Atlas Shrugged Movie: Partial Cast

February 27, 2008 by · 36 Comments 

It looks more and more likely that Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” will finally make it to the big screen. A recent interview estimates that it will do so in the Fall of 2009.

So far, I’ve only heard that Angelina Jolie had been cast to play the part of the novel’s heroine, Dagny Taggart. However, my understanding is that Jolie is pregnant, and that some are speculating a change of cast will be required.

Jolie’s obviously a good looking woman, but I tend to wonder whether she is tom-boyish enough to play Dagny. Long commutes to work have given me the time to put together a partial cast for the movie. I’ve mocked up a movie poster with that partial cast depicted, for your consideration, dear reader (see below).

Your comments welcome, as usual. And, if you happen to have anything to do with casting for Atlas Shrugged, please: do give these actors/actresses consideration.

Hugh Akston – Ed Harris
Francisco d’Anconia – Gerard Butler
Dr. Floyd Ferris – Michael Emerson
John Galt – Matthew McConaughey
Cuffy Meigs – Jordi Mollá
Wesley Mouch – Alec Baldwin
Hank Reardon – Daniel Craig
Lillian Reardon – Jennifer Connelly
Dr. Robert Stadler – Harrison Ford
Dagny Taggart – Evangeline Lilly
Jim Taggart – William Fichtner
Eddie Willers – Paul Campbell
Ellis Wyatt – Josh Holloway
The Young Brakeman – Hayden Christensen

Atlas Shrugged Movie: Partial Cast

Straw Men are Huemerous

February 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

My most recent video came online about an hour ago on my youtube channel.

Direct link:

Titled “Straw Men are Huemerous”, it is a response to Philosophy professor Michael Huemer’s critique of Ayn Rand’s “The Objectivist Ethics”. Huemer claims to have identified 8 “fatal flaws” in Rand’s ethics. I go through each alleged flaw, and demonstrate each to be a straw man argument.

Enjoy…or don’t.

Comments and video responses welcome (i.e., post them at youtube, in response to the video).

PM begat begat

February 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Those who have been following the issue of human rights laws as they pertain to censorship will be familiar with the complaint being made against, arguably the most highly-trafficked Conservative discussion board in Canada. As I understand it, after the complaint was launched, ownership of (and its back-up URL was transferred to a company that specializes in protecting freedom of speech by hosting web sites in countries that (from what I gather) do not suffer from Internet censorship.

The site is now hosted in Panama (which has been gaining an improved reputation among those who value individual freedom). My understanding is that there was an issue with hosting the .ca domain there and that, as a result, became the only URL that would still bring you to the freedominion website.

Apparently – for reasons unknown to me – there also is now a problem with the .com extension.

The upshot is this: the website remains unchanged, but the website’s new URL is .

Those who lurk or post on the site should reset their browser’s bookmarks accordingly.

30 Wrongs Don't Make a Right (Prayer in the Legislature)

February 19, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

My response, published here, to John Oakley’s article in yesterday’s National Post (possibly, Oakley’s article was only on the online version of the paper):

The issue here is not about whether people say prayers before engaging in the legislative process. The issue is that some people want prayers said aloud, and as part of the official ceremony of legislating.

Given that such people are not prevented from praying, the only plausible motivation for having everyone say a prayer aloud and in unison is: for the state to declare that it officially reveres an alleged supernatural being, and that it is guided by – or obedient to – the ethical commandments allegedly made by said being.

Adding more prayers, from different faiths, would have the effect of having the state declare that it reveres several/all supernatural beings, and is guided by/obedient to the ethical commandments allegedly being made by all of those beings. It would be impossible actually to set one moral compass simultaneously in accordance with the conflicting dogma offered by differing religions, and even many who would want multiple prayers know this. The only possible and achievable goal of praying to multiple alleged gods is: to declare that, in making law-making decisions, the legislature will consider supernatural commandments to be a source of knowledge about what policies should and should not be adopted.

Perhaps owing to most Christians’ allowance that one should render only unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, rational investigation of the facts of reality has been possible in the west, and knowledge and wealth have grown relatively well. However, the possibility of rational thought and free action arose despite, not because of, religious beliefs and public chanting of the Lord’s Prayer. In the east, where religions have been less tolerant of rational, independent thought, the growth of knowledge and wealth has been relatively slowed or completely stunted. As proponents of eastern religions move to Ontario, it is more important than ever that Ontario’s government declare that it is not under, accountable to, or obedient to, anyone’s alleged supernatural being. If, instead of simply removing all official chantings of religion from the proceedings of our legislature, we add more prayers from more religions, we will be officially sanctioning the notion that our government must comply with the whims even of alleged supernatural beings who forbid rationality, who condemn knowledge as a forbidden fruit, or who condemn wealth creation while praising self-sacrifice.

