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Is eating Ben & Jerry ethical?
May 27, 2008 7:38 PM   Subscribe

"Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone ... This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior." Leon Kass, former chair of the President Bush's Council on Bioethics tells us what he really thinks of modern America.

Kass, who stepped down from his position as chair of the President's Council on Bioethics in 2005, feels very strongly about public incivility. As with his work advising the President on the issue of stem cell research, Kass employs a slippery slope argument against ice cream, arguing that it is an example of incivility that leads to "enslavement of the belly" and crude eating habits "just like any animal". Mmm, enslavement of the belly . . .

Full text of the quote:

"Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone --a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive.

I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many reader, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the view that eating in the street is for dogs. Modern America's rising tide of informality has already washed out many long-standing traditions -- their reasons long before forgotten -- that served well to regulate the boundary between public and private; and in many quarters complete shamelessness is treated as proof of genuine liberation from the allegedly arbitrary constraints of manners. To cite one small example: yawning with uncovered mouth. Not just the uneducated rustic but children of the cultural elite are now regularly seen yawning openly in public (not so much brazenly or forgetfully as indifferently and "naturally"), unaware that it is an embarrassment to human self-command to be caught in the grip of involuntary bodily movements (like sneezing, belching, and hiccuping and even the involuntary bodily display of embarrassment itself, blushing). But eating on the street -- even when undertaken, say, because one is between appointments and has no other time to eat -- displays in fact precisely such lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. Hunger must be sated now; it cannot wait. Though the walking street eater still moves in the direction of his vision, he shows himself as a being led by his appetites. Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. Eating on the run does not even allow the human way of enjoying one's food, for it is more like simple fueling; it is hard to savor or even to know what one is eating when the main point is to hurriedly fill the belly, now running on empty. This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior."

Kass, Leon: The Hungry Soul pp 148-149. (University of Chicago Press, 1999)
posted by arnicae (101 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oops, that would be eating Ben & Jerry's . . . sorry for the typo. Or Freudian slip?
posted by arnicae at 7:39 PM on May 27, 2008


I... agree.

D:
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:41 PM on May 27, 2008


It's funnier if you read it as Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:44 PM on May 27, 2008 [35 favorites]


that sounds like something a serial killer would say. the composition notebooks they found in john doe's apartment in se7en? were full of that.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:45 PM on May 27, 2008 [11 favorites]


Was that an ad for ice cream cones? Because now I really want one.

I personally consider shamelessness to be the hallmark of my generation and one of the few and only accomplishments of American culture. I have a respect and interest in other cultures which do not share this philosophy, but I like my own this way.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:48 PM on May 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior.

What's wrong with being doglike? Dogs are friendly, fiercely loyal, love to play, and are always up for a cold beer. I can think of a multitude of worse offenses than emulating dogs, and I'm not even a dog person.

I propose an ice-cream cone eating contest outside this guy's house.
posted by mullingitover at 7:49 PM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Catlike eating detected.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:49 PM on May 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Obviously, the belly is a repository for precious bodily fluids.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:50 PM on May 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is nothing more than a typical example of the conservative's confusion of custom for morality. No doubt, given the option, we would all prefer not to eat on the run or at our desk; but if asked to actually support that kind of lifestyle, say by compulsory lunch hours for employees, this jackass would um and ah and bluster.

He reminds me of the kind of boss who forbids employees to eat at their desks because it "doesn't look good" but regards the insufficient time they have to go out and eat elsewhere as "their problem". Jackasses, the lot of them.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:54 PM on May 27, 2008 [30 favorites]


I have this vision in my head of this guy writing his quote above: he finishes up the last sentence, looks it over with smug satisfaction, reaches over to his desk drawer, produces a revolver, raises it to his temple and pulls the trigger. BANG.

It just makes more sense that way.
posted by Avenger at 8:00 PM on May 27, 2008 [11 favorites]


This is nothing more than a typical example of the conservative's confusion of custom for morality.

There's nothing conservative about not wanting people to eat ice cream or sneeze in public. It's more like a typical example of a self-centered OCD nutbar. You don't have to be crazy to be a radical conservative, but I'm sure it helps.
posted by spiderwire at 8:01 PM on May 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


It beckons enslavement to the belly.

