Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ilana Mercer: The "Idiocracy" Has Spoken! (About My Hornbeck Pieces)

Barely A Blog - Updated Again: The ‘Idiocracy’ Has Spoken! (About My Hornbeck Pieces)

I could go through this new post over at Ilana Mercer's blog paragraph by paragraph, but there's no point. It all comes down to this: She's apparently received several comments questioning her heartless opinions & speculations about Shawn Hornbeck, and her feelings got hurt, so she's lashing out at the "idiocracy" -- those of us who disagree with her -- & stamping her feet with all the righteous indignation she can muster.

Speaking for this "idiot," I'd much rather have Ilana beat up on me than on a kid who spent the last 4 years with the man who kidnapped him.

'nuff said.

* History Post * Ann Coulter Was Wrong

National Ledger - Ann Coulter Was Wrong

I was deleting old bookmarks, when I came upon this article about Ann Coulter from last June, not too long after she'd made those nasty comments about the Jersey Girls being harpies. The author, Cliff Kincaid, wrote in part

"Coulter appears to be saying that she knows something that is both shocking and disgusting about why these women were acting they way they did. But she has no way of knowing that. Coulter may be offering only her personal opinion about what was supposedly going through the minds of these women, but she obviously has no evidence for her opinion."
Does that bring to mind a certain mother/daughter "mind reading" team about whom I've been writing a lot, lately?

The rest of the article offers more commentary about making judgements based on fact, not supposition. It also talks more about the awful things Ann Coulter was saying about folks, including veterans who've spoken out in favor of liberal positions. Even now, 8 months later, it's an interesting read...

Talk about tying my recent posts together...

I have a bunch of older articles and posts gathering internet dust in my archives. I'll try to pull out one or two on the weekends, if nothing more interesting is going on...

Me, a hater?

The Redhunter: Videos: Leftist Anti-War Protesters Abusing the Troops

So, I was surfin' the net, just goofing around, and I decide to do a search for myself. Among the hits I get was a Right Wing blog called "The Redhunter."

Turns out, your humble host is a hater... Can you imagine?
According to this Redhunter guy, I hate the troops. Here's how I was outed as a hater:

The other day, I added a comment to a youtube video of Joshua "Spit" Sparling on Faux News. Redhunter saw it & obviously didn't like it, because he collected my comment, along with several others he disapproved of, and posted them on his blog, under an explanation that said:

"...But if you want to get an idea of some of the hate that is directed at the troops who served in Iraq and dare to publically say that they support our efforts there, go to YouTube and look at some of the comments that have been left under the videos I posted above. Here's a sample of what was left in response to the last video above"

Mine was the last comment on the list. It said:
"Where's Ann Coulter now that this poor amputee is exploiting his victimhood in the name of right wing politics? Wonder what foul name she'll be calling him, and how soon that'll be? (If she actually ever did--which we all know will never happen--I'd defend Mr Sparling's right to speak out, just as I did Ann's other victims.)"

Does that show my hate for the troops?
Is it even insulting or disrespectful to Joshua Sparling? (Not that I've never been disrespectful, particularly of Joshua's repeated victimization at the hand of peaceniks, but this isn't one of those times.)

And, after my post at the end of the list, "redhunter" writes:

"Can we question their patriotism now?"

I had to post a comment at Redhunter's blog:
I fear you've misunderstood my comment about the video...

I fully support Joshua's right to speak out, though I do disagree with him.
I just wondered whether Ann Coulter would be intellectually honest, and rail against Joshua the way she did Max Cleland. (All that crap about trotting out the victims, blah, blah, blah...) If she actually ever was that intellectually honest, she would be as wrong about Joshua as she was about Max. And I would be among the first to say so...

You may question my patriotism, if it'd make you feel better (I've no need for a freeper seal of approval, anyway), but if anybody's got a beef with that comment above, it oughta be Ann Coulter, not Joshua or you...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Still More: Ilana Mercer's Daughter Weighs In On Hornbeck

Barely A Blog - Letter of the Week: My Daughter Weighs In On Hornbeck

Ilana's daughter sez:
If you’ve been participating in this here blog at all, you’ll want to read this. I have perused some of the antagonistic comments here and think there’d be more substance to my response if I didn’t comment about them. Instead, here are my impressions of the Shawn Hornbeck debacle. Straight from the horse’s mouth. The horse being Ilana’s daughter. And I’m not really a horse. I’m a person:


Ilana's daughter is wrong. I really didn't want to read another attack on Shawn Hornbeck and his family by anyone in the Mercer clan. Unfortunately, that didn't stop it from happening, again... I also question her personhood, a little.

