33 thoughts on “Despicable”

  1. 1. Women in prostitution are just doing a non-aggressive job for willing customers in order to keep food on the table, often in rather desparate circumstances. They, as a profession, haven’t done anything to you to justify your use of them for a sexualized slur against college-aged women that you disagree with.

    2. What’s wrong with University of Washington students having second thoughts about striking up a rousing march for the memory of an old warrior whose chief accomplishment in life was killing a bunch of people at the command of the federal government? Maybe there are other things in life that deserve more notice than martial glory, particularly at this stage of civilization, such as it is.

  2. You might have a point Rad Geek; however I would guess their opposition is more due to a combination of leftist rhetoric and America-bashing than a principled opposition to non-initiatory violence. To the extent that it is that’s great though.

  3. Stefan, well, there are lots of possible motivations that they might have had — I’m not sure what “America-bashing” is supposed to mean here, but leftist rhetoric, specifically antiwar sentiment, opposition to government war as such, squeamishness about death and violence in general, or any number of other things could have been behind different student gov members’ decisions. My point is just that it’s not obvious that universities should concern themselves with celebrating people whose chief claim to fame is killing a bunch of people at the command of the government. Certainly not in an unjust war — that’s plainly immoral — and not even in a just war, really. (I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide which the air war in the Pacific was.) Trumpeting martial glory just isn’t the function of a University in the first place, and isn’t something that we need more of from the command-posts of our re-barbarizing society. So I find it hard to work up much outrage at the students whether their motives were clearly praiseworthy or muddled and sentimental. If it’s the latter, they should think harder about what their concerns are, but they do at least have some slippery hold on the good, and they haven’t done anything wrong, let alone anything contemptible or “despicable,” in rejecting a commemorative memorial for Boyington.

  4. I agree, John. So does Ed, another alumnus. It is a black day for the alma mater. As for these comments, they are a lot of Nazi twaddle. Or perhaps I should leave that for the reader to decide.

  5. The only problem I have with Edwards here is that she gets a say in the spending of other people’s money. They should build memorials for anyone they like with their own money, and none with mine.

  6. 1. Hi, Sunny! Just to let you know, the Plaid Pantry is still neither plaid nor a pantry. Their parking lot is, however, even sketchier than ever. However, it’s the Jack In The Box up the street that’s the real sketch palace.

    2. To Rad Geek. Most prostitutes would consider the term “whore” to be rather insulting – that’s why I applied it to Jill Edwards, who lacks even a tenth of the integrity possessed by any random sex worker patrolling Aurora. (A charming scenic street, conveniently provided with it’s own suicide bridge.)

    3. To Kennedy, et. al. The reasons for rejecting the monument are indeed despicable. Had the ASUW taken the line that any monuments, or even the entire University of Washington should exist at all because it it funded with stolen tax money, that would be quite a different matter. They did not, and the gratuitous insult in their rejection is despicable. As for the notion that Boyington was just paid by the “federal government” to “kill people” – while this is true in one sense, it is idiotically reductionist in another. I really have no patience with this kind of thing – I suppose I could suggest (in connection, for example, with his service with the Flying Tigers) looking up “the rape of Nanking” – but since all that happened to non-Caucausian people, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Yes, nobody should have been taxed to pay for either the defense of China or the defence of the United States. But it was still a noble cause.

    This is particularily disgusting in light of the fact that the UW is the home of the Harry Bridges Center For Labor Studies – a monument to a member of the Stalinist apparat. (As I remember, Sunny was particularily infuriated by this, at the time.) What more needs to be said?

    4. That Herbert Spenser link is one of the unintentionally funniest things I’ve read for a long time. Yes, the popularity of cricket and the menacing military uniforms of the Salvation Army (with their frightening hymns!) were surely signs of “re-barbarization”. I was also impressed by his apparant belief that the Anglican Oxford Movement heralded a inevitable return to the Dark Ages of repressive Papistical superstition.

    5. I hope you realize, Kennedy, that you are disagreeing with the winner of the Amazing Transparant Man Scholarship, and a personal friend of lung. (lung says hi, sunny! donut for lung?)

  7. Yes, nobody should have been taxed to pay for either the defense of China or the defence of the United States. But it was still a noble cause.

    thus spoke sabotta.

    hey, is “being an alumni” overt pluralis majestatis, or has the delusion not reached such a stage yet? anyway, keep fighting for liberty, boy. good thing you’re on the team, bringing the inane public such gems.

    worthless little whore jill edwards: bad!
    order follower pappy boyington: good!
    university of washington never-more-ashamed alumni/trivia-expert john sabotta: important!

