Noah Rothman, author of ‘The Rise Of The New Puritans,’ details just how ‘miserable’ the lives are of today’s progressives. And the worst part? They don’t even REALIZE IT! But these progressive ‘puritans’ are ‘pursuing a moral framework and have imposed it on EVERY ASPECT of life,’ Rothman explains, just like the totalitarian philosophy on which their ideology is based. Glenn and Rothman discuss how this kind of moral absolutism — that takes no prisoners — could cause our society to cease to function normally…
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: Noah Rothman. A guy who I think really gets it. He's the -- just written the book, The Rise of the New Puritans. The war on fun. Really. Noah, welcome to the program, how are you, sir?
NOAH: Very well. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
GLENN: You bet. You bet. So Stu and I are in the midst of reading your book. We haven't gotten all the way to the end yet. But I have to ask you: Do -- do progressives know that they're almost embarrassingly unfun right now? Do they know this?
NOAH: No. They absolutely don't. They would reject the premise. And they sort of recoil at the assertion that they're pursuing some sort of a moral framework. That they have imposed this moral framework on every aspect of life. Especially the apolitical aspects of life. They don't see themselves as less fun, less chill. Less accommodating than their parents or grandparents. But they most certainly are. They're having less fun. They're having less sex. They're enjoying life less than their elders.
GLENN: They're having less sex?
NOAH: Oh, yeah. You haven't gotten to that chapter? That's a good one.
NOAH: So that is my very salacious chapter on sex and booze. It's called -- it's titled Temperance. All of these chapters are organized around unimpeachable moral values. Because they are pursuing a moral ideal, about how society should organize itself. So when you think of progressives, you don't think they have sexual prescriptions, right?
But if you dig into the literature around the many proliferating sexual identities. It's not about self-gratification or self-fulfillment. It's about the political program associated with these things. This has to pursue and advance a political agenda. And couple that with the labyrinth theme of consent requirements now, in statute, in places like California, but mostly in dorms and college campuses.
And you have this unnavigable labyrinth that has been erected around consent. Which absent consent is obviously a crime. But we created now, real legal and moral, and social consequences, if a Q is misread or a signal is overlooked, or it's just human behavior that's intervened in the process. The complicated process. The result is less sex, people are reporting, especially young people are reporting have much less casual intercourse than their parents did.
GLENN: Okay. I have to tell you, first of all, it is a religion. It is a religion. So you have Puritans absolutely right. And they are imposing it on all of us. But I look at people who are like this. And I think to myself, how could you not be just miserable, if you believe all the things that they believe, it's just a life of misery.
NOAH: Yeah. They don't see themselves as miserable, but they are making their compatriots miserable. I think nine out of the ten people I spoke with are -- who -- most of them wouldn't go on the record, for fear of consequences, saying the things that they actually think.
GLENN: Which is weird.
NOAH: Yeah. Well, there are real social and professional consequences for going against this movement. It's not a big movement, but it punches way above its weight. And so these guys are Democrat. They vote Democrat. They wouldn't vote Republican with a gun to their head. But they didn't get into the business of making delicious food and writing screenplays and broadcasting sports because they wanted to do politics. They don't. They've just been drafted into this movement. And it's sapping them of enthusiasm for their life's work. And they really, really resent it.
STU: Can you go over some of these? You have so many examples of this type of thing. The hummus place is one.
GLENN: I would like to hear about the burrito truck. Tell us about the burrito truck.
NOAH: A truck that was in the Pacific Northwest, these two women went down to Mexico. Fell in love with the food, interviewed chefs, picked up some recipes, brought them back to the Pacific Northwest, and it was a profound success. They were very commercially successful. In fact, a lot of people targeted by this movement are successful. And their success engenders quite the resentment. But they brought it to the Pacific northwest. And the media environment down there, which is beholden to this progressive set of ideas, just went about destroying the thing, because they had stolen this heritage from -- from the hard-working people of Mexico. They hadn't given them any credit. They weren't giving them the proper remunerations that were due.
It was a very nebulous idea of what they violated. What prescriptions they ignored.
But this thing was destroyed. These two women were driven out of business. And the burrito truck, which was feted, which was loved, which was driven under -- out of business. In part, also because I think it was so good. But they had violated some unspoken, unwritten ideals about whatever culture appropriation is, it's very difficult to define. But it's believed to be some form of theft, as though culture is a 0-sum game. And it's commodified in some way.
