The Rewrite Squad


Robert Campbell

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Ford Hall Forum 1978

Q&A, 18:10 through 20:32

Q: Would you share your views on the Panama Canal [being turned over to Panama]?

A: I don't have very many views on it. I can state it very simply.

It's a disgrace. It's a disgrace because it's a phony issue. It is an issue of playing down to some kind of inferiority complex of a small nation, and assaulting our own achievement. The Panama Canal was an American achievement and a very great one. It was built legally. The original contract was not only legal, but the whole country of Panama was established with America help, because it seceded from the bigger country, what is it, Colombia. From Colombia. And Americans helped them. Americans eliminated malaria from that whole isthmus; before Americans came, no one could use that isthmus.

Now today it doesn't matter whether this canal is valuable or not, or whether we intend to build another one. That's not the issue. The issue is the abysmal self-slap in the face of American achievement. Even the defenders of that policy are … saying that the issue is only symbolic, just to flatter the inferiority complex or the feelings of South America [sic]. Well, if that's the issue, we should stay on our dignity and maintain our feelings, which we deserve and have earned. There is no reason to give that canal away, and I hope they don't.

I only want to add that I am not a supporter of Governor Reagan, because of a much more important issue: his stand on abortion. And therefore if I am against the Panama Canal [treaty], I don't want anyone to draw the implication that perhaps I am an admirer or a follower of Ronald Reagan. I am not.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 101)

Mayhew cut the last paragraph, with its emphatic anti-Reagan disclaimer.

He failed to correct Rand's geography; Panama is part of Central America.

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[...] Yet she regarded the subjects of a dictatorial regime as morally responsible for its aggressive conduct ...

Which she said, as even Mayhew let slip, in 1972 and 1976. You may be thinking of what I posted last year, as to his redoubled scrambling with the verbal air-brushing of Rand into a prescient thirster for blood, just after Nine Eleven.

The ARI described that episode, since scrubbed from public view, as Rand being "Lightly Edited by Robert Mayhew." You're showing in not just spades, but earth-mover loads, how much of an absurd oxymoron that phrase is.

I used to think Mayhew was merely being a blindly diligent editor, following orders to "fix her up." After this thread, I can't see him that way any more. "Mistakes of this size are not made innocently," quoth The Lady.

Edited by Greybird
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Ford Hall Forum 1978

Q&A, 0:30 through 2:20

Q: Is it moral for a businessman to sell goods to our government and to foreign governments, when the source of funds is expropriated?

A: Yes, of course it is, to the extent that it is moral for him to exist. He cannot accept moral responsibility for actions or policies over which he has no power or control at all.

Uh, the question of should he deal with foreign governments is, of course, different. There, he would have to judge each individual case according to the nature of the particular foreign government. ‘Cause I think that it is totally immoral to deal with Soviet Russia, as it was to deal with Nazi Germany or with any real dictatorship.

Uh, but the same considerations do not apply to your own country, so long as it’s not a dictatorship. Uh, government money is expropriated funds. If you regard it that way, you will be correct, because it’s tax money. Nevertheless, it is … the moral blame for it falls on the government and on the advocates of taxation, not on the businessman, who has to exist and do his job honestly.

It is not his job qua businessman to worry about the funds of the government. It is his job as businessman in politics to advocate against government power and taxation—which today, unfortunately, he doesn’t do.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 99-100):

It’s certainly moral for an American businessman to sell goods to our government, to the extent to which it is moral for him to exist. He cannot accept moral responsibility for actions or policies over which he has no control. Government money is expropriated funds. Nonetheless, the moral blame falls on the government and on advocates of taxation, not on the businessman. It is not his job, qua businessman, to worry about the source of government funds. But it is his job, politically, to condemn government power and taxation, which today, unfortunately, businessmen don’t do.

Whether he should deal with foreign governments is a different issue. You need to judge each case according to the nature of the particular government. It is totally immoral to deal with Soviet Russia, as it was to deal with Nazi Germany, or any genuine dictatorship.

[Mayhew reorganized this answer. Note that in the 1970s Rand emphasized businessmen’s lack of control over government policy in a republic, taking it to exonerate them from responsibility for the government’s depredations. Yet she regarded the subjects of a dictatorial regime as morally responsible for its aggressive conduct…]

I disagree with this analysis. Rand was undoubtedly thinking of how dictatorial governments are heavily involved in their domestic economies and in foreign trade. Notice that she talked about whether an American should "deal with foreign governments" and "deal with Soviet Russia"--as if she was thinking of the Russian end of the deal being not a Russian businessmen (if there could be said to be any at the time she was speaking) but the Soviet government itself. An American doing business with Iran is, at least to some extent, doing business with the Iranian regime. Even if he is simply trading with an ordinary businessman in Isfahan, the regime still gets involved in the details and he can expect some of the money he's paying for the Iranian goods to go to the regime or its personnel. So it's proper to take the immorality of a dictatorship into account when doing business with its subjects, even though you can't presume that the private individual you're dealing with has any involvement in that immorality.

