Are Neo-Nazi Nincompoops Automatically Unfit Parents?

Kate Bernyk, a spokeswoman for New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services, wants us to know it was not about the names. Or at least, it wasn't just about the names. When the agency removed 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell, almost-2-year-old Joyce-Lynn Aryan Nation Campbell, and 9-month-old Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell from their Holland Township, New Jersey, home last week, it was because of "an imminent danger," Bernyk explained to the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Express-Times, "and that wouldn't include the child's name alone." Which suggests that the children's Nazi-themed names did have something to do with their removal from the custody of their parents, Heath and Deborah Campbell, whom you may remember from last month's media storm over their unsuccessful attempt to have ShopRite inscribe a cake for little Adolf Hitler's birthday.

What other factors might have played a role in the state's decision? Because of confidentiality rules, the state isn't saying. But I'm guessing the Campbells' decorating taste (heavy on the swastikas) did not help their case. Their white supremacist—excuse me, separatist—ideology probably also did not endear them to the social workers. And then there is the Campbells' avowed obliviousness to the consequences of using their children as billboards for their ideology.

But does any of this rise to the level of child abuse? A "forensic psychologist" consulted by Fox News thinks so:

Part of it is the infantile nature of the parents' behavior. You can name your dog something weird, but they think they're making some kind of bold statement with the children, not appreciating that the children will have separate lives and will be looked at in a negative light until they're able to change their name. It is abuse.

That snap judgment is reminiscent of the remote diagnosis rendered by the psychologist who last month assured The Express-Times that "any parent that would impose such horrific names on their children is mentally ill," because "only a crazy person would do that" (a judgment any Jewish mother could make without the benefit of a Ph.D.). The dangers of applying such standards to parents whose odd beliefs may expose their children to ridicule should be clear. Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech demand that we tolerate neo-Nazi nincompoops, even when their teachings and behavior impose a burden on their children. 

Maybe the Campbells did something that put their children in immediate physical danger, and we just don't know about it. But The Express-Times reports that local police "have received no recent reports of abuse, negligence or threats against the family that might have put the children in danger." A police sergeant who accompanied state officials when they took the children away has known Heath Campbell for years and says, "He's always been very good with the kids. His kids seem to mean a lot to him." Furthermore, Bernyk's implication that the children's weird names may have been one of the reasons for their removal suggests the Campbells (and their children) are being punished, at least in part, for their unpopular opinions. 

[Thanks to gmatts for the tip.]

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  • Naga Sadow||

    Hmmmmmm. Social stigma is a bitch.

  • Thaddeus J. Killthejews||

    But what about when your LAST name is the problem?

  • phalkor ||

    fuck philipsburgh, NJ, white-trashiest city ever. I am in no way surprised by this story.

  • Douglas Gray||

    Best thing to do in such cases, is ask neighbors and friends how they treat their kids. If they treat them OK, give'em back.

    Opinionated experts are not the answer

  • Jeff P||

    Would the parents complain if the neighbors next door named their dogs "Can't Paint" and "One to the Temple?"

  • ||

    Before we get too far down the comedy highway, let us remember here that the children are screwed either way. Either they can have endangeringly oblivious (at best) parents who love them but clearly can't or don't think of their future psychological well-being OR they can get shunted into a system where they will be treated like a burden for the next 15-18 years. In other words, best of luck to those three, regardless.

  • ||

    Is it safe to assume that parents wacky enough to hane their children like that may also be quite capable of other parenting infractions?

  • ||

    You know, Jacob, alliteration is so pedestrian.

    even when their teachings and behavior impose a burden on their children

    Many things impose a burden on children. Such as having a parent that works an unpopular or reviled job, such as meter maid or public school teacher. Having a felon for a parent, or a jerk for a parent also causes problems. Or having Joan Crawford as your mother.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Nincompoops? God, Jacob, you ARE Jewish. Wanna head down to Einstein brothers for some bagels and lox?

    :D

  • ev||

    I'm a bit torn. I wouldn't take away the children based on their names and I am inclined to let the parents do what they want. However. A big however. I can easily see how naming a child after a cockmunch like Hitler is inviting danger. Naming your child Adolf Hitler does indeed increase the risk of his being beaten.

    On the comedy side: I would love to be in the kindergarten room and witness the teacher's reaction when she gets to 'Cambell, Hitler Adolf' on the rollcall list. There would be a beat and an awkward attempt to act like there wasn't. Priceless.

  • Other Matt||

    You can name your dog something weird, but they think they're making some kind of bold statement with the children

    Moon Unit and Dweezil, on the other hand...

  • jtuf||

    Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech demand that we tolerate neo-Nazi nincompoops, even when their teachings and behavior impose a burden on their children.


    Agreed.

  • BDB||

    The kid can always change his name on his 18th birthday.

  • ||

    I somehow missed learning about the famous Nazi named "Honszlynn Hinler."

  • ||

    seeing "adolf hitler" on a resume makes the decision whether to hire or not easy. i have enough trouble as it is.

  • ||

    "I can easily see how naming a child after a cockmunch like Hitler is inviting danger. Naming your child Adolf Hitler does indeed increase the risk of his being beaten."

    So does wearing glasses or not being good at kickball. Or being a different ethnicity or religeon than the majority.

  • Adam||

    Here in Quebec, the registrar can go to court to dispute the name if it "clearly invites ridicule." I'm a libertarian, and I don't think that's totally unreasonable. I mean, if you really want to screw up a kid, name him (or her) "Jerkwad Cocksucker" (or some such). Changing the name at age 18 is definitely not much help in that situation.

    Of course, we're only talking about 0.0000000000000000000000001% of cases, which is normally a great argument against government intervention (the cost - in money and liberty - is not worth the miniscule benefit). But since the state is involved in registering names anyway, whether we like it or not, I think it's reasonable to say that in extreme cases, there is legal authority for challenging the parents. To my knowledge, this provision is very, very rarely invoked by the authorities and even more rarely successfully applied (one famous case involved a kid the parents wanted to name "Spatule" - spatula in French).

    There's also the case of that New Zealand girl named something like Talula-does-the-Hula-from-Hawaii. The court ordered the parents to change her name. I don't want the courts telling me what I can name the kid (like in Europe, where often the name must come off an approved list). But with a name like that, you might as well just paint "I'm a big stupid loser and I pee in my pants" on the kid's forehead when sending him or her to school. That seems a tad abusive.

  • ||

    Maybe the Campbells did something that put their children in immediate physical danger, and we just don't know about it.

    Exactly, we know nothing about this right now. Until further enlightenment this has all of the trappings of the seizure of the children from the Yearning For Zion Ranch. If the state really wants to set the bar so high for custodial rights for parents as to declare these names a form of abuse, be prepared for wholesale institutionalization of children.

  • Adam||

    "So does wearing glasses or not being good at kickball. Or being a different ethnicity or religeon than the majority."

    Not exactly things over which the parents have much control.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Or being a different ethnicity or religeon than the majority.

    Yes, Lord knows that America is just rife with nationalistic hate crimes.

  • ||

    Wait. What's the problem here?

  • ||

    If the kid was named "Jesus Of Nazareth Campbell" and the parents were whacked-out fundies, that kid would be celebrated on Fox and right wing radio.

  • Adam||

    "If the state really wants to set the bar so high for custodial rights for parents as to declare these names a form of abuse, be prepared for wholesale institutionalization of children."

    I'm just curious for those that are taking an absolutist position on this: is there NO name whatsoever that could ever justify outside intervention? Bear in mind that intervention doesn't have to mean taking the kid away - it can mean changing the child's legal name. And I ask in the question on its own merits, separate from slippery-slope arguments.

  • ||

    Legate Damar says the kids are screwed either way, but that raises what should be the real question here:

    Assuming there's no immediate physical danger, but just really bad parental opinions, how is it better for these kids to be removed and shunted around the foster care system than to be with their parents who, even if they are a bit whacked, presumably still love them?