    BTW, there’s a controversy over at epinions i think you should get in on, then post about at NT with your scintillating “nudge nudge” flair for the dull enigmatic. more posts please!

  8. Sunny: As for these comments, they are a lot of Nazi twaddle.

    … because the Nazis were, of course, well known for their relentless criticism of public celebrations of military prowess.

    Sabotta: As for the notion that Boyington was just paid by the “federal government” to “kill people” — while this is true in one sense, it is idiotically reductionist in another.

    Please instruct me in the subtleties, then. What’s the purpose of “shooting down enemy planes,” if not to destroy the plane and kill the person? What was Boyington’s job in the south Pacific, if not to take commands from the federal government as to where and when to do just that? War, whatever you think of the cause that the war is supposed to serve, does involve killing people at another’s command. Sometimes killing is just and sometimes it’s unjust, but it is deliberate blood-letting from beginning to end.

    I really have no patience with this kind of thing – I suppose I could suggest (in connection, for example, with his service with the Flying Tigers) looking up “the rape of Nanking” – but since all that happened to non-Caucausian people, I suppose it doesn’t matter.

    This is disingenuous. Boyington’s military career didn’t end with the Flying Tigers and he went on to play an active and important role at the command of the United States federal government in their air war in the Pacific, after his tenure in the Flying Tigers — quite a different cause, with quite different ends and quite different means, which also happened to adversely affect the lives of a few “non-Caucasian” people along the way.

    That said, it’s also rather beside the point, at least as I see it. Even if Boyington had only fought in unambiguously just wars, it’s not a University’s job to drum up military parades or put together memorials for successful killers. Why would it be?

    As for Spencer, his comments on High Church revivalism in the CoE are steadfastly silly (and a reflection of his growing statism in old age), but the bulk of his remarks are quite right. The regimentation of every aspect of society, from recreation to politics to charity, into forms that unconsciously or consciously ape military subordination, at the direct expense of individualistic and industrial patterns of life, is a sign of decadence. The prominent celebration of martial and physical prowess, at the expense of art, intellect, industry, etc., is a sign of growing barbarism. Belligerent squadrons of ruddy-faced order-takers on the march may swell the Movement for or against whatever, but they don’t augur well for a free and humane society. In the very best of circumstances they may even be necessary evils to save or to make it possible to later achieve better things, but the incessant celebration of this kind of life from the commanding heights of a society is as sure a sign as any of long-standing rot.

    And, to come back to the point, when did it become the job of Universities to give dead government warriors a parting rah-rah?

  9. Sabotta,

    The reasons for rejecting the monument are indeed despicable.

    I care far less about what people’s motivations are than what harm they do. In this particular case if Jill Edwards prevents the building of a public monument to a decent man then she does him and all decent folk a favor, however unwittingly.

    This is particularily disgusting in light of the fact that the UW is the home of the Harry Bridges Center For Labor Studies – a monument to a member of the Stalinist apparat. (As I remember, Sunny was particularily infuriated by this, at the time.) What more needs to be said?

    That wicked means cannot honor a decent man.

    That rescuing Boyington from being so “honored” with Stalinists is a desirable result, whatever the motivation.

    You should be relieved they declined to drag his remains down their shithole.

  10. “To Rad Geek. Most prostitutes would consider the term “whore” to be rather insulting – that’s why I applied it to Jill Edwards, who lacks even a tenth of the integrity possessed by any random sex worker patrolling Aurora. (A charming scenic street, conveniently provided with it’s own suicide bridge.)”

    John-

    I’m not certain about ‘most prostitutes’, but this sex worker personally feels uncomfortable with the term ‘whore’ when used to casually associate prostitution with ill-defined evil, or specifically with a lack of integrity. Using the term ‘nigger’ as a derogatory reference to a non-black still draws power from racist views about the world and reinforces them. The use of the term ‘whore’ does the same, if and when the word is used as a disparaging reference. (I’ve no objection to the term being used in a reclaiming sense of cultural pride, but one should be as caregul as when similarly using the term ‘dyke’ to refer to a lesbian. Generally, it’s a bad idea unless you’re another whore or best friends with one.)