If we want Ontario to remain a place in which everyone is free to think as they wish, and to engage in consensual activities of their choice; to dress and eat and express themselves as they wish; to think for themselves, and to question aloud both alleged authority and dogma; to engage in rational efforts to discover knowledge and develop technologies; to pursue their own happiness; if that is the sort of Ontario we wish to retain, then we must make it clear to people of all faiths that our legislature’s “moral compass” is not set or determined by anyone’s religious beliefs. We cannot simultaneously make such a declaration and maintain the practice of praying aloud to one or more allegedly supernatural beings.

At the same time, it seems reasonable for those who are about to regulate our lives to take a moment to reflect on the gravity of what they are doing. A minute or two of silence would facilitate that purpose quite well, and should replace the saying of any prayer or any public recognition of the allegedly supernatural.

Paul McKeever, B.Sc.(Hons), M.A., LL.B.

Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario

Irreverence In Support of Rationality (Hence, of Life)

February 15, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Arutz Sheva yesterday published a news story saying that Danish police had arrested three Muslim men suspected of plotting to murder Kurt Westergaard, who drew one of the 12 Muhammed cartoons to which enemies of reality, reason, self and consent responded with acts of violence in 2005. It said that 15 Danish newspapers, and one Swedish newspaper, had responded to the arrests by republishing the cartoon drawn by Westergaard (the famous bomb-in-a-turban cartoon). The Ayn Rand Institute’s Elan Journo is calling upon US newspapers to republish all 12 of the cartoons, as a statement that the USA opposes censorship.

In assessing that call to action, it is important to consider the nature and root cause of the violence in which some people engaged after the publication of the cartoons. That many Muslims found the Muhammed cartoons insulting, rather than funny, is perfectly understandable: the cartoons were a condemnation of the things that they consider to be values and virtues; things they revere. Similarly, the violent response of some Muslims to the mocking of Muhammed was founded, essentially, on their reverence for their beliefs.

In response to that reverence, many have claimed that, in a free society, “nothing is sacred”. However, that is an incorrect assessment. Moreover, the absence of censorship laws in a free society is not properly founded upon the notion that nothing is sacred, or that nothing should be revered.

A rational person might rightly show irreverence for the irrational, but it would be wrong for the rational person to mock or make light of his own values and virtues. A rational person, by implication, reveres reality, reason, self, and consent.

Consider for example that, during a question and answer period following a lecture in 1976 by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, author/philosopher Ayn Rand – an Atheist – stated that:

Humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at. The classic example: you see a very snooty, very well dressed dowager walking down the street, and then she slips on a banana peel. … What’s funny about it? It’s the contrast of the woman’s pretensions to reality. She acted very grand, but reality undercut it with a plain banana peel. That’s the denial of the metaphysical validity or importance of the pretensions of that woman.

Therefore, humor is a destructive element – which is quite all right, but its value and its morality depend on what it is that you are laughing at. If what you are laughing at is the evil in the world (provided that you take it seriously, but occasionally you permit yourself to laugh at it), that’s fine. [To] laugh at that which is good, at heroes, at values, and above all at yourself [is] monstrous. … The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face.”

It follows that, when it comes to calls for censorship or the punishment of “sacrilege”, it is wrongheaded for the opponent of such laws to respond by condemning reverence itself. A society full of individuals that revere nothing – hence, that value nothing – cannot become or continue to be free. Freedom requires the reverence of that which makes human life possible: rational thought and action.

When considering how to respond to the call for censorship and anti-sacrilege laws, one should start at the beginning, philosophically: at the level of metaphysics and epistemology. One must remain cognizant of the fact that no person can take direct control of any other person’s thought process, no matter how much force he has at his disposal; that nobody can be forced to revere anything, whether rational or irrational. The sovereignty of every individual’s thought process is the key fact not recognized by the irrational individuals who demand censorship; who demand laws against “sacrilege”. Their aim, ultimately, is to make others revere what they revere by means of coercive physical force; to somehow make others adopt irrational beliefs by making it difficult to physically express rational ones. They are demanding the impossible, and they need to realize it, for all of our sakes.

Therefore, it is important that the government of a free country, in response to such demands, stand on the side of rationality by recognizing the fact that it is irrational to try to make people revere anything by means of coercive physical force. Government takes that stand both when it refrains from censorship and when it defends every person from those who would use force to prevent the expression of any opinion, whether rational or irrational, reverent or irreverent.

However, it is not enough for government quietly to be on the side of rationality. That loyalty must be demonstrated from time to time if the governed are to recognize that their government stands on the side of the rationality upon which human life depends. When it comes to the issue of free speech, one of the most convincing demonstrations of a loyalty to rationality is a government’s response to irreverence. This implies the necessity, from time to time, of the governed putting government to the test in full public view by being irreverent.

