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City Journal Spring 2014.
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NEW BOOK FROM THEODORE DALRYMPLE:
The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism.
NOT WITH A BANG BUT A WHIMPER:
The Politics and Culture of Decline

by Theodore Dalrymple
Not With a Bang But a Wimper.
 
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Theodore Dalrymple
Ethical Pornographers?
Two Norwegians’ perverse campaign to save the rain forests.
26 August 2005

In a world in which rock stars can set themselves up, and actually have people accept them, as moral authorities, it is hardly surprising that pornography has become a charitable activity.

Two young Norwegians, Tommy Hol Ellingsen and Leona Johansson, make pornographic films of themselves, which they sell to subscribers over the Internet for about $20 per month. They hand over 80 percent of the money, so they say, to charities that work to preserve the world’s rain forests.

They call their enterprise “Fuck For Forest.” In the first six months of its operation, it received a subsubsidy from the Norwegian government—though to be fair, the grant was given only on the knowledge that the couple envisioned an “alternative” approach to ecological charity work. The word “alternative,” it seems, is sufficient to loosen Norway’s public purse strings.

FFF went too far, however, when its founders performed their charitable duties at a rock concert at Kristiansand, in front of an audience of thousands. They wound up before a court, which tolerantly did not impose a prison sentence, even though Ellingsen exposed himself to the judge (in front, also, of several cameras). The court fined the couple about $1,200 each.

These ethical pornographers said that they started FFF because existing environmental groups were too much business and not enough fun, said Ellingsen, who seems to be the couple’s main thinker. At the concert, Ellingsen asked the audience, “How far are you willing to go to save the planet?” After the trial, he said that Norway was a little country, whose prime minister was a clergyman who didn’t like jokes about public decency. Thereafter, FFF (the spiritual descendents of Henrik Ibsen) decamped for Germany.

More than 50 years ago, Freidrich Hayek wrote that a social conscience might be but a mask for individual selfishness and license: one’s own personal conduct, after all, can scarcely compete in importance with the fate of the world. Ellingsen turns Hayek’s proposition inside out, complaining that his public sex act worried more people than did the destruction of the rain forests. In other words, either one favors Ellingsen having sex in public, or one favors the destruction of the rain forests: no other possibility exists. By this rhetorical blackmail, it is possible to push back the frontiers of the permissible indefinitely, for once a man has declared himself to be doing something for the sake of a good cause, his actions are beyond criticism.

Thus the expression of the right opinions becomes the whole of virtue. The more general and more generous-sounding they are, the better the person uttering them. If his opinions are correct enough, he finds himself completely exonerated from the need to refrain from doing anything he wishes.

We are but a hair’s breadth away from Necrophiliacs Against Infant Mortality and Sadistic Murderers Against Famine.

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More by Theodore Dalrymple:
To Have or to Be?
Cruel When Not Kind
Why Europe Sleeps
More . . .
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