The Crazy Years and their Empty Moral Vocabulary

In Robert Heinlein’s famed ‘Future History’ he constructed an elaborate timeline of thing to come, to provide a structure for his short stories.

Looking forward from the year 1940, when the timeline was first formed, it was reasonable, even conservative guesswork to predict the moonlanding by the 1980’s, since the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers had been forty years earlier. Heinlein’s Luna City founded in 1990 a decade or so later, with colonies on Mars and Venus by 2000. Compare: a submersible ironclad was written up as a science romance by Jules Verne in 1869, based on the steam-powered ‘diving boat’ of Robert Fulton, developed in 1801. In 1954 the first atomic-powered submarines—all three boats were named Nautilus—put to sea. The gap between Verne’s dream and Rickover’s reality was eight decades, about the time separating Heinlein’s writing of “Menace from Earth” and its projected date.

Looking back from the year 2010, however the dates seem remarkably optimistic and compressed. We have not even mounted a manned expedition to Mars as yet, and no return manned trips to the Moon are on the drawing boards.

One prediction that was remarkably prescient, however, was the advent of “The Crazy Years” described as “Considerable technical advance during this period, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses in the sixth decade, and the interregnum.”

He optimistically predicts a recovery from the Crazy Years, the opening of a new frontier in space, and a return to nineteenth-century economy. Full maturity of the human race is achieved by a science of social relations “based on the negative basic statements of semantics.” Those of you who are A.E. van Vogt fans will recognize our old friends, general semantics and Null-A logic cropping up here. Van Vogt, like Heinlein, told tales of a future time when the Non-Aristotlean logic or “Null-A” training would give rise to a race of supermen, fully integrated and fully mature human beings, free of barbarism and neuroses.

Here is the chart. Note the REMARKS column to the right.



What Heinlein failed to predict was that the Crazy Years would simply continue up through 2010, with no sign of slackening. Ladies and gentlemen, we live in the Crazy Years.

While Heinlein (as far as I know) supplied no rationale for the advent and the recession of the craziness in the Crazy Years, A. E. van Vogt was freer with is speculations: insanity, either of individuals or of peoples, in van Vogt’s stories (and perhaps in the theories of I. B. Korzybski, who discovered or invented General Semantics) is caused by a fracture or disjunction between symbol and object. When your thought and the thing about which you think do not match up on a cognitive level, that is a falsehood, a false belief. When the emotions associated with the thought do not match to the thing about which you think, that is a false-to-facts association, which can range from merely a mistake to neurosis to psychosis, depending on the severity of the disjunction. You are crazy. If you hate your sister because she reminds you of your mother who beat you, that association is false-to-facts, neurotic. If you hate your sister because you have hallucinated that you are Cinderella, that association is falser-to-facts, more removed from reality, possibly psychotic.

The great and dire events of the early Twentieth Century no doubt confirmed Korzybski in the rightness of this theory. Nothing prevents a race of people from contracting and fomenting a false-to-facts belief: the fantasies of the Nazi Germans, pseudo-biology and pseudo-economics combined with the romance of neo-paganism, stirred the psyche of the German people for quite understandable reasons. From the point of view of General Semantics, the Germans had divorced their symbols from reality, they mistook metaphors for truth, and their emotions adapted to and reinforced the prevailing narrative. They told themselves stories about Wotan and the Blood, about being betrayed during the Great War, about needing room to live, about the wickedness of Jewish bankers and shopkeepers, about the origin of the wealth of nations—and they went crazy.

The Russians, earlier, and for equally psychological and psychopathic reasons told themselves an admittedly more coherent story about history and destiny, taken from a Millenarian cultist named Marx, and they were, on an emotional level even if not on a cognitive level, convinced that shedding the blood of millions would bring about wealth as if from nowhere. And, because they used the word “scientific” to describe their brand of socialism, they actually thought their play-pretend neurotic story was a scientific theory that had been discovered by rigorous ratiocination—and they went crazy.

Berlin was bombed into submission during the Second World War, and the Berlin Wall collapsed along with the Soviet Empire at the end of the Cold War. But the modern methods of erecting false-to-facts dramas appealing to mass psychology, once discovered, did not fall when their practitioners fell: scientific socialism, naziism, fascism, communism, all have in common the subordination of word-association to political will. All these doctrines have a common ancestor, which is the social engineering theory of language: if you change the connotation of word, so the theory runs, you change the connotations of thoughts. General Semantics says that if an individual, or whole people en mass, adopt deliberately false beliefs, supported by deliberately manipulative word-uses, he or they will have increasingly unrealistic and maladaptive behaviors. Introduce Political Correctness, ignore factual correctness, and the people will go crazy.

The main sign of when madness has possessed a crowd, or a civilization, is when the people are fearful of imaginary or trivial dangers but nonchalant about real and deep dangers. When that happens, there is gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions—the Crazy Years have arrived.

Craziness can be measured by maladaptive behavior. The behavior the society uses to solve one kind of problem, when applied to an incorrect category, disorients it. When this happens the whole society, even if some members are aware of the disorientation, cannot reach the correct conclusion, or react in a fashion that preserves society from harm. As if society were a dolphin that called itself a fish: when it suffered the sensation of drowning, it would dive. But a dolphin is a mammal, a member of a different category of being. When dolphins are low on air, they surface, rather than dive. Putting yourself in the wrong category leads to the wrong behavior.

I will mention two headlines for today.

First:  “NEW YORK (Reuters) – The criminal case against the first detainee transferred from Guantanamo Bay for trial in a U.S. civilian court should be thrown out because he was denied the right to a speedy trial, defense lawyers argued on Monday.” May God have mercy on us, I am not making this up (

This is an example of institutional false-to-facts association. The state, the military, the court system, is treating an Gitmo terrorist like a criminal defendant rather than like a prisoner of war. The dolphin that calls itself a fish dives rather than surfaces for air. The West is treating the danger from the Jihad as a minor danger, to be solved by normal legal law-enforcement processes. If the West has miscategorized the nature of the danger, the response will be counterproductive: terrorism will rise rather than fall.

It is not as if the individuals involved do not know their institutional actions are crazy. They know full well they cannot and should not release an enemy soldier back into the world to go blow up more trains and planes and nightclubs and Jews. But the legal processes in America were designed to solve a specific problem: the problem of intrusive English tyranny. To safeguard citizens from overzealous police, omnipotent kings and overbearing Parliaments, trials were made to be speedy and public and governed by a jury of peers, and so on. Extended these safeguards to a POW during wartime displays an inability to apprehend which is the greater danger, or what is the appropriate response. However, our laws and customs leave us no choice: a prisoner confined for five years, once granted the legal rights of a US citizen under the Constitution, is Constitutionally permitted to demand release on the ground that he was denied a speedy trial. Future generations of Americans will be preserved from the threat of King George locking them in gaol without charge. But more airplanes and skyscrapers will be bombed without warning by mad suicide-bombers. The lesser danger is averted and the larger danger embraced.

