Archive | April, 2011

The Aftermath of the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Movie: Part One

‘Atlas Shrugged’ Producer Promises Two Sequels Despite Terrible Reviews, Poor Box Office – The Hollywood Reporter

The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff. [...]

[John Aglialoro] defended his film Wednesday by accusing professional film reviewers of political bias. How else, he asks, to explain their distaste for a film that is liked by the audience? At Rottentomatoes.com, 7,400 people gave it an average 85% score. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, though, gave the movie zero stars, and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it one. A dozen others were equally dismissive.

“It was a nihilistic craze,” Aglialoro said. “Not in the history of Hollywood has 16 reviewers said the same low things about a movie. “They’re lemmings,” he said. “What’s their fear of Ayn Rand? They hate this woman. They hate individualism.

Or, perhaps they liked Ayn Rand’s work of art and actually did hate Aglialoro’s movie (who did not use the script written by Rand). Let’s hope he doesn’t turn Part III into an opera.

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Koran Burners Derek Fenton and Terry Jones: Free Speech and the First Amendment Bow Down to the Advocates of the Religion of Violence and Censorship

Thanks to the ACLU Derek Fenton, Koran-burning transit worker fired from his job after Ground Zero protest, re-hired reports the NY Daily News [22 April 2011]:

A Koran-burning New Jersey Transit worker, fired for his protest near Ground Zero last Sept. 11, is getting his job back – along with an extra $25,000 for his troubles. Derek Fenton, 40, will also collect back pay since his Sept. 13, 2010, dismissal for torching pages of the Muslim holy book on the site of a proposed lower Manhattan Islamic center. The deal additionally pays Fenton $25,000 for pain and suffering and restores his pension credits.

[...] “Our government cannot pick and choose whose free speech rights are protected, based on whether or not they approve of the context of our statements or actions,” Fenton said. “This is the very essence of the First Amendment.”

In related news Florida preacher Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp were jailed for planning a peaceful protest (“he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet”) outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Apparently, according to the judge and jury’s Alice in Wonderland “reasoning”, Jone’s attempt to speak against Islam peacefully would cause some Muslims act violently as they are unable to physically control themselves. (Does not anyone find this demeaning to Muslims who are equated as being rabid dogs who cannot control themselves when they hear the barking of the Florida Priest?) Therefore, as the pro-Islam supporters cannot control themselves Terry Jones should face going to jail!!!!

Apparently Jone’s opponents are allowed to physically surround him and scream in his ear and shout in his face and “chase him away” as show in the video clip:

Reports the Detroit Free Press:

A judge late Friday sent two Florida pastors to jail for refusing to post a $1 bond and barred them from visiting a Dearborn mosque or its adjacent property for three years unless the mosque’s leadership says otherwise. After a short time in jail they left on $1 bond each. The stunning developments came after a Dearborn jury sided with prosecutors, ruling that Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp would breach the peace if they rallied at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Critics slammed the decision to jail them, the court proceedings, and Wayne County prosecutors, saying they violated the men’s Constitutional rights.Prosecutors asked Judge Mark Somers for $45,000 bond. Somers then set bond at $1 each for the two pastors. They refused to pay. And Somers ordered them remanded to jail.

Chaos broke out outside court as opposing factions yelled at each other. Jones and Sapp were led out of court by Dearborn police. That left Jones’ supporters stunned, given that he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet.

[...]