    Too often we take bad parenting to be an ipso facto case for removing the kids and never ask if the state-sponsored alternative might be worse, however bad home is. This seems like just one of those cases.

  • ||

    When you name your boy Sue, he kicks your ass later in life, so it all works out. It makes him tough, and that's why you did it. Because you couldn't be there for him.

  • BDB||

    Name change. Name change. You can do it when you're 18.

    Yeah, he will be made fun of for it in school, but kids are assholes and they'd find something else to tease him about anyway.

  • ||

    is there NO name whatsoever that could ever justify outside intervention?

    If the name is the only thing the state has to hang its hat on, then to me there is no name that justifies outside intervention. The slippery slope I see is not that any name goes, it is how low this sets the bar for parenting to be labeled worthy of intervention by agents of the state.

  • d||

    If the parents were crazy enough to saddle their children with entirely socially unacceptable names, then it does make me wonder how their judgement might be on other child-rearing decisions. My name is just barely enough out of the ordinary to invite a good bit of bullying in grade school (nothing remotely in comparison to this case tho). . . yet these two went totally out of their way to make their kid's lives in grade school total misery. Can't say I have much sympathy for the parents (they could change their own names to make a statement). Tho foster care probably won't be a walk in the park either, as another poster pointed out. Tough choices, but I do think they warrant a look over by the child services people. If it is found out later that the parents are unfit, say one child is hurt or something, then the local DHS would catch all kinds of grief over not investigating after all this publicity.

  • ||

    So what if they are Nazis? What if the parents love the ol' National Socialists, and decided to name their kids after some famous (infamous) Nazis? So long as they aren't invading any countries, what the hell business is it of any of ours? Should we be vigilant? Yes. Should we try our best to sway their opinions? I think so, yes. But...

    Damn it, people. You can't take away a person's children for their political views, no matter how repulsive; and that is exactly what this case is coming to.

  • ||

    is there NO name whatsoever that could ever justify outside intervention?

    Fuck Nigger Kike Buttfuck Ballsac Q. Beaverdick.

    Other than that, no.

  • ||

    Yeah, he will be made fun of for it in school,

    I don't know about you, but when I was a kid the LAST fucking thing I would do is make fun of a kid named Adolf Hitler.

  • MNG||

    "Yes, Lord knows that America is just rife with nationalistic hate crimes."


    For what it's worth, here is the FBI's stats on hate crimes, by the bias motivating the crime, in the US for the year 2007:

    http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t31132007.pdf

    The 22 anti-heterosexual ones strike me as one's I'd like to know more about...

  • BDB||

    LOL, good point Jamie.

  • ||

    is there NO name whatsoever that could ever justify outside intervention?

    --------------------------

    Fuck Nigger Kike Buttfuck Ballsac Q. Beaverdick.


    For the sake of keeping the government out of the business of naming children, I'd say not even that.

  • ||

    Why not just let kids change their names? Yeah, yeah, someone's kid is going to name himself something stupid, but at least this way it's self-inflicted, and he can change it back.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Interesting! Thanks, MNG. From just a quick look, it looks like anti-white and anti-Catholic (read: Christian) are pretty popular 'crimes' to commit.

  • Ska||

    Asswipe Johnson | January 16, 2009, 4:08pm | #

    Wait. What's the problem here?


    It's pronounced "oss-wee-pay."

    My first name combined with my middle name is very suck, and oddly enough, I never use my middle name.

    Adolph Campbell isn't so fucking bad is it?

  • ||

    [Thanks to gmatts for the tip.]

    What. Ever.

    SugarFree | January 14, 2009, 1:00pm | #
    OT

    Baby Hitler Seized By New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services

    Sorry, I just really wanted to type "Baby Hitler."

  • kinnath||

    The state authorities must have reasonable evidence of immediate physcial harm to remove a child from a parent.

    The possibility that young adolf will be beaten to a pulp a few years from now in grade school is not evidence of immediate harm.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    The 22 anti-heterosexual ones strike me as one's I'd like to know more about...

    Did you notice how almost all of the numbers of anti-heterosexual are the same as the number of anti-bisexual? Probably some kind of category-organizing error (i.e. an anti-bisexual crime could be simultaneously filed as an anti-homosexual crime because the data entry monkey thinks that if you're a man who sleeps with women, you must be straight, even if you take one in your mouth once in a while...)

  • Adam||

    "If the name is the only thing the state has to hang its hat on, then to me there is no name that justifies outside intervention. The slippery slope I see is not that any name goes, it is how low this sets the bar for parenting to be labeled worthy of intervention by agents of the state."

    But the difference between this and, say, ordering a different diet or less TV is that no one is actually ordering the parents to DO anything different. A court just require a different name the child's documents for purposes of school registration, etc. At least avoid the humiliation of having the entire class burst out laughing every time the teacher does roll call (my wife had to put up with that - she's still hyper sensitive about it). The parents can actually use whatever name they want when they're talking to/about the kid.

    I'm very wary of slippery slope arguments. Reductio ad absurdum, they're a good reason for nobody to do anything since anything can be taken too far. I'm not saying they're never valid, but how many people here would agree that kids should NEVER be taken away from their parents because of the possibilty (and sometimes, reality) of state-sponsored kidnappings in the name of "child welfare"? I'm sure some people would say yes, we should never take the kids away, ever, even if they're being tortured and starved - because of the slippery slope. Fair enough, it's a question of risk management, I suppose.

  • ||

    How about Raymond Luxury-Yacht (pronounced Throat-Warbler Mangrove, of course)?

  • kinnath||

    Besides, I'm guessing the Campbells will be part of a larger community that home schools.

  • Other Matt||

    Did you notice how almost all of the numbers of anti-heterosexual are the same as the number of anti-bisexual?

    No, the incidents are the same. There are more "offenses" against heterosexuals than bisexuals. So, they aren't the same.

    I'm actually surprised the "anti Islamic" is so low, personally. That's a good thing.

  • ¡||

    Fortunately for libertarians, naming your kid Herbert Spencer won't get him snatched for your failure to please social workers.

    Unless they look the name up. Then you're fucked.

    ...paeans to the Aryan race...

  • ||

    v=I'm very wary of slippery slope arguments. Reductio ad absurdum, they're a good reason for nobody to do anything since anything can be taken too far. I'm not saying they're never valid, but how many people here would agree that kids should NEVER be taken away from their parents because of the possibilty (and sometimes, reality) of state-sponsored kidnappings in the name of "child welfare"? I'm sure some people would say yes, we should never take the kids away, ever, even if they're being tortured and starved - because of the slippery slope. Fair enough, it's a question of risk management, I suppose.

    Hmm... maybe you're right.

    But I still think this case has more to do with collective hatred of an individual's political beliefs(however so valid) than it does with a child in danger.

  • jb||

    "Damn it, people. You can't take away a person's children for their political views, no matter how repulsive; and that is exactly what this case is coming to."

    Oh, but they can try. Remember CA illegalizing homeschooling? Last March a rather-well-known (in the field of open education) Canadian named Stephen Downes blogged in support of the CA ruling. When he started getting negative comments about his position, he made a video post. It's in th comments here: http://www.downes.ca/post/43767

    During the video he says something like, "Parents don't own their children."

  • ||

    So stupid child names (as defined by... who was that again.. um bureacrats.. oh yeah!) means/equals/suggests child abuse; as believer in fairness and equal treatment under the law, I believe it is my duty to provide the following information:
    Celebrity Baby Names.

    Jamie Kelly | January 16, 2009, 4:22pm | #

    I don't know about you, but when I was a kid the LAST fucking thing I would do is make fun of a kid named Adolf Hitler.



    Yeah, there was a kid in my elementary school (in the 50's) named Adolf... one did not mess with him... I didn't and he beat me up anyway!

    OT: Hi Jamie Kelly, missed ya...