Judging from the context, Leon Kass not only holds eccentric moral views but also doesn't know the difference between "beckon" and "betoken."
posted by escabeche at 8:02 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


So, how does this Leon guy feel about our precious bodily fluids (youtube). 'Cause honestly, it reads about the same.
posted by adamt at 8:04 PM on May 27, 2008


I bet if you hired investigators who meticulously examined this guys life you would find one sick, sick, mother fucker in there. Like the kind of guy who fucks dead dogs or has an adult baby combo shit-eating fetish. I'm just speculating. But I'd take "hypothetical" bets if somebody were to have the means for said "hypothetical" investigation.
posted by tkchrist at 8:05 PM on May 27, 2008


Personally, it just annoys me because inevitably people eating ice cream and other materials drop crumbs and such, which draws ants.

Ants, people.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:12 PM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have this vision in my head of this guy writing his quote above: he finishes up the last sentence, looks it over with smug satisfaction, reaches over to his desk drawer, produces a revolver, raises it to his temple and pulls the trigger. BANG.

My own vision is him typing with one hand and masturbating with the other in harsh, grasping jerks while his imported houseboy chokes him into ecstasy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:13 PM on May 27, 2008 [10 favorites]


July 29, 2003

*belch*
posted by quonsar at 8:13 PM on May 27, 2008


Wow, what an idiot.
posted by greenie2600 at 8:16 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:18 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


more republican hypocrisy
posted by pyramid termite at 8:24 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I hate a lot of shit too.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:25 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ants, people.

Ants? Don't they live in caves or something?
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:26 PM on May 27, 2008


Bats live in caves, where they are duly ashamed of their batlike activities.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:29 PM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


*stuffs gaping maw with double-fistfuls of popcorn, carefully eyeing Leon the whole time*

Yeah, you secretly like that, don't you? Just wait till you see what I do with this one pound slab of butter.
posted by loquacious at 8:30 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


*finds table off the street
*drapes napkin over lap
*says grace
*lays ice cream cone upon a fine china plate
*delicately slices tip off of ice cream cone with a silver knife, leaving it sitting upon an open space on the fine china plate
*leans over and devours it and the cone in two or three hearty wolfs using only pie hole
*belches
posted by caddis at 8:36 PM on May 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


This guy is one half of an hilarious odd couple movie that's just waiting to happen. Think Hook meets What About Bob? The counterpart he gets stuck with is a wacky, ice-cream loving manchild with an irrepressible joie de vivre. In the climactic scene, he abandons the big speech he's giving to the Republican convention halfway through, and goes into an ad lib about joy and seizing the moment. Lots of fat men in suits frown disapprovingly - a senator's wife faints at his use of the word 'asshole'. Cut to the final scene - he's out on the pier with his comedy mismatch sidekick, chowing down on an ice cream. He's lost his job, they're planning to go off on vacation, and he's never been happier.

ROLL CREDITS!!!!
posted by RokkitNite at 8:41 PM on May 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


He reminds me of the kind of boss who forbids employees to eat at their desks because it "doesn't look good" but regards the insufficient time they have to go out and eat elsewhere as "their problem".

Here's an actual memo from a company I used to work for:
January 5, 1998

Memo To: All Employees

From: [president of the company]

Subject: Policies on Coffee Breaks and Food/Drinks

For over 15 years [company name omitted] has had a formal policy on 1) coffee breaks
and 2) locations where food and drinks may not be consumed. These policies are as follows:

-- There are two scheduled coffee breaks each day. The morning break
is from 10:15 to 10:30 A.M. and the afternoon break is from 3:15
to 3:30 P.M.

-- The company provides free coffee or tea to employees during the
scheduled coffee breaks and at lunchtime.

-- Food or drinks (with the exception of water which must be in a
closed container) are not allowed in company offices or warehouses
at any time. Food or drinks may only be consumed in lunchrooms or
patio/outside areas.

These policies were established for good reasons. They were for cleanliness,
electronic equipment concerns, work scheduling and efficiency. The company
decided to pay for coffee and tea to offset any inconvenience employees
might feel.

Many employees are not following these policies. As a result, food and
drinks are being consumed at any hour of the working day, employees are
using extra company-paid time to obtain unauthorized coffee, and coffee
is being consumed in places where food and drinks should not be consumed.
In spite of the fact that our employee numbers have not increased in
the past year, company expenses on coffee and related supplies have almost
doubled in the past year.

Effective immediately, I expect all employees to adhere to [company name omitted]
formal policies as stated above. Supervisors and managers will be expected to
enforce and monitor these policies in their respective departments.
posted by mike3k at 8:41 PM on May 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Breathing is generally an involuntary bodily "movement". Perhaps he should try that.