“This is a true miscarriage of justice,” Elmir said. “Rev. Jones has committed no crime. He should never have been facing jailed time for his protected speech.” ["Terry Jones goes free on $1 bond after jailing; judge bars him from mosque for 3 years"]

Comments Eugene Volokh (his full analysis is well worth reading):

I think requiring anything other than a modest, content-neutral permit fee would be unconstitutional, as the Court held in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992). Forsyth County struck down an ordinance that required organizations to pay a security fee (capped at $1000) for “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection [for assemblies] … [that] exceeds the usual and normal costs of law enforcement ….” The Court found the security fee
unconstitutional because, among other reasons, the regulation included no objective standards directing how to establish the level of the fee. Instead, the amount of the security fee was left to the “whim of the administrator.” And even beyond the unconstrained discretion as to the amount, the Court held that a demonstration permit fee can’t be based on the likely risk that audience members will react violently:

The Forsyth County ordinance contains more than the possibility of censorship through uncontrolled discretion. As construed by the county, the ordinance often requires that the fee be based on the content of the
speech.

The county envisions that the administrator, in appropriate instances, will assess a fee to cover “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection of persons participating in or observing said … activit[y].” In order to assess accurately the cost of security for parade participants, the administrator “‘must necessarily examine the content of the message that is conveyed,’” estimate the response of others to that content, and judge the number of police necessary to meet that response. The fee assessed will depend on the administrator’s measure of the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content. Those wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers, for example, may have to pay more for their permit….

The costs to which petitioner refers are those associated with the public’s reaction to the speech. Listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.

A sound analysis, it seems to me, and one that would preclude jury-set fees for speakers who “might offend a hostile mob” a well as fees set by government officials. To its credit, the Michigan ACLU has publicly sided with Jones on the constitutional question.

Comments Amy Peikoff:

In addition, this is distinctly unlike restrictions on obscenity or profanity. The ideology of Islam, if adopted and practiced consistently, does appear, from everything I know about it (I plan to learn more, soon, starting with my Koran reading group), to be a threat to our way of life. Freedom to protest against it is as important as freedom to protest against any politician, political party, or political ideology. This is not an issue of defending one’s right to produce or consume tasteless pornography, simply as a matter of principle, so that we can preserve our right to political speech. In my mind, this is an unjustified restraint on political speech itself.

For more on this issue see Amy Peikoff’s post “When is Enough Enough?

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Event: Individual Rights and Health Care Reform — A Patient’s Perspective

Dr. John David Lewis will be giving a lecture on Individual Rights and Health Care Reform: A Patient’s Perspective on Monday, July 4, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale at OCON 2011. The lecture demonstrates “why government control of medicine violates the nature of man on the deepest philosophical levels, and why bureaucratic rule necessarily destroys the practice of medicine. The issue is deeper than the moral and political violation of individual rights. Government coercion in medicine constitutes a vicious attack against every doctor’s nature as a thinking, acting being.”

“A patient facing a life-threatening disease depends upon the goal-directed, reality-focused actions of doctors—who pursue life-long careers by defeating the diseases that infect patients. Government control of medicine undercuts every doctor’s ability to evaluate, choose and pursue rational goals. In the end, government medicine attacks man at the most fundamental levels: in his use of his mind, his judgments about reality, his ethical decisions, and the actions he takes. We must fight for the freedom of doctors as if our lives depended on it—because they do.”

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Missing from the Atlas Shrugged Movie: The Spirit of Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d’Anconia

Thanks to the bumbling of the Atlas Movie producers, the Francisco d’Anconia of the movie bares little resemblance to the greatness of the character shown in Ayn Rand’s epic novel. The Ayn Rand Novels site has posted an excellent audio lecture by Shoshana Milgram on The Spirit of Francisco, that is definitely worth a listen.

“Francisco, more than anyone else,” commented Ayn Rand in 1961, “seems to have been Minerva in my mind—he came in ready-made.” Her journals on Atlas Shrugged contain few notes on the role of this major figure in the novel, yet he is perhaps her most vivid fictional characterization. Francisco d’Anconia—a key link between Atlantis and the outside world—epitomizes relentless ambition, elegant self-confidence and radiant joy.

This lecture, which draws on Ayn Rand’s hand-edited manuscripts, contrasts her revisions in refining this “ready-made” character, with the changes she made in the characters from all her novels for whom she had prepared extensive notes (such as Hank Rearden and Howard Roark).

