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Nov. 2, 2007 Dec. 30, 2005 Sept. 9, 2004

My New Writing On Dennis Prager

3/22/01

How much does your status in high school affect your future?

Dennis Prager discusses this issue frequently.

Dennis finished in the bottom fifth of his high school graduating class and did his BA at Brooklyn College.

DP says: The more you rely for your identity in high school on being a star, the more difficult life will be for you.

One caller suggested that adopted children have it easier, in that their adoptive parents do not try to read into them as much their own traits.

Numerous high school stars called in and agreed with Prager, sharing sad stories.

DP: I've worked incredibly hard since high school. I did no work in high school. But when I was motivated to, and ready to, I worked hard. I love to learn, I simply did not like high school. Getting good grades is not the same as learning.

Not doing well in high school motivated me to produce. Now it is time to flip the switch and work.

DP: My older boy is now graduating high school. And everybody asks me, 'Which college will he go to?' I'm convinced that when people ask me that, my answer will be a way of judging how successful I've been as a parent.

Parents tell me if their kids are at prestigious colleges. It is their way of saying to me that I, the parent, am substantial.

In his third hour, Dennis Prager agreed with this Wall Street Journal article on March 14:

Last year, the number of Ghanaians applying to legally enter the U.S. tripled. In the same year, Ghana's currency lost nearly two-thirds of its value against the dollar. So many skilled and educated Ghanaians have fled that Mr. Sintim-Misa has the impression that "nobody wants to live in Ghana anymore." Nobody, that is, except African-Americans.

Far from seeing African-Americans as kin, most Ghanaians lump them together with other Americans, calling the whole lot obruni, which in the local Twi language means "white" or foreigner. With better education and deeper pockets, African-Americans strike many Ghanaians as arrogant. "When they get into any situation they want to take over, and we are not like that," says R. William Hrisir-Quaye, an official with Ghana's commission on culture.

"The African role in the slave trade is not an issue in Ghana," says Audrey Gadzekpo, a newspaper columnist in Accra. "People here are totally detached from any guilt or responsibility for their ancestors selling other Africans into slavery. It's like there's some collective amnesia."

Dennis Prager has said for years that African- Americans have more in common with white Americans than they do with black Africans.

DP noted that the overwhelming number of American Jews who move to Israel and feel comfortable are Orthodox, and they overwhelmingly associate with other Americans.

Caller: You [Dennis Prager] brought me back to Jewish religion. I tried Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism and felt most comfortable with Orthodoxy.

DP: So long as you are a good person, I feel proud. I feel proud that I have brought people to many different forms of religion, from Reform Judaism to Roman Catholicism.

Chris Bolton writes on the Prager List: Inexpensive snubnosed weapons ARE worth a damn because -

* They are affordable. Self defense isn't just for the well to do. The elderly, the poor, women, etc....can afford them. To outlaw inexpensive weapons is discriminatory and contrary to ideas of equality and fairness to all.

* Any firearm, reliable or not, is a HUGE deterent in a confrontation. Semiautos are sometimes unreliable, but the round already in the chamber always fires. The reliability can be increased by using lighter weight bullets (their better in a fight anyway due to greater energy transfer to the target and beter mushrooming). Lighter bullets tend to more round and therefore feed better.

* Accuracy isn't an issue because most gunfights happen within 21'. Even the most inaccurate gun can keep shots well within a man sized target at that range.

* Snubnosed guns are better in a close-in encounter because the assailant is less likely to take the gun away from you because the short barrel is very difficult and sometimes impossible to grasp.

* Being lightweight, they are easier to find and carry on your person which means you will be more likely to keep one with you than you would a large framed gun. The best gun in the world is NOT the one left at home.

3/20/01

Dennis Prager discussed the David Horowitz ad opposing slavery reparations to blacks.

Of the 51 universities who've received the ad, only four have published it without apology.

Prager's two hours spent on this topic were disappointing because they were so predictable. He did not examine the nuances of this issue, but rather relied on his standby critiques of leftist totalitarianism in academia.

For a more sophisticated response, try Mickey Kaus at Kausfiles.com:

Second Thoughts: My natural sympathies are all with David Horowitz in the great reparations ad fuss. I'm not for reparations; I'm not for PC intimidation. But the more I think about it the more I'm not sure I'd run Horowitz's famous anti-reparations ad in kausfiles, or any campus newspaper I happened hypothetically to control. Why? The problem, identified-but-minimized by several commentators (such as Jonathan Yardley and Joan Walsh) is point Eight of Horowitz's 10-point screed, in which he argues that

"Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the advent of the Great Society in 1965, trillions of dollars in transfer payments have been made to African Americans in the form of welfare benefits and racial preferences ... all under the rationale of redressing racial grievances. It is said reparations are necessary to achieve a healing ... If trillion dollar restitutions and a wholesale rewriting of American law (to accomodate racial preferences) for African Americans is not enough to achieve a "healing," what will?

This seems a wacky, almost fantasy reading of the history and reality of welfare benefits. The main welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, was in practice denied to blacks for decades on the grounds that it was available only to husbandless mothers in "suitable homes." What happened after the Civil Rights movement was that a misguided transfer payment scheme that had been in large part designed for and restricted to whites was extended to blacks. It's hard to see how granting this equal treatment could have been justified as "restitution" for slavery and discrimination, and to my knowledge it wasn't. (It would be just as logical to argue that blacks benefited from trillions of dollars in "restitution" in the form of interstate highways they could drive on.)

Maybe Horowitz has a memory of some lefty activists in the '60s arguing that "welfare rights" were a form of restitution. But the main public figure who saw welfare as a means of addressing slavery's legacy -- in this case, its legacy of weak families -- was Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And Moynihan was vilified for this by left-wing/civil rights activists in the precursor to the very PC-intimidation Horowitz now decries.

If we're going to have to have a debate about reparations, I'd like my side, which is Horowitz's side, to prevail. That's the main reason I would be exercising my speech rights to begin with. It doesn't help the anti-reparations case to inject a gratuitous, bogus, inflammatory argument that characterizes welfare payments as prior restitution. (I wouldn't be altogether shocked if Horowitz actually stuck in the silly "welfare" argument precisely to make his manifesto less acceptable and more likely to provoke outrage and draw attention to David Horowitz. That's my own gratuitous inflammatory argument.)

If Horowitz came to my publication with the ad, I'd probably say no (unless he cut the welfare crap). Even if he offered me a CPM of $5! Or $6! The way I see it, he's got a First Amendment right to say what he wants, but not in my magazine. Let him get his own damn magazine -- something the Web makes increasingly possible, something he has in fact already done. Click here for Horowitz's surprisingly informative mag, freely available to anyone, which almost self-refutingly claims his ideas are being "censored." ... (3/14)

Luke says: Prager did not deal with any of these points.

DP got calls from holocaust deniers asking him why, if he published a newspaper, he would not place "historical revisionist" ads. DP says you're entitled to your opinion, but you're not entitled to lie. But can't you make a strong argument that Horowitz is lying in parts of his ad against reparations?

In his third hour, DP discussed this comment by actor Scott Baio who's turning 40 years old: "I'd give up the wisdom of 40 to be 22 again."

DP: Men who've never married stay 18. Because they're not building anything.

Why do people get less liberal as they get older? After all, we associate age with an increase in wisdom.

3/19/01

Dennis Prager picked up again on an item from gossip columnist Matt Drudge (DrudgeReport.com):

Drudge wrote: "He's embarrassing," Roberts recently confided to friends and associates, according to sources. "He's not my president. He will never be my president."