GLENN: So when I read that, and I thought about it, I had just seen the new Elvis movie. Have you seen the new Elvis movie?
NOAH: I haven't. I heard it's good.
GLENN: It's very, very good. But it taught me something about Elvis that I didn't know. I didn't know that he was so poor after his dad died, that he and his mom lived in a black community in Memphis. Which never happened. He was like the only white kid in this black community. So he grew up in that culture. He grew up with the music. That's why he moved the way he did. And the -- at the time, the programmers of radio, many of them would have loved to have played the black music. But they couldn't put a black man on the air. And when they heard his music, it was the black culture and black music sung by a white guy.
And, you know, it shows B.B. King and all of these legends who were friends of his, going, man, take it. Take it. I'm glad people are listening to it.
Now, you would look at that, and it would be cultural appropriation. And they would hate. I think they probably do, hate Elvis and anybody like him, because he was just stealing that. No, he wasn't.
He was popularizing it. He was breaking a barrier.
NOAH: Yeah. Popularizing it and creating synthesis. And there's this idea abroad that synthesis in music, in culture, in cuisine, is some sort of form of theft. Is there needs to be -- there's a racial essentialist element that's put to this.
That suggests that any creativity in creative works of art and amalgamating and synthesizing various influences into some finished product represents some form of attack on culture, even though what you just said is absolutely correct. In art, in food, and in music, you're exposing new audiences to this thing. You're creating a broader understanding and acceptance of these cultural traits, albeit, perhaps, amalgamated. Not necessarily adulterated. They confuse the two, probably deliberately. But the expansion of broadening the exposure to these ideas. These cultural traits. Used to be something that we would celebrate and accept as an unadulterated good. It's not anymore.
GLENN: Right. I know there was a guy who I grew up listening to on the radio.
He was very, very good. His name was Charlie Brown. He was originally at KJR in Seattle, and then CUBE. And I studied at his feet. I was lucky enough to work with him when I was very, very young. And I watched him, and I talked to him. When I started doing my own show, I called him up and I asked him. Hey, Charlie, can I -- can I steal this and this and this from you? And he just laughed, and he said. And I think this is true, with almost everything.
Because it's not -- you're not living in a vacuum. And he said, Glenn, you steal from me. You have stolen twice.
And that's what we don't understand, that it all is just kind of -- that's where you get your inspiration. And you take it. And you make it your own. And you move -- not stealing things word-for-word, et cetera, et cetera.
Let me ask you, because I'm watching -- I mean, I know you're -- your IQ is a lot higher than mine. And I don't know if you're -- if you're watching like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which I think is fantastic.
But it centers around this woman in the 1950s, early 1960s, who wants to be a comedian. And one of the running characters is Lenny Bruce. And Lenny Bruce would absolutely be in progressive jail right now, if he lived today. And you had all of these great comedians, that were there to push back, on the man. Whatever it was, they pushed back. These people like Ricky Gervais, make it, I think, because they don't apologize, and they don't stop.
Can you talk a little bit about the effect of apology, and what's happening in comedy.
NOAH: Yeah. The very same sentiments, policing of public morality, that took in Lenny Bruce. George Carlin and Richard Pryor are at work today. The executors of this campaign are not on the right. They used to be.
You know, the tendency that saw something that would corrupt you into great society and innocent cultural fare, used to be a tendency native to the right. In part, because we are all heirs to this puritanical tradition, has found a home in both political coalitions over the years.
On -- when it comes to comedy, one of the things you see now among this particularly puritanically inclined progressives is to emphasize the pain that someone had to endure, in order for you to enjoy something as trite as a punch line. You know, I see this in the fans of the comedian Hannah Gatsby. An anti-comic. And who is funny when she wants to be. She doesn't always want to be. Sometimes she will build the same tension that would otherwise lead to a punch line, give you that release, and doesn't break the tension. Just lets you sit and marinate in it, and absorb her pain. And maybe interrogate you about that joke that you told five minutes ago, and ask you, why you thought that was funny. Why was my suffering funny?
And that's what they love so much. They love the language. They love the ardor. Because it's a sign of your prudent understanding. That suffering exists in this world. And if you don't dutifully dwell on it every second of your life. You're sacrificing a moral mission, to advance a progressive project and make the human experience just a little bit more, you know, tolerable. This is a very puritanical ideal.