Jeffrey S.

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 2:14 through 2:43

Q: I would like to know if you are currently working on any more extended philosophical works, particularly in epistemology.

A: Uh, working systematically, no. Unfortunately I can't claim that I am. But I am making notes for some future book, so don't ask me when. I appreciate your interest, but I cannot say when it will be begun, let alone completed. I hope some day to do it.

Ayn Rand Answers: not included.

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 2:48 through 3:28

Q: Is Israel engaged in tribalism?

A: Uh, yes, to a large extent. Uh, simply because it is a socialist country, you know. And it is a country based on [an] exclusive religion, which is a state religion—that’s another sign of tribalism. In form, it is sort of a mixed economy, predominantly socialistic or social democrat—which, is, that means Marxist, which isn’t quite tribalism. But the idea of a particular group’s or race’s special culture, yes, of course, that’s tribalism.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 97)

Yes, to a large extent, because it is a socialist country, and it’s a country based on a state religion. The idea of that a particular race is a special culture is of course tribalism.

Mayhew makes Rand’s answer appear much crisper and more definitive. And whoever transcribed the last sentence misheard it.

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 3:32 through 11:42

Q: If you are familiar with the recent novel or TV film series Roots, would you care to relate it or the reaction of the public or the critics to your thesis tonight?

A: Yes—oh, excuse me…

(Moderator repeats the question.)

A: I answer so quickly because that’s a point I wanted to discuss, but it’s a complicated point and I had no room or time for it.

I have seen only the last three installments of, uh, Roots on television, and am reading the book now. The three installments that I did see were magnificent. They were beautifully written, beautifully directed, and, particularly, brilliantly acted. It was not a racist story in any way—not as it was presented on television. However, the author’s intention, uhh, in the whole undertaking of his book, was to trace his own ancestry. And in that form, yes, it is a very bad form of tribalism. Only this is a mixed case. The author may have had that idea—that is his mistake, his intention—but what he produced is much better than his idea, because he produced an image, not just of his particular ancestors, but a representative image of the black people in America, from an aspect which had not been presented before, and he did it very convincingly. I am now, as I say, judging by the last three installments of the television script; I have not finished the book yet.

However, the television show did it brilliantly. Now what is it that the author, either of the book or of the television show, or both—what is it that they were presenting? They were presenting black people as moral heroes. Here was a people totally hopeless, caught with no way of escape. And they pre…, the main characters, preserved the idea that they were morally right and their persecutors were morally wrong. They maintained the idea that the right was on their side, they had a right to freedom. This was made particularly clear in the character of … Kizzy, the daughter of the original … the head of, of, the group in America. Ahh, that, the moral conviction of your own right, under every kind of evil, imposition, and terror, which were certainly placed on the blacks, that is the essence of morality. If the people in Soviet Russia only had an attitude like Kizzy, there would be no Soviet government left today. [Applause] But they’re much lower…

You see, it is, the moral statement here is that even when circumstances beyond your control make you completely helpless … existentially, you are still free intellectually and morally, and if you help, hang on to your moral conviction, no matter what happens, you are saved, at least spiritually—that is 90% of the battle. That, I think, was the appeal of the television show. And I think that black people who are enthusiastic about the book and the television movie sense it.

It is very unfortunate that the meaning given to it is simply “know your own ancestors,” and all of them now, as well as people of other races, are running to fortune-tellers, practically, trying to establish who their great-great-grandmother was. And that isn’t at all the actual meaning of the show—I don’t know what the intended meaning was. But what comes across is a national legend… is the creation of a myth about the black people in America—created by one man, who certainly, the author, Alex Haley, who deserves credit at least for that much. The black people never had a mythology, at least not in this country, in the sense that here they were, torn out of nowhere by force, with a total break to their antecedents, not for racist but for any kind of purposes, and they were like strangers stranded among other people in this country. They had no past, historically, in the way that Western civilization has a past in mythology, particularly Greek mythology, in religious stories, in the history, perhaps exaggerated, of heroes. All of that gives you some idea of the nature of your society—not your own identity, but the meaning or the nature of your own culture. That’s what Roots has done for the black people. It has created a mythology and very appealing one, of how a people in despair can preserve their dignity and their spirit—their individual morality—which has never been the presentation in regard to blacks, not that I know of. This is the first time they were presented that way, and it’s enormously compelling and very beautiful.