  • ||

    In grade school there was a kid whose parents emigrated from eastern Europe and his last name was Babyak. At least once a week he'd catch hell with the taunt of "Babyak, Babyak. Cause you act like a baby."

    Those teachers were mean.

  • robc||

    Its no longer as easy to search out the silly baby names at the East Alabama Medical Center. Such a loss to comedy.

  • ||

    Naming your child Adolf Hitler does indeed increase the risk of his being beaten.

    So do the following things over which parents do have control:

    (1) Sending them to an inner city school.
    (2) Making them take band.
    (3) Sending them to school in tennis shoes currently fashionable with the OG set.
    (4) Sending them to school in tasseled loafers.

    Etc., ad infinitum.

  • ||

    During the video he says something like, "Parents don't own their children."

    That's... horrifying.

  • Adam||

    "But I still think this case has more to do with collective hatred of an individual's political beliefs(however so valid) than it does with a child in danger."

    I agree. I think the appropriate action in this case would be for the state to apply to court to remove "Hitler" from the child's birth certificate.

    For those who don't want the state to interfere, suppose A.H. is mercilessly ridiculed (forget beaten, let's assume he's not) his whole childhood. He doesn't have real friends because either kids don't want to have anything to do with him or (more plausibly) because their parents refuse to allow their children to do so. He can't get a job as a teen because no one will hire Adolf Hitler. He grows up angry that no one stopped his parents from giving him a name that was almost unquestionably going to have a significant, negative impact on him.

    Would any of that affect your thinking? If not, is there some other fact patten that would?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    During the video he says something like, "Parents don't own their children."

    Horrifying? I mean, parents don't own their children.

  • Jordan||

    Not surprisingly, the supporters of the state here can only come up with an infinite string of "what-ifs." Face it guys: the state doesn't have a leg to stand on in this case, and you know it.

    Besides, what if Nazi zombies take over the world tomorrow and then decide to make this kid their ruler because of his name. What then?

  • ||

    OT: Hi Jamie Kelly, missed ya...

    I missed me too! Found myself at the bottom of a bottle of grain fucking alcohol. Kind of hard to yank my drunk ass out, but I managed.

    OT: How many people here hate Alcoholics Anonymous?

  • Zeb||

    is there NO name whatsoever that could ever justify outside intervention?

    --------------------------

    Fuck Nigger Kike Buttfuck Ballsac Q. Beaverdick.

    For the sake of keeping the government out of the business of naming children, I'd say not even that.


    OK, what about: Rape-Me-Gently-With-a-Chainsaw Fucknose Shit-up-grandma's-pussy Hitler Obama Niggerbaiter McPhee?

  • ||

    The state should not covet anyones elses ox, wife, house, or kids. However, seeing that these parents come from hollandtownship a proper (as followinf comunity standards) name would be Wim and Sofie.

  • Jeff P||

    Zeb: I object to your use of the name "Gently."

  • ||

    Jeff P wins the thread.

  • KaptainKrunchie||

    As I sent little Che, Mao and Stalina off to school today, I felt the warm inner glow of knowing that being a leftist means never having to apologize for anything.

  • ||

    So, is the state now going to legally rename these kids?

    I wonder what the state would do if some "Meet the Parents" fan named their kid "Gaylord Faulker".

  • BakedPenguin||

    OT: How many people here hate Alcoholics Anonymous?



    At least one.

  • oat willie||

    I can't wait until someone names their baby Superman.

  • Kolohe||

    "In grade school there was a kid whose parents emigrated from eastern Europe and his last name was Babyak. At least once a week he'd catch hell with the taunt of "Babyak, Babyak. Cause you act like a baby."

    Among the vietnamese that emmigrated to the DC area in the 70's there were a sizeable amount with either either a personal name or a surname of 'Phuc'. This was hillarious at the six or so rollcalls on the first day of seventh grade.

  • KaptainKrunchie||

    I can't wait until someone names their baby Superman.

    Nicholas Cage's kid counts.

  • ||

    Among the vietnamese that emmigrated to the DC area in the 70's there were a sizeable amount with either either a personal name or a surname of 'Phuc'. This was hillarious at the six or so rollcalls on the first day of seventh grade.

    Did any of them have a last name pronounced "Yu"?

  • ||

    Baked Penguin-

    Make that two.

  • ||

    During the video he says something like, "Parents don't own their children."

    Horrifying? I mean, parents don't own their children.


    True, but neither does the state. And as a general rule, we can trust parent to right by their children much more than we can trust the state. And I frankly don't care about the exceptions, if the state is going to use them as an excuse to institute rules that would allow it to take my children away from me.

  • ||

    We seem to be forgetting that the name of Adolph Hitler is NOT universally hated. Sure, his name is the most infamous name of the 20th century in the view of the vast majority of americans, most, but by no means all, europeans and israelis. Go to Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan or Pakistan and I am sure that the name of George Bush would be far more hated that that of Adolph Hitler. Bush was responsibnle for the murder of hundreds of thousands of those folks.

  • MNG||

    They should name their kid "Pizza Pussy Santa" because everyone likes at least one of those things!

  • ||

    Adam-

    See Seamus.

    Yeah, Baby! Absolute all the way. I'll gladly trade the risk that a few kids might end up dead if there is no intervention by the child welfare SS for the REALITY that untold millions of kids have will have their lives ruined by state intervention and the REALITY that untold multitudes will end up dead because of state intervention.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    libertymike - do you have a point? I mean, no one here seemed to be forgetting anything.

  • MNG||

    libertymike
    Now over 1,000 Gazans dead in a war defended here on Reason by "libertarians" such as Moynihan.

    Acting against whole groups of people at a time instead of individuals horrible when it comes to things like health care, but not so much when it comes to embargoing and blowing the hell out of folks.

  • ||

    During the video he says something like, "Parents don't own their children."

    Ummm, yeah, I should think not. If they owned them, they could sell them. Even hard-core libertarians tend to frown on human trafficking these days.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Now someone else is on his hobby horse. He must not have a date tonight.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I'll gladly trade the risk that a few kids might end up dead if there is no intervention by the child welfare SS...

    That sounds like a utilitarian calculus you are making there, LM. I am surprised.

    Regardless, the government exists to protect rights, and sometimes children's rights are violated by their parents. Government action is appropriate, but it should be restrained as much as possible without failing to protect.

  • MNG||

    I guess the irony of you replying in that way must be lost on you TAO. Certainly you must be missing your date too, right?

    But don't worry, I was talking to libertymike; I know you don't get worked up over things like mass slaughter. I mean, there's things like the Civil Rights Act and programs that might help poor people for that.

  • KaptainKrunchie||

    Don't you get it? With the story splashing in the news media about the kids birthday cake, the state of New Jersey had to do something. Otherwise they would appear to be impotent bureaucrats. What is one family's turmoil when you consider the vacuum of power that inaction would have represented?

    Learn to do what I do, go along to get along. The next kid is going to be named Obama, for sure. No social worker would take an Obama away from his mom and pop!

  • The Angry Optimist||

    My date is a little bit later in the evening, MNG.

    And when you characterize something as a "slaughter", is there really any point in attempting discuss the matter rationally with you? You're begging the question.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Just out of curiosity, though, MNG, when a side engages in a war, what is the acceptable, moral ratio of combatant:civilian casualties?

  • ||

    TAO-

    Have you read the posts? How many made the point that the underly8ing premise of the story, that naming one's kid Adolph Hitler, is, in and of itself, evil, is a false premise and one that would be made by a bigoted ignoramus?

    What's your point?

  • KaptainKrunchie||

    Given you have been assaulting the IDF for weeks now with your complaints, MNG, you may want to consider naming your next kid, Moshe Dayan. Sure, he purposively ordered a bombing run on an
    American vessel, but Americans are so screwed up there are probably more than a few reading this who believe Dayan was a hero. If Moshe is too ethnic a name for your taste, consider Jonathan Pollard.

