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Thursday, December 11, 2008 - 12:06pmSanction this postReply
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Erica,

This was an Ellsworth Toohey quote. Far from expressing Rand's sentiments or philosophy, it expresses precisely the opposite. When people quote Ayn Rand, they should be careful to avoid quoting her villains as if they were speaking for her! This is a particularly egregious form of quoting out of context and one which could be considered libelous, were it not for the fact that Rand is no longer alive.

Outrageous!

- Bill



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Thursday, December 11, 2008 - 12:26pmSanction this postReply
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I believe it is proper for an authors name to appear after a quotation, whether in fiction or not. I agree with you Bill, this is certainly not Rand's view, however she is the writer of this statement.

Think of it this way: if you should mark a quote as coming from the character in a story (Toohey in this case) then when Galt is quoted his name, even though he is not real person, should be cited too. I would prefer it be done this way, though the writers name should appear somewhere.

“We are all brothers under the skin. And I, for one, would be willing to skin all of humanity to prove it.” - Elsworth Toohey, from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

This would provide some context, however, as far as I can tell this is not the proper way to cite a quotation, whether in fiction or non.

One further note: Bill, you have been much too feisty lately. When I get like that listening to some music or reading a funny story helps.



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Friday, December 12, 2008 - 12:02amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Bill!

Now that makes sense...that the quote was actually from Toohey. And you're 100% correct; it does give a false impression when an author is quoted as having said something that was actually spoken by a fictional character they created.

So the program was sloppy in attributing credit for that quote.
By the way, I did find that exact quote attributed directly to Rand other places on the web, as well.
What a shame.




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Friday, December 12, 2008 - 12:09amSanction this postReply
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"We are all brothers under the skin. And I, for one, would be willing to skin all of humanity to prove it." - Elsworth Toohey, from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

This would provide some context, however, as far as I can tell this is not the proper way to cite a quotation, whether in fiction or non. (Steve)
Why would that be an improper way to cite a quotation, Steve? I have certainly seen quotes attributed to characters (and the character's authors) in exactly the same way you provided as an example. It's the only proper thing to do, in my opinion, so as not to cause confusion.





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Friday, December 12, 2008 - 12:14amSanction this postReply
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Steve,

To attribute that statement to Ayn Rand, who is not only a novelist but a philosopher who has expressed controversial views on a variety of subjects, including the virtue of selfishness, is to give the impression that that statement is a part of her philosophy as well. It is at the very least a highly misleading quotation without filling in the context. Rand's views have been misrepresented enough without suggesting something like this!

- Bill



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Friday, December 12, 2008 - 8:22amSanction this postReply
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In a dissertation, yes; in a TV script, I'm not so sure.  The writer liked the line, and he gave credit where credit was due.  Taking time out for footnotes would have made for some conspicuously clunky dialogue.  If this easy-to-misinterpret quote were part of an extensive pattern you'd be right.

Shortly after I discovered Rand as a teenager, a woman who should have known better tried to tell me that the incident in the Starnesville episode, wherein a man bashes a little girl's braces out, was an example of Rand's ethics in practice.




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Friday, December 12, 2008 - 10:57amSanction this postReply
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In a dissertation, yes; in a TV script, I'm not so sure. The writer liked the line, and he gave credit where credit was due. Taking time out for footnotes would have made for some conspicuously clunky dialogue. If this easy-to-misinterpret quote were part of an extensive pattern you'd be right.
Why does it have to be part of an extensive pattern? Toohey was a character in one of Rand's novels. If that character were espousing her philosophy, fine. But in this case, he was espousing its exact antithesis. To say, without any further explanation, that Rand said this implies that it was one of her views, especially since she is not only a novelist, but a philosopher with a very radical set of ideas.

The reference didn't require a footnote. All it required was the crediting of Toohey as one of Rand's characters -- to wit,

Quoting Ellsworth Toohey, from Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead: "We are all brothers under the skin. And I, for one, would be willing to skin all of humanity to prove it." What's so clunky about that?

- Bill



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Friday, December 12, 2008 - 11:14amSanction this postReply
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Bill is right, but it needs to be taken further. It is wrong to link an author's name with a belief espoused by their fictional character unless the context makes that fact clear or there is reason to know the belief quoted matches the author's own beliefs.

A quote from Ellsworth Toohey, a villain in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead, shows Rand's distaste for Altruists: "We are all brothers under the skin. And I, for one, would be willing to skin all of humanity to prove it."

When someone makes a quote of any kind, the obligation is on them to ensure that the quote is fair. As to whether or not it becomes clunky to do so in a given context... well, that's their problem. They don't have to use the quote - they can try to write their own words.



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