Tuesday, March 1, 2005

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The Return Of Dave Deutsch

Dave, the world's worst Jewish comedian, writes:

First of all, glad you're back in the old format; I never really liked your new digs.

Second, I actually met a fan. I was talking to my friend Sralli about the Wendy Shalit/Tovah Mirvis thing (more at another time), and he mentioned reading the interview you did with the latter. I of course dropped your name, and he said "He's reasonable, isn't he?" or some such thing, to which I responded that of course you're quite insane. He qualified that he meant that your coverage is balanced, to which I agreed.

Third, and most important, the matter of Jeff Gannon, James Guckert: A "journalist" for a dubious right-wing online newssource asks Bush sycophantically easy questions at press conferences, and then turns out to have a checkered past in the sex industry. The big question, bubbele, is how was this not you? Or is that revelation still coming?

Rabbis Saul Berman, Joseph Telushkin Crusade To Destroy The Awareness Center

Rabbis Berman and Telushkin (public supporters of rabbi-rapist Marc Gafni), who did not answer my interview requests several months ago, are trying to destroy The Awareness Center (anti-sex abuse organization) and those associated with it.

Rabbis Berman and Telushkin along with rabbi Shefa Gold (a leader of the Renewal movement, created by sexual deviant Zalman Shachter-Shalomi), psychiatrist Dr. Stephen S. Marmer, a macher at Stephen S. Wise Temple, Gafni's Los Angeles home, and Orthodox psychotherapist Naomi Mark, sister of The Jewish Week's Jonathan Mark) wrote to rabbi Yosef Blau a couple of months ago (and sent copies of their letter to many in Jewish life):

The person who has partnered with Vicki in a number of unjustified and distortion-filled character assassinations has been Luke Ford, whom you have cooperated with as well, Rabbi Blau. Luke Ford is a discredited malicious gossip columnist for the pornography industry. He has made clear in his own writings that he does not check information, that he often reports information that is false, and that his definition of truth is that it expresses “the point of view’ of the person telling him the information.

We find it shocking that you not only associate with Vicki Polin and Luke Ford, but that you are the major source of professional rabbinic credibility for Vicki Polin and the Awareness Center. Vicki Polin has written clearly that she only publishes materials from “reputable sources.” It is difficult to imagine that under any definition Luke Ford’s blog and reports would fit into that category.

The authors of this letter provide no particulars of where either I or The Awareness Center publish false information. What a delicious opportunity for the author of Words That Hurt, Words That Heal, to commit the very sin he claims sees in others.

If rabbis Berman and Telushkin had a clue, they would know that I partner with nobody. I'm a lone ranger. I have no connection to rabbi Yosef Blau and Vicki Polin and rabbi Mark Dratch and rabbi Avi Shafran aside from their being persons I've interviewed. My style of writing clearly transgresses what these persons would hold sacred. I've never sought nor claimed the blessing of anybody for my work in general nor my book on rabbinic sexual predators in particular.

I go my own way. I do not try to develop friendships with people I interview. I do not seek their support or their endorsement. I don't moderate my writing to save their feelings.

I do not soften my writing to make me seem more safe for victims of sex abuse to speak to.

I have never met not tried to meet (let alone tried to date) anyone I spoke to for my predator book.

I do not seek permission from Polin or rabbi Blau or rabbi Telushkin before I publish.

It must be frightening to rabbis Telushkin and Berman and company that I am not under their thumb, that I don't consider myself part of their fan club, let alone old boy network, and that I am willing to call out their friends such as Gafni who prey on the young and vulnerable.

What's happened to rabbi Ken Menken's crusade against The Awareness Center and lashon hara on the Net? After all the hullabaloo over Cross-currents.com two months ago, rabbi Menken seems awfully quiet.

I hope that all the crusaders against The Awareness Center are doing it for the sake of heaven rather than for the protection of their predatory peers. From my nine months looking into this stuff, that has frequently not been the case. Perhaps now though, the new fighters for preserving the dignity of sexual predators, such as rabbis Berman and Telushkin, are coming at it with extensive education in sex abuse and an open ear to hear the stories of the victims of predators. I'm sure that if someone who was raped by rabbi Gafni were to call rabbi Berman, the good rabbi would set aside time, some time, to take that call.

Wait. You mean I'm wrong? That he's not interested in taking those calls?

Well, he's obviously very busy trying to shut down The Awareness Center, so how could he fit in the time to listen to rape victims? We need to have priorities in life. Number one, protect the Gafnis of the world. Number two, make organizations that specialize in things I don't understand bend to my will. Number three, go to lawyers, psychiatrists, journalists and other professionals to do my destruction for me.

Reflections On My Nick Gillespie Interview

Jack writes:

I like your interview with the guy from Reason magazine. He's just another politically correct liberal, in a more fashionable outfit. Whenever you asked him to confront truly uncomfortable ideas he retreated to the oldest liberal playbook defence: "I don't think that's an interesting way to frame a question." I first heard that in Bard college when my professors would refuse to engage my questions. The word "interesting" is code for: I am too sophisticated for a peasant like you." They dredge it up when they are desperate and out of ideas. This guy would not last ten minutes in a Beis Midrash. You really nailed him; he comes across not much better than the incredibly stupid ---- stars you love to torture. But at least they know what they are. This guy thinks he's smart.

Reason Online editor Tim Cavanaugh slaps me around for racism. I reply:

I understand Tim how shocking it must've been for you to read some honest questions about race. Very different stuff from the Panglossian "race doesn't exist" approach of your boss. Good for you for being a good soldier, falling into line behind Nick, and refusing to consider difficult questions by dismissing them as motivated by racism. I'm sure your approach is going to work wonders for Reason and for America. While violent crime and illegitimacy destroy much of the black community, Americans should feel reassured by you that to even ask about these matters is verboten. You're a gutsy man. Way to tackle the tough issues. I'm sure they'll get better just by ignoring them.

Tim, I take it that you are arguing that a 70% black illegitimacy rate only exists in my mind? That more young black men are in prison than college is purely a figment of my imagination? That statistics quoted from National Review must inherently be false?

I greatly look forward, Tim, to your disproving these widely known statistics. We will all sleep better at night after we review your evidence. You do have evidence, right Tim? You weren't just taking some cheap shots? You weren't just crying "racism" to avoid facing parts of reality that you don't like?

The bloggers have arrived -- but have a lot to prove

Jon Friedman writes:

...[T]he rants of the vast majority of bloggers have about as much impact on the public's understanding of the daily news as the shrill eccentrics I encounter everyday on the subways in New York City.

MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY? Are bloggers legitimate journalists?

I emailed Jon:

We bloggers will just keep breaking stories and you will keep writing thumbsuckers about what does it all mean. Are bloggers journalists? Are novelists journalists when they do journalism? Are columnists such as yourself journalists when you do journalism?