  • ||

    TAO-

    You realize that my post did not assert that nobody made good, strong libertarian arguments against state intervention. My post concerned the underlying premise and that it should not be taken as a given that naming one's child Adolp Hitler is axiomatically, morally, absolutely, unequivocally, malum in se.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    but LM, in America it is, for all intensive purposes in the society at large.

  • ||

    He did cut a dashing figure with that eyepatch he sported, yes?

  • KaptainKrunchie||

    He did cut a dashing figure with that eyepatch he sported, yes?

    Admittedly, if it wasn't for that little matter with the USS Liberty, I would probably be a big fan for no other reason than the cool eyepatch too.

  • ||

    Yes, it is okay to name one's kid Moshe Dayan. In fact, it would be just fine to name one's son Moshe Dayan even if one lived in Basra.

  • ||

    TAO-

    Yes. In america, yes.



    Gotta go.

  • Adam||

    "I'll gladly trade the risk that a few kids might end up dead if there is no intervention by the child welfare SS for the REALITY that untold millions of kids have will have their lives ruined by state intervention and the REALITY that untold multitudes will end up dead because of state intervention."

    Sure, if that was the trade-off we were facing, but... it's not. If you were going to come up with a list of government activities most dangerous to liberty, re-naming one kid in 1,000,000 (a made-up figure but something close to the truth, I suspect) is probably not at the top of the list. Torture is probably higher up. Bailout Nation is probably higher up.

  • ||

    Only good thing about this story is that the neo-nazi parents might be crazy enough to bring an AK-47 down to the department of social services and wipe a few of these scumbags out. Unfortunately we're at the point where that's what its probably going to take to get through to these goons.

  • MNG||

    Married people don't date TAO, we reap the sucess of past dates.

    As to your question (notice how I actually answer people's questions) the utilitarian in me says that the IDF's action fails because it has killed over 1,000 people to stop an action that at most threatened about two dozen people. That's simple.

    If I have any deontologist in me I would note just war theory, as I have many times on this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_war_theory

    The IDF's actions fall woefully short on many criteria (proportionality in both cause and conduct, probability of success, etc).

  • Idi Amin||

    "is there NO name whatsoever that could ever justify outside intervention?"

    Barak Hussein Obama?

  • MNG||

    Moshe Dayan, I'm no big fan, but Ariel Sharon, the Butcher of Beirut, he's worse.

  • zoltan||

    What gives the state the right to rename a child? Where else does it "intervene" to protect a child against growing up where they might be bullied for something else they don't have control of?

  • MNG||

    So that ratio has to tip to the "more lives saved by the action" than "more lives killed by the action" to make it right, to give you a specific answer.

  • ||

    What about all the "crazy" made up "African" named kids are exposed to degrading and demeaning rap and hip-hop lyrics?

    What about all the other kids whose parents allow them to watch totally inappropriate television and movies and video games?

    I have yet to hear that these parents have done anything legally or civilly wrong to THEIR children, Adolf Campbell, Joyce-Lynn Campbell, and Honszlynn Campbell. (AND notice they don't have to be referred to WITH their middle names!)

  • MNG||

    Dating may be over, but watching movies with the family is not.

    But as I leave TAO, since you asked me for the principle I use to guide my judgment and I quickly and readily gave them, maybe you can finally do the same.

    You argued on H&R that it would be morally wrong to enact anti-discrimination measures because, while they would help people who are currently being harmed by past wrongs, the burdens would fall on some people who did not perpetuate those wrongs nor currently benefit from them.

    In the Gazan situation we have an action to help people currently harmed by wrongs (the S. Israelis), but the burdens are falling on hundreds (thousands if you want to discuss the blockade) who did not perpetrate those wrongs. How can that be OK but the former situation so egregious?

    You can fuss over me picking on you, but the reason why others, like fluffy, thought you never answered this is because we've never seen you do so.

  • ||

    Here's the thing. If having a name like Adolph Hitler Campbell is so important to the father, why doesn't he change his own name to Adolph Hitler Campbell? Then HE can take the pleasures and downside risks of the name. If he likes it enough, his son can be Adolph Hitler Campbell, II, which is at least easier to explain.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    How can that be OK but the former situation so egregious?

    I never said it was OK. that's the irritating part.

  • ||

    RL | January 16, 2009, 7:56pm | #
    Here's the thing. If having a name like Adolph Hitler Campbell is so important to the father, why doesn't he change his own name to Adolph Hitler Campbell? Then HE can take the pleasures and downside risks of the name. If he likes it enough, his son can be Adolph Hitler Campbell, II, which is at least easier to explain.



    Ya! Except for one thing, the father is a coward! And it is more about getting attention by being provocative with his kids' names anyway, rather than he "...take the pleasures and downsides... of the name.

  • ||

    Lamar:

    If the kid was named "Jesus Of Nazareth Campbell" and the parents were whacked-out fundies, that kid would be celebrated on Fox and right wing radio.

    Not so much if he were "Jesus of Nazareth Martinez".

  • ||

    I know a guy named Adolf (middle name not hitler, obviously). He goes by AJ. It's on his drivers liscense. never changed his name, made it through 8 years in the army - bad ass dude, but clearly embarassed. survived just fine, none the less.

  • zoltan||

    If the kid was named "Jesus Of Nazareth Campbell" and the parents were whacked-out fundies, that kid would be celebrated on Fox and right wing radio.


    One little quibble, Jesus of Nazareth didn't kill a bunch of Jews. That was his followers.

  • ||

    Are neo-Nazi nincompoops automatically unfit parents? YES!!!!

  • Famous Mortimer||

    I totally think the state should block bad names by parents. I mean, I just got Mortimer, and look what it did to me!

  • economist||

    Going back to a point made by someone else on the thread: If they named their child Che, Mao, Fidel Castro, or Lenin (I think Stalin might be out), Social Services wouldn't give a crap.

  • economist||

    To really test the equivalence theory here, someone should try naming their child "Josef Stalin (insert surname)".

  • Dirty Lying Little Two-Faced G||

    My parents named me "Monty Python". I of course changed it when I turned 18.

  • KaptainKrunchie ||

    If my next batch happens to be a pair of wondertwins, I'll name the girl Blondie after Deborah Harry, and I'll name the boy Blondie, the nick name for Clint Eastwood's most bad ass character from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

    How could that possibly go wrong Ms. Social Services? Oh, Clint is addicted to guns. Sorry boy Blondie, but you will have to go with Ms. Social Services now. Oh, Deb played shot heroin. You too, girl Blondie. Pack your stuff, you are going with this nice lady.

  • Raymond Luxury Yacht||

    Mr. Git,

    How is your name pronounced?

  • Heinrich Bimmler||

    I am standing for parliament in the north Minehead by-election. Please to be voting for me.

  • ||

    If I were that kid, I'd probably be all over the news for killing the folks with a firearm somewhere around age nine or so.

    That being said, the name is certainly a reason to see if the kid's parents are nutjobs. If they're clinically insane (quite likely) then the kid shouldn't be left in their custody.

    -jcr

  • MNG||

    "I never said it was OK. that's the irritating part."

    You're being a bit coy here TAO.

    http://www.reason.com/blog/show/130873.html

    You said you thought Israel's current actions were "ineffective" and I asked you if they were morally wrong and you said "It depends."
    You were certainly a bit more emphatic in how wrong the anti-discrimination laws were. And that strikes me as amazingly odd since the mild restrictions on the right of association of the people in that scenario are surely less important than the right to life and other things the average Gazan gives and is giving up.

    Fluffy asked you point blank about it in the same thread and you linked to yourself saying "MNG thinks I've defended these actions and the blockade neither of which is true."

    Lest you cry about me picking on you I think it best to just quote fluffy's comments on that thread:

    "For several posts now MNG has asked you to explain why the Palestinians don't count when it comes to the basic political and economic liberties libertarians are supposed to support, and you won't answer. You continually produce non-answer answers like "So now you're saying I'm a racist" or "Why are you obsessed with me" or whatever. I'm starting to suspect that you don't have an answer, so you will write anything but an answer."