So that I can well understand why both blacks and whites are very enthusiastic about this presentation. But it is simply a shame, and perhaps a tragedy, that the man who did it gave it an entirely different meaning. His purpose was to discover his ancestors. And I can’t help wondering, well, what kind of slanted history did he give himself? If Kunta Kinte, his first, uhh, the first man from whom he traces his lineage, was a heroic figure, what about the white man who raped Kizzy, the daughter? So that Alex Haley must include that white rapist among his ancestors. Oh, that’s a disgrace. If he thinks that the heroism of Kizzy reflects on him, on the author as her descendant, well, then, the villainy of the white man and the villainy of other people down the line are a reflection on him. Why do, uh, ethnics of this type always believe that if they can find a king or a hero in their past, that is somehow a reflection on them, but if they find a thug or a crook, well, that doesn’t count, we can ignore that? [Laughter and applause]

So, those of you who have not seen the television show, I would strongly recommend that you see it when it’s shown again. I intend to see it from the beginning, it’s really worth seeing, but make your own interpretation on what is shown. Don’t necessarily accept the author’s, if he has presented to you something much wider than his own intention in it.

Rand's edited version, The Objectivist Calendar #11 (December 1977), pp. 2-4:

There’s a point I wanted to discuss. But it’s a complicated point and I had no room for it [in my lecture]. I have seen only the last three installments of Roots on television and am reading the book now. The three installments that I did see were magnificent. They were beautifully written, beautifully directed, and particularly brilliantly acted. It was not a racist story in any way, not as it was presented on television. The author’s intention in his research for his book was to trace his own ancestry. And in that form, yes, it’s a very bad form of tribalism. But this is a mixed case. The author may have had the idea that it is important to know one’s physical ancestry, but this is his mistake. What he produced is much better than his idea. He produced an image not just of his particular ancestors, but a representative image of the black people in America from an aspect that had not been presented before. And he did it very convincingly. I am judging, as I say, from the last three installments of the television script. Now, what is it that the television script presented? It presented black people as moral heroes. Here were people, totally helpless, caught in slavery with no way of escape. And they, the main characters, preserved the idea that they were morally right and their persecutors were morally wrong. They maintained the idea that the right was on their side: they had a right to freedom. This was made particularly clear in the character of Kizzy, the daughter of the original head of the family in America. This—the moral conviction of your own right under every kind of evil and terror (which the blacks lived under)—this is the essence of morality. If people in Soviet Russia had an attitude like Kizzy’s, there would be no Soviet government left today. The moral message of Roots is: even when circumstances beyond your control make you completely helpless existentially, you are still free intellectually and morally; and if you hang on to your moral conviction no matter what happens, you are saved, at least spiritually; that is ninety percent of the battle. This, I think, was the appeal of the television film. And I think that black black [sic] people who are enthusiastic about the film, sense it. It is very unfortunate that the meaning ascribed to Roots is “know your own ancestors,” and that black audiences, as well as people of other races, who are now running to fortunetellers, trying to find out who their great, great grandmother was. Ancestor worship is an essential part of racism and tribalism. But that was not the actual meaning of the television show. What came across was a national legend, the creation of a myth about black people in America, a myth in the best sense of the word, created by one man, the author, Alex Haley, who deserves credit for it, whether this was his intention or not. The black people never had a mythology, at least not in this country. Here they were, torn out of nowhere by force, with a total break between them and their past. They were like strangers stranded among other people in this country. They had no spiritual past, in the way that Western civilization has a past in mythology (particularly Greek mythology), in religious stories, in the history of heroes. This kind of heritage gives you some idea of the nature of your own society—not your own identity, but the meaning or the nature of the culture in which you live. This is what Roots has done for the black people. It has created a mythology, and a very appealing one, an image of people in desperate circumstances who preserved their dignity, their spirit, and their individual morality. I can well understand why both blacks and whites are enthusiastic about this presentation. But it is a shame, and perhaps a tragedy, that the man who created it gave it a different meaning. If his purpose was to discover his ancestors, I can’t help wondering: what kind of slanted history did he give himself? If Kunta Kinte, the first man from whom he traces his lineage, was a heroic figure, what about the white man who raped Kizzy, the daughter? Alex Haley must include that white rapist among his ancestors. If he thinks that the heroism of Kizzy is, somehow, a noble reflection on his character, as her descendant, well, then the villainy of the rapist and of other people down the line are also a reflection on his character. Why do ethnics of this type always believe that if they can find a king or a hero in their past, it enhances them, but if they find a thug or a crook, well, it doesn’t count? [The truth, of course, is that genealogy, race or tribe do not make or break your character. You do—and the credit or blame is exclusively yours.] If you have not the television film of Roots, I strongly recommend that you see it when it’s shown again. It’s really worth seeing. But draw your own conclusion about its meaning.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 208-210):

Mayhew reproduced Rand's edited version, of course without mentioning that she'd edited it.