All the individuals involved are sane; but the institutional result is false-to-facts. A POW is not a criminal defendant. Treating him like one is crazy.

Second:  “Reid Continues to Apologize for Racial Remarks.”

Note the aorist infinitive. He had not merely apologized once and yet again, but the action is ongoing, perhaps without end. Again, I am not making this up. I am only a science fiction writer: I am not that imaginative. (

Here we find another example of institutional false-to-facts association: The danger facing the West from racism is, historically speaking, smaller today than any time in human history. The proposed solution for racism is an extensive social mechanism of nonsense words known as Political Correctness. Because the proposed solution aggravates rather than minimizes the problem (and because the practitioners of this solution also have a complete false-to-facts narrative of belief to explain away inconvenient facts, such as the counterproductivity of their efforts) therefore the problem absorbs a disproportional amount of institutional and public attention. In other words, when dolphin that calls itself a fish dives rather than surfaces, making it more panicky and more out of breath, not less, in response it dives deeper yet, seeking water to breathe.

As a fanatic partisan for the Republican Party it pains me to have to turn on my own, but, seriously, the Republican and the conservative commentators on Talk Radio have taken up residence in the town of Stupidestville, D’Ohio—Population, GOP—by trying to make the use of the word “Negro” into a lynching offense. Worse, they have fallen into a prepared trap.

For those of you not familiar with this news item, thank the stars that shined o’er your nativity. It is surely one of the least consequential stories ever to agitate the airwaves. Harry Reid, the Democrat Majority leader, described then-candidate Obama as electable, because he was a light-skinned black man with no trace of a Negro dialect. (A correct assessment, as far as I can tell.)

The Republicans naturally wondered why Reid was not to be forced out of office according to the standard set in the case of Trent Lott, who paid Strom Thurmond the compliment that the nation would have prospered had he been elected president in 1948. This compliment was interpreted (with less than Jesuitical logic) to be a racist remark, on the grounds that Thurmond ran as a segregationist Democrat in 1948. Lott then apologized with much humiliating kowtowing.

For a full Chinese kowtow, by the way, one must fall to his knees from a standing position, and bang the head three times against the floor, rise, and fall to the knees twice more, for a total of three bows of the knee and nine self-inflicted bangs of the head.

The display of self-abasement of Lott was insufficient, and he was forced from office.

But the Pro-Republican commentators were not content merely to point out the hypocrisy of the Dems, no, they had to go into full-blown huffy and weepy mode, moaning how uncivilized and unrepeatable Mr. Reids’ use of the word “Negro” was!

He was guilty of wordcrime!

Follow Republicans, just between you and me, are you truly that stupid? I mean, I know you are stupid, as a party, but are you that egregiously, intractably, unteachably stupid?

Why adopt a Democrat tactic, when (a) the Democrats can do faux-outrage so much better than you and when (b) if you succeed in condemning someone for doubleplusungood wordcrime, then you have established Political Correctness as an unimpeachable dogma with no grounds for opposition?

It is well known that Democrats, and other forms of invertebrate life, being unable to understand the negative basic statements of semantics (whatever the Null that means), or to adhere to the basic rules of honesty and civility, will lynch people for using inoffensive words to refer to real things in the real world, but until now this has been a witchhunting mob behavior exclusively practiced by the Left.

Why? Because the Left operate almost entirely by verbal formulas and verbal fetishes.

For example, when Karl Marx was called upon to analyze market place forces, and to solve the (insoluble) problem of economic calculation in a socialist commonwealth, instead of actually analyzing anything, he merely renamed them. Marx called inoffensive things, like wage-earning, by an offensive name, like wage-slavery, and called offensive things, like totalitarianism, by inoffensive names, like dictatorship of the proletarian. (You must recall that in the time when he wrote, the word ‘dictator’ referred to some of the more able of Roman generals during their Republic, who assumed power only for the duration of an emergency, and then yielded power back to the commonwealth—it was a term of admiration and respect, not yet darkened by Marx and his Communist and Fascist epigones.)

The point of such deadly nonsense is to bypass the rational faculty, that is, to change the listener’s emotional reaction to the topic being discussed without changing any reasoning about it. One never attempts to argue the justice, logic, or decency of, for example, a legally recognized union between sodomites; one merely agitates for “marriage equality.” One does not argue about the real meaning of the equality of women, one merely sniffs scornfully at anyone using the pronoun “he” formally or the word “girl” informally. One does not argue about killing babies in the womb, one merely sneers that those who call the object of discussion “a baby” rather than “a fetus” are uninformed, or, worse yet, Christians.

(And then, the moment the pro-abortion discussion is over, you ask the next pregnant mother you see if she can feel the baby kick, or if the baby has a name yet. These verbal tricks, like the massy arms and gear of a soldier, are only used in battle or drill, never when off-duty. Note that Reid above spoke not in the elliptical nonsense of PC when off-duty, alone with his familiars, not when before mikes. He relaxed and spoke normally, the same way a soldier shrugs out of his harness and kit after drill. Likewise, no one calls a baby a fetus outside of pro-abort discussions. ‘Fetus’ is a technical term used to refer to a stage of (human) development, not to a species of (nonhuman) being.)

For the partisan of deadly nonsense, the person on the other side is neither right nor wrong, since rightness and wrongness are never to be discussed: the person on the other side is merely a jackass, a bigot, ignorant, uninformed, pathetically stupid, Neanderthal, reactionary, bitter, a yokel, a class-traitor, and racist, racist, racist, and racist.

If you are arguing with someone, say, who has a better education than you, a higher I.Q., with perhaps a doctorate in law and a career as a journalist and a published series of books on his resume, that does not matter. The mere fact that he comes to different conclusions than the Party line indicates that he is stupid uneducated Nazi bigot, and a stupid bigoted fascist racist moron.

This is argumentum ad cloaca—ratiocination via refuse. Whatever the loudest donkey laughs loudest at, you take to be untrue. Since that was the way (admit it!) you yourself were convinced, O ye of little mind, it is the first, usually the only means, to which you resort to convince others: the volume and clamor is what matters, not the content.

The reason for the inadequacy of these condemnations, the reason why they are so unimaginative, is because of the paucity of the moral vocabulary of the Left. They do not have words to express outrage, so they sneer and yodel. They are like creature struck dumb, and only able to act out their condemnation by means of antic pantomime.

The more closely they follow Marx, the more impoverished their moral vocabulary becomes. You cannot call someone evil once you accept the proposition that all standards of good and evil are merely genetically-determined group survival behaviors, or merely culturally determined artifacts, or merely ideological superstructures meant to promote class interests. Your concept has lost its referents: it can be used only metaphorically, or ironically.

Likewise, you cannot call someone damned if you don’t believe in damnation. There is no such thing as blasphemy if there is nothing sacred, supernatural, or divine.

Likewise again, you cannot call someone illogical if logic is no longer the standard used to separate self-consistent from self-contradictory statements: because then you would have to argue the merits of the case, and rely on reason, like Adam Smith, rather than on verbal fetishes, like Karl Marx.