    I’m personally proud of my Life- and I believe sex work an honourable means of earning one’s keep as well as a space for the cultivation of human eroticism. In the context of an anti-sexual culture which stigmatises sex work, the language of patriolatrous comtempt only reinforces our marginalisation. Which is a shame- we’re a pretty pro-liberty and individualistic bunch; you’d like us! (it helps sometimes that we’re kind of cute) Libertarians and sex workers are natural allies and share many of the same traditional enemies, namely the religious right, the guillotinish wing of feminism, and the state-psychiatric establishment. But friendship requires a language which manifests a mutual recognition of spiritual equality.

    ni victimes!
    ni coupables!

    Lady Aster
    Sex Workers Outreach Project
    http://www.swop-usa.org
    San Francisco

    P.S.

    Incidentally, streetwalkers are a minority among sex workers, even in America where social and legal intolerance makes working in better venues far more difficult than it ought to be. People get into sex work for an incredibly complicated mix of good, bad, and neutral reasons (the most common case is a single mother who needs the time and money to care for a child), but the streetwalker is decidedly unrepresentative of sex workers as a whole (tho’ of course deserving of the same human rights as anyone else). It’s far more common for sex workers to work out of their home, go on calls, work at strip clubs, bars, or massage parlours, etc. But I feel I should point out that most people misjudge sex work based on the most visible, and usually most exploited and least attractive examples. The majority of sex workers in your town are simply women (and men) you meet everyday, perhaps even know personally. And certainly, most of us have no need of a suicide bridge.

  11. The bridge reference had nothing to do specifically with sex workers – merely a reference to the awfulness of life in general and the gloomy, rain-soaked shithole that is Seattle in particular.

  12. Stefan:

    Libertarian philosophy does promote decriminalization of victimless crimes, namely drug usage and prostitution. As you know, free enterprise and restricted government involvement is the cornerstone to Libertarianism. I realize that it’s so much easier to theorize about these issues than to apply them in everyday life, but there are people behind the labels and propaganda that deserve to be recognized.

    Was the sarcasm really necessary?

    Radgeek:

    “…often in rather desparate circumstances.” While I realize that’s how prostitution is often perceived to be, it is a narrow view of what all the industry truly encompasses. Some are desperate and have no where else to turn, sure. But not all. Not even the majority of us. Some of us regard our jobs as valuable beyond simply putting food on the table.

  13. Libertarian philosophy does promote decriminalization of victimless crimes, namely drug usage and prostitution. As you know, free enterprise and restricted government involvement is the cornerstone to Libertarianism. I realize that it’s so much easier to theorize about these issues than to apply them in everyday life, but there are people behind the labels and propaganda that deserve to be recognized.

    Was the sarcasm really necessary?

    I have no idea what you’re jabbering about. Did you misread the posted names somehow?

    Not even the majority of us. Some of us regard our jobs as valuable beyond simply putting food on the table.

    It’s interesting if that’s the case, since in my view sex-work is far from the best kind of job to hold. If it was decriminalized it would pay even less than it does now. I realize that some values are subjective, but to me it’s hard to believe that there are not better things one could do for oneself than essentially “renting” ones body for pleasure.

    I would also guess that some of the conservative opposition stems from the fact that the existence of sex-workers threatens the traditional family to some extent. Since I think families are a good thing, this makes me a little suspicious of encouraging women to go into sex-work. However, if Hoppe is right, then the question is moot since an ancap society will reinforce the traditional family and enforce social norms against “nature-worship and kin-centered lifestyles”, which I think you could make the argument includes some kinds of sex-work.

  14. John-

    Replying to the comment you left on my blog, I do appreciate your clarifications, and a positive view of our business! Please understand I wasn’t writing in personal anger so much as to point out the implications of harmlessly meant language for stigmatised groups. Please remember, we live in a culture in which the ‘whore’ is considered, not an archetype of sexual flowering, but a demonic projection of ultimate opportunistic evil. My intention wasn’t to personally take you to task but to challenge our public discourse about sex work; I’ll gladly include your response on my blog and on the SWOP-USA site.

    Now, on Stefan-

    You’re right, I shouldn’t (and won’t) confuse you with Stefan.

    Oh dear, dear, dear. I must actually disagree that he is an idiot, believe it or not. But more on that later; I want to argue with him.

