April 30, 2003


This is an abuse of language. McKibben’s book may be sincere, forceful, impassioned. It may be well written. But it is not brave. It will offend absolutely no one who matters in Bill McKibben’s world. To the contrary, it will reinforce the righteous self-image of those who promote his career. By writing this book, McKibben can count on attention and praise. That doesn’t make him a coward. But neither does it make him brave–or the reviewers brave for praising him.

But if you say it often enough, maybe no one will notice.

What really interests me is that people think that they’ve made a moral argument against genetic engineering when they say that the idea “sickens” them. The idea of sodomy “sickens” some people, too. So does the idea of interracial marriage.

So you feel ill. Why should I care? After all, pompous, empty-headed moralizing sickens me, and nobody’s stopping that.