That little shit. That is my reaction; it has little to do with what my mother taught me. This reaction has to do with my mother and how I feel about her.


I suspect that Ilana's reaction is no more based on reason than her daughter's, no matter what either of 'em says. This seems to be about their inability to sympathize with folks who aren't like them.

It is quite a thing, being my mother’s daughter, to read of her impressions of parenthood, and particularly in this article regarding Shawn Hornbeck. Bill-O is generally a man not good for one’s digestion, but I sympathize wholly with his low regard for this kid. And my mother’s, too.

I can see it now. This bathos ridden North American kid, quivering and gesturing at the keyboard. Still full of histrionics, even without an audience. To pen something so sinisterly anonymous to his parents, a simple sentence so torturous because it is coming from the child: “How long will you look for your child?” What kind of awful dramatic shit is that? How many crappy Hollywood flicks has this kid seen? How many books has he read in comparison?


No, miss Mercer, you CAN'T see it. You can create a version of events to justify how you feel or what you believe, but you cannot really know anything, any more than anyone else who wasn't there.

You imagine a child havin' a ball torturing his poor parents with anonymous cryptic messages. Other's imagine that Shawn was made to write it, under threat of violence, or that it wasn't Shawn who wrote it at all, but Devlin. Folks can imagine scenarios all day, based on whatever is or isn't in their hearts.

I think we ought to wait until we have more facts, rather than inventing these fictions, at all... But I ask you; If they're going to create these fictions, why are the Mercer's so willing to imagine the worst of Shawn and his motivations? What does it say about them?

Here’s a basic guide to escaping the torment Shawn suffered through. You email your folks, you tell them where you are and you get your ass home. They’ll come get you; parents are good at that. They generally like to keep kid and kid’s possessions altogether under one roof.


Saving yourself from predators is just that easy. So easy, even a child could do it. The fact that so many children are murdered or raped in these situations means nothing to miss Mercer. If they didn't save themselves by hoppin' on the old internet & popping off an email to mummy & daddy (like I would've)... Screw 'em. Who needs such weak willed kids, anyway? It's not like their parents can't make more...

Cold. Very cold.

As a child partially schooled at a private elementary and middle school in Cape Town, South Africa, I have seen a different kind of child than the North American specimen. I was shocked to my core when I first stepped into a North American classroom. I was disgusted with and dismayed by my classmates, as they genuinely, unblinkingly quizzed me about the population of lions in my back yard, how come I wasn’t black, and, “Why did you leave a place that had such nice weather.” Not to mention the petulance and total lack of respect for the teacher, the teacher’s lack of discipline with respect to the feet on the desks, the eating in class, the idiotic guffawing and god knows what else I took in within 10 minutes of immersion with my fellow 12-year olds. ILANA INTERJECTS: [I recall you came back crying. You said: “Mom, the children in my class are retarded. Take me out of there.” So I did.] END ILANA This is the way fellow feelings are nurtured in North American schools and obviously in the homes, too. I couldn’t bring myself to act that way with my peers, even away from home.

I quickly skipped a grade and moved just slightly beyond the level of the stupid and ascended to the heights of mediocrity. That is about as good as it gets in the North American schooling system (sadly it has gone that way now in my place of birth, too).


Do I even need to say anything?

Look, kitten... Speaking strictly for my little parcel of North America, you're welcome out, anytime... Take your mom with ya...

A combination of my experience in schools here and in South Africa and my home life lead me to this overall impression of Shawn Hornbeck’s behavior. It is mostly a gut reaction, hence the emotion. Yes, I accuse this victim for his total lack of care. If he hated where he was, he would have emailed his parents and told them where he was. If he was feeling the slightest discomfort he could have shuffled over to the computer and told mom and dad he was bored and was ready to come home now. He didn’t. He toyed with them. He cruelly toyed with his parents. How could you live with yourself? If you’re old enough to play a video game (I can’t even get them – they’re not as easy as they look), you’re certainly old enough to give a damn.


Slightest discomfort?

Is that what you imagine Shawn was feeling?

Like her mom, Miss Mercer has written a fictional story, and is railing against it, rather than facts. They have no idea what Shawn was thinking or feeling. None at all.

Okay. So for a moment I linger on his selfishness. Then I can’t help but think of my mother in place of his parents. It breaks my heart. I can’t even let my imagination wander there without shedding tears. Tears of disgust with myself if I were to do such a thing. When my mom writes about life coming to a stand still for a parent in this kind of situation, I know she ain’t kidding. I’ve seen her concerned for my life and it is an earth-shattering thing to look at. One should feel privileged and fortified for being the object of such emotion. I can say with utter confidence that I would have felt the same way at age eleven or fifteen and will continue to feel that way until I am an old woman.


