatives agree to precedent since it stabilizes and slows change… even the change that we want.

As Anarcissie was eluding to, it is precedent that Scalia based his decision on. The Supreme Court in 1957 started the ‘community standard’ rule, then in 1964 the Supreme Court protected all speech except for ‘hard-core pornography’, and in 1973 the Court solidified the community standard by making three basic questions for any such case.

So the precedent was well established. We are all stuck with it. Scalia applied the precedent. It is arguable, certainly, but it has a logic and consistancy which only one blogger(besides me) appreciates.

How hateful the Leftists were to Anarcissie, who reflected about Scalia’s decision without the prerequisite Leftist hatred for our cultural tradition. And how Leftists whine, how they moan… when they dont get the change they want.

The rules dont work in your favor? then the rules were created for evil purposes.  The culture doesnt reflect your values? then you must hope for its extinction.  A man stands against your wishes? then he must be a fascist. Precedent is against you? then you forget that it exists. Someone(Anarcissie) questions all this? then you gotta get ‘em. Buzz buzz buzz!

Personally, I dislike the result of the Supreme Court decision, i do not like the Court overturning any law unless there is a clear and present danger to the Constitution, because enacting legislation is an important process too. Nevertheless, my respect for the process, the rules, the precedent, all combine to give weight to what Scalia says.

However, my post today is not about Scalia, its about the Left. All the posts here present a cross section of Leftist thinking: much was written with rightious indignation, much about America was lamented, many attacks on the lone dissenter(Anarcissie, the only one who gave the case any thought). The Leftists can congratulate themselves on their terrific jokes, scholarly citations of teaching methods, and on pointing out the occasional error that Anarcissie made.

Its all very clever in a buzzy sort of way.

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By Anarcissie, July 3, 2011 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

Leefeller—(I don’t know how far back we have to go here.)  In an authoritarian situation, one does what one is told to do.  In a libertarian situation, one does as one pleases.  Most social situations are a mix of authoritarian and libertarian elements.  Schools tend to be on the authoritarian side.  In the United States, in the mainstream education industry, not only is classroom behavior authoritarian, but the corporate structure of the institutions that maintain the schools are fairly authoritarian as well.  For example, one of my friends who is a public-school teacher does not get up in front of her intermediate-school students and do whatever she thinks they need to develop intellectually, but has to follow a syllabus of instruction prescribed in detail, submit daily lesson plans, see to it that her students can do well on multiple-choice tests, and play office-politics games with the other teachers and the administration; her career depends on her performing these tasks well, regardless of what actually happens to the students.

I thought everyone knew this.  I guess I’m playing straight man in the comedy act.  Proceed….

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By Leefeller, July 3, 2011 at 8:07 am Link to this comment

Now that I think on it, English is my first language though my writing may not show it.  I can speak bad Spanish and say things like Waveo Rancho’s or Ola!

Now Anarcissie, what in hell is an authoritarian school? Catholic School full of yard stick whelding nuns? Home School by Hulk Hogan? Required School as compared to non required school? Anarcissie seems to be writing in the Queens English but makes the reader guess what the hell she is talking about and where the heck she may be going with it, though I like a good mystery as well as most.

Usually a good mystery must be written in English, by an English person, using the Queens English.

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By Anarcissie, July 3, 2011 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, July 2 at 10:34 pm:

‘Speaking about teaching peace in public schools. Could you name a school that has a peace table based on practices developed in non-authoritarian communities (you mean anarchistic don’t you)? ...’

I’ve seen the practice mentioned with reference to schools in New York City and elsewhere—places in the Midwest, I think.  I did not take much note of them because I doubted their seriousness.  As you probably know, things go in and out of fashion in the education industry with great rapidity.  The free-inquiry thing, inspired I suppose by Summerhill, was all the rage in the Sixties, and then of course fell out of favor because it turned out to require a lot of hard work and a charismatic leader.  Now maybe it is coming back in?