Roberts turns animated when discussing politics. She told an audience last year: "Republican comes in the dictionary just after reptile and just above repugnant... I looked up Democrat. It's of the people, by the people, for the people."

But Weinstein apparently has not taken his name out of competition for Best Bush Basher. Weinstein, at the TALKMIRAMAX spa special in Santa Barbara this week, turned in a stunning performance. According to an eyewitness quoted in today's WASHINGTON POST, Weinstein said: "If you had a recount today, Al Gore would get 90 percent of the vote and Bush would get 10 percent, and Bill Clinton would be the honorary Treasury secretary and we wouldn't have this economic crisis, because the way the stock market was going we're all going to be wiped out."

Dennis Prager says: It's sad. I enjoy these actors. But when they become extremely political like that, become attackers, you can't see them any longer as their characters... Can you see Jane Fonda in a film and not thinking of Jane Fonda extolling the virtues of communist totalitarianism?

Julia Roberts is probably the most successful actor. These people don't realize that their fans, who are the source of their power, are offended by such comments. I think actors don't realize that because they live in the rarified world of Sunset Blvd.

I wonder if Julia Roberts has had dinner with an ordinary American in the last ten years.

They use their fame for their politics which is rarely thought through.

Sharon Stone made comments that made her look like a fool. She told a UN conference, why she was at one is a puzzle, that every family should have a bowl of condoms in their home for their teenage kids to help themselves too, just as they would a bowl of candy... That comment makes you look at Sharon Stone differently than if she'd kept her mouth shut in that arena.

Does anyone see Alec Baldwin the same after he screamed on national television that everybody should go to Henry Hyde's house and stone him and kill his family. Screaming at the top of his lungs like a nut. I'll never see one of his movies the same...

While I don't boycott these people for their foolish views, I don't enjoy their acting as much.

There was a time when actors kept a certain distance from the political realm. Thereby they kept a certain aura about them and you didn't know everything they believed or felt at a given moment.

But now these actors feel that because they are famous, there are therefore smart. And there is no correlation between fame and intelligence. It is easy to get confused and for Julia Roberts to think that people care what she thinks about the President of the United States. We don't. We care about her acting, we care about her body. We care about her pretty face.

What if your dentist decided to go public with his views on the president? You'd wonder, who cares? You want your dentist to be a good dentist. Because your dentist is not famous, nobody puts a camera there.

Remember how I told you about the Broadway play "Annie Get Your Gun," where the cast told us to stop applauding so they could raise money for AIDS.

If Harvey Weinstein were a talkshow host, he'd be laughed out of the media.

Wouldn't it be nice if some actor, right or left, said: Hey, I'm an actor. I treasure my audience. And unless there's a national crisis of great evil, such as fascism or communism taking over the country, I'd rather speak out on cystic fibrosis.

Do we know the politics of the great classical musicians? It's a matter of decorum and respecting your audience. Half of Julia Roberts fans are between Reptile and Repugnant.

Does anyone know the politics of this country's great doctors?

If, God forbid, Julia Roberts were in a disfiguring accident, do you think that anybody would put cameras in front of her to get her political opinions? Or are they based on her pretty face and fine body?

If an actor said that he though marriage should be confined to men and women, he'd be castigated for insulting much of his audience.

Do you know why these actors don't generally get behind disease activism? Because there's no power there. But there's power in political activism. But it's not sexy to talk about kids with muscular dystrophy.

In Prager's final two hours, he talked about the new bankruptcy bill. It's been widely criticized for being pushed by credit card companies. DP doesn't care about who lobbies for the bill. He wants to know if it is a good bill. It doesn't matter if the bill is good for credit card companies, but it is good for Americans character?

Bankruptcy is too easy now. DP discussed the actor Burt Reynolds who declared bankruptcy after buying a house in Florida for more than a million dollars. Florida and Texas offer the most protection to people declaring bankruptcy.

The US has had a dramatic rise in the number of people declaring bankruptcy (over a million a year).

DP interviewed University of Pennsylvania professor of law David Skeel who wrote a book on bankruptcy "Debt's Dominion: A Political History Of Bankruptcy" published by Princeton Press.

DP says: Blaming credit card companies for my borrowing too much is like blaming restaurants for my eating too much.

Credit card companies are now loaning to people like students who would never have had access to loans in the past.

I believe America's bankruptcy laws were made when Americans had a greater sense of personal responsibility.

Skeel says: It was more difficult to get credit in 1898 than it is in 2001.

Randomity writes on alt.radio.talk.dr-laura: Yesterday [Dr] Laura, in the middle of a silly rant, mentioned that she hated tv and said that maybe she wouldn't need to deal with it much longer and them muttered "and that would be ok with with me". So I think she is laying the ground for exiting her god awful tv show in a face-saving way. Problem is that the face she is saving is part of the reason the tv fiasco failed so miserably.

Padawan writes on alt.radio.talk.dr-laura: She knew what she was getting into, her ego told her that HER "serious" show would be different. Jerry Springer started out with a serious show and it failed so her went in the opposite direction and his ratings soared. Dennis Prager who's been on radio for years tried it and it didn't work. I remember his observation about TV and "eye candy" to keep the audience engaged. Well, Laura is no eye candy that's for sure... eye sore would be more like it. I give her credit (of sorts) for being successful on the radio, but she has no grace or charisma on the tube. Of course she'll probably blame the evil nature of TV for her own failure rather than simply acknowleging she didn't have what it took. And seriously, this show would have failed miserably on it's own... sponsers or no spoonsers!

3/15/01

Dennis Prager discussed the case before the US Supreme Court regarding computer generated child porn.

The US Congress passed a law banning virtual child porn. The Ninth Circuit District Court overturned the law.

DP: A person's fantasy life should not be regulated. We should not criminalize thoughts, even if they are repulsive.

If no children are getting hurt by computer generated images, then what is wrong with them?

What if men who abuse their spouses, get out their violence on a computer generated "Abuse Your Spouse" program? Wouldn't that be a good substitute?

Isn't the bottom line to morality that you want fewer people to suffer?

On the other hand, I don't know we will be able to tell the difference, if a real child or computer generated image is used. That's the biggest argument for the law. There you have to err on the side of protecting kids.

The issue of when fantasy leads to actual behavior is a difficult issue.

DP got a call from a child porn investigator.

Caller: Child molestors feed on this material. And children are ultimately hurt by this material. Prosecutors are frequently challenged to prove that the child depicted in the porn is an actual child, which is almost impossible.

DP: I believe that I have come up with an incredibly simple sollution to the problem of children having access to porn on the internet. We should create a domain system for porn. Such as dot XXX.

Numerous computer maven callers said this was not practical.

3/14/01

Dennis Prager Tackles Nudism

From NYTimes.com: COVENTRY, England It evolved over time, Vincent Bethell's particular branch of libertarianism, but the final spur was a summer so sweltering that even the skimpiest item of clothing seemed superfluous.

"I was walking around in just shorts, and even the shorts were dripping with sweat," he said. "And then I thought: `This is ridiculous. Why should I have to wear clothes?'"

As a sudden thunderbolt of clarity, it was perhaps less earth-shaking than Archimedes's "Eureka" moment in the bath (though that involved nudity, too). But for Mr. Bethell, an unemployed artist, it was the beginning of a new career as a campaigner for the right to go naked in public.