I can say with utter confidence that you're fooling yourself if you think that you would feel that way at 11. Despite your pretty words, I doubt you really have the ability to empathize outside of your little circle, even now. If you did, you would avoid adding to the hurt of Shawn and his family by keeping your vicious opinions off the internet, where they can see them.

You say you feel. Good for you. Why broadcast it to the world, when you know it's going to bring grief to all those victims and families who don't share your opinions? What is the point of needlessly hurting others?

Shawn could obviously access a computer and other people. That premise alone is evidence enough that that child could have done something. But he did nothing. He prolonged his situation unnecessarily. And why am I not surprised? My old peer group in South Africa understood the value of life and respected their families. No matter how belligerent we all were as teenagers, no matter how much we would push our parent’s patience and write horrid things about them in our diaries, we loved them utterly and would never give them cause to worry for our lives. No way. We acted out within known boundaries. We were grounded, sure. We had to do extra chores. Absolutely. And we had to shed the attitude, definitely. So what? Did it kill us? No. It just made us human with a value for our lives and the lives of others. We don’t require special tuition in order to learn how to give a damn.

posted by Ilana Mercer on 02.02.07 @ 6:27 pm |

Yes, Shawn could access a computer and other people. That doesn't prove anything. It doesn't address what he believed would happen in his world if he took advantage of that access. Perhaps he acted badly. He most certainly didn't act the way a smart cookie like you would've at 11. But you have no more knowledge about why he acted as he did than I, or anyone else does. You think you know, of course. Your whole diatribe, like that of your mother's, is all about what you think you know about Shawn Hornbeck and his ordeal. You've written a story, and now you're punishing the bad character you created. It's fiction, dear. All fiction.

Your writing does not provide any evidence that you give a damn about anyone outside of your mom.

You certainly don't give a damn about Shawn Hornbeck, or his family. Because they failed to meet your standards, they mean nothing at all. At best, they're but a bad example in Ilana Mercer's preachings on free will.

What of other parents of children who failed to act as mother & child Mercer think they should've, and were harmed or killed as a result? What should they take from your words? Should they believe, as you do, that they deserved whatever they got?

From where I sit, your ability to give a damn is severely lacking. You & your mom live in a cold, heartless world.

And now, the comment I sent to Ilana's Blog , which she rejected, as usual.
Ilana, I really like your daughter, at least in this one sense... Unlike you, she doesn't waste a whole lotta time with lofty theories... She speaks much more plainly about what you've been saying since your first hit piece on this kid.

Shawn Hornbeck was a bad child who deserved everything that happened to him, once he failed to summon the courage and reason required to escape the first time he had the chance. That little shit made his own damned bed, and chose to lie in it. (And if he was joined in that bed by some 300 pounder with a penis, well, he must've chose that, too...)

Given your belief in free will, I wonder why you (and now your daughter, as well) have chosen to write these articles about Shawn. I mean, even if you are correct about everything you've said, how does your saying it benefit you or anyone else? Do you fail to realize how your words will hurt Shawn Hornbeck and his family, or is it that--like Shawn failing to contact his mother when he had the chance--you simply fail to care? Like Shawn, are you not choosing to act in a way that will bring hurt and anguish to every victim and family who fail to live up to your standards? Never mind Shawn... What motivates your poor choices, Ilana?

As I said in comment one, I believe that you and your daughter lack compassion. I feel sorry for you both, as well as for all who share your cold, cruel world. I hope they choose better in future.

Ilana Mercer has some disturbing fans...

It's the topic, I know, but still...

I've mentioned this once before in passing, but they keep getting... ...well, I'll tell you what.
I'll just do the Faux News thing. No commentary. I report, you decide.

From Barely A Blog: In Defense of Bill O'Reilly :
Shawn was living a life that many children who live at home do - they play all day - going to school is just going through the motions for them - with social promotion.

Shawn’s life is what many children no doubt dream about - sort of like “Treasure Island” - going off on a ship and just playing games day and night.

Shawn no doubt was not a great student, or he would have missed school.

Has anyone suggested that Shawn “ran away” rather than that he was kidnapped?

By Frank Zavisca on 01.26.07 5:07 am

I’m amazed that O’Reilly had taken this position. This is a man who agrees with the likes of Susan Estrich and Wendy Murphy that young men under age 18 are too young and innocent to consent to or knowingly initiate sex with adult females, describes such affairs as “rape” and “child molestation,” and believes the “victims” are “traumatized.”

