Bottled Water and Time for a Self-Criticism Session

By February 25, 2009General

James Lileks comments on the ritualized response coming from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom upon being caught with bottled water. Bottled water! How unenlightened, declasse and antigreen.

This sums up with exquisite precision the people we elect to guide our institutions:

Fix on something small and symbolic, and demonize it;

Propose a response that does little to address the fundamental problem;

Forbid the thing to others;

Reserve its use for yourself;

Adopt a penitent tone when caught which underscores the hypocrisy and makes you look like a dweeb for apologizing for something which, while petty, you have infused with moral failings. 

I’m not big on shouting HYPOCRITE, for the most part, because failing to do a thing you   endorse does not mean the thing you’re endorsing isn’t a good idea. But that equation changes when it’s something they want to take away from you, but reserve for themselves. In any case, it’s just laughable to see a weightless fool who, for the sake of public image and sending the right messages,  has to apologize for having the wrong kind of water container  – and has an aide describe it as an indulgence.

Sir. Six oysters for breakfast with a rasher of bacon is an indulgence. Three showgirls in your lap is an indulgence. Racing a car at high speed on weekends is an indulgence. Having a moral tuning fork that twinges when someone drinks water from a plastic bottle is an affectation. 

Today, bottled water. Tomorrow, who knows what will be on the list of socially accepatable goods? Some other perfectly normal product that people buy because they want to.

Actually, might be a fun little guessing game. Pate de foie gras is evil. Products with transfats, verboten. Bottled water, eeek!

Our guess: Ice cream that uses carrageenan, demonized because of the harm caused to ocean life in the harvesting of seaweed. Birds, fish and phytoplankton are traumatized.

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