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Discussing Atlas in the library is a "happening"

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Lynne Bourque of Littleton, an environmental engineer by training and a home school mom, has started an “Atlas Shrugged” reading group to help readers share, understand and discuss Rand’s classic novel.

“So far, we are meeting once a month, and the idea is to meet twice a month,” said Bourque, who leads the group meetings at Chelmsford Public Library. “I read the book 20 years ago and just started re-reading it last year. It has had a resurgence in popularity, and I just wanted to talk about it with other people.”

The group follows a study guide at the site, www.exploreaynrand.com, bywriter and blogger Diana Hsieh, who obtained her PhD in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009.

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“ I’m just someone who is very interested in the ideas presented in the book,” said Bourque. “It has ideas such as individualism versus collectivism, free market versus government control, capitalism versus stateism.”

Bourque said some prominent ideas in the book – such as the virtues of smoking – don’t hold up as well as they did when the book was published in 1957.

But Bourque feels the argument about government’s role in free enterprise and the lives of individuals makes for potently relevant food for thought now as then.

On the shoulders of giants

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Bourque said some prominent ideas in the book – such as the virtues of smoking – don’t hold up as well as they did when the book was published in 1957.

I'm glad to see that people are getting together like this to discuss Atlas Shrugged.

But . . .

Sigh?#@! While certain characters certainly smoke and certain poetic descriptions of cigarette smoke do appear in the book, smoking per se is not a prominent "idea" in the book, nor was Miss Rand holding up smoking as a virtue. It's a simple fact: people smoked in the 1950s . . . that's what they did. Horror of horrors: some still do!

Get over it!

Such statements tell me more about the Kool-Aid drinking, anti-smoking authoritarianism of the persons making them than about Miss Rand or her work. They are used, more often than not, in the form of an ad hominem to draw one's attention away from and ultimately discredit Miss Rand's truly prominent ideas.

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Bourque said some prominent ideas in the book – such as the virtues of smoking – don’t hold up as well as they did when the book was published in 1957.

I'm glad to see that people are getting together like this to discuss Atlas Shrugged.

But . . .

Sigh?#@! While certain characters certainly smoke and certain poetic descriptions of cigarette smoke do appear in the book, smoking per se is not a prominent "idea" in the book, nor was Miss Rand holding up smoking as a virtue. It's a simple fact: people smoked in the 1950s . . . that's what they did. Horror of horrors: some still do!

Notice that that attribution was not a quote. It's unlikely that someone would volunteer something like that out of the blue, let alone call "smoking" a "virtue" on his own. It seems to have been planted, provoked, and rewritten by the reporter, who also editorialized in the second sentence of the article with this gratuitous, unsourced statement:

Some critics argue it was also a celebration of capitalism and wealth without social responsibility, and a paean to male superiority, pollution, and smoking.

What "critics", for what purpose, and in what context do "critics argue" that? This is a prime example of 'weasel-worded' non-objective reporting inserting the writer's views into the story to argue against what she sees, under the guise of straight reporting.

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Notice that that attribution was not a quote. It's unlikely that someone would volunteer something like that out of the blue, let alone call "smoking" a "virtue" on his own. It seems to have been planted, provoked, and rewritten by the reporter, who also editorialized in the second sentence of the article with this gratuitous, unsourced statement:
Some critics argue it was also a celebration of capitalism and wealth without social responsibility, and a paean to male superiority, pollution, and smoking.

What "critics", for what purpose, and in what context do "critics argue" that? This is a prime example of 'weasel-worded' non-objective reporting inserting the writer's views into the story to argue against what she sees, under the guise of straight reporting.

Thank-you! I had the same thoughts and questions as I read the piece . . . .

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