Phobias that inhibit moral judgment have found their way into all subjects, including English classes. Professor Kay Haugaard, a creative writing teacher at Pasadena City College, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education about her class’s reaction to Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery.” This story describes a village that holds an annual lottery that all are obliged to enter. Each year the loser of the lottery is stoned to death. The villagers, who are otherwise moral and decent people, continue this practice because they sincerely believe it brings good fortune to the community as a whole.

Haugaard’s students did not condemn the villagers. Instead they strained to understand them, to defend them and, in the end, to exculpate them. Haugaard sought in vain to find even one student who would react with moral indignation to the villagers’ grisly custom of stoning an innocent person, but she failed. “At this point I gave up. No one in the whole class of more than twenty ostensibly intelligent individuals would go out on a limb and take a stand against human sacrifice.”

Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, MD, One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), p. 43.


Against a Heritage of Error

It is very pretty, is it not, to read of Luther and his brave deeds? Of course, everybody admires Luther! Yes, yes; but you do not want any one else to do the same to-day. When you go to the [zoo] you all admire the bear; but how would you like a bear at home, or a bear wandering loose about the street? You tell me that it would be unbearable, and no doubt you are right.

So, we admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago; the past ages are a sort of bear-pit or iron cage for him; but such a man to-day is a nuisance, and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine [if] in those ages past, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and their compeers had said, “The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps, and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.” Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on.

Charles Spurgeon, as quoted in “Be Watchful!” from Pyromaniacs


Burning Tapers at Noonday

Security to the persona and properties of the governed is so obviously the design and end of civil government, that to attempt a logical proof of it, would be like burning tapers at noonday to assist the sun in enlightening the world; and it cannot either virtuous or honorable to attempt to support a government of which this is not the great and principal basis; and it is to the last degree vicious and infamous to attempt to support a government which manifestly tends to render the persons and properties of the governed insecure.

John Hancock, Delivered at Boston, March 5, 1774


Commissar of Community Services

This is the reality of small business in America today. You don’t make the rules, you don’t get to vote for people who make the rules. But you have to work harder, pay more taxes, buy more permits, fill in more paperwork, contribute to the growth of an ever less favorable business environment, and prostrate yourself before the Commissar of Community Services—all for the privilege of taking home less and less money.

Mark Steyn, After America (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2011), p. 91-2


Mene Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

Today, the units are larger than in Babylon: “Mene mene, tekel, upharsin” is now trillion trillion, billion, half-trillion. But the upshot’s the same. We’ve spent too much of tomorrow: fiscally, our days are numbered; structurally, we’ve been weighed in the balances and found wanting; and geopolitically, the Medes are thin on the ground but the Persians have gone nuclear.

Mark Steyn, After America (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2011), p. 7

an exercise in servanthood