Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dr. Paul Hsieh- Free-Market Healthcare Activist

I've just started circulating a version of this letter to my fellow
physicians in Colorado and submitted it to "Colorado Medicine" which
is the bimonthly magazine of the Colorado Medical Society. They've
printed two of my pieces in the past, so I'm hoping they'll print this
one in their July/August issue.

The following is a slightly edited version suitable for a general
audience. Please feel free to forward this to any interested parties.

By the way, here are a couple of positive response I've already
received from physicians whom I have never met. There are probably
people out there who support many of our ideas, but who feel they are
in a lonely minority. As we activists continue to speak out on
various issues, we may find that we have more supporters than we
realize, both among Objectivists and non-Objectivists.

You know that you're doing something right when one of them quotes Ayn
Rand back at you...

1) "Excellent letter! ...I strongly support your ideas. I have also
read your great dissertation in 'The Objectivist Standard' to which I
subscribe… Keep up a great work! Always remember Ayn Rand's maxim: "He
who fights for the future lives in it today". Thank you so much!"

2) "Once again thanks for so eloquently expressing the views of the
'silent majority'!"

Paul Hsieh, MD
Sedalia, CO
Co-Founder, Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM):

"Universal Health Care: The Wrong Prescription"
By Paul Hsieh, MD


Now that the 2008 election season is shifting into high gear, health
care is poised to become an important political issue again.
Unfortunately, most of the discussion assumes that "universal health
care" is a desirable goal and that the only question is how best to
achieve this aim. I wish to argue the exact opposite -- that the very
goal of "universal health care" is unethical and antithetical to core
American values. Hence, "universal health care" should therefore be
rejected by Americans voters.


The first question to consider is whether there is a "right" to health
care. That single question more than any other drives the rest of the
policy debate.

Is health care a "right"? The answer is "no" -- health care is a
*need*, but not a right. The two are not the same. A right is a
freedom of action one possesses, such as the right to free speech.
Rights impose no obligations on other people, other than the negative
obligation to leave one alone. Rights are not automatic claims on the
goods and services produced by others -- that is just state-sanctioned
theft. In particular, one man's need does not give him an automatic
claim on his neighbor's assets. If a man is hungry, he doesn't have
the right to take a can of soup from his neighbor's pantry. A man's
rights only imposes the negative obligation on others to *not* violate
that right. But it does not impose a positive obligation on everyone
else to provide for all his needs.

To illustrate the crucial difference between a need and a right,
consider a child who has contracted a fatal disease through no fault
of his own, such that he would die without a bone marrow transplant
from his next-door neighbor, the only person who was a fortuitous
match. That child's *need* does not constitute an automatic *right*
to his neighbor's bone marrow. The neighbor is of course free to
voluntarily choose to donate some of his marrow, and most people in
that situation would happily do so. But if for whatever reason he
chooses not to (e.g., religious reasons, fear, or personal
preference), we must respect his right. We would never condone the
government strapping that man down and forcibly taking his marrow from
him without his consent.

This distinction between a need and a right is not unique to health
care, but is just an application of a broader principle. A drowning
child might need another's help to live. Again, I (and nearly every
other decent person) would gladly offer voluntary assistance if I
thought I had a reasonable chance of success. But there is no legal
obligation for a random passerby to help. The child can ask for help
out of voluntary charity, but he cannot demand it as a matter of
*right*. And if a random passerby saw that drowning child and chose
not to act, we must respect that right. If it turned out that he was
a strong swimmer and could have saved the child with little risk to
himself but deliberately chose not to do so, then we could hold him up
to moral censure. He might then lose his job, his friends, and the
respect of his peers. But (assuming he wasn't the original cause of
the child's danger), we cannot send him to jail for doing nothing.
The law should not (and correctly does not) place a binding positive
legal obligation on a man to save another person's life.

Similarly, the law should not force one man to pay for another's
cancer treatment even if a second person needs it. One question that
is frequently asked is, "Who will pay for the health care of those who
need it, but can't afford it?". The answer is, "Anyone who wants to."
If a patient needs medical care but is unable to afford it, he can
ask for voluntary charity from others. But he cannot *demand* it as a
right. As a physician facing these situations, I've gladly waived my
fee more times than I can count in order to help worthy patients, and
the same is true of nearly every other doctor I know. Americans have
always been very benevolent towards fellow Americans who have run into
adverse circumstances through no fault of their own. We've seen this
in the repeated outpourings of aid for victims of natural disasters
such as hurricanes or earthquakes, as well as for victims of man-made
evils such as 9-11 or the Oklahoma City bombings.

The very fact that such examples tug at the sympathies of ordinary
decent Americans also means that those Americans will be forthcoming
with voluntary charity. I fully support giving to charities that are
consistent with my values and priorities.


This approach works in both directions. For instance, what would I do
if I developed a deadly illness and needed, say, $500,000 worth of
medical treatment but couldn't afford it?

My answer is as follows: My life is my own responsibility. Others
may choose to voluntarily help me if I am in need, but they should not
be legally *required* to do so -- i.e., they should not be forced by
the government to help me against their will or punished by the
government for failing to help me.

Hence if I needed expensive medical care, I might borrow money from
family and friends. Or I might ask for charitable donations. Or I
might try to enroll as a volunteer for an experimental drug trial for
my condition.

But I wouldn't hack into my neighbor's bank account and steal the life
savings he was planning to use to pay for his kids' college education
and his own retirement. Nor would I steal $500 from a thousand of my
neighbors. Nor would I ask the government to take it from my
neighbors by force. Those actions would all be morally wrong.

Similarly, if my next-door neighbor were the only possible matching
bone marrow donor to cure my rare disease but he didn't want to donate
any to me for whatever reason, I wouldn't strap him down and take it
from him by force (or have the government force him).

Of course, I would prefer to live rather than die of a terrible
disease. But I wouldn't want to live if it costs me my integrity and
my self-respect. A man can't "save" his life at the price of
sacrificing his morality, since morality is the very means that a man
survives as a man.


Some claim that the government should guarantee "universal" health
care to promote the common welfare of all citizens. This view is
wrong, because it is based on a serious misunderstanding of the proper
role of government.

The purpose of government is to protect individual rights -
specifically to protect individuals from the predations of others who
would use force to deprive men of their rights to life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. This includes protecting Americans from
external enemies who would wage war on us as well as from internal
criminals who would use force to steal, murder, rape, etc. The
purpose of a government is to create and enforce conditions where men
and women can freely and voluntarily exchange ideas, goods, and
services to their mutual benefit according to their best rational
judgment, without fear that someone else will try to forcibly rob them
of those benefits. Man's essential nature requires that he uses his
reasoning mind to create the values necessary for sustaining his life.
Hence, the basic and fundamental purpose of a government is to protect
a man's right to the free use of his mind and his corollary right to
voluntarily trade with others for the products of their thought and

When a government ceases to protect individual rights and instead
becomes one of the chief violators, then it undermines the very reason
for its existence. It would be akin to a government claiming that "we
need to protect the freedoms of Americans from enemies abroad", and
then imposing a military draft on young Americans to fight in a war
(violating those draftees' freedom and rights in the process).

The same is true when the government attempts to guarantee health care
as a "right". This can only be done by forcing providers to treat
patients on the governments' terms and for the governments' prices,
and also forcing citizens to pay for others' medical care against
their will. This is inherent in any system of "universal" health
care. When providers and citizens help patients from voluntary
charity, then these can be acts of tremendous kindness and nobility.
But when the government forces those same actions in an attempt to
manufacture an alleged "right" to health care, then it violates the
actual rights of physicians and citizens alike.


