Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ayn Rand Quote of The Week 12/3/08

Question from audience:
[muffled audio which sounds like:] "...why is this culture..."

[loud noise which sounds as if it represents a point where the tape has been edited]

Rand: [mid-sentence] "...for healthy children to use handicapped materials. I quite agree with the speaker's indignation. I think it's a monstrous thing — the whole progression of everything they're doing — to feature, or answer, or favor the incompetent, the retarded, the handicapped, including, you know, the kneeling buses and all kinds of impossible expenses. I do not think that the retarded should be ~allowed~ to come ~near~ children. Children cannot deal, and should not have to deal, with the very tragic spectacle of a handicapped human being. When they grow up, they may give it some attention, if they're interested, but it should never be presented to them in childhood, and certainly not as an example of something ~they~ have to live down to."

- Ayn Rand, The Age of Mediocrity, Q & A Ford Hall Forum, April, 1981

(hat tip to Jonathan in comments)

16 comments:

Michael Prescott said...

Great catch!

I'm surprised there's any controversy over Rand's contemptuous (at best) attitude toward the handicapped. She really never did outgrow Nietzsche. And at the very beginning of his Anti-Christ, we find this:

What is good? — Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself, in man.

What is evil? — Whatever springs from weakness.

What is happiness? — The feeling that power increases — that resistance is overcome.

Not contentment, but more power; not peace at any price, but war; not virtue, but efficiency (virtue in the Renaissance sense, virtu, virtue free of moral acid).

The weak and the botched shall perish: first principle of our charity. And one should help them to it.

What is more harmful than any vice? — Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak — Christianity ...


(The Anti-Christ, Section 2)

Incidentally, when Rand was on Phil Donohue's show the first time, and was asked for a single practical example of the harm done by altruism, she immediately responded with "kneeling buses," which was, she said, "the first example that comes to my mind."

She said that the terrible thing about kneeling buses was that while the handicapped could enter comfortably, other passengers had to kneel. This meant that the non-handicapped were being penalized to accommodate the handicapped.

In actuality, the non-handicapped do not have to kneel, since the height of the step is adjusted on a passenger-by-passenger basis. Rand seems to have been under the impression that "kneeling" refers to the passengers; actually it refers to the bus itself, which is said to "kneel" when it drops its step. (This MTA site explains.)

Considering that she was the greatest intellect of the last 2,500 years, it's odd that Rand so often got her facts mixed up.

David said...

Alert: Snark-Laden Take Down Ahead

"...for healthy children to use handicapped materials. I quite agree with the speaker's indignation."

Any evidence that such a practice is/was widespread?

"I think it's a monstrous thing — the whole progression of everything they're doing — to feature, or answer, or favor the incompetent, the retarded, the handicapped..."

"Monstrous"? How so? Who's "they" and what exactly are "they" doing? In what manner are "they" favoring the incompetent, the retarded, and the handicapped? (BTW - I love how she lumps them all together. It's a good way to smuggle in a few premises without the onerous task of supporting them with argument or evidence.)

And since this is a tacit assumption on her part, in what ways is this favoring negatively impacting the non-disabled children?

And "feature"? What does that mean to "feature" the handicapped? What does featuring look like?

BTW - What Rand called "favor," educators call "accommodation" or "intervention," and it doesn't mean he's held to a lower standard. A disabled student who earns a C or a D or an F in a regular ed. class gets just that grade on his transcript. However, getting a C in a regular ed. class may well be treated as a success on his IEP* or 504 Plan**, if such was the established goal.

"...including, you know, the kneeling buses and all kinds of impossible expenses."

Not so impossible it seems, since we've had such accommodations in the US for at least 37 years now and society has yet to collapse. Also, she's lumping physical disabilities in with mental disabilities which is about as useful as comparing a top-rated Quarterback's completion rate with an top-rated pitcher's ERA**** to determine who the better ball thrower is.

"I do not think that the retarded should be ~allowed~ to come ~near~ children. Children cannot deal, and should not have to deal, with the very tragic spectacle of a handicapped human being."

Any evidence that children "cannot deal"? And what does she mean by "cannot deal" anyway? (One would expect more precise terminology from a philosopher, let alone the Greatest Heavy-Weight Philosopher of All Time.)

Oh, and it's only a "spectacle" if the spectator thinks it's one. Way to project, lady.

I don't find anything especially spectacular about disabilities myself. (Note: That was not an equivocation but rather a pun.)

"When they grow up, they may give it some attention, if they're interested, but it should never be presented to them in childhood..."

Oh, may they, Mistress Rand? May they, when they're grown up, be allowed to do whatever the f*ck they want to do with their lives? Oh, thank you, thank you for your most enlightened, well-reasoned, well-researched beneficence!

And "some time"? WTF?!?! So how much time, and why no more? Fear of getting cripple-itis? Praise the Gods on High Olympus that this woman died before the AIDS epidemic kicked into high gear!

"...and certainly not as an example of something ~they~ have to live down to."

Again - any evidence that on a widespread basis children were or are being encouraged, let alone forced, to "live down" to the standards that the mentally disabled are held to in the course of their education? Any at all?

