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Poetry Prize Goes to Poster Whom Some Call “Tim”

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Picking up on my Beaver post below, Tim writes:

Barry’s query forms an eco-humdinger
As beavers, by nature, give some greens the finger.
I opine that the test
(to make a formal arrest?)
Means the cop’d have to be Peter Singer.

13 Replies to “Poetry Prize Goes to Poster Whom Some Call “Tim”

  1. 1
    RoyK says:

    Barry, the second line in that poem has too many syllables, which totally ruins the anapestic meter of the limerick. How about this one instead?

    The story told by Barry Arrington
    Is not, in fact, a very jarring one.
    He hopes to prove by anecdotal tale
    How greener laws and people both will fail.
    I doubt he really cares about the laws
    That govern Polish logging, or their flaws.
    (A normal, bright, American attorney
    Would find a case in Poland quite a journey.)
    He wants to show that scientists who find
    That matter’s inextricable from mind
    Are prone to contradiction, and may fib.
    But Barry only proves himself quite glib
    And full of self-regard — just like a lawyer!
    (I understand why he’s his own employer.)

  2. 2
    Tim says:

    Sarcasm Alert!!

    RoyK, you don’t know what you are talking about. The anapest is derived from the final syllable of humding-er which creates the both the rhythm and the flow of the second line AND its “extra” syllables. The actual metrical difficulty is found in the words “Barry’s query,” but I thought to myself both that I liked the approximate rhyme of “Barry’s” and query” and that it is only a limerick, after all.

    Royk, second, you have missed the entire point of his post which is surprising to me because, without too much self-regard, I nailed it in five lines of limerick and apparently I don’t even know what I’m doing.

    It is not about green laws failing. It is about the goofy attempts of some to extend the moral status of humans to animals. They ignore the fact that with such status would come responsibility under the law, along with the concomitant ideas of culpability, punishment, and even consciousness. Really, is it necessary to explain this?

    Royk, lastly, and most importantly, don’t think you are safe just because “Royk” is difficult to rhyme. . . criticize my limerick again, and you’ll see!

  3. 3
    RoyK says:

    Tim, the meter is more or less anapestic (short-short-long) throughout, with a “feminine” (unstressed) ending. The anapest doesn’t depend on “humdinger.” Here are the first two lines:

    Barry’s QUER/y forms an E/co-humDING/er
    As BEAV/ers, by NA/ture, give SOME/ greens the FING/er.

    But the second line has a whole extra anapestic foot.

    It’d be better if you just took out “by Nature,” leading to

    As beavers give some greens the finger.

    Here endeth the prosody lesson.

    As for the issues, I know what Barry’s writing about (hence my lines about matter and mind). He wants to show some contradiction in materialism. It’s just a bonus that he gets to trash environmentalism at the same time.

  4. 4
    Tim says:

    You were warned.
    🙂

  5. 5
    RoyK says:

    Tim, make sure your response is in a mildly competent iambic pentameter. If it’s really long, you might go for dactylic hexameter, the meter of Homeric epic.

  6. 6
    ribczynski says:

    Tim wrote:

    It is about the goofy attempts of some to extend the moral status of humans to animals. They ignore the fact that with such status would come responsibility under the law, along with the concomitant ideas of culpability, punishment, and even consciousness. Really, is it necessary to explain this?

    Not necessary at all, because it’s wrong. We accord children moral status, but we do not hold them responsible under the law.

  7. 7
    Tim says:

    When beating a dead horse, how dead is dead?

    Rib, would it surprise you to learn that “the law” does in fact reflect the moral status of children? At this point I would ask that you try to discern the at times nuanced but fundamental differences between natural law, mere social contract, and what is written legal code. Try to determine which drives which (if I have you right, you’ll just discard natural law, but you still have social contracts to deal with. . . )

    Suppose both a child of seven as well as a dog of seven (what’s that — like 49 human years? So, it should really know better) each takes a candy bar from a store. In the case of the child, we’d agree that there should be some type of adjudication — for the sake of the child! No judge and jury, perhaps, but adjudicated in some form. With the dog, it is only necessary to roll up a newspaper and slap the dog’s owner.

