Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

A year ago we bought a house by the ocean. At the end of November, we are still coming out every weekend. I do a lot of my writing in the early morning, while the pinks and blues of dawn streak the sky right over the Atlantic.

Last weekend, from our window we watched a young fox bounding and playing in front of a neighbor's deserted house. I thought of the fox's lesson from The Little Prince: "It is only with the heart one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye."

I love to get email and am reachable, as always, at jw@bway.net.

Accidental Angels: On the Motives for Art
Dear Mr. Wallace:

Just spent my lunch reading your enjoyable article, Accidental Angels, links included. Thank you for a well-planned, thought provoking consideration, miles from the poorly constructed drivel so prevalent on the WWW. Well done.


Julie S. Pollock hogenhout@headwaters.com

Dear Jonathan:

Have you read the 10-page chapter "Animal Origins of Art" in Jared Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee?

It's worth the price of the book to read the description of bowerbirds' courtship rituals. Blew my mind.

-- Jamie McCarthy

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

I have been researching the second world war (incl. the holocaust) for some weeks now. Your web site is utterly fantastic. Although, I find your review of Steven Spielberg's Shindler's List rather awkward and unfair. By making this movie, Spielberg's goal was to make many people aware of the holocaust, because so many have forgotten about it. The picture was not made to depict exact details of the war but rather to remind us of man inhumanity to man. You cannot very well say that Shindler's List is an insult to holocaust survivors. Because of this movie, people have been inspired (for the lack of a better word) to reach out to their library's and museums for that little bit of extra information. I am not a very religious person, but I understand that some people do not believe in God because of the torture that surrounded Auschwitz. My only answer is that God did not create this hatred or horridness. Man has, and it is our job, our responsibility, our duty to make ammends, not God's. Just because we cannot see Him, or just because He doesn't pop out of the sky in our hour of need with a miracle does not mean that He does not exist. I believe, deep within the pit of my soul, that God rarley intervines, and that it is our fight for life.

Judy Davis judydavis@sprint.ca


my name is Reinder van der Busse and i am 25 years old.Altough i never had any experience with the war ,i want to visit the camp auschwitz at the end of my holiday in hungary.When i was 6 years old i visited a camp in the vogezen with my parents and it made a very big impression at me. i very much would like to vist Auschwith because it is important to know these things and impressive. I hope that u can tell me if the camp is open for visiting an if so when thats possible. I hope to get a response from u and thanks already

Reinder Van der Busse busman@wxs.nl

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am working on a webpage for my Hilter and Nazi Germany class. This page is our final project. In my search for information and pictures I found your Auschwitz Alphabet. I was wondering if I could quote the "Injection" portion of the alphabet on my page. I would give you proper credit and have a link directing viewers to visit the Alpahbet for further information. Thank you for you time and hopefully the quote.

Jeremy Riley


As you asked at the bottom of your web page, I've decided to send you an E-mail about it. I'm glad that someone has actually spent the time and effort to put something like this together, as there is surprisingly little about Auschwitz on the net.

I am a 14 year old schoolboy from England and I am studying Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish martyr, who died in Auschwitz.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much stuff about him, and I was wondering as to whether you could help me on this.

As far as I can see, there is absoloutly nothing about him on the internet, and it would be great if you either had any information on (Maximilian) Kolbe or could get me in touch with anybody.

Thanks again,

Yours sincerely
David Lewin

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Your story was very stirring and I agree with some parts of it. But you say that Spielberg only reflects a small portion of people who saved people from the Nazis. You say the movie is an "E.T." remake. That is totally incorrect. "Schindler's List" is a story about hope and the salvation of a few by a man who learned to know them and respect them. How can you be so ungenerous as to include Schindler with the thousands who fervently joined with Hitler to the end of the war?

I would very much like to hear a response to your answers. I have been a student of "The Holocaust" for many years.

"Kevin McKenna" kmckenna@q-com.com

Dear Jonathan:

I am the editor of NYLA's Intellectual Freedom Round Table newsletter, "Pressure Point." I would like to reprint your piece entitled "The X-Stop Files" with your permission.

I enjoyed hearing you speak at last year's conference and will include a mention of that fact, and your book, etc. in the newsletter.

Thank you very much,

Carol Reid
New York State Library
Albany, NY

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just happened on your site by a link and I just wanted to let you know- I DON"T agree with you.

Why? Cuz why should my 5 year old be able to view a site about "Gay Rights"??? Who cares!!! It isn't natural or normal or right!

And the "sexual" thing- If I were to puchase the program, THAT is what I would buy it mostly for!! There is WAY too much pornography on the web.

Com'on, I really think you are being wrong here.... Do you have children? I would bet money-You DON"T!!! Cuz if you did, you would not be so upset about them blocking the sites they do. There is enough violence, sex and vulgarity on TV, we really need some way to block what our children see and hear on the net, cuz it is the future and almost all the schools are letting children use it.

