Cause People

     [I’ve received numerous requests to repost this old chestnut, which first appeared at the Palace Of Reason on June 29, 2003 — FWP]

     Cause People can be very difficult. Trying. Often hazardous to your health. But they’re getting a progressively larger fraction of the media’s attention, so it’s well to be up on their characteristics and migration patterns.

     If you’re blessedly unacquainted with this subspecies of homo sapiens terrestrialis, and would like to explore, uh, what you’ve been missing, here’s the official Palace Of Reason Cause People Anthropological Summary And Spotter’s Field Guide. Have fun.

     1. Habitat

     Cause People are mostly found along the coasts, in the large population centers. They wear uniform-like clothing, talk in typeset phrases, and evaluate everything according to how it relates to their favored Cause. Certain institutions cater exclusively to Cause People, though the nature of those institutions has changed over time. Once it was coffee shops; today it appears to be specialty bookstores. If you locate one of these watering holes, you can reap a large number of sightings in a very short time.

     2. General Characteristics And Life Cycle

     At the center of the adult Cause Person’s biocycle is, of course, the Cause. The Cause need not be any particular idea or belief. All that matters is that it have first priority in the mind of the Cause Person, to the near-total exclusion of all other considerations.

     Political affiliation provides several Causes. Special interests and fixations on various kinds of perceived threats provide many others. The typical Cause Person selects from a wide assortment of Causes early in his adulthood, attaches himself to it, and afterward nurses from it as the source of all right and justice.

     After forming the attachment, the Cause Person acquires his characteristic mode of expression. Affiliation with a Cause is normally expressed with a limited vocabulary. Therefore, the elements of that vocabulary will appear in the Cause Person’s speech with very high frequency. Take note! Continual repetition of a small group of words or phrases can be a tip-off that you’ve spotted a variety of Cause Person of which you weren’t previously aware. It’s well to carry a pocket notebook for such occasions as these.

     3. Mating Patterns

     Cause People tend to be endogamous. There have been cases of out-breeding, but these are rare. Particularly attractive female Cause People can engender great consternation among males not of their sect, for which reason the temptation to “fraternize” must be stoutly resisted.

     Though endogamous, Cause People do not “breed true.” Possibly because of the difficulty of inculcating their specialized vocabulary in the young, their offspring usually come to regard Mom and Dad as nuts. However, this opinion is normally repressed until Junior has his own car.

     4. Tips For The Field Observer.

     If you decide to “go for the gold” — investigate a gathering of Cause People at close range — you must adopt the appropriate camouflage. As you might expect, this will include your dress, your accessories, and your verbal behavior. Some quick tips:

  • Do not approach “world peace” Cause People while carrying a badge or a gun, or wearing a Nuke The Moon T-shirt.
  • Do not approach “drug legalization” Cause People in a suit, or while carrying a briefcase or a martini.
  • Do not approach “pro abortion” Cause People while wearing a crucifix.
  • Do not approach “slavery reparations” Cause People while wearing white skin.
  • Do not approach “Bush Is Hitler” or “free Palestine” Cause People at all.

     Your verbal behavior, including body language, must strive to match that of the Cause People around you. This is critical. Cause People in large numbers can be dangerous, to your sanity if nothing else. Upon detecting an outsider in their midst, they converge on him — first retracting their most attractive females to a protected zone — and strive to attach him to their Cause. Their frequency of success varies, but there have been some disturbing reports. Some years ago, an investigator from Nebraska, a typical non-Cause middle American, attended a party among “social justice” Cause People in Southern California’s famous Malibu preserve. He gave himself away rather early in the affair — his blond crew-cut might have done it — and was promptly swarmed under by tract-bearing specimens repeating “peace,” “oppression,” “genocide,” “historical crimes” and “equality” at a rate that swamped the installed monitors. He was recently found in a Hare Krishna compound, making beaded curtains for sale at Los Angeles International Airport.

     5. Excursion And Reattachment.

     The attachment to a Cause, though long-lasting, is not certain to be permanent. A Cause Person can detach from his Cause under the right pressures. The nature of those pressures depends on the Cause Person’s particular situation. Sexual starvation and economic privation are common reasons for detachment.

     However, the yearning for a Cause can reassert itself after an interval of detachment. Therefore, marriage between Cause People and non-Cause people can provide interesting surprises to the latter party. The apostate Cause Person seldom returns to his earlier Cause; that would be too much like admitting to fallibility. But there are many Causes in the world, all of which cry for one’s allegiance. The apostate Cause Person may find himself emotionally naked until he’s reattached himself to one of them. A regular paycheck and frequent sex can help to attenuate the cravings, but these are not guaranteed preventatives. A word to the wise.

     6. Gratuitous Bad Pun

     Since no Curmudgeonly emission would be complete without at least one bad pun, regard the following exhortation, seen on a lapel button in Manhattan by a Palace associate.


     This slogan was printed over the silhouette of a condom. Don’t say your Curmudgeon didn’t warn you.