By Michael kuehl on 01.26.07 4:28 pm

Given his comment about “a NAMBLA offshoot for women,” James Casper obviously believes that adult women who have sex with young men under age 18 are “child molesters,” “pedophiles,” and “rapists.” And because pubescent teenage males under statutory age are fundamentally indistinguishable from prepubescent girls of 10 and 11, such “victims” are “children” and “little boys” who are “traumatized” and “scarred for life.”

What nonsense! Biologically, pubescent teenage age males under age 18 are not “children” but young men. They don’t have the minds and bodies of 10- and 11-year-olds, nor do they have the bodies of underage adolescent girls of comparable age.

Almost invariably, in affairs and dalliances between adult females and young men under age 18, the “child” and “victim” is much bigger, stronger, more aggressive, more physically intimidating, etc. than the adult and “victimizer.” For this reason alone, it’s ludicrous to define such liaisons as “pedophilia” and “child molestation.” Yes, women are “pedophiles” and “child molesters” for having sex with young men as old as 16 and 17 who might be 6′4″ and outweigh them by 50-150 pounds!

Moreover, for abvious anatomical reasons, women can’t “rape” anyone in the pure sense of that word. “Rape” signifies not only violence but penetration -and, with female victims, possible impregnation. Ergo, even to describe such intrigues as “statutory rape” is objectively inaccurate and thus absurd. In such encounters, the “victim” penentrates, and possibly impregnates, the “criminal.”

Lastly, under the law, teenage males under age 18 are old and mature enough to form the mens rea or criminal intent to commit felonies, and often “waived into adult court” if they commit violent crimes. Obviously, if young men under age 18 are old and mature enough to know what they’re doing, legally and morally, when they commit aggravated assault, murder, and rape, then they’re old and mature enough to know what they’re doing when they consent to or initiate sex with adult females.

By Michael kuehl on 01.28.07 6:29 am


From In Defense of Bill O'Reilly:
5. 1/31/2007 - 4:16:31AM
BY: Brian
I think everyone who believes this "mind control" theory are just naive. This was a man/boy love relationship and Shawn was a willing participant. Do your research on the dynamics of that type of relationship and then go back and look at the FACTS! I'm not supporting that type of thing, I'm just saying, that's what it was. PERIOD! I can't believe how stupid people can be and the lack of common sense, especially when the facts are right in front of your face. All you people claiming there was some brainwashing or mind control are so out of touch with reality it's insane. You are all just so hell-bent on putting the nail in Devlin's coffin you've become blind to common sense and reality. I'm not supporting Devlin, but Shawn is a lying little deviant.

9. 2/2/2007 - 21:56:58PM
BY: Ex-runaway
I'm not going into the legal format of the case,but what do you people think a person turns 18 and a sex drive is installed! I remember 13 an 14 year olds getting married. Wjether it's a good decision could be debated. I know of one 16 year old that runs his own dairy farm. I do believe we are keeping our children as helpless babies to long. We all want our children to have a good future but sometimes we seem to keep them in a bubble for much too long - and then let them loose dumb and unable to deal with the reality of life.


April, 2011: (I'd update that second comment link if I could, but it seems the Free Market News Network ( has pulled up stakes and no longer has a cached version that I can find and link to... The article was there though, posted 1/30/2007: Contributors Archive - Free Market News Network

Friday, February 02, 2007

O'Reilly's comment not a factor for fundraiser - Naples Daily News

O'Reilly's comment not a factor for fundraiser | | Naples Daily News

Very disappointing... I thought John Walsh was a better man. I expected him to stand up to Bill, not let him get away with verbally abusing this child.


Ilana Mercer: Hornbeck and the tyranny of low expectations

Guess who's back...

That's right, Ilana Mercer, with another article explaining why we shouldn't treat Shawn Hornbeck as anything but a selfish, willful child who is responsible for his continued captiv..., wait... Ilana doesn't believe Shawn was held captive. I think she called his situation a "predicament" in one of her earlier articles.

In Defense Of Bill O'Reilly
Hornbeck: Too Busy Playing Dragon Ball Z and Gears of War
In Defense of Bill O'Reilly

Let's take this latest article one paragraph at a time:
(Apparently, I lack the correct browser to change the font or style of the letters, so I'll have to use lines to set Ilana's words apart from my own - I'm sure neither of us wants to be mistaken for the other.)

Ilana writes:
Note to Keith Olbermann: some things are true, even if Bill “Orally” says them. The adorable Olbermann launched yet another coruscating attack on Bill, because he promised to do a segment on kids who, unlike Shawn Hornbeck, mustered the strength to escape their abductors. As I did in last week’s column, where I also defended O’Reilly for opposing the therapeutic establishment in its efforts not to diminish, but to trash, the concept of individual responsibility. (Bill must be hanging out at his old haunt, WorldNetDaily.)