"Journalism" is a pretentious term and your questions here are stupid. Why don't you stop sucking up to the people you write about in the regular media and start breaking some stories?

I guess it is easier and safer for you to keep regurtitating cliches. When was the last time you broke a story?

Jon Friedman replied: "Thanks for your note. You’ve confirmed my opinions about bloggers."

To generalize about bloggers is like generalizing about drivers or backpackers or make-up artists. They inherently have little in common and only an idiot like Friedman would use a critical email about his mental and journalistic competence as a basis for confirming his prejudices about a wildly differentiated group.

I replied to Jon:

Thank you for the courageous way you answered my questions, such as, when was the last time you broke a story?

I want to believe that my impression of you as a lazy journalist is wrong. So perhaps a simple URL to something where you advanced a story would do.

He didn't respond. I guess it has been such a long time since Jon advanced a story that he can't remember the decade let alone the year.

Gawker has a good takedown on another of Friedman's columns:

Jon Friedman: One of the Good Guys

Who said journalists aren’t helpful? Sometimes when a writer interviews someone, there are statements that are left unsaid or implications that linger between the lines. It’s up to the writer to either clarify those statements or let the subject dangle on the end of their own ill-chosen words.

Take, for example, Jon Friedman’s profile of The New York Times’ Hollywood correspondent Sharon Waxman on MarketWatch. Comparing the impact of The Times to that of her former employer, The Washington Post, Waxman says something that almost—almost—could be construed as negative. Luckily, Friedman saves her:

How does a talentless hack like Friedman get to be media editor of MarketWatch? Because he knows how to kiss up to people who can help him and defecate on those who can't.

Faggy Vs. Manly

Evan Gahr writes:

The other day i asked my father for a can of diet pepsi and he gave it to me with a straw. I said straws are for fags.

Not as in riding on the hershey highway, but just wimpy and the stuff for girls. although it might even be prissy for them.

What do you think? I'm in nyc but per your advice when I return to DC I'm going to work on the manly or faggy stuff more; interview people, make a non-blog blog for this and other stuff with every submission to include reporting on the telephone (as opposed to just googling).

More Dutch Plan to Emigrate as Muslim Influx Tips Scales

This small nation is a magnet for immigrants, but statistics suggest there is a quickening flight of the white middle class. Dutch people pulling up roots said they felt a general pessimism about their small and crowded country and about the social tensions that had grown along with the waves of newcomers, most of them Muslims."The Dutch are living in a kind of pressure cooker atmosphere," Mr. Hiltemann said.

There is more than the concern about the rising complications of absorbing newcomers, now one-tenth of the population, many of them from largely Muslim countries. Many Dutch also seem bewildered that their country, run for decades on a cozy, political consensus, now seems so tense and prickly and bent on confrontation. Those leaving have been mostly lured by large English-speaking nations like Australia, New Zealand and Canada, where they say they hope to feel less constricted.

Banging It Out In 30 Minutes

I've often been accused of being hasty, even premature. It has not made me popular with the au currant crowd. One girl writes me:

I will read it in the morning (11PM and going to bed). All I'll say is that I laughed out loud when I read that you submitted something you banged out in 30-minutes -- Cathy and Robert have both mentioned that you're not a fan of the editing and revision process.

I saw a gorgeous young Jewish girl in Swiss Cottage this week - skin like alabaster, it reminded me of Mirabelle from the book Shopgirl, where Ray becomes obsessed with finding out whether the white he saw on her chest was actually her skin or a body stocking, as it was so incredibly perfect. Anyway, the girl I saw would make a good bride for you - she looks about 18 and, apart from the makeup she was wearing, seemed quite modest. I'll keep an eye out for her and give her your URL next time I see her.

Yeshivah Breakdown

Yitzhock writes:

When I was in yeshivah, there was an 18 year old kid Shlomo. I remember him going to the rabbi and saying that he couldn't stop thinking about wanting to be with girls, and there may have been some masturbation involved. The rabbi then sent him to a frum ysychiatrist friend who medicated Shlomo for having sexual thoughts. Shlomo was also told to distance himself from his parents who were concerned that he was getting too religious (he came from a secular home). Shlomo was confused. After I left the yeshiva, I got a call from Shlomo. He was in an emergency room in UCLA hospital - had some serious complications - nervous breakdown? All the symptoms began in the Yeshivah.

From Kahane To Carlebach - The Happy Minyan Story

Many of the key figures in the Happy Minyan were players in rabbi Meir Kahane's Jewish Defense League. Today they still support Kahane and his political party Kach, which the U.S. State Department labels a terrorist organization.

The Happy Minyan springs out of the drug-taking free love counter-culture of the 1960s. It was inspired by Shlomo Carlebach.

I am no disinterested observer to this story. The Happy Minyan has been home to some of my most ecstatic experiences of Judaism since I moved to Los Angeles in April 1994. Most everybody in the minyan I consider my friend.

I remember one couple who used to host up to 100 people in their apartment every Friday night.

The Happy Minyan consistently boasts the best davening in town. I think the Happy Minyan philosophy is to take the yetzer hara (impulse to evil), the part of us that wants to do drugs and sex without limit, and channel it into something higher.

Many of the key figures in the minyan could be considered recovering sex and drug addicts.

It has a large music and artistic following and musicians and artists, as we all know, need to have a lot of sex and drugs.

When rabbi Steven Weil took charge of Beth Jacob in 2000, he reined in some of the minyan's excesses. Drugs became frowned upon. Anyone considered a threat to the community, particularly single men, were shown the door.

The minyan has become a home to recovering addicts and 12-step language abounds.

Let's take a composite picture of a Happy Minyan leader:

* Frum (Orthodox) from birth.
* Active in the JDL and arrested for his activism.
* Continued support for Kahane's legacy of Kach, Barry Chamish.

My Discussion With Jewish Whistleblower Over Michael Ozair

JWB writes: "Luke said months ago on Protocols that he had seen this “smicha” in Ozair’s home. So basically, I am taking Luke at his word that the first document is the “smicha” document Ozair is claiming to have received."

No. I have never seen the original smicha document. All I have seen is this copy of the alleged smicha from rabbi Yehoshua Reich.

Rabbi Yeshoshua Reich

That this document is on hotel stationary argues to me for its authenticity. Someone who wanted to fake a smicha would put together something more official looking.

Rabbi Reich's alleged letter of September 9, 2004 claiming he never gave smicha to Michael Ozair came shortly after Ozair had written to him seeking forgiveness for having tarnished his name through his sin.

JWB writes: ""Michael Ozair studied for a year at Kol Yaakov in Monsey" Is an outright lie."

