Suppose I tell you that I am apprehensive of fungi as a food source, that I suspect that food of fungal origin cannot hold any great nutritional value. Mushrooms, I declare, are simply nature’s Styrofoam, and in the wild their EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) is quite low. In fact, survival courses advise that in the search for available mushrooms, the energy it takes to search for them exceeds the energy that the mushrooms can give you by a wide margin.
So adamantly do I oppose mushroom consumption that I continue to write articles that expose their worthlessness, and to attack those who promote it. But my verbal attacks provoke anger and fear---especially among those whose livelihood depends on growing vast quantities of mushrooms. There are calls to have me silenced.
Some threaten to file a complaint with their local Committee for Public Safety---the Human Rights Tribunal. Others rely on smear tactics. They will not address my accusations about their product being worthless or that mushroom farms are environmentally costly. Instead they assign malevolent motives to my campaign of “hate”. The focus then becomes not on the empirical foundations of my argument, about the veracity of my data or the methodology I used to assemble it, but rather on the dark motives that inspire my campaign. For no intelligent citizen of liberal education or sound mind could possibly question the self-evident value of mushroom consumption. Every veteran of the counter-culture, every CBC journalist, every citizen of noble spirit could not possibly dispute the benefits of eating a diverse range of mushrooms, especially the imported ones or those that came from the forest.
Of course, it must be conceded that since psilocybin is the active ingredient of mushrooms of the magic kind, having a pharmacological effect similar to LSD, the consumer may see funky colours and patterns if he eats them. But hey, a lot of us love those trips. It also must be acknowledged other wild varieties might make you violently ill, but then so can food poisoning at the restaurant around the corner.
No, there must be an underlying psychological drive behind my cause, a hidden agenda. There is no other explanation. Decent, rational people can only adore mushrooms and embrace all of their varieties---especially those imported from another country that they can sell more cheaply than our own. Only those with xenophobic palates would disagree. So I can’t be rational or decent, and therefore my ideas about mushrooms do not warrant examination. They must be quarantined now before impressionable minds, minds not tuned into the CBC for mental conditioning or run through the ideological boot-camps of the politically correct universities and journalism schools, are fatally influenced. Never mind my nutritional critique of mushrooms. I am a bad apple who cloaks his visceral bias against mushroom-consumers with socially acceptable concerns about nutrition. Hatemonger! Silence him!
Well guess what, these self-appointed custodians of moral rectitude are right. I campaign against mushroom consumption for two reasons. One is that I truly believe that they are of no significant nutritional benefit. The other reason, the one I conceal, is that a mushroom-eater stole my girl-friend in Senior High School. And another one who bought foreign mushrooms, stole my job. Consequently, I hate mushroom-eaters. And I intend to dissuade people from trying mushrooms and I want to shut down those who profit from their sale. So what?
What does my vindictive rage against all mushroom-eaters, all but two of whom were not responsible for the loss of my girl-friend or my job, have to do with my case against the nutritional claims of mushroom promoters? If a mushroom-eater, or a producer, embarked on a campaign to counter mine, would his case for the nutritional benefits of mushroom consumption be similarly placed on a psychiatrist’s couch and similarly suppressed? Would his arguments be discredited by the fact that they were based on a study done by a “right wing think tank” funded by corporate dollars? If a study was published by the Mickey Mouse Club---or a left wing think tank---so often quoted by “rational and decent” CBC listeners----would that necessarily discredit its findings?
Should we dismiss the game theory of John Nash---subject of the movie “A Beautiful Mind”—because he was an anti-semite? Is Ezra Pound’s poetry not to be valued because Pound supported Mussolini and his fascists? Should I discount the diagnosis that my neighbourhood mechanic gave of my car’s problem because, after all, he is a bigot? Are the motives of people who promote unpopular ideas more material than the ideas themselves? Apparently so. At least in those countries where those with PC mentalities have captured control of the major educational institutions and graduated students who now colonize the broadcast studios and editorial rooms of strategic media as well all public sector bodies. A kind of left-wing McCarthyism pervades societies across Europe and the Anglophone world, eager to hunt down and cast out unbelievers found guilty of disreputable aspirations.
Such a pity. Mushroom-defendants could have made a case that fresh mushrooms are a cholesterol, fat and sodium free, low calorie source of riboflavin, niacin, copper, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium and selenium. But instead they employed the very tactics that they once denounced as the signature of Senator Joe McCarthy and his House on Un-American Activities. In so doing, they dealt a near mortal blow not just to my cause but to theirs too. For if you chop down every tree to chase out the devil from his forest lair, what will you do when he suddenly turns on you, when the political weather changes abruptly and the howling gale of public censure is with him and against you and there is no tree left for cover? What solid trees of free speech will you hide behind for protection? Your reasoned arguments will be of no avail then, for you have already set the table for the absence of reason by your attacks on motives. Reasoned arguments, and the facts that they are based on, will not count. Only the motives of those who present them. And who will be the judge of that?
In a secular multicultural theocracy, only the star chamber of politically correct journalists, professors, politicians and judges are licensed to read minds and hearts. Should this kangaroo court fall into my possession, where I can nominate my own set of prosecutors, will you trust me to evaluate your motives? If not, shall we then agree to deal with the merits of our conflicting opinions, and leave mind-reading to psychics and moral judgments to an omniscient being?
Mushrooms are worthless and I hate those who eat or sell them. You object? Then deal with my assertion and not my confession. Whether I love, hate or am indifferent toward anything or anybody is quite beside the point in discussing the merits of a public policy option.
“Hitler was a vegetarian. Therefore vegetarianism is to be dismissed as a dietary alternative.” That is the conditioned reflex of politically correct logic, which wrote the rule book of Canadian political discourse. No wonder Canadians can’t discuss immigration or population policy. We are afraid to claim ownership of our opinions for fear of how we are seen, when just two generations ago, Canadians died to preserve a nation of fearless people. Now we are a nation of silent “sheeple”. Thanks to the mushroom lobby.