Our Progressive detractors have to call the object of their scorn a racist (or a parallel word, such as sexist, lookist, homophobe, capitalist, colorist, agist, whateverist) because that is the only arrow in their quiver. That is the only thing they have to shoot, so they shoot, and do not care how short of the target the dart falls.

I thought it mildly interesting that when I myself was exposed to a Two-Minute Hate by the powers of political correctness (the complaints for the most part came from cronies of the Democratic Underground website, as far as I can tell, not very many from Science Fiction fans), no one called me ‘evil’ even though I was propounding something that must be, by their lights, not merely evil (for I conceived an injustice against a sacrosanct designated victim-group) but a sacrilege, because I likened sacred things (one type of sexual perversion) to things they damned (other types of sexual perversion) and scoffed at them for their pretensions. I was speaking above my station in life, offending my noble superiors.

But the Left has no words for things like evil, injustice, sanctity, sacrilege, damnation, nobility, superiority, and so on, or at least not that they can use such words without a quirk of the smile or a quirk of the eyebrow.

So the Howler Monkeys had to condemn me using the only linguistic formulas their non-condemnatory non-discriminatory non-judgmental philosophy allows: one person said I had psychological difficulties (in which case, one would think I should be cured, rather than condemned?), another said that I was not a science fiction writer, a third said I had no sense of humor, a fourth one said that I was a racist and a misogynist, and they all agreed that I was unreasonable, uneducated and ill-informed (In which case, one would think merely informing me of the error in my reasoning or supplying the deficiency in my data would suffice) and stupid, stupid, stupid (In which case, one would think they would feel compassion to someone of retarded mental ability).

Not one of them used the word ‘evil.’ (Or not that I recall. I did not do them the courtesy of reading each and every comment.)

Why in the world would they not condemn me as evil when I had done what they clearly think to be a grave evil? I gored the most sacred of their sacred cows, so why can they not leap up, arms outspread as human shields to protect the great bovine idol, and call it sacred?

I would not mention this personal example had not I noticed it elsewhere, and often enough to form a pattern. (It is a pattern only, not a rule without exceptions.) For example, many a commenter on the Left smirked and sneered when George W. Bush dubbed the terrorists of 9/11 “evildoers”.

Is that word inapt? — I can tell you that as a writer of hack space opera, who job is to invent impressive space villains and their enormous space crimes, even I cannot think of a evildoer more evil than one who, for no worldly reason, kills himself, and a towerful and a planeful of innocent men, women and helpless children, without warning, without reason, without making any demands, sparing no one, destroying himself in the process, to put himself beyond any worldly reward or retribution. It is a completely evil act, including not merely mass murder, not merely sneak attack, not merely dishonorable and craven ambuscade, not merely random and innocent victims selected precisely for their innocence, but also suicide, the unforgivable sin. To add insult to injury, this unforgivable sin is in the name of a God who (even in the writings of the Mohammedan heresy) expressly forbids such acts, in order earn the name of a martyr, the name reserved for those who patiently suffer, not those who randomly inflict, pain and death in the name of all that is holy. If you cannot call this evil, nothing can be called evil.

But the spokesmen of the Left disdained Bush for use this word. They sneered their practiced sneers.

Why? Because their moral philosophy, inspired (whether they know it or not—and most of them, uneducated yahoos, do not) by Marx and Hegel, occupy a materialist universe of ever-evolving standards, which means they have no metaphysical underpinning for any kind of standards at all. These are not honest Ayn Randians, fiery with righteous rage, who know enough to condemn evils as evil; these are not upright pagans, solemnly bowing to inescapable fate, willing to condemn those pollutions and acts of pride or cowardice the gods of Olympos or Asgard condemn. Rand takes reason as the measure of Man. Pagans know there is a cosmic order which will not heed human tears, and no man escapes his weird, and that cosmic order is the standard, fate that even gods cannot defy. Both Randians and Pagans believe in an external standard. Not so for the modern Left. The spokesmen for the Left are postchristians, philosophical nihilists, whose axiom is that all standards are man-made, which means, not standards at all.

There infinite nuances of postchristian philosophy, and since these groups vomit up printer’s ink like a squid to further obscure their meaning and their motives, a nicety of distinction between them is difficult. We must speak in generalities, keeping in mind that generalities are composed of exceptions and deviations.

In general then, the only way to condemn evil in a universe where there are no standards, is either to refer to a neurological defect, that is, call the man crazy, to a deficiency of personality development, that is, call him immature, or to a dearth of book-learning, that is, call him ignorant.

You can call him morally deficient only if you use a word that does not refer directly to morality: you can call him biased or prejudiced (which, technically speaking, refer to errors in the reasoning process only, namely, filtering judgment wrongly, or indulging in hasty or overgeneralized judgment. It refers not to a sin) or you can say his emotions are disturbed, can call him a hater. If he shows no evidence of hatred or bigotry, you simply assume he is afflicted by these evil spirits at a subconscious level, and is too dull or self-absorbed to be aware of his own defects.

Another condemnation is to say that he broke an admittedly merely local social custom: to call him rude and boorish. But rather than say this, the Leftist will usually employ the elliptical phrase ‘inappropriate’. Since the Left has crusaded against civilized standards of decency and decorum for decades, of course the new standards of political correctness they have successfully imposed cannot be labeled as standards of courtesy and decency, so must be called something else ‘appropriate’ or ‘sensitive.’

Now, anyone with a regard for the insight of General Semantics, even if he does not accept the whole of Korzybski’s conclusions (as I do not), still must acknowledge the basic idea. The map is not the territory. The word is not the thing it represents. Calling wage-earning “wage-slavery” does not make wage-earning a bad thing. Calling a sexual perversion an “alternate sexual orientation” does not make sexual morality a neutral thing, merely a matter of which way you point. Calling a baby a fetus does not make him subhuman. Calling a Jew an ‘Untermensch’ does not make him subhuman.

You can describe your meal as “a well-done sirloin steak smothered in savory mushrooms” or as “a slab of burnt dead cow covered with fungus” but no physical or chemical property of the meal has been changed. No mental or moral property, no association with the act of eating your meal, need change either.

Anyone acknowledging the basic idea must not only, if he is an honest man, avoid misleading emotional connotations, euphemism and cant, he must also, if he is a righteous man, hate Political Correctness, words larded with emotion, nonsense-phrases, Newspeak, and noise. You must hate half-truths and buzzwords and nonsense for the same reason you hate lies: because they are the children of the Father of Lies, and because they deceive the people.

An honest man likewise must not to be offended by mere words. If someone calls your steak a slab of dead cow, it is your responsibly, not the speaker’s, to transfer to the new set of words the appropriate emotional connotations that go with the denotations, and, more importantly, not to associate emotional connotations that are not intended.