While it is true that Shawn did not escape his captor, we don't know whether unmustered strength had anything to do with the reason he did not. Perhaps his 11 - 15 year old reasoning told him that to do so would endanger himself or someone else.

I know that Ms. Mercer does not subscribe to very much psychology, and she seems particularly hostile to any psychological thinking that might mitigate or take the place of personal responsibility (particularly when it entails placing blame), but the fact is, threats are effective. (In fact, a little further down in this article, Ilana explains why her daughter would find a way to call home, no matter what. The reason? The threat of what Mama Mercer would do to the girl once she returned home, if she did not call.) If Shawn believed that Devlin would kill his family, or anyone else, for that matter, even cold hard reason might tell him that behaving as Devlin told him would be the smartest course of action.

Have I any proof that Devlin threatened Shawn? I do not.
Does Ms. Mercer have any proof that Shawn was simply too lazy to muster the strength, or lacked the will to escape? She does not.
Does she imply that Shawn was responsible for his continued captivity because he failed to act? Indeed, she does.

Ilana Blog update 2/2/07 : 9:45pm: I submitted a comment to the blog version of this article about 30 minutes ago. Deleted. I get the feeling Ilana doesn't value my comments, anymore. I'm going to submit it again, on the off chance it was a malfunction.

Ilana continues:
So here’s another angle for Bill. With the “Hildebeest” adding her voice to the deafening din about “Our Children,” how about sparing a thought for Hornbeck’s poor parents? This really dates me, doesn’t it? First I submit that teenagers have a modicum of free will and an ability to tell right from wrong. Next, I venture that the boy wasn’t exactly finely tuned to his parents’ anguish.

A parent in this situation is beside himself with worry. All he or she can think of is, “Is my baby alive; is he warm enough.” And, “Please God don’t let him suffer.” As a parent, I’d be driven to distraction by thoughts of my daughter in agony. Daily life would come to a stand still. I also know this:

I’d be furious to learn that my daughter posted a message on mom’s website, but failed to notify me she was alive. Recall, in a forum on the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation Web site, the boy posted a note asking his parents how long they were planning to look for their son. (Shawn also had a Member Profile on a website called “”)

I got nothin' on the "Hildebeest" bit... (Good to know Ms. Mercer is not always the intellectual she plays, and can wallow in the filth of personal attack with the rest of 'em, though)

How does Ilana know what Shawn thought or felt about his parent's anguish? She doesn't. Ilana's got her scenario, of course, but it's one she created, and it may or may not bear any resemblence to actual fact. Ilana believes that Shawn had the ability to end his parent's suffering. Maybe he did. She also believes that Shawn knew it, and chose to let them suffer. To her, Shawn was a bad child.

Fortunate for Shawn, Ilana Mercer did not give him life, and the woman who did does not appear to be furious with her son for not clearly notifying her of his whereabouts. Fortunate for Shawn, his mother prefers to give her child compassion rather than recrimination, even if it does make him soft and weak. I shudder to imagine what Ms. Mercer would do if Shawn actually were her child. While she--and her daughter, it seems: My Daughter Weighs In On Hornbeck--are convinced that it could never've happened to them, I am far less sure that all her teaching about free will and the irrepressable spirit of humanity would make a dime's worth of difference, when the monster meets the intended victim.

Ilana, continued:
There Shawn’s parents were, dying a slow death every day—because, face it, kids have that effect; they burrow in your soul like no one else. So these folks are pining away, and the little so-and-so can’t bring himself to append this to his message, “Your son is alive, don’t sweat … like, whatever. Sorry gotta run; I have a game of Dragon Ball Z and Gears of War on the go with my buddy Tony.”

Then it dawned on me that my girl, who still checks in with me even though she’s an adult, would have let me know she was alive. She’d be too scared not to, on the off chance that she’d be returned to me one day. And because she was brought up to think rationally, she’d know better than to try this line on me: “Mom, I was suffering that syndrome the nice lady on TV said I had, and that prevented me from calling you for 4 years.” Thin gruel, indeed.

Ilana writes as though this little so-and-so--Shawn, the child who was kidnapped--was a teen away at summer camp who neglected to get in touch with the folks, rather than what he was; an 11, 12, 13, 14 year old kid who was taken from everything he'd ever known, against his will, and made to live with and rely on this guy who probably didn't have the best of intentions. I somehow doubt that Shawn's life with this guy was all video games and cookies.

Though Ilana makes with the cute, cutting commentary as to Shawn's attitude toward his parent's whilst "away," the fact is, something caused Shawn to act as he did. We could speculate, like Ilana, that Shawn found paradise with Devlin, and just didn't give a damn about those people he used to live with... Hell, why bother with them, when there were video games to play, and school to miss?

