The late William F. Buckley Jr. once famously said he would rather be governed by the first hundred names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard. He undoubtedly had it right back then and would undoubtedly be more so now.
As usual, the little things bring the cosmic concepts into focus. Last week student government—the only kind there would be in an ideal world—decided to prohibit the sale of bottled water on the Harvard campus, the better to save the Earth, don’t you see.
We give thanks for that decision, so many opportunities does it provide.
For instance, one student quoted in the linked story complained that “An outright ban of water bottles offers easy fodder for conservative pundits bent on opposing the cause of environmentalism, making it easy for such pundits to label proponents of this policy as radicals who are willing to overlook any and all individual freedoms in order to achieve their aims.”
Well, yes and no.
First, we’ll point out that this person’s idea of respecting individual freedom is for Harvard to levy its own tax on bottled water rather than ban it outright.
More to the point, the real folly is in making it easy for such pundits to label proponents as self-absorbed narcissists ceaselessly on the lookout for opportunities to posture themselves as striking great blows on behalf of an otherwise defenseless planet without the requirement of any serious risk or exertion.
The hunt for heroism on the cheap is a sort of prep school for tyrants. Were the authoritarian impulse confined to environmentalism and Harvard’s campus legislature, it would be a manageable nuisance. It isn’t, and we thank Harvard for the warning.