Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Forgotten Crusade Against Slavery from the 1680s

Francisco José de Jaca de Aragón and Epifanio de Moirans de Borgoña were two forward-thinking dudes who advocated the end of slavery and the payment of reparations to its victims as early as 1681.

You’d think de Jaca and de Moirans would be world famous, but the record of their struggle was lost for 300 years. Even today, a Google search on their names yields very little. From an article by Liliana Obregón:
During their lengthy captivity, de Jaca and de Moirans wrote in their defense that the institution of slavery violates natural law, divine law and the law of nations. By making reference to biblical texts and religious authorities, they carefully refute the arguments that justified slavery and conclude that it was a "manifest robbery of the negroes’ freedom." Basing their argument on Saint Thomas' doctrine of restitution, de Jaca and de Moirans demanded compensation as the only way of redeeming—in part—the “terrible sins” committed by all who had participated in the slave trade. De Jaca wrote "these negroes, and their ancestors, are free, not only as Christians, but also in their native land. And as such, … the obligation exists to restore their freedom, but also, in pursuit of justice, to pay them what they would have inherited …, what would have enriched them, the lost time, the labor and the damages that they have suffered… for their enslavement and personal service…".
Most significantly, de Moirans and de Jaca concluded that the tragedy of slavery was not based on an erroneous theological interpretation, nor on the innocent acceptance of a just cause, but rather on the intentional deafness and blindness of all of those who participated in some aspect of the trade, be they as vendors or recipients of slaves. The two Capuchins repeatedly noted that there were enough legitimate arguments against the trade in human beings for all to have rejected it. Aristotle's just cause theory— it was widely known— did not apply to the case of the enslaved Africans brought to the Indies. The only possible conclusion was that the participants in the slave trade were acting in bad faith or, at a minimum, that so much injustice had blinded those who could otherwise have denounced and impeded it. De Jaca affirms "If the professors, theologians, confessors, religious men had not been silent dogs in the Indies, then iniquity and injustice would not have developed so enormously and without remedy."

The rest of this fascinating article is here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Claude Debussy Plays Claude Debussy on Spankin’ New CD!!!

Here are a couple of musical clips of Claude Debussy playing his own compositions. They are each several minutes long and they take a few moments to load:

Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

La Plus Que Lente

More from the New York Times.

Another take on Debussy from Isao Tomita:

Saturday, July 21, 2007 allows you to make a personalized animated character in less than five minutes. Here's mine:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Japanese Chimpanzee Takes a Train Ride Alone (Except for his Dog)

Here’s an amazing film from Japan of a chimpanzee who is learning how to take a train ride.

More on Pan-Kun the chimpanzee here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Billy Collins on YouTube

Where else but on YouTube could you find these brief little gems from Billy Collins?

The Best Cigarette:

The Dead:

Now and Then:


The Country

Billy Collins Live

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Classic Low-Tech Cartoon

Four minutes of pure joy: Roobarb and Custard