Monday, 4 June 2007


This is hilarious. I wish I could have been in attendance with my Gibson SG.

Addendum: I give you “Smoke on the Water.” I feel sorry for today’s young people. They have no good music. Here is Deep Purple at the peak of its powers. Young people: Meet rock and roll.

Addendum 2: Here is an underrated band.

Addendum 3: This one goes out to my old friend David Cortner.

Addendum 4: This is one of my students from the University of Arizona. The Introduction to Philosophy course I taught during the spring of 1986 is still the best ever.

Twenty Years Ago

6-4-87 There is only one more lecture to give [in Sex, Ethics, and the Law]: tomorrow morning. Today we discussed rape. Believe it or not, rape raises several philosophical questions. Almost everyone admits that rape ought to be criminalized, but here are some issues that generate dispute: (1) Should husbands be chargeable with rape against their wives? (2) If the answer to that question is “no,” does it matter that the parties are legally married, but have been separated for some time? (3) What if, on a date, a woman says “no” to intercourse, but the man takes this as coyness and proceeds to have sex with her anyway, against her will? Is that rape? (4) As a matter of evidence, must a woman resist to her utmost in order to make out a case of rape? (5) What is the best explanation for the existence of statutory rape laws? Are they designed, as some feminists theorize, to preserve a pool of young, chaste women for men? Or is there a legitimate reason for them? (6) As a matter of evidence, is it relevant to the issue of consent that the woman has consented to the alleged rapist on previous occasions?

Obviously, we didn’t have time to address all of these issues. We did, however, have a lengthy debate on (6), the question of relevance. Here’s the situation that I described. M and F have consensual intercourse four times over a period of weeks. One night, F says “no” to M’s advances, but M persists in having intercourse with her. Later, F charges M with rape. At trial, the question is whether F consented to having intercourse with M on occasion #5, for consent is a defense to rape. Is it relevant to this question, I asked the students, that F consented to intercourse with M on four previous occasions? To my surprise, most of the students said “no,” some of them vehemently. But this strikes me as the wrong theoretical move. While I agree with the students that evidence of the previous consensual acts should not be admitted at trial, the reason is that it’s unduly prejudicial, not that it’s irrelevant. Jurors might think that since F consented once, she consented to all future intercourse; or they might attempt to “punish” her for being promiscuous or engaging in premarital sex.

Thus, almost everyone in the class agreed that as a practical matter, evidence of prior acts of intercourse should not be admitted. We differed, however, on the theoretical basis for that exclusion. In my view, the evidence is relevant, since it has some tendency, however minimal, to establish the proposition in issue (namely, “Did F consent to intercourse with M on occasion #5?”), but should be excluded anyway on grounds of undue prejudice. To the students, the evidence is irrelevant. This, naturally, led to a discussion of relevance (in the law and generally) and to a critique of the feminist position on rape law. Although I’m a radical feminist, I said, I reject some of the standard feminist positions on philosophical grounds. Feminists should be forthright about things and admit that previous acts of consensual intercourse are relevant; but they should then insist that the evidence be excluded on grounds of undue prejudice. In effect, I’m trying to strengthen the feminist position. [I ended up writing a book and many articles on rape. I also edited an anthology on rape.]


Here is a scene from the Mount Hood Classic.


Here is a New Yorker essay about the “implosion” of the Republican Party. These two paragraphs get to the heart of the matter:

Jeff Flake, a four-term congressman from Arizona, is one of the Republicans who have turned on the Administration. He is a Mormon, with five children, and his cheerful personality seems to have somewhat protected him from retribution from a Party leadership that doesn’t like what he’s saying. “The Republican Party has always had three tenets—economic freedom, limited government, and individual responsibility,” he told me not long ago. “If you look at any of those three issues lately, you’d be hard-pressed to say that the Republican Party really stands for any of them. Look at the growth of government. And I’m not just talking about war spending and homeland security. You can put that aside, and we’ve still grown substantially. Look at that tracking-poll question that’s always asked: ‘Whom do you trust more to manage the public’s finances, Republicans or Democrats?’ Republicans have always had a big edge there. And that has narrowed over the years, and now it’s reversed.”

Flake said that he and Representative Mike Pence, an Indiana conservative, often joke that they feel like Revolutionary War-era minutemen who arrived five minutes after the battle was finished. “You know, it took three runs for Mike to get to Congress. We both got here in 2000, we show up and report for duty, and we’re told, ‘All right, No Child Left Behind is the first mission.’ That’s the first thing we do. We arrived for the revolution, and we’re six years late. And then we thought, Maybe this is an aberration, wait until the next term, and then what is it? Prescription drugs. We were just too late.” Limited-government conservatives believe that No Child Left Behind is a federal intrusion into a matter best left to states, and that the prescription-drug bill represents the further expansion of entitlements.

Limited government. That’s the ticket.

All Fred, All the Time

Here is John Fund’s latest column.

Best of the Web Today



This is funny. The three main Democrats running for president oppose the war in Iraq. One (Barack Obama) opposed the war from the outset; one (John Edwards) authorized the war but says he was wrong to do so; one (Hillary Clinton) authorized the war and refuses to say that she was wrong to do so. Three stooges.


A cynic questions people’s motives and sincerity. You say you did X out of benevolence. I, a cynic, say you did it out of self-interest. You assert that p.  I, a cynic, deny that you believe that p. Our age is so deeply cynical, in both of these ways, that people routinely reject both announced motives and professions of sincerity. My sense is that progressives are more cynical than conservatives, but that may be a function of the fact that conservatives have been in power for the past several years. Here is an example of cynicism. Progressives think that reports by governmental officials of foiled terrorist plots are merely attempts to frighten people, and not, therefore, to be taken seriously. It will take an actual terrorist attack to turn these cynics into believers. Oh wait. We had an actual terrorist attack—on 11 September 2001. Many progressives, including some prominent academics, think President Bush orchestrated it, which implies that there has been a massive conspiracy to keep the facts from an unsuspecting public. Now that’s cynicism!

Addendum: One of my readers wrote to say that my definition of “cynic” doesn’t comport with his. Here is the Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed.:

A person disposed to rail or find fault; now usually: One who shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasms; a sneering fault-finder.

You be the judge.

Richard John Neuhaus on Wealth and Liberty

Facts are not liberal or conservative. Interpretations of facts may be ideological, but the indisputable fact is that there is a powerful correlation, a correlation that looks very much like a causal relationship, between freedom, on the one hand, and, on the other, both rich and poor getting richer. Not that this will stop putatively prophetic voices from cheering countries such as Venezuela that are racing toward the future of the socialist past in solidarity with progressive regimes such as that of Cuba. . . .

(Richard John Neuhaus, “The Public Square,” First Things [March 2007]: 56-72, at 63)

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Not to See the Fallen Is No Favor,” by David Carr (The Media Equation, May 28), suggests that the reigning assumption among leaders in Iraq is that we can’t handle the truth. In a curious way, it may well be the duty of fallen soldiers to let us see them—wounded, dying and dead.

If we have the temerity to ask them to risk life and limb protecting American interests, we must ask them to help us know what it looks like, what it feels like, so that we can decide, as a Republic and a people, whether we in fact want to exact that private and public cost.

“It is well,” Robert E. Lee is reported to have said, “that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it.”

We can’t handle the truth? We had better.

William Monroe
Houston, May 30, 2007

Note from KBJ: I have no objection to the media showing the costs of war, as long as they also show the benefits.

A Year Ago