Reading the onslaught of angry denunciations of Burger King by mental-health organizations and mainstream-media reporters this past week reminded me of a characteristic of the Left not often commented on: a certain joylessness, even an antipathy to the little joys that contribute more than almost anything else to most people’s ability to endure life’s difficulties.
These characteristics further reinforce the view that Leftism functions as a secular religion. Like the medieval Christians who wore hairshirts and the Puritans who thought dancing was sacrilegious, the Left, consciously or not, is uncomfortable with many of the joys people experience (with such notable exceptions as sex and drugs).
Needless to say, the Left always has noble explanations — usually the protection of people’s emotions and health — for opposing and even banning these joys, but the end result is fewer of the little joys that mean a great deal to people.
Burger King’s ad is innocuous and innocent. It features the company’s royal mascot running through a building, knocking a person over, and crashing through a glass window to deliver the new Burger King Steakhouse XT burger. Called “crazy” by those present, he is finally tackled by men in white coats. The “king’s insane,” the ad notes, for “offering so much beef for $3.99.”
This has triggered a storm of criticism from activists (a term which, unless otherwise specified, always refers to liberal or left-wing activists).
Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, called the ad “blatantly offensive. . . . I was stunned. Absolutely stunned and appalled.” David Shern, president and chief executive of Mental Health America in Alexandria, echoed this assessment. And reporters at outlets from the Associated Press to the Washington Post all agreed.
If this were isolated, it would be worth mentioning only in the context of wondering why people who run mental-health — and most other activist — organizations seem to have so little common sense. They should listen to William Gardner of Los Angeles, who wrote to me:
I am a father of a 24-year-old son with [a] mental-health issue. I am particularly tuned to protecting my son’s self-image. My son and I have both seen the Burger King ad that you have referred to. It did not occur to either of us that the Burger King ad was offensive in any way. Why would I raise my son to be hypersensitive about his disability? My objective as a parent is to strengthen him. Making him hypersensitive would have the opposite effect.
But the Left has problems with much else as well: smoking (including cigars and pipes); virtually all kids’ games that can make a kid feel at all bad or get at all hurt; wood-burning fireplaces; cars; most jokes and any flirting in the workplace; incandescent light bulbs; cool homes in summer; and more.
One of life’s great little pleasures is tobacco. Just watch old war reportage to see the serenity and joy a cigarette can bring to a wounded soldier. Though I do not smoke cigarettes, I have been smoking cigars and pipes since I was in college (my father still smokes cigars daily at age 91), and it would be difficult to overstate how much I enjoy both.