Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

This week, one older relative had a heart attack and underwent an angioplasty, and another had a shadow show up on a X-ray that required closer examination. In the meantime, like an aging gunfighter who must buckle on his holster again after many years, I went into court for the first time since 1990, representing myself in a case of tremendous financial importance to me. I woke up that morning feeling very sad, until I realized that despite adversity, anxiety and evanescence, my life is beautiful and is precious to me. I have no regrets, and wouldn't trade for anyone else's. If one day I have more money, I will use it to seek more of the pleasures I already have, including increased time for activism and writing. However, if a shadow showed up on my X-ray tomorrow, I would already be able to say that I had everything I wanted.

Your email adds greatly to the quality of my life. I can be reached, as always, at jw@bway.net.

Jonathan Wallace

Minority Rule
Dear Mr. Wallace:

I must confess to being puzzled by your essay "Minority Rule". What puzzles me most is your assertion that "America is not the Democracy we were all taught that it is". I was NEVER taught that America was a democracy, not once in all my years of school. The only people I have ever heard claim that America is a democracy are politicians and teenagers of today. I was always taught that we were a Republic. And, if you read the speeches and letters of George Washington, you come across the phrase "Republican liberty" repeatedly.

. Sincerely,

Curt Prasky cprasky@exis.net

The Internet Bubble
Dear Mr. Wallace:

It is all too easy to blame the demise of a new industries stock valuations on the manipulation of the rich and powerful. The reality is that bubbles of this sort are a time honored tradition brought about by the unchecked emotion of greed rooted deeply in the hearts of investors flocking toward the easy profit they are sure they are entitled to. Bourses throughout the world are designed for the formation of capital, not speculation. Certainly it is a tool used for speculation by a percentage of investors but only when emotion is attached to the transaction. Millions of Americans have acquired significant wealth by use of conservative investment technique in the equity markets where similar returns and wealth accumulation would not be available in any other arena without significantly more risk.

We have witnessed the end of the first stage of the Internet revolution. Every major new technology has caused a similar burst of investing optimism. Railroads early in the last century are a good example. More recently the advent of the personal computer in the eighties provided a similar bubble. Remember Kaypro, Lafayette, and Commodore? They were the initial players in the revolutionary PC business. Many years later, Dell and Gateway are the ultimate survivors in an industry that took 20 years to mature. The Internet will survive as will many of the current players; most will not. And should not. Most were ill conceived and under capitalized. All were valued at levels unseen in decades. Any rational, experienced investor realized these risks and most, if they followed their heads instead of their greed, sidestepped the decline. I manage portfolios for a living and most of my accounts made money last year; I had zero exposure to the Internet. It was simply to rich to even consider investment.

In a free market, democratic, capitalist society there are only two possible investments; debt or equity. Debt will always provide subpar returns because it is designed to shield the investor from risk. Equity investments, where a hard asset is purchased outright with hope of a higher value at a later time, have always provided returns several multiples of that available in debt investments, but only because of the assumption of risk. That is the deal. Risk will always be present in these investments and the challenge is to avoid risk that is intolerable. Few remembered this when IPOs were raging. Investors who put significant portions of their money in these unproven start-ups got exactly what they deserve. And it is sad. I have a friend who is an unsophisticated investor and school teacher. Sadly he refused my conservative advice and put his entire 401K in Science and Technology mutual funds last year because his traditional mutual funds had done poorly the previous year and he saw an opportunity to retire years earlier because of the obvious money he would make in these more aggressive funds. He admits now he will have to work 5 to 7 years longer to make up the 45% loss he experienced. He, unlike most, blames only himself. At least he has that right.

I truly feel sorry for many of these investors. Whether by their own hand, or by the actions of mutual fund managers who simply couldn't resist the lure of easy money, these folks have been hurt. In the end it because of these people who are compelled to invest emotionally that I prosper. And I should. I am patient. I apply reason. I discern between risk and reward. I do not confuse luck with genius. I accept modest double digit returns rather than hope for a grand slam. And I will always persevere. But then I understand the market is a discounting mechanism and we must use it to discount optimism particularly the unbridled variety.