Monkey needs to get over himself.
posted by RockCorpse at 8:42 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Modern America's rising tide of informality

"Then I walked up the street, gazing about till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker’s he directed me to, in Secondstreet, and ask’d for bisket, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia. Then I asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So not considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater cheapness nor the names of his bread, I made him give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surpriz’d at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walk’d off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up Market-street as far as Fourth-street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife’s father; when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut-street and part of Walnut-street, eating my roll all the way, and, corning round, found myself again at Market-street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther."
posted by trig at 9:01 PM on May 27, 2008 [14 favorites]


This quote suggests that the author's interest is neither eating nor culture but rather self-control or, more to the point, self-abnegation. Many cultures throughout the ages have come up with great reasons to engage in such behavior, mostly to lighten one's load so as to better embrace the totality of existence. I doubt that's this guy's bag.

More likely, he just hates pleasure. He certainly hates tradition: eating as a social, outdoor activity has a far longer history than its private forms. The miracle of the loaves and fishes?
posted by noway at 9:06 PM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


So is eating an ice cream cone catlike or doglike? He calls it a "catlike activity," but then refers to all eating in public as "doglike feeding." And then there's this: "Not just the uneducated rustic but children of the cultural elite are now regularly seen yawning openly in public." Nothing like a classist snob to get one's priorities straight. Now is that catlike or doglike yawning?
posted by ornate insect at 9:07 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


I have this vision in my head of this guy writing his quote above: he finishes up the last sentence, looks it over with smug satisfaction, reaches over to his desk drawer, produces a revolver sugar cone, raises it to his temple open fly and pulls the trigger.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:07 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder what he thinks about crying in public.
posted by furtive at 9:09 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


food and drinks are being consumed at any hour of the working day, employees are using extra company-paid time to obtain unauthorized coffee

God I hate corporate America. UNAUTHORIZED COFFEE. If I didn't hate hippies just as much as I hate middle managers I'd be living in a commune right now.
posted by lysistrata at 9:10 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Not entirely sure why, but this reminds of:

General Jack D. Ripper: You know when fluoridation first began?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: I... no, no. I don't, Jack.
General Jack D. Ripper: Nineteen hundred and forty-six. Nineteen forty-six, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.

posted by juv3nal at 9:21 PM on May 27, 2008


He also wrote a thoroughly execrable defense of banning human cloning. I had to write a premise for it for an ethics class and it was exactly the same kind of John-Doe-from Se7en creepily rambling nonsense as this.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:29 PM on May 27, 2008


I would very much appreciate it if you could all STOP WITH THE FUCKING CHEWING!

What are we? Cows?
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:33 PM on May 27, 2008


And now, sir, I am going in search of some Italian hokey-pokey, and I care not who knows it.
posted by gamera at 9:35 PM on May 27, 2008


It's rich to see conservative twats like Kass sniff about "uneducated rustics" doing anything when, last time I checked, it was "rustics" whose votes were keeping Republicans employed -- and dining on the bone china of social-club Washington.
posted by scatman at 9:35 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, the 1904 Worlds Faire. It was all downhill after that. Sure, it was hot, really hot, and who wouldn't want some ice cream. Pretty soon the rot had set in and we were the words biggest industrial power, came out on top of a couple world wars and put some men on the moon. Rabid we were. Should have been shot like dogs in the street.

Uh, yeah.

You know, tomorrow I'm going to go work on curing cancer in jeans, t-shirt and hiking boots and have a little secret smile all day long! I may even go back to this image as my desk top wallpaper.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:36 PM on May 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


"it is an embarrassment to human self-command to be caught in the grip of involuntary bodily movements (like sneezing, belching, and hiccuping and even the involuntary bodily display of embarrassment itself, blushing)."

What about farting?
posted by homunculus at 9:37 PM on May 27, 2008


I can't help imagining how much fun it would be to tie this guy to a chair and park him next to a meat-on-a-stick concession at the county fair. Or anywhere at the fair, really.
posted by stefanie at 9:38 PM on May 27, 2008


I wonder what he thinks about crying in public.

It's hard to think about anything when you have to do it all the time
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:46 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. That full quote would make such a great monologue for a movie nazi. After the excruciatingly sloooooow zoom ending close on his shadowed, steely glare as he seethes those final words ("...others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior")--

SMASH CUT!