Last May, I spoke to an Orthodox rabbi who was at Kol Yaakov at the same time as Ozair and confirms that Ozair studied there for several months. This rabbi, to the best of my knowledge, is not a friend of Michael's and has no reason to lie.

Here are the names of people who I am told can vouch for Ozair's attendance at Kol Yaakov: Rabbi Pinchos Dovid Orenstein, rabbi Sam Intrator (formerly of the Carlebach Shul, he recieved his semicha from the same Yeshivah/rabbi right before Michael did, since R. Leib Tropper is a cousin of Shlomo Carlebach), Nachman Futterman (resident of Monsey, big supporter of the Yeshiva) Dovid Moshe of Pompano Beach, FL.

While Ozair lived in Monsey, he was the co-administrator of the Reb Shlomo Carlebach List (Shamash).

Michael Ozair wrote Dec 5, 1997 on the List:

So glad to have finally joined the chevre on the Net. Let's spend less time as baalei machloket and more time in connecting to what we have in common, that is, celebrating the legacy of who our great rebbe was, is and ever shall be.

As a fairly new resident in Monsey, NY (and one of the founders of the Happy Minyan in Los Angeles), I want to share two interesting incidents that happened this morning. First, my Rosh Yeshivah, Reb Leib Tropper called all the yeshivah students in for some pretty heavy duty mussar after having heard that somebody had made a derogatory remark about Reb Shlomo Carlebach. The Rosh Yeshivah was FURIOUS and gave a very firm warning to the entire yeshivah, threatening expulsion. He stated clearly that there was a cherem against those who make any kind of derogatory remarks about one who has passed away. Although, not all the rabbis of this yeshivah think very highly of Shlomo, the Rosh Yeshivahs eyes instantly fill with tears at the mention of Shlomo's name. I should also note that every Friday night, the entire davening is Shlomo's nusach and is one of the most simchadik minyanim for Monsey standards. Also, I went to Tuvia's bookstore, the largest Jewish bookstore up here, to purchase a few seforim, when lo' and behold, right up there, hanging on the wall, along side all the big rebbes and Torah giants, was not one, but three pictures of our Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach, zt"l. I should also note, Shlomo was the only one smiling.

Anyways, here is Part I of an article Neilah [Shlomo's widow] had written on Reb Shlomo's life and legacy for The Happy Minyan's newsletter, Kol Sasson. More articles, torahs and goodies will be on the way!

David Saloff writes on the List Dec 21, 1997:

Subject: Michael Ozair

Michael Ozair has agreed to share responsibility with me for the ongoing administration of the Reb-Shlomo list. Our list administrator liases with Shamash, screens new subscription requests, and, when called on, tries to nudge our list conversation into a somewhat orderly and topical direction. One of the founding members of the Happy Minyan of L.A., Michael served as its spiritual director for two years. Currently a rabbinic student at Yeshivat Kol Yaakov and teacher in Rockland County, New York, Michael is also Yankele Shames' (from the Moshav) son-in-law. Those who know Michael will recognize the unusual talents and experiences that he will bring to this job.

List Administrator Dovid Staloff wrote on Sat Jul 25 21:56:06 1998:

Dear chevreh 1) I have received many emails and phone calls over the past several months, begging me to do whatever i can to stop any discussion of the "lilith" topic our list, even shutting down the list completely. until today, i simply answered that i hoped we could provide space for all the broken neshamas to share what is on their hearts... surely by now anything needed to be said on the topic has been said already.

Rabbeinu taught us to be open with our passion. At the same time, once the immediacy of the passion has cooled, not to hold on to the stuff, not even for a second... this topic has completely run its course. even its participants have said they want to create a separate group to carry on the discussion... so be it! if you are pro-lilith, con-lilith pro-shlomo anti-shlomo, whatever, the time has finally come to take it elsewhere. please don't come back here with it next month, or next year either. thank you.

2) michael ozair is now completing his smicha requirements and moving to the west coast to assume a new position. michael told me he no longer has the time to participate in the list. we approached several people we considered suitable replacements, but nobody is available. i myself do not have the time, or the interest, to monitor the quality of the discussion all by myself. neither do i feel it is fair for myself or any other individual to take on such responsibility. it's simply not fair to the individual, not fair to the list... what is fair is for everyone who choses to subscribe to our list to equally assume this responsibility.

JBW: "...[A] well sought after scholar in the area of Kabbalah..."

He has certainly been a popular teacher of Kabbalah and many people have sought him out for his expertise in this. Michael Ozair was a leader for years at the Happy Minyan and he's taught dozens of well-attended classes in Judaism and Jewish mysticism. I know this from my first-hand experience at these events.

I believe that Michael Ozair ran with Shlomo Carlebach and company for years.

Here's the website of rabbi Yehoshua Reich's yeshiva in Israel. It confirms he was at Shalhevet as Ozair claimed.

Did rabbi Yehoshua Reich testify in front of others about Ozair's semicha? Only one person claimed this on Protocols and no names of who was present were given.

Rabbi Reich's letter of denial does not say that he never gave Ozair semicha. For one, he misspells Ozair's name as "Ozer." Rabbi Reich says in his letter that he never gave Ozair semicha to work as a community/congregational rabbi. He was specific in what he was denying. JWB may have a point that this sort of semicha was just one to teach or do kiruv (outreach). Rabbi Reich may indeed have protected himself in detailing WHAT he was denying.

Rabbinic ordination was not something Michael Ozair sought. Rather, it was something that was pushed on him by Jerry Friedman, and rabbis Chanina Rabinowitz and Abner Weiss.

Wherein The Writer Falls In Love With Her Subject

Exhibit A: Deborah Solomon in the New York Times Sunday Magazine gushes over Jonathan Safran Foer.

Her piece is nothing but adoration.

I only have one question for Jonathan (which Deborah never gets around to): Why is your writing so dull and pointless?

Hitting On Women At Work

In the course of my job, I meet a lot of young attractive women I'd like to get to know better, but I never make the first move because it would be unprofessional.

If a woman is interested in you, be she a lawyer or a janitor, she will make it obvious. If this happens at work, you need to keep your interest in her at or below her interest in you or you could be accused of sexual harassment.

How can you tell if a woman is interested in you? She will ask you questions about yourself. Not all women who ask you questions about yourself are interested in sleeping with you, but no woman who does not ask you extensively about yourself is interested in you.

This same principle holds true for conversations with the same sex. I am often at social gatherings where there are accomplished writers who I want to talk to. If I try to start up a conversation with them, and they ask me nothing in return, I realize quickly that I am only wearying them and I withdraw.

When I was younger, I would just barrel ahead when I met somebody I wanted to talk to. I got a reputation for being an idiot. I'd receive huge signs that the object of my enthusiasm wanted to flee from me, and I'd ignore them. In my old age, I've gained some dignity.