We could also create an alternate scenario... One that might also explain why Shawn might stay right where he was, not doing anything to upset the delicate balance, smiling, so that no one knew, so that Devlin wouldn't...

Yeah, we could make shit up, like Ilana, to explain Shawn's behavior, but I prefer to let Shawn, and Ben, and the police, & Devlin tell us what really happened. They were there... They know far more than we do about the circumstances.

I'm sure Ilana's child(ren) was brought up far better & more rationally than Shawn. Hell, to hear her & her daughter tell it, their upbringing was better than many of ours or our children's. I would expect nothing less. I wish all of Ilana's children well. But no matter what Ilana believes, there are times when fear can kick the shit out of rational thought & good breeding. There are many things a person will do when they know the gun is at their head. There are almost as many things a person will do when they aren't sure, but think it might be.

At what point does it become irrational to do whatever you believe will save a life (yours, or someone else's)?
What if the gun is at your head?
What if it's at your mom's head?
What if it's not at your mom's head right now, but you've seen pictures of the man with the gun in your mom's house?
What if your told "I know where your mom lives, and I will kill her?"
At what point do you stop believing someone will die?

What if your not _____ years old, but 11 or 12?

At what point does it become rational to take a chance with your mom's life?

Do I know that Shawn was threatened? I do not, any more than Ilana knows Shawn was NOT threatened. We haven't the facts, either of us. But only one of us is passing judgement without them.

My point is, does Ilana believe there is nothing that motivates behavior besides personal responsibility? Does emotion play no part at all? And if it does, are their no psychological factors that affect one's emotions? I guess I know what Ilana thinks, but I don't buy it.

As far as syndromes, we differ. I believe in some of 'em, I could probably be convinced either way on others, and there are some that're bunk. It means little that Ilana and her daughter share a distrust of psychology. Her article is about Shawn, and his parents. If she cannot tell us what they believe about psychological syndromes, Ilana's story about her daughter "knowing better" is useless.

Ilana, some more:
Small children during the Holocaust performed amazing acts of bravery, such as smuggling food for their families in and out the ghettos. Some were shot on site by the Nazis. In a story titled "the brave children of Afghanistan,” the BBC tells of the heroism of poverty stricken, severely malnourished, war-damaged kids in Kabul. They shine shoes to support their families, earning $1 a day. Asked “how he felt about his situation,” the one little boy replied: “I am happy and not happy. Happy because I work, but not happy because I cannot earn enough to bring my family everything they need.”

There is no debate that there are heroic children in the world. Even if Ilana can convince others that Shawn isn't one of them, so what? What is Ilana trying to prove, anyway?

Personally, I'm glad Shawn survived his ordeal. There are many kidnapped children who are found dead. There are many others who are never found, at all. What does free will and personal responsibility tell us about them? How many tried to escape or get help, and were killed for it? Should we judge them heros for trying, or fools for failing? How many accepted their fate and died weak and in fear? Are they just more children like Shawn, who didn't muster up the strength to escape? If we're going to judge Shawn, shouldn't we judge these children, as well?

And what of all the children who're being abused by one of their parents? Are they to be judged for not getting out, too?

Where does all of Ilana's judging of the VICTIMS of crimes stop?
At what point does she blame the criminal?

More Ilana:
Yet people claim that the lad in question, Shawn, was incapable of contacting his hapless parents for 4 years, not even to let them know he was alive. Come now! I’m not here advocating such a developed—or defeating, to some—sense of duty in small children as evinced by the Afghani kids. Nor am I implying children are miniature adults; they are developmentally different from grownups. But neither is a teenager an ameba. The human spirit is irrepressible, in children too.

Speaking for myself, I only say that he didn't contact them. I don't know why he didn't, or whether--given his predicament--he believed he could've. Perhaps Shawn or his parents will talk about it one day... In the meantime, implying that one knows he could've contacted them, or that one knows Shawn believed there would be no physical or emotional cost for doing so, is just more guessing in the abscence of facts. Why guess?

Ilana says the human spirit is irrepressable.
What does that mean? Does an irrepressable spirit give a child wisdom or physical maturity? Does it make him understand human nature any better, or give him anything other than a will to live?

Shawn Hornbeck lived. His irrepressable spirit is intact.

My point when I first asked Ilana about children being minature adults was for her to explain what role child development might play in Shawn's situation. (For my money, Ilana is treating Shawn as though he was her. Not an 11-15 year old child, but an adult with a firm life philosophy that enshrines free will above all else. Both here and in the first article, Ilana fails to answer the question, except to say kids are not adults. While that is one tiny step, Ilana needs to explain how children are different, and what a free willed 11 year old with an irrepressable spirit really knows about escaping from a predator.