--to the kitty, jaws opened unnaturally wide, dry tongue a-loll, spots of red staining the white fur at the corner of each eye and the marble white fist steadily squeezing, squeezing....
Pull out slightly to reveal that even as blood sprays and pools across the slashed fabric of the Nazi's uniform pants where the dead cat's still extended claws rake the exposed flesh, still...still he strokes the animal's body absently, yet with obvious tenderness.......



And then Indy crashes through a window or something.
posted by maryh at 9:47 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Re-reading the paragraph one is struck by how easily Kass projects his own bourgeois fantasies about genteel manners upon the world,and does so with such Victorian certainty, despite the fact that 100 years ago the poor in America behaved in public in all kinds of ways Kass would have found shameful. He wants his prism to be historical, but it's clearly a class prism: manners have traditionally been markers of breeding, and that's really what upsets Kass. His inability to tell who is priviliged based on their behavior is what upsets him, as it undermines the baldly and inherently classist (and anti-American, has the Kassist never been to a baseball game?) Kl-assumptions of his Kl-assinine screed.
posted by ornate insect at 9:49 PM on May 27, 2008 [16 favorites]


For an academic like Kass, you know what's worse than catlike eating? Catlike typing. Fortunately, there's a solution.
posted by lukemeister at 10:08 PM on May 27, 2008


And then there's the fear of the body trope, which would have tickled Nietzsche or Freud or Levi-Strauss, in the paragraph: the assumption that humans are ever not enslaved to their appetites! We are always enslaved to our stomachs, we just have long stretches everyday where we're not aware of this.

It's not just gastro-aesthetics, it's a deep seated prejudice against the fact that humans are animals. Why do digestive system and stomach offend Kass's sensibilities so? He appears to hold some deep seated anxiety about, and fear of, human bodily functions. I'm picturing someone who requires a stall instead of a urinal in order to piss.
posted by ornate insect at 10:10 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


He calls it a "catlike activity," but then refers to all eating in public as "doglike feeding." And then there's this: "Not just the uneducated rustic but children of the cultural elite are now regularly seen yawning openly in public."

Nonsensical, contradictory metaphors. Klass and Thomas Friedman should get together.

Ah yes, the 1904 Worlds Faire. It was all downhill after that. Sure, it was hot, really hot, and who wouldn't want some ice cream. Pretty soon the rot had set in and we were the words biggest industrial power, came out on top of a couple world wars and put some men on the moon. Rabid we were. Should have been shot like dogs in the street.

You neglect to mention how it all ties together. It's 1904. It's the World's Fair. Who's selling these newfangled ice-cream cones? That's right: Abe Doumar, an ARAB! Yet more proof how seriously the Bush administration takes the threat posed by the middle east.
posted by deanc at 10:18 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


...deep seated anxiety about, and fear of, human bodily functions.

And in one fell swoop, we explain 90% of American social Conservatism.
posted by Avenger at 10:22 PM on May 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


flagged as dairyist and carnivorist
posted by lukemeister at 10:29 PM on May 27, 2008


Remember that film The Name of the Rose in which the crazy old monk was killing people for perusing a book on comedy because he found it sinful?

Crazy old monk: "Laughter is a devilish wind which deforms the lineaments of the face and makes men look like monkeys."
Investigator: "Monkeys do not laugh. Laughter is particular to men."
Crazy old monk: "As is sin. Christ never laughed."

This guy is that crazy old monk.
posted by moonbiter at 10:30 PM on May 27, 2008


Is this the usual quality of this guy's arguments? How does this meet any reasonable standard? It's absolutely vapid. I don't understand how he's been successful. Another example of affirmative action for conservatives in academia?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:36 PM on May 27, 2008


Fucker uses "quaint" and "priggish" in the same sentence ... needs to be punched in the throat.
posted by wfrgms at 10:37 PM on May 27, 2008


Wow.

Is it just me, or do people who point to some golden age of humanity (take yer pick of which, 50's, Victoriana, whatever) seem to be batshit crazy when you really consider what they're holding as a standard? Like they spent all sorts of time learning about nut forks and other obscure pieces of table silver and are annoyed that no one else is impressed or interested... or that their Nut Fork Knowledge somehow doesn't bring on an apotheosis? Or a return to the days when life was better because people knew their place and didn't eat in the presence of their betters? Or used the correct utensils, at least? I blame this crap on Emily Post - codifying rules of behaviour for eternity that were only used by a very narrow slice of population (hence making a rulebook necessary in the first place to everyone else) and making a living out of claiming it mattered.