Her editing is responsible for the homiletic sentence about “ancestor worship” and a whole homiletic paragraph (“The truth, of course, is that genealogy…”)? She also took out the extra dig at Soviet citizens (“They’re much lower…”). However, when Rand put in the homiletic paragraph, she enclosed it in brackets so readers could see that it was an addition. No such acknowledgment from Mayhew.

*******

I think this is one of the most important public spoken comments from Rand’s later years, and that’s why I went to the trouble of transcribing an entire speechlet. She consciously acknowledges the positive force of myth. And there is a deep unspoken subtext, about some other people who were once “strangers in the land of Egypt”; Rand might not have found Roots quite so new had she known the spiritual “Go Down Moses.” The passage also tempts one to intervene because on one hand she is practically gushing, and, on the other, she is issuing repetitive admonitions to be cautious.

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Chris G,

The financial help story is worth checking out. I hadn't heard it before.

Besides the two obvious books by Isabel Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane, and a number of pieces by H. L. Mencken, Rand should have mentioned Capitalism: The Creator by Carl Snyder, published in 1940. Both the Burns and the Heller books attribute a good deal of importance to it.

Robert C

Robert; I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you. Internet problems. I don't know who to ask. McBride has died. I have no contact with other people who might have heard this statement.

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Chris G,

The financial help story is worth checking out. I hadn't heard it before.

Besides the two obvious books by Isabel Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane, and a number of pieces by H. L. Mencken, Rand should have mentioned Capitalism: The Creator by Carl Snyder, published in 1940. Both the Burns and the Heller books attribute a good deal of importance to it.

Robert C

It's hard to believe Rand never read David Seabury's "The Art of Selfishness," a 1930s best seller. I recommend it, btw.

--Brant

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 15:02 through 15:54

Q: I understand that when you were 9 years old, you wanted to be a novelist. But in the past 20 years, since Atlas Shrugged, you have written no fiction. Could you please tell us why?

A: Because I have a very serious dilemma, you know. I don't like to write historical fiction or fantasies. And it is impossible to write about heroic characters or a romantic story in today's setting.

The world is in such a low state that I could not bear to put it in fiction. I am trying to get around that difficulty, and I may or may not succeed—I don't know, though I have certain ideas. But if I don't write another novel, that would be the reason: look around you.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 195-196):

I have a serious dilemma. I don't write historical fiction or fantasies, and it's impossible to write heroic, romantic stories in today's setting. The world is in such a low state that I couldn't bear to put it in fiction. I am trying to get around that difficulty, but I don't know whether I will succeed. If I don't write another novel, this is the reason. Look around you.
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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 16:04 through 20:28

Q: Miss Rand, as an advocate of individualism, there is one point that I find difficulty with in my own mind, and perhaps you can clarify. And that is the statement that it is the prerogative of a free country to invade and attack, and attack what you call a slave state or a slave pen or a non-free country. I find this hard to figure out because, in the final analysis, it is not a nation attacking a nation, it is people attacking people—attacking individuals, and they may not want your attack. Could you please explain that?

A: I don't care to … Oh, excuse me … Please excuse me. When I know too clearly what I want to say, I jump the gun.

(Moderator restates question.)

A: To begin with, the lady would have had to read the article in which this statement was made. Show me the weakness in that, my argument, and then ask me a question regarding it. Since she can't do it or won't do it, she asks a question out of context and I do not propose to repeat an entire article—that's the one entitled "Collectivized 'Rights'"—uhh, for the benefit of her not reading my work. I am here to answer those who have read it.

However, I can, I know where, the source of this kind of statement. It's the idea that, that nations do not exist, only individuals—and if some poor blob in Soviet Russia didn't want an invasion, though he is not a Communist, we mustn't hurt him.

Who do you think permits governments to go to war? Only a government can put a country into war, and who keeps the government in power? The citizens of that country, including the worst dictatorship. Even Soviet Russia, who did not elect the Communists, keeps them in power by passivity. Nazi Germany did elect its dictatorship, and therefore even those Germans who were against Hitler were still responsible for that kind of government and had to suffer the consequences.

Therefore, if we attack a dictatorship or any enslaved country—and, please, not if you expect an answer from me, don't use such things, such expressions as "what I call an enslaved country." I always give my definitions, it isn't that I call it, I always say why I call it, which you will discover if you bother to read my article.

But for the first, for the sake of those who do read them and might be misled by your question, I want to say that individuals, individual citizens in a country that goes to war are responsible for that war. Which is why they should be interested in politics and careful about not having the wrong kind of government.

