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#1 Robert Campbell

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 05:40 PM

Over time, several contributors to OL have posted comparisons between Ayn Rand's actual answers to questions and the heavily edited versions of them that are currently available in print.

These items are currently scattered around the site.

And with free audio presently available at www.atlasshrugged.com, there are further opportunities to transcribe and compare.

Note added July 30, 2010:

In my original posts, each item that appeared in Ayn Rand Answers was quoted in full as it appeared in the book.

Since Penguin (the parent company of New American Library) recently made a copyright complaint against the amount of material from Ayn Rand Answers appearing here, I am editing each of my posts that quoted from the Mayhew book.

In some cases, I now merely give the page reference for Mayhew's rendition of Rand's answer. In others, I quote key sentences from the Mayhew answer, but not the entire thing. Most of Mayhew's versions are no longer quoted in their entirety.

On March 30, 2010, Robert Mayhew issued a public complaint about my criticisms of his rewriting, in which he revealed the existence of 13 previously published answers (edited by Rand herself, they appeared in the obscure notice sheet The Objectivist Calendar). Objectivist Calendar versions of these answers are now cited and quoted.

All posts quoting Mayhew have now been edited.

Robert Campbell

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#2 Robert Campbell

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 05:42 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1971

Q&A, 12:13 through 14:05

Q: I read somewhere that you consider all homosexuality immoral. If so, why?

A: Because it involves psychological flaws, corruptions, errors—or unfortunate premises—but there is a psychological immorality at the root of homosexuality. Therefore, I regard it as immoral, but I do not, uh, believe that the government has the right to prohibit it. It is the …privilege of any individual to use his sex life in whichever way he wants it. That is his legal right, provided he is not forcing it on anyone. And therefore the idea that it is proper among consenting adults is the proper formulation, legally.

Morally, it is immoral, and, more than that, if you want my really sincere opinion, it’s disgusting.

[Judge Lurie chides some members of the audience for hissing.]

Ayn Rand Answers, edited by Robert Mayhew: Blank out.

#3 Robert Campbell

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 05:45 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1971

14:06 to 17:45

Q: It is claimed by these students of Objectivism that ethics no longer requires saints.

A: Uh, it doesn’t require what?

Judge Lurie: Saints.

A: Saints. [Audience titters.]

I know as little about such nonsense as I do about any such group, and, if you have observed how carefully I tried not to sanction, not to permit the san … sanction of my name to be stolen by any group, to the point where I sometimes may have to offend innocent young people trying to study Objectivism, rather than sanction the guilty ones.

In an intellectual matter, it matters—and this kind of issue is the perfect … ehh … proof of it.

What on earth do they mean by being students of Objectivism, if that is what they do? It is too early for them, until they have really learned it, to talk about moral pronouncements. You, erh, graduate from being a student when you no longer have to use the name of your teacher.

They do not help… [interrupted by applause; tape drops out or is awkwardly spliced here].

My main objection, and I hope this information will be transmitted to whoever … whomever it might concern, my objection to all groups of this kind is as follows: There is nothing wrong in using ideas—anybody’s ideas—provided you give appropriate credit. You can make any mixture of ideas that you want; the contradiction will be yours. [Audience snickers.] But why do you need the name of someone with whom you do not agree, in order to spread your misunderstandings, or, worse, your nonsense and falsehood?

I don’t know what the concept of a saint means. If it means, in the strictest sense, a religious figure, then how could it ever be appropriate to Objectivism? Objectivism is an atheist philosophy; we do not recognize saints, angels, or [laughter and applause build up]… or God.

But the word has also been used in [sic] a secular term. By “saint,” people very often mean a person of perfect moral character, or a moral hero. And that is what Objectivism requires of its first novices, just of the buck privates. We don’t want anybody but saints, in the moral sense—which is open to each man, according to the extent of his ability.

But, please, anything which you do not hear from me or read under my name, do not accept it as in any way emanating from or representing Objectivism. If you want to know what Objectivism is, learn it from me and my publications. Nobody else is authorized to speak for me. And if he doesn’t want to speak for himself, then you know what to think of him.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 131)

Mayhew did a fair amount of rewriting on this item, for which the reader should see his book.

I want to draw attention to this paragraph, in which he has apparently decided that Rand is not employing sufficiently technical language:

Now, to what does the concept “saint” refer? If it refers to a religious figure, then it can’t be appropriate to Objectivism, which is an atheistic philosophy. But the word also has a secular usage: “saint” means a person of perfect moral character—a moral hero—and that is what Objectivism requires of its novices and its buck privates. I want nobody but saints, in the moral sense. This is open to each man according to his ability.