I've only ever seen really, er, aspirational sorts of folks get uptight about this sort of thing. The people I've known who've inherited massive collections of obscure Edwardian table silver and have enough money & social nous to actually use them in bits only do so ironically, or as a kind of conversation piece at dinner. It's the people whose ancestors might have worked as kitchen or cleaning help in the houses of the table silver inheritors who seem to hold the use of the silver itself as sacred. Kass has lost sight of the idea that good manners is about being gracious. Making the people around you comfortable is good manners. Pointing out how rude someone else is or getting annoyed at someone eating a piece of fruit walking down the street frankly isn't.

It makes me wonder where the hell these people spend their time that everyone around them is so crude. What trailer park & bowling alley is Kass spending his time in?

After all, if we all stopped continually belching & farting loudly in each other's presences and stopped pulling burritos and sandwiches out of our pockets to knaw on in meetings at the office, the world would be a better place.

How about things like... dignity? Mutual respect? Oh right... that involves being gracious, not being petulant... things I can't see anywhere in Kass' rant.
posted by Grrlscout at 10:37 PM on May 27, 2008 [14 favorites]


Where's the fire? He's advocating self-control, civility, politeness, and proper eating habits. Something which looks to be lacking by many today.
posted by cmacleod at 10:42 PM on May 27, 2008


I reread Heinlein's juvenile novel "Space Cadet" last year. One of the plot points is an alien race's belief that eating should be treated with the same sort of "necessary in private, shameful in public" attitude as excretion. The moral lesson was about the importance of showing as much respect as practical for other cultures' customs even when you don't understand or agree with them. This specific custom was clearly invented because Heinlein needed a belief which would be plausible enough in the context of an alien species, but still weird enough that no human being could possibly share it.
posted by roystgnr at 10:45 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Kass and his nuttiness (he needs a dedicated fork he's so nutty!) reminds me of an interview* I heard just yesterday with Frederick Kaufman. Kaufman talked about the Puritan love/hate relationship with food, and how that relationship was largely defined for a desire for control. By those standards, Kass seems like a real all American Joe.

*scroll down to May 26, if you're so inclined.
It's worth it just for the cowboy intestine-eating competition story, trust me
posted by maryh at 10:53 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


This guy is about 100 years off from his intended destination. Someone pack him back in the time machine, quick.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:56 PM on May 27, 2008


The Stupidity of Dignity by Steven Pinker

Extended criticism of the "Ice cream police".
posted by dgaicun at 11:06 PM on May 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


When he was seven, he saw his father eating a banana in public and something inside him snapped. He cried piteously. His mother heard him, and as punishment she made him polish all the nut forks. In the dark. For a week.

Poor man. Never to have enjoyed the simple hominid pleasure of eating food off a stick.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:10 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks for that link, dgaicun. That deserves its own post, imo.
posted by homunculus at 11:56 PM on May 27, 2008


i typed like six different comments but none of them express my horror at finding out there is actually a person who gives a shit about other people eating ice cream in public

if you give a shit about other people eating ice cream in public i will bet a million dollars you are a fucking psychopath in your private life and use this ice cream thing as a cover

just like all those family values congressmen who rape children and anti-abortion pillars who fuck animals
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:01 AM on May 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Reminded me of this (NSFW?)
posted by scodger at 12:35 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can mock Kass, if you like. Sure, go ahead and mock. But you will never understand his brilliance. How could you hope to understand it, you with your fatty brain rotting in a body that was dying even as it was born, a purulent, odorous, pulsating mass of blood and lymph, which erupts, oozes, drips, and gurgles whether you will it or no. It controls you, commands, you, imprisons you like a father who locks you to the basement stair, and even as you lie in bed each night, praying for release, sweet release from this vile cage of flesh, you are betrayed even then by the vile, rancid sweat which drips uncontrollably from your shaking frame and soaks the sheets beneath you. You can cut your traitorous flesh to punish it, but that skin will never come off no matter how hard you scrub, and on each particle of that skin a horde of bacteria, more numerous than the stars in the heavens, crawl and feast and excrete and vomit, but that is nothing, nothing compared to the festival of damnation within, the mucous, pus, and bile which you cannot contain, which erupts to the surface for all to see, even in front of women, and there is nothing you can do. Because you are a cancerous, hairy, filthy bag of meat, yes you are, and your every action betrays this essential truth, as like a mere animal you masticate and bibulate and eructate and micturate and defecate without surcease, day after day, hour after hour, eat and shit, shit and eat, world without end, trapped in this prison, this hell, this body, this self, this me, dear god let me out. Please let me out. I'll be good. I'll be good. I promise.
posted by kyrademon at 1:20 AM on May 28, 2008 [27 favorites]