    Of course that is not EXACTLY the point, but I find that I am dismayed that I have even furthered this discussion this far. I’ve got limericks to write. . .

  8. 8
    ribczynski says:

    Tim,

    Your counterargument fails on two counts:

    1. We punish our dogs for their actions, just as we punish our children.

    2. Suppose that a person is mentally incapable of discerning right from wrong. We absolve him of responsibility for his actions, but we don’t rescind all of his rights.

    The point you are trying to make — that rights necessarily entail responsibilities — is simply wrong.

  9. 9
    CannuckianYankee says:

    ribczynski: “1. We punish our dogs for their actions, just as we punish our children.”

    “2. Suppose that a person is mentally incapable of discerning right from wrong. We absolve him of responsibility for his actions, but we don’t rescind all of his rights.”

    This is completely incorrect. We don’t punish dogs in the same way that we punish fellow humans as if dogs have some moral obligation to behave in a certain way and must suffer the consequences for moral iniquity. We punish dogs as a means to train them to behave in certain desireable ways in keeping with their domestication. If we did not keep dogs as pets, we would leave them entirely alone – and in fact, there are some societies that do just that. Of course, we also train young children to behave, but eventually children learn moral responsibility that dogs cannot learn. Children do not have the instinctual capacity to live in the wild as dogs do. They must be trained to live in moral society, and when they (as adults) don’t live up to the standards of moral society by transgressing the law, we have jails and prisons.

    As with the mentally incompetent, we also make an attempt to train them, and yes, we do take away certain rights and freedoms from the mentally incompetent for moral iniquities as well – we call it “treatment,” but it’s still incarceration – the State Mental Hospital.

    There are no jails for dogs. If they misbehave by killing, we simply put them out. They can’t be rehabilitated, nor can they recompense for their “iniquities.” To force them to do so would be meaningless to a dog. In fact, they would probably be quite content in a jail as long as they’re fed and get an occasional run in the yard.

    I think the beaver example is a good one – I also like Tim’s limerick.

  10. 10
    ribczynski says:

    CannuckianYankee wrote:

    We punish dogs as a means to train them to behave in certain desireable ways in keeping with their domestication… Of course, we also train young children to behave, but eventually children learn moral responsibility that dogs cannot learn.

    Right. Children have to learn moral responsibility, but we grant them rights before they do so, even if they are incapable of ever doing so.

    As I said before: rights don’t necessarily entail responsibilities.

    Children do not have the instinctual capacity to live in the wild as dogs do. They must be trained to live in moral society, and when they (as adults) don’t live up to the standards of moral society by transgressing the law, we have jails and prisons.

    Yep. Only adults may be imprisoned, but both children and adults have rights. More evidence for my contention.

    As with the mentally incompetent, we also make an attempt to train them, and yes, we do take away certain rights and freedoms from the mentally incompetent for moral iniquities as well – we call it “treatment,” but it’s still incarceration – the State Mental Hospital.

    First, reread what I wrote:

    Suppose that a person is mentally incapable of discerning right from wrong. We absolve him of responsibility for his actions, but we don’t rescind all of his rights. [emphasis added]

    If Tim were correct, we would revoke all of the rights of any mental patient who could not demonstrate moral responsibility.

    In reality we only revoke certain rights, and only as necessary to protect the patient and others. Who would argue, for example, that mental patients don’t retain their right to live?

    Granting rights to animals would not require us to hold them responsible under the law. It simply does not follow.

    For more on this topic, see this UD thread from three years ago: Why no pet penitentiaries?

    I was commenting as ‘keiths’ at the time.

