More intensely now than ever, the left has a stranglehold on the way the rest of us are supposed to talk, joke, pray and think.

Tell an innocuous racial joke as Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz did in 1976, and you don’t just get fired, but 32 years later, your New York Times obit reads, “Earl L. Butz, Secretary Felled by Racial Remark, Is Dead at 98.”

Challenge the climate Pharisees as Harvard M.D. Michael Crichton did, and when you die, ThinkProgress ignores your extraordinary career as a writer and producer and headlines your obit: “Michael Crichton, world’s most famous global warming denier, dies.”

Make an awkward statement about rape as then-Congressman Todd Akin did in 2012, and you are condemned by the same people who will cheer a credibly accused rapist when he keynotes the Democratic Convention a week later.

In his 1850 classic novel, “The Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne described his New England forebears as “the most intolerant brood that ever lived.”

Those Puritans, however, were the picture of tolerance compared to the progressive neo-puritans who today dictate our morality and slap Scarlet Rs and Ds and Ss on anyone who defies them.

And unlike the Puritans, progressives have no fixed principles. They simply “progress” toward the ultimate goal of destroying Western civilization as we know it and remaking it in their own glorious image.

Theirs, observed Whittaker Chambers years go, is man’s second-oldest faith, the one Satan introduced to Adam, “Ye shall be as gods.”

Jack Cahill’s brand new book illustrates how the neo-Puritan progressive movement came to mimic a religion in its structure but not at all in its spirit – order “Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism”

These little gods may have overplayed their hands. A series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress seriously threatens their moral hegemony.

Young people especially might just be asking themselves why it is a more grievous sin, say, to refuse to bake a cake or to call Bruce Jenner “Bruce” than it is to kill and dismember for parts a perfectly viable unborn baby.

They might question, too, how anyone comfortable with that gruesome process can dictate to the rest of us what is moral and what is not.

They might just begin to see the Bizarro World Order the left has constructed for us. “Me unhappy! Me don’t belong in world of living people!” said Superman’s nemesis. “Me don’t know difference between right and wrong – good and evil!”

If they are not asking, questioning and seeing, we now have the evidence to instruct the young that the only real difference between Bizarro and their heroes on the left is humility.

In endorsing Planned Parenthood, leaders like the Clintons and Obama have shown themselves no more capable of distinguishing good from evil than Bizarro.

“Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you,” said Obama at a conference of PP’s willing executioners in 2013. What God, our youth must ask, blesses the dismemberment of healthy babies?

As to Bill Clinton, he owes his political survival to his support of Planned Parenthood. “I’d be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal,” said former White House correspondent Nina Burleigh of her troubled president, then in the midst of his sexual scandals.

On the hard edges of the feminist left, no “right” matters more. “Abortion in America is upheld not as medical or even political policy, but as, in fact, a religious sacrifice,” said scholar Bernadette Waterman Ward without approving. “Abortion appeases mysterious forces that threaten a woman not physically but spiritually, with the extinction of her being.”

As if to prove Ward’s point, last year a group of women in Spain bared their breasts before a Catholic prelate shouting “Abortion is sacred.”

To make abortion a pillar of one’s faith is to reveal just show perverse and shaky that faith is. What is needed now is a Samson or two or three to push against those pillars and reduce the left’s temple of doom to rubble.

Jack Cahill’s brand new book illustrates how the neo-Puritan progressive movement came to mimic a religion in its structure but not at all in its spirit – order “Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism”

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