  • Recovered Memory Therapist||

    I just got Mortimer, and look what it did to me!

    Can you show us on the doll where Mr. Bergen touched you, Mr. Snerd? It's not your fault, nobody blames you.

  • MNG||

    It's like that bizarre episode of Happy Days where the Fonz tries to say he's sorry but it won't come out, as if you just can't bring your fingers to write the words "Israel's actions in the blockade of Gaza and it's current incursion are horribly immoral..." It keeps coming out as "it depends" or "i've never said I approve" which strike me as strange given the ready denunciation of much milder fare...

  • KaptainKrunchie||

    I know a guy named Adolf (middle name not hitler, obviously). He goes by AJ. It's on his drivers liscense. never changed his name, made it through 8 years in the army - bad ass dude, but clearly embarassed. survived just fine, none the less.

    Isn't Adolf the name of the dude who makes that great A-1 steak sauce? Can't see much wrong with that. I don't think the name really degenerates until Hitler is added to it.

    That being said, the name is certainly a reason to see if the kid's parents are nutjobs. If they're clinically insane (quite likely) then the kid shouldn't be left in their custody.

    Not necessarily insane but possibly their historical reference doesn't have a commonality that you assume. Just as someone pointed out, the name Bush could be a cause for a social worker in Persia to take the kids from the home, whereas here, at worse, it may get a strange look or two. Or, the kid may be spat on at some point in time, but the social workers will not come knocking.

    Trailer trash likely do not possess the same perspective on these matters as you or I do. The couple could have
    flipped through cable stations and the accumulative two and a half hours over the course of years of flipping where they landed on the Hitler, I mean History, Channel could have given them the impression Hitler was an enigmatic and powerful person worthy of emulation. After all, he has a freakin' channel almost entirely devoted to him.

    Context of course is important, obviously any one who would name their kid Delano is not in full possession of their senses, but would you take their babies away?

  • gmatts||

    This list is also very interesting. It's a list of names that are forbidden in Malaysia. Now I don't know much about Malaysian-Japanese relations, but I'm guessing that Honda people did something to upset the Malaysian government.
    http://www.listafterlist.com/tabid/57/listid/8068/Life++Love/4Real+Forbidden+Baby+Names.aspx

    "Malaysia: Hokkien Chinese Ah Chwar (Snake)
    Khiow Khoo (Hunchback)
    Woti (Sexual intercourse)
    no animals, insects, fruit, vegetables, numbers (007) or colours as names
    no royal or honorary titles or Japanese cars as names"

  • gmatts||

    "I would love to be in the kindergarten room and witness the teacher's reaction when she gets to 'Cambell, Hitler Adolf' on the rollcall list. There would be a beat and an awkward attempt to act like there wasn't. Priceless."

    If the kid goes to public school, the name might not even register with the kids in class.

  • cunnivore||

    Taking the kids away from the parents on the basis of the name? Totally outrageous. If the name is endangering the child's safety, the most the state should do is try to get the name legally changed.

    But even there you're on dangerous ground. The government should not be taking sides on the merits of various historical or political figures as namesakes. Sure, Adolf Hitler is pretty universally reviled; but what about the parents who name their kid Fidel Castro? There are plenty of environments where that kid would get a beatdown, and plenty where that name would be appreciated. Would courts refuse to allow a kid to be named Jefferson Davis, but allow a kid to be named Abraham Lincoln?

  • cunnivore||

    and yes, I know the slippery slope isn't a valid logical argument. But it is a good model for human behavior, which is often notably illogical.

  • ||

    The dangers of applying such standards to parents whose odd beliefs may expose their children to ridicule should be clear.

    I've been teaching my oldest daughter about libertarianism. She's been expressing parts of that philosophy when her teachers and classmates parrot the standard statist line. This has not been a popularity-boosting thing for her. Should she be removed from my care and given unto the tender embrace of the state because I've given her the opportunity to embrace unpopular views?

    The state has no business taking kids away from their parents for teaching them things that other people may find despicable, such as the love of freedom.

  • ||

    I'm just curious for those that are taking an absolutist position on this: is there NO name whatsoever that could ever justify outside intervention?

    No, if you mean allowing the state to decide which names parents will be allowed to name their kids.

    I mean, if the parents name their precious daughter Slut Cocksucker Smith, I'm willing to bet the daughter would come up with a nickname in a hurry, and never tell anyone their real anem. And I'm willing to bet that any parent so lacking in common sense would almost certainly also do other, actionable things that would on their own merits justify intervention.

    Now, if the kid was getting beat up regularly because his name was Adolph Hitler Smith and his parents enrolled him in a Jewish-majority public school, I can see having some state intervention in the form of preventing others from beating the kid up, such as expelling the offending kids from school.

    But I don't think that's what you're talking about.

  • bureaucrats_are_stupid||

    Who wants to wager that if the kids weren't particularly enamored of mom and dad's taste in socio/political ideology, they will be hard-core believers by the time the bureaucRATS get through with fucking up their home?

  • another pedant||

    for all intensive purposes in the society at large.



    I think you mean "for all intents and purposes in the society at large".

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Ahh, intents and purposes! I never knew.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    So, MNG, when I say "I've never defended Israel's actions", that is factually and literally true, and yet somehow, I am in the wrong for it.

    And try as you might, but the current actions and the CRA and other liberty-reducing measures do not lend themselves to ready parallels. For one, you have to ask what the intent behind the current government action is.

  • ||

    My appointment is now 3 minutes late-but I see my two pals have picked up where they left off last night.

  • ||

    I can easily see how naming a child after a cockmunch like Hitler is inviting danger. Naming your child Adolf Hitler does indeed increase the risk of his being beaten.

    Maybe the parents are Johnny Cash fans.

  • ||

    JCR 10:36pm

    Your post appears to express an opinion that is a departure from your worldview.

  • ||

    TAO-

    Yes, last night I was making a utilitarian argument in my 6:27 post. Yes, I recognize that is somewhat of a departure as I usually rest my case on the moral side of the street.

  • MNG||

    OK TAO, stop being coy and tell us then what about the intent makes it different.

  • MNG||

    "when I say "I've never defended Israel's actions", that is factually and literally true, and yet somehow, I am in the wrong for it."

    Well, and you've never said they were wrong either, which is kind of strange when you've been asked point blank whether they are wrong or right.

  • MNG||

    The CRA's intent is to protect some groups from current harms to them.

    Israel's intention is to protect some groups (the S. Israeli's) from current harm to them.

    In doing so both actions are going to place burdens on those who had no hand in perpetrating the harms in question.

    So I'm not seeing it.

  • MNG||

    libertymike
    Not to be picky but...I realize "utilitarian" is often used as a term meaning "practical as opposed to moral" but that's actually incorrect. Utilitarianism is simply the merging of two ideas: 1. an actions morality is judged by its consequences and 2. those actions which maximize utility (human welfare or well being) in their conseequences are the morally correct actions. It also has a corollary that all human welfare is to be weighted equally when doing the calculus.

    In other words, being "utilitarian" or making an utilitarian argument is not to be on a different place from "the moral side of the street", it is a moral theory at heart. It just often seems not to be the case because it does justify the means (the practical side) by their ends.

    That said though you usually argue from a more deontological rights based position, and I'm guessing that is what TAO and yourself was acknowledging (which is odd because TAO slips from utilitarian to deontological stances more than I'm sure he'd like to admit).

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Well, and you've never said they were wrong either

    Neither have you! The sole moral statement you have made on it was this: "the utilitarian in me says that the IDF's action fails because it has killed over 1,000 people to stop an action that at most threatened about two dozen people."

    Which, of course, lends itself to a plethora of questions, like: What about Rule Utilitarianism? What about the logical extension/reductio of this argument, that 1,001 Israelis have to theoretically die prior to Israel taking action?