  11. 11
    Tim says:

    “If Tim were correct, we would revoke all of the rights of any mental patient who could not demonstrate moral responsibility.”-Rib

    I may not have written clearly, so that’s on me, but I certainly would not mean to imply that in order to be endowed with rights, a person has to demonstrate moral responsibility. I thought that my example of the child and the dog would be clear in so much as I wrote that the punishment was for the sake of the child. “For the sake of the child” means to me “because the child is a person.” Perhaps I should have added that the dog’s punishment was for the sake of the carpet.

    “Granting rights to animals would not require us to hold them responsible under the law. It simply does not follow.”-Rib

    Perhaps we disagree on the idea of “granting”. I’d like to recast that as “recognizing” rights (i.e. rights already endowed by nature of who we are). If that is done, then your statement of what would follow is up for grabs. After all, how can we say that animals have the rights that we do even apart from any talk of responsibilities or competencies? The question arises whether and how those rights are actually conferred. Answer: personhood. In other words, personhood precedes rights.

    That is why I disagree with your idea of granting animals human rights without the corresponding responsibilities under the law. The responsibility under the law piece is second to the idea that by “artificially endowing” such rights, you are claiming personhood for animals, and that dog don’t hunt unless you are a certain professor at Princeton.

    This is why my limerick was so stinkin’ good. (I still like the rollicking second line’s extra foot! For a discussion of that, go to mylimerickrocks.com.)

  12. 12
    ribczynski says:

    Tim wrote:

    I may not have written clearly, so that’s on me, but I certainly would not mean to imply that in order to be endowed with rights, a person has to demonstrate moral responsibility.

    Actually, you were quite clear:

    It is about the goofy attempts of some to extend the moral status of humans to animals. They ignore the fact that with such status would come responsibility under the law, along with the concomitant ideas of culpability, punishment, and even consciousness.

    In other words: no responsibility, no rights.

    I thought that my example of the child and the dog would be clear in so much as I wrote that the punishment was for the sake of the child. “For the sake of the child” means to me “because the child is a person.” Perhaps I should have added that the dog’s punishment was for the sake of the carpet.

    Except that it also works the other way around: sometimes we punish children for the sake of the carpet, and we punish dogs for their own sake (because we love them and want to train them to live successfully with us and other humans).

    Also, you’ve raised the issue of personhood, as if it were self-evident that only a person is entitled to rights. How do you justify that?

    I think a much better criterion for “moral status” is whether an entity is capable of suffering.

    After all, how can we say that animals have the rights that we do even apart from any talk of responsibilities or competencies?

    I’m not saying that animals should have all of the rights that we do. For example, I’m perfectly comfortable with denying them the right to vote. Other rights, such as the right to humane treatment, are much more fundamental.

    In other words, personhood precedes rights.

    That’s an assertion, not a justification.

  13. 13
    Tim says:

    I will stand by what I wrote.

    “Except that it also works the other way around: sometimes we punish children for the sake of the carpet, and we punish dogs for their own sake (because we love them and want to train them to live successfully with us and other humans).”-rib

    “Reversing” the examples is not going to help your case. If you punish the child for the sake of the carpet, you are not increasing the moral status of the carpet! You simply are choosing to ignore the moral agency of the child in that instance. You claim to punish the dog “for its sake” so that it can “live successfully” and by that I take you to mean, “to do the right thing,” but I would counter that there is a fundamental difference between training a dog to do the right thing and training a child to choose to do the right thing.

    “Also, you’ve raised the issue of personhood, as if it were self-evident that only a person is entitled to rights. How do you justify that?”-rib

    To clarify, I meant this to be a reference to human rights, and you are right, it is an assertion. Do we need to justify things we hold to be self-evident? “We hold these truths . . .”

    Moral status? Getting back to the beavers, I think you will find that what we were talking about was moral agency. I do not find an entity’s ability to suffer criteria for moral agency, but I should also say that I am not really sure what you meant.

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