My one area of weakness is email. If I get an email from a woman who interests me, I find it hard to restrict myself to just one email back. What often happens is that I will reply to her email, and then later think of 20 other things I want to say, and before I know it, I've emailed her ten times within the space of five minutes.

One thing I take comfort from in my life of rejection is my enormous fan base among the socially, emotionally, and physically retarded. All my life, many developmentally disabled folks have taken a special shine to me. Somehow they see something sympathetic in my face and they want to talk to me and hold me.

I'll take love wherever I can get it. (And don't think for a second that I would ever do anything improper with someone who is retarded. I'm not that low.)

Orthodox Jews In Fiction

Letters to The New York Times Book Review take up a page of the Sunday 2/27/05 section:

In her essay ''The Observant Reader'' (Jan. 30), Wendy Shalit chastises several writers — myself included — for misrepresenting Orthodox Judaism and purporting to be insiders. But apparently the only true experience of Orthodoxy is her own — and any portrayal that doesn't confirm her newfound personal fulfillment is inauthentic. Shalit misrepresents my depiction of Orthodox Judaism, a world I know and live in every day. Evidently, in her divine scale of justice, one character's unhealthy obsession with bridal magazines and another character's forbidden hug add up to ''contemptible.''

The true sin seems to be portraying Orthodox Jews with any human failings, with having moments when they do not conform to the dictates of Jewish law. Shalit is not an observant reader but an ideological one. She's looking for public relations documents, kosher books by ''insiders' insiders'' that will ''convert'' even us ''outsider insiders.'' I didn't realize that despite spending my life as an Orthodox Jew, I'm in need of conversion. But then, I also didn't realize that novels were in the business of proselytizing.

Newton, Mass.

• To the Editor:

I do not know if Wendy Shalit's inability to read my novel as a work of fiction stems from her anxiety about Orthodox stereotypes or from a simple failure of imagination, but it is necessary to point out an inaccuracy in her representation of my views in my novel ''Joy Comes in the Morning.'' Shalit writes that ''Rosen dismisses modern Orthodox men as 'macho sissies' and depicts 'pencilnecked' Orthodox boys.'' I do not dismiss Orthodox men as anything. Deborah, a character in my novel who has had an affair with an Orthodox man about whom she is still conflicted, entertains the ''macho sissies'' thought (along with many other, often contradictory thoughts). Lev, a young man awkwardly entering into a relationship with Deborah, who is a Reform rabbi, has an anxious association with thin yeshiva boys as he himself is about to embark on a session of Talmud study. The boundaries of Judaism are fluid for these characters, as they are in real life. Judaism, to its glory, has so far managed to avoid breaking down into ''denominations,'' but Shalit writes as if no complex web exists linking secular and observant, ancient and modern.

In her treatment of other Jewish writers, Shalit gathers up a few biographical scraps to determine whether these writers are ''outsiders'' or ''insiders'' — as if the authority of a literary work were a matter of birthright and not imaginative power. This is a sad diversion from all the truly interesting questions there are to be raised about religion and the imagination, about traditional Judaism and works of new creation, about honest exploration and communal anxiety. One wonders what Shalit would make of the story about the cunning ancestor who robs his brother and cheats his father — but then the Bible doesn't specify whether Jacob is Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or haredi.

Shalit's attack on the way contemporary Jewish novelists do — or do not — write about the haredi community put me in mind of Oscar Wilde's observation that the 19th-century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass. Shalit's dislike seems to be for imaginative fiction itself — her prerogative, of course, but a strange attribute for someone writing seriously about it.

New York

Shmarya writes to a Wendy Shalit defender:

You're fixated on the wrong thing. Shalit is an APOLOGIST, and she aims to fill a role as such, similar to Agudath Israel's Rabbi Avi Shafran, say.

The fact is that books that lack real conflict – between characters, between ideologies, within individual characters themselves – do not sell. Why? Because they are TERRIBLE reads.

Shalit, et al, want novels of haredi Judaism that have no real conflict or have conflict but only between the good characters – overwhelmingly haredi – and the bad characters – primarily non-Jews, antisemites, secular Jews.

In other words, they want idealized conflict that fits their emotional and PR needs, like a Greek tragedy, not real conflict that exists in every haredi community and within most healthy individuals anywhere. Those types of novels do not sell. If they did, ArtScroll and Feldheim would be making a lot of money publishing them.

There is no censorship of ideas but there is a functioning marketplace. That is the point that Shalit knows all too well but chooses – as a good apologist and polemist – to ignore.

Please list for me the haredi journals, magazines and newspapers that print short stories or serialized fiction.

Pretty short list, huh? Now why do you think that is? Censorship from Simon & Schuster?

The Rabbi And The Maid

A non-Jewish maid is at the center of an investigation into of a prominent Orthodox rabbi who stands accused by various women as using his religious position to force them into sex with him.

A maid supposedly overheard a taped conversation wherein the rabbi, about a decade ago, paid off one of his alleged victims.

The maid was asked to testify about this before a Beit Din (a Jewish law court). She thought it was part of the RCA's (Rabbinical Council of America) investigation.

She went to the Beit Din, got threatened, and found the whole thing a horrible experience. She vowed she would never testify again.

Later, she was asked to testify before another Beit Din. She said she had already done that. Then she found out that the first Beit Din was set up by the rabbi who's being investigated.

Nick Gillespie Interview

He is the editor of the new book Choice: The Best of Reason.

We talk at 8:46AM, Friday, February 25, 2004. Nick is in the Reason office in Washington D.C.

Nick: "I'm terrified. I suspect that if your printed questions are any indication, I'm going to have a lot of no comments."

At this point I've been awake fewer than two minutes. I'm appalled that I was 45-minutes late for our scheduled interview. I feel thoroughly chastened and unable to pose the truly nasty questions I love so much.

Luke: "Where do you want to go with Reason magazine? Where do you feel you haven't yet been able to achieve your vision?"

Nick: "We haven't yet been able to introduce nude photos of Luke Ford and others into our pages...

"Part of what we've accomplished is changing the look and feel of the magazine into something that is more interesting and textured. More importantly, we've established a wider range of topics and ways of thinking about things from a libertarian perspective. We're able to comment on more things that are more important to more people.

"We're creating more of a culture of debate within the pages of the magazine. There's a range of positions on any given topic. It shows that we're trying to grapple with a complicated world, which most political magazines don't. Most political magazines are dogmatic rags that exist to push a party line.

"We've tried to show that if you are intellectually honest, that leads to more interesting journalism.