I wrote ‘non-authoritarian’ because I meant ‘non-authoritarian’.

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By Shenonymous, July 2, 2011 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

Speaking about teaching peace in public schools. Could you name
a school that has a peace table based on practices developed in
non-authoritarian communities (you mean anarchistic don’t you)? 
In my experience with public school teachers in real classroom
context, as part of our curriculum to teach, observe, and evaluate
prospective teachers, I have not seen a “peace” table lesson. It could
be a good idea. I’ll kick it around with some students and colleagues
come fall.  I wonder how that would work for home-schooled kids?

Similar to problem-based learning, active-learning education practice
no longer has an authoritarian teacher responsible for lecturing 100% of
the time. 

I’m surprised this is not known by Truthdippers.  There‘s been pretty
much a paradigm shift in the philosophy of teaching for years.  As
opposed to the traditional authoritarian set up, the teacher now has the
job of “facilitating” experiences that allow students to participate in
their own learning and discover new information on their own and in
collaboration with their classmates. See the Lorenzen reference below. 
Active-learning education philosophy includes small group discussions,
role-playing, hands-on projects, and teacher guided questioning to
help students stay on topic as it is common for discussion to wander
into subjects not on topic.  Writing activities allows the student to use
their mind to think through their perceptions of a subject, there are also
debates as well as demonstrations given by professionals in the field
invited to explain experiences.  Supervised computer simulations and
problem solving have also become a significant part of teaching
strategies. 

Inquiry-based learning has become an equal part in the teaching/
learning process that involves exploration and discovery.  No need to
explain the entire education program in this idiom here, but
questioning is what we teach teachers to develop as a large part of their
curriculum, teaching the grade school students to learn to ask the
questions.  This would develop an indelible attitude tool students take
into adulthood as a normal way of interacting with the world. The major
whining complaint on blogs such as TD is that the general public
doesn’t question what is happening in the economic/political domain (I
doubt as much as is thought), inquiry-based education is one way to
condition (in a healthy way) their minds to ask questions, then learn
how to evaluate the answers they get.

A few of the several hundreds of schools engaged in active-learning:
Martin Elementary School, South San Francisco, California
Rebecca Mueller, Lake Forest High School, Lake Forest, Illinois
Beye School, Oak Park, Illinois
Federal Hocking High School, Stewart, Ohio
Siefert Elementary, Milwaukee Public Schools

I could give numerous resources regarding teaching strategies now in
use in public schools.  Here is one of them:
M. Lorenzen. Active learning and library instruction (2001).
http://www.libraryinstruction.com/active.html

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By Leefeller, July 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Well then… I withdraw my previous comment, and restate ‘we do not need no stinking peace tables in schools!’... I am now working part time in becoming a practicing Republican and and an ass hole with wings. Of course it remains to be seen if I can live with myself being a Republican. For me the biggest problem may be I have to somehow return myself to the good old third grade mental state which apparently exceeds the learned grade level of most Republicans, but not even close to the Bonobos monkey who some researchers say may be genus compared to Republicans. Apparently Republicans have had some pit falls and trouble achieving reason equal to the cockroach, but they are working on it.

Even so I will be forced to endure being Mr. Smarty pants once again among a pack of morons,
myself being uneducated, noncliqued and unconcerned among those Red hot Republicans will be a challenge. Republicans happen to consider themselves leaders among men, I suppose the reason being women don’t count?  And one thing about the Republicans and their absolutist certainty about everything under the sun, is supported because they say so!....But over all and most importantly for me the third grade is where I became a junior scholar on the 7th planet from the sun,....Uranus!

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By Anarcissie, July 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment

Yes, I see my mention of FNB; now I must wonder whether the mixup was in my brain or Truthdig’s database.  To make up for my very leisurely DSL I open several tabs at once in Firefox, and I think it may confuse the Truthdig server.  Too bad, I wanted to focus on Scalia’s opinion and the various transformations people have made of it, but now I have muddied the pond.