So far, Mr. Bethell's Freedom to Be Yourself movement has involved stripped-down protests in front of places like the House of Lords, the Royal Courts of Justice, and New Scotland Yard. For Mr. Bethell, 29, it has also included sending scores of letters to politicians; sitting on a lamppost, dressed only in a knapsack with the word "freedom" written across it; being arrested numerous times; spending five months in Brixton Prison; and going through a trial in which he argued, nude, that nudity is not a crime.

Although the Freedom to be Yourself movement is hardly sweeping the nation, it has tickled the fancy of a country with a strong libertarian streak and a tendency to celebrate eccentric challenges to authority. Mr. Bethell has a Web site (www.geocities.com/thehumanmind) and he has drawn several hundred admiring e-mails.

And on Nov. 13, a number of residents in the town of Virginia Water in Surrey decided to spend the day with nothing on. "Vincent Bethell is a hero to us," a town councillor told The Daily Express.

And, with interest from France and Germany, Mr. Bethell is organizing what he hopes will be a giant nude-in on July 1, when he is inviting everyone around the world to take off his or her clothes at 2 p.m., London time.

He began to see clothes in a new way, as a barrier separating people the way plastic partitions separate customers from tellers in a bank. "It was quite a profound thing the beauty, openness and honesty of it," he said of nudity. "The more you cover yourself up, the more you lose yourself as a human being."

"What if someone said, `I don't like his nose,' or, `I find his clothes upsetting,' or `fat people shouldn't be allowed in public' " Mr. Bethell continued.

"You shouldn't be discriminated against because you're a blonde or a brunette or a redhead, and you shouldn't be discriminated against because you are naked." His family was none too thrilled, either. "I was fairly aghast," said his father, Michael, 54, a clerical worker in a factory in Manchester, who said that young Vincent had never seemed predisposed to nudity. "There was nothing like this at home at all."

But eventually, he came around. "I can see his point of view that it has to do with freedom and so on and so forth and obviously I support him on that," he said.

Luke says:

On his nationally syndicated radio show, Dennis Prager said nudism is a movement challenging basic values in Western Civilization. We're witnessing an unravelling of moral society.

DP: It's not surprising that the lead character in this is a Brit as the British tend to eccentricity.

The line about blonde vs brunette was a statement of pure emptiness. There's no comparison between discriminating against someone because of her hair color and discriminating against someone who's decided to take her clothing off in public.

Why the growing popularity of nudism? It's happening for the same reason as the equation of people and animals. In a secular world, in a world devoid of the belief that the human being is created in God's image, you get this.

We all know the consequences of too much religion. Nudism is a consequence of too much secularism.

In the secular view, the human being is another animal. Animals don't wear suits and ties and dresses, therefore, we should not either. We are another animal. It is clothing which helps distinguish us from the animal. Clothing gives us dignity.

I see a picture of this man... He's thin. One wonders if he were in fact fat or 85 years old, whether people would be as open to this?

What about children? Do we wish to have children see everybody's genitals?

We have covered them up because we, unlike animals, have a sense of shame and modesty. And this uniquely human quality is being warred against. I no longer think of nudism as just a cute eccentricity. I always did. Now I don't. I see it as an unravelling of civilization as we know it.

You may argue that we may develop a superior civilization but you cannot sit back and think that massive changes will not take place, once we unravel the foundations, called the Judeo-Christian Western world. You can't remove the pillars upon which a building stands, and claim nothing will happen to the building.

And the lastest example is the increasing acceptance of public nudity.

DP got calls defending nudism as natural. DP asked the caller if he would defecate in public, as that is natural. That question stymied the caller.

This notion that we are part of nature, therefore we should act like it. Please understand the consequences - the destruction of civilization as we know it.

In his second hour, Dennis debated the attorney for a man who wants to get out of paying child support because a DNA test revealed that he was not the biological father of three of his four kids.

In his third hour, Prager discussed Napster. DP's nephew Benjamin introduced him to the service last weekend.

DP: It's wonderful in some ways. You just type in the name of a song and someone somewhere on earth has put it there for you to download and listen to. But the recording industry and musicians are angry at it, because you can now get free what until six months ago, you had to pay for.

I side in theory with the industry, because I believe that we must protect property, including intellectual property.

For instance, I have sold tens of thousands of audio tapes of my lectures. If someone were to take a lecture and put it on a website for download, why would you buy my tape?

That was all clear to me until I spoke to my nephew Benajmin Prager. He made a strong argument... He has a strong ethical sense. Prager's tend to. He argued that it is actually good for the artists and the recording industry that people become acquainted with so much music... That they will go out and buy more.

DP thought that he could check out music on Napster and then he would later buy CDs. But DP can afford to buy CDs. He has more disposable income than the average guy.

Napster is a great way to sample music.

Ted Nugent writes in the WSJ.com: The Recording Industry Association of America attributes a 39% drop in shipments of compact disk singles in 1999 to this Internet downloading system. Full-length CD sales also dropped dramatically. In the short amount of time Napster has been in front of the courts, its users have grown from a few thousand to more than 50 million. Thank God common sense is still operating in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which recently ruled Napster must stop providing unauthorized music.

Artists -- or grocers for that matter -- who wish to give away their own merchandise or services as a promotional or marketing scheme can have at it. But on any legal or intellectual level, only that individual can legitimately make the decision. Artists and record companies already give away an enormous amount of free goods. No one outside that business circle should dare to do it for them and expect to get away with it.

3/12/01

Mattben027108: Hey Luke, don't know if you remember, but we spoke Friday afternoon. Wanted to give you some thoughts on the Prager/Dershowitz talk I attended last night. Mattben027108: The topic at hand was "The Future of North American Jewry." The talk was moderated by Rabbi David Woznicza, and the panel was Prager, Dershowitz, and writer Anne Roiphe. Off the bat, Dershowitz and Roiphe argued that a secular Judaism can perpetuate itself, but Prager argued that only Judaism with a religious base (Orthodox and non-Orthodox) can ultimately survive and thrive.
Mattben027108: I detected in Dershowitz and Roife a general antipathy toward religious practice, God, Jewish Law, etc. They blamed God for not intervening in the Holocaust, and Roiphe noted that the question of God's existence is irrelevant and meaningless. Mattben027108: Prager countered with his typical argument that he does not subscribe to a "celestial butler" notion of God.
Luzdedos1: Sounds like Prager outshone everyone else?
Mattben027108: Yes. He and Dershowitz were equally articulate, but Prager spoke with a clarity of thinking the others lacked.
Mattben027108: Dershowitz often spoke in a self-righteous tone and Roife's comments bordered on angry at times. The hissing from the audience were mostly in response to Prager comments. Prager noted that, saying, "The hissing always comes from the left."
Mattben027108: why do you think some of Prager's arguments and ideas generate such outrage? For example, he spoke about parents telling their kids "God loves you", and Dershowtiz, Roiphe and much of the audience thought this was absurd. "I won't lie to my daughter" Dershowitz said.
Luzdedos1: Part of it is Prager's manner. He revels in provoking people.
Mattben027108: so you think it's the approach, and not the ideas, that generate the manner of response?
Luzdedos1: It is both. Mainly the ideas though.
Mattben027108: I think part of it has to do with resentment of a standard that transcends human beings.
Mattben027108: I agree, he is provocative. For example, a question came in about the role of Jewish Community Centers in American Jewish life. Prager mentioned an event at the Phily JCC in which men dress up as women and play bingo on Tuesday night. He felt this was not appropriate for a JCC, especially given Torah law. Roiphe and Dershowitz thought "Gay Bingo' was fine. Dershowitz also felt there should be "Gay Torah Study" but Prager said there should not be Torah study specifically geared toward gays.
Luzdedos1: DP is right
Mattben027108: The irony is that the "inclusiveness" Dershowitz seeks actually yields exclusion and division. I wanted to ask him, "Do you really feel that there should be Torah Study explicitly reserved for men who use the backside as both an exit and an entrance?"

