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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Gaia

During the height (or depths) of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky debacle, the President's Democrat and media defenders took no end of delight in comparing critics of the his boorish behavior with the Puritans. I always found that amusing because given the number of babies the typical Puritan mommy pushed out, they and their mates must have screwed like bunnies (even adulterously if, as scholars believe, Hawthorne's famous account was based on actual incident).

Lest you think, however, those days of insufferable self-righteous overseers of our souls are ages past, that Puritanism, described by Mencken as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy," no longer obtains, think again. Ann Althouse (via Instapundit) points to a list enumerating, albeit tongue-in-cheek, proper behavior all good environmentalists best engage in if they, like the Reverend Dimsdale, want to avoid charges of hypocrisy. Some suggestions include
Your weight should be at the low end of normal, indicating that you are not overconsuming the products of agriculture.

You should not engage in vigorous physical exercise, as this will increase your caloric requirements. You may do simple weight-lifting or calisthenics to keep in shape. Check how many calories per hour are burned and choose a form of exercise that burns as few calories as possible.

Restrict your use of transportation. Do not assume that walking or biking is less productive of carbon emissions than using a highly efficient small car. Do not go anywhere you don't have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast.
And so forth. Of course, we all know not one environmentalist in a thousand would ever consider such a harsh and ascetic regime; give the Puritans' their due, they at least attempted to practice what they preached. But as far as a bullying insistence that the rest of us, anyway, should forswear pleasurable activity and creature comforts to atone for our sinful existence, the modern environmentalist and Puritan of yore are two peas in a pod. Mencken could easily have been describing 21st century environmentalists (and the left-liberals in general) when he wrote the following.
The Puritan's utter lack of aesthetic sense, his distrust of all romantic emotion, his unmatchable intolerance of opposition, his unbreakable belief in his own bleak and narrow views, his savage cruelty of attack, his lust for relentless and barbarous persecution-- these things have put an almost unbearable burden up on the exchange of ideas in the United States.

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