December 2007

Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. If you write to me about something you read in the Spectacle, I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will do so. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. This is in response to many of you who have expressed concern that spammers are finding your email address here. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.
Jonathan Wallace,

I enjoyed reading your "Natural Rights Don't Exist" piece. There is quite an interesting point you make. I am a student pursuing a career in national relations. I have recently been surfing the web for discussion and debate of current and historical issues. That is how I stumbled upon your article. I am very aware of the point you are trying to make in this piece. However, I am confused as to why you base your argument around the literal meaning of rights when you mentioned yourself: "Language allows us to construct phrases which are grammatically correct but which do not mean anything (or do not mean what they appear to)."

Our natural rights include everything we are able to do. They are unalienable, which means they can not be taken, or given away. Just because somebody rapes you it does not take away your unalienable rights but instead impairs your ability at the time to exercise these rights. Which is another reason why we exercise our right of liberty to issue laws to secure the ability of an individual to exercise these rights. No one says you have to obey them, but your own actions will be viewed as what you do with your liberty, your life, and how you pursue happiness... which is punishable because it imposes on the growth of others in terms of the general nature in the living to love one another.

Nicholas H. Millas

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I came across "Natural rights Don't Exist" on following up one of the recent letters to you.

While I agree with its general thrust, you go too far in accusing Locke of deriving an "ought" from an "is". Although he could be clearer, and I don't agree with the concealed premise he actually uses, his logic is sound. The thing is, one of the "is"es he postulates, "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one; and reason, which is that law..." is a statement about "ought". When one has a premise that "is" about an "ought", one can expand it out to get the "ought", and that is what he has done. You can't get there from the "state of nature" alone, but he is there introducing an additional premise about "a law of nature" - one I don't agree with.

Plug: you might be interested in Kevin Carson's material at .

Yours sincerely,


Dear Mr. Wallace:

I thought the Scorpion & the Frog article (Prisoner's Dilemma) was well thought out. If you've never listened to it, listen to the old song The Backstabbers (it seems to apply).

Richard A Spearnock


I stumbled across your writings in the course of trying to illustrate a point (to an employee) regarding "The Frog and The Scorpion" and have found what I consider to be a philosophical treasure !!!!

It is rare that I am moved to respond to a writer......but I must let you know that as a writer, current businessman, and basic man of the world.....your writing has given me pause to examine many areas of my outlook I had long taken for granted.

And so I am writing to thank you for the truth you have shared and the inspiration it has spawned......and leave with an expression of hope that we will one day be able to exchange ideas.


Michael Ungerleider

Hi there,

My name is Mirella, I'm from Romania and I'm 28 years old. I'm not a Jew, but I read An Auschwitz Alphabet twice. I had to read it in a few days because I was a little scared. I could see what you where saying there. After I read the alphabet, I read the introduction. I was really frightened then: what do you mean by people do not know about the existence of the Holocaust?! This is not a chapter in a novels that you just skip because you don't feel like reading it! It's part of our history, the human history. Maybe we didn't participate in it, maybe we didn't write it, but it's still ours if we consider ourselves part of the human race. In Romania children learn about the Holocaust in the 7th grade.

Anyway, I think is shameful. People should know! Because ignorance makes us weak and feeble in front of the unknown. Only knowledge is the most powerful weapon on Earth.

Thank you for reading these lines. I wish you all the best and health on Earth,

Sincerely yours,


The Party of God and Decency

A woman at a McCain event calls Hillary the B word, the room applauds, McCain laughs and answers her question without commenting on the slur. Just like back in 2004, when Cheney used the Senate floor to tell an opponent to go f__k himself, the party that drapes itself in the Bible, the party that says it represents God and decency, can't resist being foul-mouthed. And to think we have an entire year of God and decency in front of us. If God is listening, may he or she save us from Republicans.

Robert C. Doyle

Dear Jonathan, I just stumbled on you, your website and your essays by accident this morning. Interestingly, your bio-essay about belief in God parallels my evolution of thought pretty closely...

I have now read several of the essays on your site and just finished yours on Lying. I like Mark Twain's observation, which I take as sort of a second Golden Rule, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

Kudos for The Ethical Spectacle!

Jeffrey Solow