Friday, July 20, 2007

Conservatives Know How to Have Fun

Hi All!

I am excerpting a piece in today's WSJ by Stephen Moore:

"Echoing H.L. Mencken, humorist P.J. O'Rourke once quipped that conservatives are a group of stiff-collared puritans with a "haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be having fun." He should have joined me at the recent fifth annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms summer gala hosted by a right-leaning Colorado think tank, the Independence Institute, at a gun club in Kiowa, Colo.

This year's theme was "Stop the Growth of the Nanny State"--but it might as well have been "Live Free or Die Hard." Every activity seemed designed to annoy Hillary Clinton. There was a whole lot of drinking, smoking and shooting, but thankfully not in that order. During the morning hours, we carried nine-pound rifles through the woods, shooting pellets at clay pigeons flung into the air. By 10 a.m. the park was alive with the continuous claps of gunfire and hollering.

Many of the folks at the institute's, um, policy forum had come from all over the state to have a good time, sure, but they also had a deeper motivation: to stick their tongues out, figuratively, at the tyrant politicians in Washington and Denver who keep enacting rules about how they should run their lives. These people are just dog tired of having the government tell them what to do: Buckle your seat belt, wear your bike helmet, don't smoke, don't shoot, teach your 8-year-olds to wear condoms--and, most of all, stop complaining and pay your taxes. One participant was incensed that Denver now has a law requiring that every dog be neutered unless the owner gets a government permit allowing the animal to reproduce. On the left even sex is becoming taboo.

Then there are the more mundane rules. There was a discussion over lunch at my picnic table about how Congress is regulating nearly every basic household appliance--refrigerators, washers and dryers, toilets, hair dryers, shower heads, lawnmowers--to make sure that we are not, God forbid, wasting water or energy. A woman told me that she is stocking up on cartons of incandescent light bulbs, because soon it will be illegal to buy them. (The poor lady insisted on remaining anonymous so that the light-bulb police don't come to search her home.)

The buzzword on the left nowadays is "tolerance" for those with different lifestyles--like cross-dressers--but almost everything that these folks want to do, liberals won't tolerate. One smoker lamented that if "gays were discriminated against today the way smokers are, there would be an uproar." Gun owners have reason to be fearful too. In a recent blog interview on, John Edwards of North Carolina proclaimed that health care, child care, a livable wage and a clean environment are "rights," but owning a gun is a "privilege." The men and women who gathered in Kiowa would like to send him a copy of the Constitution.

I'm not a smoker or a gun owner, and not much of a drinker, other than at Margarita parties. But, as Mae West once cracked, "Sometimes I don't drink so the next day I can remember having fun." The gathering in Kiowa was pure joy--and I suspect that if liberals would loosen their puritan collars and start showing real tolerance of conservative "alternative lifestyles," they'd be having more fun too."

Mr. Moore is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.


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