"Universal" health care is morally wrong, because it incorrectly
treats health care as "right" rather than as a need. This necessarily
results in a system of immoral forced positive obligations that
violates genuine individual rights.

In contrast, free market reforms have been shown to bring down health
care costs, improve quality, and increase access, while respecting
individual rights. Just a few examples of such reforms include
allowing patients to purchase health insurance across all 50 states,
eliminating onerous mandated insurance benefits which merely raise
costs to benefit a few special interests, allowing in-store health
clinics to serve patients, and allowing individuals to purchase Health
Savings Accounts to cover small routine expenses, while using
high-deductible, catastrophic-only insurance policies to cover their
major medical expenses. Such reforms could lower costs by 50% or
more, making quality health care available to many who cannot
currently afford it.

The standard pattern of the free market is for prices to fall and
quality to rise over time, as anyone who has recently purchased a
computer can easily attest to. America does not currently have a free
market in medicine - instead, it is a semi-free mixture of some market
elements combined with heavy government regulations. But those
sectors of medicine such as LASIK and cosmetic surgery which are the
closest to a free market (i.e., least regulated by the government)
have shown the same pattern of falling prices and rising quality that
we take for granted in the rest of the American economy. Instead of
adopting failed models of socialized medicine from other countries, we
should unleash the proven benefits of the free market to all sectors
of medicine.

As a physician, my patients trust me with their health and their
lives. I cannot betray that trust by turning them over to the tender
mercies of a government-run "single-payer" or "universal" health care
system administered by the same people who run the Department of Motor
Vehicles. Americans deserve the best, which only a free market can
provide. If we value our lives and our health, we must not settle for
anything less.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Commentary 35- More Mulshine on Oil

From NJ Voices, 6/16/08

More slippery logic on oil
Posted by Paul Mulshine June 16, 2008 3:20PM

The press release below from the usual assortment of Democratic elected officials is self-refuting.

As every economist knows, when you reduce the price of a quantity demand goes up, not down. Yet these economic illiterates want to reduce dependence on oil by lowering the price.

Are they stupid? Or are the voters stupid for electing them?


Rep. Pascrell joined the Senators in discussing the effort in Congress to bring down artificially high prices, end dependence on oil.

Paterson, NJ - Today, New Jersey's U.S. Senators, Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ8), spoke out about the need to implement the plan currently before the U.S. Senate that would address out-of-control gas prices. Both Senators are co-sponsors of the Consumer-First Energy Act, a bill to address the root causes of artificially-high gas prices, protect consumers from price gouging and force oil companies to change their ways. It was blocked by Republicans in the Senate last week, but Senators Menendez and Lautenberg and their colleagues remain hopeful that pressure stemming from the public's frustration over gas prices will help the bill's prospects in the near future. The New Jersey Senators also support additional legislation blocked by the Republicans last week that would spur development of renewable energy and help end the nation's dependence on oil in the long run.

"We have to ensure that our government is working for the families of this country, not for the oil companies and oil traders who have the power to push gas prices artificially high," said Senator Menendez. "The dramatic increase in oil prices has brought prices for food up along with it, and families are facing a painful financial choice when it comes time to fill up - do they buy a gallon of gasoline or a gallon of milk? Some families have already eliminated non-essentials and many are now cutting back on meals. Some people are even contemplating quitting their jobs because they can't afford the gas to get there. We're confident that the continuing public outcry about artificially high prices will spur a reversal by those who have sided with Big Oil. We'll be keeping the pressure on for change, because we know that's the only way to take the pressure off of New Jersey families."

"President Bush has sat on his hands as oil prices have gone through the roof," said Senator Lautenberg. "We Democrats have had enough and we are pushing an aggressive plan to bring down gas prices. The Republicans and the big oil companies are trying to block our efforts, but we will not give up this fight. Families should not have to choose between filling their stomachs or filling their gas tanks."

Original Referenced Link

My Commentary:

Posted by Zemack on 06/16/08 at 10:26PM

"We have to ensure that our government is working for the families of this country, not for the oil companies and oil traders..."

The Dems will trample the rights of one group of people, the energy producers, in order to bestow government-enforced economic favors on another... "the families of America." Apparently, the rights of the people who produce the fuel that Americans need are not worthy of government protection, because they produce it. This is totally contrary to the revolutionary American principle that "to protect these rights, governments are instituted among men." Implicit and inherent in the "rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness" is the right to produce a product and to sell it to another at mutually agreed-upon prices...i.e., at the market price. The right to engage in the voluntary exchange of goods and services...i.e., to free production and a human right possessed equally by all people all of the time and subject to protection by government all of the time.

It is not so much stupidity as ignorance of the proper role of government on the part of many Americans that is the threat here. The predatory politicians are riding this ignorance as well as their own power-lust in order to expand government's control of the energy industry. By demanding that the government "do something" to control prices, the American people are demanding the basic principle of dictatorship. The oil companies have a fundamental right to sell the products they produce, to set the price based on market conditions, and to their profits. By granting to the government the power to violate those rights, we are also sacrificing our own rights. A government with that kind of power can also dictate the level of your wages, who you work for, when you can change jobs, what kind of car you drive, how much gas you can purchase, and when, etc. (We got a taste of some of those things in the 1970s, and survived it, so far.) The answer is not to surrender more of our freedom in exchange for some temporary gas price relief.

There are many reasons for the energy price run-up. Inflationary Fed policies, crippling restrictions on domestic energy production, excessive taxes and regulations, world market conditions (basic supply and demand), the rising cost of exploration and development, the control by world tyrants of vast oil reserves, etc. The oil companies and the "speculators" are just scapegoats, and should not be the targets of predatory government policies.

Others' Commentary:

Posted by drericablair on 06/16/08 at 10:31PM

Please stop making are making my head hurt with your great logic and facts.

It makes people actually think.

It's much easier to read the op ed pages and let the liberal editors of the Star Ledger do the thinking for you.

Posted by Politburo on 06/17/08 at 10:45AM

zemack: You are simply incorrect. Unhindered commerce is not a natural right, nor was it considered a natural right by the founders. One of the first acts of Congress was to impose a tariff (Hamilton Tariff). See also the First Congress' Whiskey Act, and the Indian Intercourse Act, which strictly regulated commerce with natives (for example, they could only sell their goods at specific locations designated by the government).

My Commentary:

Posted by Zemack on 06/17/08 at 5:49PM

You are correct that the Founders allowed into our nation certain inconsistencies and loopholes and "hindrances" in regard to commerce. And we are paying the price for those "poison pills" today in the form of ever-expanding statism. But unhindered commerce is implicit in the whole concept of inalienable individual rights, and the Founding Fathers understood those rights to be natural...meaning outside the scope of any man-made hindrances. Commerce is another word for production and trade. Productive work and trade are the means by which people support and sustain their lives. To say that unhindered commerce is not a natural right is a negation of the concept of inalienable rights. How can one say that each individual has an inalienable right to his life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but not an inalienable right to engage in the very activity needed to support his life, exercise his liberty, and pursue his happiness? I believe that most of our Founders endorsed unhindered commerce in principle, even if not always in action.

Now unhindered commerce (or laissez-faire), by my (and I believe your) definition, means unhindered by physical force and coercion by others, whether those others are acting as private citizens or through the mechanism of government (political power). It does not mean anything goes. In a broader sense, then, unhindered commerce is a contradiction and impossibility. And this is the crux of the matter. In a free market, capitalist economy, there is a "hindrance," or governing principle, "regulating" commerce...individual rights. It is the government's job to protect those rights, not violate them. This means that so long as a person (or company) respects the rights of others...i.e., does not engage in physical coercion (real or threatened, as in blackmail), or indirect coercion (as in fraud and deception), one has the right to hinder his economic activities (to violate his rights). This means that the state has the obligation to protect all people's natural, inalienable rights, which includes the right to freedom of production and trade (unhindered commerce). To the extent that anyone violates others' rights by, say, polluting someone else's property or misrepresenting his product or service, then the government can and should step in and prosecute or enforce financial restitution. But that is the only way that commerce can properly be hindered, in my opinion.

