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The Taboo Cliché

by Jonah Goldberg

Numerous books promise to pull back the veil on “the last taboo.” Some are surprisingly dull-sounding, given the sales pitch. I’m sure the authors of The Last Taboo: A Survival Guide to Mental Health Care in Canada have nothing but helpful observations, but I doubt many 14-year-old boys are furtively hiding copies under their beds. The same goes for The Last Taboo: Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation Crisis. And if your kid is hiding his copy of The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair, well, good luck with that.

It’s not just book authors. Writers of all stripes want to claim a little bravery on the cheap by tackling taboos. A 2008 article in the New York Times tells us that “many over 35 consider the last taboo in American life” to be — wait for it — “discussing salary openly with friends and colleagues.” A 2010 issue of the International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management — don’t tell me you let your subscription lapse — suggests that acknowledging “management mistakes” is “seen as the last taboo of society.” One website hosts a fascinating discussion on “Opioids and back pain: the last taboo.”

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