    Stefan-

    First of all,

    I don’t think of my work as ‘renting my body for pleasure’, any more than a shopkeeper thinks of her/himself as renting the hands that close the cash register drawer for customer satisfaction. Human cooperation inevitably involves one person using their body (we are embodied creatures, after all), to satisfy or please somebody else, and in market transactions this involves being paid for it. In one sense, all wage labour involves this sort of thing, and to no shame- whether that labour is babysitting or teaching or doctoring or bagging groceries. In another sense, sex work is precisely not ‘renting’, because sex work is (potentially) a *liberal* activity, meaning it is something enjoyed for one’s own sake, developing an aspect of human flourishing (namely, the erotic)- it is not alienated labour done for another’s benefit as is too much work under our current system. Sex work both appeals to and in practise is something which is valuable in itself. If one appreciates life on Earth, I can hardly think of something better to do with my time, and the few things that seem to me equally excellent as sex (such as friendship, spirituality, or the life of the mind) are quite compatible with the spirit of eroticism. Speaking somewhat above myself, quite.

    Secondly,

    Who the Abyss are you to tell me what a better job is? I gather you’ve never had any experience in the business (if so, *do* tell), and you don’t act like you’ve made any attempt to understand us with empathy, so you really don’t know what you’re talking about, do you? As for ‘better’, my notion of the good is that which promotes my happiness, which is found in the good life and the flourishing of human possibilities. If you reject this standard, please lay your cards on the table as to what you think human beings ought to do. Please either tell me I shouldn’t pursue my own happiness or tell me the erotic isn’t a dimension of human flourishing. If it’s the latter, then you’re either ignorant or disingenious, because the celebration of eroticism has been characteristic of humanistic cultures for millenia. If it’s the former, then tell your deontologies for me, ‘all debts are off this year’; I’m not interested in your commandments. Either way, unless you can give me an argument which shows I would enjoy life more if I followed some other path, I’m just going to continue doing my work and enjoying myself. Thank you.

    Thirdly,

    It is true that state prohibition of sex work inflates prices. Of course, it also makes our work more dangerous, prevents us from honestly advertising, makes it difficult for us to communicate the best we have to offer, and generally degrades the quality of our lives. How about you let us worry about it? I know in Thailand, where prostitution is only very technically illegal and prostitution is a hugely visible industry, sex work is still a relatively well paying job. I could argue a lot of things here, but perhaps I might start by suggesting perhaps some of us value liberty more than scrambling to accumulate property? I want an independent life, not profiteering off some sexual crony capitalism.

    Fourthly,

    “I would also guess that some of the conservative opposition stems from the fact that the existence of sex-workers threatens the traditional family to some extent. Since I think families are a good thing, this makes me a little suspicious of encouraging women to go into sex-work.”

    Oh, you’re quite right- this is the primary reason conservatives hate sex work, and the same reason your master Hoppe is against the *existence* of plenty of people, including sex workers (does having trouble with the *existence* of people sound familiar to any of our gentle readers?). Of course, Hoppe also favours an interpretation of anarcho-capitalism which grants ‘extraterritoriality’ to families in which a paterfamilias has absolute power over a household sacred against interference from outsiders (wouldn’t one nifty consequence of this be that husbands could rape their wives without recourse), and hopes that market discipline will force everyone with a different social model to be ground out or perish. Hoppe is one of the most socially intolerant persons I have ever read and his presence among libertarians should be an embrassment to the true heirs of John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty”.

    In my eyes H.H. is a travesty of libertarianism, his struggle a replacement of political coercion with social suthoritarianism which opposes statism only because statism doesn’t promote illiberalism enough. If his views were true, they would validate statist liberal claims that lassiez faire promotes injustice and evil- but I hesitate to say this as forcing a choice between his way and socialism is part of Hoppe’s strategy.

    That said, I don’t think his views are true. In my mind Hoppe is nothing more than a European reactionary of the de Maistre variety with a flair for the terminology of Austrian economics. What he wants is clearly a restoration of the feudal order and the supremacy of the patriarch. Hoppe is a semi-monarchist who exalts throne and altar, hopes the market will eliminate social dissidents from society, and is known to associate pretty freely with types who’d also like to see people like me eliminated from society but who aren’t so delicate about portraying the market as their means. I’m sorry, but some of us have standards on whom we get in bed with. You grok, mein herr?

    I had a dream of an Enlightenment peace treaty, where public neutrality towards conceptions of the good could provide a space where different kinds of life could live in peace. Now I don’t think that’s quite adequate- as a left-libertarian I think dismantling structures of power in civil society (like racism and sexism) is just as neccesary as dismantling state structures of coercion if we’re all to have a real chance to follow our own muses. But I still haven’t quite given up on that dream, and I still have some hope it might be applied, as it ought to be, to sex workers, to gays and lesbians, and to those God-damned nature-worshippers with nonlinear senses of kinship (dangerous blighters, I’m sure).