Ilana Blog update 2/3/07 : 12:38am
Second submission deleted. Ilana is too cowardly to defend her thoughts on her moderated blog.
Too bad...

Ilana, the last of it:
An anonymous sage said that “expectations tend to be self-fulfilling”: expect nothing and you’ll get nothing. In the United States, if kids so much as dial 911 in an emergency, they are decorated for bravery. Mitchell Hults, the boy who gave police the description of the perpetrator’s white truck, has been hailed as a hero by the sheriff and showered with awards and gifts. This, for merely reporting what he saw! If the consensus in society is that doing the bare minimum is an act of supreme courage; then failing to perform basic obligations must be considered the norm.

In The Constitution of Liberty, Friedrich A. Hayek insisted that “The assigning of responsibility is based, not on what we know to be true in a particular case, but on what we believe will be the probable effects of encouraging people to behave rationally and considerately.” In other words, don’t fall for the tyranny of low expectations; let your teenagers know you expect them to behave rationally and considerately.

While I think it was a little much for Mitchell to get a free truck, I am glad that his actions were rewarded. Yes, in a better world, children (& adults) wouldn't need rewards for performing a civic act like calling the police with information they witnessed, but in a perfect world, no one would be shameful enough to verbally revictimize a child who recently spent several years with his kidnapper, for... Hell, I can't even figure out what it is Ms Mercer is getting out of writing these diatribes about Shawn... Frankly, I though libertarians believed the right to tell a person how to conduct their business stopped at the end of their most protrusive body part. "You judge you, and I'll judge me, and we'll both get along just fine."

Unfortunately, we live in a place and time where one can easily be second guessed for stickin' one's neck out, so some folks need a little reward to remind them to do the right thing. All the expectation in the world isn't going to help that, as long as there are so many judgemental folks...

With respect to Mr. Hayek, I don't believe that one need give up on the facts of a particular case (as Ms Mercer so willingly seems to've done) to have high expectations in all cases. Responsibility shouldn't be assigned based on ideal situations, because ideal situations do not exist. Responsibility is a fact based, not faith based.

Ilana Blog update 3
If Mohammed won't come to the mountain...
I'll drop Ms Mercer an invite

UPDATE: This is the comment Ilana rejected twice over at her blog.
I understand that you don't hold much regard for the psychological theories that some use to explain why Shawn Hornbeck failed to meet the standards you set for him. In their place, you believe in the immutable truth that this child is endowed with free will and a sense of right and wrong.

But your comments talk about Shawn as though you believe he used his free will to choose, and chose wrong. You write as though you’ve somehow divined his motives for acting as he did, judged him, and are now telling your readers he is a bad child.

I contend that you do not have the requisite information to know why Shawn acted as he did, any more than “that nice lady on TV.” Like her, you have very strong beliefs about the nature of man’s relationship to his world (call them immutable truths, if you prefer), and like her, you are making your beliefs fit Shawn’s predicament.

Why judge Shawn or his behavior, particularly so soon after his release? Devlin will go to trial. Shawn and Ben will tell their stories. Why guess as to why Shawn didn’t write an e-mail to his parents? Shawn will probably tell you, in his own words. When he does, you are free to scoff at his foolish excuses and poor reasoning. But at least you’ll be scoffing at Shawn’s description of his experiences, which makes far more sense than scoffing at the events as you imagine them.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Political Tests & Quizzes: Have you been tested?

Earlier today I stumbled into an online argument about Fascism. The "debate" occured here: News Hounds: Dennis Kucinich Debates Hannity And Colmes On The Fairness Doctrine (in the comments section), but there is really no need to follow the link, fascism-wise, anyway. Pretty much the whole "debate" was downright silly. A few right wing trolls began tossing out insults & whatnot, and few of my fellow lefties--who I gather had some time to waste--returned fire. (Ok... I admit that I've been sucked in to these kinda things once or twice, myself... But my contributions usually consist of a single good(?) one liner that I'm compelled to type & post. These newshounders were makin' a COMMITMENT, as though they were defending... (I don't know... What would we crazy liberals be willing to fight real hard to defend?) ...the right to spit on Sparling. What I'm tryin' to say is, they were really goin' at... My usual view on these things is, "Don't feed the trolls, and they won't multiply.")