GLENN: I've never heard -- go ahead. Well, hang on. Hang on. I have to take a quick break. I want you to get to the apology. And I want you to explain a little bit deeper this anti-comedian. I've never heard that term before. Anti-comedian. And, you know, it's different than like Andy Kaufman. Who just, for his own entertainment, would make people wildly uncomfortable. But that's a completely different look. As I understand it. We're talking to Noah Rothman. He's the author of the rise of the new Puritans. A great book. You want to understand what's going on with the left and this new religion, and how it affects everything? The rise of the new Puritans, by Noah Rothman. Back with him in 60 seconds.
You can't talk your way out of pain. If you happen to be living with it, you can't reason your way out. And you have to play that delightful game, where you keep trying things, until either something works. Or you're just like, okay. I have to live like this. I got to that point. And my wife maybe took Relief Factor. They were a sponsor of many of my shows. But I never endorsed them. Because I didn't think it would work. And I had never tried it. And my wife said, why aren't you taking that thing that advertises. And I said, Relief Factor?
And she said, yeah. I said, because it's not going to work. It's an anti-inflammatory. Hey, I'm on Ibuprofen 800. Look out. I'm a little loopy. Don't let me drive.
And I said, those things never work for me. She said, just try it. So I tried the three-week Quick Start. And I was shocked. Shocked that it worked for me. This is where most of our pain comes from, is inflation -- sorry, not inflation. Inflammation. Can you see what I have my mind almost all the time? Inflammation is the source of most of our disease. And it's also the source of much of our pain. That's what they target with Relief Factor. In four different directions. Please just try it. In three weeks. Do the three-week Quick Start. You can find out more about it at ReliefFactor.com. ReliefFactor. You can get the three-week Quick Start, 19.95. ReliefFactor.com. Or call 800-4-Relief. 800-4-Relief. ReliefFactor.com. Feel the difference. Ten-second station ID.
Noah, I would love to do a podcast with you and spend, you know, at least an hour with you on this -- this topic. You've really nailed it. The book is the rise of the new Puritans. Tell me about the apology.
NOAH: So we are often bombarded with demands that you will apologize for your conduct. The apology provides you no absolution. And that's where I differ from a lot of the very brilliant scholars. Who have called this a purely secular faith. I don't see it entirely as a faith. Because in a faith in the western condition, there is deism, that expiates sin. There can be no absolution for sin in this particular faith because there is no deism. And because it is such an all-encompassing social code, I liken it more towards Puritanism. Because Puritanism wasn't just a phase. It wasn't just congregationalism. It was a way of life. It was a totalitarian philosophy by definition, because it was total.
When it comes to the apology, the apology as we've all observed, makes you just a more delicious target, and trains more fire on you. This isn't just true in comedy. There's several examples of that in the comedy chapter. But there's a particularly interesting anecdote that I lead off the book with, about a grocery -- about a grocer in Minnesota, that was, again, very popular. Very successful.
It was vetted by Keith Ellison on the floor of the House of Representatives. Diners, drive-ins, and dives. Guy Fieri featured it.
So it turned out, the owner of this grocer had a daughter, who in her youth, 14 and 18, respectively, made racially insensitive remarks online. This was picked up by the online community, that they attempted to him, to -- to apologize. And -- and to make absolution for his sins. He had to fire his daughter. That was not good enough. He pledged that she would devote herself to good works for the community. That was not good enough. Eventually, the holder of his lease terminated the lease.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh.
NOAH: Because that was the penitence that was deserving of the sin he had committed. The careless parentage of a willful daughter. And this is as moral a code as you can find. It goes back to the founding of the country. When you are apologizing in any other tradition, you would find some absolution. This particularly uncompromising tradition offers no -- no absolution for offenses against it.
GLENN: It is. I will tell you, you're right about this. As a completely different kind -- you don't call it a religion. I do. I just think it's an Antichrist-style religion. There is no forgiveness. And without forgiveness, we cease to function normally as a society. You just can't live in a society, where there is no forgiveness. Where you're held accountable, not only for everything you've ever done, but also anything your ancestors have done. That's a pretty shallow pool of good people that can be swimming around.
Noah, thank you so much for being on the program today. I would love to have you back. Love to do a podcast with you. The book is the rise of the new Puritans. Fighting against progressive's war on fun. Noah Rothman is the author