When I was a teenager (back in the dark ages of the early 1960’s), people made fun of studying “the sex life of the tsetse fly” and used it as a metaphor for anything they wished to dismiss as a waste of time and money as well as a conservative proof of the folly of federal taxation and spending and of government itself. At the time, I knew the tsetse caused sleeping sickness and so was aware of the suffering and disability it visited upon populations in Africa, but even so I failed to comprehend how foolish we sounded repeating the phrase as a dismissive joke. I was an adolescent. We made fun of things, many things. The way to conquer the seriousness of life and the earnestness of adults was to make fun. We trivialized what we did not understand. Sex was funny, authority (federal or otherwise) was funny, and even sleeping sickness could be spoofed to amuse adolescent minds. We were sophomoric.

Paul Krugman was pointedly clever yesterday about the dangers of trivializing. On his blog, he wrote:

So Bobby Jindal makes fun of “volcano monitoring”, and soon afterwards Mt. Redoubt erupts. Susan Collins makes sure that funds for pandemic protection are stripped from the stimulus bill, and the swine quickly attack.

What else did the right oppose recently? I just want enough information to take cover.

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