GlaDos, is that you?
posted by Avenger at 1:25 AM on May 28, 2008


Ah yes, the 1904 Worlds Faire. It was all downhill after that. Sure, it was hot, really hot, and who wouldn't want some ice cream.

Before ice cream cones, there was hot dogs:

1 April 1899, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. 7:
YALE'S "DOG WAGONS."
A College Institution Now - The "Yale Kennel Club" and Its proprietor.

From the New York Sun.
New Haven -- Dog wagons are indigenous to New Haven and are the result of the appetites of Yale men who appreciate the fact that the hot wienerwusts snugly imbedded in rolls and covered in mustard are ready to bark at any time. Everywhere else the dog wagons masquerade as owl or night lunch wagons. Even in New Haven, as popular eating places, they are somewhat recent institutions, and have sprung up in all parts of the town, though most liberally scattered through the college quarter, where it is not unusual to find two on one block and another just around the corner.
posted by iviken at 1:46 AM on May 28, 2008


I bet Kass has also strong ethical stance on wearing shoes indoors. Talking point 2012!
posted by Free word order! at 2:32 AM on May 28, 2008


It's worth reading a bit more about Leon Kass before you condemn him (so you can condemn him properly).

In addition to wanting to ban public eating, he's got some odd views about women ("The supreme virtue of the virtuous woman was modesty, a form of sexual self-control, manifested not only in chastity but in decorous dress and manner, speech and deed, and in reticence in the display of her well-banked affections.") -- condemns birth control and asserts that women's destiny is childbirth: ("Thanks to technology, a woman could declare herself free from the teleological meaning of her sexuality—as free as a man appears to be from his. Her menstrual cycle, since puberty a regular reminder of her natural maternal destiny, is now anovulatory and directed instead by her will and her medications, serving goals only of pleasure and convenience, enjoyable without apparent risk to personal health and safety.")

Shorter Kass: "I want to abolish contraception and see women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen where they belong, modestly swathed in fabric to avoid inflaming the uncontrollable masculine desires of their guardians."

He's also against life prolongation: "Is not our mortality the cause of our enhanced appreciation of the beautiful and the worthy and of our treasuring and loving them? How deeply could one deathless “human” being love another? ... To suffer, to endure, to trouble oneself for the sake of home, family, community, and genuine friendship, is truly to live, and is the clear choice of this exemplary mortal. This choice is both the mark of his excellence and the basis for the visible display of his excellence in deeds noble and just. Immortality is a kind of oblivion-like death itself."

Shorter Kass: "suffering lends meaning to life, so attempts to reduce suffering are bad, m'kay? So we should stop researching ways to mitigate the degenerative aging process."

Mefites, I present to you Leon Kauss: misogynistic thanatophiliacal reactionary and Straussian conservative:

This man was responsible for George W. Bush's administration's policy on bioethics.
posted by cstross at 3:48 AM on May 28, 2008 [16 favorites]


teleological meaning of her sexuality

Yep, that's what it's all about for this guy. God told him my sexuality was for makin' babies, and that's what matters.

It's a funny contradiction, isn't it-- he wants women's reproductive capabilities frozen in a pre-contraceptive time, because that's 'natural' and how God designed things, but doesn't see the contradiction in rejecting more 'natural' ways of eating, yawning, and blushing.
posted by miss tea at 4:22 AM on May 28, 2008


...and therefore the gym sock is truly a weapon of mass destruction when used in such a manner.
posted by trondant at 4:39 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Teleology: noun ( pl. -gies) Philosophy
the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.
* Theology the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.
The point to note here is that Kass's view of morality is an extremely conservative reading of Orthodox Judaism — he's not Haredi, but he seems to be big on tzniut. This points to a whole complex of beliefs and attitudes which are a whole lot less familiar to most people than those of, say, the more barking Evangelical Christians, or Salafi Muslims, but which exist on the same continuum.
posted by cstross at 4:41 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is a very good FPP, but fingers are getting tired favoriting all the great comments.
I bet this gut would love the state fair with its orgy of corndogs, elephant ears, and various greasy, oozy things eaten in public and/or on sticks. (and here my grandparents thought the state fare was wholesome).
Thanks Mefi, for making a crap morning better.
posted by pointystick at 6:36 AM on May 28, 2008


state fare fair
oops, freudian slip
posted by pointystick at 6:37 AM on May 28, 2008