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By Shenonymous, July 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Way…ell you mentioned FNB in Orlando in your July 2, 6:44am
post, Anarcissie, so I, being my naturally curious self, looked it up
inasmuch as they could be candidates for being offed.  I suppose it
doesn’t have much to do with this forum, but it was interesting
anyway.  That kind of thing happens now and then and I don’t it’s
worth getting too excited about.

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By Anarcissie, July 2, 2011 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

Curious, the comments for this article seem to have gotten mixed up with those for one of the Food Not Bombs in Orlando articles.

Ah, well, all is one.

There are already peace tables in schools.  In fact, many schools have adopted whole systems of conflict resolution and negotiation as an alternative to individual and gang fights and the forceful suppression of them by the authorities.  These ‘peace tables’ were copied from practices developed in non-authoritarian communities to avoid having to call the cops or hire enforcers.  I don’t know how well they work in authoritarian, class-based institutions like schools; part of the deal in the original communities was freedom from class.

The Supreme Court does not have to order up non-violent video games; there are thousands, maybe millions of them.  The reason there are violent video games is the same as the reason there is violence in the Iliad and the Bible and Shakespeare: people think it’s important and want to see and hear about it.

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By Shenonymous, July 2, 2011 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

While the OFNB is obviously altruistic and wants only to help the
homeless in Orlando have food, and I agree with that sentiment,
however I don’t know if it was mentioned anywhere in the Orlando
controversy but it seems that a permit could be required for a
number of reasons not the least of which is to help prevent bad or
tainted food from being distributed. These do-gooders probably
would not be killed, least ways by the city representatives of
Orlando.  But, no one, in their right mind, would disagree that there
are nefarious people in our society who would do others harm.  It is
“natural” immediately to think OFNB is a do-good organization and
they probably are, no argument from me, but there could be nasty
individuals who would attempt to harm the homeless, not simply by
outlawing them as Republicans want to, but by actually doing them
physical harm under the guise of an unsuspecting do-good
organization.  I don’t know…it was just a thought.

Another thing put into question is whether or not individuals really are
their brothers keepers?  It seems a propitious time to talk about natural
rights.  Do the homeless have a right to food even if they cannot pay
for it or hunt for it or grow it for themselves?

Isn’t it a right time to start discussion about natural rights and
furthermore then, since we are talking about the law of the land as
interpreted by the Supreme Court, discuss as representatives of the
common people natural laws based in natural rights?

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By Leefeller, July 2, 2011 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

vpatric, the concept of a peace table in schools sounds intriguing to me, maybe if negotiations and getting along were taught in our schools the world would be far better place to live?

Maybe the Supreme courts could have asked the corporate bodies who make obscene and violent video games to make peace games?  Games that would eliminate war as the goal? Games without blood and carnage? Games without guns?

Of course the Supremes must support the corporate interests now that they are people too!

According to the obscene powers that be,... definers of the value of obscenity as mentioned,  we must stay in Afghanistan until it feels like the game is won.  Reality is a game especially when it comes to war and politics. Even chess is a violent game, peace and defense is not really what is taught.  I see the change in the name of the war department to the department of defense as one mall part of the obscenity of it all.

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By Anarcissie, July 2, 2011 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

I don’t think Food Not Bombers are being killed in Orlando (yet).

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By basho, July 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment

‘This American life of ours has long been pro-violence and anti-sex,’

You got that right. Originally founded by members of loonie religious cults thrown out of europe and systematic genocide of the native peoples. Carry on clowns.

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By Anarcissie, July 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

I suppose one could argue against Scalia that the public consensus on which any definition of obscenity depends is changing, and that depictions of violence as well as of sex can be repressed by force, at least in the case of children.  (Children are almost as useful as terrorism and drugs in excusing repression.)  I understand that there has already been movement in that direction by our great leaders in having the mainstream media filter gory images of warfare out of the news, or preventing them from getting it in the first place.  (Hence the mighty outrage against Wikipedia, and Barry Manning in jail.)  Odd to see Scalia on the side of liberty against the expansion of repressive statism backed by soi-disants progressives.  Or maybe not so odd.

