Thanksgiving advice: Be like Isocrates, not Pajama Boy

Annually, the insufferable boors writing for leftist outfits provide tips for shouting down your relatives at the family table during Thanksgiving. Nearly annually, I write about what a terrible idea that is.

I realize, however, that most people already instinctively know that. So instead, I’ll cite writings from about two millennia ago to show that this instinct is natural to well-thinking people. As Plutarch wrote,

Ariston, one of those present, said “Dear Gods! Are there really people who don’t provide room for philosophers while drinking?”

Aside: Ariston probably wore the Greek equivalent of the plaid onesie.

I responded “Really, there are, my friend, and they say very seriously by way of explanation that philosophy has no more right to speak over wine than the lady of the house does. Indeed, they also claim that the Persians act rightly in drinking and dancing not with their wives but their mistresses instead.

They believe it is right that we introduce these things to our drinking party—acting, and music—and that we should not touch philosophy. For they also believe that it is not appropriate to play games with philosophy and that in these situations we are not in earnest moods.

They claim, moreover, that Isocrates the sophist submitted to pleas to speak during wine only to say “I am skilled at matters not right for the present time; in matters right for the present time, I am not skilled.”

Plutarch goes on to explain that these table philosophers, the forerunners to our haranguing political proselytizers, “annoy most people” and prompt the others to acts of rudeness to drown them out. What is the sad end of such practice?

The aim of the shared space of the party goes out the window and Dionysus himself is offended.

C’mon, y’all. You don’t want to offend Dionysus at Thanksgiving.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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