    And that’s not just a policy, that’s a principle. I’m a market anarchist of the Tucker variety myself, but political technicalities are less important to me than the social reality of an open society. I’ve no love for those, like Hoppe, who want to eliminate the government in the hopes of an end-run around the separation of church and state. Maybe that’s because in the social system Hoppe really wants, I and most of the people I love would die. You want to drive away support for liberty? Why not join Hoppe and tell social nonconformists that liberty will mean practical inclusion and ostracism? And if that doesn’t make you pause, the only reason is because you want to see us driven out of town more than you really want to promote liberty. And that’s, well, evil.

    Why don’t you at least try letting us live in peace? Of course, if you actively believe that your family values can’t coexist with the existence of sex work, then what you are fearing is that the presence of out-of-the-closet, sex positive women will lure people away from family values. Although I haven’t and wouldn’t ‘encourage[] women to get into sex work’ (I think it is a decision that people must come to exclusively in one’s own solitude), you sound like you fear someone doing so might be persuasive. Why? You don’t think you can attract people to your society if they have several viable options? Are saying yur social order depends on, if not force, *intolerance* and *ignorance*. Well, if that’s what you want, then you are calling for a closed society- and I don’t care if you hope to enforce it by guns, stakes, shunning, or starvation. You are also saying it’s open social war between us and you. It which case, don’t be surprised if we go around carrying swords on our backs. If your kind of family does have to destroy us to survive, then we don’t have much choice than to be in a state of hot or cold war against the patriarchal family. This kind of thing’s been going on for quite awhile, and I assure you we didn’t start the fire.

    Of course, that kind of morality has to make a constant war on human nature, evidenced by the fact that the moralistic kind of family values never really works (or there wouldn’t be anyone to employ us, would there)? Of course, patriarchs take this to show we have to tighten even harder on the social screws, until people finally learn to sit down, shut up, and do everthing ‘right’. We take it to show there’s something wrong with the whole authoritarian conception of the good, that beauty comes when we can enjoy ourselves, express ourselves, and relax, and that the good comes naturally to us and develops uniquely in each individual. To my mind, the essence of authoritarianism is the fear that all Hell will break loose the moment one fails to keep control. That surely defined Hoppe, even if he wants control to be accomplished by the invisible fist he makes out of the market. Some of us think this is both a vicious end and an insult to the market, whose hand we find a bit more gentle.

    No, I really don’t like H.H. Hoppe. Oh yes, Herr Doktor Time Preference; the man who thinks a good society is one is which anyone who enjoys life in the present is put to the economic wall. Personally, I doubt that is even good economics- I think we’re more able to deal with the viccisitudes of Fortune is we aren’t made rigid by terrified fear of life’s consequences, which is the real effect of these Protestant ethics. It’s a horrible way of living, even without the sundry bigotry that Hoppe attaches to the concept. Personally, I’m not willing to sacrifice the beauty of life to gain control of myself and troublesome others. If you are, do it to yourself.

    I think human history shows that it’s periods of freedom, or openness, of ‘decadence’ that give rise to the sites of intellectual and artistic creativity (e.g., resonances of the names Babylon, Athens, Corinth, Alexandria, Venice, Paris, Kyoto, Shanghai, New York, San Francisco), whereas Spartan ages which know and do their duty are aesthetically and spiritually barren. That’s really the basic issue here, with you and Hoppe- is civilisation the cultivation of human talents in liberty, thus a fulfillment of human possibility, or it is the discipline which breaks recalcitrant human matter into doing the right? I say the former.

    The question in this house is: what does Promethean individualism say? Allow me a moment of ungaurded hope that libertarianism is a humanism!

    Fifthly and lastly,

    “However, if Hoppe is right, then the question is moot since an ancap society will reinforce the traditional family and enforce social norms against “nature-worship and kin-centered lifestyles”, which I think you could make the argument includes some kinds of sex-work.”

    What a *fascinating* choice of H.H. quotes, meus amicus! Y’know, for someone who claims to characterise sex-work as soulless body-renting, ’tis interesting that you also make the counterintuitive (to Americans, at least) association of sex-work with ‘nature worship’ and ‘kin-oriented lifestyles’. Now, where’d you get the idea sex work had something to do with nature worship? You’re talking about religion, while associating religion you don’t like with a practise you believe embodies a lack of spirit. My father, an Episcopalian, would have just called this ‘worshipping a false god’.

