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."
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”