"I want to push further into places where the libertarian philosophy isn't clear or where there are events in the world that are difficult to make sense of. One issue we might look at in the future, which I realize must be absolutely fascinating to you in the morning on the West Coast, there's a longstanding tradition that the only proper role of a corporation is to deliver profits for shareholders. There are a number of libertarian-minded entrepreneurs, such as John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods markets), who argue that that's wrong. That's too narrow a vision of what profits are for and what shareholders would value.

"It would be interesting to kick those ideas around among people who are into profits and free markets and capitalism and find out which of those positions are socially responsible, economically viable and interesting. What kinds of businesses come out of those different types of mindsets."

Luke: "Which magazine editors are your heroes?"

Nick: "One of my heroes is Felix Dennis, the British publishing magnate. He was at the cutting edge of free expression in the 1960s in swinging London and ended up becoming a multi-millionaire by publishing a bunch of kungfu magazines of the '70s."

Nick gets ready for his orals before his all-male doctorate supervisors at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Nick while writing as Mr. Mxyzptlk for Suck.com.

The Nick Gillespie penis pump -- the most efficacious masturbation aid next to the latest issue of Reason magazine. (Gillespie uses the stage name of Nick Manning.) Nick says it's the best way for your money-losing publication to get the biggest endowment. You too can stroke it like a pro when you read Choice.

Nick: "I worked for Felix Dennis for a while in the late '80s during the only obvious period of failure in his career for a bunch of new teen magazines. He's the publisher of Maxim, Blender and the news digest The Week, the most interesting magazine to came along in a long time.

"His politics are bulls--- as far as I'm concerned. He's a big Labor party supporter but his example is that of somebody who has always tried a lot of different things in his career and has always tried to push the envelope of free expression. He's always shown a keen understanding of where audiences want magazines to go. Maxim and Blender are two of the most interesting industry-leader magazines of the past decade.

"I admire Warren Hinckle who was the editor of the old idiotic left-wing magazine Ramparts. He showcased a lot of what became known as New Journalism. Participatory journalism. He's more responsible for giving Hunter S. Thompson a start than anybody else. Again, I don't necessarily agree with any of his political views. But the vision, the inventiveness and the risk-taking... When you read old issues of Ramparts, they're interesting. It's a rare magazine that can have any claim on your interest 35 years later.

[Chaim says: "Ramparts was a great mag. It showed breasts."]

"Finally, Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, who founded Wired magazine. Louis has been a good friend to Reason magazine. He knew the original editor and he's been reading it since the magazine started in 1968. He is politically simpatico with most of our positions. With Wired, he helped to create what became known as the Digital Revolution.

"Louis has keyed in to the idea of the big boom versus the long boom. That we've reached a point in social history where most of the issues about wealth creation have been sold and we're shifting from an economics of scarcity, at least in the Western world, to a world where that is not the main issue anymore. We're living in a world where everything is more symbolic and everything is about creating your life on your own terms. Wired mapped how it happened and why it happened. That tracks closely with what Reason has been doing. If you believe in these plain ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what are the institutions that give rise to creating more of that. And what do people do with this freedom to pursue happiness."

Luke: "What about Michael Kinsley?"

Nick: "What about him?"

Luke: "Is he a model for you? Would you agree that The New Republic was at its best under him?"

Nick: "The New Republic was at a height under him. I'm 41. I started reading The New Republic [around 1980] when he was in charge. I always found it interesting and exciting, mostly because it had a wide range of voices within a discernible viewpoint. It was one of the few magazines where you wouldn't know from the first sentence what the story was going to tell you.

"Most political magazines don't exist to challenge their readers or to inform their readers but to confirm the readers in their previously held assumptions."

Luke: "Did you ever meet Francis Fukuyama?"

Nick: "Yes, I was on a panel discussion with him shortly after 9/11. Reason and the Institute of Ideas cosponsored a conference about post-humanity. We were on the same panel.

"We might agree on the end of history, that liberal democracy has generally won. That's a profound shift in global politics. I think that holds up even in the wake of 9/11. We have different views on self-directed human evolution. On giving people more options to change their bodies as well as their minds. Fukuyama engaged in a debate in our pages with UCLA's Greg Stock, who wrote the book Redesigning Humans. Fukuyama is wedded to a dangerous and outmoded understanding of a supposed human essence. He is wary of intervention into human life that would allow us to lead longer, better, smarter, more interesting lives."

We discuss the birth control pill.

Nick: "It's part of a radical shift in Western society from few people having control to more people having control over their own lives. One of the fundamental problems with human society is how do you deal with female sexuality. This is one of the great successes of Western society. We have made peace with female sexuality."

Luke: "Do you think it is ok for society to stigmatize female promiscuity more than male promiscuity? Do you think it is rational for society to do that?"

Nick: "I don't know. It's hard to know what any of that means."

Luke: "Society has an instinctive need to know who the fathers of our children are."

Nick: "If it comes down to a question of fatherhood, we are on the threshhold of an age where that won't be an issue. Due to genetic tests, we will have an absolute read of paternity. One of the central problems of human organization is not promiscuity."

Luke: "Do you think there's a cosmic significance to sexual intercourse?"

Nick: "There can be, and under the best of circumstances, there probably should be."

Luke: "Do you understand why many men reject their woman if she's been raped?"

Nick: "I don't know what that means..."

Nick says "Western civilization doesn't have any problem related to birth rate."

Luke: "Even though Europe can't sustain itself without bringing in Third World Islamic labor."

Nick: "Europe can't support itself is a meaningless concept. Europe can't support itself if it insists on having a welfare state that is predicated upon having a lot of workers for every beneficiary. They could change things that would probably alter the birth rate or they could change an economic system so that none of this would be an issue.

"I'm not convinced that Europe stigmatizes non-conventional sexuality less than America does. In many ways, gays in America have a much better position than they do in Europe. Women have more sexual freedom and less stigmatization in America than Europe."

We discuss race.

Nick: "My mother was Italian and my father was Irish. A hundred years ago, neither of them was part of the white race. I suspect in the future that might change again."

Luke: "So you don't regard yourself as a white man?"

Nick: "I don't think of myself in those terms.

"I grew up in suburban New Jersey in a working class immigrant [neighborhood]. There were a lot of Irish, Italian and Polish-Americans. We had a similar background. In Europe, we wouldn't have considered ourselves that similar."

Luke: "Would most of your friend be conventionally considered white?"

Nick: "Most of my friends would be conventionally considered interesting.

"What is your fixation with race?"

Luke: "I don't think we discuss it honestly and I think it plays a much larger role..."

Nick: "In what way? Do you have some kind of visceral reaction to people who look more or less like you?"

Luke: "I think people tend to overwhelmingly live among people of their own race but they don't want to admit it."

Here's the famous April 2002 Atlantic piece by Jonathan Rauch showing how people naturally segregate themselves by race.

