Mr. Sandefur writes this morning:
Again, I’m sorry if my tone came off as overly hostile to Ed Brayton. He’s right that Mercer’s phraseology was silly, but the other things he said were wrong (and yes, I know Brayton was “joking,” but the “joke” was an attempt to express real beliefs, and it was baseless; one doesn’t get a free pass by just saying “it was a joke.”) But normally I agree with Brayton, and enjoy his blog immensely.
“Adversity is true friendship.”—William Blake
For the record, I never took Timothy’s criticisms as hostile at all. I consider him a friend and, as the William Blake quote implies, there is nothing wrong with disagreement among friends. Further for the record, let me state that my joking post was not intended to express real beliefs about Ayn Rand’s views on sex (of which I know nothing) or about Rand’s followers (though I did take some admittedly mean shots at what I termed “her more fervent followers”). I myself think a lot of Rand’s ideas on a lot of subjects, and I consider myself at least very close to being an objectivist. My slurs, even in jest, were not intended for the broad category of “people who take Rand’s views seriously” or “people who think Rand was right about a lot of things” (I would likely place myself in both of those groups), but against that peculiar subset of what one might call uber-Randians, the folks who have made her into something of a modern oracle. And I don’t doubt Timothy at all when he says that Rand herself would have found such people just as irrational as I do. In short, I wasn’t trying to be mean to Rand (who I have no doubt would find the phrase “Randian majesty and meaning” in regards to sex to be as ridiculous as the rest of us) or to the vast majority of those who admire her.
And no, I don’t really think that Rand was little more than Marge Schott with a library card, I just think it’s a very funny line. One of the great things about comedy is that it doesn’t have to be true. When I read Joe Queenan’s vicious throttling of Billy Joel – he calls him the worst songwriter in history – I crack up despite the fact that I like Billy Joel. Satire is always mean, and almost always relies upon exaggeration to a ridiculous degree. I originally wrote the “Marge Schott with a library card” line about Madilyn Murray O’hair (a woman I really did despise) probably a decade ago and it wasn’t a reference to being racist, as Schott was, but just a comparison of two cranky old women. Ayn Rand, I think, fit that bill too, at least as I read her various snippy and cantankerous attacks on hippies and various others. I certainly wasn’t trying to imply that Rand was racist.
Anyway, I really wasn’t trying to offend, nor did I take offense to Timothy’s response. I’ve found the whole thing more amusing than anything else. It would take a fairly weak mind to take offense at disagreement from someone you respect, and I respect Timothy a great deal. He has a brilliant and incisive mind and, most importantly, applies reason consistently and without regard to what he wishes were true. When you run across someone who writes regularly about their reluctant acceptance of a truth that they wish were not so, as I have seen him write often, you have found someone who values reason more than wishful thinking, and who prefers uncomfortable truth to comforting delusion. And that is something both rare and admirable. I bet Ayn Rand would agree too. ?