We are a long way from this ideal, of course, and getting further away with each election, it seems. The extent to which we have strayed from our key founding principle of individual rights is shown by all of the predatory special interest pressure groups battling for temporary control of government in order to coerce some economic advantage for itself at everyone else's expense. My defense of the oil companies extends only to their right of production and trade, and not to their political attempts to gain special preferences, where they are as guilty as any other pressure group.

Still, the principle of the right of the people to engage in voluntary, uncoerced production and trade to mutual advantage, in an honest, non-fraudulent, and rights-respecting way, is natural and inalienable and must be recognized as such if we are going to turn the tide toward socialist tyranny. Despite the truth of your observation that the Founders did engage in some limited government interference in commerce, I can't believe that they would ever have endorsed the kind of assault now being contemplated in Washington against one of America's industrial crown jewels, the private oil industry.

Others' Commentary:

Posted by drericablair on 06/17/08 at 10:13PM
Thank you comrade Politburo.

Sometimes you have to put these free market capitalists and freedom lovers in their place.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Post Reference 30- Sharia Rising

From City Journal
A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, edited by Brian C. Anderson.
• • • • • • • • •
Bruce Bawer

An Anatomy of Surrender

Motivated by fear and multiculturalism, too many Westerners are acquiescing to creeping sharia.

An example of Western self-censorship: Belgian officials prohibited Shark, by David Cerny, depicting Saddam Hussein as an aquatic predator.Islam divides the world into two parts. The part governed by sharia, or Islamic law, is called the Dar al-Islam, or House of Submission. Everything else is the Dar al-Harb, or House of War, so called because it will take war—holy war, jihad—to bring it into the House of Submission. Over the centuries, this jihad has taken a variety of forms. Two centuries ago, for instance, Muslim pirates from North Africa captured ships and enslaved their crews, leading the U.S. to fight the Barbary Wars of 1801–05 and 1815. In recent decades, the jihadists’ weapon of choice has usually been the terrorist’s bomb; the use of planes as missiles on 9/11 was a variant of this method.

What has not been widely recognized is that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa against Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie introduced a new kind of jihad. Instead of assaulting Western ships or buildings, Kho­meini took aim at a fundamental Western freedom: freedom of speech. In recent years, other Islamists have joined this crusade, seeking to undermine Western societies’ basic liberties and extend sharia within those societies.

The cultural jihadists have enjoyed disturbing success. Two events in particular—the 2004 assassination in Amsterdam of Theo van Gogh in retaliation for his film about Islam’s oppression of women, and the global wave of riots, murders, and vandalism that followed a Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of cartoons satirizing Mohammed—have had a massive ripple effect throughout the West. Motivated variously, and doubtless sometimes simultaneously, by fear, misguided sympathy, and multicultural ideology—which teaches us to belittle our freedoms and to genuflect to non-Western cultures, however repressive—people at every level of Western society, but especially elites, have allowed concerns about what fundamentalist Muslims will feel, think, or do to influence their actions and expressions. These Westerners have begun, in other words, to internalize the strictures of sharia, and thus implicitly to accept the deferential status of dhimmis—infidels living in Muslim societies.

Call it a cultural surrender. The House of War is slowly—or not so slowly, in Europe’s case—being absorbed into the House of Submission.

The Western media are in the driver’s seat on this road to sharia. Often their approach is to argue that we’re the bad guys. After the late Dutch sociologist-turned-politician Pim Fortuyn sounded the alarm about the danger that Europe’s Islamization posed to democracy, elite journalists labeled him a threat. A New York Times headline described him as marching the dutch to the right. Dutch newspapers Het Parool and De Volkskrant compared him with Mussolini; Trouw likened him to Hitler. The man (a multiculturalist, not a Muslim) who murdered him in May 2002 seemed to echo such verdicts when explaining his motive: Fortuyn’s views on Islam, the killer insisted, were “dangerous.”

Perhaps no Western media outlet has exhibited this habit of moral inversion more regularly than the BBC. In 2006, to take a typical example, Manchester’s top imam told psychotherapist John Casson that he supported the death penalty for homosexuality. Casson expressed shock—and the BBC, in a dispatch headlined imam accused of “gay death” slur, spun the controversy as an effort by Casson to discredit Islam. The BBC concluded its story with comments from an Islamic Human Rights Commission spokesman, who equated Muslim attitudes toward homosexuality with those of “other orthodox religions, such as Catholicism” and complained that focusing on the issue was “part of demonizing Muslims.”

In June 2005, the BBC aired the documentary Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic, which sought to portray concerns about Islamic radicalism as overblown. This “stunning whitewash of radical Islam,” as Little Green Footballs blogger Charles Johnson put it, “helped keep the British public fast asleep, a few weeks before the bombs went off in London subways and buses” in July 2005. In December 2007, it emerged that five of the documentary’s subjects, served up on the show as examples of innocuous Muslims-next-door, had been charged in those terrorist attacks—and that BBC producers, though aware of their involvement after the attacks took place, had not reported important information about them to the police.

Press acquiescence to Muslim demands and threats is endemic. When the Mohammed cartoons—published in September 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten to defy rising self-censorship after van Gogh’s murder—were answered by worldwide violence, only one major American newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, joined such European dailies as Die Welt and El País in reprinting them as a gesture of free-speech solidarity. Editors who refused to run the images claimed that their motive was multicultural respect for Islam. Critic Christopher Hitchens believed otherwise, writing that he “knew quite a number of the editors concerned and can say for a certainty that the chief motive for ‘restraint’ was simple fear.” Exemplifying the new dhimmitude, whatever its motivation, was Norway’s leading cartoonist, Finn Graff, who had often depicted Israelis as Nazis, but who now vowed not to draw anything that might provoke Muslim wrath. (On a positive note, this February, over a dozen Danish newspapers, joined by a number of other papers around the world, reprinted one of the original cartoons as a free-speech gesture after the arrest of three people accused of plotting to kill the artist.)

Last year brought another cartoon crisis—this time over Swedish artist Lars Vilks’s drawings of Mohammed as a dog, which ambassadors from Muslim countries used as an excuse to demand speech limits in Sweden. CNN reporter Paula Newton suggested that perhaps “Vilks should have known better” because of the Jyllands-Posten incident—as if people who make art should naturally take their marching orders from people who make death threats. Meanwhile, The Economist depicted Vilks as an eccentric who shouldn’t be taken “too seriously” and noted approvingly that Sweden’s prime minister, unlike Denmark’s, invited the ambassadors “in for a chat.”

The elite media regularly underreport fundamentalist Muslim misbehavior or obfuscate its true nature. After the knighting of Rushdie in 2007 unleashed yet another wave of international Islamist mayhem, Tim Rutten wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “If you’re wondering why you haven’t been able to follow all the columns and editorials in the American press denouncing all this homicidal nonsense, it’s because there haven’t been any.” Or consider the riots that gripped immigrant suburbs in France in the autumn of 2005. These uprisings were largely assertions of Muslim authority over Muslim neighborhoods, and thus clearly jihadist in character. Yet weeks passed before many American press outlets mentioned them—and when they did, they de-emphasized the rioters’ Muslim identity (few cited the cries of “Allahu akbar,” for instance). Instead, they described the violence as an outburst of frustration over economic injustice.

