“I often think it’s comical – Fal, lal, la!
How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal, lal, la!”
This wonderful lyric from Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Iolanthe is quoted in Steven Pinker’s fascinating book The Blank Slate. It illustrates the Harvard psychologist’s argument that there may be a genetic predisposition toward one political leaning or the other. Pinker writes:
The Right-Left axis aligns an astonishing collection of beliefs that at first glance seem to have nothing in common… Why on earth should people’s beliefs about sex predict their beliefs about the size of the military? What does religion have to do with taxes? Whence the linkage between strict construction of the Constitution and disdain for shocking art?
Pinker believes the answer may lie as much in a person’s nature as his nurture.
Both the Gilbert and Sullivan lines and Pinker’s book came back to me last week as I read this article in the movie trade paper The Hollywood Reporter about a poll they sponsored on the movie-going habits of Republicans and Democrats. The poll confirmed what many of us believe: Republicans go to the movies less, in part because they feel their values will be assaulted on-screen… which, of course, they will be.