If one could make a distinction between the actions of a government and the actions of individual citizens, why, why would need politics at all? All government would be one side doing something among themselves and we private citizens will be going along in happy, idyllic tribalism. But that picture is not true. We are responsible for the government we have, and that is why the science of politics, and that's why it's important to take our responsibility very, very seriously.

If we become a dictatorship, and somebody, a freer country, attacks us, they have the right to do so.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 95)

This is one of Rand's "war guilt" comments from the 1970s. They are far more famous today than they were in their time, because the Ayn Rand Institute contingent likes to appeal to them so often. Rand really did say "poor blob" in this answer, and Mayhew didn't changed it. I think it was a speech error, and she was intending to say "poor bum" or "poor slob."

Mayhew cuts her expressions of impatience with the questioner, including the charge of misleading the audience. She was definitely irritated by the persistent lack of acceptance of certain claims she made in her article on "Collectivized 'Rights'."

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Sounds like she was advocating a weak form of collectivized guilt.

It seems that she let her over-cooked moralism short-circuit some of her thinking processes defaulting into ad hominem. I saw her do that during a Q&A after a talk at the Bronx Community College in Nov. or Dec. 1970 specifically to avoid answering the question of whether she had ever read a single book by Kant.

The Jews in Germany were responsible for Hitler but the Jews in Poland weren't--therefore ...?

Poor Leonard Peikoff, spending 14 years writing a book blaming Hitler on ideas and missing this whole point.

--Brant

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 1:43 through 3:45

Q: What is the standard of justice and how does it apply to US involvement in Vietnam?

A: I'm not sure what you mean by "standard justice," or do you mean, "What is the standard of justice?"

(Inaudible response from the questioner.)

A: It's the sense? Well, the standard of justice and the only base for it is inalienable individual rights. Our behavior in Vietnam … I was against the war in Vietnam, as I, and I have spoken about that fact right here at this forum during the war, but we are not guilty of anything except toward ourselves. We are guilty of colossal, stupid, altruistic self-sacrifice. We are not guilty toward the Vietnamese, if you want to consider what they are doing now, or what the Cambodians are doing now. We did not do anything to anyone except ourselves.

If you ask by a standard of justice, did we have the right to interfere in Vietnam, I have said in my article on "Collectivized 'Rights'"—please look up the details—when a country does not recognize individual rights internally, when it does not recognize the rights of its own citizens, it cannot claim any national or international rights.

Therefore, anyone who wants to invade a dictatorship or a semi-dictatorship, morally, in justice can do so, because he is doing no worse than what that country has accepted as its social system.

It is improper to invade or attack only a free country. Why? Because it recognizes the individual rights of its citizens.

But there is no such thing as national or collective rights.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 91-92)

Another "war guilt" answer.

The published version is the product of run-of-the-mill "line editing" from Mayhew, less intrusive than his norm.

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 14:51 through 18:22

Q: Miss Rand, how would the Objectivist ethics resolve the dilemma in the following hypothetical situation? If the United States were to defend itself in a war against the Soviet Union—the Soviet Union was the aggressor—certain individuals in the Soviet Union who were innocent of aggression and had perhaps fought to oppose that aggression, in the best way they could in that country, might be murdered in that war. What is the ethical situation regarding their rights? I'm having trouble with that.

A: I will try to pretend that I'm taking the question seriously. It's one of those questions which is so blatantly wrong that I cannot help not understanding how anyone can entertain that sort of question seriously. My guess is that the trick here is context-dropping.

The idea that an individual inside a country can be made secure from the social system under which he lives and which he accepts—willingly or unwillingly, even if he is fighting it—he still accepts, he hasn't left the country … The idea that others should respect that man's right and collapse [sic] to aggression themselves—in other words, not [sic] be Goddamn pacifists, who would not fight even when attacked, because they might kill innocent people… Look, if this were so, nobody would have to be concerned about his country's political system. If you could have a life independent of the system, which other countries and other nations respected so that you wouldn't be drawn into an unjust war, if you are an innocent victim … If that were so, we would not need to be concerned about politics.

Why is it important to be concerned about politics? Why should we care about having the right social system? Because our lives are dependent on it. Because those systems, good or bad, are established in our name, and we bear the responsibility. So that the Soviet citizens who are innocent I hope someday will be destroyed in a proper war along with the guilty. There aren't very many innocent ones, and they're not in the big cities—they're mainly in concentration camps.