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Objectivist Koran Reading Group

From Amy Peikoff at Don’t Let It Go:

Inspired by the tremendous bravery of Ann Barnhardt:

I decided to lead a Koran reading group. Is Islam a religion of peace that’s been hijacked by a small minority of extremists, as we’ve been told repeatedly by both liberals and conservatives? Or is there something essential to Islamic doctrine that inspires and purports to legitimize acts of terrorism, as we’ve heard from people like Wafa Sultan, Robert Spencer, and Geert Wilders? Find out for yourself. Start by reading the Koran.

To sign up and/or learn more see Amy’s full post.

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“Atlas Shrugged and Its Ideas,” an Online Exhibit

Atlas Shrugged and its Ideas is an online manuscript exhibit produced by the Ayn Rand Archives, a special collection of the Ayn Rand Institute. This exhibit features 15 high-resolution reproductions of handwritten pages selected from the manuscript of Rand’s controversial novel. The accompanying text panels highlight ideas dramatized in the novel, which are of ongoing relevance to our day.” — Exhibit Curator: Jeff Britting, archivist, Ayn Rand Archives

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April 15 Tax Day Facts

Writes Dr. Locke in On Tax Day Thank the Rich and Support Lifting the Tax Yoke off Them:

On Tax Day consider some basic facts. The wealthiest 1% of the
taxpayers pay 34% of all federal income taxes. The top 50% pay 96% of
the total bill. This means that the least wealthy 50% pay almost
nothing. In short, the income tax system soaks the rich. In the name of
justice, the President, Congress and the American public should be
demanding a tax cut that lowers the tax bill of the wealthy.

But the opponents of tax cuts do not want justice. They want
redistribution of wealth. They want to confiscate the income earned by
the wealthy and give it to people who have not earned it. They want the
rich–which includes the most productive people in society–to be the
servants of the poor.

Read the rest…

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Atlas Shrugged Reenters the Top 20 Amazon Best-Seller List; Ranks Number 2 in Classics

Whatever one thinks of the Atlas Shrugged Movie, Part I, one positive of its release is it’s effect on book sales of Ayn Rand’s epic novel.

As of April 15th, Atlas Shrugged ranks #17 out of ALL books sold on Amazon.com.

UPDATE:  As of April 16th, Atlas Shrugged ranks #14 out of ALL books sold on Amazon.com. (Atlas is also #1,#2 and#3 in classics!)

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WSJ: Remembering the Real Ayn Rand

Donald Luskin pens a tribute to Ayn Rand in the WSJ opinion column:

But it’s a misreading of “Atlas” to claim that it is simply an
antigovernment tract or an uncritical celebration of big business. In
fact, the real villain of “Atlas” is a big businessman, railroad CEO
James Taggart, whose crony capitalism does more to bring down the
economy than all of Mouch’s regulations. With Taggart, Rand was
anticipating figures like Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide
Financial, the subprime lender that proved to be a toxic mortgage
factory. Like Taggart, Mr. Mozilo engineered government subsidies for
his company in the name of noble-sounding virtues like home ownership
for all.

Still, most of the heroes of “Atlas” are big businessmen who are
unfairly persecuted by government. The struggle of Rand’s fictional
steel magnate Henry Rearden against confiscatory regulation is a perfect
anticipation of the antitrust travails of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In
both cases, the government’s depredations were inspired by
behind-the-scenes maneuverings of business rivals. And now Microsoft is
maneuvering against Google with an antitrust complaint in the European
Union.

[...]

Rand was not a conservative or a liberal: She was an individualist.
“Atlas Shrugged” is, at its heart, a plea for the most fundamental
American ideal—the inalienable rights of the individual. On tax day,
with our tax dollars going to big government and subsidies for big
business, let’s remember it’s the celebration of individualism that has
kept “Atlas Shrugged” among the best-selling novels of all time.

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