Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Vol. VII

Matt Labash Columnist

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Dear Matt, WIT? — Chuck

Sorry, Chuck. But since questions in this column are subject to editing, I’ve taken the liberty of changing yours from “WTF?” (which stands, of course, for “What the F—“) to the more family-friendly “WIT?” which stands for “What In Tarnation?” As I’m sure you well know, it also stands for the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and the Wellington Improvisation Troupe in New Zealand. But for our purposes, we’re sticking with What In Tarnation?

Why? Because I’m sick of your kind corrupting the language, making words mean whatever you feel like making them mean. I’m weary of you jaded hipster types who worship nothing but the latest technology or the insides of your own navels, your noses perpetually glued to your Commodore 64’s and your Atari 2600’s. The only time we see you is when your heads are retracted from up your rectal cavities just long enough to spit a “WTF?” at things you don’t understand. And you don’t understand much, or you’d know that the “F” in “WTF” was once a beautiful word, a word I first saw scissor-carved on a desk in first grade, which caused my teacher to turn ashen when I boldly proclaimed it in front of the class, and which my parents uneasily explained to me meant “a colorful expression for something two people do when they really love each other.”

Now, you and your WTF’s have taken this expression of tender love and turned it into something ugly, an all-purpose sneer, a Nietzschean shoulder shrug, a viscous lung oyster hocked in the eye of The Cosmic Conductor. Well you can have your godless nihilism, Chuck. Maybe that’s the way they talk in Russia, or wherever’s still communist now. But this is America. So take your knee-jerk cynicism back to your Richard Dawkins book discussion group in Volgograd or Park Slope or wherever you’re from. Here in God’s country, we prefer “What In Tarnation?”—which isn’t the language of the cynic, but of The Seeker. It is the language of cock-eyed bemusement at the passing carnival. It is an inquiry that evidences genuine curiosity, asked by great American can-doers like Yosemite Sam and Festus from “Gunsmoke,” real men who preferred winning the West to say, joining a food co-op and counting their Twitter followers. So I hope that answers your question, such as it is.

When leftists snicker and snidely refer to conservatives as “tea-baggers,” they are generally enraged and spewing bile. So would it be appropriate to refer to them as “vomit baggers”? — Bill M.

No. In addition to being juvenile, that would be a whiny refutation of a whiny playground putdown. And all this whining only begets more whining. As the guys in my militia would say, “WIT”? (What In Tarnation?) Look Bill, I’m as anti-government as the next guy. More, even. Absolutely true story: when my children were toddlers, I actually taught them my favorite anti-government lyric of all time from Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.” You haven’t truly experienced fatherhood until your three-year-old pipes in from his car seat: I got a letter from the government/ The other day/ I opened and read it/ It said they were suckers. That pretty much covers every letter I’ve ever gotten from the government – from unpaid parking ticket reminders to property tax notices. So as a paternal shaper of young minds, I don’t mind telling you that I felt like Fred MacMurray, Cliff Huxtable and Pa Ingalls all rolled into one.

That said, the Tea Party movement leaves me even colder than it does the big-government lefties. Not on philosophical grounds, but on stylistic ones. The appeal of being a conservative has always been that you don’t have to march in the streets making an ass of yourself. Liberals are supposed to have that covered. It’s unseemly, annoying, and nine out of ten times, useless. Plus, it causes traffic snarls. Have you ever seen, say, CodePink out in the street, singing “Silent Night, terrible night/ Son of Bush, hate’s pure fright/ Laser beams for thy bomb to trace/ Dawn of destruction of the human race” and thought, “You know what, CodePink? Now that you put it that way, I see your point.” Me neither. And I even leaned against the war. But people like them nearly made me for it.

In the old days, conservatives would sit home, fat and complacent, watching the other side make fools of themselves on television, while mocking their goofball misspelled placards. If, as a conservative, you were unhappy with the current state of affairs, you would get your special interest to make noise, or go fix an election, or do something similarly productive. I miss that. Now, conservatives are so angry and craftsy and on the march all the time with goofball signs of their own, that there’s something not-quite-right about it. It’s amateurish. As a general rule, beware of all enterprises that require poster board and puffy paints.

Should the sale of human organs be legal? If I want to sell a kidney, who does it hurt? I mean, besides the homeless person I took it from? — Harold Stickeehands

Harold, when I was a boy, back in the 20th century, my Sunday School teacher used to tell me that our body was a temple. I think it was to dissuade me from smoking, or perhaps from onanism, since nobody wants to see a temple knock over its own furniture. In any case, they always told you what you shouldn’t put into the temple: drugs, alcohol, fatty foods. But very little was ever said about giving the temple a good spring cleaning. And here, I’m not talking about colonics, though do what works for you. I’m speaking instead about looking at a basic x-ray of the human body, which reveals that it’s pretty cluttered in there. If you’re a minimalist, as you clearly are, what’s wrong with doing more with less?

Just think of all our extraneous parts. Ever had your appendix removed? Do you notice any difference? If tonsils are so important, how come doctors give kids ice cream for having them taken out? So really, two kidneys? How much is enough, organ-hoarders?

I say sell high, and give the money to your favorite charity, or just treat your loved ones to a tasty feast at the Olive Garden, since when you’re there, you’re family. Clearly, God created us with extras – much like children’s toy manufacturers often put extra bolts in the parts bag – which serve little function other than giving parents a sense of additional security should one roll down a floor vent during assembly.

But you’re not hurting anybody. If you make a killing off your organs, you’ll have a higher quality of life. And if you make a mistake by selling an essential organ, you’ll die. Just make sure to check off your responsible-citizen organ-donor card, so that in the event of the latter, others will have the benefit of your remaining kidney and necessary parts (save me a liver). In a way then, selling organs is really one of the most selfless things you could do.

Unless you’re selling organs from the homeless. It is ethical to clean out your own temple. It is unethical to clean out somebody else’s. Especially if you’re making money off of the less fortunate. That’s what betting on bum-fights is for.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is just published from Simon and Schuster. Have a burning question for Matt? Submit it here.