When polls and studies of Muslims appear, the media often spin the results absurdly or drop them down the memory hole after a single news cycle. Journalists celebrated the results of a 2007 Pew poll showing that 80 percent of American Muslims aged 18 to 29 said that they opposed suicide bombing—even though the flip side, and the real story, was that a double-digit percentage of young American Muslims admitted that they supported it. u.s. muslims assimilated, opposed to extremism, the Washington Post rejoiced, echoing USA Today’s american muslims reject extremes. A 2006 Daily Telegraph survey showed that 40 percent of British Muslims wanted sharia in Britain—yet British reporters often write as though only a minuscule minority embraced such views.

After each major terrorist act since 9/11, the press has dutifully published stories about Western Muslims fearing an “anti-Muslim backlash”—thus neatly shifting the focus from Islamists’ real acts of violence to non-Muslims’ imaginary ones. (These backlashes, of course, never materialize.) While books by Islam experts like Bat Ye’or and Robert Spencer, who tell difficult truths about jihad and sharia, go unreviewed in newspapers like the New York Times, the elite press legitimizes thinkers like Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, whose sugarcoated representations of Islam should have been discredited for all time by 9/11. The Times described Armstrong’s hagiography of Mohammed as “a good place to start” learning about Islam; in July 2007, the Washington Post headlined a piece by Esposito want to understand islam? start here.

Mainstream outlets have also served up anodyne portraits of fundamentalist Muslim life. Witness Andrea Elliott’s affectionate three-part profile of a Brooklyn imam, which appeared in the New York Times in March 2006. Elliott and the Times sought to portray Reda Shata as a heroic bridge builder between two cultures, leaving readers with the comforting belief that the growth of Islam in America was not only harmless but positive, even beautiful. Though it emerged in passing that Shata didn’t speak English, refused to shake women’s hands, wanted to forbid music, and supported Hamas and suicide bombing, Elliott did her best to downplay such unpleasant details; instead, she focused on sympathetic personal particulars. “Islam came to him softly, in the rhythms of his grandmother’s voice”; “Mr. Shata discovered love 15 years ago. . . . ‘She entered my heart,‘ said the imam.” Elliott’s saccharine piece won a Pulitzer Prize. When Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes pointed out that Shata was obviously an Islamist, a writer for the Columbia Journalism Review dismissed Pipes as “right-wing” and insisted that Shata was “very moderate.”

So it goes in this upside-down, not-so-brave new media world: those who, if given the power, would subjugate infidels, oppress women, and execute apostates and homosexuals are “moderate” (a moderate, these days, apparently being anybody who doesn’t have explosives strapped to his body), while those who dare to call a spade a spade are “Islamophobes.”

The entertainment industry has been nearly as appalling. During World War II, Hollywood churned out scores of films that served the war effort, but today’s movies and TV shows, with very few exceptions, either tiptoe around Islam or whitewash it. In the whitewash category were two sitcoms that debuted in 2007, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and CW’s Aliens in America. Both shows are about Muslims confronting anti-Muslim bigotry; both take it for granted that there’s no fundamentalist Islam problem in the West, but only an anti-Islam problem.

Muslim pressure groups have actively tried to keep movies and TV shows from portraying Islam as anything but a Religion of Peace. For example, the Council for American-Islamic Relations successfully lobbied Paramount Pictures to change the bad guys in The Sum of All Fears (2002) from Islamist terrorists to neo-Nazis, while Fox’s popular series 24, after Muslims complained about a story line depicting Islamic terrorists, ran cringe-worthy public-service announcements emphasizing how nonviolent Islam was. Earlier this year, Iranian-Danish actor Farshad Kholghi noted that, despite the cartoon controversy’s overwhelming impact on Denmark, “not a single movie has been made about the crisis, not a single play, not a single stand-up monologue.” Which, of course, is exactly what the cartoon jihadists wanted.

In April 2006, an episode of the animated series South Park admirably mocked the wave of self-censorship that followed the Jyllands-Posten crisis—but Comedy Central censored it, replacing an image of Mohammed with a black screen and an explanatory notice. According to series producer Anne Garefino, network executives frankly admitted that they were acting out of fear. “We were happy,” she told an interviewer, “that they didn’t try to claim that it was because of religious tolerance.”

Then there’s the art world. Postmodern artists who have always striven to shock and offend now maintain piously that Islam deserves “respect.” Museums and galleries have quietly taken down paintings that might upset Muslims and have put into storage manuscripts featuring images of Mohammed. London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery removed life-size nude dolls by surrealist artist Hans Bellmer from a 2006 exhibit just before its opening; the official excuse was “space constraints,” but the curator admitted that the real reason was fear that the nudity might offend the gallery’s Muslim neighbors. Last November, after the cancellation of a show in The Hague of artworks depicting gay men in Mohammed masks, the artist, Sooreh Hera, charged the museum with giving in to Muslim threats. Tim Marlow of London’s White Cube Gallery notes that such self-censorship by artists and museums is now common, though “very few people have explicitly admitted” it. British artist Grayson Perry, whose work has mercilessly mocked Christianity, is one who has—and his reluctance isn’t about multicultural sensitivity. “The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art,” he told the Times of London, “is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.”

Leading liberal intellectuals and academics have shown a striking willingness to betray liberal values when it comes to pacifying Muslims. Back in 2001, Unni Wikan, a distinguished Norwegian cultural anthropologist and Islam expert, responded to the high rate of Muslim-on-infidel rape in Oslo by exhorting women to “realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.”

More recently, high-profile Europe experts Ian Buruma of Bard College and Timothy Garton Ash of Oxford, while furiously denying that they advocate cultural surrender, have embraced “accommodation,” which sounds like a distinction without a difference. In his book Murder in Amsterdam, Buruma approvingly quotes Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen’s call for “accommodation with the Muslims,” including those “who consciously discriminate against their women.” Sharia enshrines a Muslim man’s right to beat and rape his wife, to force marriages on his daughters, and to kill them if they resist. One wonders what female Muslims who immigrated to Europe to escape such barbarity think of this prescription.

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and one of Britain’s best-known public intellectuals, suggested in February the institution of a parallel system of sharia law in Britain. Since the Islamic Sharia Council already adjudicates Muslim marriages and divorces in the U.K., what Williams was proposing was, as he put it, “a much enhanced and quite sophisticated version of such a body, with increased resources.” Gratifyingly, his proposal, short on specifics and long on academic doublespeak (“I don’t think,” he told the BBC, “that we should instantly spring to the conclusion that the whole of that world of jurisprudence and practice is somehow monstrously incompatible with human rights, simply because it doesn’t immediately fit with how we understand it”) was greeted with public outrage.

Another prominent accommodationist is humanities professor Mark Lilla of Columbia University, author of an August 2007 essay in the New York Times Magazine so long and languorous, and written with such perfect academic dispassion, that many readers may have finished it without realizing that it charted a path leading straight to sharia. Muslims’ “full reconciliation with modern liberal democracy cannot be expected,” Lilla wrote. For the West, “coping is the order of the day, not defending high principle.”

Revealing in this light is Buruma’s and Garton Ash’s treatment of author Ayaan Hirsi Ali—perhaps the greatest living champion of Western freedom in the face of creeping jihad—and of the Europe-based Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan. Because Hirsi Ali refuses to compromise on liberty, Garton Ash has called her a “simplistic . . . Enlightenment fundamentalist”—thus implicitly equating her with the Muslim fundamentalists who have threatened to kill her—while Buruma, in several New York Times pieces, has portrayed her as a petulant naif. (Both men have lately backed off somewhat.) On the other hand, the professors have rhapsodized over Ramadan’s supposed brilliance. They aren’t alone: though he’s clearly not the Westernized, urbane intellectual he seems to be—he refuses to condemn the stoning of adulteresses and clearly looks forward to a Europe under sharia—this grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and protégé of Islamist scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi regularly wins praise in bien-pensant circles as representing the best hope for long-term concord between Western Muslims and non-Muslims.