But, right or wrong, nobody must put up with aggression and surrender his right of self-defense for fear of hurting somebody else, guilty or innocent. When someone comes at you with a gun, if you have one ounce of self-esteem, you will answer him by force—never mind who he is, or who is behind him, if he is attacking you, because he's out to destroy you, and this is what you owe to the sanctity of your own life, if you have self-esteem.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 94-95)

I'll pretend to take the question seriously, because it's blatantly wrong. The question assumes that an individual inside a country should be made secure from the social system under which he lives and that he accepts—willingly or unwillingly, because he hasn't left the country—and that others should respect his rights and succumb to aggression themselves. This is the position of the goddamned pacifists, who won't fight, even if attacked, because they might kill innocent people. If this were correct, nobody would have to be concerned about his country's political system. But we must care about the right social system, because our lives depend on it—because a political system, good or bad, is established in our name, and we bear the responsibility for it.

If we go to war with Russia, I hope the "innocent" are destroyed along with the guilty. There aren't many innocent people there; those who do exist are not in the big cities, but mainly in concentration camps. Nobody has to put up with aggression, and surrender his right to self-defense, for fear of hurting somebody else, guilty or innocent. When someone comes at you with a gun, if you have an ounce of self-esteem, you answer with force, never mind who he is or who's standing behind him. If he's out to destroy you, you owe it to your own life to defend yourself.

This answer has become notorious. Mayhew corrects a slip, on "not be Goddamned pacificists." Otherwise, he tones down her antagonism toward the questioner, and the sheer bloody-mindedness of her attitude toward Soviet citizens.

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The question was sincere and so why was it wrong? I was there when she answered it. I was dumbfounded. A word that maybe shouldn't be there in the question is "murdered" instead of "killed." Maybe that helped set her off. "A proper war"? I've never ever heard anyone else describe war that way. Maybe she had a message there for Nora. If Ayn Rand ever went completely off the rails in any public discourse it was with that answer. The other stuff you don't agree with you can see how it might be rationalized if you wanted too. Never mind the sanitization.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 24:40 through 27:56

Q: In the copyright bill that was just passed by the US Senate, there are several provisions for compulsory licensing; that is, not giving the author the choice of whom he will license to.

A: I think it is unspeakably evil and inexcusably immoral. It’s interesting that that is one of the items I was going to include in the talk tonight—just that issue of the copyright bill—but I didn’t have room for it.

The vicious thing is the aspect you didn’t mention. It’s, the, to whom one would be forced to license, uh, our works—it applies to writers or composers—to the so-called public service television and radio stations. In other words, here are parasites who are on salary—as a rule, those on salary get paid much more than they would be paid in a commercial television. They’re paid by taxpayers and by the government. They do not have a wide audience, just a small audience of their own cliques, and yet, claiming to represent the public interest for some reason, they are going to violate the rights of writers and … of composers, of creative people.

The bill as it stands proposes that “public interest” stations will have the right to seize your work, but there will be a public board that will determine how much you will be paid for it. They do not ask your consent as to whether you want your work produced on those stations, which I would not. Certainly not on Channel 13 in New York. I don’t know what the others are, but you should see what station indulges in. [some laughter from audience.]

That would literally be an occasion for a violent rebellion, at least on my part. [Laughter and applause.] Because I would rather destroy all copies of my books than permit it, except I am not in a position to do it. There are, fortunately, too many of them. [Laughter and applause.]

The Senate has passed the bill, but the House has not. Authors and publishers and, I believe, the composers’ union are fighting it—I know about authors and publishers. If any of you are interested, please, for my sake, and other valuable creators who might … who do still exist, write to your congressman opposing that particular clause.

The copyright law otherwise is a very good law. But that clause is unspeakable. And not only in regard to creative people. Just think of the precedent it is setting, for public nationalization.

Rand's edited version appeared in The Objectivist Calendar #1, June 1976, p. 3:

I think it is unspeakably evil. It’s interesting that that is one of the items that I was going to include in the talk tonight, this issue of the copyright bill, but I didn’t have room for it. The most vicious thing about that bill is the aspect you didn’t mention: it is the question to whom one would be forced to license one’s work (this applies to writers and composers). The answer is: the so-called public service television and radio stations. These stations are run by parasites who are on government-paid salaries. And, as a rule, these men are paid much more than they would be paid in commercial television. They are paid by the government—that is, by taxpayers. These men do not have a wide audience, just a small audience of their own cliques—and yet they claim to represent the public interest. They propose to violate—to abolish—the rights of writers and composers, and creative people in general. The bill as it stands proposes that the public service stations will have the right to use your work, but there will be a public board that will decide how much you will be paid for it. They do not ask your consent as to whether you want your work produced on those stations—which I would not. As far as I am concerned, I would rather destroy all copies of my books than permit it—except that I am not in a position to do it; there are too many copies in existence. The Senate has passed that copyright bill, but the House has not; both authors and publishers are fighting it. Therefore, if any of you are interested, please, for my sake, and for the sake of other valuable creators who do still exist, write to your congressmen opposing that particular section. The copyright bill otherwise is a very good law. But that section is unspeakable. And not only in regard to creative people. Just think of the precedent it is setting for expropriation.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 21-22)

Bob Mayhew reproduces Rand's edited version while making a couple of tiny changes in wording or punctuation.

