We’ve all encountered moralistic scolds. We see them at grocery stores talking down to checkers while making sure that people with food stamps aren’t buying lobster or caviar. We see them being high maintenance at restaurants then stiffing the servers. They’re all over social media, telling people how to live; many of them specialize in being buzz kills who take all the pleasure out of life. You may be related to some by marriage and/or blood. The proverbial crazy uncle who watches Fox News all day is invariably a moralistic scold. They are ubiquitous and some of them are in the news this week. That is why moralistic scolds are malakas of the week.
Many moralistic malakas aren’t in a position to damage others lives. They may want to tell us what to do but they can’t make us. Neener, neener, neener. The sanctimonious scolds who lecture about the evils of air-conditioning epitomize this genre of self-righteous malakatude. I’ll let Slate’s Daniel Engberger upraid them for us:
Anti-AC sentiment persists in spite of basic facts, and without convincing evidence. It relies instead on naked ideology and posture. To rail against the air conditioner is a way for cosmopolitans to claim their bona fides, and to place themselves in opposition to irresponsible, American excess. When they proudly say they’d rather use electric fans, they show their neighbors that they’re tasteful intellectuals—right-minded and upstanding. That is to say, they’re members of the brrr-geoisie.
They’re also victims of a blinding bias. The brrr-geoisie are thermal bigots: They put a moral value on the thermostat that doesn’t correspond to common sense. Heating, good; cooling, bad—that’s their moral calculus. Why discriminate among degrees? They have no cogent answer. It may be true that America is overcooled, but then again it’s also overheated. No one writes op-eds to make the latter point.
Brrr-geoise? I like that. This is a classic case of telling people how to live based on a faulty premise, junk science, and ideological posturing. I dare these moralistic malakas to live without AC during a New Orleans summer. Dr. A and I lived without air dish for 5 days after Hurricane Isaac blew though New Orleans in 2012. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright stinky. You’ll have to pry my damp, sweaty hands off my thermostat before I give up my AC. Btw, I *never* put the thermostat lower than 75 degrees anyway. I’m not trying to refrigerate meat in my living room, after all.
There are two infinitely more important examples of moralistic malakatude in the news right now. We’ll get to those after the break.
Time to take another poke at German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is being a rigid, unbending, moralistic scold in her handling of the Greek debt fusseria. (Yes, that’s an actual Greek word to add to your lexicon. Please do not act like super-villain Lexicon Luther.) The French and Italian governments along with European Commission President Paul Tusk are urging a compromise that includes debt relief. Despite being the de facto leader of the EU, Merkel is playing to the crowd back home. Even worse, German Vice Chancellor, and leader of the center-left Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, is playing to the German peanut (sauerkraut?) gallery as well. Willy Brandt weeps.
The malakatude and pious hypocrisy of the German goverment is breathtaking, as Thomas Piketty pointed out the other day in an interview with Die Zeit:
ZEIT: But we Germans have already reckoned with our own history.
Piketty: But not when it comes to repaying debts! Germany’s past, in this respect, should be of great significance to today’s Germans. Look at the history of national debt: Great Britain, Germany, and France were all once in the situation of today’s Greece, and in fact had been far more indebted. The first lesson that we can take from the history of government debt is that we are not facing a brand new problem. There have been many ways to repay debts, and not just one, which is what Berlin and Paris would have the Greeks believe.
ZEIT: But shouldn’t they repay their debts?
Piketty: My book recounts the history of income and wealth, including that of nations. What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt. The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.
That was no Pikkety’s charge. It was a well-argued argument for Greek debt relief instead of the incessant moralistic scolding emanating from Berlin. I hope wiser heads will prevail but I never underestimate the ability of people to screw the pooch. Let’s hope they follow the Pikkety line. I love his name, it’s so damn punworthy.
Finally, we come to Bill Cosby. I have been reluctant to comment on the Cosby situation because there ain’t nothing funny about a comedian drugging and raping 30+ women. As we all know, Cosby has been one of America’s leading moralistic scolds for the last 30 years. Pull up those pants, marry your baby mama, eat your peas, tote that barge, lift that bail. Cosby has been America’s leading self-loathing black dude as well as favorite teevee father.
Cosby’s relentless sermonizing led to the exposure of the deposition wherein he admitted to using Quaaludes to sedate his victims and facilitate his lewd conduct:
If Bill Cosby had resisted the urge to moralize, the 2005 deposition obtained this week by the Associated Press might have never come to light. In that document, Cosby acknowledged that in the 1970s he obtained Quaaludes, a now-illegal sedative, to give to women he wanted to have sex with. The deposition was sealed and remained so for a decade. But Monday the AP revealed that it convinced a judge to unseal a portion of the deposition—not because Cosby has been thrust into the news but because Cosby thrust himself into a public campaign of moralizing at black Americans.
In short, Cosby was hoist on his own moralistic petard. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. He should take a pudding pop and shove it up his ass as long as he leaves room for a Cosby sweater. I guess that’s a phrase that will be removed from the national lexicon now that Cosby’s con is over.
These are extreme examples of moralistic scolding, but the next time you’re tempted to butt into someone else’s business and offer unsolicited advice, just remember that nobody likes a moralistic scold. If you STFU and mind your own business, you’ll never be malaka of the week.