Nick: "OK. Then you don't need my opinion on it, do you?"

Luke: "Yes, I do. What do you think [of the Charles Murray book] The Bell Curve? Particularly its chapter on IQ and race?"

Nick: "I'm not sure what to say about the chapter on race. Reason ran a long and powerful critique of The Bell Curve by James Heckman, who won a Nobel prize in Economics.

"Ronald Bailey, our science correspondent, and I interviewed Murray for Reason. The overwhelming question for me when people make these kind of arguments that there is a hereditary aristocracy that is growing in America... That is one of the fears articulated by the authors of The Bell Curve. That people at the top intermarry and pull further and further away from the average person who is poorer and poorer.

"I see little evidence of that in America. We have tremendous turnover [in social class] and class mobility is more important than anything else as far as what society looks like."

Luke: "How come all the people who write in your book are white?"

Nick: "They're not all white. In our next issue, we have something written by a Taiwanese-American."

Luke: "No, in the book Choice."

Nick: "I don't know. I guess because they were all born that way.

"What is that? What's the point of a question like that?"

Luke: "On the one hand, you say that race is an artificial construct, but then you see certain actions...that seem contrary to [Nick's] stated race-means-nothing [attitude]."

Nick: "OK."

Luke: "Do you support ending all of America's anti-discrimination laws?"

Nick: "Yes. I don't think that they tend to have the affect that the people who pass them think they will.

"I think it is important for the government not to discriminate. In the most odious chapters of American life, it is government discrimination that causes the most harm.

"I think it is important for society, both in its government and its citizens, to stand up against racial and other forms of discrimination.

"Libertarians believe in individuals not groups, or groups that are made up of individuals freely choosing. The whole idea of group-based discrimination is problematic."

Luke: "You believe that people should be able to hire whom they want, live with whom they want?"

Nick: "Yes. I think miscegenation laws are an abomination."

Luke: "There's nothing in you that tingles when you see a black man with a white woman?"

Nick: "No. Tingles? I'm not sure what that means. You'll have to explain your own feelings."

Luke: "If it is an NBA basketball player and a beautiful white model, you could care less?"

Nick: "As long as people are freely consenting, I have no problem with that."

I'm thinking about this essay in the National Review 7/14/97: "While interracial marriage is increasingly accepted by whites, a surprising number of Asian men and black women are bitterly opposed."

Nick: "Do you seriously have a problem with that?"

Luke: "No."

Nick: "Is that just a pose?"

Luke: "No. I don't have a problem with it, but I think a lot more people do than will admit it."

Nick: "I don't think so. It might be a generational thing. I know few people who have any kind of problems with that sort of thing."

Luke: "Yeah, but they won't admit it. It's a visceral reaction. It's not an intellectual one."

Nick: "Even if it is a visceral reaction, it is historically contingent. As the world becomes more global, as America becomes more internationalist... It is more coming to have Australians in America now then it was 30 years ago. Being Australian means less than it did then. As people become more cosmopolitan, because there's more travel, there's more trade, there's more interaction, a lot of these things will fade. We see people more as individuals and less as representative of some ambiguously defined group."

Luke: "If everything is so hunky dory..."

Nick: "I didn't say anything was hunky dory. I think things are getting hunkier and dorier. Things are getting better when compared to 30 years ago and 300 years ago."

Luke: "Why do you think there are so many white women with black men and so few black women with white men?"

Nick: "I don't know that any of that is the case. I would suspect that in every possible category, you are seeing [more interracial relationships], not less. The premise of your question is probably flawed."

Steve Sailer writes in the National Review 7/14/97:

The heart of the problem for Asian men and black women is that intermarriage does not treat every sex/race combination equally: on average, it has offered black men and Asian women new opportunities for finding mates among whites, while exposing Asian men and black women to new competition from whites.

In the 1990 Census, 72 per cent of black - white couples consisted of a black husband and a white wife. In contrast, white - Asian pairs showed the reverse: 72 per cent consisted of a white husband and an Asian wife.

Sexual relations outside of marriage are less fettered by issues of family approval and long-term practicality, and they appear to be even more skewed. The 1992 Sex in America study of 3,432 people, as authoritative a work as any in a field where reliable data are scarce, found that ten times more single white women than single white men reported that their most recent sex partner was black.

Few whites comprehend the growing impact on minorities of these interracial husband - wife disparities.

Luke: "We see few asian men with white women as opposed to asian women with white men."

Nick: "Is this the kind of discussion that you had with Virginia [Postrel]?"

Luke: "I never spoke to Virginia. I just made that up."

Nick: "Really. There you go. OK."

Luke: "I guess that wasn't ethical."

Nick: "What are your ethics? To say that wasn't ethical presumes you have ethics."

Luke: "I subscribe to the morals of Orthodox Judaism."

Nick: "What are those?"

Luke: "There are 613 commandments ascribed to the Torah and thousands of rabbinic elaborations. One, you shouldn't put a stumbling block before the blind. So that would seem to rule out lying about talking to Virginia. Maybe it was such a powerful fantasy for me that it overcame my otherwise strong moral repugnance about lying?"

Nick: "OK. There you go. At least you have an explanation for things."

Luke: "Did you suffer moments of crippling doubt that you wouldn't be up to succeeding Virginia [as editor of Reason]?"

Nick: "Virginia set a high standard and was incredibly generous to me."

Luke: "Did you suffer moments of crippling doubt that you wouldn't be up to succeeding Virginia?"

Nick: "My life is a succession of doubts, but they are rarely crippling.

"I have probably had more doubts about sitting for this interview than I have had about anything else in the past five years."

Luke: "People say such unkind things."

Nick: "That was a huge compliment."

Luke: "Thank you."

Nick: "Last weekend I was on John McLaughlin's One-On-One, and I approached that show [transcript] with less trepidation than this interview."

Luke: "I love that new photo of you on your Reason page. What were you thinking about when that photo was taken?"

Nick: "I was probably hung over."

Luke: "If you were offered $100,000 to pose nude, would you do it?"

Nick: "No."

Luke: "Why not?"

Nick: "I don't know."

Luke: "Morals?"

Nick: "I haven't thought about that."

Luke: "Do you think it would detract from the seriousness with which people would take your thought?"

Nick: "I think it would detract from the seriousness with which they took my body. I am fundamentally not interested in posing nude."

Long pause.

Nick: "I'm sorry if that brought the conversation to a screeching halt."

Luke: "When was the last time reality mugged your political philosophy?"

Nick: "One of the things that has been of interest to me over the past two years has been the Iraq invasion and occupation and election in that I was opposed to invading Iraq because I felt that whatever threat it represented to the United States was being contained... I haven't changed my mind, but I think that the occupation has gone better than people predicted. I don't think a government should undertake nation-building much less region-building as we are doing but it is worth thinking about the times when that has worked. Foreign intervention poses a lot of problems both to non-interventionists and hyper-interventionists."