    That’s interesting- especially because you just coincidentally happen to be right, sex work does have a very long history of association with something very close to ‘nature worship’, this does have something to do with ‘kin-centered lifestyles’ (meaning, a nonpatriarchal family system, which is relevant because the patriachal marginalisation of prostitution as a respected social practise has a lot to do with the enforcement of the social norms that prop up a patrilinearity which is at the heart of H.H.’s vision of social order). You are correct: many sex workers, myself included, practise what could be called either a special case of nature worship or a closely related religion of a similar pattern. The relationship’s even closer, if you think of ‘nature’ in a pre-modern or Hellenic sense of ‘cosmos’, including humanity as part of a natural universe (the spiritualisation of sex work is a triumph of humanism). Well, I’m flattered if you’re paying attention! People do tend to forget these sort of things nowadays.

    I’ll leave off the thealogy, but I think it’s clear your problem with sex work has a lot to do with religion- not that it’s eactly news that the stigmatisation of sex and sex work in Western society is a matter of religious attitude problems at root. It’s *religious intolerance* that’s clearly at least partially driving your problem with us persons of the professional persuasion. Congratulations, you are a bigot! Let’s repeal the Enlightenment and restart the wars of religion! Or more precisely here, let’s start up the Holy Inquisition- this time by the market, by making sure everyone is ostracised who doesn’t belong to the traditional morality church. Let’s make employment contracts and housing covenants come built-in with sumptuary laws! How fun!

    Why don’t you stand and say, clearly, like your master, that ‘nature worshipping and kin centered lifestyles’ are a danger to society and public order, who include some kinds of sex workers- and such people need to be excluded from society? Because there is rather a name and a history to all this. Don’t you agree?

    Methinks the gentleman philosophises with a hammer.

    Lady Aster Francesca
    {)(*)(}

  15. Rad Geek,

    I don’t think you get why people don’t like statements like, “… whose chief accomplishment in life was killing a bunch of people at the command of the federal government?” The reason isn’t because it is technically accurate. The reason is because it is as you say “disingenuous”. Are you saying that Boyington is the equivalent of a General Custer? After all your statement applies to both equally.

    If you drop the “federal government” then the statement can further be construde to make what Boyington did equilent with gross atrocities done by foreign governments also. Thus we can say of the Japanese soldiers who participated in the Nanking Massacare, or the Batan Death March, “”… whose chief accomplishment in life was killing a bunch of people at the command of the Japanese government”.

    When you make statements like you did people assume you are trying to make moral equivalencies between these different acts. I think that is reasonable and I believe that is exactly what you intended. You know the difference but for the sake of winning an argument or spreading propaganda or whatever you choose to blur the distinctions.

    That is unless you are totally ignorant of the actual facts of the situation. Do you realize that those people in planes that Boyington were shooting down were also armed and were shooting back? Do you recognize that Do you recognize that the people Boyington killed were organized as a collective working to murder, not just kill? Do you recognize that what Boyington was doing was self defense not murder?

    Now I’m no expert so maybe you have looked into this and Boyington was a war criminal. I looked it up and did not find anything indicating he excuted prisoners of war, or targeted any civilians directly, or even killed any civilians. Stop being so coy, you think he oppressed orientals tell us exactly how, be specific.

    If you were put into a situation where you had to kill people and then I said that you “killed people for your own personal reasons” the statement would certainly be true but it is also “disingenuous”.

    I agree that your statement was idiotically reductionist.

    BTW, I don’t think the news article was fair to some of the students. Their statements were taken out of context. One of the students wanted to tone down the glorification of Boyingtons acts of self defense in order to garner more support because he wanted the project to move forward.

    I must say, who the fuck is going to fight the next equivalent of the Japanese invasion at great self peril, if we don’t laud their accomplishments. That’s really all we have to offer them. We certainly can’t pay them enough.

  16. Do you recognize that what Boyington was doing was self defense not murder?

    I got the impression he thought 1) that the opposite was true, and 2) that it’s irrelevant since universities shouldn’t be honoring warriors anyway. Your remarks about “equivalence” apply at best to 1).

  17. We certainly can’t pay them enough.

    The old mercenary vs. personal army problem huh? An interesting problem since anarcho-capitalist armies would be based on mercenaries for the most part.

  18. Macker: Are you saying that Boyington is the equivalent of a General Custer? After all your statement applies to both equally.

    (1) They are “equivalent” in both being remembered chiefly or solely as warriors. (2) They are not “equivalent” in that the moral status of Boyington’s military career is more complicated than Custer’s.