This spring, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, writing in the New York Times Magazine, actually gave two cheers for sharia. He contrasted it favorably with English common law, and described “the Islamists’ aspiration to renew old ideas of the rule of law” as “bold and noble.”

With the press, the entertainment industry, and prominent liberal thinkers all refusing to defend basic Western liberties, it’s not surprising that our political leaders have been pusillanimous, too. After a tiny Oslo newspaper, Magazinet, reprinted the Danish cartoons in early 2006, jihadists burned Norwegian flags and set fire to Norway’s embassy in Syria. Instead of standing up to the vandals, Norwegian leaders turned on Magazinet’s editor, Vebjørn Selbekk, partially blaming him for the embassy burning and pressing him to apologize. He finally gave way at a government-sponsored press conference, groveling before an assemblage of imams whose leader publicly forgave him and placed him under his protection. On that terrible day, Selbekk later acknowledged, “Norway went a long way toward allowing freedom of speech to become the Islamists’ hostage.” As if that capitulation weren’t disgrace enough, an official Norwegian delegation then traveled to Qatar and implored Qaradawi—a defender of suicide bombers and the murder of Jewish children—to accept Selbekk’s apology. “To meet Yusuf al-Qaradawi under the present circumstances,” Norwegian-Iraqi writer Walid al-Kubaisi protested, was “tantamount to granting extreme Islamists . . . a right of joint consultation regarding how Norway should be governed.”

The UN’s position on the question of speech versus “respect” for Islam was clear—and utterly at odds with its founding value of promoting human rights. “You don’t joke about other people’s religion,” Kofi Annan lectured soon after the Magazinet incident, echoing the sermons of innumerable imams, “and you must respect what is holy for other people.” In October 2006, at a UN panel discussion called “Cartooning for Peace,” Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor proposed drawing “a very thin blue UN line . . . between freedom and responsibility.” (Americans might be forgiven for wondering whether that line would strike through the First Amendment.) And in 2007, the UN’s Human Rights Council passed a Pakistani motion prohibiting defamation of religion.

Other Western government leaders have promoted the expansion of the Dar al-Islam. In September 2006, when philosophy teacher Robert Redeker went into hiding after receiving death threats over a Le Figaro op-ed on Islam, France’s then–prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, commented that “everyone has the right to express their opinions freely—at the same time that they respect others, of course.” The lesson of the Redeker affair, he said, was “how vigilant we must be to ensure that people fully respect one another in our society.” Villepin got a run for his money last year from his Swedish counterpart, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who, after meeting with Muslim ambassadors to discuss the Vilks cartoons, won praise from one of them, Algeria’s Merzak Bedjaoui, for his “spirit of appeasement.”

When, years after September 11, President George W. Bush finally acknowledged publicly that the West was at war with Islamic fascism, Muslims’ and multiculturalists’ furious reaction made him retreat to the empty term “war on terror.” Britain’s Foreign Office has since deemed even that phrase offensive and banned its use by cabinet members (along with “Islamic extremism”). In January, the Home Office decided that Islamic terrorism would henceforth be described as “anti-Islamic activity.”

Western legislatures and courts have reinforced the “spirit of appeasement.” In 2005, Norway’s parliament, with virtually no public discussion or media coverage, criminalized religious insults (and placed the burden of proof on the defendant). Last year, that country’s most celebrated lawyer, Tor Erling Staff, argued that the punishment for honor killing should be less than for other murders, because it’s arrogant for us to expect Muslim men to conform to our society’s norms. Also in 2007, in one of several instances in which magistrates sworn to uphold German law have followed sharia instead, a Frankfurt judge rejected a Muslim woman’s request for a quick divorce from her brutally abusive husband; after all, under the Koran he had the right to beat her.

Those who dare to defy the West’s new sharia-based strictures and speak their minds now risk prosecution in some countries. In 2006, legendary author Oriana Fallaci, dying of cancer, went on trial in Italy for slurring Islam; three years earlier, she had defended herself in a French court against a similar charge. (Fallaci was ultimately found not guilty in both cases.) More recently, Canadian provinces ordered publisher Ezra Levant and journalist Mark Steyn to face human rights tribunals, the former for reprinting the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, the latter for writing critically about Islam in Maclean’s.

Even as Western authorities have hassled Islam’s critics, they’ve honored jihadists and their supporters. In 2005, Queen Elizabeth knighted Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain, a man who had called for the death of Salman Rushdie. Also that year, London mayor Ken Livingstone ludicrously praised Qaradawi as “progressive”—and, in response to gay activists who pointed out that Qaradawi had defended the death penalty for homosexuals, issued a dissertation-length dossier whitewashing the Sunni scholar and trying to blacken the activists’ reputations. Of all the West’s leaders, however, few can hold a candle to Piet Hein Donner, who in 2006, as Dutch minister of justice, said that if voters wanted to bring sharia to the Netherlands—where Muslims will soon be a majority in major cities—“it would be a disgrace to say, ‘This is not permitted!’ ”

If you don’t find the dhimmification of politicians shocking, consider the degree to which law enforcement officers have yielded to Islamist pressure. Last year, when “Undercover Mosque,” an unusually frank exposé on Britain’s Channel 4, showed “moderate” Muslim preachers calling for the beating of wives and daughters and the murder of gays and apostates, police leaped into action—reporting the station to the government communications authority, Ofcom, for stirring up racial hatred. (Ofcom, to its credit, rejected the complaint.) The police reaction, as James Forsyth noted in the Spectator, “revealed a mindset that views the exposure of a problem as more of a problem than the problem itself.” Only days after the “Undercover Mosque” broadcast—in a colossal mark of indifference to the reality that it exposed—Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair announced plans to share antiterrorist intelligence with Muslim community leaders. These plans, fortunately, were later shelved.

Canadian Muslim reformist Irshad Manji has noted that in 2006, when 17 terrorists were arrested in Toronto on the verge of giving Canada “its own 9/11,” “the police did not mention that it had anything to do with Islam or Muslims, not a word.” When, after van Gogh’s murder, a Rotterdam artist drew a street mural featuring an angel and the words thou shalt not kill, police, fearing Muslim displeasure, destroyed the mural (and a videotape of its destruction). In July 2007, a planned TV appeal by British cops to help capture a Muslim rapist was canceled to avoid “racist backlash.” And in August, the Times of London reported that “Asian” men (British code for “Muslims”) in the U.K. were having sex with perhaps hundreds of “white girls as young as twelve”—but that authorities wouldn’t take action for fear of “upsetting race relations.” Typically, neither the Times nor government officials acknowledged that the “Asian” men’s contempt for the “white” girls was a matter not of race but of religion.

Even military leaders aren’t immune. In 2005, columnist Diana West noted that America’s Iraq commander, Lieutenant General John R. Vines, was educating his staff in Islam by giving them a reading list that “whitewashes jihad, dhimmitude and sharia law with the works of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito”; two years later, West noted the unwillingness of a counterinsurgency advisor, Lieutenant Colonel David Kilcullen, to mention jihad. In January 2008, the Pentagon fired Stephen Coughlin, its resident expert on sharia and jihad; reportedly, his acknowledgment that terrorism was motivated by jihad had antagonized an influential Muslim aide. “That Coughlin’s analyses would even be considered ‘controversial,’ ” wrote Andrew Bostom, editor of The Legacy of Jihad, “is pathognomonic of the intellectual and moral rot plaguing our efforts to combat global terrorism.” (Perhaps owing to public outcry, officials announced in February that Coughlin would not be dismissed after all, but instead moved to another Department of Defense position.)