If you are a Black Man, and someone calls you a “Negro” and he means no insult by it, you may not take insult. If your feelings are hurt, suck it up like a man. If you are a Yellow Man, and someone calls you a “Yellow Man” rather than a East Asian, suck it up like a man. If you are a feminist, and someone uses the word “Man” to refer to the human species, and you think this word insults you, pushes you to the margins, or works evil voodoo on your soul, suck it up like a man, particularly if you insist on being treated like a man. If you are a feminist, and you think the word “lady” insults, demeans, or belittles you, then check your premises, or check into a psycho-ward.

To be blunt, your feelings of offense are false-to-facts, and we should not change our language even if we are kindhearted enough to want to accommodate you: because changing language to accommodate arbitrary considerations produces falsehoods. If nothing else, the writings of all our ancestors now have been retroactively revised without the author’s permission, and the signs in them now point to objects, or carry implications, never meant. I am not making this up: I have met people, educated and literate people, who think the Bible says God created males in His own image, or who think the Declaration of Independence declares that all males were created equal. They think that is what Moses and Jefferson actually meant when they wrote, and that these two authors did not have women in consideration when making those statements.

If we accommodate your hurt and weepy feelings by changing all the stop signs to yellow diamonds, and all the yield signs to red octagons, it causes traffic accidents. I have a friend who boasts that when he was a child he took his younger brother into the corner and taught him his colors wrong, pointing at red objects and calling them ‘green’ and pointing at green objects and calling them ‘red.’ But you do in earnest what he did as a childish prank.

Conservatives, by and large, detest Political Correctness, and, indeed, the entire theory in modern language that holds words to have no meaning except as instruments of class oppression, which also paradoxically holds that word connotations shape the content and conclusions of thought. This theory allows for the social engineering to operate by linguistics.

If you change the word “Negro” to “Afro-American” and ban the use of the word “Negro” from polite speech, the theory runs that all speakers will henceforth judge men only on the basis of their origin, that is, whether they are from Africa or not, and not on their skin color, nor any other racial or cultural or ethnic or historical criteria. A person afraid of meeting a gang of young Negros in leather jackets at midnight in a graffiti-marked dead end alley of some city with gun control laws will not feel apprehension if he merely uses the word “Afro-Americans” when speaking or thinking of them, or, better yet, “youths.” So the theory runs. The bad and stereotyped ideas we have of inner city crime will go away, not when the crime goes away, but when a bad word that causes bad ideas goes away.

Likewise, if you change the word “man” so that it no longer means either “human” or “male” depending on context (parallel to the way “dog” means either dog or bitch depending on context, or “fox” either fox or vixen) but so that it means “male” only in all contexts, the theory runs that you will eliminate misogyny from the speech and therefore the thoughts of men.

This has the added benefit of allowing you to misread and misrepresent all antique documents and speeches, and tell gullible modern students that every reference to “man” was meant by the writer to mean “male.” (See above) “Where no man has gone before” can be misinterpreted to be a slight against women.

This added benefit is that whenever anyone speaks normally, and does not adhere to the latest fashion in Politically Correct mumbojumbo, you are immediately allowed to be offended and angered, and he is immediately the scapegoat on which the sins of the people are laid. His verbal victimization of you (as adjudged only the tenderness of your allegedly hurt feelings) allows you to attribute to him every injustice in history, real or imagined, and to wrap yourself in the flag and wave the palm of martyrdom, without going to the inconvenience of actually suffering any harm or shedding any blood for the cause. From an economic point of view, faux outrage is a free good with no drawbacks. You would actually have to be a man ashamed to whine like a hysterical schoolgirl in public in order to feel reservation to use this ever-winning trump-card strategy. Reticence, however, is not a value that can exist in a subjectivist world view, because if man is the measure of all things, only emotions matter, not reality.

But the added benefit is merely icing on the cake. The main benefit is that you think you can change the world by changing arbitrary word-signs for objects, and you need not go to the effort of working any change on the objects.

As a master of Newspeak, you have become like an Archimage of Roke, except in reverse. The Archimages from Ursula K. Leguin’s masterpiece A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA could gain control over any object in nature, from a sea-wave to a sea-gull, earthquake to a pebble, by knowing its true name, for the true name reveals the inner nature. The master of Newspeak, however, is the opposite. By substituting a meaningless word for a real word, the master thinks to change reality by hiding the real nature of things.

(Leguin in her sequel, THE FARTHEST SHORE, actually had the meaning and the nature of objects being drained out of the world, because one magus, Cob of Paln, had destroyed his own true name while trying to destroy his human nature, his mortality. I wonder if Cob wrought his dark miracles by calling things all by the wrong and unnatural names.)

The belief in the efficacy of Newspeak is an article of faith, not a rational belief. No one has tested the idea scientifically, or even rigorously. Do you actually, truly and really think that Whites hate Blacks because and only because the word “Negro” is used rather than “Afro-American”? Change the word, and you eliminate the hate? Show me an example of when it was done, and I do not mean inside the pages of a fantasy like THE LANGUAGES OF PAO by Jack Vance. Do you actually, truly and really think that Men hate Women because and only because English uses “he” as the neutral pronoun rather than “he or she”? Show me the some language whose pronouns are more gender-neutral—shall we take ancient Latin and modern Mandarin as examples?—and compare how women are treated by the ancient Italian patriarchs or the modern Chinese versus how they were treated by the alleged phallocracy in the 1940’s in America.

If the Newspeak faith is false, then the word “Negro” is not innately offensive, whereupon any listener who takes offense at its use is to blame for his own misinterpretation, not the speaker.

Republicans criticizing Reid seem to forget that by condemning a non-insulting word as an insult, they buy into the hypersubjective non-standard standard crucial to the cult of victimology, namely, that whoever is offended gets to define what the standard of polite behavior is. And this Lesbian Rule will bend and change according to the mood and whim of the listener, not according to the meaning of the speaker. Reid will be forgiven after kowtowing with ritual self abasement to the Mandarins, because the Mandarins are pleased with his previous efforts in the area of civil rights and race-baiting and supporting the system of race-spoils. Hence, by the Lesbian Rule, anyone whose previous actions show loyalty to the party passes—the Democrat Party. Lott cannot pass this standard, because the rule is made of soft lead, and bends. Lott does not have a history of supporting the system of race-spoils. He is of the wrong party. He cannot pass! The Mandarins in disdain will lift their elegantly long and lacquered fingernails of their thin hands that have never done manual labor, and the Lord High Executioner will drag the condemned to the sacred alligator pits.

Foolish Republicans! You are accepting the premise that the standard of polite behavior is whatever the Mandarins of the Democrats say it is. You are granting them further power over the public conscience.

(By the way, the ‘Lesbian Rule’ is from Aristotle’s NEOMACHIAN ETHICS: it refers to a mason’s rule of lead, of a type used on the isle of Lesbos, which could be bent to fit the curves of a molding. It means a pliant moral standard. This is not a reference to Wonder Woman or Xena the Warrior Princess. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

For those of you who have not heard, in the real and non-make-believe world, the way standards (non-pliant standards) actually work is this: if someone says something below the standard of offense, even if you yourself are not offended, you have a right to be offended, and you encourage bad behavior (his) if you do not chastise the offender. If someone says something above the standard of offense, you have no right to be offended even if you are offended, but in this case you encourage bad behavior (yours) if you DO chastise the speaker, by permitting yourself the luxury of being over-sensitive, and by discouraging him from being blunt and straightforward. No matter what your personal feelings, you must correct toward the standard. In time, your emotions will come by slow habit to cleave to the standard so that you will take offense when it is proper to take offense, and not when it is not.