In any case, the California legislature would still have to learn to write in English, or some commonly understood language.  But that’s another problem, I guess.

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By Leefeller, July 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

I learned everything I ever wanted to know but refused to ask about sexuality from one source and she would even make a Bonobos blush!... The infamous “Hot Hilda”! A lady who knows even more compromising positions then Obama. Hot Hilda pails the Republicans in their standard misinform technique copulated with their lock step song and dance routines of Mochao man! Some experts in Sexuality say the Republicans make the researchers at Ex Lax Bush!

In the end, the only thing one can say about the Republicans, is if you do not see it coming then you must be comatose!

“The need for social and physical contact is also typical of most primates, and species that live in groups need to appease aggression.  Social groups require some form of conflict resolution.  Sexual behavior is one such mechanism to overwhelm aggression.”

If so, and this happens to be true,... how does being buggered by the Republicans fit all of this?

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Baaaaa
I am surprised that there are so few people on this forum, none,
who don’t know how to find out information on human sexuality,
or at least if the do they don’t give reference for their information. 
Opinions are cheap. 

Just to help you out, if of course you are interested: checkout the
free online version of The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality
(BTW: sorry…Truthdig will not permit the website address to be
printed here) LOL.  Then there is always the world’s most expert on
sexual matters, Michel Foucault and his History of Sexuality with a
fairly good analysis of his analyses at the Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy site.

There are two books that give completely opposite views of human
aggression and penchant for war.  Nature or Nurture, that is the crux
of the Supreme Court’s decision about violent computer games in the
hands of children.  David Livingstone Smith’s “The Most Dangerous
Animal;” but primatologist and one of the foremost authorities on the
behavior of Bonobos and chimps, Frans de Waal’s more optimistic view
shows that to humans making peace is as natural as making war, and
that can be read in several of his books but is online in four Scientific
American issues,
http://tinyurl.com/3b2jmg8
Frans de Waal on the human primate: Fair is fair
http://tinyurl.com/2b2yjgv
Frans de Waal on the human primate: Is it “behavioral sink” or resource
distribution?
http://tinyurl.com/2ddfcqy
Frans de Waal on the human primate: Strength is weakness
http://tinyurl.com/35ukwfy
Frans de Waal on the human primate: Make love, not war

In comparing advanced simians with humans, according to James Q.
Jacobs, anthropologist of some renown says, aggressive behavior is
typical of most primates. Gorillas, humans and chimpanzees kill
members of their own species. Our most peaceful cousins, the Bonobos
try conflict resolution! and it is attributed to their emotional lives. If you
don’t mind doing your own googling, try the PBS NOVA - Learning from
Bonobos.  No to violence, yes to sex!  Someone please tell the five
Justices.

The need for social and physical contact is also typical of most
primates, and species that live in groups need to appease aggression. 
Social groups require some form of conflict resolution.  Sexual behavior
is one such mechanism to overwhelm aggression.

The Bonobos sex life is divorced from reproduction and serves the
functions of conflict resolution as well as pleasure. Females are in a
sexually attractive state most of the time,  and almost continuously
sexually active.  Sexual activity is very frequent.  Males, females and
juveniles all engage in erotic activity. Age and gender are not sexual
boundaries among the Bonobo.  A typical sexual pattern is genital
rubbing between adult females.  Erotic contacts in Bonobos includes
oral sex, genital massage and intense tongue-kissing.

Although in almost all other species sexual behavior is a fairly distinct
category, in the unusual Bonobo it is part and parcel of social relations. 
Sex seems to cement Bonobo bonds. Females use sex to form alliances
against males. Consequently males do not dominate females or coerce
them sexually. Bonobo culture is female-centered, egalitarian and
substitutes sex for aggression.

de Waal says of the Bonobos that sexual mating mostly occurs during
tense situations.  This resolves much of what would be menacing
conflicts.  Implications?