On his nationally syndicated radio show, Dennis Prager discussed something he'd never talked about before - bullying. It was done in the in the light of the shooting in San Diego County last week by a 15-year old boy (Charles Andrew Williams) who'd been bullied. People called in with their experiences.

Dennis read approvingly from Dorothy Rabinowitz's column in the Wall Street Journal:

They did not, the mother of the girl allowed, between paeans to Andy's goodness, "agree with what he did."

Agree with what he did? We are speaking of murder here, of two young men dead. Still, there was something about this language, its otherworldly detachment, that did not seem out of place in an interview which consisted entirely of testimonials to Andy's troubles, his loneliness, all of it interspersed with expressions of understanding from Katie Couric about how hard all this must be for them.

At no point in the interview did it occur to the normally inquisitive Ms. Couric to ask if there wasn't something a bit unbalanced, say, in this singularly glowing testimony to Andy, who had just cold-bloodedly mowed down everybody he laid eyes on. All that notwithstanding, one could have learned a lot about the reasons for the behavior of the Andys of this world, from these guests.

The explanation for the behavior of the shooters has a lot more to do with the premises of the world they inhabit than with bullying. It is a world that has elevated pains like harassment--bullying--to a crime second only to homicide. And it is a world whose premises the young, like Andy Williams, have entirely internalized. Given the assumptions of a society that stresses, as ours now does, the inviolable right to freedom from insult, and from all the slings and arrows that are and always will be a part of life's experience, it shouldn't be surprising that a teenager who perceives himself as bullied will absorb the message that he has been made victim of a monstrous crime, and that the entire world around him will understand it as such--as they will also understand why he had to wipe out his oppressors. Punish him they may, but they will understand. Everyone will.

For a (by now) long line of young killers, this inner assurance has been enough, evidently, to overcome all taboos, all consciousness of what it means to murder, and enough, also, to overcome what would have been, in another time, the most profound inhibition of all--namely fear of what people would think, what friends, teachers and authorities would say of them in the face of an act so unimaginable in its horror.

Luke says: In his second hour, Dennis Prager moved on to the Ethicist column in Sunday's New York Times:

Margaret O'Hora, Albanywrites: I frequently carry a can of soda or a package of snacks into the movie theater. Does the theater have the right to insist on "No Outside Food"?

Randy Cohen from the NY Times replies: In April 2000, I ruled against sneaking outside food into the movies, arguing that attending a movie is voluntary: when you choose to do so, you willingly agree to obey the theater's rules. I've come to see this differently.

If all I had to do was write, "Always follow the rules; never lie," my job would be easy, and I'd be more popular; most readers applaud such advice.

For an agreement to be meaningful, it must be entered into freely by both parties, hardly the case when a theater owner stamps a list of rules on the back of a ticket. Rules ought to be reasonable. And there is a difference between the rules imposed only through the authority of private property and the laws devised by a democratic society, which at least strive for the consent of the governed and are nominally under the control of their representatives. The latter have more legitimacy than the former.

Folks should patronize the concession stand not because the theater employs armed guards and candy-sniffing dogs to thwart snack smugglers but because they choose to, because it offers food they enjoy at prices they deem reasonable -- in short, because they crave that gallon canister of cola. Commerce, too, should be freely entered into. And if fewer purchases at the concession stand means a theater has to raise ticket prices, so be it. That is also a part of commerce. So I believe you may take outside food to the theater.

I would set just this condition: you ought not contravene the ostensible function of a business: e.g. no smuggling liquor into a bar or cake into a pastry shop.

DP: The more I have thought about this, the more difficult the issue has become. By selling you one product, can I ban something entirely unrelated?

3/9/01

I was jolted by the second hour today of Dennis Prager's nationally syndicated radio show. Prager usually devotes his second hour on Fridays to the subject of happiness.

Dennis discussed something said to him by a friend, "How can you trust people? After all you were burned by so-and-so."

DP replied to the friend: "Yes, I've been burned by two people in my life. But so what? I was hurt. So what? My life has been vastly enriched by all the people I let into my life."

I believe that one of the two persons Prager believes has burned him is me. And how did I burn him? By publishing this site - DennisPrager.net - against his will.

DP: I am a big believer in trusting whenever possible. And if it doesn't work, I get hurt. But the benefits of trusting as many people as I can will be far greater than the hurt if that trust is betrayed.

You need to have enough confidence in yourself to be able to handle it if you get hurt.

I feel that I can get knocked down and spattered by my mud. Then I can get up, take a shower, and move on with my life.

For instance, I don't gamble because the joy I get in winning is not as great as the hurt I feel from losing.

A caller wanted tips on demonstrating gratitude to his wife.

DP: My friend Dr. Steven Marmer says that if more men would realize that to women carrying out the garbage is foreplay, more men would carry out the garbage.

Men need rule books. Women want men to intuit what they want. And only about 2% of men can do that, and most of them are not heterosexual.

DP read an email on the air attacking Prager. Writer said he'd listened to DP for ten years and never been disappointed. Now he was disappointed about DP over something - that DP would not report something on the air because it would take the wind out of the sails of one of DP's arguments.

People should be careful of accusing DP of having character flaws. He takes umbrage to that. This is one reason why Prager strikes many people as arrogant.

DP pointed out how ridiculous it was to turn on someone for one disappointment. The writer later sent DP an apology.

DP frequently remarks on people who tell him, "Dennis, I used to listen to you all the time. But eversince you said or did X, I won't listen anymore."

Prager believes profoundly that we develop moral bank accounts. And if he, DP, has accumulated a large bank account with someone, as he surely has with most of his listeners, then it is wrong to dismiss DP, or anyone, over one thing.

If you are never prepared for a friend to hurt you, you will never have a friend. If you are never prepared for a spouse to hurt you, you will never marry or stay married. People will inevitably hurt you. But why assume the worst when people have earned your trust over time?

DP first wrote about moral bank accounts with the Clarence Thomas vs Anita Hill. Thomas had a wonderful record with the women who worked with him. So why would DP wish to besmirch the man who's developed a large moral bank account?

In his third hour, Prager discussed the recent case of a 14-year old boy sentenced to life in prison for killing a six year old girl. The boy's defense claimed he was just practicing wrestling moves he'd seen on TV.

DP: How a society channels male aggression is one of the greatest questions as to whether that society will survive.

That's why I am not against violence in the media, I am against the glorification of immoral violence.

3/8/01

Dennis Prager continued his coverage of the San Diego school shooting.

DP: Should we execute the 15-year old boy Charles Andrew Williams? It meets the criteria of premeditated, with a weapon...

I do feel sorry for the boy. He's obviously a lost soul.

What message would we send to American high school students if we did execute the boy?

I am uncertain. It is too painful emotionally to execute a 15-year old. But my brain has to challenge my emotions.

The reason I would execute him is to send a message to all would-be copycats and America's youth. I don't believe that life in prison terrifies young people. I think American high schoolers see these kids on the cover of national magazines and on TV, in perfectly good health, they know that trial will be a long drawn out affair, and then they will find out that he went to prison. And the chances that he will be there for the rest of his life are minimal.

I don't know what high schoolers would think about execution, but I do know what elementary school students would think. I know that most kids, like 8-10 year old kids, who do know of this, would receive a strong message about how society treats murderers.