I do agree with one thing you disagree with-The "Women's Rights" issue. I have sent the company an email expressing so. I don't expect a reply from you, but since you are going to express your feelings on the matter-I am going to express mine. Thank You for listening and talk to some friends of yours or your family who HAVE kids and see if they agree with you- I will bet (again) they won't.

Tigger Smith tiggersmail@zdnetmail.com

I frequently get mail from people who assume I don't have kids. I have a stepson who just turned twenty-five. In the 1980's, when he was a teenager, he had free use of a computer with a modem. We didn't have the Internet, but there were a million bulletin boards out there. We taught him our values, then never worried about him, and he turned out fine. I'm not saying you should raise your child the same way; but if you push for the imposition of censorware in schools and libraries, you are the one who is saying I must raise my child in the way that you dictate.


I stumbled upon your web page through "Turn Left". I always get a charge out of reading the page. Why is it that you are against parents having the "choice" as to what to allow their kids to look at ? You know that software like you are so against (Cybersitter) can be programmed to block out any web sites, not just those that you are obviosly so heavily invested in. Looks as if it's you who has the problem with freedom of speech. Parents should not be forced to view or have their children view things that undermind what they view as moral. You sound as if you believe there is a conspiracy against you. The political agenda of Solid oak does not matter, what matters is that this tool (Cybersitter) gives parents more control over what comes into their house.If this control makes your message harder to preach to children then thats a reflection of the lack of sense your message makes to parents.

Your fighting against common sense, and fortunately you will loose.

Dan Mirolli dmirolli@runet.edu

This week the decision came down in the Loudoun County case, holding the use of censorware in the Loudoun libraries to be unconstitutional. I haven't seen any signs I'm losing yet.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I don't know if this is the right address to mail with comments, but I'd like to suggest a more tolerant approach to Cybersitter. I don't see a problem with Cybersitter as long as the user knows what it does. Perhaps you could pressure the makers C-sitter to disclose all information relating to their product. Personally, I may not want my children to look at NOW, NARAL, NAMBLA, gay related etc. etc. sites. I'm the parent-I make those decisions. I feel that there are many who are offended that these types of sites are being blocked. But a parent excersising his control over what his child views is NOT censorship (much as I would have argued that it is when I was 16...); it is merely a parent trying to discern as best he can what would be in his child's best interest. When the child raeches the age of majority, he can decide for himself. This is common sense, and I feel frustrated that I would even have to point this out, but it shows how ignorant and self-indulgent our society has become.

kathy pope kpope@webspan.net

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I am curious, have any of the pornography distributers ever gotten together to develop their own filtering software? I think it would be benificial for them to agree on some standardized code that they could incorporate into their own sites to interact with software that they create or have created for them that would block pornographic sites. It would benifit them in two ways:1. They would profit from sales of the filtering software and 2. they would better their image if they were seen to be making conscious efforts to keep pornography out of kids' hands (or hard drives).

Have a goood day!

Doyce Dees Doyce_Dees@tamu-commerce.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

i have a question that i feel you might be able to answer. i got yr email address out of your book sex, laws, and cyberspace.

did pics (the platform for internet content selection) originate as a result of the legislation presented by sen. leahy and exon and the cda or did it arise independently of any type of legislation?

tia Sulacco@aol.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

After finding your material I thought you might be interested in looking at some of mine, at http://www.netlink.com.au/~peterl/publicns.html and more particularly at http://www.netlink.com.au/~peterl/publicns.html#NWKART1 I shall be upgrading my stuff with links, and if you have no objection I shall also include connections to yours. I would be interested in hearing your comments on my material.

Peter Lawrence peterl@netlink.com.au

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I should hope to read some commentary by you on an ethical problem related to the "y2k" problem. In newsgroups, those who believe that 1/1/2000 will be a survival nightmare and consequently are stocking everything they can think of from beans to bullets, there arises the question of what to do when the unprepared come knocking at the door.....Shoot or share ?.

What think ye?

R.Clark somehow2@mci2000.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

HELP!! I am currently involved in a discussion group that is set to discuss this statement and how it relates to current events. What is your opinion on the subject? I look forward to any input you can afford us and thanks!!!

Socrates said that at one time men would accept truth even if it were uttered by a stick or a stone. But nowadays we ask who is speaking and what his motives are. What impact does this statement have in current ethical models? How does this statement relate to recent current events? And what would you consider to be our emerging ethical models?

Deb House deb.house@worldnet.att.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Read your article on the Right to Revolution. You have the postion of the NRA only partly right. Here is an example of what our founders meant by a right of revolution which is the same position taken by the NRA. Suppose that the citizens elect a president such as Hitler. Suppose that our newly elected president declares martial law, disbans congress and sets up a dictatorship. He then proceeds to mass murder all citizens over 5'10" as he wants to be the tallest citizen in the Country. He uses our military to achieve his goal of exterminating all who oppose him. Would it not be time to take up arms against this new government? If the citizens were disarmed how could they protect themselves? Would not our representatives try and organize the citizens in a revolt to try and gain control of the government back?