[Crickets chirping.]

* Individualized Education Program: Mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), IEPs are designed on a case-by-case basis for students with documented physical and mental disabilities. Realistic goals are set for the student and accommodations are made - where reasonable - so that they may receive the "free and appropriate" public education required by law.

Example: I had one student who was legally blind, and being a teenager, refused to hear his coke-bottle-thick glasses. Being 6+ feet tall and 180 lbs., no one was going to make him hear his glasses. His intervention? His IEP called for him to be seated in the front of the room and for his handouts to be enlarged.

Another Example: I had a another kid with pretty bad reading disabilities (and no, he wasn't previously mis-educated, lazy, or otherwise a "dummy." His brain just had trouble processing the written word.) His IEP called for extra time completing in-class work and in-class exams so he could decode the text. And no - it's not unfair that he got extra time and that the non-disabled kids didn't. What would have been unfair was to assume that didn't learn the content (when he did) merely because it took him longer than most to finish at test.***

**504 Plan: Like an IEP but regulated under a different federal law and generally dealing with less severe disabilities, and therefore, fewer, less involved interventions. For instance, a student with ADD might have on his 504 Plan that the teacher make a point to call on him by name or specifically ask him if he has any questions to draw his attention back to instruction. It's pretty common sense stuff.***

*** In the US, classroom teachers are frequently tapped to sit on IEP and 504 reviews, to offer their expert advice and opinions, and yes - accommodations and interventions are revised or removed altogether if its deemed to be ineffective or unnecessary. The process does require classroom teachers to know their students well, to be non-cynical about the process, and to - you know - care.

****Sorry about the American sports analogies. I'm actually a big fan of Rugby and Aussie Rules Football, but I don't know the terminology well enough to employ it with any facility.

*****Sorry for any typos. This was written in haste. No time to edit/proofread.

meg said...

Thanks for the recent posts and setting the record straight. There's been a bit of a...debate over in my blog about Ayn Rand's attitude regarding the mentally compromised. Anyhow, I might not be blogging much more, because being on the receiving end of hateful diatribes from crazy Randies is not my idea of a fun pasttime.

JayCross said...

She said that the terrible thing about kneeling buses was that while the handicapped could enter comfortably, other passengers had to kneel.

I think this was also immaturity on Rand's part. Even if the non-handicapped did have to kneel on the bus, what about the countless other things they can do that handicapped people can't? How about some perspective!

Good find, Daniel. Telling evidence that Rand, while great (IMO) was not perfect.

Mark Plus said...

Rand also seems to think that your parents should conveniently die by your early adulthood, so that you don't have to deal with the all the handicaps they develop as they age.

Kelly said...

"Anyhow, I might not be blogging much more,"

Sorry to hear that Meg. I've enjoyed your blog.

JayCross said...

I agree Meg, that person is a clown. Just ignore them.

Behemoth said...

Stick around, Meg, your blog is great fun. Excesses like Rand's quote above is why we need people like you "pinging the bra straps of Objectivism."

meg said...

I guess i could just ban her. But I don't like the idea of having to ban anyone from my blog for any reason. I thought it would be fun to have a hater, and it would make me famous like the guys here at ARCHN, but it's a lot less fun than I thought. Also I've been pretty busy lately. Anyway I'll think about it.

JayCross said...

You need to summon the "others not existing for you" mantra that you disdain Roark for. It works wonderfully against belligerent critics. ;)

JayCross said...

Btw, off topic but didn't know where else to post.

Dan/Greg, check Peikoff.com for his latest podcast. I think you'll like the first question he answers. ;)

Michael Prescott said...

>I guess i could just ban her. But I don't like the idea of having to ban anyone from my blog for any reason.

I've learned that banning is sometimes necessary. I had one commenter on my blog who routinely posted long, off-topic, barely coherent ramblings, and who became abusive when challenged. I kept him around for much too long. Eventually I realized his contributions were dragging down the whole blog and making the other commenters (and me) look bad by association. So I blocked his IP address. Problem solved.

These days, I don't even make an announcement about banning. If someone is being obstreperous or embarrassingly weird, I quietly add his IP to the list. No one ever asks where these people have gone. No one cares.

The Internet is still the Wild West, and each of us has to play sheriff now and then.

Renee Katz said...

Gotta love how it's okay to hate on Rand, but God forbid you point out the errors of her critics. >:/

Daniel Barnes said...

Renee:
>Gotta love how it's okay to hate on Rand, but God forbid you point out the errors of her critics. >:/

Yes, as you can tell by our intro sidebar, we ARCHNblog denizens never allow anyone to say anything bad about us...;-)

Daniel Barnes said...

Hey Jay

Re your note about the latest 'Koffcast

Did you mean the "flesh and blood" question?

Gilgamesh said...

''Considering that she was the greatest intellect of the last 2,500 years, it's odd that Rand so often got her facts mixed up.''

nice to see that Objectivists are still as delusional as ever. I find this comment to be both highly ignorant and highly amusing. It is nice that your delusion allows you to believe that your prophet is greater than Newton, Einstein, Schweitzer, and countless scientists and philosophers that have existed in the last 2,500 years.