    Israel and the Palestinians both have a tough row to hoe: when Israel eases on the blockade, the suicide bombers come in. The suicide bombers are a tiny minority that smear the reputation of all Palestinians (them and the 9/11 street celebrants). When the blockade goes up, Palestinians are pretty justifiably pissed and they strike back with rockets.

    This is why I am not in any hurry to manufacture some kind of moral outrage over a knotty problem. This is also why I said "it depends". It depends on whether the blockades are actually functioning to ensure Israel's continued existence and what actions are justifiable in a war. I mean, you'll note I am not in a hurry to condemn the blockade of the South in the Civil War either, even though that punished the actions of all Southerners for the actions of a few.

    In war, standard discussion of rights is not applicable. Hence why the CRA (a peacetime, permanent restriction of liberty, here forever) makes me more angry than a blockade (a possibly justified, temporary measure that might be necessary to win the war/ensure survival).

  • The Angry Optimist||

    which is odd because TAO slips from utilitarian to deontological stances more than I'm sure he'd like to admit

    I'm bimoral. Whatever gets my moral rocks off...and it depends if I have been drinking ;D

  • ||

    Do we get to add Bernard Madoff to the list of banned names?

  • MNG||

    Well, the first part is easy: Israel's blockade and its current military actions are morally wrong. But I've said that before in other threads.

    I think you misunderstand how the utilitarianism argument works here: it's not that 1,001 Israelis would have to die before they can take any action, it's that any action they take must have the ultimate consequence of saving more lives than that action kills. Again, to kill 1,000 people to save what at most would have been a few dozen lives it simply going to fail that test.

    "In war, standard discussion of rights is not applicable." This is actually something of what I've been thinking all along you were going to say, and my response is: why? What about war affects rights in this way? That it is an emergency?

    It also seems implicit in your post that actions are justified when they "ensure {a nations} survival." And I find this odd because in discussions over things like national borders and national resources you tended to have a very dim view of justifying actions in terms of referring to an "abstract" concept like nations.

  • MNG||

    I think a blockade could be justified on utilitarian grounds (i.e., the resulting pain it caused, even on innocents, resulted in less pain to innocents in the end).

    My point is its going to be very hard for me to see how it can be justified on the kind of deontological rights based grounds that I see you and other libertarians making every day about other policies. Your (and others) opposition to the CRA seemed based in a "I don't care if the utility generated by its protections outweigh the utility lost by the burdens it imposes, you have no right to limit my rights." It's that which is going to be very hard to not find the blockade or current actions to be horribly immoral.

    As to the war thing, do you support domestic war-time measures such as ordering privately owned factories to do certain things, taking over steel mills, conscription etc.?

  • ||

    The really sad part about this episode is that the state of New Jersey has accomplished in one impotent act, what it would have taken the parents years to achieve. The parents will use this as an example of what happens when the white folks start talking to the colored folks and somebody gets too big for their britches. This, far more than the name, will make sure that the child is the father of the man.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    What about war affects rights in this way? That it is an emergency?

    I would say that is about as close as it gets to conforming to my view. Of course, we need to still vigorously protect and defend rights even in dire wartime circumstances to ensure that our "leaders" don't get a taste of suspending liberties to engage in perpetual warfare.

    More simply, I understand the arguments against Lincoln and Sherman and I think it is important that they exist and are well-argued, I just don't happen to agree with them. So moral opposition to the blockade in Gaza is important to express but I just do not happen to agree with the moral argument.

    Your (and others) opposition to the CRA seemed based in a "I don't care if the utility generated by its protections outweigh the utility lost by the burdens it imposes, you have no right to limit my rights."

    Well, I have a tendency to be deontological, but Objectivism requires that I do the best I can to blend utilitarianism and deontological viewpoints, because what is right should work and what works should be right. In the short term, it does not always seem to be that way. Regardless, that blend is why the canard of "great in theory, failure in practice" irritates me to no end: if it fails in practice, it's a bad fucking theory! The only good theories are those that work, if we're to take a human-centered approach.

    Anyway, my opposition to the CRA is many-fold: 1. it addressed a problem that was going away on its own, 2. it permanently abrogated freedom of association; the Montgomery boycotts showed that those were effective in achieving, absent force, that which the CRA claims to achieve and 3. I think it is more utilitarian, in the context of Rule Utilitarianism, to defend freedom of association as a Rule, rather than abrogate it when it becomes distasteful.

  • ||

    TAO and MNG-

    Thank you for introducing me to the word deontological. Although I have taken both ethics classes(both undergrad and in business school) and philosophy classes (undergrad), I honestly can not remember having come across the word. I just googled it and will spend some time on it later.

    BTW, I just got a much needed stimulus package-from a private source.

  • MNG||

    TAO
    Interesting.

    I don't think the CRA is meant to limit freedom of association because discrimination is distasteful (at least not as it is defended by its more thoughtful proponents) but to defend certain people against present harms (that is, being denied employment, lodging, etc. opportunities) and the argument is that denying freedom of association to racists, while admittedly on the negative side of the calculus, does not outweigh the lowering of utility that occurs when these harms happen to those the act was supposed to protect. Obviously there are some folks who take a deontological position to defend the CRA (that one has a right not to be dismissed from such things because of one's race etc), but I'm pretty sure the utilitarian argument I've just outlined is stronger, and both would have to be met by an opponent.

    I also think moral theories are going to have a great deal of trouble justifying actions that would normally fail our moral principles but happen to occur during war time UNLESS these actions follow the utilitarian calculus, that is, unless the actions that we would normally disapprove of (blocking the rights of trade, association, movement, etc. of folks during a blockade). That is, the reason why it might be OK to blockade folks and do these things is that ultimately it will lead to less pain and suffering overall. But this doesn't mean that the emergency or wartime conditions cause our moral principles to be any different, just that we take "the long view" when applying those principals (mind you though most strong deontologists would scream at this idea for various reasons, and many of them are quite bright).

    Using the normal calculus I cannot imagine how the current action can be justified. Just as I cannot shoot you and possibly the person standing behind you to fend off your attempt to slap me unarmed and be justified, I can't fathom how killing 1,000 people and wounding tens of thousands to stop shelling that had killed less than two dozen people in a year can be justified. Yes, ensuring the survival of an entire nation can justify such a thing, but is anyone seriously arguing that the Israeli nation itself had its survival threatened by Hamas' puny attacks?

    The blockade is indeed a more morally complicated thing, but the current action doesn't strike me as morally complicated at all (though I think it is certainly complicated in terms of human psychology: under attack it strikes me as quite understandable for Israelis to champion this action).

  • MNG||

    libertymike
    The only difference between us in that area seems to be that my ethics prof happened to talk about it a great deal and yours did not. If not for him I probably would never have heard of it. I'm glad he did as I have found the distinction between consequentalist and deontological views to be quite illuminating, though I think most humans have at least some of both in them. It seems nutty to not take the consequences of actions as the defining measure of right and wrong at some point, but I think the idea of respecting people as individuals who cannot be rightly sacrificed to the "general utility" of society is something that only deontology is going to give you...

    The good news is that on most matters the two views will yeild the same point (as I mentioned above I think the Gazan action fails the utilitarian calculus but also the usually more deontological view of just war theory).

  • ||

    The name on its own isn't enough, but it is a red-flag that most cause family and children's services to take a closer look.

    Let's hope that the case is clearly defined and that the authorities didn't overstep their bounds. What we really don't need is to turn the Campbells into persecuted heroes.

  • MNG||

    I'm also guessing that your answer to the question about government doing things during wartime, like seizing factories and mills or conscription is OK as long as it is really done in response to an emergency? I don't see any way out of that conclusion from what you've said.