I know that this example is extreme, but it only an example. We are here to support and defend the constitution.

If you want to publish a story, why not take on the lower federal courts and those who are attempting to redefine the Second Amendment as a states right? My question to you is why are they? What is their underlying purpose in trying to disarm the people? This is the real story, as there is no doubt that they are lying. Think about it.

Richard Allen Pierce, CPA, CCP, CMA Bookkie@yolo.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

You've created a much needed as well as interesting e-zine. And because of your and its prominence in the inter-connected areas of ethics, politics and social change, I was wondering if whenever you have a few moments you would be good enough to give us a critique of the somewhat revolutionary ideas we have begun proposing in our web-site... http://www.messiahs-inc.org.

BTW, you might find the legal brief contained in http://www.messiahs-inc.org/famchrch.html to be of particular interest, as it addresses all of your mission statements goals within the institution ever most upstream since "In the beginning" and ideally ever most close to the human heart.

Sincerely, Yale Landsberg yale@BRAIN.invenio.com

P.S. You honor your father most wonderfully. So in a very real and good way your father already did what we are just proposing more fathers (and mothers) do.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

At http://www.spectacle.org/cda/cdamn.html there is the following:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. "

[With the below quote immediately following]

"No law" means "no law"--Justice Hugo Black

My question is. Could you cite the case in which this was given?

I've search many different web url's that contain many of the high courts decisions. And some that specialise in older decisions. But havent been able to find it.

I'd like once being being to find it review the case itself for personal study.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Bill Kennedy wlk@magpage.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

just surfed on your website. it really is nicely organized and interesting

jim shirey jshirey@frognet.net

From: "Paul E. Denzel" Dear Mr. Wallace:

I was reading your issue on the prisoner's dilemma and found most of the essays interesting and thought provoking.

I found some of your conclusions to be different from mine using the prisoner's dilemma model. Mostly, these had to do with guns and welfare.

The prisoner's dilemma is basically between two individuals exercising complete control over what "their" side does. Social issues where you identify groups of people on each side run into difficulties using the prisoner dilemma model - because there are no longer two individuals exercising complete control of "their" side's actions.

I can justify providing aid to an individual or group if _I_ can decide whether they have defected or not and choose to withold my aid. When tax money is used to provide the aid and I have no choice in whether the aid is given to an individual or not, then I am not playing in the game. I can no longer give Tit for Tat.

Never having been on welfare, I have no idea what they go through and what their perceptions might be. If they are cooperating with society, they will be doing there best to provide value to society. Since value to Society is not something easy to define, we have to leave it up to the individuals what they think they have that is of value to society. Of course, they might be wrong about what society consider's valuable. Many entrepeneur's have struck out finding something that society thought was valuable. They usually kept on trying to find something until they either found it, or ran out of time (left for a different society, died, or ?). This is what the cooperating individual does. The uncooperating individual starts breaking the rules by thievery (taking what others have received from society), robbing (thievery by force), or worse.

The problem I have with welfare the way it appears to be (at least to me) is that there is no incentive to get off it. There's no way to punish the defecting welfare recipient or, if there is, its implementation is less than precise.

The guns issue is basically that I feel that I have the right to punish the ultimate defection from society (use of force against me). If somebody is breaking the rules of society against me I need to be able to protect myself (Society won't protect me, it might punish the offender, but that doesn't help me) and my property (I spent my time, my life acquiring the property, taking it is an assault on me). If you will grant me the right to protection of self and my property, will you grant me the right to do so no matter what the disparity between the agressor and myself is? I would like to think that the 80 year old grandma should have the same right to self protection as me. Yet, physically, she is less capable of self protection than somebody younger, bigger, or stronger. This is where the guns come in - they have been called the "great equalizer" because the gun allows the grandma to successfully defend herself against an assailant no matter what the disparity of force is.

The prisoner's dilemma comes in to play when we consider what guns bring to the equation of individual on individual interactions. Cooperating would be never initiating force against another. Defection would be attacking or forcing another to do something. Tit for Tat would be to use force only when force is used against you. Guns allow any individual implement the Tit for Tat no matter who is the defector. This is the basis of the phrase "an armed society is a polite society". If everybody knows the consequences of defecting (using force against another) is to have force used against them with a high degree of success, cooperation will be the likelier choice by all.

Now what happens to the equation when the potential defector believes that the consequences are very small to defecting? If they feel that they can use force on those weaker than themselves without fear of punishment or Tit for tat, they are more likely to choose defection to cooperation.

What the semiautomatic or high capacity firearms do is allow the individual deal more successfully with higher levels of force being used against them. This is why police officers are still allowed to own high capacity firearms. Nobody is proposing that all individuals become crime fighters or vigilantes. All we suggest is that individuals be given the best tools for self defence as possible so that the defectors of society will perceive a greater consequence to defecting.

Anyway, I did enjoy reading the articles in this issue.

Paul E. Denzel Paul.e.denzel@boeing.com