#4 Robert Campbell

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 05:50 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1972

Q&A, 14:00 through 16:03.

Q: Have you heard of the Libertarian Party, and would you consider endorsing John Hospers and Toni Nathan as presidential candidates?

[Judge Lurie mishears the name as “Liberation” Party, to the amusement of the audience.]

A: Look, I would, uh, rather vote for Bob Hope or the Marx Brothers, if they still existed, or Jerry Lewis—I don’t know who is the funniest today—rather than something like Professor Hospers and the Libertarian Party.

Look, I don’t think Henry [sic] Wallace is a great thinker, but even he—as … he is too much of a demagogue, though with some courage—even he had the good sense to stay home this time, if he wanted to some extent … if he had one ounce on [sic] sincerity, and he wanted some freedom for his country.

To choose this year to start up the personal publicity, as if Hospers and whoever they are get just ten votes away from Nixon—which I doubt—but if they do, it is a moral crime.

Not at a time like this. Who cares about Nixon personally, and less about Hospers personally. This is not the time to engage in personal publicity seeking, which all that type of rump, crank political parties are engaging in. Publicity is all that they want to achieve, and this is not the time for it. If they want to spread their ideas, do it by educational work. Don’t run for pres, President, or even for dogcatcher—if you’re going to help McGovern that way.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 72)

Robert Mayhew boiled this answer down to one somewhat flavor-removed paragraph, as can be seen in Ayn Rand Answers.

He corrected Rand's speech error, in which she referred to George Wallace as "Henry." Nothing wrong with that—but he should have told his readers that he was doing it.

#5 Robert Campbell

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 05:53 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1972

Q&A, 31:00 to 32:30

Q: Miss Rand, would you comment on the question whether amnesty should be granted to draft dodgers or deserters?

A: I think it is an improper question to be discussed while there is a war going on. It … is… ehh, a very complex question, but you cannot, when men are dying in a war, say that you promise amnesty to those who refuse to.

On the other hand, I do not blame those who refuse to be drafted, if they did so out of general conviction, not necessarily religious, but if they oppose the State’s right to draft them. They would have a case, and they would go to jail. And they would be willing to take that penalty.

But when a lot of young bums declare that they don’t want to fight this war, because they don’t want to fight against Soviet Russia and that’s all it means, then I think not only they don’t deserve any amnesty, but they deserve to be sent to Russia at public expense—or North Vietnam, and so…

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 91)

Mayhew compressed this answer down to one paragraph, from which any indication of Rand's raised voice was eliminated.

#6 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 05:56 PM

Robert,

This is a really cool idea you started.

Michael

Know thyself...


#7 Robert Campbell

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 07:03 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1971

Q&A, 6:38 through 9:17

Q: Miss Rand, do you believe in capital punishment?

A: My answer would have to be, yes and no, from two different aspects.

If you ask me, in principle, do I believe that a man who has deliberately and consciously killed another human being—do I believe that he should forfeit his life—I would say yes. If it’s first degree murder, yes. Morally, I think he deserves it.

But, uh, the argument, uh, against capital punishment, a valid one, is the fact that human beings, including juries, are not infallible. Mistakes can be made.

And, when, the, it comes down to what is better—not, I don’t mean what is better for society, but what is morally just—to let ten guilty men go, rather than execute one innocent man, then, certainly, by the proper American principle, uh, you, uh, place innocence above guilt. And, therefore, it’s better to condemn real murderers to jail for life, ek, rather than take the life of one innocent man, because a miscarriage of justice is always possible.

So that in that sense, ahh, solely on epistemological, not moral, grounds, I would be against capital punishment.

Morally, however, I think the idea, the act, of deliberately taking another life is so monstrous and so, uh, irreplaceable, eh… or, rather, nobody can atone for it, that even death penalty is too small a punishment for a murder.

[Judge Lurie recommends a book by a one-time professor at Yale Law School: Edwin M. Borchard, Convicting the Innocent.]

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 45-46):

Sharply cut by Mayhew, down to one paragraph. Of course, Judge Lurie's comment is not mentioned.

#8 Brant Gaede

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 07:07 PM

It is interesting that--probably at that very FHF meeting--that Lurie explicitly denigrated the idea that many innocent men had been executed (in the US).

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#9 Selene

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 08:13 PM

Robert:

Thank you. Mega Michael dittos <<<<a Rush Limbaughism

for starting this thread.

"You, erh, graduate from being a student when you no longer have to use the name of your teacher."

Never heard that statement, but boy is she correct.

