The Left Squashes Life’s Little Pleasures

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 the difficulties of life.

These characteristics further reinforce the view that Leftism functions as a (secular) religion. Like medieval Christians who wore hair shirts and Puritans who thought dancing was sacrilegious, the Left, consciously or not, is uncomfortable with many of the joys — with notable exceptions such as sex and drugs — that people experience.

Needless to say, the Left always has noble explanations — usually, the protection of people’s emotions and health — for opposing and even banning many joys of life. But the end result is fewer of these little joys that mean a great deal to people.

Burger King’s ad was innocuous and innocent. It featured 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 was finally tackled by men in white coats. “The king’s insane,” the ad noted, for “offering so much beef for $3.99.”

This has triggered a storm of criticism from activists (a term which, unless otherwise specified, means liberal or left).

Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, called the ad “blatantly offensive … I was stunned. Absolutely stunned and appalled,” he said. David Shern, president and chief executive of Mental Health America in Alexandria, Va., echoed this assessment. And reporters 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 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 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 hyper-sensitive about his disability? My objective as a parent is to strengthen him. Making him hyper-sensitive 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 hurt; wood-burning fireplaces; cars; most jokes or 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 brought 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.

No one opposes educating the public about the dangers of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking shortens the lives of up to a third of smokers, often in terrible ways, and that is what public health organizations should be saying. But the battle against smoking and tobacco has become a religious crusade for anti-smoking zealots, who are almost invariably on the Left. If the Left hated Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro as much as it hates “Big Tobacco,” the world would be a better place.

But because the Left hates the fact that people smoke (tobacco, not marijuana, which the Left defends) it uses totalitarian (I use that term with no exaggeration) tactics to eliminate it. Just as the Soviets removed Trotsky from old photos, anti-smoking zealots have forced the removal of cigarettes from old photos — from photos of FDR, from the famous Beatles photo — and from movies whenever possible. Torture and murder are ubiquitous in films, but smoking is all but banned — even cigars are now banned from James Bond films.

Smoking has been banned in entire cities, outdoors as well as in. In Pasadena, Calif., one cannot even smoke in a cigar store. That the Left has contempt for Prohibition reveals a lack of self-awareness that is quite remarkable.

Kids Games such as Tag, Dodgeball, Soccer, Touch Football, Monkey Bars

Virtually every game I played as a child during school recess is now banned because organizations such as the National Program for Playground Safety deem games in which kids are “running into each other” as too dangerous. Someone might get hurt.

Until a few years ago, just about every American boy, and many girls, played dodgeball. No more. This joy, too, has been eliminated from American life. “We consider it inappropriate to use children as human targets,” said Mary Marks, physical education supervisor for Fairfax County, Va. And it may hurt the feelings of kids who are eliminated. For the same reason — potential hurt feelings of those eliminated — musical chairs is no longer played in some schools.

Some might argue that these bans are not because of Leftism but because of fear of lawsuits. But in light of how leftwing the trial bar is, that only reinforces my argument.


For men working in, let us say, a car repair shop, there is not much by way of excitement or visual beauty. So the typical repair shop or factory had its pinup calendar — a calendar featuring a photo of a beautiful woman in a sexy pose, usually clad in no more than a bikini, sometimes less. The Left, in another totalitarian move, has banned pinups. The reasons: Sexism and possible Hostile Environment. How can a woman possibly work or bring her car into a repair shop where there is a picture of a scantily clad woman? The same people who clamor for a woman’s right to walk in public with no top on (because men are allowed to) have banned photos of women with no top on.

Flirting at Work

A joy in life since the advent of men and women has been men flirting with or “chatting up” women. No more. Virtually anything related to a male reaction to a fellow employee who is female can be grounds for his losing his job and worse. What began as a campaign against bosses trading professional advances for sexual favors has degenerated into the elimination of essentially all the fun — and, yes, potential emotional hurt — of man-woman dialogue. At work, a man never knows what comment to what woman will trigger his being sent, a la Communist regimes, to a “re-education” program, being fined, having charges leveled against him, being humiliated, having a permanent mark on his employment record, and, of course, losing his job.

There is no question that some men went too far in their sexually charged comments to women. But as a rule, we have wildly overreacted. Women are not wimps. But the Left has inculcated a sense of victimhood into large numbers of women and thereby rendered them weak — just as it has, in ways too numerous to mention, emasculated men. I deplore crude comments. But in the America I grew up, it was legal to speak crudely, and either decent men would shut the crude man up or women would give the man a well-earned smack across the face.