Do you remember the mother in South Carolina who drowned her two boys in her car? What if we execute the mother? Most kids would be relieved to know that.

Caller: Many of these kids don't have much to look forward to. Many of these killers kill themselves anyway.

In what way can this society communicate to its young people the evil of murder?

Prager spent his third hour with a terrorist expert and they discussed dangerous state of the current Islamic world.

3/7/01

In his second hour, Prager interviewed travel writer Robert D. Kaplan who Prager praises highly. Kaplan's written an interesting new book on the Middle East.

In the third hour, DP read this letter to Dr. Joyce Brothers:

"I have an older sister that I love very much and yet we're miles apart in many ways. I have no particular religious faith and she's deeply religious. Too religious for her own good my wife and I often feel. We've been particularly concerned about her mental health as she's grown older. She is one of those people who believe anyone who tells them that they've seen or experienced a miracle. She swears for instance that a statute of the Virgin Mary sheds real tears and nothing will stop her believing this. Does this kind of person need to see someone who can check out her mental health? GM."

DP: I love that question and I've been thinking about it since I read it. Does a non-rational belief mean that you are mentally ill?

I don't believe that a statute of the Virgin Mary sheds tears. But I don't believe that if you believe that that you are mentally disturbed.

I know people in every faith who have kooky beliefs. But the people are terrific. I would trust my kids with them.

In my earlier years, I believed that kooky beliefs meant kooky person. But that's not true. Non-rational beliefs don't necessarily make a person nuts.

I've encountered many people with kooky beliefs who think they're rational. Such as Marxists, a kooky theory.

Some of the finest people I know, that I would trust my kids too, believe that I am going to hell. And some people who believe totally rationally, but I would not trust my kids with for ten seconds.

What if I wrote a letter, 'My sister believes in bilingual education. I think she should see a therapist.' I think the belief in bilingual education is at least as nonrational as believing that a statute of the Virgin Mary sheds tears.

Some non-rational thinking is dangerous and some is not. Belief in a statute shedding tears is not dangerous.

I greatly value rationality but I am trying to figure out when it is ok to not be rational. Because sometimes it is good to not be rational. I cry at classical music. That's not rational.

3/6/01

The topic is the school shooting in San Diego County where Charles Andrew Williams shot and killed two people died and wounded 15.

One frequently cited statistic notes that 54 people died in public school in 1992, versus 16 in the year 2000. But that's bad analysis, says Dennis Prager. What about all the shootings and bombings that have been foiled of late because of increased security and concern?

DP says: The primary issue is not the availability of guns because they've been at least as available throughout history and we haven't had this rashing of school shootings.

I am tempted to play for you the shows that I did after the last school shootings. My post Columbine show. The post Arkansas show. And the post Oregon show. I have nothing new to add.

The New York Times editorial calling for gun control is almost identical.

One group believes the problem is primarily the availability of guns. The other group believes that the primary problem is one of values.

What about the kids who wanted to use pipe bombs? Do we have a lack of pipe bomb control?

There is something wrong with the culture in which we live.

Number one - we've allowed people who are unhappy are allowed to take out their frustration on innocents.

Number two - mediafication. You can yell about parents and teachers but there is a larger cultural issue. It's the incessant drumbeat of sex and violence in the media. That drumbeat is inuring - it numbs you.

When you listen to the students at the school describe the shooting, they sound disengaged. They sound like they're giving media reports. "Multiple victims." The kids sound like newscasters.

The kid knew he was on TV and he adopted TV talk. I've never used the phrase "multiple victims" in my private life in my life.

Listen to the non-reality of his words. The fluency and the disengagement.

How could the plethora of gore in the media not desensetize? Live killings would not be as dramatic as movie killings because there would be no music and special effects.

Caller: The students are so wrapped up about being on TV that the shootings pale in comparison. That terrifies me. My wife and I are considering home schooling.

DP: It's easy to become mediafied and not live life. There's no countervailing powerful force in the lives of many. TV is ok if there is a more powerful force like religion or patriotism in a person's life.

The kids interviewed talk like media stars rather than classmates of the murdered.

How come school security guards are not armed? An unarmed security guard is not a security guard. Would any business hire a security guard who is not armed?

I don't want students or teachers armed but security guards should have guns.

The explosion of amoral violence in movies began in 1967 with Bonnie and Clyde. And in literature with Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." Capote called that book "Faction." It used fictional techniques to dramatize and personalize fact and get readers involved in the story of a murder.

A neighbor of the murderer Charles Andrew Williams kid said that he used to load water pistols up with urine and spray people in his apartment complex.

From the LATimes.com:

SANTEE, Calif.--At Santana High School, freshman Charles Andrew Williams was considered a scrawny punk, a pint-sized 15-year-old openly ridiculed for his passivity, small size and pale skin.

Kids stole shoes off his feet or stuff from his backpack and he never fought back. Twice, his skateboard was snatched away. Friends say he began threatening a month ago that he was going to shoot kids at school.

He repeated his menacing words over the weekend, say friends who dismissed his banter as the idle chatter of a puny weakling trying to act tough.

Last week, said 15-year-old neighbor Vanessa Willis, Williams and a friend filled squirt guns with urine and shot people in the hallways of an apartment complex.

None of that mattered to her. Nor did Monday's shootings discourage her loyalty. "He's still my friend I'm not going to dislike him just because he killed people. He's not sick in the head like those people from Columbine. He's a nice guy. He wasn't an outcast. He had a lot of friends."

DP repeated Vanessa's phrase as the ultimate in moral idiocy: "I'm not going to dislike him just because he killed people."

I blame liberalism, not for the shootings, but for its explanations - that the problem is guns.

The individualism that made America strong had its dark side. But it was an individualism ameliorated by institutions such as religion and the Boy Scouts. But now the Boy Scouts are in decline as the government ascends.

DeTocqueville talked about the vast number of societies that people belonged to. Now we're bowling alone, to quote the title of the recent book.

* Another thing wrong with our culture is boredom. People excited by life don't watch much TV.

* The jaded nature of so many of our young people. Nothing jades like early sex. How about those teenage students at Philadelphia public high school who had intercourse in the school auditorium. Then they showed the video to their classmates. That's jaded. Jaded means an inability to find life itself exciting. They need an adrenalin rush. This boy David got his adrenalin rush from shooting. Just like the Nazis said 'I never feel so alive as when I am killing.'

3/5/01

DP spent his first hour decrying the Taliban's Afghanistan destruction of ancient Buddhist carvings and sculptures.

DP: "They're called the Great Buddhas of Bahmian. They're now being pulverized by the fanatical Taliban regime. They're the tallest carved Buddhas in the world."

Prager read from today's Wall Street Journal:

"Two-thirds of all the statues in Afghanistan have already been destroyed, the remaining will be destroyed in the next two days. The head and legs of Buddha statues in Bamiyan were destroyed yesterday. Our soldiers are working hard to demolish their remaining parts. They will come down soon. We are using everything at our disposal to destroy them. It is easier to destroy than to build."

These words -- unsentimental, unceremonious, frighteningly phlegmatic -- were spoken on Saturday by Maulvi Qudratullah Jamal, an Islamic cleric who is the minister for culture and information in Afghanistan's Taliban regime, a demented, theocratic rabble that makes the late Ayatollah Khomeini look like Bill Clinton, and the gynophobic Saudi Arabian government look like a sorority of bra-burning feminists.