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#10 Chris Grieb

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 02:17 AM

Robert; Thanks for starting this tread.

#11 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 07:09 AM

Concerning the second post in this thread, seven years later, while Rand was still alive and running her show, we have this snapshot. Mayhew’s omission continues in step with Rand’s public approach to the topic in her last years, and his omission does not warrant the moral condemnation “blank out.” That Rand and Branden had their era of wildly speculating on the mental processes of people, liberally sprinkling their fabrications of inner lives with “blank out,” is not an excuse for anyone continuing that practice. One nice thing about the philosophers in Rand’s circle in her later years and the main philosophers in their circle to this day is that they did not continue in that sort of public speculation; they did not continue the “blank out” junk-talk from the Rand-Branden days. (If my impression on this is incorrect, well then, that too is no excuse.)

Through the years, I have communicated privately and publicly with intelligent people who have put forth skewed negative views of people who are gay or of the lifestyles of people who got AIDS in the US pandemic or of . . . . That they subsequently went silent on the topic was enough and to their credit.

There is nothing wrong with transcribing and publishing every public comment Rand made. There is also nothing wrong with Mayhew leaving this particular one out of his collection. (I haven’t read this book, and it will probably never get high enough on my reading list to be read by me. Primary dicta of philosophers consumes nearly all my study of and writing on their ideas.)

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 30 October 2009 - 07:15 AM.


#12 Robert Campbell

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 09:11 AM

Stephen,

You may well be right about Ayn Rand backing off from some of her earlier views about homosexuality in the late 1970s. Your account of Allan Gotthelf's responses to questions in 1978 indicates that maybe she did.

However, if that's what happened, Robert Mayhew should have run the 1971 comment along with a note about her changing her position, accompanied by documentation to that effect.

Because otherwise an informed reader will conclude that the Ayn Rand Institute wants to avoid publicizing the 1971 comment, merely because it is inconsistent with their position.

It's not sufficient to argue that Rand had already addressed homosexuality in her 1968 comment, which Dr. Mayhew did choose to include. I haven't done an inventory of Ayn Rand's digs at libertarians and the Libertarian Party during her answers to questions, so it is possible that she said something somewhere that he didn't use. But Dr. Mayhew found room for several different digs at libertarians. He obviously wasn't of the persuasion that if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all.

Similarly, Dr. Mayhew includes more than one of Ayn Rand's labored apologias for Richard Nixon, who she was always damning with faint praise or praising with faint damns. Those were dispiriting to hear back then, and don't make for inspired reading today.

Robert Campbell

PS. I hardly ever use that "blank out" expression. But it did seem appropriate in this case. I wonder how many readers have opened the Mayhew compilation expecting to find that 1971 comment, and been puzzled or infuriated when they couldn't find it.

PPS Added April 3, 2010 and edited June 25, 2010. I have now made a thorough inventory of Rand's digs at libertarians during her answers to questions. I haven't heard all ten that Mayhew used in his book. This is simply because I haven't heard Rand's answers after Lecture 1 in Leonard Peikoff's 1980 course on Objective Communication, or the publicly unavailable portion of one of her Ford Hall Forum Q&As. As far as I can tell, there isn't a single answer ripping libertarians that Mayhew didn't use in his book.

#13 Dragonfly

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 10:11 AM

You may well be right about Ayn Rand backing off from some of her earlier views about homosexuality in the late 1970s. Your account of Allan Gotthelf's responses to questions in 1978 indicates that maybe she did.

I don't find that convincing. Even if Rand had decided that it was not so wise to condemn homosexuality in public (and I'm not sure of that either), that doesn't imply that she really changed her opinion.

However, if that's what happened, Robert Mayhew should have run the 1971 comment along with a note about her changing her position, accompanied by documentation to that effect.

I agree, totally omitting her comment here stinks. It does belong to her collection of "answers" and is an important illustration of her ideas, at least at that time, just because it is controversial, also considering the fact that the theory of love and sex is a not unimportant part of her philosophy! That latter-day Objectivists are not comfortable with that kind of statement is obviously the motivation for bowdlerizing her answers. That makes such a collection (together with the other rewriting) totally worthless as a serious source of information. Why didn't they call it "The Sanitized Answers by Ayn Rand"?

#14 Robert Campbell

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 08:11 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1973

Q&A, 7:10 through 11:18

Q: Will you please comment upon the recent events in the Justice Department in connection with President Nixon [aka the Saturday Night Massacre; it took place the night before her Ford Hall Forum speech].