Enough. We need to recognize that the cultural jihadists hate our freedoms because those freedoms defy sharia, which they’re determined to impose on us. So far, they have been far less successful at rolling back freedom of speech and other liberties in the U.S. than in Europe, thanks in no small part to the First Amendment. Yet America is proving increasingly susceptible to their pressures.

The key question for Westerners is: Do we love our freedoms as much as they hate them? Many free people, alas, have become so accustomed to freedom, and to the comfortable position of not having to stand up for it, that they’re incapable of defending it when it’s imperiled—or even, in many cases, of recognizing that it is imperiled. As for Muslims living in the West, surveys suggest that many of them, though not actively involved in jihad, are prepared to look on passively—and some, approvingly—while their coreligionists drag the Western world into the House of Submission.

But we certainly can’t expect them to take a stand for liberty if we don’t stand up for it ourselves.

Bruce Bawer is the author of While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within. He blogs at

Original Referenced Link

Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
Brigitte Bardot Punished for Political Opinions

by Thomas A. Bowden

June 4, 2008

Irvine, CA--"The conviction of Brigitte Bardot by a French court for 'inciting hatred against Muslims' is a gross violation of her right to free speech and should be denounced by every civilized nation," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute.

Bardot was fined $23,325 on Tuesday--barely escaping a jail sentence--for a statement made in a letter to France's interior minister, protesting Muslims' refusal to stun animals before slaughtering them during religious holidays. The fine was levied for the following statement: "I've had enough of being led by the nose by this whole population which is destroying us, (and) destroying our country by imposing their ways."

"Bardot's statement was an expression of political opinion and obviously did not constitute coercion, or threat of coercion, against anyone," said Bowden. "As such, the French government has no right to fine or penalize her in any way for the exercise of her individual right of free speech.

"Moreover, there is no rational basis for a crime of 'inciting hatred.' Hatred is the emotion one feels in response to evil. Thus, to criminalize the incitement of hatred is to criminalize the expression of moral judgment, inasmuch as any moral denunciation may cause others to hate the alleged evildoer.

"The law may punish only those individuals who presume to take the law into their own hands by inciting unlawful violence against others. In the absence of physical force, individuals--such as Muslims in this case--who find other people's views or emotions objectionable are free to ignore them or argue against them.

"A society that outlaws the expression of opinions, either moral or political, is doomed to destruction. Such judgments are essential to rational individuals' pursuit of values, including orderly, peaceful change within a legal system. Once free speech is outlawed, the way is paved for dictatorship. The conviction of Brigitte Bardot for expression of her political opinion demonstrates that free speech is in great jeopardy in France.

"Other nations should take note of what's happening in France, and realize that they will tread the same path if they fail to uphold the principle of free speech."

# # #

Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his Op-Eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.

Free Speech vs. Blasphemy: Thoughts on the Danish Cartoons of Mohammed
by Edward Cline (February 5, 2006)

“As we trace the genius of a nation by their taste in poetry and music, so by their encouragement of these we may judge of their rise or fall; good authors have never been wanting in happy climes. Barbarism begins her reign by banishing the Muses. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!”

So wrote Philip Dormer Stanhope, the Earl of Chesterfield, in 1749 in a preface to a pamphlet of his speech in the House of Lords against the proposed Act for Licensing the Stage, an act supported by politicians who were being mocked in theaters by satire to the applause of an appreciative public.

In a not so coincidental dovetailing of events, a bill to regulate “hate speech” is at present being debated in the British parliament that would make it a criminal offense to publicly disparage any creed or set of religious beliefs, in addition to “inciting” violence via words or pictures against members of any race or religious sect. Ostensively, the bill is aimed at Muslims who call for jihad in Britain; in effect, it will silence anyone who questions or criticizes any creed or system of beliefs. The bill aims to suppress the provocation of thugs and rioters by gagging those who would call them thugs and rioters.

It will silence everyone but the Muslims.

At the same time, the Muslim “furor” over the publication and republication in Danish and European newspapers of cartoons that caricature Mohammed, whose depiction in any form is regarded as blasphemy, shocked many Westerners from their multicultural apathy. The one cartoon that seems to have touched the Muslim nerve -- shall we call it “sensitivity”? -- shows the head of Mohammed wearing a turban shaped as a lit-fuse bomb. This was a caricature that summed up the thousands of murders and scale of destruction wrought by Islamic “martyrs” and jihadists over the past thirty years. It was an astute, stylistic observation, a justifiable estimate of the means and ends of Islamic fascism.

The pit felt at the bottom of many stomachs over this new demand of the Muslims is fear: fear of mindless retribution, of death and destruction. It causes those who feel it to shut up in the name of “respect” for Muslim beliefs. This is the true nature of the “respect” of major American news organizations, such as CBS, when it refused to show a single cartoon.

The pit felt at the bottom of other stomachs is resolve, of a determination to stand up now for the freedom to say what one thinks, with the knowledge that if the West capitulates to Muslim demands, it will have surrendered the key freedom that permits the fight for all the other freedoms. Many European newspapers have defied Muslim “sensibilities” and reprinted the cartoons.

Islamic spokesmen called this action a “provocation.” But what is it that is being “provoked”? Violence. Property destruction. Kidnappings. Murders. The initiation of physical force and terror. All in the name of Mohammed and Allah. Hardly the behavior of a “pacific” religion that would persuade one that it just wants to “get along.”

Implied in the claim that images of Mohammed constitute blasphemy, is that anyone who creates such an image is guilty of blasphemy. What the Muslims are demanding is that non-Muslims accept that religious tenet. Thus, “respect” by non-Muslims of the tenet, at the price of surrendering the right to criticize Islam, means virtual conversion to Islam, a major step in the direction of actual conversion.

Islamists see the implications of multiculturalism and “diversity” much better than do the advocates and practitioners of these secular “creeds.” Islamists are infamous for not subscribing to multiculturalism and diversity. They might claim that it is not conversion they seek, but “respect.” But if one does not “respect” a belief, it is one’s right to question it, or to criticize it in a book, essay, speech, or cartoon. However, if one “respects” it, then it becomes a taboo subject, off limits to reasoned enquiry and civil discussion. One tells oneself: I have no right to say anything about it. And if one is prohibited, under penalty of prosecution, intimidation, or physical violence, from saying or writing anything about it, then there is no reason or point to thinking of it, either.

What a formula for thought control!

The Islamists know it. Most Western politicians and intellectuals do not.

It is time that Muslims here and abroad got used to “offensive” portrayals of Mohammed, and, for good measure, of Allah himself. After all, no one is forcing them to look at the cartoons. The West regularly shrugs off the pictorial vilification of Western institutions, culture, creeds, persons and icons. Anyone familiar with the Arab press and Arab websites will note how vicious Muslim cartoonists are.

That would be a fair trade, would it not, an exercise in mutual “tolerance” and good will? One might say that the solution to the problem is reciprocity. The Arab press can publish vicious cartoons of the West, and the West can publish mildly “offensive” cartoons about Islam.