By the time you read this lament, the Taliban's gunners and dynamiters, acting under orders from Mr. Jamal and Mullah Mohammed Omar (the regime's head cleric), will have shattered and leveled two monumental statues of the Buddha, carved -- one in the third century, the other 200 years later -- in a cliff face near the town of Bamiyan, 90 miles west of Kabul. The specific command to pulverize the ancient Buddhas, as well as the general exhortation to destroy all statues that remain in Afghanistan, was issued because the country's ruling clergy believes that these icons are anathema to Islam, and that their very presence, enduring evidence of Afghanistan's pre-Islamic past, is an offense to Allah.

DP says: If you don't feel affected, why? I'm not a Buddhist but I feel that I have been robbed by a human treasure because of the pulverizing of these awesome works of art. This Islamic regime is similar to many of the Communist regimes of the 20th Century. The difference is one of format - one atheist and one theist. But there's no moral difference.

After all, this is the place where leading terrorist Osama Bin Laden lives. It is par for the course that a country that gives room and board to a man who's avowed aim is to murder as many innocent people as possible, would do this to great monuments. When his group blew up the American embassy in Kenya, it was mainly Africans who were blinded, maimed and murdered.

Prager ran a big fundraiser for Afghan rebels in 1986 and was honored by Islamic groups for his work on behalf of the rebels against the Communist regime.

DP says: So what if those Buddhist carvings were graven images. Anyone who knows anything about Buddhism knows that the Buddha is not an idol. The Buddha achieved the highest form of human abilities, the closest to nirvana - enlightenment.

For 1300 years, the Muslims of Afghanistan did not touch one of these things. That's proof that the Taliban's actions do not come from normative Islam. It comes from a radicalized fringe of Islam.

Mao ZeDong did similar things to great Chinese art works during the Cultural Revolution. Mao, the radical secularist, and the Taliban, the radical religious, do the same thing - destroy people and destroy history. That is why I call myself a passionate centrist. Too radicalized religion and too radicalized religion are just as bad for the human species. The only difference is that the Taliban can give God a bad name.

Radical Islamic movements in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Phillippines is a big problem.

Coerced religion is not religion. And that comes directly from the Koran, the Bible of the Muslims. "There shall be no coercion in matters of religion," is a direct quote from the Koran. One would like to post that verse in Iran, Hamas, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Lyle calls: "I've read all of your books and I love you. I am an 18-year old high school student. You always talk about worshipping art above worshiping people. With all the terrible things going on around the world, killing people... There are more horrible things going on in this world than [the Taliban destruction of artificacts].

"I had a history teacher who was all depressed. It was like it was the most horrible thing he'd ever heard. He said that he would rather have the Soviet Communists running Afghanistan so long as the artifacts weren't damaged."

DP: "If there was as much attention paid to slavery and torture in Sudan as this... But that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention to this.

"Just as we learned about the Nazis from their burning of books, there is a lot to be learned about the Taliban from their burning of Buddhist statutes. This reveals what they could do to people. They massacre people left and right. And the way they treat women... Just as kids torturing animals, you know they will probably torture people.

"As one author put it, I will trade in 100 readers today for one reader a hundred years from now."

DP: The Japanese do not learn about the nicest Americans. They learn about a submarine that kills seven of their people. That's how the media works.

That is why I believe we did blow it with the Japanese by waiting weeks to make an apology. The first words from the submarine captain were that he regretted it.

DP's second hour: A thorny issue. Is rape primarily a sex act or a violence act that happens to use sex? This has been a polarizing issue.

I'm in the middle. It's obviously an act of violence but to deny that there is a large sexual component is wrong.

The LA Times had an article on castration:

Desperate to win their freedom, a small but growing number of California's incarcerated sexual predators are seeking surgical castration, an operation all but banished from the criminal justice system decades ago.

Supporters of the procedure point to numerous studies indicating that recidivism rates for castrated offenders often are below 5%. In 1952, a California Assembly study reported that none of 60 San Diego County men who agreed to be castrated as part of a probation program re-offended. One oft-cited German study reported a 3% recidivism rate for castrated offenders, versus a 46% rate for non-castrated offenders.

...Delmar Burrows once faced potential life imprisonment but was released by a judge after being castrated in 1997. "I should have done this a long time ago," said the stocky, 300-pound former short-order cook from Sacramento. "I feel at peace and as a whole person now."

Burrows insists that he is permanently cured by the operation. Near the hotel where he lives, children are everywhere, playing video games, shopping, eating pizzas.

"I see those kids, but I don't pay any attention," he said as elementary school-age children walked across the street. "It does not faze me like it used to. I used to think bad things."

DP: What's interested is that overwhelmingly if you do castrate these molesters, and you remove the testicles, they stop molesting kids.

If sexual violence by men disappears when men's testes are removed, doesn't that argue that rape is biologically sexually based? Which is no moral excuse for rape.

Type in "rape" and "castration" in any search engine, my favorite is google, and you will see document after document from feminists and womens group that this is all nonsense.

For instance, there's a tremendous amount of rape in South Africa now.

DP reads from the Capetown Rape Crisis Center Web Site:

"We are not convinced that chemical (or any other kind) of castration would deter rapists. On the contrary, what we know of rape as a crime of violence and control mitigates against the notion that chemical castration would either stop rape happening or deter potential rapists. To suggest that it would is to suggest that rape is an unplanned act by a man who upon seeing an attractive woman is overcome by lust and cannot control his sexuality. This is an old myth and blatant nonsense."

DP: I don't know why feminists and the academic world so want to believe that it is a sexist culture that wants to do violence against women. Even though more men are raped then women when you count prison rape. All the rape of men, is that solely motivated by hatred of men? Is that just violence against men?

Of course rape is an act of violence but it comes from a sexual part. What about all the rape that went on in the Bosnian war of young women? These weren't career criminal rapists. These were men who raped when they had the chance. It is an act of evil, but an act of evil coming from the testicles.

If it was just hatred of women, the soldiers would just shoot them or beat them.

The vast majority of rapes, says DP, are sex obtained violently, which may be part of its thrill.

Caller: I had low levels of testosterone and you don't notice girls. They're almost irritating with all their needs and peculiarities.

DP: It's a good thing that men have that sex drive or they would stay with men.

3/2/01

DP received an email from a couple who wrote a book. They sent it to a nationally syndicated talkshow host. A week later, they found out that the host had a web site where he was selling their book and others that had been sent to him for free. Was this unethical?

DP said it was not unethical so long as the host had not asked for the book. If he was sent books unasked for, then he had the moral right to resell them. But that it was tacky of the host to do so. Some things may not be immoral, but they can be tacky or unclassy.

3/1/01

DP spent his first hour on schools that have banned boy-girl hugs. DP says this is an overreaction. The schools would do much better to have a modest dress code, and drop sex ed, to create a more sexually subdued environment.

DP fears the moves are a reaction to the possibility of sexual harassment lawsuits.

DP sends his 18-year old son to an Orthodox Jewish day school where boys and girls are not permitted to touch.

DP has long supported coed education but over the past few years he's changed. He now thinks kids are best off in unisex education.

DP: "In my son's religious school, [to battle uncouth language and behavior], they can appeal to the sanctity of men and women, and the Torah [as a source of moral authority]. But what do you have in a secular school is sexual harassment. And if a girl doesn't feel harassed, there's no secular argument against an 8th grader saying to an 8th grade girl, "Blank my blank.

"This is not about Satan taking over our hallways. This about creating a safer environment for our kids to grow up. A safer environment for their psyches, not because they might catch AIDS.

Second hour. DP discussed the college freshman at UC Santa Barbara who plowed his car into a group of people, killing at least four.