This is the mere opposite of using your hurt feelings as a dishonest weapon in a debate, or as a trump card to trample the feelings of others.

It is my habit on this website to ban any commenter who attempts to correct my vocabulary according to the pieties of political correctness. If someone says the word “Democrat” is grammatically incorrect when referring to the Democrat Party, I ban him. If someone says “you mean ‘him or her’ ” I ban him. If someone says the word “Mohammedan” is offensive to the followers of Mahound, I ban him. This is not because I have the power to determine the standard of offense, but because I do not. I hate Newspeak because such is my duty. It is not personal.

Newspeak is the enemy, not only of the Archimages of Roke and the Null-A trained supermen of Venus, and the cringing slaves of Airstrip One in Oceania, but of all men who admire even a minimal standard of honesty.

I had thought the Republicans at least paid lip service to an ideal like this, the idea that truth was true, and words meant what they meant. Nope. Apparently not. The Stupid Party never fails to disappoint. They think they can defeat the Evil Party at their own game of shameless hypocrisy and doublethink. But the Evil Party is practiced at doublethink, and founded on it, and they live and breathe paradox, illogic, double-standards, shrieking hysteria, hypersensitive overreaction, and verbal formulas without content or context: you think you can outdazzle the electorate by starting a food fight on their corrupt level? They have Hollywood and Academia on their side, so, believe you me, they know how to use meaningless words to create an emotional effect unrelated to reality. This is not the right time for the Right to call for resignations because someone used the word “Negro” to refer to a person of color currently elected to high office.

Since there is a war on, and a state-caused and state-aggravated Depression, and since we are on the brink of sovietizing the health care profession, have the newshounds and opinion mavins truly nothing more significant to discuss in the news? Nothing?

The answer is no. We must discuss the insignificant, and ignore the important, because we live in a false-to-facts narrative where honest speech is outlawed. We live in the Crazy Years.

Do you wonder where Douglas-Martin Sunpower screen might be, or mechanized roads or commercial rocket travel? Or why we do not have the promised moobase or interplanetary travel? I cannot help but wonder if Heinlein’s story-timeline in some way was right, and that the answer for our tardy future is that we have not yet emerged from the Crazy Years into the future we were promised.

Man will not be sane unless Political Correctness is slain.


  1. Comment by chrisw10:

    They have done this to the word ‘hypocrite’ as well, changing the meaning of the word so that they may call all those hypocrites who have standards that are so high that no man himself may keep them perfectly at all times.

    • Comment by prester_scott:

      This has been the common meaning of the word “hypocrite” for as long as I’ve been alive. Since the term has great theological importance — not only apologetical but also moral and pastoral — I make a point of correcting the error whenever the opportunity arises.

  2. Comment by lotdw:

    “This has the added benefit of allowing you to misread and misrepresent all antique documents and speeches, and tell gullible modern students that every reference to “man” was meant by the writer to mean “male.” (See above) “Where no man has gone before” can be misinterpreted to be a slight against women.”

    Maybe not – perhaps it merely means that womyn got to the moon first!

    I think there was a movie about that back in the 50s or 60s, but it was very unrealistic, because all the women looked like Sophia Loren.

  3. Comment by mrogers0306:

    Liberalism, my opinion

    Uggh. I just spent the last 15 minutes writing a satirical rebuttal from the deep left perspective as I saw it. All I succeeded in doing was writing a bunch of willfully ignorant nonsense that left me feeling dirty and queasy.

    Newspeak is a necessary tool to create and perpetuate the victim mentality. The victim mentality is critical to disenfranchise and demoralize a free people to make them receptive to what would otherwise be unacceptable socialist dogma. This is accompanied by repeated and seemingly unconnected accusations aimed at dividing and exacerbating problems between social groups. All leading up to the introduction of the theory that all men deserve an equal share. There is only X amount of prosperity and it is being horded by a racist, hypocritical power elite and it needs to be wrested from them so all men can get their fair share (which is determined by those that are clearly more intelligent and more moral than those same common men).

    Michael Savage said liberalism was a mental disorder. I disagree. Liberalism is Newspeak for socialism. And socialism is a willful and direct attack on the spirit of freedom. It is a collection of lies and accusations designed to lull men to sleep with the sound of their own unearned worth and unexpressed virtue while exhorting them to murder babies and steal from their neighbors. It is an attack whose goal is to murder truth. Because once men can no longer see the truth they will accept any evil is goodness and any atrocity as inevitable.

    Who is the architect of such an abomination? How can this evil keep appearing over and over again no matter how many times it is defeated?

    The Bible, I think, has a good answer to that.

    “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10

    Even if you don’t share my faith, heed the warning.

    As for me, I will go the way of my forefathers. I’ll go with the name of Christ on my lips, with freedom in my heart and with my gun in my hand.

  4. Comment by robert_mitchell:

    Political Correctness must be slain, yes. The question is tactics. The Republicans have tried being the better man. For years. Political Correctness is not a new thing. Speaking of things as they are has failed. Failed badly. Leaving us with the bizarre fact that the Democrats, who fought a war to keep slaves, who gave us Jim Crow, who set dogs on little girls going to school, get the credit for being the better party for Civil Rights.

    Many Republicans, having looked at this failure, have decided that it is a mud slinging contest, and it’s time to make the Democrats eat a lot of mud, and make them choke, under the concept that there will be no call for truce until battle is joined. I don’t know that I agree, but I can’t call it stupid. What is your solution in the public square, where you do not have the power to ban? When playing games, if you find a cheat, the first solution is to stop playing with them. Sometimes you don’t have that luxury. Then the only solution I have seen is to cheat better and harder then they do. There is a phase to the effect of “If you won’t listen, you’ve got to feel”. I think that’s what the Republicans are trying, in their clumsy fashion, to do. Can’t call that “Stupidville”.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Excellent question. I have no objection to slinging mud; my objection is to slinging a boomerang.

      When Sarah Palin speaks of Death Panels, or mentions the terrorist friends of Obama, she get attention, applause from us and boo’s from the opposition.

      But when Talk Radio goes around calling Reid ‘racist’ for using a morally neutral word, that cannot help but ricochet against us.

      • Comment by robert_mitchell:

        Boomerang? What’s the difference between ninety nine or one hundred cheap shots? The Democrats have made it clear they are “without sin” and have been throwing stones like there’s no tomorrow. When Reid’s actual Racism is trumped by some kind flattery on a birthday, something’s got to be done. “Crying Wolf” has a chance of turning those hundred cheap shots into Nerf, which is better then ninety nine stones. Again, maybe not the best solution, but what’s the better one?