But it is not an issue of reciprocity. Reciprocity is not in the Islamic agenda. “Islam” means “submission,” and it is submission its ill-willed mullahs and imams demand in exchange for the “peace” of intellectual torpidity in their rank and file followers, as well as in the West. Islam is by its very nature intolerant of other creeds and requires absolute, mindless obedience of Allah and compliance with the prophet’s commandments. It cannot be “reformed” as Christianity has been. Even the new Pope, Benedict XVI, has conceded that. There are no concessions Islam could possibly make without triggering its self-destruction. Fundamentally, there is no such thing as a “moderate” Muslim or a “civilized” Islam, not when the core beliefs of the Koran and commands of the Hadith sanction the murder and enslavement of non-Muslims in an on-going jihad that will end only with the establishment of a global caliphate.

Islamic spokesman claim that they do not seek to crush freedom of speech or expression, only to put “limits” on it. Ultimately, however, any “limit” on speech means no expression, no freedom to say what one thinks must be said. It means not reaching a conclusion, and settling for only half a syllogism, or none at all. It means that an idea has been removed from debate, discussion, and criticism.

This is a defining moment for the West. It must either speak up in defense and in bold, unapologetic assertion of the idea of freedom of speech, or forever cringe in “respect” of Islamic tenets, much as in the film The Godfather, the favor-seeking mortician cringed when gangster Vito Corleone accused him of not granting him “respect.” The fearful mortician immediately offered his respect and submission. He was seeking mere vengeance; Corleone required submission and acknowledgement of his power.

This will logically require the ultimate scrapping of another “belief” system, that of multiculturalism and diversity, and their recognition as fatal fallacies.

The genius of the West has been ever since the Renaissance a commitment to the freedom of men to question the moral claims of others. Reason has always settled the question. Islamists are demanding that the West banish the Muse of Reason. Let those who have ears, hear that demand and understand its fundamental requirement. And let those who understand it, speak now, or forever maintain a “respectful” silence.

Edward Cline is a novelist who has written on the revolutionary war period. He is author of the Sparrowhawk series of novels set in England and Virginia in the Revolutionary period, the detective novel First Prize, the suspense novel Whisper the Guns, and of numerous published articles, book reviews and essays. Visit his website at

America Bows to Islam
by Onkar Ghate (April 1, 2006)

Europeans are all too well acquainted with the fear of criticizing Islam.

To cite just a few of depressingly many examples: a painter, Rashid Ben Ali, is forced into hiding after one of his shows "featured satirical work critical of Islamic militant's violence"; a politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, must go underground after it becomes known that she has renounced her Islamic faith; and a film director, Theo van Gogh, is savagely stabbed to death for making a film critical of Islamic oppression of women. And most recently, of course, there were the Danish cartoons. When the Jyllands-Posten, in order to expose and challenge this climate of intimidation, printed an article and accompanying cartoons, some of which portrayed Mohammed in a negative light, the response was torched embassies, cries for government censorship, and death threats.

It appears that we should now begin to get used to a similar climate in America.

Borders and Waldenbooks stores have just announced that they will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because the issue reprints some of the cartoons. Is the decision based on disagreement with the content of the magazine? No, not according to Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham. "For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority."

Borders Group's capitulation to Islamic thugs is understandable given the pathetic response of our and other Western governments.

Has any Western government declared that an individual's freedom of speech is sacrosanct, no matter who screams offense at his ideas? No. Has any Western government proclaimed each individual's right to life and pledged to hunt down anyone, anywhere, who abets the murder of one of its citizens for having had the effrontery to speak? No--as they did not when the fatwa against Rushdie was issued, American bookstores were firebombed, and Rushdie's translators were attacked and murdered.

On the contrary, our government went out of its way to say that it shares "the offence that Muslims have taken at these images," and even hinted that they should not be published. The British police, Douglas Murray reports, told the editor of a London magazine that they could not protect him, his staff, or his offices from attack--so the magazine removed the cartoons from its website. (A few days later, Murray notes, "the police provided 500 officers to protect a 'peaceful' Muslim protest in Trafalgar Square.")

In the face of such outrages, we must demand that the U.S. government reverse its disgraceful stand and fulfill is obligation to protect our right to free speech.

Freedom of speech means the right to express one's ideas without danger of physical coercion from anyone. This freedom includes the right to make movies, write books, draw pictures, voice political opinions--and satirize religion. This right flows from the right to think: the right to observe, to follow the evidence, to reach the conclusions you judge the facts warrant--and then to convey your thoughts to others.

In a free society, anyone angered by someone else's ideas has a simple and powerful recourse: don't buy his books, watch his movies, or read his newspapers. If one judges his ideas dangerous, argue against them. The purveyor of evil ideas is no threat to those who remain free to counter them with rational ones.

But the moment someone decides to answer those he finds offensive with a knife or a homemade explosive, not an argument, he removes himself from civilized society.

Against such a threat to our rights, our government must respond with force. If it fails to do so, it fails to fulfill its reason for being: "to secure these rights," Jefferson wrote, "Governments are instituted among Men." And if it fails to do so, we the people must hold it to account.

We must vociferously demand that our government declare publicly that, from this day forward, it will defend by force any American who receives death threats for criticizing Islam--or religion--or any other idea. We must demand that the government protect the stores and employees of Borders, of Waldenbooks, and of any other organization that reprints the cartoons.

We must demand this, because nothing less will prevent America's climate of freedom from disintegrating into Europe's climate of fear.

Dr. Ghate is a resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute where he teaches in the Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center. He has lectured on philosophy and Objectivism throughout North America.

Commentary on these Articles

Monday, June 9, 2008

Commentary 34- Mulshine on Oil

From the New Jersey Star-Ledger, 06/09/08

Oil's finite but there's an endless well of ignorance
Posted by Paul Mulshine June 09, 2008 10:42AM

The other day I got an e-mail from some well-meaning soul who wanted to instruct me on the infinite amount of oil that we could tap right here in America if only we wanted to drill for it.

Why do people send me this stuff? As a journalist for a major newspaper, I can pick up the phone and get the top experts in the field to discuss this with me at a moment's notice. And I have done so repeatedly and written in some detail about the results.

And the result is that I learned that American oil production peaked way back in 1970. We have more wells than any other country on Earth. And no matter how many more we drill, we will never again pump as much as we pumped back in the good old days.

That's the truth in real life. On the Internet, it's a different story. Now that gas prices have hit $4 a gallon, everyone with e-mail seems to be forwarding a message about the fabled Bakken field in North Dakota. That field contains 4 billion or 40 billion of 400 hundred gazillion barrels of oil, depending on who's doing the telling. Why if only we could drill it ...

In fact, we are drilling it. And it's a nice little oil field. But like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and all those offshore spots where we should be drilling, the amount of easily accessible oil amounts to just a fraction of the world market. And all oil produced in the U.S. goes on the world market. Even if we drilled everywhere worth drilling, we'd be lucky to put another two million barrels a day on a market that consumes ... I'm not saying how much it consumes. If you don't know that figure off the top of your head, you shouldn't be discussing how oil relates to gas prices.

What you should be doing is running a search on the information in these e-mails. When I did I came upon this very interesting dissection of the Bakken frenzy.

The writer links to a recent United States Geological Survey fact sheet that states the reserve holds "estimated mean undiscovered volumes of 3.65 billion barrels of oil."

That may sound like a lot. In reality it's about the amount that the world burns in two months. And of course it wouldn't all come on the market in a month. Therefore it would be just a drop in the bucket in world supply and would have little effect on gas prices.

But if you want to believe there are vast oil reserves out there that could bring the price of gas back to a dollar a gallon here in the good old U.S. of A., be my guest. Just don't forward me any e-mails on it.

