RePost: John Zmirak on the Present State of American Morality

I publish this excerpt from Zmirak’s piece in the Intercollegiate Review in wake of the Satanic Black Mass scandal at Harvard. While I disagree personally with Zmirak’s and others’ proposed solution to the Satanist problem, I must say that his essay contained one of the most profound statements on the present state of American morality I have ever read, EVER. My commentary comes first, followed by the passage.



n the free marketplace of ideas, let every notion be put forth by its most eloquent supporters, and may every way of thought be judged on its own merits by the biases of the audience. Objective truth, unattainable by man, will never prevail; but it is far better for partial lies to struggle against each other than for any one lie to come up on top and unjustly oppress all the others. And for this a tolerance for the views of all others- even those of the most despicable beings walking this planet- must be candidly observed.

The price of living in a free society is living with idiots. That’s actually not that bad.


“A new religion has come to dominate American public life, and it is an intolerant one.

[Utilitarian Hedonism] tries to make respectable the old despairing slogan “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die”—denying that human suffering or self-sacrifice has any significance, and using every technological means to create a “brave new world” where human beings can accumulate as many happy and comfortable moments as they can before they are annihilated.

Our country has gradually shifted from an intolerant (ca. 1688) to a tolerant (ca. 1783) Protestant culture, to a broadly religious humanism (ca. 1945), to embrace after 1968 a new and crasser creed. The lowest common denominator on which we can all agree boils down to this: suffering is worse than being happy, and being alive is better than being dead—except if it means that you will suffer.

That is the sum total of what Americans can agree on, the fighting creed of the free world for which we expect our soldiers to march off and die. The triumph of this new religion is everywhere apparent, and it’s the only rational way to explain to your grandmother how it is that gay marriage is now legal in most places where cigarette smoking isn’t, and why states that shrug at sadistic pornography grimly insist upon seat belts.

The God of the Happy Moments is a jealous god, and his zealots are proving to be bigots. Those of us who worship older and higher gods, who hold different theories of suffering, or who insist on ideas of human dignity based on the study of human nature, appear in the new believers’ eyes as dangerous cranks. When we object to their bacchanalian sex parties or chic lesbian weddings, we don’t merely come across as people who disagree about the structure of human happiness. No, we are against human happiness. We don’t want people to live long, have fun, and die happy. We want to jump them through meaningless flaming hoops rigged up by dead white males a thousand years ago, merely because we are cruel. Or because we want to cling to cultural power. Or hold back women’s progress. Or something else even more sinister that could only be turned up by therapy.

Our arguments aren’t bad; our motives are evil. We are “wreckers” and “saboteurs,” like the kulaks who frustrated Stalin, speed bumps on the Yellow Brick Road. We are probably also racists who torture kittens for kicks.

We are the kind of people whose speech, by its very essence, is always hate speech—because we hate the Good, and want to ruin people’s lives. Any college that wants its students to be happy will try to keep us under control and prevent us from poisoning their pupils’ innocent minds.

So the next time you hear of a leftist administrator trying to force a Christian group to admit non-Christian members, or a student senate trying to ban a pro-life organization, you should try to empathize with the censors: they are priests of a new religion who believe they are serving the highest good accessible to man. Our statements of faith and assertions of natural law are profoundly offensive, even blasphemous. To the Church of the Happy Moments, they are prayers from our own Black Mass.”


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