The following is an excerpt from Anthony Esolen's new book, Life Under Compulsion.
I have sometimes wished that the thought police would get around to issuing a handy list of things to which we are supposed to give our vocal assent. It is hard to smother your common sense, to ignore history and the evidence of your eyes, and to turn reason into intellectual pretzels. All that requires a good deal of self-suppression. The task would be made a little easier if we could be informed beforehand what to think. We are plebeians, after all, and can’t be expected to perform the mental gymnastics of our patrician masters. But since they have not come up with such a list, and since, if the truth be known, they themselves are often reduced to catching up with the latest rectitudes, I have decided to provide one here below.
Thou shalt not call an unmarried woman “Miss.” Thou shalt not feed thy children cupcakes. Thou shalt not think that women should not be soldiers. Thou shalt recycle thy bottles.
Thou shalt not speak about God in a public school. Thou shalt not say that the Ten Commandments are commandments. Thou shalt not speak ill of any of culture, with the following exceptions: American, British, medieval, Christian, and Catholic. Thou shalt not speak well of those. Thou shalt not laugh at certain jokes. Thou shalt not vote for a conservative, if thou canst find one.
Thou shalt not say that a man is biologically incapable of marrying another man. Thou shalt not decline to march in the following parades. Thou shalt not agree to march in the following parades. Thou shalt not have anything good to say about popes and priests. Thou shalt not say what you believe unless it is approved by pundits on television.
Thou shalt not say that contemporary music is ugly and banal. Thou shalt not shop in the following places. Thou shalt purchase the following product, on pain of targeting by the Internal Revenue Service. Thou shalt attend these sex education classes. Thou shalt not utter a word of complaint about them.
Thou shalt not exhibit any fondness for the American South. Thou shalt adore Abraham Lincoln and abhor Robert E. Lee. Thou shalt not say that women have not been persecuted from of old. Thou shalt not say that men are for women and women are for men.
Thou shalt not give thy son a toy pistol. Thou shalt not shoot a rubber band at the back of thy schoolmate’s head. Thou shalt not say “bang.” Thou shalt not complain when a boy claims to be a girl and uses thy shower. Thou shalt celebrate what we like, whether it liketh thee or no.
Thou shalt not dress thy older daughter in a dress. Thou shalt not say, “My nation are heathen fools.” Thou shalt not wear a cross around thy neck in a hospital. Thou shalt not pray too close to someone going to slay her child. Thou shalt not spank thy smart-mouth. Thou shalt not sleep thy children more than one to a room. Thou shalt not look askance at the fornicator. Thou shalt lend other people’s money to people whose prospects for repayment are not good. Thou shalt allocate other people’s money to thy clients.
Thou shalt not disagree with a social worker. Thou shalt not speak up at an open meeting, unless thou art called upon, and unless thou sayest what those who hold the meeting want to hear. Thou shalt not disagree with a policeman. Thou shalt not bring toothpaste on an airplane.
Thou shalt not say disparaging things about global warming. Thou shalt not collect rainwater in thy cistern. Thou shalt not kill the weasel that is eating thine eggs. Thou shalt read the poetry of Maya Angelou, and thou shalt pretend to be impressed by it. Thou shalt admire soccer. Thou shalt sneer at everything more than three minutes old. Thou shalt pursue orgasms. Thou shalt not deny the harlot her due. Thou shalt be feminist in thought, word, and deed.
Thou shalt, O child, learn in school what opinions thou must have. It needs not that thou should learn grammar, history, poetry, geography, the natural sciences, or mathematics. It needs not that thou read the great authors of the Western heritage. School is not for those. It is for the building up of the New and Improved Pharisee, to torment his parents withal in the evening, if they should yet retain something of the liberty of common sense and ordinary virtue.
Thou shalt, thou shalt not, on and on, with no end in sight. None of it really unites us as a people; none of it has the power to make us good. He who sins is a slave to sin. We have become the slaves of slaves.