Barbara Weiss's note in the Objectivist Calendar identified the offending passages in the copyright law as Sections 111 and 118 of S.22.

Rand herself decided to remove the reference here to Channel 13, WNET, in New York. Bob Mayhew then extended this to a couple of other answers in which she happened to mention Channel 13. Why? It's just a way of running Rand through the flavor-remover.

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 43:07 through 44:34

Q: You don't have many good things to say about the college activists of the 60s. Don't you think that their actions, though childish, were newsworthy, and by being newsworthy, kept the war in Vietnam and Watergate in the news and hastened the end of the war and hastened the uncovering of the facts?

A: No, I don't think they contributed anything. I think they were spoiled brats who, out after publicity, I think they were made by the media, because they were give, given so much publicity—that was their main interest—and they contributed nothing except chaos and disorder.

Uhh, why do I say that? Because you do not solve serious issues by physical demonstration. If you want to contribute, you argue, you persuade, you think of new arguments, and you spread propaganda and ideas. You teach. You don't sit in the street or lie down to obstruct traffic and chant and, ehh, look sloppy and dirty and by that means stop a war in Vietnam—no.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 93-94)

Slightly tidied and blandifed by Mayhew.

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[...] I believe that the provision to which Rand was objecting was not included in the final 1976 copyright act as passed and signed into law.

This compulsory licensing to "public broadcasting entities" — either by negotiated rates or, failing that being done, imposition of fee schedules — was, indeed, included in the reworking of copyright law.

It doesn't extend to these broadcasters (such as WGBH Boston) packaging their programs for sale on DVD, however, as this study notes.

Cutting the reference to Channel 13 in New York is another way of running Rand through the flavor-remover.

Another pernicious consequence of Mayhew the Editing Menace. Rand was not some disembodied intellectual oracle, floating serenely above the media and mores of her particular era and society.

She actually watched television. Horrors! She took part in using the media of her time! Revealing that might somehow make her ideas appear to be less applicable to all eras and all societies! We can't have that! {/sarcasm}

Edited by Greybird
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Ford Hall Forum 1968

Q&A, 35:50 through 38:20

Q: You commented about the laws regarding abortion. Could you comment about other laws regarding sex, such as bigamy and homosexuality?

(Judge Lurie paraphrases the question in terms of “unnatural acts.”)

A: If by unnatural sexual acts, you mean homosexual, I would say that all acts, uh, laws of that kind should certainly be repealed. Which, by that I do not mean that I approve of such practices, or regard them as necessarily moral, but, uh, it is totally improper for the law to interfere in the personal relationships between two adults. So long as it is done by adults with mutual consent, it is not the province of the law. There can properly be law against corrupting the, uh, morals of minors; children can be protected from anyone molesting or attacking them; but adults in this respect should certainly be completely free.

Now, bigamy, ehh, is somewhat a different question. If it, if you were to ask me, should the state undertake, ehh, to set any kind of standards with regard to what each would consider legally a marriage, so that if in a given state, a marriage is supposed to be monogamous—only one wife and husband at a time—if a man, a bigamist, wanted to marry two women at the same time, I don’t think that that he should appeal to the law about it. The law should be uniform and there are certain good grounds why, uh, in most civilized countries—in all, I guess—marriage is a monogamous institution. But if a man wants to have a wife and another woman, he doesn’t need the legality of bigamy if he is open about it. But if a jury … the kinds of cases one hears about, is when a man has two legal wives in two different cities, euhh, and leads a completely double life—even under different names—and there, there is good grounds to prosecute him legally and morally, for more than a sexual relationship. But, as I say, uhh, if he wants a relationship with two women, he does not need the law to sanction it.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 18)

Bigamy is a different issue. If a man wants a relationship with two different women, he does not need the law to sanction it. But the state should have standards about what it considers a legal marriage. The law should be uniform, and there are good reasons why in most civilized countries marriage is a monogamous institution. If a man wants a wife and another woman, he doesn’t need the legality of bigamy if he’s open about it. Bigamy laws concern cases in which a man has two legal wives in two different cities, and leads a double life. Here there are good grounds, legally and morally, to prosecute him.

Mayhew has made Rand’s statements about bigamy seem much crisper than they really were; he has also reorganized them.

For unknown reasons, he dropped clause about child molestation from the section on homosexuality.]

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Ford Hall Forum 1971

Q&A, 0:55 through 4:37

Q: Miss Rand, in your article “The Comprachicos” you described the deplorable state of today’s universities. You spoke of the intellectual rackets and the pressures which are designed to cripple the mind. Your acquaintances have been stressed [sic] to stay rather than leave. Would you repeat your reasons in more detail?