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By radson, July 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

‘S’ Thx for your response ;the definition of free speech is rather selective ,especially when the definition of capitalism is entwined .Yet the question remains as to ‘what is to be done ’ there’s a lot of sheep that need a certain guidance.

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

When public consensus is conditioned by the game industry
marketing moguls and taste honed by the clever glitzy graphic
designer’s products pushed at them, one must have their tongue in
their cheek to say Scalia is right that obscenity is determined by
public consensus and tradition.  Tradition nowadays is artificial and
does not exist.  I bet that if a real poll were taken that obscenity
would lose over moral conventions. 

Research has shown that when children are exposed to violence in any
form, real or substitute as in war games, they become desensitized and
aggressive.  (Bryn Mawr 2008 study, Video Games: A Cause of Violence
and Aggression), also (Don’t Shoot - Why video games really are linked
to violence.- Amanda Schaffer, Slate, April 27, 2007)  5 Justices ignored
the research. 

If schizzy reaction is expected from proggies (liberals?), it is also
expected that the neocons have their own mental disease that supports
corporate manufacturers rather than the gullible public, as do five of
the Justices.  Now who do you suppose needs more protection?  And
does anyone really still believe there is such a thing as freespeech?

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By radson, July 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

Mr Scheer :This argument is rather simple ;Its as simple as the Pentagon in bed with Wall Street and all of the ‘Humanitarian’ aid that is being ‘dished out’ .The problem with sex ,aside from being a ‘business’ is that the word ‘love’ may befuddle perceptions within a non -profit altruism .Violence is merely a condition of ‘jingoistic ’ hubris ,that contributes to Demographic containment.
Cheers

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By Anarcissie, July 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

vpatric, July 1 at 11:20 am:

‘... So… the subject Supreme Court case:
This decision is exactly the kind of moment in history that I’m talking about… when the choice can be made to encourage peace rather than war. Our Justices could have upheld the ban against violent video games for children because they know - WE KNOW - that violence is obscene, and that incessant exposure to it desensitizes human beings.’

Well, only by violating the Constitution (further) and overriding several thousand years of ‘community standards’, and by prescribing that coercive force be used upon (yet more) people minding their own business.  That’s kind of a big order, even for the Supreme Court.

But tell me: how does the use of force encourage peace?

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By RayLan, July 1, 2011 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

@Anarcissie
Deep complicated blah blah

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By vpatric, July 1, 2011 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

To LEEFELLER

I played cowboys and Indians, too, with cap guns and lots of shooting. When I was older, we neighborhood kids built elaborate forts out in the orange grove (i.e., well-stocked trenches and bunkers) and hurled dirt clods at each other. We had spies, coded messages and turncoats. It seemed harmless. It was sure fun. But like you say, there was no “peace game” to balance it out.

At the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Hiroshima, Japan last November, I interviewed New Zealander Alyn Ware, global coordinator of PNNPD (Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament) who is also a teacher. He described the “peace table,” which is a problem-solving method used from kindergarten on in at least some schools in New Zealand. When there is a conflict in the classroom/playground, the “combatants” are sat down at the table and made to work out their differences. The kids quickly become familiar with the peace process, and it eventually seems natural and obvious to them. They get very creative with it, too, and are proud of themselves for problem solving with ingenuity and mutual respect instead of the kind of unbridled rage that can cause bloody noses and fester into endless feuds. (Might these averted bloody noses be gunshot wounds in certain American schools? I’m not suggesting similar techniques are not being used somewhere in this country, but it certainly isn’t system wide.)

So back to my point… when people believe war is inevitable (having been taught the idea since they were old enough to watch cartoons, or having lived with it in their neighborhood since their family was blown up), they reason that they must prepare for it in order to win. They must inculcate the message of war and build a war machine that will insure their success. That’s only logical.