    What I explicitly stated above, however, is that it does not matter, for the point I’m making, whether Boyington was involved in just or unjust wars. It’s not the job of a University to offer parting rah-rahs for deceased government-hired fighters, whether they are admirable people or not. There are lots of cultural outlets other than the University dedicated to blowing the trumpets for martial prowess, and I don’t see how it is any part of the goals or purpose of a University to celebrate it. (The University does have a purpose, and that purpose is to host, foster, celebrate, and promote a certain kind of life — the life of the mind, or what some would call the Arts and Sciences. There are other kinds of life that are indeed valuable or admirable, but it’s not the University’s job to promote them. The idea that a University owes a twenty-one gun salute to anyone who passes through and goes on to be cheered by others as a Good Citizen, whether or not the things they are being cheered for have anything in particular to do with the University or the kind of life it promotes, has something directly to do with the salivating statism of educational ideas in the last century.)

    If you’re going to ignore my repeated explicit statements to this effect then you haven’t got any place complaining that my statements on the matter are disingenuous.

  19. Rad Geek,

    There is quite a bit of the Arts and Sciences and even sports involved in becoming a WWII fighter ace. They don’t pick the stupid people to be fighter pilots, nor the unathletic. You have to be able to read, write, find your way around a map, navigate, and much more. Furthermore, despite the stereotypes, military intelligence, is not a oxymoron. Boyington was a graduate of the university and was outstanding in his profession and accomplishments.

    They already have a marble memorial dedicated to General Lafayette, and a building named after General George Washington. There’s a monument called Memorial Gateway with the names of 58 University of Washington students killed in WWII. So this isn’t exactly something new or foreign to this educational institution.

    Besides, since when is the history involved in the exploits of Boyington not educational? There’s a lot to be learned from his experiences and his connection with the university.

  20. Macker, I’m not suggesting that Boyington was stupid. (How would I know? I never met him and I haven’t read his books.) I’m aware that there are plenty of smart people in the military; and also that there are plenty of rock-stupid people in the military. It’s a big and diverse outfit.

    What I’m suggesting is that however smart or however stupid Boyington was, there is a difference between a life spent using knowledge, where you use it, in the interest of some instrumental good, and a life spent pursuing knowledge for its own sake. And there is a further difference between different kinds of instrumental goods: between using knowledge in order to create useful things, and using knowledge in order to destroy and to gain power. Sometimes it may be necessary, even admirable, to put yourself on the line in order to destroy and to gain power. Sometimes it may be necessary, even admirable, to use knowledge to kill lots of people. (And in those cases it serves nobody to get all squeamish and pretend that your “service” or “heroism” involves something other than justified death-dealing.) But that’s a different kind of life from the kind of life that the University has historically been concerned with hosting, fostering, promoting, and celebrating, which is not about using knowledge at all, but rather gaining, contemplating, manifesting, and sharing it, for its own sake. If you don’t understand the difference, or its importance, then you don’t yet understand the historical purpose of the University.

    For comparison, I currently live near Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. On one side of campus, EMU has this big statue of Martin Luther King Jr. Why? I don’t know; the suggestion seems just that he’s an important guy so he deserves a statue. But King’s achievements (though I think they are indeed admirable) have nothing in particular to do with EMU or with academic life in general (in fact, he seems to have been a rather bad academic). Nor did the campaigns he was involved in have very much to do with expanding or improving the University (although there were other Freedom Movement leaders who did do that). So what’s the statue doing there? I don’t know; if it’s just supposed to honor him qua admirable human being, then I don’t think it should be there.

    A lot of people in the past century have thought that a University’s job was, in the first place, to serve as sort of a factory for manufacturing admirable, or perhaps useful, Citizens on behalf of Society or Our Future. That’s part of the “salivating statism” of educational ideas in the last century that I mentioned above. And a lot of people have held as a consequence of that view that its primary operations should be to act as a sort of job training center, to make people smart and knowledgeable enough to (say) fly fighter jets, or design aircraft, or manufacture widgets. I reject the whole idea root and branch, and I am long since tired of Universities being pushed around with the expectation that it’s their job to celebrate any admired citizen who managed to pass through their gates, to reward purported achievements even when the achievement has nothing to do with their purposes, and generally to act like a large, well-endowed booster club for their alumni and the polity at large.

    Macker: They already have a marble memorial dedicated to General Lafayette, and a building named after General George Washington. There’s a monument called Memorial Gateway with the names of 58 University of Washington students killed in WWII. So this isn’t exactly something new or foreign to this educational institution.