Somebody listened to Wait! Wait! this week.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:49 AM on May 28, 2008


The point I was trying to make was that his reading of theology is filtered through a lens of teleology-- without intervention, women become pregnant from sexual activity, thus in Kass's view this is an outcome designed by God, and should not be interfered with; whereas other 'natural' physical manifestations like belching were not designed by God but are a by-product of our base physical natures-- the distinction is that one is by design and one isn't, which is derived from a reading of God's purpose, insofar as that is knowable. Fundamentally it's a pretty specious distinction, both in regards to the birth control thing and to ameliorating physical decline with aging.

I didn't catch the Orthodox connection. That makes a lot of sense, the modesty connection is definitely there. It's funny how much of that stuff I, personally, internalized as a kid-- my family went to a Conservative synagogue because it was the only synagogue in my town, even though my parents were liberal. I still, to this day, feel compelled to cover my shoulders in any church, even where nobody else is doing so. But of course the hardcore Orthodox take that stuff to another deep deep level of internalized craziness.
posted by miss tea at 6:50 AM on May 28, 2008


So he never eats in restaurants? What does he do when away from home - check into a hotel and order room service? Maybe he does eat outside, but pitches a tent and eats inside it. That way, no one can see him eating, yawning, sneezing, belching, hiccuping, or blushing.



I bet he wears his shoes in the house.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:57 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


So he never eats in restaurants?

He does, but only ones that feature l'ortolan served in the proper manner.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:02 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Not entirely sure why, but this reminds of:
General Jack D. Ripper


My first thoughts exactly!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:11 AM on May 28, 2008


Would water ice be ok? How about funnel cake? Pretzels?
posted by fixedgear at 7:22 AM on May 28, 2008


just like all those family values congressmen who rape children and anti-abortion pillars who fuck animals

Wow, nothing wrong with mocking hypocricy, but that update at the bottom with the link going on about Katherine Harris' boobs (paging Ann Althouse?)? WTF?
posted by the other side at 7:34 AM on May 28, 2008


"This is uncalled for, vulgar, and completely untrue. I know the Kasses personally, and would say only briefly that Mrs. Kass is the single most strong-minded woman I know, deeply respected by everyone who actually knows her, and has never for one second put up with anything remotely degrading. She wields enormous power just by walking into a room. She can stare anyone down, including Dr. Kass. She calls herself a feminist. I have never met two people more in love."

(*slaps head in disbelief*)
posted by lukemeister at 7:36 AM on May 28, 2008


"She wields enormous power just by walking into a room. She can stare anyone down, including Dr. Kass. She calls herself a feminist. I have never met two people more in love."

And I call myself a trolley, but that doesn't give me wheels.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:49 AM on May 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Laugh now, but in 100 years people will be shitting in open-air toilets and beating off in the grocery store, and everyone will laugh at those few people who wistfully recall a time when people did such things behind closed doors. It's a slippery slope people! Which is why I say bring back the hoop dress and the unitard swimsuit for men. And for god's sake, if you're going to blush, at least have the decency to lower the brim of your fedora or hide behind a parasol.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:01 AM on May 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


Can we get these guys to weigh in on this controversy?
posted by lukemeister at 8:02 AM on May 28, 2008


If he's so fastidious about public discourse, why is he even discussing such low topics as "sneezing, belching, and hiccuping?" He overstates his case anyway with his "offends those who know eating in public is offensive" line. Restaurants are public.

I think it's fine to wish that people had better manners in public, and personally, I think it's a gross to see people walk down the sidewalk while wolfing down their cheesesteaks. But the focus of his ire is all wrong -- ice cream cones are an established exception. They're not everyday food, they're a beach/county fair/celebration treat.
posted by desuetude at 8:13 AM on May 28, 2008


I say bring back the hoop dress and the unitard swimsuit for men.

Which one should I put on first?
posted by lukemeister at 8:23 AM on May 28, 2008


...deep seated anxiety about, and fear of, human bodily functions.