Thus, to express my support of reality, of reason, and of human life and personal happiness; to condemn the alleged plot to murder Kurt Westergaard for his irreverence; to carry out my part in demonstrating that the Canadian government takes the side of rationality; I am answering Elan Journo’s call by republishing, in my blog, the twelve cartoons. To the same ends, I would encourage others to do the same or, in the alternative, to publish something that demonstrates an irreverence for that which someone else (anyone else, not just Muslims) reveres.

Environmentalism's Attack on Reason, Individualism & Capitalism

February 8, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Climate change environmentalists deny that they are motivated by their well-documented opposition to capitalism. Question their motives, and you will often find yourself accused of being ignorant, of being on the take, of being like a Nazi, or of being a criminal.

Fortunately, it is not necessary to question their motives. To know what they would do to society, one needs simply to understand the essential nature of their arguments for restricting or banning the use of technology.

To light a fire, decontaminate water, erect a shelter, bake a birthday cake, or build machines that increase human productivity and broaden human opportunities, requires humans to act in accordance with the facts of nature. To do so requires that someone achieves knowledge of those facts. Only rational thought – a strictly logical process of thought about that for which there ultimately is physical evidence – makes it possible for human being to obtain knowledge of the facts of nature. A belief not supported by physical evidence, or not resulting from ones own rational process of thought, is not knowledge.

All knowledge is the result of rational thought, but not all rational thought results in knowledge. Novel observations and the discovery of new evidence sometimes change the logical mind’s conclusions: what was originally thought to be knowledge may prove eventually to be false belief. That is why scientists never conclude further inquiry is unwarranted. However, the fact that a lack of the appropriate data – or the fact that a lack of knowledge has led someone to consider immaterial facts or irrelevant evidence – does not change the fact that knowledge cannot be achieved except by rational thought.

Those at the forefront of efforts to have the government fight “climate change” ultimately take issue with that assertion. They tell us that, because rational thought sometimes leads us to erroneous conclusions, rationality is dispensable, worthless, or even harmful. Knowledge of the facts of nature, they erroneously or falsely imply, can and should be obtained with faith, consensus, or illogic.

In 2005, Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May gave a speech which began with a quote from Bertrand Russell: “Ever since Adam ate the apple, man has refrained from no folly of which he was capable…”. She lamented that, since the commencement of the industrial revolution, humans have “…taken the life-giving, life-creating, life-nurturing systems of Planet Earth and pushed them into reverse.” Making it clear that she believes the Garden of Eden actually to have existed – she, for example, refers to the “location of the Garden of Eden” – she concluded with a hope that “we can re-write Russell’s History of the World to say that humanity rejected folly and that we returned to the Garden”. Taken to its logical conclusion, May’s message is a demand for an anti-human atrocity. Her belief, founded on faith, is that the fruit of rationality – knowledge – leads us always to sin, so we must outlaw productive thought and action, return to a state of naked ignorance, and have a supernatural being provide for us when, where, how, and to the extent that he wants to.

With his foundation’s website, geneticist turned CBC TV personality David Suzuki spreads the falsehood that the “…Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is universally recognized as the world’s most authoritative voice on the science of climate change” (emphasis added). You will not find scientific reports on Suzuki’s web site, but you will see lots of talk about “consensus” that man’s use of technology is causing catastrophic global warming. Suzuki’s implicit message is that a belief is knowledge if an alleged majority of allegedly credentialed people say so. Galileo and Einstein would undoubtedly beg to differ.

In his self-promotional flick “An Inconvenient Truth” Al Gore points to a genuine historical correlation between changes in global temperature and changes in CO2 levels. He implies that changes in CO2 drove the temperature changes with which they were correlated. At least, this is a logical fallacy, because correlation does not prove causation. At worst, it is a lie, because the data he claims to have presented to over 1000 audiences actually shows CO2 levels to change hundreds or thousands of years after the temperature changes with which they are correlated. Encouraging us to accept logical fallacy or plain lies as a means of obtaining knowledge, he is discouraging rationality.

The victims and foot soldiers of Hume, Kant and Hegel frequently can be heard to say “We have to cut CO2 emissions because we simply cannot risk the possibility of a man-made CO2 global warming catastrophe in the future”. To those who deny the possibility of knowledge – or who are too lazy to achieve it – rationality is no virtue. In a misguided attempt to avoid perishing in the distant future, such people would have us all chop off our heads in the present.

The west’s standard of living is highest precisely because western governments have done a better (though hardly good) job of shielding individuals from such irrationality; of ensuring that people are free to conduct themselves rationally and productively, hence consistently with the facts of nature. Western governments have better defended every individual’s control over their own life, liberty and property. To that end, they have also been better at separating irrationality and state.