So, anyway... Somewhere in the middle of this melee, someone accuses the opposing political philosophy of being fascist. (Yeah, I could go check the transcript so as to be more precise, but my head hurt just reading it the first time. Besides, a representitive of the aggrieved political party pretty quickly suggested that no, it was the accuser's party that're really the fascists, so it doesn't really matter. If the trolls/lefties didn't say it first, they said it second.) The Communists were added to the battle, followed quickly by the Nazis. It was a typical troll-induced mess. (I'm convinced that political trolls--regardless of their outward political philosophy--secretly ARE Nazis, or at least employees of a promotion firm out to increase everyone's exposure to the Nazi party. Were it not for the trolls, how often would anybody discuss the Nazi party on the internet? But with 'em... Well, have you ever seen a trolling that didn't involve the Nazis? Me, neither.)

As the original topic was the Fairness Doctrine (government control of the diversity of political speech over the broadcast airwaves), the folks doing the arguing above were not completely off topic. As with much troll-induced verbiage, they were streching the topic to it's illogical extremes.
The Fairness Doctrine will give us one state run radio station, offering one point of view.
No Fairness Doctrine will give us many radio stations, all owned by one corporation, offering one point of view.

Between the "who's the real fascist?" argument, and the control factor (state or corporate) inherent in the Fairness Doctrine topic, I got to thinkin' about political philosophy. All this talk, finally, brings me to my actual topic...

When I first started crawling around political newsgroups & "egroups" (remember them?), someone started talking about how the spectrum of political thought is really more than just left - right. That scale describes economic political thought, but says little about how one feels about government power and control, the authoritarian - libertarian scale. S/he says s/he got the idea from this site: Political Compass (It's been upgraded at least a few times since I was first there). And along with the thinking, there's a quiz you can take to determine where you fit on their political graph. (As many have pointed out, including the political compass folks themselves, there does seem to be a bias to the questions. But it's still kinda interesting...)

Here's how I scored on Political Compass:
Economic Left/Right: -7.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.30

These scores set me pretty far LEFT and fairly LIBERTARIAN. It's difficult to compare myself to others, as I've only had 2 occasions:
1) when I heard about this test (see above), many folks took it, and posted their scores on whatever group it was, and
2) more recently I saw a whole list here,
but I can say this much;
On the left - right scale, I've seen relatively few (-8's), and only 2-3 (-9's) that I can recall.
On the authoritarian - libertarian scale, (-5) or (-6) was/is more common, both then and now.

If you want more info: Political compass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

While I was redscovering the Political Compass, I found other political tests and quizzes. I won't describe them all; you can check 'em out for yourself.

Political Survey. (Follow the "Take the Survey" link from this homepage.) ((Not crazy about this one, myself.))

My scores:
left/right -5.1350 (-0.3091)
pragmatism +0.5082 (+0.0306)

(Hard to tell what they mean, really... But there they are...)

OkCupid! The Politics Test

According to this test,

I am a Social Liberal (75% permissive)
an Economic Liberal (10% permissive)
& best described as a: Socialist.

Moral Politics - A Morality-Based Political Test (Long version)

My Score:
-2 on the Moral Order axis and +3 on the Moral Rules axis.

The following items best match your score:
System: Socialism
Variation: Moderate Socialism
Ideologies: Social Democratism
US Parties: No match.
Presidents: Jimmy Carter (84.07%)
2004 Election Candidates: Ralph Nader (80.24%), John Kerry (77.47%), George W. Bush (53.02%)
Of the 280620 people who took the test:
0.6% had the same score as you.
12.9% were above you on the chart.
82.4% were below you on the chart.
48.6% were to your right on the chart.
30.5% were to your left on the chart.

World's Smallest Political Quiz

According to this test I am a LIBERAL
LIBERALS usually embrace freedom of choice in personal
matters, but tend to support significant government control of the
economy. They generally support a government-funded "safety net"
to help the disadvantaged, and advocate strict regulation
of business. Liberals tend to favor environmental regulations,
defend civil liberties and free expression, support government action
to promote equality, and tolerate diverse lifestyles.

Your PERSONAL issues Score is 90%.
Your ECONOMIC issues Score is 20%.

Millennium: Social Attitude Test

My scores:
Radicalism: 80 percent
Tenderness: 39.5 percent
Socialism: 62 percent

These scores indicate that you are a tough-minded radical; this is the political profile one might associate with a liberated atheist. It appears that you are cynical towards religion, and have a balanced attitude towards humanity in general.

To round out the picture, your attitudes towards economics appear neither committedly capitalist nor socialist, and combined with your social attitudes this creates the picture of someone who would generally be described as left-wing.

If I'm not mistaken, that's all of 'em. If you want still more info (Believe it or not, some political spectrum theories don't have a quiz.), go here: Political spectrum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

My advice; get tested. 8>)

Nerd Score (Do nerds score?)