On the other hand, I think it can be demonstrated (and taught) that war is a choice.  Admittedly, if conditions are ALLOWED to advance beyond a certain point of no return, war is likely to be the - no surprise - “inevitable” outcome.  But the real question is, how do conditions get beyond the point of no return? Isn’t it all the choices and decisions that are made along the way?

Clearly the time for making the choices and decisions that will preclude war is PRIOR to the point of no return. This is just as true for creating war… wars don’t spring up overnight. Like everything else human, peace and war take time to develop and execute.

At the Nobel Peace Summit, I also had the opportunity to ask former President F.W. De Klerk of South Africa if he believed war was inevitable. He said no, and used the example of his country. The problem of apartheid had come to a head. He said both sides were lining up to go to war. They were so close, it was all but a foregone conclusion. Indeed, incidents of violence had been erupting on both sides for some time. But something else was going on, too: Mandela and De Klerk, Archbishop Tutu and others, had been making choices and decisions all along that paved the way to negotiations. When the powerful forces of peace got together at the table, they created brilliant history.

So… the subject Supreme Court case:
This decision is exactly the kind of moment in history that I’m talking about… when the choice can be made to encourage peace rather than war. Our Justices could have upheld the ban against violent video games for children because they know - WE KNOW - that violence is obscene, and that incessant exposure to it desensitizes human beings.

They blew it.

Vickie Patik

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By Anarcissie, July 1, 2011 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

RayLan, July 1 at 9:06 am:

‘@Anarcissie
You’re using a linguistic ruse to dodge a faily clear issue - otherwise known in the lingusitic tradition of the Western culture as bullshit.
The issue has been defined clearly in the article -

  “The Supreme Court, in essence, said no—“sexually assaulting an image of a human being” is protected speech, but depicting graphic sexual activity that is nonviolent and consensual is not.  ”

Or do you need that parsed out and de-constructed further?
A judge playing cultural anthropologist making vague blanket statements about what was acceptable in non-democratic cultures is bogus. ‘

I don’t see what issue I’m dodging.  This particular exchange, in fact, shows how important it is to examine statements using both linguistic and logical tools. 

Right at the beginning, you state that the primary issue before us is contained in this quotation: ‘The Supreme Court, in essence, said ... “sexually assaulting an image of a human being” is protected speech, but depicting graphic sexual activity that is nonviolent and consensual is not.’  But that is not what Scalia said, it’s a paraphrase by Peter Scheer, and it’s probably incorrect.  Going by what’s quoted, Scalia said that any sort of graphic sexual depiction could be repressed, not that sexual depictions could be sanctified by violence.  The business about ‘sexually assaulting the image of a human being’ was just one of a list of items which the California legislature sought to proscribe; Scalia threw the whole lot out (I believe.  I haven’t read the decision yet.)

I have to note as well that the phrase ‘sexually assaulting the image of a human being’ is extremely vague.  One can think of several possible interpretations.  We can hardly call it protected speech if we don’t know what it is.

But this takes us to another area you’re impatient with, to wit, tradition.  What is obscene and what isn’t are largely matters of tradition and community consensus, or as one Supreme Court justice said, ‘I don’t know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.’  As long as the Supreme Court is going to uphold any sort of repression of obscenity whatever, which it has chosen to do, it must wrestle with this problem.  The results have been pretty funny at times, such as the much-derided lists of words which can’t be uttered on broadcast media.  The Supreme Court and other authorities have no choice: if they are going to prohibit obscenity, they must play cultural anthropologist.

Of course, a literal reading of the First Amendment, as extended by the Fourteenth Amendment, would obviate the problem: ‘Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,’ end of story.  This is what I would suggest.  But I’d guess that’s politically impossible to bring about, and in any case Scalia can take refuge in stare decisis.

Now, underlying this problem is, of course, the whole violence depiction good, sex depiction bad thing which you’re trying to attribute to poor Scalia.  To deal with this all you have to do is change Western, or maybe world civilization.  At least get the name of the villain right.

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