L. Neil Smith's
Number 324, June 19, 2005

The Government Hates and Despises Us

by Chris Claypoole

Exclusive to TLE

Robert A. Heinlein said, in Assignment in Eternity, "Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal." Recent events have shown this (again/still) to be an accurate observation.

The Michael Jackson trial was a polarizing, if not exactly important, event. Most people I spoke with were either MJ fans, in which case they thought he was "innocent," or they believed something along the lines of "where there's smoke, there's fire." The latter group also was split into those who thought the prosecution case was strong or weak.

The Jackson fans were often true fanatics. Many were reported to have quit their jobs to travel to California to show their "moral support" for the beleaguered pop star. Wow. The idea that a man in his 40s that lets young boys sleep in his bed on a regular basis, that dangles his infant from a balcony, that has almost given a bad name to cosmetic surgery, needs moral support is mind-boggling. How about a moral transplant instead?

The second group isn't going to escape unscathed, either. I know that a phrase as clichéd as "where there's smoke there's fire" must have some truth to it to have survived. But with today's prosecutorial tactics of loading the accused with so many charges that something will stick, it should be changed to "where they're blowing smoke, you must believe there's fire." The prosecution seemed hell-bent to convict MJ of something, and seemed to have problems with their witnesses not helping their case much at times. What is it about California prosecutors in high-profile cases? Or is it just that California juries don't want to convict a celebrity? There was a premature celebration by the prosecution ([link]), thinking they had won their case. Again, wow. That goes beyond rationalizing to delusional, IMHO.

On the other hand, maybe that is a California syndrome. How many times have you seen a movie (or just part of it, before you fled in disgust) that made you wonder, "How in the name of sanity could the people involved in making this film think that it was worth making?" Lots of movies (and television shows) bomb; yet the producers, writers, actors, etc., presumably thought it would do well enough to make money. And that's not even counting those good television shows that were strangled with malice aforethought before they could get an audience, like nasty children catching fireflies in a jar with no holed in the lid.

This line of thought leads to the story that the "Runaway Bride" has signed a book and movie deal. Aside from the fact that this is art imitating life imitating art (using the term "art" very loosely), wasn't that incident given enough saturation coverage? Mythical Beings help us if that is not the case. The girl with the eyes that remind me of the old song (Jeepers, creepers, where'd you get those peepers?) was strange before her fifteen minutes of fame.

Speaking of weird eyes, how about the case of Gregory Despres, who entered the U.S. at the Canada-Maine border carrying a knife, a homemade sword, brass knuckles, a hatchet and a chainsaw stained with some reddish substance (blood, paint or rust?). The Customs people confiscated the weapons and let Despres in the U.S. Now people are in an uproar that he was allowed in. [link] Well, Customs checked, and he had no outstanding warrants, APBs, or any other reason to detain him. Yet the same people who (I would guess) loudly proclaim that someone is "innocent until proven guilty" (if it was, say, Rush Limbaugh or Hillary Clinton) are pissed that the crazy, wild-eyed dude was not held for however long it took to find out something with which to charge him.

I'm pissed that they took his weapons. If he was not being charged with something, why should they disarm him? Self-defense is everyone's right, just as freedom of speech is just as much a right for some total jerk spouting arrant nonsense about how benevolent government is, as it is for someone advocating the NAP/ZAP (Non-Aggression Principle/Zero Aggression Principle). Another cliché is that "hindsight is 20/20." But the people practicing that visual trick in cases like this are seeing their "hind" from the inside, again IMHO.

The tragic death of a four-year-old boy on the Mission Space ride at Disney World ([link]) has not been explained yet, as a full autopsy may take weeks to determine the cause of death. Yet people are already calling for increased regulation of amusement park rides. As if that would make anything better, except for the regulators, of course. A little less than two years ago, just before the official grand opening of the ride, I was in Disney World with my family, and I found out that the park was letting people get on it prior to the official date. I, along with my wife (who hates roller coasters), my then-thirteen-year-old daughter and her best friend, rode Mission Space four times in a row, with only a few minutes in between rides. It was a blast! Great fun!

It was intense, but I've been on roller coasters that were more physical, such as the Steel Phantom at Kennywood near Pittsburgh. And the hallways that serve as the line/waiting area for Mission Space are lined with warning signs about how intense the ride is and how a laundry list of people-with-the-following-symptoms/problems should NOT get on this ride. I'm over 50 and overweight (much more than is healthy), but I had no trouble with Mission Space. (Got the T-shirt, got the hat, didn't hurl on either.) Several people have gone to the hospital after riding Mission Space, and some of those may not have known they had issues with around two G's of centrifugal force masquerading as acceleration. But to use that old 20/20 hindsight previously referred to and actually believe that "regulators" can prevent "tragedies like this from happening again" is the height of silliness.

Possibly the most controversial story is the results of the autopsy of Terry Schiavo. See: [link] and [link] The findings seemed to vindicate the position of Michael Schiavo, the husband of Terry: her brain was severely, irreversibly damaged, and that she was blind. Yet her parents are disputing the autopsy, and stated that they would take some unspecified legal action. My heart goes out to any parent that loses a child, but I believe that part of healing is accepting the reality of death, which all of us will experience sooner or later. The Schindlers do not seem, to me, to be ready to accept reality. I don't even want to get going on the scumbags like Bill Frist who are leeching onto this tragic case to make political points. Suffice it to say that they rationalize their hypocrisy by chanting some crap about serving the greater good. (Now there is a mythical being for you!)

The common thread in these stories is the rationalization that people do not bear the responsibility for their actions. Not their appearance, not how others perceive them, not what others think they have done or should have done, but the actual, physical proof of what occurred. Not the intention they claimed to have had when they took an action, but the results of that action are what should be judged. Intentions are, at best, a possible mitigating factor, but only the first time. (Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.) Facts, physical evidence, hard numbers (not gorram statistics) - they have meaning. Feelings, beliefs and knee-jerk reactions are things we all have, but we shouldn't base our opinions about important topics on them. If I say I don't like musicals, or I believe that certain modes of dress are low-class, it is inconsequential unless and until I try to enforce my opinions on others. Saying that "violent music" causes young males to commit violent acts is an unfounded opinion, and rationalizing one's dislike for a particular genre into a prohibition of it is a sign of mental defect. Or is that just my rationalization?

In any event, we should try to filter out our rationalizations whenever we can. Rationalization is the enemy of the NAP/ZAP.


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