Clapping back at claims he smells like sulfur because he is a demon, President Barack Obama took a big ol’ whiff of his wrist at a Hillary Clinton rally today in Greensboro, North Carolina, allowed the weight of his exasperation to settle, then exclaimed, “Now, I mean, come on, people!”
While the pronouncement, made last week by crackpot pro-Trump radio host Alex Jones, was obviously a load of BS, the folk belief it was rooted in — that the depths of hell reek of sulfur — isn’t entirely false. As a history and mythology textbook literally entitled Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur points out, humans seeking the portal to the underworld have always looked below ground, where, yes, there is a lot of sulfur.
The foul-smelling gas, which is responsible for the stench of rotten eggs and dank farts above ground, naturally collects below ground, making up some 0.05% of the Earth’s crust. That’s pretty abundant, which explains why people in Biblical times were familiar with it, referring to it as brimstone — as in “fire and brimstone,” the central epithet of many a Christian sermon condemning the Earth’s sinners to hell.
Of course, for sulfuric gas to make its presence felt above ground, it needs a vent. It just so happens that these tend to be volcanic in nature, further consolidating the association between its foul smell and the fires of hell. Other “portals” to Earth’s netherworld, like Turkmenistan’s Darvaza Gas Crater — better known as “The Door to Hell” — are really just fissures for the planet to pass its smelliest gas.
That said, sulfur has managed to undergo a less demonic rebranding in some cultures: In places like Tblisi, Georgia and the Tohuku region of Japan, bathing in sulfuric hot springs is thought to be quite healthy, despite their foul smell and the fact that they’re heated by the same hellish underground flames Alex Jones claims gave birth to Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Jones can’t be faulted for being confused about the link between sulfur and hell, but his claim that Barry O smells like B.O. is just egregious. How could a man who inspired a P. Diddy cologne called “I Am King” smell anything less than fabulous?