Original Referenced Link

My Commentary:

Posted by Zemack on 06/09/08 at 8:35PM
It may indeed be true that, as Mr. Mulshine states, "we will never again pump as much as we pumped back in the good old days." But, given all of the potential fossil fuel producing property that our government keeps off limit from exploration and development by America's oil and gas industries, that statement may be as much of a speculation as the most optimistic projections of potential untapped American reserves. There is only one way to find out.

All areas now closed off, from the Arctic, to Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf offshore sites, to Western shale oil...should be opened up for energy development. With all due respect to the "experts", their estimates are just that...estimates. There is no way to estimate the content of heretofore unknown or unsuspected fields that may be discovered once all restrictions are removed. There is simply no way to foresee what new ideas and technologies might emerge from the entrepreneurial minds of individuals working either independently or for major companies that could greatly expand the recoverable oil and gas from existing known reserves currently off limits. One does not have to be an expert to understand the extraordinary, and unpredictable, productive potential of free, profit-motivated people willing to risk their own money and time on the job of producing valuable products.

The politicians and their constituents who vilify America's private energy companies...people who themselves contribute nothing to our energy needs...are mostly the same people blocking them. They should get out of their way.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Commentary 33- NJHCC Act

My wife Kathleen and I have sent the following e-mail to our New Jersey district 23 representatives, Senator LEONARD LANCE , Assemblyman MICHAEL J. DOHERTY , and Assemblywoman MARCIA A. KARROW. We are urging support for the New Jersey Health Care Choice act, which enables New Jersey residents to purchase any health insurance policy approved for sale in any other state...a right that is currently violated by NJ law. We also sent a copy to the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Jay Weber.

"We strongly support Assemblyman Jay Weber’s New Jersey Health Care Choice Act, and we urge you to actively and strongly support this bill. A very damaging myth that is pushing America piecemeal toward a government takeover of healthcare is that our “free market” system has failed. In fact, the problems in healthcare have grown in lockstep with government’s steadily increasing intrusions over the decades. The result is the current unsustainable government-imposed third-party-payer system. Today, except for bits and pieces here and there, no free market any longer exists. Consequently, it is government controls, not the non-existent free market, that has failed in healthcare.

"Our hope is that Assemblyman Webber’s initiative will be accompanied by an explicit, principled call for a free market in health care…i.e., a solution based on individual rights, not Trenton political power. New Jersey political leaders should give our residents “a choice, not an echo”, to borrow a phrase.

"We urge that NJHCC be followed by legislative proposals to abolish other roadblocks to a free health insurance market, such as the myriad of state-imposed mandates. These mandates violate the rights of insurers and individuals to enter into voluntary contractual agreements based on mutual benefit. They are a magnet for special interests seeking to coercively impose coverage for particular medical treatments and procedures on others that may not want, can not afford, or would not otherwise buy it. Insurance mandates are immoral, and are in fact nothing more than wealth redistribution masquerading as insurance.

"NJHCC is a very good start to restoring free market medicine. Let those Trenton politicians who would oppose this act explain why they are standing in the way of individuals and insurers exercising their rights to agree on policies without government’s coercive interference. Please make the passage of the New Jersey Health Care Choice Act one of your top priorities.

"PS. There is an organization called We Stand FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine) that should provide valuable intellectual ammunition for health care freedom’s advocates and which may be of interest to you. Here is the link to their website:

We Stand FIRM

Response from Assemblyman Weber:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. LaFerrara

Thank you for your kind correspondence and email to your district
representatives. We need good citizens like you speaking out for real
reforms of our health care.

Given your linking to the FIRM posting, I thought you might find
interesting the attached articles about the NJHCC.

Attachment 1: NCPA(NJHCA).pdf (application/octet-stream)

Attachment 2: Appeal Democrat - Unhealthy Situation.doc (application/msword)

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. Your input always is
appreciated and welcomed, and please stay in touch.


Jay Webber
Assemblyman, 26th District
Chairman, Taxpayer Protection Caucus
101 Gibraltar Dr., Suite 1-A
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
(973) 984-0922

Reprint of Appeal Democrat article;

Our View: Unhealthy situation
June 3, 2008
One of Sacramento's great laments is the number of Californians without health insurance. The predictable bad solution has been to propose billions in additional taxes. California has been spared so far from this counterintuitive, costly "solution."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators ought to look eastward for a better idea. But not to Massachusetts, where government-imposed, so-called universal health care has increased costs and taxes, is running at a deficit, doesn't cover everyone as promised and imposes fines on anyone who won't buy state-mandated coverage.
"It's a proven failure," says Sally C. Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute.
"The least-expensive plan would cost a 37-year-old male resident of Massachusetts $196 a month, and a fine for not having insurance could run half of that, or $98 a month. The same 37-year-old living in Dallas could buy coverage for $98 per month," says Devon Herrick, National Center for Policy Analysis senior fellow.
Instead, Sacramento should look to Florida and even New Jersey, which point the way to substantially reducing health insurance costs with a more market-based approach.
The Florida Legislature unanimously approved allowing insurance companies to sell stripped-down, no-frills policies, exempted from more than 50 state-imposed mandates, including required coverage for acupuncture and chiropractics.
Lobbyists for every conceivable health care treatment have persuaded states to require insurers to sell the whole menu or nothing. It's estimated that, nationwide, state mandates impose more than 1,900 individual obligations. But Floridians now can shop cafeteria-style, picking and paying for only the coverage they desire, trimming their costs dramatically and getting only what they deem necessary.
Sacramento also should look to the unlikely venue of New Jersey, where a family's annual health care policy costs $10,398, compared with the national average of $5,799. Responding to this exorbitant cost, a New Jersey Republican assemblyman is introducing a reasonable remedy.
That legislation would permit New Jersey residents to buy low-cost health insurance from any registered policy in any of the 50 states. Allowing purchases across state lines gives buyers alternatives to New Jersey's expensive coverage, inflated by multiple mandates on in-state insurance sellers. The Wall Street Journal reports that a healthy 25-year-old man can buy basic coverage in Kentucky for about $960 a year, compared with $5,880 in New Jersey.
Knocking down the props that hold up prices can be done in California without adding a dime to anyone's tax burden or policy premiums. If more-affordable coverage really is what the Legislature and governor want to accomplish, Florida and New Jersey point the way.

Response from Assemblyman Doherty

Michael and Kathleen,

Thank you for contacting me with your support of the New Jersey Health
Care Choice Act. I will keep your comments in mind if this legislation
comes before the Assembly for a vote.


Mike Doherty

Response From Assemblywoman Karrow

July 14, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Michael LaFerrara
54 Lazy Brook Road
Flemington, NJ 08822

Dear Mr. and Mrs. LaFerrara:

Thank you for contacting me in support of Assembly Bill Number 2767, the
New Jersey Healthcare Choice Act, that permits health insurers licensed
in other states to provide coverage in New Jersey under certain

This bill is currently pending consideration by the Assembly Financial
Institutions and Insurance Committee. If this bill was to come before
me for a vote on the floor of the General Assembly, I am inclined to
vote yes.

As a former local elected official, county freeholder, and now State
legislator, I have a strong voting record as a fiscal conservative. The
cost of living in New Jersey is too high and is pushing out the middle
class majority. By deregulating the health insurance industry and
allowing more free market practices, the cost of healthcare should
decrease. However, reforming the healthcare industry in New Jersey is
going to be very complicated. Difficult decisions will have to be made
about the balance between covering what is medically necessary and what
is appropriate. As your state legislator, I can assure you that I will
be an active participant in the debate, and I will be diligent in
reviewing all legislation brought before the General Assembly.

Thank you again for contacting me in support of A-2767. I appreciate it
when constituents inform me of their views on state matters, and I
encourage you to do so again in the future.


Marcia A. Karrow
Assemblywoman, 23rd District