Rick Franz RJFranz@lmus.leggmason.com

The Usual Suspects
Dear Jonathan,

At the risk of inflating the balloon of Bob Wilson's imagination I'd like to suggest that he should have followed more seriously the career he so amateurishly follows now: that of ventriloquist. He likes so much to put words in the mouths of those he thinks of as dummies, and so enjoys the comedy he seems to create by the charade. It is perhaps not a lonely indulgence. Likely he has compatriots who giggle along with him. Believe me when I say I am amused as well. But from another perspective.

Having chosen me (really just my persona as recently defined by Bob) to be his mechanical dummy, Bob seems sanguine and serene despite the prior drubbings he's endured where argumentation and reason got the best of him. Projecting and deconstructing into ego-supporting scripts the imagined dialogues that he wishes had passed between us in the form of letters to the editor of the Ethical Spectacle, Bob Wilson makes up and alters to fit his need for self glorification a truly breath-taking string of tirades that pretend to incorporate my thoughts as foibles to his trenchant yet innaccessible wisdom. But lying and putting words in the mouth of your opponent have seldom won debates moderated by reason, I humbly point-out. I humbly point this out.

So-called Bob Wilson (it's a pseudonym, dontcha know?) wrote this past month that "Ben once wrote a hilarious 'essay' published in the "Spectacle" detailing how he got tossed in the poky for a few hours for some other mindless "save the whales" type protest. In that one, Ben described the horrible conditions in "the slammer" and that he was incarcerated with real "Negroes" and actually saw a cockroach! "

But this is not an honest nor a true statement. And certainly not even the least portion of a serious dialogue. It would be less a racially imbalanced discussion if Bob had noted my real reason for being jailed (protesting bribes accepted by congressmen) and the actual statement wherein I noted that most of my fellow jailmates were black (Bob decided to use the term "Negroes"--perhaps some reflection of his own old-time racial biases). Bob also chose not to see anything remarkable in the racial imbalance of prison inmates that I noted, as if it could be perfectly natural in a race-neutral system of law and justice for 90% of those incarcerated to belong to the minorities.

Bob's choice, for whatever reason, was to refer to African Americans as "Negroes," (though he chose to seem to put the term in my mouth (a term I do not use) and avoid having seemed to embrace the term himself). And he decided to be insensitive to the notion that most humans, even incarcerated Afro-American humans, prefer not to be housed in insect-infested areas. My having noticed a roach amused Bob. For some reason Bob saw something ridiculous in the idea that people in jail would have a preference not to have filthy living conditions. I found Bob's attitude suggestive of the idea that he thought "Negroes" and other minorities disproportionately jailed deserve no better than roaches and filth.

Bob can correct me if I am wrong, and I'll be glad to learn of my mistaken low esteem for his opinion, if he rejects the one he so well and loudly and overly proudly offered publicly. My mistake will be (if it exists) in having incorrectly attributed a racist opinion to a fellow man. But if that's not the case, and if I am right in having correctly assessed the weak morals and simpering committment to democracy of one who would hold such opinions, then so be it. In either case, Bob and his friends in social camoflauge should retreat and acknowledge their biases and stop pretending to be American patriots.

America may have to defer officially to the deconstruction of human rights, democracy, justice, and individual sovereignty under the new regime. But Americans are under no compullsion to do more than nod at tyranny as we decapitate it. And we will.

Ben Price bengprice@aol.com

Dear Jonathan:

Having read The Ethics of Xenotransplantation by Pascal Ferzli, I feel compelled to comment on a number his points. I am not addressing the disease vector issue so much as this has been discussed to death (there is no credible evidence of unmanageable risk), but will touch on a few other points.

Even if the patient has given the doctor an informed consent for such a transplant, the latter does not become ethical simply as a result of the apparent "kamikaze plunge" of the patient.

Seriously, why not? This is part of the supremacy of the individual, to make choice that affect one's own mortality.