A: As in all things, I would like to start with the base of it. I think it serves Nixon right. His whole behavior in the Watergate scandal has been inexcusable.

It’s pure pragmatism, of course—I hope we can learn that kind of value out of the disaster: to what extent pragmatism doesn’t work. He has tried every kind of approach. He started by apologizing and speaking from his heart. [Audience laughs.] Then one of the worst things from his viewpoint, if he were innocent, that he could have done was to agree, uh, to appoint a Special Prosecutor. Because it’s really accepting the contempt and suspicion, in effect — not only against himself but against the entire Administrative bran, Branch of the government. He in effect declared that none of the men in the Department of Justice, the FBI, or any agencies concerned, can be trusted—particularly not those whom he appointed and therefore let’s have an outsider. [Audience laughs]

When he considered that, nobody could respect him afterwards. And as I wrote in, erh, one of the issues of my Letter, discussing Watergate, observe what kind of Special Prosecutor he accepted: a man who had been his political enemy—active political, not just theory—but the head or manager of the Kennedy campaign in, eh, 1960 against Nixon. Archibald Cox was the head of that campaign and, as you probably know, there is a strong suspicion—constantly mentioned, never pursued or verified—that that campaign was actually stolen, that there were … massive vote frauds and stealing of votes in key states: Illinois, Texas, and some others.

Uh… the man who was in charge of that campaign was never investigated, never prosecuted—or at, let’s say, he was smarter and wasn’t caught at anything. But to appoint him, in this kind of case, against a President who is his former antagonist, ehh, is such an admission of guilt and unprincipled pragmatism and contempt for ideas on Nixon’s part, that after accepting that kind of slap in the face there was nothing that he could do that could be right. And … strangely enough, it is Cox and—um, what’s the Attorney General?—Richardson who behaved quite honorably in this case. They behaved like men of principle.

Nixon should have either refused from the beginning to show his tapes on (coughs) or show them to the whole world from the beginning, but not go this way or the other and then fire the Special Prosecutor because, as Brinkley pointed out on the air last night, he’s firing a prosecutor because the prosecutor was prosecuting. [Audience laughs … tape poorly edited.]

[I did] not believe that Mr. Nixon was guilty. Not necessarily, I thought perhaps marginally, because the whole case began as nonsense. It did… last night, for the first time, I began to suspect that he must be guilty, because the alternative—guilty in the sense that there’s something on those tapes that would be damaging to him—because if he’s not guilty and there’s nothing particularly damaging, it’s worse. Because then he is a monumental fool. [Laughter and applause.]

Ayn Rand Answers: not included.

#15 Robert Campbell

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 08:14 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1973

Q&A, 11:24 through 14:39

Q about defamation and coercion [The actual wording is partly lost in a tape edit and partly inaudible].

A: To begin with, I don’t know that there are anti-defamation laws. There’s libel laws and slander laws, if that’s what the gentleman …

Judge Lurie: And defamation together …

A: Together. That is, as, totally appropriate laws, because the freedom of ideas does not permit you to lie about, uh, a particular person, and under the older interpretation of the courts, truth was your defense. If you knew something defamatory about some person but it was true, then you have the right to say it. But today you can practically say anything, so long as you are supposedly not motivated by malice—and try and prove it. There are some standards but they’re not very clear nor very practical.

But this type of law is strictly in defense of specific individuals. It has nothing to do with ideas. It is an issue of did you or did not lie about some person and cause him damage.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 21)

Robert Mayhew decided to split the original answer into two separate items, without notifying the reader. Otherwise, he rewrote every sentence in this portion, but did no violence to their meaning.

Back to the original answer:

Now, what’s the second … definition, uh, of coercion and force?

Look, heh, force is a primary. [Audience laughs.] It is that which is not, ekk, done by persuasion, but by physical compulsion. If you are forced to do something because the alternative is physical damage to you: whether you will be put, seized and put in jail, or deprived or your property, or executed and killed, that is the use of physical force. Something which is done to you, not by right, not by a clear and objective process of law, but simply by … the power of might. It’s the opposite of right, if you know that old bromide.

But now we must remember that the government is an instrument of force. In fact, properly the government has a monopoly on force, in order to prevent constant civil riots or gang warfare among citizens who disagree, and properly government should use force only against those who initiate its use. Gover, proper government must never initiate it. Today, all governments certainly do.

But then why do I call law, governmental law, force? Because it is enforced on you under threat of penalties. If you disagree with a private individual, he can do nothing to you except disagree and not deal with you, but then you shouldn’t want to deal with him. If the government demands something and you disagree, it can seize you bodily, put you in jail, or deprive you of your property—that’s legalized force.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 5-6)

Mayhew, using eyewitness testimony, let his readers know that that Rand made a fist to illustrate that force is a primary.