Luke: "Do you think good looks are an obstacle for male intellectuals in being taken seriously?"

Nick: "I wouldn't know, being neither good looking or intellectual. I will have to rely on you. I notice you have a lot of pictures up on your website."

Luke: "My gay fan base demands it.

"How has marriage and fatherhood changed your political philosophy?"

Nick: "Not terribly."

Luke: "Do you think non-Anglo-Saxons are as capable of democracy?"

Nick: "Yes. The last time I checked, it was non-Anglo-Saxons [the Greeks] who invented democracy. It was only the Nazis who thought the Greeks were Anglo-Saxon. I don't think there's a genetic component, much less a racial component to democracy."

Luke: "Do you think the Japanese and the Germans are really fascists at heart [to quote a content by National Review columnist John Derbyshire]?"

Nick: "No. What about the Australians?"

Luke: "We spring from sturdy Anglo-Saxon stock."

Nick: "No, you spring as much from Irish stock. If you go back to 1900, nobody was claiming the Irish as Anglo-Saxon."

Luke: "Why do you think there are such huge rates of black crime as compared to other groups such as asians and whites?"

Nick: "I think that is a fundamentally wrong way to phrase any kind of question."

Luke: "Why? There are more [young] black men in prison than in college."

Nick: "That statistic may not be accurate. That mostly reflects the war on drugs, which is one of the most baleful, stupid and counter-productive government policies."

From an essay: "A study conducted by the Sentencing Project in 1989 found that more than one-fourth of all Blacks between the age of 20 and 29 are under the control of the USCJS [United States Criminal Justice System]. This alarming figure becomes more so when you consider their are more Blacks in prison in this age group than their are all Blacks in college."

I ask Nick about this: "Everyone is certainly familiar with Jesse Jackson's famous comment about being scared when a black man was following him down the street late at night, and later being embarrassed about the fact."

Nick: "If I was walking with Jesse Jackson, I'd feel pretty comfortable. What's the point of that? A lot of crime is related to economic development and social policy such as the war on drugs, which concentrates drug dealing and various kinds of black market activity in certain neighborhoods."

Luke: "How do you account for the huge black illegitimacy rate? How do you account for that?"

Nick: "I don't know. The one thing I know is that illegitimacy rates have levelled off and teenage pregnancy rates have gone down and they are converging among most demographic groups."

From National Review 4/4/94: "By 1991 illegitimacy rates had reached 68 per cent of all births to black women; the inner-city figure typically exceeds 80 per cent. White illegitimacy is rising too. In 1991, 22 per cent of all white births were to unmarried mothers."

Roger Clegg writes for National Review 5/1/00:

The National Center for Health Statistics has just released its report, "Births: Final Data for 1998," which contained this unhappy finding: "The number of births to unmarried women rose 3 percent to 1,293,567, the highest number ever reported." That means that one birth in three is now out of wedlock.

'The report also found that illegitimate-birth rates "vary considerably by race and Hispanic origin." The percentage of out-of-wedlock births for non-Hispanic whites is 21.9 percent, but for non-Hispanic blacks it's 69.3 percent. For Hispanics it's 41.6 percent, and for American Indians 59.3 percent. For Asians and Pacific Islanders overall the number is 15.6 percent, but this varies from 51.1 percent for Hawaiians to 6.4 percent and 9.7 percent for Chinese and Japanese Americans, respectively.

Tristine Rainer writes in her 1998 book Your Life As Story:

Commonly in white women's true confessions memoirs, maternity out of wedlock is a source of shame, whereas in the African-American autobiographic tradition it is seen as a passage to self-worth and maturity, even for young, unmarried mothers.

Nick: "Sweden has higher illegitimacy rates than most parts of the US. It's not necessarily seen as an indicator of criminality."

Luke: "Do you think we should promote the handjob among teenagers as a step back from the precipice of vaginal intercourse?"

Nick: "I'll defer on that until my older son reaches puberty."

Luke: "How would you tailor America's immigration policies?"

Nick: "I would make immigration easier. I think this is one area where George Bush is on the right track in allowing people who come here [illegally] to work to document their status. It makes it easier for them to be protected from exploitation. It makes it easier for employers to deal with them.

"The problems with immigration are not problems with immigrants but with the welfare state. Any system that makes it difficult for people to come here to work is a bad system.

"Immigration is a difficult issue because there are social costs to things.

"Immigration is fundamentally a good thing because it is a reflection of the human desire to move elsewhere and to do better for yourself and your children, as you should understand better than anyone."

Luke: "Yeah, but I'm here legally."

Nick: "Legal and illegal is often an arbitrary distinction. In the mid-1980s, Ronald Reagen with the stroke of a pen legalized hundreds of thousands of supposedly illegal immigrants. Before the 1920s, there was open immigration.

"Every restaurant in Los Angeles is a Mexican restaurant at some level because the people who bring the food to the table and the people who prepare the food in the back are Mexicans. That's a social good."

Luke: "We have great scientists, computer programmers etc who can't get legal entry to America..."

Nick: "That's a mistake. Tell me how militarizing the border between California and Mexico is going to allow computer scientists from India to get an H1B visa?"

Luke: "Do you think there are immoral books and immoral films?"

Nick: "No."

Luke: "So Mein Kampf and Triumph of the Will are not immoral?"

Nick: "I think that's the wrong to do it. Certainly there are immoral artists and artists who create works that portray immorality but it is much more important how audiences receive things. That's where the act of meaning takes place.

"You could argue that certain books of the Bible that detail various horrible things... Is it moral or immoral? Morality is in the mind of the reader."

Luke: "Who determines what's moral?"

Nick: "Individuals do."

[I should've followed up: So if an individual thinks murder is moral, then it is moral? If Nick argues that society determines right and wrong, then what about societies that have sanctioned genocide?]

Luke: "How do you determine what is right and wrong?"

Nick: "I haven't really thought about that. Part of it is reflexive. As a core principle, there is the Golden Rule. Is this something that you would want done to you? Another thing is a basic understanding of individual rights. People should be free to live life on their own terms as long as they are not hurting others. At the rock bottom of the libertarian point of view, is a belief in non-aggression, a belief in voluntary action as opposed to coercion, and a commitment to honesty and forthrightness."

Luke: "Why would you follow the Golden Rule in those instances where it is not to your advantage to do so?"

Nick: "Because it feels good."

Luke: "Do you believe that you have an eternal soul?"

Nick: "I don't know. I haven't thought about those questions for a long time."

Luke: "If you don't think there are moral and immoral books and films, why do you think corporations spent hundreds of millions of dollars inserting their products in movies and television to sway people to act in a certain way?"