    Now, if that is the case, remember my "three people lost on the island" hypo where one person's labors leave him with plenty of food and one person's bad luck leaves him with almost none and the third guy takes the first guy's food to give to the second? You were adamantly opposed to this on rights grounds, but we have an emergency where survival is at stake. Surely if a nation can abridge innocent parties rights when their survival is at stake then individuals can do the same. The rights of individuals, as opposed to collective entities, is surely more important to any libertarian.

  • MNG||

    "The name on its own isn't enough, but it is a red-flag that most cause family and children's services to take a closer look."

    I think that's the position I agree with the most on that topic.

    Since parents will usually have more motivation to have a child's interests at heart than the state would there should be deference to them as a general rule. The name in itself is not negligence or mistreatment, just stupidity. If they had no other reason then it's egregious to intervene.

  • even_more_pendantic_than_thou||

    another pedant | January 17, 2009, 7:29am | #

    for all intensive purposes in the society at large.

    I think you mean "for all intents and purposes in the society at large".


    'Intents and purposes' may be a more common phrase, however, there is no error in the phrase 'intensive purposes', so a correction is unwarranted.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    The two situations you're trying to compare are entirely different. And I have addressed the temporary abrogation of property rights for emergency purposes previously.

    Finally, you're adamant in employing Jack Bauer logic that does not apply in modern society. "What if there is a man on an island and..." Well, there isn't for one. Two, it is an entirely different concept from the society in which we live. Regardless of your view of lifeboat ethics, they simply do not apply in a civilization, so unless your goal is to, by analogy, justify modern-day welfare state programs based on your view of lifeboat ethics, I don't get your point.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    IOW, I felt more strongly about what you wanted to do with the results of your island hypothetical more than I did the difference of opinion. Your motives are not pure here.

  • ||

    The name on its own isn't enough, but it is a red-flag that most cause family and children's services to take a closer look.

    Yeah, I too would hope that the Division of Youth and Family Services investigated the matter dispassionately and carefully, and only took the steps to remove the children from their families on the basis of a finding of actual abuse. But since we're talking about state child welfare authorities, the probability that they just applied the precautionary principle and yanked the children is considerably higher than the probability that there was actual abuse.

    I'm not jumping to conclusions, mind you. (I wouldn't, for example, fire the New Jersey authorities just on the basis of this report.) I do, however, consider it a red flag that calls for a closer look.

  • Andy||

    This thread/topic is so lame..

  • Joseph Stalin John Wayne Gacy ||

    I don't get it - what's the problem here?

  • MNG||

    We're arguing ethical principles here, general ones that could be applied to any situation, hence discussing hypotheticals are certainly appropriate. My point is that if you are putting forward the neutral and general principle that "rights can be arbogated when one's existence is threatened" in connection to war then I'm afraid you're going to have to point out why it doesn't apply in the hypo I gave. Sure it's different in some ways, it's about three guys and starving whereas Gaza is about thousands of people and not wanting to get shelled or attacked by F-16s. But they have the same qualities that should be relevant to your general moral principle: rights can be arbogated when one's existence is at stake. In both cases we've got threatened existence and innocent third parties whose rights will be arbogated to address the threat. I've explained why I think they are similar in the morally relevant ways, if you disagree you can distinguish them. This Jack Bauer logic phrase you picked up from another poster does little to nothing (a good philosophy has answers to Jack Bauer questions).

    Also, what's your position on conscription, seizing factories and mills, etc., that governments do during war time (and can be at least logically argued may be necessary for the nations continued existence and triggered by an emergency)? Certainly this example is neither a Jack Bauer thought experiment unheard of in the world nor "entirely different" than your war time example.

    You've accused me of not having any philosophy, but we keep running into situations where I ask for your philosophy's answers to things and am getting fewer and fewer answers. A solid philosophy has answers to these types of questions (for example take utilitarianism. It gives you a general principle to be neutrally applied to all acts: does it maximize overall utility in its ultimate consequences? So the utilitarian has an answer to the Gaza situation (most likely no), the island hypo (it's ok to take the food) and the seizures/conscription (if it's really a serious war then yes its ok). Objectivism, if it is to command some portion of the respect that utilitarianism or Kantian universalization is to, is going to have to do better than that.

  • MNG||

    Seamus
    Social workers are practically indoctrinated in pc stuff in order to get their MSW's, so I would be very hesitant to think they fairly judged this very un-PC family.

    http://www.nas.org/pdf/initiatives/scandal_SWE/indoctrination_valunas.pdf

  • Lefiti||

    "Their white supremacist-excuse me, separatist-ideology probably also did not endear them to the social workers."

    But it might get them on Ron Paul's mailing list.

  • Irma La Douce||

    There is no law against parents giving their child a stupid name. Mind your own business!Perhaps Heath Campbell thinks a name like Dakota or Lakeisha or Barak or Madison for a girl shows bad parenting skills! Let's get all such parents in for mental testing!!! This is where diversity has got us.

  • Lefiti||

    Yeah, we're living in a police state. Fuck you, Irma.

  • Ace||

    If they have separatist beliefs, why are they being branded here as neo-Nazis? Is anyone who believes they should have a separate place for their own people supposed to be a "Nazi"?

    Tell that to the Zionists. They fought for the right to have their homeland in Israel, free from racists in other countries who rejected them throughout the past. More power to them!

    If I recall, swastikas aren't an exclusively-Nazi/white supremacy thing, and it's a symbol that is universal in several cultures.

    It pays to not be ignorant.

  • ||

    I'll make another bet here and say that none of you ever said a thing when the children of gays and lesbians were (and still are) take away by state fiat. But since we're now talking about white-trash fringe lunatics you're all rushing to the defense. Gotta love this country!

  • ||

    Susan M-

    If the bet is with me, you are wrong. Just as it is wrong for the state to tell me who I can hire and what basis, it has no right to take children of homosexuals. In other words, the individual rights of association and parenting are ALWAYS GREATER than any collective "right."

  • ||

    If they have separatist beliefs, why are they being branded here as neo-Nazis? Is anyone who believes they should have a separate place for their own people supposed to be a "Nazi"?

    Did you miss the part where they named one of their kids "Adolf Hitler"?

    If somebody in the US tells me they are a "white separatist"; that sounds to me like they want to create a country, out of present-day US territory, where one must be white in order to be a citizen. There is no good reason to want such a thing.

    Tell that to the Zionists. They fought for the right to have their homeland in Israel, free from racists in other countries who rejected them throughout the past. More power to them!

    The difference is, white people in the US are not facing sectarian persecution. They already live in a country where they have freedom and equal rights. There is no need to create a new country (or move to a different country) to do that.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    for example take utilitarianism. It gives you a general principle to be neutrally applied to all acts: does it maximize overall utility in its ultimate consequences?

    Utilitarianism in this raw form is intellectually bankrupt, because I can define "utility" however I please, for one. Also, seeing as how something has utility, we have to define what it is useful FOR. Example: I could make a utilitarian argument for the Gaza invasion based on deterrence arguments for the future and say that the utility of the invasion, while not apparent in the short-term, will manifest in the long-term as Gazan radicals are prevented from launching rockets and getting bolder with Israelis.

    Utilitarianism because useful when it became Rule Utilitarianism.

    On the other hand, Kantian deontology and the Categorical Imperative can either become too ridiculous to be used or overcontextualized to the point of relativism.

    For example, let's say that (as Kant did) that "Never lie" is a proper Categorical Imperative (although one of the flaws in Kant is he doesn't really explore why "Never lie" is good and "Never tell the truth" is bad...but I digress). Anyway, does that mean "Never lie to anyone ever? Including the Stasi when there's an enemy of the state in the closet?" OTOH, if you try to alter the categories so the Imperative becomes useful, you risk watering down their effectiveness. If you turn it into "Lie when your life is on the line", well, there you go...now there are exceptions.

  • MNG||

    I doubt you can make that argument because Gazans lives and utility count as much as Israeli lives and utility (that's a big part of utilitarianism that everone's utility counts). There was no way the rocket attacks were going to kill over 1,000 people and wound 5,000 people even if they went on for years and years.