A: Because you never want to help your own destroyers. Since the purpose of the type of educators—which are not, uh, exclusive monopoly today, but are certainly the majority—is to touch, purpose, defeat your mind, they can do it in one of two forms: by your helpless weakness and submission while you’re in school, or by forcing you out of the school. In either way, they either cripple the best minds of the students or deprive the best minds—or the most independent ones—of education.

It is never necessary to quit, for two reasons.

One, there still are some good teachers, granting that they’re in a minority. You can’t wait for a better world when the better people will be a majority, you have to fight for it yourself. Therefore, there still are some good professors; there certainly are students, a great many of them, who are trying to resist that influence.

After all, I made it clear in the same article that man is not a determined being. His education can help him or can hinder him, or hamper him, but it cannot make or break him. He has free will and his free will consists specifically in the use of his mind. Therefore, he can remain impervious to his infl, to the influence of his educators if he does some critical and clear-cut thinking on his own, which means that he doesn’t accept his teachers on blind faith nor criticize them blindly. If he listen to them and hears that [sic] he doesn’t agree, or things don’t make sense to him, let him answer in his own mind why. Why doesn’t, why is this wrong? What does he know which would prove it wrong? And very frequently he is able to say that right in class.

If his teacher is too hopelessly intolerant, then he, the student, doesn’t have to make himself a martyr, but he learns, even in reverse, preserves his mind, and gets his diploma.

Incidentally, I graduated from a Soviet Russian university—the University of Leningrad. No conditioning that you’re subjected to could be compared to what I went through. [Lengthy applause] Thank you. I want to add, I am glad that you don’t have to go through that. And therefore it can be done—you can survive today’s schools.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 176)

Mayhew's rewrite of the first paragraph puts a sentence in the first person:

The goal of the type of educators I criticize—who are a majority today, but don’t have a monopoly—is to defeat the mind.

Mayhew puts a (2) in front of the second reason, and clears away an occasional verbal stumble. But he also cuts out the explicit reference to “The Comprachicos,” and her exhortation to work for a better world instead of waiting for one.

“The Comprachicos” may have dropped out because Mayhew rarely attempts to follow the original questioner’s words, going instead with the moderator’s rendition, a transcriber's paraphrase, or some paraphrase of his own.

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Ford Hall Forum 1971

Q&A, 46:37 through 48:22

Q: [Preface about right to dispose of her property as she see fit.] Is it true that you cancelled subscriptions to The Objectivist because of letters that some subscribers sent to you? Is this true, and for what reason?

A: I don’t know whether it’s, uh, taken place recently because I don’t read those letters. My office has a certain instructions and they’re carrying them out… my staff and attorneys taking care of that…

Yes, I most certainly cancel subscribers, for the following reason:

Not if they disagree with me. It’s their loss, uh, if they write a lot of nonsense, fine. If they want to express themselves, I don’t have to read it.

It’s when they are rude and crude, and begin a letter, uppup, something like, “Well, you know you are wrong!” and go on up from there. Uh, those letters, go to a cancelled subscription.

Not literally those words, but it’s the pretentions and the presumption of rudeness. It’s not an issue of ideology, it’s an issue of manners. I do not accept the modern manners, and I don’t think I have to engage in conversation or offer a service to somebody who doesn’t know how to disagree with me—if that’s what he wants—politely.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 131-132)

I don’t read those letters, but my office has instructions and carries them out. I don’t cancel subscriptions if someone disagrees with me—that’s his loss. But I do when the letters are rude and crude. It’s not an issue of ideology, but of manners. I reject the modern conception of manners; I don’t have to engage in conversation with, or offer a service to, anyone who doesn’t know how to disagree with me politely.

Here’s the entry that helped to start all the questioning of Mayhew’s editing.

The complete recorded answer refers to “modern manners.” However, Mayhew does no service by cutting out “express themselves,” which Rand often employed sarcastically, or by deleting her one concrete example of the “rude and crude.”

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Ford Hall Forum 1971

Q&A, 5:43 through 6:35

Q: Miss Rand, do you think the Federal government should be required to pay property taxes to local municipalities where it owns land?

A: Well, I have never heard that kind of proposal. [Audience laughs] I'm not sure it will work, but on the face of it, simply as a good thing to throw at them [Audience laughs], let's say it's a very eloquent joke. I would [applause], I would approve of it as that, as a slogan. I'm not sure it, it is applicable.

Uh, you'd, you'd be, be better off if you started cutting taxes down, but as a slogan it would be fascinating.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 8)

Given a thorough trimming by Mayhew.

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