DP spent the next two hours discussing how much are parents responsible when their kids turn out to be monsters. DP thought it's probably worse to have a child who becomes a killer than to have a child who is killed.

DP received a series of heartbreaking calls from parents who had vicious kids.

2/28/01

The New Republic's Gregg Easterbrook Mentions Prager's Book

Positive psychology further finds that happiness is hard. Laura King of Southern Methodist University, writing in the current issue of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, shows that a positive attitude toward life requires considerable effort; people may slip into melancholy simply because it's the path of least resistance. Freud anticipated this when he noted that "unhappiness is much less difficult to experience" than elevated feelings. As a result, positive psychologists tend to view happiness as a condition that must be actively sought. Kahneman marvels at one study that found that quadriplegics have high emotional satisfaction relative to lottery winners. The lottery winners, we can guess, got swept up in and betrayed by materialism, while the quadriplegics worked hard to adjust to their condition and in so doing learned how to appreciate life better.

Finally, positive psychology suggests individual happiness is not self-indulgent but in the interest of society, since studies show happy people are more likely to do volunteer work, give to charity, and contribute to their communities in other ways. Robert Browning wrote, "[M]ake us happy and you make us good." A wonderful, quirky 1998 book by Dennis Prager, Happiness Is a Serious Problem, proposes that people actually have a civic duty to become happy because this will make them altruistic.

Luke says: DP discussed liberals in the media who are now loathing former President Bill Clinton after his pardons of billionaire Marc Rich and other misdeeds in his final days.

DP read excerpts from New York Times black lefty communist Bob Herbert who castigated Clinton and said Democracts should shun him.

DP: "I've said to friends over the past few years that I found it hard to believe that Clinton would go on to a happy life. The mills of the gods grind slowly, but ever so fine. Usually, we sleep in the bed we have made.

"Clinton is a profoundly unhealthy person. I feel sorry for him.

"The piling on now is ironic. He did much worse things, even with pardons. Why is it the Marc Rich pardon that's triggered this furor? That pales in comparison to his pardoning of the Puerto Rican terrorists who murdered people. Hardly anyone begged Clinton to pardon the terrorists. He just did it for Hillary Clinton's election.

"I feel much more relaxed now that George Bush is president. And I voted for John McCain [in the Republican primary]. I was not taken by George Bush from the beginning. I was taken with him from the debates on. And I said, to great derision in my emails, that I really liked Bush.

"One word sums up why I like this man. Real. When I dated, that was what I most sought. I can't stand fakery. I have the ability to quickly assess whether someone is real."

DP: Al Gore and Bill Clinton are fake. I'm told that Al Gore is a different man privately. Which is odd. I am not a different man privately. I do not have a different persona when a microphone is in front of me. It is public knowledge that the man has no friends. Even intimates did not feel like they knew him. People who work with me for a week know me.

Al Gore hired a woman [Naomi Wolf] to teach him how to be an Alpha Male. Isn't that about the most embarrassing revelation that can come out about oneself? How to come across as a male? Be real.

"I felt that I knew Bush within one week of his being on this country's radar. After eight years of Bill Clinton, I don't feel that I know him.

"Now I am at peace. We have somebody who is real. Do you have a sense of the hidden Dick Cheney? There's really two Dick Cheneys out there. Hello, this is him. I don't have to practice on what I will be. I don't have to wear different types of clothing. I don't need to wear tight jeans one day and come across as something else the next day.

"Real keeps people calmer. You are calmer around people who are calmer.

"Many people have commented on George Bush's confidence at his speech last night. Where does this come from? I think it comes from a deep sense of self knowledge. And he has a sense of mission that emanates from his faith. When you have this, you become less important and you gain in confidence. That's why you see a sense of serenity in George Bush which you don't see in Bill Clinton.

"Clinton has no sense of mission. He wanted to be president because he wanted to be president. George Bush wanted to be president to accomplish something. I've always worried about people who at a young age want to be president. Because at a young age, you don't have a developed sense of values. When you're aching to be president your whole life, it's for you. And when you're the focus of your life, there's less serenity in you.

"Part of the reason that Clinton loved Hollywood because it was so unreal. We don't know our actors... That is the essence of the great actor. You see an act.

"It was their celebrityhood that Clinton craved. He did not know these actors as human beings and he didn't care about them as such. Nor did they care about him as such. They cared about him as president. Which is why so many now are dumping on him. Because he's no longer president.

"There was nothing I found so depressing in his presidency as his joy of being in the company of an actor...

"There will be a greater peace felt in this society, even as our society sours, under Bush, than there was when our economy was great. And it will reflect the serenity and lack of self centeredness that comes from this man being president. Even if you don't agree with him.

"I didn't know this. I thought the policies of a president were overwhelmingly was important. But I have grown from the eight years of Bill Clinton and the six weeks of President Bush that the personality and values of the president is powerful. I was wrong. Mea culpa. I mocked the idea of people saying, 'How can you tell your kid not to cheat when the president...'

"The president helps sets a tone for a society. I was more offended by what went on in the Lincoln bedroom than what Clinton did with Monica.

"[Liberals recent condemnation of Clinton] is much more an indictment of the liberal world than it is of Clinton. Bill Clinton did nothing different in his final days in office. They are of less significance than the terrorist pardon."

Dennis then spent two hours challening his religious listeners over the case of Irene Updike, yesterday's guest, who rescued Jews during the Holocaust by having an affair with an elderly Nazi. We need to grapple with these issues to understand our own religious and moral codes.

Many religious people called, including the evangelist Gene Scott, and Lutheran pastor Capp Johnson. Many religious said the women sinned by having the affair but that she also did the right thing. It was right to save the lives, but the affair was still sinful.

It's striking how none of the clergy and few of the callers had the moral sophistication and compelling vision of Prager on these matters. The Christian clergy in particular just did not match up. They simply spouted their own religious rhetoric and did not really wrestle with "situational ethics."

DP believes that ethics are both situational and absolute. The situation determines the absolute.

2/27/01

Dennis spent his last two hours with a Roman Catholic woman, Irene, who rescued Jews during the Holocaust by having an affair with an elderly Nazi.

2/26/01

Dennis talked about his recent three days in Hong Kong.

DP: "It was the only place I've been that seemed to have more people in it than Manhattan. It is a city built vertically. I bet there are more escalators in Hong Kong than anywhere else on earth. Because it is all built up. There's no land.

"For those who say that crime is caused by congestion, they should look at Holland or Hong Kong. Congestion may cause you to desire to go to a rural area but it does not cause you to mug, rape, or murder.

"I've been to 72 countries... Though Bruce Herschonsen dwards me in this category as he does in many. I've never seen a taxi service that comes close to that of Hong Kong. I never waited longer than 30 seconds for one. New York City is supposed to be filled with taxis but there are so many rules against anyone actually owning a taxi.

"The unfailing courtesy of Hong Kong staggered me. I heard no yelling. It was quiet. The airline of Hong Kong is Cathay Pacific. I've flown in five times in the past month. The flight attendants make you feel that they actually like you.

"I could not tell a difference between Hong Kong under Chinese Communist rule or Hong Kong when it was governed by the British who obviously did a terrific job.

"I've asked on Bruce Herschonsen, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, because he's travelled so frequently to Hong Kong."

Bruce: "To me, Hong Kong is the greatest city in the world. It is Shangrila. It is no contest. The Chinese people, whenever they are free, look at Taiwan, are industrious and friendly. In Hong Kong, there is a gratitute for being free. And you have the highest life expectancy in the world."