    You can't define utility however you want, as you say words have meaning and in the context of utlitarianism that meaning is pretty clear: well being or welfare.

    I'm not sure what you think you're getting at by the "utilitarianism became useful because of rule utilitarianism." Advocates of rule utilitarianism are so because they think that the utilitarian calculus is often so difficult and we humans have limited time and knowledge that the actual utilitarian thing to do is to go by rules which usually work morally. But in a case where the calculus is workable it would be silly to follow the rule.

    Besides I can't imagine how rule utilitarianism can defend the Gaza actions ("kill hundreds of people whenever you are attacked in a small scale fashion" is probably never going to be a rule that maximizes utility, which is the standard for the rules in rule utilitarianism btw).

    Well duh about the problems with Kant's theory, the man hiding in the closet is the most famous example of a hole in it. It's a big reason why most professional philosophers are utilitarians.

    But now you're doing what you got on Tony for: criticizing utilitarianism and Kantian theory but not putting forward your own philosophy or even a principle from it that would give us guidance on things like the island hypo, the Gaza situation, and the seizing of factories/conscription etc in wartime. Like fluffy I'm beginning to think this may be because you don't have one to put forward.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    even a principle from it that would give us guidance on things like the island hypo, the Gaza situation, and the seizing of factories/conscription etc in wartime.

    Because, unlike you, I view these as entirely wildly different scenarios. You seem to be looking for an easy rule that would apply seamlessly and flawlessly to each situation and provides cheap answers.

    Two, you should really stop invoking Fluffy to back up your point. He has not said anything to me since I told that I had not, in fact, ever defended Israel's actions in this endeavor. There is a tension between freedom and survival in the Middle East; I personally think Israel is making an even graver mistake by withdrawing from the Strip. By disengaging the populace, they're only going to present "one facet" of Israel to those 44% of Gazans who are under 14: death and destruction.

    The problem with Israel is that it does not have control of the message that goes to future Palestinian terrorists, and refuses to actively take control of that message. Imagine how many Republicans we would have if the Democrats refused to put out their own message and, instead, acted like general dicks to the voting populace with no explanation. One of the failures (in terms of GOP strategy, anyway) of the Bush Administration is that they felt no need to justify their actions, nor defend them. So too with Israel. It's silliness.

    So, anyway, my 'principle' is this: Israel needs to realize that the Palestinians are not going away; the inverse applies to the Palestinians. It is resolutely irrational for both of the parties in this to continue on the same course they always have. The short principle is that famous Einstein quote: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

    I will condemn both parties on moral grounds for evading the reality that they HAVE to live with each other. I will do that.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    You can't define utility however you want, as you say words have meaning and in the context of utlitarianism that meaning is pretty clear: well being or welfare.

    And "well being or welfare" are extremely elastic concepts on their own. Could I justify the Iraq invasion on that concept? Yes, yes, I could.

    "kill hundreds of people whenever you are attacked in a small scale fashion" is probably never going to be a rule that maximizes utility, which is the standard for the rules in rule utilitarianism btw

    Well, phrase it differently and it does: "An effective and overwhelming deterrence demonstration will prevent these acts in the future" You know this: the common criticisms of Act Utilitarianism and the calculus is that punishing an innocent man to satisfy the town's population is morally acceptable under utilitarianism.

    In this case, it is acceptable, under a utilitarian calculus, to punish Gaza to provide peace of mind to a larger population of Israelis.

    There was no way the rocket attacks were going to kill over 1,000 people and wound 5,000 people even if they went on for years and years.

    I just have to disagree. If Israel made it well-known that they would sit back on their haunches and do nothing about the "harmless" rockets, well, you can bet your year's salary that Hamas would just walk further and further up to the gate to make their rockets more effective.

  • MNG||

    Saying that working out what will ultimately maximize utility is a tricky thing is not the same thing as saying utility is an elastic concept that will justify anything.

    I'm not looking for any easy rule, but there has to be a way of telling morally right actions from morally wrong ones. What's your way? And if you have three "wildly different" situations you should be able to use that way to tell if what's going on is right or wrong.

    Again, I don't think you know what rule utilitarianism is (you're talking to a utilitarian). A rule of "using overwhelming force" to prevent these kind of attacks would never be accepted by a rule utilitarian because by definition the consequences of
    "overwhelming force" (read: killing shitloads of people) is not going to usually maximize well being. You're reading the defining thing about rule utilitarianism out of it: that the rules must usually maximize utlity (including the utility of attackers)!

    The peace of mind thing is even worse of a misunderstanding of utilitarianism. Utility is a difficult concept to measure, yes, but I can't imagine how giving a feeling of peace of mind or satisfaction is going to outwiegh thousand of people having their limbs blown off or hundreds dying (and thus ending all future pleasure they would have had in their lives). Utilitarians don't think any form of utility automatically outweighs some other form, they recognize degrees (in fact its a huge part of the theory)

  • MNG||

    You think the taking of the guys stuff in the island example is wrong. Why?

    You think the Israeli attack could be right. Why?

    And is the conscription and seizing of goods during wartime right? If so why?

    I bet as your answer you will give a reason that then should be applied to like situations. That's what reasons are.

  • MNG||

    "Wow that's wrong."
    "Why?"
    "Because people should be able to name their kid what they want."

    People give general principles when they talk about why something is wrong or right (in this Kant was dead on, reasons should be generally applicable things).

    This doesn't mean that the principles are'nt complicated (ex "People should be able to name their child whatever they want unless that name brings sure physical harm to the child") and that the facts at hand are'nt crucial in determining when the principle applies.

    Perhaps these three situations are different in the specific facts in such a way that you can take the positions you do on all three and not violate the principles used in all three, but I doubt it. We have to know what your principles are for each first. And I should think objectivism would have some of those ready at hand for you.

  • ||

    "I'll make another bet here and say that none of you ever said a thing when the children of gays and lesbians were (and still are) take away by state fiat. But since we're now talking about white-trash fringe lunatics you're all rushing to the defense. Gotta love this country!"

    I'll counter your bet with one of my own: You're a stupid bitch that hasn't taken the five minutes it would take to look through Reason's coverage of homosexuality to see that it clearly would oppose any such action. So get the hell off you sanctimonious soap box, because this is one queer that doesn't want your self righteous, patronizing support.

  • jeremy kareken||

    I actually do think this might rise to the level of abuse, depending on the context of the children's lives. If I named my son Smelly, Dogfart or Pussyfaced-Dingleberry it's most certainly child abuse by proxy. You're begging other kids to beat the hell out of yours.

  • ||

    @chippy
    Yeah. Most of the readers and writers of reason would only support you at the end of a rope and I think you're aware of that, but keep on pretending otherwise if you like. Keep right on ignoring that many libertarians see homosexuality as an evil plot foisted upon an innocent America by those evil liberals from NYC.

  • ||

    @SusanM

    http://reason.com/news/show/129641.html
    http://reason.com/news/show/127681.html
    http://reason.com/news/show/126585.html
    http://reason.com/news/show/119548.html

    That's just four of the many many articles from Reason writers on GLBT issues. Find me a single one that is homophobic, and not supporting a particular issue (i.e. hate crimes legislation) on the basis of legal and/or constitutional objections doesn't count. Just because libertarians and conservatives don't buy into an agenda (one that I myself don't buy into I might add) doesn't make them homophobic.

    But do you know what is heterosexist and demeaning? Pretentious, heterosexual liberals convinced that only they can save us poor defenseless queers. But of course if I disagree with I must be brain washed, or maybe my false consciousness is acting up again. Who knows, without benevolent heterosexual Statists to guide the every action of myself and everyone around me I start to get all disoriented and confused...

  • ||

    I think we should pass a law forcing every child to be named "Obama."

    Problem solved.

    Obama Walsh

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