The most optimistic outlook on this event is the fact that the patient will end up with an animal's organ in his body: even applying this scenario to ourselves in our imagination for a few seconds makes some of us shudder with fear.

I don't know what is so fearful about having an animal organ. It seems no more ominous than an artificial organ, perhaps less so. I also would find it much less disturbing than a human organ, where I am constantly aware that my life came out of someone else's death. I do not have that compunction regarding a pig.

a very real consideration is the macroallocation of resources in health care which will affect the society considering human-to-animal transplantation

Xenotransplantation will likely, once the intitial investment in development occurs, become *much* less expensive and much more universally available than human transplantation, and likely far more cost effective than artificial organs. Once the details are worked out, animals can be bred by the thousands, harvested when needed. No mad rushes and helicopter flights to save an organ from an accident victim, no long term registries of recipient candidates, no deciding (within minutes of an accident) who should get this next organ.

The increased resemblance of the animals' organs to those of humans will make it more and more unethical to use them simply for organs... Even more problematic is the increased compatibility of the genetic make-up of humans and genetically altered animals which will transform the boundary between humans and nonhumans into a chaotic blur.

This is nonesense. Animal organs will *not* become human organs, they will simply be modified in such a way as to make them more compatible on a chemical and immuno repsonse level. In *no way whatsoever* will this make a pig any more 'human'. It will be a pig with some human biochemistry.

the refusal to explore xenotransplantation will not be a long-term stable strategy: there will always be some that will be willing to open Pandora's box.

Animals have long served as food and shelter for us. There is certainly nothing less moral about appropriating them for medical use as well. Compared to human transplantation and prosthesis, they are likely to become the preferred, long term treatment for a number of conditions. Why does this frighten people so????

Jay Holovacs holovacs@1st.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Despite Bearse's efforts to paper over the facts, they will not go away.

1. Ours is a Democratic Republic, as demonstrated by the fact that the Framers institutionalized democracy in the forms of elective offices and the House of Representatives (the "People's House");

2. Nowhere in the Constitution will he find authorization for the US Supreme Court to intervene in elections, stop vote-counting, or to appoint to office those expressly required to be elected.

3. In that Constitution, he will find the CCongress is expressly given the responsibility and authority to resolve presidential electoral disputes.

4. The US SC, with _Bush v. Gore_ prevented the Constituionally mandated means of resolution--threby "changing the rules after the election"--and in the process violated the separation of powers.

Should I be surprised that those who prefer Republicans welcome subver- sion of Constitution--treason--just so long as those means achieve their ends?

Joseph Nagarya jnagarya@888.nu

Freedom of Speech
Dear Mr. Wallace,

I am a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Madison in the field of library science. I was assigned your article on the unconstitutionality of blocking software and I wanted to thank you for writing it.

I run a small website addressing topics relating to library science, intellectual freedom, and First Amendment rights and, as a future librarian with six years paraprofessional experience in the field, I am terrified by the capabilities of blocking software and our government's willingness to sell the protection of our rights to software companies. Thank you for your work. While I've read many articles lamenting blocking software, many appear too emotional to rationally convey the legal implications of what is occurring.


Max M. Jackman slis_underground@lycos.com


I enjoyed your essays about the pros and cons of pornography, though I think you have been unlucky in the films you have seen. I have watched a lot of pornography in the last few years - US and European - and have only seen two examples of (acted) forced sex (neither of which I liked, by the way) - there have been a good many more on British TV. The reviews of porn films at http://www.iafd.com/ generally disapprove of rape scenes - I haven't been through the whole site (it is massive), but I haven't found any that were approving. The male fantasy is usually the opposite of rape - IE, someone who wants it.

