- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 23, 2000

Holidays can bring out the worst in people, and so as we face our individual vices this season, it is comforting to know that according to many liberals, we are not guilty of anything, we are just sick (especially if we have eaten too much fruitcake).

Many of us may become victims of "the dread obesity epidemic," which, according to a recent New York Times article, "is not restricted to any race, creed, ethnicity or slice of the socioeconomic supersized pie" (presumably which is even more supersized after the holidays). Individuals without the willpower to return ill-fitting canary-colored underwear from an eccentric aunt may be victims of hoarding disease, according to The Washington Post, and people who find themselves getting a bit too frisky under the mistletoe may not merely be having an Al-Tipper moment, they may be victims of sexual addition, which the New York Times Magazine covered in a recent article titled, "How Do You Cure A Sex Addict?"

The article was all too representative of the liberal belief that morality can be medicated, since although it covered numerous types of "sexual-impulse disorders," it never mentioned the free will of the perpetrators. Instead, the interviewees were presented as victims of mysterious forces and frightening neurotransmitters, which made them engage in their amoral actions. On his way to a bacchanal, one claimed to have been "jerked upward by a powerful, invisible hand, reeling out into the night, leaving behind a thick trail of lies."

That was not surprising, since liberals would have us believe that we are Skinner boxes set in motion, that all of the "holiday pathologies" may be due to nothing more than the influence of a serotonin cascade on well-intentioned individuals. After all, there are only a few logical steps between blaming a butterfly ballot for a Buchanan vote and blaming a fruitcake for an expanded waistline.

Yet all of these individuals, whether riddled with Palm Beach Syndrome or sexual adventurism, have ultimately been afflicted by a disease of bad choices and then have tried to blame those choices on something else. This is nothing new. People have blamed their actions on animal entrails and astronomical events for millennia, and it is far easier to blame a deadly sin than one's own lack of self-control.

Willpower cannot be bottled. (Even if Budweiser can be and is surely as effective a cure for shyness as Paxil.) In speaking of his theft of pears, St. Augustine wrote, "My desire was to enjoy not what I sought by stealing but merely the excitement of thieving and the doing of what was wrong."

Somehow, most of us manage to keep our worst impulses under control, even if it is simply because we don't want to be caught. H.L. Mencken once described the conscience as "The inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking." Many of us believe in a God who sees all and judges all, and ultimately holds us responsible for all of our actions. No pill can match that for effectiveness.

Having said all of that, pass the fruitcake. After all, not all sins are equal.

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