Nick: "There's a fundamental difference between buying Skittles and committing murder or having sex. It's unclear that any media thing causes behavior. Did reading Catcher in the Rye cause Mark David Chapman to shoot John Lennon?

"In the past 30 years, it is clear that depictions of drugs, sex and violence in media have increased but it is not clear that that has increased the behavior."

Luke: "You don't think the murder rate, illegitimacy rate and drug-taking rate has dramatically climbed in the last 40 years?"

Nick: "It certainly hasn't. Virtually all government statistics show a peak of drug use in 1979. Drug use now is half of what it was then. There's been no correlation between spending on drug education and the rates of drug use."

Luke: "What do you think about allowing hookers to solicit on the street?"

Nick: "Prostitution should be legalized."

Luke: "Do you think they should be allowed to do on the street outside of where you live?"

Nick: "I don't know. I don't know that I want any businesses outside on the street soliciting things."

Luke: "Do you think Times Square is a better place now than it was 20 years ago?"

Nick: "Yes."

Luke: "What are your solutions to diminishing the amount of violent crime in America?"

Nick: "We've been doing it. Violent crime is way down since the early '70s. The way you diminish violent crime is by having an economy that is active and having a decent police force..."

Luke: "Do you think people should be allowed to have sex with dogs?"

Nick: "Ask the dogs."

Luke: "But you can't. So do you think bestiality should be legal?"

Nick: "This is a completely ridiculous question. Do you know anybody?"

Luke: "Yes, I know people who've had sex with dogs."

Nick: "How do you stamp it out?"

Luke: "You criminalize it."

Nick: "So they're criminals now? Is it criminal now?"

Luke: "Yes."

Nick: "So what's your point?"

Luke: "As a libertarian, you want to remove criminality from prostitution. What about bestiality?"

Nick: "I don't think a lot about bestiality other than when I get an occasional spam email. It seems to me that it is not a pressing social issue that cries out for comment."

Luke: "So you don't want to face up..."

Nick: "No. I'm more than willing to face up to anything. It's just not important to me."

Luke: "Age of consent for sex? Should it be lower?"

Nick: "I don't even know what the age of consent is."

Luke: "It is 18 in most states."

Nick: "I think it varies from state to state. This is an area that whatever the laws are, they have little affect on social practice."

Luke: "That's all immaterial to my question. What do you favor doing with the age of consent?"

Nick: "I don't even think about revisiting it."

Luke: "Do you think rock music promote promiscuity?"

Nick: "No."

Luke: "Why do you stick so much drugs, sex and rock n' roll in your magazine. Doesn't that lower the intellectual discourse?"

Nick: "I don't think so. Sex, drugs and rock n' roll are all interesting and they can be treated seriously, comically, humorously. We do all of that."

Luke: "Which novels best explain who you are as a human being?"

Nick: "I continue to enjoy The Great Gatsby speaks to questions of the American experience, to love, to relationships, to the past and the future, to reinvention. I like the novels of Philip K. Dick, particularly A Scanner Darkly, which is not only a great drug war novel but a fascinating meditation on identity and alienation. I'm a big fan of Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf, which talks about warring senses of the self."

Luke: "When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

Nick: "A writer."

Luke: "What were you expected to become?"

Nick: "Nothing."

Luke: "What would you tell a friend who had a drug or alcohol addiction?"

Nick: "That they should get treatment. I don't know that I would call it an addiction."

Luke: "Isn't AA the most successful at treating these things?"

Nick: "No. They don't submit their treatment statistics to objective analysis."

Luke: "Have you ever participated in an intervention?"

Nick: "No. The opportunity has never arisen."

Luke: "Do you think AA is compatible with a robust libertarianism?"

Nick: "If AA is truly voluntary, yes. There are issues where courts will remand people to AA, which is a violation of not only AA precepts..."

Luke: "When have you stuffed something down the reader's throat because you think it is good for them?"

Nick: "I'm not sure what you mean."

Luke: "You've got an important story but it is a slog to read."

Nick: "I haven't faced that choice. If Reason stands for anything it is that if something is good for you it doesn't have to taste like spinach."

Luke: "Greatest philosopher of the 20th Century?"

Nick: "Fredriech Hayek."

Luke: "What was David Aaron Clark like at Rutgers [student newspaper]?"

Nick: "He was a wonderful presence. He was a party master and an inspirational leader of the Rutgers Daily Targun."

Luke: "How do you think we can better morally educate people?"

Nick: "The more people understand that they are responsible for the results of their actions, the more moral they can be."

Luke: "Do you think human nature is basically good or evil?"

Nick: "I think that's a bad way of framing the question."

Luke: "Well, suggest a better frame and provide an answer, please."

Nick: "Humans are neither good nor evil. People looking for ways of creating meaning in their lives and innovating...can be more or less interesting and constructive."

Luke: "Do you think that unless people are in something that morally educates them they tend to moral entropy?"

Nick: "Say that again."

I do.

Nick: "I don't know what moral entropy means."

Luke: "To morally spiral downwards..."

Nick: "People leading productive lives tend to be moral. I'm not trying to be difficult. I don't understand some of the terms you're talking about."

Luke: "Did you read George Gilder's book Men and Marriage?"

Nick: "I did. I think it was mostly hysterical. I thought Sexual Suicide was more interesting. It has to be read in the context of early '70s rapidly changing gender roles."

[Dr. Judith writes: "Sociologist George Gilder, in his book, "Men and Marriage," points out that men who respond to short term sexual desires are apt to have significantly higher rates of suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, mental disease, accidental death, and arrest."]

Luke: "Thank you Nick for your forebearance."

Nick: "Thank you, Luke. I hope, if nothing else, this will be an accurate representation of my half-baked thoughts on things unlike the previous secretly-taped conversation you ran."

Chaim Amalek writes: "Re that lengthy interview you did with that Reason fellow, you erred with that handjob question. In fact, it is questions like that one which do more to hurt your reputation than anything you may have done in the adult business. You need to remember your audience and think of the goyim."

David Clark writes:

I am severely touched that Nick offers props, even if he's just being kind -- and quite proud of him for excelling so spectacularly, indeed "living up to his potential' (as the guidance counselors like to put it). Which is certainly more than I can say for myself. Though I suppose I probably have, in a way -- just decided to follow the wrong damn potential...

But what I really wanna know is if he has submitted yet to what I remember as Cathy Young's indomitable will, driven by, one might speculate, an embarassment of frothily boiling hormonal riches? A good editor must always stand ready to do whatever is needed for his publication! I would add an emoticon here, but since Nick and perhaps even Cathy just may read this, I would rather hide from them the sad fact that my literacy has indeed devolved that far...