Anyway, that's it. Keep it up, and I hope you don't mind receiving unsolicited messages of this type - if you do, I apologise,



An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Jonathan,

Thank for for writing the Alphabet. It was a haunting and informative read. I have always been transfixed by the events that occurred during WW2. I remember watching documentaries as a small girl and it frightened me that a civilization so advanced could systematically eradicate an entire race of people, and do so in the 20th century. Growing up in the deep south, I have seen prejudice, and have seen the many forms it takes. I am glad to know that sites like yours exist so that others may learn what happened. I do have one question though, In all my reading on the subject, I keep reading that women's hair was cut after their death. What was this hair used for?


Christen Christian christen.christian@houseofraeford.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you for offering this very insightful perspective of life at Auschwitz. Your format was very organized and easy to move through. It offers a lot of facts that can be understood with ease. I am a high school student writing a research paper on the Holocaust's executions and this sight helped me narrow my topic down to Life at Auschwitz. Until I found this sight, I was ready to change my topic entirely. But because of the way you presented the information, both interest grasping and real, I am now very excited and motivated to finish this paper.

Thank you,

Kemyell Rieves


I read the entire Auschwitz alphabet, and thought it was very interesting. Your essay must have taken a very long time to compile. However, in the epitaph you said that there was no God. I strongly disagree.

Why were all of those Jewish people murdered? Because of their religion, in which there is a God. Most of those Jewish holocaust survivors would probably say that their hope kept them alive in the concentration camps. Hope that their God would deliver them from the cruel and evil monsters that had complete control over their bodies. Most ancient Jews hoped that the messiah was coming, and I think that many of the holocaust victims did too.

Why do you think the Jewish people were so upset when their synagogues were burnt to ground on The Night Of the Broken Glass? Because it they held valuables? NO, it was because that was their sacred place, where they worshipped their Lord.

I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but before you go and say that their is no God, please think about what you're saying.

Sincerely, Jillian Thomas thomasjff@aol.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I ran across your page today. I would like to thank you for putting the truth so perfectly. I dont know you, only that you must be a very special person to do this. I am not Jewish, but I do believe very much in what you have to say. I am a student studying to be a history teacher, and I was at the least relieved to find your page. Most of the ones I have found so far denounce the fact that the Holocaust ever happened. Anyway I am running off with myself. I just wanted to thank you for sharing this with those of us who are interested in finding the truth.

April AmbrosiaElaine@aol.com

Dear Mr Wallace:

Please excuse any poor grammar and spelling,writing has never been a strong point of mine.

My Mothers parents are Germans who migrated to Austraia after the war, My Grandfather served as an engineer on a U-Boat while my grandmother worked as a nurse.

My Grandfather's father had communist sympathies while my grandmother was born on the east prussian/lithuanian border to a Jehovah's Witness mother and had large interaction with Gypsies.

Even though neither of my grand parents were involved in the holocaust i have always felt some need to try and defend my German heritage.

Possibly because growing up in australia i always got the impression that the people around me viewed all germans as nazi's and monsters. This was despite the fact that many of these same people had surnames such as Heintze, Schroeder and Willersdorf. And in school i was always taught of the evils of germany under nazism and the cruelty and murder carried out by Germans in mass.

Because of this at age 14 i tried to rationalise and justify the holocaust, what i discovered was that i couldnt that the magnitude of the horrors committed far exceded terrifying. Indeed i began to despise my German heritage because of it and even confronted my grand parents , attacking my grand father with regard to the stories of german u-boats shooting sailors in the water, the look of absolute horror on thier faces that i could think of them in this light still haunts me.

I researched futher into the war and through my life discovered that while the holocaust is still the greatest evil ever practised by man (only stalins purge comes close and even then only through weight of numbers not cruelty ) i also discovered that evil was practised by all sides during the war and indeed great suffering felt by all sides.

It is indeed important for the holocaust to be taught in our schools and the hatred and evil of the Third Reich to also be dissected. However i have found through my own education that the greatest mistake that we make is that we tend to teach that the Nazis and the Holocaust were the only evil that the allies were good guys and that the war itself was waged as a crusade against evil, even the origins of ww2 and ww1 are blamed solely on Germany where as ww1 in particular if looked at from a non biased stand point can be blamed on at least 5 nations.

