Friday, December 11, 2009

Purchased Indulgences

No real surprise:

SO DOES THIS MEAN ED BEGLEY, JR. EATS BABIES? Can organic produce and natural shampoo turn you into a heartless jerk? “New research by Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong at the University of Toronto levels an even graver charge: that virtuous shopping can actually lead to immoral behavior. In their study (described in a paper now in press at Psychological Science), subjects who made simulated eco-friendly purchases ended up less likely to exhibit altruism in a laboratory game and more likely to cheat and steal.”

It doesn't mean he eats babies, but it almost certainly means he supports tearing 'em apart in the womb.

Tree hugging does not atone for baby killing. But that doesn't mean a damned lot of people aren't trying.

Says Ace of Spades in response to the cited research:

Pretty interesting. Two possible conclusions:

1) Liberals just suck.

2) Liberals are effectively buying post-modern papal indulgences, they believe, by paying for their sins with minor changes in their consumer purchasing patterns. By buying this supposedly eco-friendly soup, they've saved the environment a little, and satisfied their own (apparently low) threshold of moral and upright behavior, and have a great deal of wiggle room when it comes to other areas of their lives.

I sort of buy both but especially that Number Two. I have long, and long-windedly, argued that liberals indulge themselves with a great many of Ostentatious, Conspicuous Pseudo-Moral Gestures, no different than the judgmental prig they take as representative of a "Christian," a stereotype they know almost exclusively from movies like Footloose.

The gestures are directed both outward and inward, outward to convince others of one's superior morality, but more importantly inward, to convince themselves.

Anyone who's ever talked to such a person comes away thinking, "Good Lord, you have fashioned yourself a real crazy-quilt of ad hoc, made-up, superstitious neo-pagan rules to live by! How do you keep up with all these restrictions and blather?"

It seems like a patchwork super-structure of ersatz, faddish morality designed with only one conceivable purpose: To supplant the conventional morality taught by traditional institutions. Apparently the soul still craves the feeling of living a just and righteous life, even after traditional notions of the just and righteous have been abandoned. The entire code of forbidden foods and rituals of eating in Leviticus is overwritten, line by line and jot by tittle, by some new equally oddball code: Pork is not precisely forbidden, but you can't eat pork that was acquired from a farm more than 60 miles away; and Thou Shall Not Eat Chilean Sea Bass, at least not if it has been caught by a commercial net.

In some cases it might make a lick of sense (okay, maybe the sea bass is being overfished and we hardly want that) and in other cases it's purely a neo-pagan gesture to the new gods. I really do not believe the trivial "carbon costs" of shipping some pork in by railway car are anything more than a rounding error in the carbon costs of feeding that pig and sustaining a farm in the first place.

Oh, and carbon costs are jive in the first place.

Net result? One's sense of place in the universe is affirmed, and one is given the fulfillment of knowing one is doing Gods' work (plural intended) in making rather trivial shopping adjustments. And, even better than that: One gets that crucially-important rush of feeling superior to someone else.

And one more bonus: If you're doing right by Mother Earth, it frees you up to cut corners with your fellow man.

1 comment:

Ilíon said...

"Tree hugging does not atone for baby killing. But that doesn't mean a damned lot of people aren't trying."

Oh, now! Even they know that ... that's why they hug bunnies.