    And so what? I think those are stupid too and if students had acted to block them from being erected I’d cheer them on. (The Memorial Gateway comes the closest to being a reasonable structure, since it aims to remember students lost rather than to celebrate an unrelated military triumph.) UW isn’t a military academy and there’s no reason for it to act like one. And there’s no time like the present to stop.

    Macker: Besides, since when is the history involved in the exploits of Boyington not educational? There’s a lot to be learned from his experiences and his connection with the university.

    This is frankly silly. Nobody is proposing that books on Boyington or the air war during World War II be thrown out of the library. If your aim is to educate people about the history of World War II, or Boyington’s exploits in particular, then there are lots of better ways to do it than a vacuously celebratory public monument.

  21. Rad Geek,

    Ok, I will concede your argument. Frankly, I didn’t understand your motiviation. It appeared you were against Boyington in particular. You have proven to me that that is not the case.

    I think the only thing we disagree with here is about whether or not universities serve a narrow or larger purpose, and who defines that. If you take the narrow position as to the purpose of the university then statues in general don’t make sense. However you also would have to agree that sports teams have also got to go.

    I don’t see any of this happening, and I think it is because it is you who are mistaken about the purpose of the universities. I don’t think eggheads like us get to decide what the purpose is. It’s more of a business decision. Having a football team or a statue of MLK is a sales tool.

    Believe it or not, I used to rant about the same stuff, I didn’t understand what football had do to with an educational institution. That issue is no longer important to me. The same goes with the statues to businessmen, civil leaders, and the like. Some universities will do this and some not, and I can patronize the ones I like.

    These monuments and dedications used to get me irritated, even in the case where it was a guy making a large donation to get his name on a building. I felt that charity should not be so public because it devolved to self promotion. Especially if it is to divert attention away from bad behavior. It would upset me if a local a mafia don gets a wing at the local hospital named after him. Similarly it would upset me if some rich guy who made his money through government favoritism, or just plain bilking the stockholders, would publicly assuage his guilt by funding a hospital or library.

    I also felt that a dontator might be getting more for his money than he paid. It had a taint of fraud. When an instituion that has build up a reputation for one hundred years or more based on it’s liberal educational excellence it bothers me if some mafia don, or oil sheik buys credibility for himself with a large donation.

    I still think that no buildings should be named after any politicians merely because he wrangled the funding from some taxpayers. If you are doing good then do it, and not for self promotion. To be more specific, I dislike self promotion that tends to benefit the promoter. Vote for me, I funded a hospital, is bad, whereas other forms of self promotion may not be, in fact others might be good.

    As for the political indoctrination stuff, yeah I think that is unfortunate, but also driven by business decision. After all if your customers aren’t libertarians they are going to be swayed by stuff you find offensive. Not only the customers but other aspects like government funding are going to effect the business decision. You know, the old government funding corrupts business thingy.

    I still dislike the tone of that one sentence in your post. I wasn’t disputing the factual accuracy or your motivation. Those are not the only considerations when posting. I generally respect your comments, articles, and I think you are trying to work things out in an honest manner. That doesn’t mean I agree with you, or that I think you have weighted things properly.

    You need not reply further, I conceed your point, and am not interested in trying to persuade you to my position. Not because I don’t think I could get you there, I think you are reasonable, but because I don’t have the time and I don’t think it is all that important. Besides you might persuade me to your position, and then where would I be but back at my old location. I know the reasons I abandoned that position and I can’t think of a reason why they are invalid.

  22. Some universities will do this and some not, and I can patronize the ones I like.

    Come on Macker! We’re quite a long way from “Adam Smith U” being widespread at this point… :)

  23. Radgeek:

    “Boyington’s military career didn’t end with the Flying Tigers and he went on to play an active and important role at the command of the United States federal government in their air war in the Pacific, after his tenure in the Flying Tigers — quite a different cause, with quite different ends and quite different means, which also happened to adversely affect the lives of a few “non-Caucasian” people along the way.”

    Boyington spent the rest of the war as a fighter pilot and POW, either shooting down enemy combatants or being held prisoner by the enemy – an enemy which was engaged in genocidal warfare in China, Korea, Indochina, the Philippines, Malaya, Indonesia, etc., to the cost of 400,000 (non-Japanese) Asian lives a month by the end of the war.

    What, pray tell, was so different about the cause, ends, and means by which Boyington fought against Japanese Militarist Imperialism after he left the AVG?

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