My point is the Hypocritical way we look at the war. The U.S tended to look down on the nazis racist views while blacks, japanese and native americans were segregated both in the armed forces and in every day life. Many U.S soldiers also died through race related violence while serving in England. Far from being morally superior the average american solidier was probably as big a racist as the average German soldier.

In Australia we talk of the nazis evil while we still treat our indigeanous people as second class and indeed carried out a 'white australia' policy after the war which only allowed the immigration of whites, and then some 20 years later we saw fit to steal the children of our aborigines and still refuse to apologise for this matter.

The allies saw fit to implement carpet bombing and demolish many German cities and slaughter their populations when many had no strategic importance. Even today the U.S seems hell bent on waging war on civilians to reach its political goals( the trade restrictions on iraq and the large deaths with in the child population as a result, the bombing of Hiroshima,and the decision to simply bomb yugoslavia instead of sending troops in).

While the murder of allied soldiers such as those which occured at malmedy were prosecuted allied war criminals were not when despite what people may think they did exist. One such story can be found in the pages of 'images of war', a british puplication, it refers to a german u-boat sailor and his crew and how after being attacked by a plane the were forced to surface and abadon ship and how in the process the plane cotinued to shoot at the sailors as they tried to jump overboard and to continue to shoot at those already in the water. There are also tales of surrendering German soldiers simply being shot by allied soldiers.

Whle many war crimes were committed by the wehrmacht on the eastern front and the treatment of russian POWS was deplorable we must also remember that many of these Russian Pows were simply shot as traitors when they returned to russia and partisans operating behind enemy lines were known to be more evil even then the ss, and were known to kill russian civilians as traitors for simply not resisting enough.

Two other points have crossed my path recently on the internet and i hope that you can take your time to research these as i have never seen them before and i would dearly like to know if these are true or if they are simple propaganda from neo nazi groups. - the first refers to the rape of some 100,000 women in Berlin at the end of the war - the second refers to the ethnic cleansing of some 300,000 ethnic Germans in the Czech area after the war.

It is important that we teach the horrors of the holocaust but i believe it is equally important that we teach of the crimes committed by our own nations, by our own ancestors for it is then that we would realise that the holocaust could have occured in our own backyard that it was carried out by human beings just like ourselves , and then hopefully we will work towards preventing it ever happening again.

Not a very clear letter i know but i hope you can get the idea of what i am trying to say, congratulations on a great site its the first time i have seen it but i definitely will be coming back.

P.S- i included my grandparents backgrounds especially my grandmothers as despite her background despite the fact that gypsies and jehovahs witnesses were killed by the third reich (although her mother was not) she still believes some of the propaganda she was taught and would probably still welcome the nazis as liberators as where she lived had been taken away from germany after ww1.

Ryan Selkrig rselkrig@yahoo.com.au

G'day Jonathan,

First a personal note: Many years ago I visited my grandmother in Queensland. We visited a few of her friends, elderly couples living quiet, reserved, seemingly unremarkable lives. In one home, a silver medal with a picture of a tree on it was proudly displayed: being an inquisitive child, I asked what it was. And learned rather a lot about the heroic in the everyday ... they had hidden and smuggled many Jews out of danger. I was too young to remember the details now, but the general idea ... that everyday people can choose good or evil ... has stuck with me.

Your site gives a shockingly intimate view of the Holocaust through your choice of eyewitness accounts. It remains accessible though, because it doesn't try to tell the whole story but rather show the truth through fragments of the whole.

I considered but am in doubt about the ethics and efficacy of a third pathway, which would put you in the shoes of an inmate of the camp, with choices or events leading to consequences

I'd agree with you here ... the major problem being that there generally _were_ no choices (AFAIK, IMHO, etc).

Keep up the good work ... I think it's important that this kind of stuff be on the WWW as well as the bizarre It's All A Zionist Conspiracy pages ...

-----Nick "Sharkey" Moore sharkey@zoic.org

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Your mission is admirable.

Jonathan Meeder maiwil96@peoplepc.com