July 2016
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Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at jw@bway.net. I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. I have gotten into the habit of leaving out full names and email addresses; I have had too many people think better of something they said fifteen years ago. If you want your name and email included, let me know. Flames, however, will be published with full name and email address.

Dear Jonathan:

In An Auschwitz Alphabet you write: "In 1941-1945, a cloud passed over the face of Europe, and when it dissipated, the Jews of Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Holland, Greece, and all of Eastern Europe were decimated". Nitpicking - shoah began much earlier than 41. long run-up. Decimated? BETTER MORE HONEST MORE ACCURATE is annihilated mostly murdered... and in Eastern Europe by a far greater majority proportion than in Central and West Europe. e.g. 90 % Polish Jews murdered

define decimated: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/09/does-decimate-mean-destroy-one-tenth/



Good point. My wording was careless.

Hi Jonathan,

It’s been 20 years since I wrote a couple of articles for the “The Ethical Spectacle.” In 1996 & 1997, I wrote Is Government a Problem or a Solution? and Yes, We are still a Nation. And, I’m absolutely amazed at your longevity as an interesting website that offers valuable commentaries on current events. Congratulations and thank you for your many years of service and insightful contributions. I don’t always agree with you, but I always appreciate your efforts and viewpoint.

Again, thank you. Keep up the good work.

Steve Ussery

Dear Jonathan:

A google search led me to your old "Natural Rights" article with its provocative statement that the ideological "unalienable rights" statement in the Declaration of Independence was either dishonest or lazy. I'm referring to this article:

I'm writing to share an opposing view for your consideration.

You write that "Jefferson was writing under a British system which did not recognize the rights that he described, and which was the legal government of the colonies until they succeeded in separating themselves and forming a new one."

This statement is a good enough summary of the dominant British position during the trans-Atlantic pre-revolutionary dispute, but it ignores the fact that this position was essentially that of a coup d'etat against the English/British constitution; the American Revolutionaries refused to give up the natural law-based English constitution that had been supplanted by a tyrannical Parliament which arrogantly proclaimed the unprecedented power to legislate for the colonies in all cases whatsoever.

Jefferson and every colonial lawyer knew that the laws of England were grounded first and foremost on the law of nature. Jefferson was an equity lawyer, who carefully studied the classic English work on equity, St. Germain's "Doctor and Student," a handbook for translating natural-law principles into judicial decisions. In addition, the relevant case-law precedent for the trans-Atlantic pre-revolutionary dispute (with its discussion of natural law as the standard to which judges turned when positive law and custom were inadequate) was Calvin's Case (1608).

Your article states that "Jefferson's and the other framers' views on natural rights were derived from John Locke's highly influential Second Treatise of Government." This statement boldly contradicts Jefferson himself, who identified Locke as only one of several sources for the Declaration's ideological statement. Perhaps it is well to keep in mind that Jefferson and about half of the other signers of the Declaration of Independence were lawyers who studied legal treatises on the law of nature, such as Burlamaqui and Vattel. John Locke wasn't a lawyer, although his Second Treatise was indeed well-respected as a commentary on traditional English constitutionalism.

Furthermore, the "high school," college and legal educations of the American founders strongly emphasized the likes of Cicero and Francis Hutcheson, who were thoroughly consistent with the natural-law foundation of English jurisprudence and the above-mentioned Burlamaqui and Vattel, all of which differed with Locke on the critical question of the meaning of HAPPINESS (as prominently featured in the Declaration of Independence).

I have written at greater length concerning all this in Safety and Happiness: The American Revolutionary Standard for Governmental Legitimacy.

Best regards,
John Schmeeckle