        Morally neutral word? Remember that it was not Lott’s words that ruined him, but the indirect context of them, for Strom missed out on the amnesty Byrd and the other racists in the Democratic party got. While Reid’s words might have been “Morally Neutral”, the context was directly racist. That’s (I believe) why Talk Radio has pushed this. If direct doesn’t trump indirect, then we are in “Stupidville”.

      • Comment by wmtingley:

        The Repulsive Reid is Not a Racist

        But when Talk Radio goes around calling Reid ‘racist’ for using a morally neutral word, that cannot help but ricochet against us.

        Correct, as it should be when we play the Left’s game. As repulsive as Reid is, does anyone seriously think he is a racist? No. But when it comes to “gotchya”, it seems that the political hacks on the right prefer the Two-Minute Hate to the truth.

        What Reid said wasn’t an insult to Obama, let alone racist. The senator from Nevada was insulting the ordinary voter as bigots who just might pull the lever for a black man so long as he didn’t look like or act like a black man. And that arrogance and obtuseness of Reid when it comes to the man in the street fits right in with the man who thinks tourists stink of B.O., our fighting men are losers, and the people can be ignored when it comes to socializing health care.

        The truth about Reid’s statement is much more powerful politically than the assinine racemongering or whining about double standards in the media. But his opponents are blind to that. It’s mind-boggling how the Republicans would rather hate than win.

  5. Comment by marycatelli:

    And, to cap off the insult, you call your immensely narrowed vocabulary “inclusive” and refer to standard English as “exclusive” — so the only way to be “inclusive” is to rigorously exclude people according your shibboleths.

  6. Comment by aegd:

    So, I looked it up, and by G-d, my great-great grandfather on my mother’s side was a DEMOCRAT!


  7. Comment by wmtingley:

    What Moves History

    While Heinlein (as far as I know) supplied no rationale for the advent and the recession of the craziness in the Crazy Years, A. E. van Vogt was freer with is speculations: insanity, either of individuals or of peoples, in van Vogt’s stories (and perhaps in the theories of I. B. Korzybski, who discovered or invented General Semantics) is caused by a fracture or disjunction between symbol and object. When your thought and the thing about which you think do not match up on a cognitive level, that is a falsehood, a false belief.

    There is something to this. It is the disease of rationalism that subordinates facts (what is true) to the One Big Idea (what I want to be true). This has been the bane of the Modern Era: Nominalism and Lollardy, fideism and the Protestant Revolt, the reduction of nature to the efficient cause and Humean skepticism, the disenchantment of man by Malthus and Darwin, the rooting of fascism in Marx and Nietzsche, the terror of Bolsheviks and brownshirts, Progressive technocracy and scientism, the postmodernist assault on objective knowledge, and the atomistic cult of authenticity. All of which has brought the West to the brink of suicide — i.e. the Crazy Years.

    A curious thing is that a cursory look at modern history, 1350 to the present, shows a rhythm to this intellectual decline. It is an 80-90 year beat in which the old zeitgeist gives way to the new one. Note the turning points: 1350, 1435, 1520, 1605, 1690, 1775, 1860, and 1945. All of them marking convulsions in the West.

    I suspect what moves history is the passing from living memory of hard lessons learned and the failure of modern institutions, outside of the Church, to preserve those lessons otherwise. As more people over the generations ignored the Church as a moral authority, the lessons that were preserved were increasingly rejected, if ever learned in the first place, and into that vacuum flowed the ever-more corrupt rationalisms of the age.

  8. Comment by idontknowbut:

    Mahound’s followers…

    Since insults will harm neither God nor Mohammed (may the Lord have mercy on his soul), the following experiment exclusively studies blasphemy.

    Insult the Almighty and the devotees of Mohammed’s (MTLHMOHS) religion laugh at you. Insult Mohammed (MTLHMOHS) and some try to kill you. By noting which blasphemy they find more egregious we can infer who they worship, and name them accordingly.
    A large number of those who want us to call them Muslim are plainly Mohammedan by this test.

    We can apply a similar test to ourselves, of course: does blasphemy against Jesus or against our favorite political or entertainment figure wound our hearts more?

    (Slander about our living earthly friends would seem to be a more complex matter)


    It must be necessary for a culture to be rich to be able to get away with such craziness for so long. When the madness is enforced at gunpoint people will subsist on juche and grass for the sake of the Beloved Leader; but I’d bet sanity would return very quickly if the guns were pointed another direction. We’ve a lot of capacity (economic and social capitol) in our system still, and people aren’t starving yet, so we indulge ever-weirder fads without any thought of contradiction or consequences.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Re: Mahound’s followers…

      I do not call them Mohammedans because they worship The Prophet, but because it is traditional to name a heresy after the name of its leading expounder, hence, anyone who diminishes the divinity of Christ can be called an Arian, anyone who dismisses Original Sin is a Pelagesian, and so on.

      I suppose it can be argued that Mohammedanism is a Jewish rather than a Christian heresy, but the Koran suggests that Mohamed knew and rejected certain specifically Christian teachings, in that he called Mary blessed, and calls Jesus (Isa) a prophet.

      • Comment by mentalguy:

        Re: Mahound’s followers…

        I suppose it can be argued that Mohammedanism is a Jewish rather than a Christian heresy, but the Koran suggests that Mohamed knew and rejected certain specifically Christian teachings, in that he called Mary blessed, and calls Jesus (Isa) a prophet.

        I had that discussion with a Jewish friend recently, who argued the former position at first. He finally conceded when we got to the subject of Islamic eschatology. Given that Muslims even accord Jesus the title of Messiah (al-Masīḥ) and look forward to his Second Coming, the borrowing from Christianity becomes pretty blatant. Of course there are other details like a belief in the Virgin Birth as well.

      • Comment by ilion7:


        … anyone who dismisses Original Sin is a Pelagesian …

        Pelagian, after Pelagius.

  9. Comment by John C Wright:

    Another Example of Madness — Do as you likey arrest

    A wealthy businessman was arrested at home in front of his wife and young son over an email which council officials deemed ‘offensive’ to gypsies – but which he had not even written.

    The email, concerning a planning appeal by a gypsy, included the phrase: ‘It’s the ‘do as you likey’ attitude that I am against.’ Council staff believed the email was offensive because ‘likey’ rhymes with the derogatory term ‘pikey’.

    The 45-year-old IT boss was held in a police cell for four hours until it was established he had nothing to do with the email, which had been sent by one of his then workers.–anti-gipsy–email-didn-t-write.html

    • Comment by robert_mitchell:

      Re: Another Example of Madness — Do as you likey arrest

      Right. It’s crazy. They’re crazy. It’s like an arrow in the body politic, and it will kill us if it is not dealt with. What’s the solution? Leave the arrow in, let the wound fester until we die, or push the arrow through, doing more damage, but giving us a chance to clean the wound and live?