Today, any hint at the sexual tension that naturally and joyfully exists between the two sexes has been banned. In the attempt to eliminate all pain caused by potentially inappropriate comments, the Left has done what it tries to do about all pain — ban actions that may lead to it. As a result, gone are the joys of the man-woman repartee in the workplace.


For most Americans, the car is not only a source of much pleasure, it is also rightly identified with individual liberty. But here, too, to the extent the Left is able to, it will tell you what kind of car you can drive and, if possible, get you out of your car and into mass transit.

The Home

To the Left, your home is not your castle; it is another place of too many joys that the Left would like to ban.

One joy I particularly identify with is the wood-burning fireplace. In California, activists on the Left, aka environmentalists, have banned them from being built in all new homes. Too many harmful emissions. Meanwhile, at the other end of the temperature spectrum, activists wish to determine how low you can set your air conditioner, lest you use more energy than the Left believes you should.

Do you like your present light bulbs? The Left has banned them in favor of CFLs that contain mercury. These new bulbs give a fair number of people headaches, emit less pleasant light, are initially much more expensive and, if broken, necessitate opening windows even in winter, and people and pets must leave the area. The EPA has issued a 16-point procedure to follow if a CFL bulbs breaks.

Indeed, if the Left had its way, the house would eventually become an anachronism as everyone gradually moves into space-saving, less polluting, less energy-wasting apartments.

Every poll has concluded that liberals are less happy than conservatives. There are many reasons for this, and given the importance of little joys to happiness, the Left’s religious-like opposition to many of them is surely one of those reasons. The problem for the rest of us, however, is that, like most unhappy people, many folks on the Left don’t like seeing anyone happier than they are.

  • BS1977

    Excellent article…reminds me of Brave New World and 1984 or Animal Farm….all decisions about everything you do, see, hear or buy….made by the Elite.

  • Doggwood

    I'm green! I bike, I walk, I carry groceries home in a backpack, I recycle, I turn down my thermostat. I feel I'm doing my part to save the nation and the planet.

    I think people who don't do as I do are doing the wrong thing. But I actively oppose the government's attack on the liberties of law-abiding people in order to make them do it "right". Seems that we're more respectful of the rights of criminals and terrorists than we are of ordinary Americans.

    I want you to choose to see things my way. And if you refuse to see things my way, I'll go about my life with a feeling of smug superiority. That's the American way. This business of beating everyone into submission with government mandates and fines and jail sentences is the stuff of totalitarians.

    • Shucky

      don't feel so smug. lot's of people wish they could walk, bike or drive a short distance to work. being able to do so is actually a luxury you have, a privelege that most working people can't afford. your mindset is elitist, but you aren't at all superior.

      • Doggwood

        Sir, do you sneer at me? Well I double-sneer at you!

        You see how we address our disagreement without the need for government intervention? As I said initially, this is the way traditional Americans do things.

  • Eddina

    To be forced to live by all the so-called safe, non-sexist, controlling
    rules, is to become dehumanized.

  • Eddina

    If they succeed in banning all the "dangerous" games
    (dodgeball, baseball, tag, basketball………etc. etc.)
    kids will not learn how to succeed, nor will they learn
    how to handle hurt and disappointment.

    No one is good at everything. Winning and losing
    helps a child learn his/her abilities and talents.

    I am a woman, and it does not insult or offend me
    to see a pinup calendar in a mechanic's shop.
    I'm glad those men working in there like to look
    at beautiful women.

    • Jim C.

      So besides dodgeball, which of those sports have liberals tried to ban?

      And men like to look at beautiful women whether or not they masturbate to bimbo calendars.

  • gamalpha

    The left is full of contradictions as illustrated by the leftist fight against pinup calendars but support for topless women walking around. The ban on smoking is in total contradiction to the leftist support for legalizing drug use. It's almost as if smoking and drugs are not the real issue. The real issue for the left is if something is permitted by society it should be forbidden and if it's forbidden it should be permitted. The real issue is rebellion against the status quo. The left are like angry teenagers who want to cause chaos.

  • tom t

    My pet peeve is when I go to restaurant and order a rare hamburger, and am told sorry it is against the law to cook hamburgers rare. Against the law to give the costumer what he wants. Fine tell me the dangers of eating rare hamburgers, if as an adult I choose to eat a rare hamburger, let me eat a rare hamburger. I thought liberals were pro choice, how about the right to choose to eat what we want?

