The more I’ve thought about it, though, the more the teabaggy [my, Davey is sure obsessed with scrotums! … ed] interpretation just doesn’t quite fit. The thrill at the end, when they guy gets to accelerate away from the crowd, turns on satisfying the green police — not rejecting or circumventing them, but satisfying their strict standards. The authority of the green police is taken for granted, never questioned. If you’re looking to appeal to mooks who think the green police are full of it and have no authority, moral or otherwise, why would you make a commercial like that? Why offer escape from a moral dilemma your audience doesn’t acknowledge exists?
The ad only makes sense if it’s aimed at people who acknowledge the moral authority of the green police — people who may find those obligations tiresome and constraining on occasion, who only fitfully meet them, who may be annoyed by sticklers and naggers, but who recognize that living more sustainably is in fact the moral thing to do. This basically describes every guy I know.
Dave actually stumbles on why the ad is so disturbing to people who value freedom – because we find no moral authority inherent in the use of the threat of violence against people who don’t separate their trash.
And that Dave doesn’t know anyone that would question that authority is even more disturbing. Dave would be that person in Iran who supports the roving Moral Police who arrest or ticket women who show a little head hair or are out in public without a male relative as a chaperon because, you know, those obligations tiresome and constraining on occasion … but it is in fact the moral thing to do.
Clue to Dave: morality presupposes choice. When you take that choice away at the point of a gun, you strip individuals of their moral agency. And while law and morality overlap (i.e. laws against murder, stealing, et al) the law is a necessarily (in a country founded on Liberty) small subset of morality. Adultry is immoral but not illegal. A law against premeditated dumping of known, dangerous toxins in a lake is not equivalent – morally or logically – with a law against incandescent bulbs, campfires and using more than one square of toilet paper.