Wednesday, February 23, 2011


In the chapter titled "Racism" in Ayn Rand's book The Virtue of Selfishness, she expresses her feelings that racism is an infringement on individual rights and morally wrong no matter who you are or where you come from.  She emphasizes that people should not be placed into groups solely because they have the same race. Rand states, "A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race- and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin."  She is trying to emphasize the fact that people cannot be grouped together based on race because each person in it is different from eachother, including a person's own ancestors.  Due to the fact that she believes racism is on an individual level rather than against a people as a whole, she is against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  She explains that the government should not be allowed to infringe on the rights of any person, including a white man who refuses to allow black people into his restaurant or any other sort of private property.  She agrees that black people should not be discriminated against in government-owned facilities and establishments, but feels that it is racist to impede on the rights of private property.  "Just as we have to protect a communist's freedom of speech, even though his doctrines are evil, so we have to protect a racist's right to the use and disposal of his own property.  She sums up her opinions by stating, "if the 'civil rights' bill is passed, it will be the worst breach of property rights in the sorry record of American history in respect to that subject."

I agree with Rand's opinion that you cannot categorize any person based on the actions or believes of their ancestors or other people in the same racial category.  Even at the initial point just before she goes completely radical, I agreed with her statements that no race should get preferential treatment in terms of jobs. I also feel this way about preferential treatment based on sex.  People have often commented to me that I should go into certain professions because, as a woman, I will be more likely to get a job; the profession "needs more women in the field."  I personally do not believe that race or sex (or anything else along those lines) will affect a persons job performance and I do believe it is selectively racist/sexist against those who lose out on opportunities because of this.  After this point, she goes much more radical than I would ever take it, saying that we should continue poorly treating and excluding people from basic societal rights, because it will infringe on a white person's rights to private property.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 allowed everyone to have the opportunity to be on the same level, yet Rand sees it as racially discriminant against white people.  Overall I found the piece to be intriguing, boring, and then strange.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Solution to Saturday's Puzzle

I found this piece to be funny.  Sedaris is describing a very awkward social situation that each of us can relate to in a way.  He took the ordinary story and made it more humorous by placing more emphasis on the events that occurred.  For example, I'm sure he exaggerated some of the things the woman did to make them seem more obnoxious or outrageous, which means more funny to us.  He also includes all of his personal thoughts on each event, things we would not have normally known were happening had we been watching. For example, we wouldn't have known that he was writing all of those funny little comments as his answers for the Times crossword puzzle.  I believe that one thing that makes something funny is that they are out-of-the-ordinary, unexpected, or outrageous.  As an example, many people find watching other people get hurt hilarious.  Many of the Super Bowl commercials this year featured people getting smacked in the head or hit in the balls.  We find it funny because usually we weren't expecting it to happen, and they have an injury occur in a bizarre or out-of-the-ordinary way.  So to make his story of this plane ride more humorous, he exaggerates events and includes things that make the story more unexpected or outrageous.

A flight attendant was stationed at the departure gate to check tickets. As a man approached, she extended her hand for the ticket and he opened his trench coat and flashed her. Without missing a beat she said, "Sir, I need to see your ticket not your stub."

P.S.- Otto, you really didn't have chocolate on your face during our meeting so that must have happened with the chocolate I gave you when I was leaving.  I did laugh my ass off when I read that email though!!!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Klansman who Won't Say the N-Word

In this chapter of Jon Ronson's Them: Adventures with Extremists, the author is interested in the Ku Klux Klan, how they are changing, and showing the stupidity of these Klansmen.  Thom Robb, the leader of the Klan, is trying to move the Klan in a new direction and have the focus be more on white supremacy rather than black demise.  Robb was particularly distraught whenever someone walked past saying the N-word or "Jew."  Ronson, being a Jewish, British journalist, was welcomed into the group.  Ronson provides numerous little events throughout the narrative that makes the Klan seem innocent and frankly, dumb.  Giving out personality tests from a magazine and praising a Jewish man for wearing a KKK robe shows us how the Klansmen are not very intelligent.  It also shows how they don't think of the Klan as a radical group, but just like any other interest group. This KKK's annual National Congress is really more of a summer camp than a grand gathering for radical white supremacists.  The most ironic part of this piece is how much Jewish influence is on this camp, from a Calvin Klein t-shirt, to a collection of Walter Matthau movies as a raffle prize, to their prized movie Birth of a Nation, who was funded by (and also who reaped the profits from) Louis Mayer. 

I found this narrative of the Ku Klux Klan to be very comical.  I was surprised by the fact that Thom is trying to change them to be more socially acceptable and less violent.  The descriptions make me think of them as blundering Southerners who have radical beliefs, but don't even support them much themselves.  One thing I questioned in this piece is whether the Klan realized Ronson is Jewish.  Most Jewish men have distinct qualities (stereotypically) that can identify them as being Jewish, and one would think that if anyone would be able to point out a Jewish man, it would be the KKK.  This welcoming of Ronson, and even having him try on the robe just shows the pure stupidity of these men.  This narrative shows the complete invalidity of the KKK's beliefs. 

Friday, February 4, 2011


Beverly Gross wrote an article in Salmagundi Magazine titled "Bitch."  And that's exactly what it's about: the word bitch and its many various meaning.  She uses various sources to give definitions of bitch including dictionaries, surveys shes held in class, and even a quote from Barbara Bush.   Early definitions describe it as a loose woman, but the definition has changed many times as the years have passed.  Gross says that bitch is the worst thing you can call a woman, worse than whore or cunt or any other word you can think of.  She later contradicts this and talks about how bitch is commonly used in "black vernacular." It is not used to speak poorly about women, but is just sort of nickname for girls (like how many black men refer to each other as "nigger").  Most of the definitions she provides seem to have a common theme. A powerful woman is a threat to society and we need a way to cut her down, and so we call her a bitch.

I found Gross's article to be too over the top on feminist standpoints.  She is very professional in her writing on this subject, but she is too obsessed with the fact that the word is directed towards women.  There are other words that are directed only at men, such as bastard, that nowadays ends up meaning the same thing as bitch.  Gross provides a convincing argument, but my personal views are not swayed because of it.  I found the piece very interesting and comical, but honestly found the strong feminist views throughout to get annoying.