|Sorry Linz, as much as I love you, we disagree big time here.
I see this as a false dichotomy.
Where on earth did Nathaniel Branden say that you are not supposed to kick the ass of evil fucks? I haven't found that in any of his writings.
I believe that the Talmud quote was merely a call to use common sense before being hostile and nothing more. He judged that common sense before hostility has not been exercised very much by proponents of Objectivism. That is my read and I happen to believe that also.
As to alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction and all the other addictions being self-inflicted (your term), as if the addict chose to be that way, that is simply wrong. Most often the person engaged in some kind of behavior, played with fire, and a monster grew within him/her that had nothing to do with choosing to be like that. That monster is a capacity of the human condition, not a self-inflicted wound. It has many roots, including biochemical propensities that have nothing to do with volition.
You proclaim loudly that you are not an alcoholic. OK, maybe you have to proclaim it because of the Drooling Beast article. I believe you. So then, by what standard does that make you an expert on alcoholism all of a sudden so that you can make such light of it? Since you are not an alcoholic, nor, I presume, one studying alcoholism, what are your credentials to do this? Your feelings?
I happen to be an alcoholic and a drug addict (not practicing for years, thank goodness).
You can make light of what inner resources are needed to overcome addictions. I will not. I know what it takes. So, play if you must, even if it indirectly is at my expense. Actually I do not mind because I hold you in extremely high regard and I wish you well. On this issue, I know you simply do not know what you are talking about. My thought here is may you never have to face something like what I did. May my own enemies never have to face something like that.
Does that make me a hero? No, I do not believe so. I did what I had to back then. I consider myself more of a survivor than anything else. Is there virtue in the struggle, though? There most definitely is. Starting with the choice to live. Not automatically wanting to live, like most people have built into their subconscious. Choosing. A serious choice. In your face and you can't ignore it.
Try it sometime, then sit back and watch someone belittle the need to do it.
The possibility of falling into addiction is part of the human condition and ignoring it is not a virtue. It is simply ignoring it.
I used to have a friend in the underworld in São Paulo (I have lacked sense over the years and have had friends in the most unlikely places) who used to say, "When you see a man in the gutter, go step on him and step hard." He used to illustrate, pretending to stomp, and his face showed extreme hatred when he did.
Is that what you are saying also? Is kicking someone who is down your idea of KASS? Well it sure is easy.
But I don't think you think that anymore than I do. My own fight is against strong enemies, not the weak and debilitated - and you well know that I do kick ass when called on.
Saying that it has to be one or the other is wrong. False dichotomy. The "all or nothing" type error in thinking Joe Rowland mentioned in his most recent Free Radical article on false dichotomies (which kicked ass, by the way). I see much virtue in kicking ass. And I see much virtue in extending a hand to help another get on his feet when he is down, if he shows that he wants to get up. Where does it say in Objectivist ethics that this is evil? I have not read anything.
My former father-in-law used to have a quote on his office wall from the Arabian culture that I love. Since I am going from Portuguese to English in my mind, there might be an English version with other words than the ones I give here. It goes something like this:
I dearly wish for long life and health for my enemies so that they can behold my victory on their feet.
Well so do I. I do not want to be a fly swatter. I want strong enemies. That is part of what KASS is about to me. Not belittling the efforts of others to understand and find cures for mental illness and addiction.
You can believe it or not, but often there is a strong enemy within a person's own mind. It's nature is varied and is not always volitional. But often it can be overcome with volition. That is just another type of battle that has to be fought with reason. It will not be won by a person belittling himself. It needs rational understanding, just like anything else in human life.
If you forgive my saying so, you have not understood the context of the Branden Talmud quote, using it as as a rule of thumb, and made the jump to redefinition of hero also. He did not do that. He did not redefine hero. He asked for common sense, and I suspect he based it in part on valuing rational human life.