4th of July, 2014

  1. An old hippie’s legacy
  2. Hobby Lobby’s progressive political and media coverage
  3. Faith & Family Left petitions POTUS
  4. Proud Burgers, deconstructed


When I was in high school, I undertook some independent study of utopian communities. I thought back about that when I encountered the NYT Obituary Stephen Gaskin, Hippie Who Founded an Enduring Commune, Dies at 79.

From a vision that included lots of LSD in its inception, Gaskin built something stable and in many ways admirable, but it was not based on people defining their “own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,” to quote a fatuous old fool with a black robe:

[T]he Farm was “the archetypal hippie commune” in its commitment to higher consciousness, self-sufficiency, a clean environment and a “flamboyant hippie style.”

But where it departed from most of its counterparts was in embracing an entrepreneurial spirit: It created a book-publishing business, marketed pickles and sorghum syrup under the Old Beatnik label, and even dealt in hand-held Geiger counters to measure radiation leaks at nuclear power plants.

It also spurned insularity for outreach. Answering Mr. Gaskin’s call to “change the world,” Farmies, as they called themselves, built 1,200 houses for the victims of a 1976 earthquake in Guatemala, set up volunteer ambulance services in the South Bronx and on an Indian reservation in upstate New York, and started a school lunch program in Belize and an agricultural training program in Liberia. They were among the earliest volunteers to arrive in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

In 1980, Plenty International, a charitable organization Mr. Gaskin started, was awarded one of the first Right Livelihood Awards. Sometimes called the alternative Nobel Prize, the award is presented by the Swedish Parliament to those who have demonstrated “practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today.”

To a degree that startled outsiders in the ’60s, the Farm’s young men in straw hats and beards and women in long skirts lived an almost puritanical life. They took vows of poverty and pooled their assets. Vegetarianism was mandatory. Mr. Gaskin banned alcohol, tobacco and, to the surprise of many, LSD, though not marijuana. Plenty of work — considered a form of meditation — was assigned. Artificial birth control was forbidden.

Mr. Gaskin, who became a minister under Tennessee law, decreed that if couples had sex they must be considered engaged, and if the woman became pregnant, they must marry. Men were expected to treat women with “knightly” chivalry, he said.

Almost he persuadeth me to become a Hippie.


Great opening paragrapahs:

Do Democrats seem livelier than usual this week—more spring in their step, maybe, their cheeks rosier, extra gleam in the eye? Verily, the Supreme Court has liberated them to unleash their gender and other identity-politics grievances in an election year.

Democrats claim to be distraught over the Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, but really they can barely suppress their glee. Allowing some religious objectors in business to opt out of the contraception mandate lends them a campaign theme that isn’t the economy, the Middle East in flames or incompetent governance. No agenda, no problem. Patriarchs and Republicans—if that’s not redundant—are coming for your womb, ladies.

(Hooray! The War on Women is Back! Wall Street Journal) There followeth a chronicle of inanities, with names given to indict the guilty, including, in a separate but clearly-linked item, Justice Ginsburg. James Taranto covers the media coverage in yet a third piece:

In “Idiocracy,” Mike Judge’s dysgenic dystopian satire set in 2505, there’s a scene in which Fox News Channel is reporting on the trial of the protagonist, Joe “Not Sure” Bauers. “We now go live to Violence Channel correspondent Formica Davis at the Extreme Court,” says the anchorwoman.

“Thank you, Velveeta,” says Formica. “Well, it started off boring and slow, with Not Sure trying to [barnyard vulgarity] everyone with a bunch of smart talk: ‘Blah blah blah. You gotta believe me!’ That part of the trial sucked! But then the Chief J just went off. He said, ‘Man, whatever! The guy’s guilty as [scatological vulgarity]! We all know that.’ And he sentenced his [anatomical vulgarity] to one night of rehabilitation.”

Later, Taranto was back, noting the essential bullshittiness of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Thursday full-page newspaper ad against the Hobby Lobby decision:

It approvingly quotes Justice John Paul Stevens: “Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.” To which we reply: Then shut up. Normally that wouldn’t be much of an argument, but in this case the logic is impeccable. According to its Internal Revenue Service Form 990, the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. is a corporation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code.

It’s a corporation, by the way, that’s holding its hand out at the bottom of the ad.  Yup: the War on Women is a real boon to progressive Chicken Littles. What outrages will they find to keep them going once they’ve repealed RFRA?

(Maybe I didn’t clip political articles in 2012 because I blogged them and the Web is my archive?)


The “Faith & Family Left” is asking the President not to forget the lesson(s) of Hobby Lobby or to despise the enormous good work of religious charities that might be unable to get fully on board with an upcoming Executive Order (the only way anything good or bad seems to get done these days, constitutional questions aside) ban on discrimination against gays and lesbians in federal contracting. Introduction and summary here with further links to here, here and here.

God bless them for at least insisting on the right to table scraps.


Burger King now has, or at least for the duration of San Francisco Gay Pride Day had, a “Proud Burger” in a rainbow wrapper. Erin Manning responds:

What they *should* have done was sold the normal Whopper alongside the Proud Burgers which would contain, when unwrapped, either two hamburger patties and no bun, or two buns and no patty. Any customer who complained could be re-educated to understand that words change their meanings all the time, and  if “…” can mean …, or …, or … then certainly “hamburger” can mean a hamburger patty on a bun, or two bunless patties, or two patty-less buns. In fact, the company’s spokespeople could have gently explained, it’s pretty bigoted to demand a “normal” hamburger and expect to get one.

I’m sure that all those who received the two meat/no bun “hamburger” and the two bun/no meat “hamburger” would then have pondered this great new truth that reality can be altered just by changing the meanings of common words, and would have left the restaurant completely happy with the enlightening experience.

Can you guess what the “…” omissions were like? I thought you could!

Reader Avery: “Lust, pride, and gluttony — finally, three deadly sins in one mass-produced greasy wrapper!”

If Burger King claimed that “hamburger” can mean a two bunless patties, or two patty-less buns, would it be telling a Whopper?

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.