Dennis: "That's funny because everyone smokes. I went with my 18-year old son David who loved it. And I said, 'David, did you notice that the people over there are smoking?' He said, 'No, I didn't.' 'Dave, you should. Dave, second hand smoke.' He started laughing."

DP: I saw so many luxury stores... Just miles upon miles of Rodeo Drive like streets. I saw more Gucci and other fancy stores than McDonalds.

Bruce: "In 1960, everyone was poor. It was three million at the time. Now it is 6.4 million. Today, you would feel safe walking at night at 3AM. If you had brought Fran with you, and for those who don't know, she's just a beautiful woman, if she was out on the street shopping at 3AM, which she could be, Dennis, if you were in your hotel room, you wouldn't worry about her. Hong Kong's a libertarian's paradise. It's a relaxed form of anarchy, yet there's so little crime.

"And it's mainly because of what the British government did. Nothing. They did exactly what every good government should do - nothing."

DP mentioned that some taxis now ask that you put on a seatbelt. Bruce groaned.

DP: "I don't know any place in the world where people are so nicely dressed. My son pointed that out to me. And David dresses like a teenager would dress. Certainly not formally. And he said to me, "I really like it. And I know that if I lived here, I know that I would dress better." How true. How true that our society influences us."

Bruce: "Look at what happened at the White House with dress. No more going to the White House in Levis."

DP: "I have no doubt that dress affects people's behavior.

"Britain made a big mistake in not allowing Hong Kong residents to emigrate to Britain. It's like importing gold.

"Bruce, you need a web site. So people can quickly get your thoughts."

In his second hour, Prager had on an expert in comparative religion. Huston Smith. His book World Religions has long been a standard for college religion courses. His latest book is "Why Religion Matters: The Fate Of The Human Spirit In An Age Of Disbelief."

Here are some reviews from Amazon.com: Why Religion Matters is a passionate, accessible, ambitious manifesto written by one of the very few people qualified to address its titular topic. Huston Smith is the grand old man of religious scholarship. Raised by missionary parents in China, Smith went on to teach at M.I.T. and U.C. Berkeley, among others, and his World's Religions has long been the standard introductory textbook for college religion courses. The subject of Why Religion Matters, Smith writes, "is the importance of the religious dimension of human life--in individuals, in societies, and in civilizations." Smith believes that the religious dimension of human life has been devalued by the rise of modern science: we have now reached a point at which "modern Westerners . . . forsaking clear thinking, have allowed ourselves to become so obsessed with life's material underpinnings that we have written science a blank check ... concerning what constitutes knowledge and justified belief." In candid, direct style, Smith describes the evolution of intellectual history from pre-modern to postmodern times, and the spiritual sensibilities that have been shunted "by our misreading of modern science." In the book's final sections, Smith avoids the folly of predicting the future, instead focusing on "features of the religious landscape that are invariant" and therefore may serve as "a map that can orient us, wherever the future may bring."

Satire writes: Smith has written a great book. He's told us why we're unhappy, and how to become happier. And if that isn't the kind of book that's needed today, I don't know what is. As Smith admits, almost everything he says has been said before; he's just said it best. Best or not, his writing style is profoundly annoying. I thought he had a touch of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder until he admitted later on that, as a teacher, he's a great believer in repetition. At times he seems more concerned that the reader comprehend the structure of his text, rather than what he's saying. He seems to be trying to make perfectly structured arguments that will hold water with his academic peers. I wish he had forgotten those peers, and I also wish he had had a less indulgent editor.

MtChalice writes: Having read this book, with some difficulty in sticking to it, I have to admit that the word "shrill," comes to mind. I was disappointed with how Mr. Smith tried to approach this subject and confess to having learned a great deal more reading David Ray Griffin's book Religion and Scientific Naturalism. At least there, concrete steps for both Religion and Science were given. Mr. Smith, using broken flashlight analogies, diatribes against science, and references to fictional books (Kingsolver) tries to build a case for traditionalism. He is far from successful.

Still, there are passages that do provide some food for thought and a bit of enlightenment. I was looking for more concrete understanding of the opposing views. In the end, Mr. Smith seems to lay the whole responsibility for reconciling science and religion at science's door. Intuitively, one knows that religion owns some of the problems with the reconciliation, so what are they? Perhaps theologians have enough "world view" to understand how science can coexist with religion, but what about the masses who have to live every day with the conflicts between what they observe, what is accepted knowledge, what is practical and what is the religious instruction given to them to believe? I did not find real help with these questions.

Luke says: Huston retired two years ago for the third time.

Huston: "I'd have students who'd follow me back to my office and say, 'we love what these religions are saying but we can't believe them because the scientific worldview that we are trained in everywhere else contradicts the possibility of another world, which all these religions affirm.'

"So I decided in what may be my culminating book to address that issue head on. And to argue that science with all its awesome achievements does not retire the traditional religious worldviews in their contention that there is another world beyond this one."

DP: "I know a man who would love to believe but he says he can't because there is no proof for God. As though Science has to explain God, and if it doesn't, there is no God."

Huston: "Science has discovered nothing that retires the religious worldview. Science can only deal with things in our material universe. Value, purpose and meaning, is where we live our lives, and the scientific method does not connect to these things."

In his third hour, Prager discussed the flat abdominal mucles on a couple of the characters on the Survivor TV show in Australia.

DP: "Calloway's tummy is so washboard it is unreal. Her gut looks like a 12-year old boy who's starving, it is so lean... Apparently this woman has become the sought after physical model who are calling trainers up to get her stomach.

"Men and women who have washboard abs typically have body fat around 7%. Women often stop ovulating and having their menstrual cycles when their bodyfat falls below 12%."

DP: There's something unfeminine about women working out hours a day. And unmasculine for men to work out hours a day. These washboard abs require an obsession that takes people away from work, socializing, family and friends... The sculpted body has become a premier value for many.

Anthony Cole writes on the Prager List: DP... stated that the reason for his move was to remain in nation-wide syndication. Still it seems to me that he has landed closer to the fringe. Sponsors like gold-coin dealers and hair restoration proposals make me wary. George Putnam? Res ipsa loquitur. More irksome to me was his decision to dis-continue The Prager Perspective -- naturally just a few months after I finally got around to subscribing. KABC on-air persons no longer hold any appeal for me, except for the Sunday morning computer & technology show which allegedly has moved to Saturday, but which I forget to tune-in because I'm busy and it's difficult for me to re-program my cluttered brain.

This morning while in the car, DP had begun to extol the virtues of Hong Kong -- practically no crime, everything is vertical -- no flat open space, no yelling or screaming. What a city. I left the car before I heard more, but really such sweeping generalities from one normally so insightful bothered me. If his comments are largely accurate, may I suggest that DP experienced a very sanitized, bowdlerized visit. Perhaps it was jet lag.

Mike Sorenson writes: I heard a bit of his praisings of Hong Kong, a comment that while sitting in a resturaunt, his son didn't notice that the people sitting next to them were smoking. I personally HATE cigarette smoke and I'm certain that both my wife and I would notice the smokers. The only reason we wouldn't is if the resturaunt were so filled with smoke from the previous smokers.

Smoking in public places is an issue I am personally torn by. I do believe in personal freedom, that of the smoker enjoying something they like as long as it doesn't harm me. I find the smoke very annoying, but I believe that all the hype on second-hand-smoke is entirely blown out of proportion.

Visited Oregon a bit ago where it is legal to smoke in resturaunts, and noticed how much I enjoy the clear air in California's resturaunts. I suppose I'd feel differently if I were a smoker...