When a government succeeds in defending rational conduct from irrational restrictions of individual freedom, the result is a capitalist society: a wealthy and happy society in which trade is governed solely by consent. When a government founds its decisions on faith, alleged consensus, or logical fallacy, it merges irrationality and state, fails to defend rational conduct, and undermines every individual’s ability to live and pursue their own happiness. The political result is a collectivist society: a society condemned to rationing, misery and premature death, in which trade is governed not by consent, but by coercion.

It makes no difference whether May, Suzuki, Gore and the others are consciously anti-capitalists, or whether they are simply well-intentioned irrationalists because their expressed or implied disregard or hatred for rationality necessarily implies a condemnation of capitalism and an endorsement of collectivism. However, more fundamentally, their assault on rationality implies a condemnation of human life; of life that depends upon rationality. To the extent that our governments appease these Romantic Savages of the Endarkenment, humanity’s survival on this earth is imperiled.

Freedom Requires a Better Defence

February 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

{My op-ed, below, appeared on the Western Standard shotgun blog on February 6, 2008. NOTE: this is the first time that I have shared with anyone, in writing, this particular definition of “freedom” (i.e., freedom as control). Prior hereto, I have disclosed this definition, and explained its significance, only to my close friend and colleague, Robert Metz (founder and president of Freedom Party of Ontario). I will explain the significance of this definition in great detail in a forthcoming essay (or book chapter).}

The only thing worse than not defending freedom is defending it so poorly that ones audience is left thinking maybe freedom is not defensible. Consider Ezra Levant, who is currently responding to a human rights complaint for his allegedly “offensive” publication of the famous Mohammed cartoons.

Ezra condemns our human rights commissions’ procedural and evidentiary standards for not being court-like. He thereby implies that censorship would be acceptable did our commissions have court-like standards.

Ezra says censorship is wrong for this reason: we have (he submits) a long history of laws that disallow it. In other words: our laws (allegedly) against censorship are just because they are old. Yet the argument that “old law is just law” implies that we should still have laws that facilitate slavery in Canada, that give only propertied men the vote, and that make it illegal to open your store on Sunday.

Ezra condemns the addition of speech to the original list of things regulated by human rights commissions. He thereby implies that he has no objection to human rights laws concerning employment and housing. Our human rights laws typically cannot prevent someone from denying a person a job or an apartment so long as the reason for the denial is not known to be one prohibited by human rights legislation. Thus, in effect, Ezra’s position is this: nobody should prevent Ezra from saying that a another man’s religious beliefs are dangerous but, if Ezra utters such an opinion, he should lose the freedom to deny that man a job or an apartment. In short: shut up, or put up. That is clearly a self-defeating defence of “free speech”.

To be rational and effective, the advocacy of freedom must be founded upon the material facts of reality.

A human being must obtain values (such as food and shelter) if he is to survive. To obtain values, a man must choose to engage in rational (hence productive) thought. His mind must maintain control of his actions so that his rational decisions will result in the production of values. His mind must remain in control of the values he produces if he is to use them for his own survival and happiness. That control – the control of ones own actions and property – is freedom.

If a man does not think rationally (i.e., if he is irrational), he can live only by obtaining values from someone who does think rationally. If others do not give the irrational man values for free, he can obtain values from others only without their consent; only by interfering with their control of their own actions or property; only by enslaving or expropriating them; only by denying others their freedom.

No amount of rational thought can preserve a man’s life if he lacks freedom. For that reason, the violation of a rational man’s freedom is a threat to his life. Because the irrational man depends upon the rational man’s production of values, the irrational man’s violation of the rational man’s freedom is also a threat to the irrational man’s life. Thus, the life of an irrational man is a murder-suicide in progress. Were a whole society of men consistently to attempt live as irrational men do, the result would be (and, historically, has been) mass death.

It is physically impossible to make another man think rationally, or to prevent him from having racist, sexist, or other irrational beliefs. However, one can make life possible for a rational man by preventing irrational men from violating his freedom. Thus, in a society that values life rather than death, a government’s role is not to compel individuals to think rationally but to defend every individual’s freedom.

When government performs that role well, life and happiness are possible to a rational man because his mind maintains control of the production and use of his values. In contrast, when government increasingly passes and enforces laws to violate freedom, government becomes an ally of irrationality and an enemy of life; it gradually ceases to be a government.

Ezra’s human rights complainant considers Ezra’s silence to be a value. Ezra will not consent to provide the complainant with that value. Were the complainant to obtain that value by physically gagging Ezra, the government would rightly use force against the complainant to restore Ezra’s freedom because life requires freedom. For the government to obtain that value for the complainant by means of force is wrong because life requires freedom.

Ezra’s legal case is, he says, his stepping-stone to the making of a political case. If, in the political realm, he drops his ineffectual legal arguments for freedom, and demands freedom on the ground that it is an indispensable requirement of his life, he will become an asset to the advocacy of freedom, rather than a liability to it.