The Shining Wire


articles and essays by

Jeffrey R. Snyder



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Social, Political and Religious Commentary


Unrestrained Appetites, Unlimited Government.   Examination of Wickard v. Filburn, the watershed Supreme Court case that authorized social legislation under the Constitution’s commerce clause.


Numbered by the Beast.  The state assigns numbers to its subjects.


Rights Without Exceptions.  Are the rights in the Bill of Rights categorical, or are they subject to exceptions when outweighed by “substantial state interests”?


The Right Right for Our Time.  Why the right of abortion is the right right for our time.


Words We Do Not Want To Hear.  A Tolstoyan response to the events of September 11, 2001.    


Pledging Allegiance.  The flap over deleting “under God” from the Pledge.


Good Men Make Good Rhinoceroses.  Virtues are no bar to the transformation of men into monsters.


I No Longer Understand My Country.  A French woman protests her treatment by airport security by removing her clothing. 


Deicide and The Passion.  The flap over whether Mel Gibson’s movie will arouse anti-Semitism.  The significance of deicide.


Are Bible sales more desirable than porn sales?  Self-explanatory.  A blog entry.


Responsible Only For Our Good Intentions.  The state is, by its nature, irresponsible and unaccountable.


Why do atheists believe the state exists?  Self-explanatory.  A blog entry.


Democracy, Antidote to Terrorism?   The Bush Adminstration claims that transforming Iraq into a democracy will end its terrorism and support for terrorism.   Is democracy an antidote to terrorism? 



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Gun Control


Nation of Cowards - Essays on the Ethics of Gun Control.  The book.  


Reviews:  The Morality Behind the Second Amendment,” by Robert J. Cottrol writing in American Enterprise magazine; “Still a Nation of Cowards,” by Dr. Michael S. Brown; and Review by Steven E. Henigson, editor of Combat!   See also the review by Scott Lahti in the November 2001 issue of Chronicles magazine (unfortunately, not available on line except to subscribers). The unabridged, unedited version is here.


A Nation of Cowards.  The 1993 essay.


Fighting Back:  Crime, Self-Defense and the Right to Carry a Handgun.  A Cato Institute Policy Analysis.


Touchy Feely Rights.  The authors of a public health study recommend gun control in order to help us “feel” safer. 


Gun Control and the Pursuit of Safety.  The implications of making “safety” one’s highest value.


Facing Facts Without Questioning Values.  Disarmament in England isn’t working, but accepting this fact leads only to calls for more of the same.


Interview by Carlo Stagnaro.  Reflections on the gun control debate and the right to keep and bear arms.


The Terrible Fear that People May Exercise Their Rights.  The Ohio appellate court rules that Ohioans have the right to carry firearms for self-defense  (Appeared also as an editorial on the Fox News website on April 18, 2002).


Building the Gun Gulag.  NRA support for the Bush Administration’s Project Exile.


What You Love Will Be Used Against You.  Using what is best in us to control us.


Walter Mitty’s Second Amendment.  A people retains its gun rights – just in case its government ever becomes tyranncal.



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Author Notes

Born 1955 in Pennsylvania.  I graduated from Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA), in 1977 with an AB in European History, and from New York University School of Law (New York, NY) in 1981. I am married, have three children, and work in Manhattan. 


Many of my recent writings contain reflections on Christianity.  However, readers are cautioned to not leap to the conclusion that I am a Christian.  I am not, for at least two reasons.  First, I do not believe that Christ is God or was God as man.  Second, I believe that Christ wanted disciples, not worshippers.  I believe that men substitute worship for the requirement of acting in accordance with God’s stated will, that most activities of the church are erected on this evasion, and are therefore subject to the condemnation made by Christ in Matthew 23: 29 - 31.  I an not an atheist or agnostic.  I believe, as Kierkegaard put it, “God does not exist.  God creates.”  


I pursue inquiries that are interesting to me, because I am trying to understand certain things.  My primary interest is morality and ethics.  Christianity posits a qualitatively different ethics - and view of man - than humanist ethics, as reflected in Aristotle’s Ethics or William Bennett’s Book of Virtues.  My long-term project is producing a book on ethics.