  10. Comment by mentalguy:

    If someone says the word “Democrat” is grammatically incorrect when referring to the Democrat Party, I ban him.

    There isn’t anything ungrammatical about it. But I’d been under the impression that the official name of the party had been the Democratic Party for nearly 200 years (well, at least 182 years — longer than that if one counts the Democratic-Republican Party before it). Is my information false-to-facts?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      ” But I’d been under the impression that the official name of the party had been the Democratic Party for nearly 200 years…”

      I did not make my point here clear. If someone says the word “Democrat” is not the official name of the party, or says it is a slight against that party to use that word, I do not ban him.

      If someone says it is GRAMMATICALLY incorrect to use the word in that way, i.e., against the rule of the Queen’s English, I ban him. Political Correctness is the simpleminded trick of telling someone that using your special and secret lingo is the rule and the only rule: the rules of grammar and the rules of courtesy equal the rules of the Party.

      PC is the Mussolini approach to thought and language. Everything within the Party, everything for the Party, nothing outside the Party.

  11. Comment by ilion7:


    The point of such deadly nonsense is to bypass the rational faculty, that is, to change the listener’s emotional reaction to the topic being discussed without changing any reasoning about it. One never attempts to argue the justice, logic, or decency of, for example, a legally recognized union between sodomites; one merely agitates for “marriage equality.” One does not argue about the real meaning of the equality of women, one merely sniffs scornfully at anyone using the pronoun “he” formally or the word “girl” informally. One does not argue about killing babies in the womb, one merely sneers that those who call the object of discussion “a baby” rather than “a fetus” are uninformed, or, worse yet, Christians.

    CS Lewis called it ‘Bulverism,’ it’s the antithesis of reason and argumant.

  12. Comment by baduin:

    What Heinlein called “Crazy Years” is a phenomenon familiar for any student of theory of civilisation, typical in the last decades before the establishment of the Empire.

    It is very well described in the case of the Roman Republic. Voegelin called it after Cicero “Morbus Animi” – sickness of spirit, or “Aspernatio Rationis” – rejection of reason. Koneczny calls it Magnum Delirium, or circular madness.

    Why “circular”? Because, politically, people go around in circles. They start to do one thing, and end up doing the exact opposite. Since no one has any workable principles, or undestands the situation, all decisions tend to be not only erroneous, but irrelevant.

    For example, the eloquent criticism of Political Correctness by our host. It is true, it is obvious, it is well written. And it will persuade no one.

    Why? For one thing, the “clued-in” postmodernists etc agree with it entirely, and go even further. It is basic Habermas and his critique of false communication.

    All such attacks miss entirely their mark. The leadership of the Left does not care about racism or about socialism. They happily elected President Obama, author of entirely racist autobiography subtitled “A Story of Race and Inheritance”. The most important Hispanic Left-wing organisation in USA is called simply “The Race”. As for socialism – it is socialism for Goldman Sachs only. What Feminists think of Feminism was proved by their defense of Bill Clinton.

    It is Republicans who care about such things, and so they are perfect to accuse Republicans of.

    To understand advanced postmodernism it is necessary to understand that it is an Esoteric movement. It rejects Exotericism – that is constructing Secondary Realities, enclosed finite systems of thoughts which cannot adequately reflect infinite and inexpressible reality. They try to understand the inexpressibility of reality by Zen (another esoteric movement) koans or paradoxical theories written in destructed language.

    (In reality, both Esotericism and Exotericism are false).

  13. Comment by baduin:

    As the university which trains American leadership, Harvard wrote, in the classical Esoteric tradition:

    “The aim of a liberal education, is to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient young people.”
    Final Report of the Task Force on General Education, Harvard

    Compare this with this lucid clarification of Gnosticism, another Esoteric movement:
    The Gnôsis of the Light by F. Lamplugh, Introduction

    “Gnôsis was not “philosophy” in the generally accepted sense of the term, or even religio-philosophy. “It was immediate knowledge of God’s mysteries received from direct intercourse with the Deity—mysteries which must remain hidden from the natural man, a knowledge at the same time which exercises decided reaction on our relationship to God and also on our nature or disposition” (Reitzenstein). It was the power or gift of receiving and understanding revelation, which finally culminated in the direct unveiled vision of God and the transformation of the whole man into spiritual being by contact with Him.

    But while the followers of the Gnôsis, both Christian and Hellenistic, would have agreed that the direct knowledge of God is incommunicable to others, they undoubtedly seem to have held that there were what may be described as intermediate or preparatory processes or energisings which could be communicated: (1) by initiation into a holy community; (2) by a duly qualified master; (3) under the veils of symbols and sacraments. “

    The objection of the Gnôstic to a plain statement of facts would probably be somewhat as follows: “What you say is very good and true as far as it goes, but it is ‘Pistis,’ not Gnôsis; Faith, not Knowledge. You desire to be a changed man. Pistis will change you to a certain extent. I have nothing to say against it, but it will not change you in the radical way that Gnôsis does.” If you went on to argue that your statement was reasonable and received admirable support from logic and philosophy, he would probably reply: “Philosophy of the kind you mention is excellent, and forms a basis for Gnôsis which is not contrary to reason, though it is above it. Gnôsis is a rebirth by which you become a god, and then you will have no need to find out things by talking and discursive reasoning, for everything will be within yourself and you will know all things in a vital way, by an act of simple intuition in the end. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ If you tie yourself down to logic, you will not know the real things, the ‘Things that are,’ by getting inside them.

    Hence the disciple was confronted in due time with a document that would not yield its secrets to dialectic, a kind of ritual in words that initiated his intuition into self-knowledge. Intense devotion was needed, imagination, and will-power. The Gnôsis came gradually, perhaps after the manuscript had been laid aside; it was the effort towards a sympathetic understanding that mattered, that was rewarded with life and light from God. The mere success of the logical mind in unravelling a puzzle was as nothing, for the readings of these monstrous, many-faceted stars of symbolism were infinite. That the intuition should enter into self awareness as into a sacred place of the mysteries—that was a process of the Gnôsis.

    So Gnôstic documents were not merely intended to puzzle the outsider, but the insider as well. This fact will enable us to appreciate better Basilides’ famous remark about the one or two only who could understand his system. His frame of mind was a little like that of a university examiner after setting a paper. We need not think that these people were altogether destitute of humour. It would be a gross exaggeration, of course, to say that all the Gnôstic systems described in Irenaeus and Hippolytus might have been devised by the same man, but it would be a useful exaggeration, illustrating the extreme anti-literalist point of view.”