    • Tom

      Rare burgers can give you food poisoning. Don't forget, well done burgers can give you stomach cancer. All burgers violate animal rights!

      Liberals care so much for you. They want to keep you alive, at least until euthanasia is fully legal.

    • Steve R.

      I enjoy it raw sprinkled with a bit of garlic salt.

  • persikas

    Against the law to have a rare hamburger ?
    You're going the way of uk
    Outside the modern art gallery In Edinburgh , they shut the area of green down
    when the weather is not good – too dangerous !
    I suppose you could slip on the wet grass or not see where you're going

  • Rich

    As has already been stated by Michael Savage, Liberalism is a mental disorder. Liberals have NO sense of humor. Nothing is funny to a liberal unless it concerns a tradegy to a conservative. If anybody is having fun in their presence, liberals are greatly concerned.

    • Jim C.

      "Liberals have no sense of humor"–except of course all the ones that perform as comedians, write comedy, and populate the arts, in general. All those miserable, not-fun-lovin' people, eh?

      • Jim C.

        I do think Savage is the only conservative worth listening to. He has an actual personality, and is not just another golfing, backslapping, unimaginative doofus.

  • RichardLKentEsq

    Indeed, if the Left had its way, the house would eventually become an anachronism as everyone gradually moves into space-saving, less polluting, less energy-wasting apartments.>>

    No, if the Left had its way, the apartment would eventually become an anachronism as everyone gradually moves into space-saving, less polluting, less energy-wasting *barracks*.

    • Shucky

      i don't know why so many of them fret about starvation, when so many of them think the world is overpopulated. They think they are better than nazis, but their answer for population control is genocide in the form of abortion.

  • MKS

    "There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever."

    from George Orwell's "1984"

    The Orwellian vision of leftist totalitarianism was fairly insightful, and must be brought in gradually, because free people would not stand for it all at once.

    • Stephen_Brady

      It's coming, MKS. We see it's relentless advance, every single day. The simple concept of the "regulation" is the boot which stamps upon all of us.

  • Samurai Hit Woman

    The Left are the new puritans afraid someone somewhere is having fun!

  • lenna darlling

    I love you, Dennis!

    • lenna darlling

      Sorry, I love you Dennis!

  • Old Bob

    Fine article. I’m an older guy. I remember what this country was like before political correctness. In some ways, we were jerks and insensitive, but we were free to be insensitive jerks. That is real freedom. We had a right to be wrong, to be wasteful, to give offense, to say and do anything not prohibited by the common law or the criminal code. But even with all that freedom, we were, by and large, a good and fair people; far from perfect, but good and fair. I pity the generation that came of age during the age of political correctness. They don’t know what freedom is. They have never enjoyed the right to be left alone.

    • Jim C.

      "I pity the generation that came of age during the age of political correctness. They don't know what freedom is."

      The women do…but who cares about them, right?

    • cochavi1

      Very good. The last sentence is especially true and good.

      • USMCSniper

        More true than you say, like the poet said: "Misery loves company!"

        • cochavi1

          The Left's real pleasure is killing it for others, and getting pleasure from that.

  • NoahDavidSimon

    who said the LEFT supports Marijuana? I don't see Obama legalizing it. Perhaps the Conservatives will follow their own good policy and realize that they have been acting like Leftists on this issue for a century.

  • Tar_n_Feathers

    Prager implies that the Left are like modern day Puritans, a notion I've held for some time. Everything alarms or offends them except their own narrow and rigid lifestyle. But in their minds they are good and pure, battling evil at every turn. And what gets me is that they don't seem to really enjoy the experience. Totalitarianism is such a dreary way to live. Why would anyone choose it?

  • Jim C.

    Legislate smoking back, then. As to the rest of it, no liberal has ever actually hampered your "fun."

    • coyote3

      I don' t know if it was the "liberals" or not, but legislating my conduct, for the stated reason of protecting me, then I have lost the right to govern my own conduct. It does matter what label is attached to the proponents.

  • Still Smiling

    I have visions of Jonestown every time I see the huckster's face.

  • jgreene

    @dogwood… You’re joking of course? “…saving the planet…”? I’m always amazed at the nonsense people engage in to “save the planet”.

  • Ron Grant

    One of life’s great little pleasures is tobacco."