And in one fell swoop, we explain 90% of American social Conservatism.


Conservatives are more easily disgusted.

(Full disclosure: I wrote that. Sorry about the self-link, but it seemed too relevant not to mention. Also, I use that same Kass quote in the intro. Weird!)
posted by myeviltwin at 9:01 AM on May 28, 2008


In a biting rebuke to Kass, I just received an email from the management of the building where I work stating that next Monday, "Ben & Jerry’s will cater an ice cream party, compliments of your building team."
posted by lukemeister at 9:23 AM on May 28, 2008


I never ever want to know what this guy looks like, because I always want to think of him looking like that guy in My Own Private Idaho that had Keanu Reeves dress up as the kid on the Chore-Boy cleanser can and scrub his house while he writhed in ecstasy watching him.

For some reason, that image appeared unbidden while reading about this creep.

I just ate lunch at my desk. I wonder what he'd think of that?
posted by lordrunningclam at 9:30 AM on May 28, 2008


Holy crap, I just clicked the second link and he does look like that.
posted by lordrunningclam at 9:37 AM on May 28, 2008


but, but...i LIKE to eat my ice cream doggy-style!
posted by CitizenD at 9:52 AM on May 28, 2008


This is the worst case of adultitis I've ever seen. Someone get this guy a popsicle, stat!
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:55 AM on May 28, 2008


without intervention, women become pregnant from sexual activity, thus in Kass's view this is an outcome designed by God, and should not be interfered with

That doesn't make sense to me. I can't see where he's drawing the free-will distinction between fucking and slurping your soup or licking an ice cream cone. (Man, everything has bad connotations here, doesn't it? Maybe that's the real issue.) Getting your freak on seems to fall pretty clearly in the "intervention" category.

Maybe you can make a "be fruitful and multiply" argument, but if that's his position, it seems to raise two serious problems:

(a) The textual argument would seem to allow for "birth by technology" in the interest of maximal multiplication. The logical argument requires an arbitrary determination of "naturalness" that's not textually-based. It's just Kass picking and choosing whatever accords with his notions of moral conduct.

(b) Consequently, the strict "teleological" definition of what's natural isn't consistent with the prudish obsession with cleanliness (not surprising since it's just a post hoc rationalization). I'd be pretty surprised if Kass was fine with all the Leviticus precepts about sacrificing goats and pigeons and such if you happen to be downwind of a woman who's menstruating. Mmmmmm. Pigeon guts all over the sidewalk. SANITARY.
posted by spiderwire at 10:09 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's just Kass picking and choosing whatever accords with his notions of moral conduct.

Exactly. Wholly arbitrary, supported only by an ex post facto determination of what God has designed vs. not.
posted by miss tea at 11:08 AM on May 28, 2008


Good links people!
posted by asok at 11:26 AM on May 28, 2008


You know, reading Lukemeister's quote this all makes perfect sense to me.

GET IT OUT OF MY MIND!

posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:31 PM on May 28, 2008


It's funnier if you read it as Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

I was thinking of Uncle Monty from Withnail & I.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 PM on May 28, 2008


I - I think I'm gonna cry. That was beautiful, KyraDemon. I was gonna try to do the Devil's Advocate thing in this thread, like I've done time and time again in MeFi, but I can't possibly hold a candle to that. Were I wearing a hat, it would be off. Speechless, I am. I stand here without speech. I have no words yet I must ramble. I stand here before you a broken man with syllabic deficiency. I have been bested. I have been outdone. I lay down my thesaurus and dictionary at the feet of the master and go lick on an ice cream cone in stocks upon the town square for all to see in my shame and ridicule.

Bravo! Encore! Author! Author!
posted by ZachsMind at 5:35 PM on May 28, 2008


I am disappointed by the lack of the "batshitinsane" tag.
posted by Monochrome at 9:16 PM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


like a mere animal you masticate and bibulate and eructate and micturate and defecate without surcease, day after day, hour after hour, eat and shit, shit and eat, world without end, trapped in this prison, this hell, this body, this self, this me, dear god let me out.

jaysis wept, james joyce's preacher had a babe by debbie downer and will you just listen to the brat?
posted by pyramid termite at 11:51 AM on May 31, 2008


Mmmm, brats, I think I'll light the BBQ now.
posted by fixedgear at 12:30 PM on May 31, 2008


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