I have it on good authority that when, after a long day of praying, chopping wood and embroidering scarlet letters for frisky maidens, the Puritans of early America would meet in the woods of New England for barbecued ribs and wet-cassock contests.

Okay, that’s a lie, but don’t you sometimes wish you could rewrite American colonial history to make it just a little less dour?

But that’s the way it was, a legacy of merciless mirthlessness that still haunts us: the moral violence that is Puritanism can complicate a guy’s quest to buy a drink when he needs it most, depending on what state you’re stuck in; deludes the public into thinking that hope and prayer will make all those semi-automatics disappear; and – to my present point – makes it okay to strap a Congressman caught with his pants down in the Kinneret into the electric chair of public opinion.

The only thing is, no, it is not okay. It’s ridiculous that a junior Congressman from Kansas should be raked over the coals for simply wanting to cool his Republican tuchus in the Christ-endorsed waters of the Sea of Galilee.

As an American taxpayer, I am offended that the FBI would spend even one moment or one cent on “investigating” this non-event. According to AP, some of Rep. Kevin Yoder’s constituents “are wondering what he was thinking about” when he doffed his undies and dove in. Note to constituents: Have you any idea how insanely hot it gets around Tiberias in August? Although I wasn’t around to see it, I would put forward that if Jesus had had any common sense, he would have skinny-dipped in August too.

But because it’s America we’re talking about, it gets better. Now we get the profuse, hollow apology. Yoder’s “incredibly remorseful” about committing this diabolical act of summer refreshment. LOL — no you’re not, nor should you be! Everyone knows that in American politics, the intensity of a public apology is directly proportional to the lack of sincerity felt by the one issuing the apology. This time is no different. If Yoder were sincere, he would fly back to Israel and jump in the Kinneret with all his clothes on, as any sensible, right-wing Republican would.

So Mr. Romney thinks it was “reprehensible”? Sorry Mitt — what’s truly appalling is that you put a running mate on the public stage who has about as much dress sense as a fifth-century A.D. Galilee fishmonger. Mr. Ryan would do the fashion police a favor by getting naked himself.

Take! It! Off! (photo credit: AP)

Take! It! Off! (photo credit: AP)

But in the meantime, the spectacle continues, as our country’s Puritan roots continue to stifle and strangle, and not just in Kansas. Cut to another part of the woods, this time over in Duluth in the good, flat state of Minnesota, where another Congressman’s offending member is making headlines. Actually, Kerry Gauthier serves in the Minn. House of Representatives. Following a  fleeting al fresco oral sex romp with a consenting 17-year-old at rest stop near Lake Superior, there have been calls for Gauthier to resign from politics altogether. That’s right, Democrat and Republic alike, as well as the “impartial” media, are raking this pol over the coals not over dumb policymaking, not over campaign finance irregularities, but over a blow job.

Because some weasel spotted the act of fellatio in progress and phoned it into the cops — must have been a slow day in Duluth, but then when wouldn’t it be — a man’s political career is now set to auto-destruct.

If two consenting adults (the other guy is one year over the age of consent) choose to get it on, well that’s their choice. It’s not like Gauthier was pulling an Anthony Weiner, emailing pictures of his bulbous nether region thither and yon to Linda Tripp wannabes. It’s not like he was doing an Eliott Spitzer, bolting down to DC incognito for tawdry sex with hookers.

Of course, if the 17-year-old in question was a woman, there’s a 90-percent chance this would not have made the news. But as it happens, the subtext here is that the state rep ain’t straight, and God knows America has never been very comfortable with queens of any orientation.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. (Queen Elizabeth II image via Shutterstock)

I say kudos to Yoder and Gauthier both. Congratulations on putting yourselves out there. Your only crime is forgetting that America is Puritan to the core.

Still, lest anyone forget, the blow job is the sexual act that since the days of JFK, if not before, has been fetishized in American pop culture like no other. Why should society come down so hard on a guy who is doing, really, what society more or less expects him to do? Admittedly, a truckstop in Minnesota is less posh than the Four Seasons in Georgetown, but so what? Any American who believes in the sanctity and spirit of the Declaration of Independence should hold it self-evident that the guy, all these guys, ought to be left alone.

But Puritans don’t leave people alone — they make other peoples’ business their own, because they are moral fascists. This kind of ridiculousness is okay in small doses, but toxic in larger quantities, and that’s where it seems things are going. It starts with feigned victimization through hijacking of the language. The same idiot who today insinuates that calling Obama “angry” makes you racist will be taking you to task tomorrow for saying the word “parent” out loud, due to the implicit pornographic content of the word.

This kind of small-minded, lily-livered ethos can only be undone by facing it head on. Take the case of the high school valedictorian in Oklahoma now being denied her rightfully earned diploma because in her graduation speech she asked “how the hell” she was supposed to know what she wanted to do because she’d already changed her mind so many times.

This climate of retroactive censorship is not one befitting a great nation. Left unchecked, it will not produce another “Moby Dick.” We could use one. It may result in more tweets, but that’s no compensation for these kinds of unpardonable distractions from the national discourse. By no means should that student apologize.

This climate of retroactive censorship extends to America’s fabled, and failing, commercial quarters. Once, when working in the hallowed halls of Forbes magazine, and asked by a co-worker what I wanted for lunch, I replied “anything but Oriental food,” which I don’t care for. She told me I “needed” to say Asian food instead, and I kindly pointed her to the nearest dictionary where vindication was, by definition, mine.

I was once raked over the coals for making a passing reference to a clumsy politician in something Israel-related I’d written on About.com, a business unit of The New York Times which that company has now wisely shed.

You don’t apologize when somebody, whether in a position of authority or not, does not agree with you, or is offended by your expressing yourself. Those who should apologize are the ones who are so quick to repress. But Puritans and their heirs are not given to apology, because they are not clear of mind. They are are at war with themselves, and writ large this internalized conflict has grown to the point where the world’s most vital consumer society is at war with itself – at war over sex, which is to say over nothing, and at war with the truth, which is everything.

Right now the international situation is in a delicate state. The Blue Meanies of the world (and we all know who they are) are on the march. In this environment, where the UN has exhausted most of its dwindling supply of credibility, the world needs one nation, under God or not, that not only carries a big stick, but that knows how to wield it with as much finesse as an Olympic gold medal fencer. But a nation at war with itself empties itself of one of its most valuable resources — focus — making it less able to wage war against those who really have it coming.

So when some high-minded, self-righteous and essentially stupid Americans get hung up on somebody else’s blow job, it’s the public at large and those beyond our borders that get royally screwed.

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Editor’s note: This piece was originally published with the title “Moby Dick & blow job.”

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