  14. Comment by jackaroonie:

    “This has the added benefit of allowing you to misread and misrepresent all antique documents and speeches, and tell gullible modern students that every reference to “man” was meant by the writer to mean “male.” (See above) “Where no man has gone before” can be misinterpreted to be a slight against women. “

    So in the future the existence of old “I love you man!” beer commercials will be cited as evidence that most football fans were homosexual. ;-)

  15. Ping from The crazy years « Samizdata:

    […] in retrospect we might call “The Crazy Years” gets an airing in this long, essay by John C. Wright. He takes the term from Robert A Heinlein’s “Future History” series of stories, […]

  16. Ping from We live in the crazy years, but can choose a different destiny for ourselves and our children | Fabius Maximus:

    […] That we’re in the crazy years is widely recognized, especially among conservatives. Such as this, from Nebuala-award-winning science-fiction writer John C. Wright. He read this news […]

  17. Comment by Tecumseh:

    I suppose at this late date, my comment will mostly be lost and ignored. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to make it. First, my compliments to your website and to this essay. It is very thought provoking and from what I can see, almost completely correct. Well, actually, I should say that it is completely correct in substance, I merely have one small difference of opinion as to my perception of reality verses the author’s.

    I disagree that the terrorists in Guantanamo represent a greater threat to me than the forces described in the rest of the essay. And because of that belief, I believe that it is a greater danger to me to for them to be treated as prisoners of war than for them to receive the benefits of the Constitution in a criminal case. How are we to describe them as prisoners of war if we have never declared war on anyone? I would rather be protected against my government and the crazies in charge of it, than I would someone diving airplanes into buildings. The terrorists can only kill me, otherwise they have no power over me. The other can enslave me and my children. In short, I would rather 100 guilty men go free (even if they are Islamo-crazies who might crash more airplanes into buildings) than one innocent man go to prison.

    Perhaps, I am a dolphin who thinks he is a fish, but I rather think that in this instance I am right. In any case, it is merely a minor difference of opinion in application of a general thought process to a set of particular facts. Rational adults ARE still allowed to have those.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      No intelligent comment is ever out of date.

      On the small difference of opinion, the question is a legal one, and, if you will forgive me for being blunt, you are simply and absolutely wrong. No interpretation of Anglo-American law bears out your interpretation. First, an act of war is sufficient to create a state of war. A declaration of war is not legally necessary for an enemy to perform an act of war upon us, nor for our military to act to defend us. This principle is as old as the nation. See, for example, the case of actions against Barbary Pirates during the Jefferson Administration. Second, aliens arrested on our soil enjoy certain Constitutional procedural protections, but these have never been extended to men detained or captured on foreign soil, as were all the Gitmo detainees.

      Your concern about the evils of government overreach all well meant, but they are beyond foolish, they are insane, when talking about extending Constitutional procedural protections to men bearing arms in the field against our troops who surrender to our troops. Troops are not policemen. These are not criminals. The soldiers out of uniform captured on a battlefield.

      If the public insists on granting these men civil legal protections, all that will happen is that the soldiers will be instructed to kill enemies attempting to surrender rather than capture them. And, considering how frequently the current administration has killed targets with drone strikes, this indeed seems to be the result.

      What you are asking for is impossible and insane. The Jihadists are not street thugs committing an act of riot. They are enemies in war time committing acts of war and terror against military and civilian targets.

      • Comment by Tecumseh:

        Is it no less insane to take this government and its agents at face value when they assert that these men were bearing arms against our troops in the field?

        Our difference is simple. You take the government at its word. I do not.

        I rather think my position is more consistent. If someone from the government tells me that the sky is blue, I’m going to need to open the window and look outside first.

        I simply refuse to take the government’s word on the simplest of matters and feel that the only way to guarantee that this government won’t unnecessarily abuse our rights (and by no means is it foolproof) is to grant those rights to some who might not deserve them. THAT most certainly is a fundamental tenant of Anglo/Saxon jurisprudence.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Now you have adopted the position of assuming the men at Gitmo were not captured in the battlefield bearing arms. This is on the same level as those who think the moonshot was faked.

          Listen, I am as mistrustful of the government as the next man, but the one core business of the government is war. Indeed, that is all they are really authorized to do. They would be negligent if they did not take prisoners of war during wartime. The only other options are to kill them all, or release them all.

          Do you understand that the law will not permit that the Gitmo detainees be given civilian trials? They are not citizens, were not arrested by police officers, and are not charged with crimes. Do you know the difference between a crime and an act of war? These things have legal definitions, and we are not likely to put our laws aside because of unsubstantiated misgivings like yours.

          Unsubstantiated — show me the evidence that there is even one Gitmo detainee who is wrongfully imprisoned? Even one?

          • Comment by Tecumseh:

            I haven’t adopted any position, I’ve simply said that I want proof. The government still has that burden, not me.

            As for evidence that even one Gitmo detainee is wrongfully imprisoned…how could I? The government has controlled all the evidence there.

            The fact is, either you or I could be picked up tomorrow plopped down in Gitmo and held for a decade without anyone being the wiser. I’m not saying that it has happened, but I’m saying that it certainly could and with this government, I put nothing beneath them.

          • Comment by maradydd:

            “Do you understand that the law will not permit that the Gitmo detainees be given civilian trials?”

            Erm, except it does, and it has. Even if a detainee is found to be an alien unlawful enemy combatant under the terms established in the Military Commissions Act (passed 2006, amended 2009), and therefore subject to trial by military commission in the instant, judicial review is still ultimately the purview of the Supreme Court, which is a civilian body. Of course, that’s an appeal, not a trial, so I shall try to focus on trials here.

            If a detainee is found to be a citizen unlawful enemy combatant, his citizen birthright to a civilian trial is preserved. John Walker Lindh was never kept at Gitmo, probably because he was identified as an American before he could be sent there. Had his “I’m Irish” ruse held out, he might have joined US/Saudi citizen Yasser Hamdi at Camp X-Ray, at least until Hamdi’s US citizenship was discovered. Hamdi was transferred to the Navy brig in Norfolk, Virginia once that came out, and SCOTUS in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld affirmed due process for US citizens. Hamdi gave up his US citizenship and was released without charge to Saudi Arabia, but a federal grand jury indicted Lindh on ten counts. A grand jury is a civilian proceeding. Lindh pled not guilty, was offered a plea bargain, and took it, so there was no trial per se, but there well could have been. We could certainly go into the details of the suppression of evidence hearing, and the peculiar incentives that went into the creation of that plea bargain, but the fact remains that the civilian judiciary holds the reins every step of the way once an American citizen (who isn’t a soldier) is known to be in the dock, and has affirmed this power over the executive (of which the military is a wholly owned subunit) repeatedly in case law over the last decade, as common law tradition demands.

            SCOTUS has also clarified that foreign nationals may ask the US judiciary to determine whether their imprisonment in Guantanamo was wrongful. That’s getting a little far afield, though, since presumably in order for this to apply, one must be released from Guantanamo without being charged, or perhaps having won one’s initial trial by military commission. I don’t know whether any detainees actually have prevailed at trial by commission, however.

            Presently SCOTUS permits the executive to continue prosecuting aliens for war crimes via military commission, but Boumediene v. Bush (2008) established that even alien detainees have habeas corpus rights, since they’re effectively being held on US territory. It remains to be seen what will happen when such a challenge arises; I think it more likely that the courts will (try to) compel the commissions to act in a more timely manner than compel a drastic change of venue, but time will tell.

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