    After checking the calender to make sure it wasn't April Fools Day I can only conclude the writer contracted a hundred chimps equipped with laptops and under a tight deadline to put this article together.Furthermore while showing evidence of being deaf,blind and drunk I think it remarkable that the chimps got the spelling and grammar right.I'd pay a small fortune for that spell checker.Muchiboy.

  • Len Powder

    Message from the LEFT: "Do as I say or I will make you pay!" One example: until EVERYONE in the US stops smoking cigarette (tobacco) taxes will continue to rise. Politicians love the added revenue they can squander and the Left gets a vicarious thrill from punishing those they hate. Another example: until ALL CARS made in the US (and elsewhere) are totally free of pollutants the Left will continue to drive the cost of cars up. Why are they so adamant in their ferocity? Answer: they are mentally disturbed, psychologically impaired, devoid of even a mustard seed of common sense. They need to be rounded up and institutionalized. That's the only way we can drive costs down, stimulate the economy and restore individual liberty.

  • wsk

    I never gave the"crazy "comment on the commercials a second thought. The commercials are just awful.

  • Stephen_Brady

    I love the freedom to go to the range and burn powder for 4 or 5 hours. In so doing, I engage in another freedom: the freedom to add lots of carbon to the atmosphere. After all, I've got to do my part in warming the climate! And think of all the lead that goes into that berm!

    .308's at 1000 meters. Now, that's freedom!

  • debarrio

    Burger King commercials do sort of freak me out. BTW: Could someone please tell me what these "Hair Shirts" were that the Christians were wearing back in the middle ages?

  • tarleton

    THE COMMSICZAR VANISHES ….or maybe… the cigar vanishes !!

  • Kevin Stowell

    It's a damned shame the Illiberals, Regressives, and Secular-statists don't take, as seriously, the damage they do with their megalomanical, idiotic politics as they do themselves. Unbridled hubris in these people for whom it is not good enough to be their own gods but who are soooo smart they demand that they be your god also. Despicable and dangerous intellectual wastelands. How happy can you be when your god is a moron whose main form of recreation is handwringing?

  • Madeleine

    Here is a perfect example of extremist stupidity. Try buying a TV that isnt' so screwed up you have ot have it installled and speaker system added and it has a big yellow sticker on it saying it is energy efficient and will save you 16.00 this year on your electric bill. Well goodie, , the speakers cost almsot 300 dollars, I never had ot buy them before to hear a TV. how is adding a speaker system saving energy.? I really like TV, I watch HBO every chance I get, I'm older and my husband is not well so this is really his entertainment, our regular TV broke down and we decided to go for it and get a new flat creen TV, for the first time in American History I didn't have a choice, they were all the same, big black ugly flat boxes.I bought it they delivered it , I paid ot have it connected and found out I couldn't hear movies, "oh you need a speaker system to hear it, they are all like that now", how many times have I heard that this week, if it were just me I wouldn't get another one, I sent that one back and I sent two others back, now I know I will have ot go for big bucks and let them put it in, speakers and all.

  • Madeleine

    This is the new green, the UN forced all of these companies in to a public /private partnership with America and they have no choice, and we have no choice, I dont' know who to get even with first. It cost me 1000 doillars ot get a TV and I sent that back too, what do poor old people do who can't afford that kind of money and who can't handle the 3 or 4 controls that come wiht all of this, ? this is a big pleasure that the American people lost, I have a feeling they don't last very long either. No one seems to mind it though, I mind it, I have to ask whats next?

  • digdigby

    In case you ever wondered about the bizarrely 'Puritanical' streak in the liberal mind, you have to go back to the 19th century alliance between the New England 'Spinster' prudes and suffragettes who allied themselves with liberal Protestant ministers. What a prune-faced crowd of do-gooders.

  • Madeleine

    OK, I figured out whats in it for Obama this TV thing, I think I've been traumatized. If you buy a TV set you can not put it together by yourself unless you are an expert , you have to HIRE the geek sqyuad to do it all for uyou, 125.00 for that. Some of the biggert sets are impossibel to put the base on, we counted 13 screws on the second set we bought, you have ot HIRE the geek squad even if you know how to connect the wires, they know how ot add the stands. these are jobs, it may not seem like much but these TV's are sensitive and have complicated stands or sound systerms. You need ot buy new speakers if you want to hear it, the speakers that come with it are very small because it is so thin, nothing like good planning, so you need to buy speakers, the speaker industry must be booming and of course you have to buy and pay for them so… MO money MO money. Do I sound Obsessive? I do don't I. sorry. end of story.