Otherwise, his drive to remove flavor whenever possible can be noted in his rewrite of the final two sentences:

If you disagree with a private individual, he can do nothing except refuse to deal with you. If the government demands something and you disagree, it can imprison you and deprive you of your property. That’s legalized force.



#16 Robert Campbell

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 08:15 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1973

Q&A, 14:44 to 15:58

Q: Do profoundly retarded and severely retarded individuals have rights?

A: Not actual rights, not the same rights as they would apply or belong to a normal individual. They would have the right to be protected, as perennial children, in effect. Just as children are entitled to protection, so do retarded people, simply on the very distant possibility that since they are human they may be cured and they may become, uh, at least partly able to stand on, on their own, or partly, uhh, conscious. So that their protection of their rights is a courtesy extended to them for the fact that they are human beings, even if botched ones.

But you could not extend the actual exercise of, uh, individual rights to a man who is retarded, meaning that he is not able to function cognitively or rationally. Since all your rights actually rest on your nature as a human being, a being that cannot exercise these rights cannot have the full rights of a human being.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 4)

Mayhew's occasional propensity to political correctness is on view here. Rand seems to have had an extreme antipathy to mentally retarded people, and her use of "botched" (which also appears in her translation of Victor Hugo's description of the Comprachicos) was obviously intentional. In rewriting the sentence, Mayhew succeeded in making it ungrammatical:

The protection of their rights is a courtesy extended to them for being human [sic], even if not properly formed ones.



#17 Robert Campbell

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 08:16 PM

Ford Hall Forum 1973

Q&A, 17:00 to 17:20

Q: In the first 20 years after your coming to this country, were there any American writers, particularly in the field of non-fiction, who influenced your ideas?

A: No, not a single one. I wish there were.

Ayn Rand Answers: does not include this item.

In cutting this brief item, Robert Mayhew was presumably aware that between 1926 and 1946 Rand was, by any reasonable criterion, influenced by such writers as H. L. Mencken, Isabel Paterson, and Carl Snyder.

#18 Philip Coates

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 09:57 PM

Robert, I want to add my thanks to others for reporting all of this. I haven't been able to catch up with every entry yet, but these are going to be very useful for a number of reasons:

1) We can see any discrepancies or 'slanting' in what's included.
2) We can assess any omissions.
3) It gives a good flavor or AR's style, how she thought on her feet.

BTW, you didn't reply to my post that the entire unedited transcripts of Barbara's lengthy interviews with AR should be published. For many of the same scholarly reasons.

I should have thought you would agree with that.

#19 Robert Campbell

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 10:11 PM

Phil,

I do agree that transcriptions of all of Barbara Branden's 1961 interviews with Ayn Rand should be published.

When Bob Mayhew isn't altering the literal meaning of Rand's spoken answers, he is, more often than not, screwing around with her tone and expression.

Sometimes he replaces her spoken words when she used those very words in her published writing. "Botched" (which he replaced, in her 1973 answer about the rights of the profoundly retarded) appears in "The Comprachicos," in her translation of a passage from The Man Who Laughs.

Perhaps Dr. Mayhew thought "botched" sounded harsh, but the harshness is authentic.

In other cases, his changes look gratuitous. Why say "imprisoned" where Rand said "put in jail," as he does twice in her 1973 comments about force? Her choice of words didn't need improving.

Robert Campbell

Note added December 20, 2009: Neil Parille has pointed out to me that, in the American legal system, a jail is a place where people who have been arrested are held before trial. Those who have been convicted serve their sentences in a prison. Perhaps Mayhew made the change because he was aware of the correct legal terminology. In everyday usage, of course, no one observes the niceties.

#20 Philip Coates

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 11:02 AM

> Why say "imprisoned" where Rand said "put in jail," as he does twice in her 1973 comments about force? Her choice of words didn't need improving. [Robert]

That's right. Plus, there is a rule in good writing or speaking to always say things in the most simple or concrete or down to earth way possible. Use short Anglo-Saxon words when they are completely accurate. Don't feel it's more intellectual to change them to Latinate ones.

Sturnk and White, p.21 --> Use definite, specific, concrete language -- Compare "A period of unfavorable weather set in" to: "It rained every day for a week." [endquote]

> Perhaps Dr. Mayhew thought "botched" sounded harsh, but the harshness is authentic.

Same point.

Edited by Philip Coates, 02 November 2009 - 11:03 AM.





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