We’ve got a problem.
I’m not talking about our political woes, up to and including the politically-led bankruptcy of everything good and decent about this place we call our country, although that’s certainly a problem.
No, the problem I’m talking about may well be the underlying source, the wellspring from which that particular malignancy has sprung.
The problem we’re facing now is that we have too damn many stupid people.
And no, I don’t mean uneducated people. I know some pretty darn smart uneducated people, and god knows some folks with all the degrees money can buy are just plain damn stupid. And that’s what I mean.
But it goes beyond just having too many stupid people. It’s almost like we want people to be stupid. And we certainly don’t want them to go the way of natural selection. No, we coddle them.
You heard me. We coddle stupid people. We make their lives comfortable and safe so they won’t hurt themselves or other people too badly. Look at all the ridiculous warning labels we put on things so the stupid people won’t do something stupid. Except they will, or maybe even come up with something even more stupid than what’s on the label.
How about a fishing hook with a label that says “Harmful if swallowed?” No, duh. Really? Washing machines carry labels warning not to put people in them. An iPod Shuffle warns not to eat it. A blender label warns not to try to stop the blades with your hands. A hair dryer warns that it shouldn’t be used in the shower. An electric router (for carpenters not computers) says that it shouldn’t be used as a dentist’s drill. A night time sleep aid that warns it may cause drowsiness. A stroller suggests removing the child before folding for storage. A clothes iron warns not to iron clothes while you’re wearing them. The label on a Batman costume says the cape won’t enable flight (because everybody knows Batman didn’t fly).
I know. You’re all out there saying, but Nunzia, those labels are really there to protect the manufacturers of the products from ridiculous lawsuits.
Yeah, from stupid people! Back where I come from, there’s a common joke. Ready? OK, here goes:
What’s a redneck’s last words?
Hey, y’all, watch this!
Stupid people, I tell you.
And what happens when you coddle stupid people and protect them from the natural laws of evolution? Well, they do more stupid things. And more stupid things. And then more, and pretty soon, their stupidity starts to affect the rest of us.
Take Arizona, for example. The home state of John “I’m only a maverick when I”m bucking my own party, otherwise I’m a partisan hack” McCain has now made apartheid official policy.
OK, that’s an exaggeration. But you better not forget your wallet when you leave the house, because police don’t have to have a reason to ask you for your papers now. Well, they do, kinda. It’s supposed to be some reasonable reason to suspect that you might not be in the country legally, but that’s not defined. The governor promises training, but I suspect when it comes down to it, the only reasonable reason to suspect that you might actually be in the country legally will be if you’re blonde and blue-eyed. Like the governor. I doubt Arizona has too many problems with northern European illegals.
On the other hand, I’d be really keen to find out who a Navajo or Hopi officer would reasonably suspect might be in Arizona illegally. Hope the governor is carrying her papers at all times.
Now, before my conservative friends start clenching their asses so tight they can’t breathe, let me say that our immigration non-system is fucked up, seriously. But you don’t fix it by putting a bunch of local deputy sheriffs on the streets and tell them to make sure everybody’s legal. You also don’t fix it by deporting 12 million people, as many conservatives would like to do. Know why? Because it would cost more than it costs to bail out the conservatives’ buddies in the banking industry, which, incidentally, they’re all trying to pretend they oppose now. What we need is a little common sense and not the fear and anger ginned up by politicians aiming to take full advantage of their unthinking constituents.
Of course, that’s kinda the prescription for anything that ails us right now. Quit playing the stupid for fools and get real.
Back to Arizona, though, which doubled down on the stupid. The governor hasn’t signed it at this writing, but the legislature passed a bill requiring that presidential candidates prove they’re U.S.-born before they can be put on the ballot in the state. They say it had nothing to do with our Kenyan-born president, although it was sponsored by people who believe the president was born in Kenya even though he’s already proven he wasn’t. No word on who in Arizona will be the final arbiter of the veracity of Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate, which has already been proven to be real and legitimate.
The stupid gets worse too. How about a Republican contender for Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada who thinks people should barter things like livestock and house-painting for health care? Sue Lowden was actually quite clearly talking about bargaining on the price of health care when she used the word “barter.” But when she was given an opportunity to correct herself, she doubled down and said she meant to say barter, that there was nothing wrong with that because “in olden times” it was perfectly acceptable to bring chickens to the doctor’s office.
I was willing to give Lowden the benefit of the doubt in the beginning — who hasn’t used the wrong word before? But that got harder when she insisted she meant what she said. And the real proof of stupidity was actually using the phrase “in olden times.” Seriously, Sue, you’re not old enough to say that and not appear stupid. Get with the times.
On the other hand, Lowden was once Miss New Jersey and second runner-up in the Miss America contest. That’s not to say that beauty contestants are all stupid. And remember, some very smart people are also quite stupid.
Speaking of women, conservatives have a problem there with the stupid too. Erick “I cleaned up my act (sorta) so I could get a gig with CNN” Erickson of Red State had no problem tweeting about “ugly feminists” who should “get back in the kitchen” back in February, after he had supposedly quite tweeting stupid things like calling a Supreme Court justice a “goat fucking child molester” and urging that conservatives go beat their congresscritters “to a bloody pulp” (a sentiment that resurfaced in one of Erick’s blog posts just a coupla weeks ago). The Medina County, Ohio, GOP also sees women as slaves cooks too. It sent out a flyer to voters urging that they put Rep. Betty Sutton “back in the kitchen” and elect a Republican instead. They apologized, of course — they always do — but they’re only apologizing that they were stupid enough to say what they think out loud, not that they’re misogynist assholes.
And there’s just not any need to go into the stupid displayed on race and gays. Seriously.
The worse stupid of all, though, is all the lies. Mitch McConnell is still pretending that the financial reform bill will codify “too big to fail,” which is stupid when you look at reality and realize TBTF is codified NOW. But my colleagues are busy coddling the multi-chinned one. Instead of saying, Mitch, baby, that’s a lie, we’re just doing what we usually do. We put on a Democrat to say no, that’s not right. We report, you decide.
Fuck that, man. You can’t decide if all we’re doing is playing stenographer to spin doctors. The financial reform bill, which is pretty darn weak, just like the health care reform bill, but is nevertheless much better than leaving things as they are, which apparently is The Republican Way. Now, the bill’s not gonna end TBTF, but it’s not gonna set up an endless litany of bailouts either, as McConnell insists after his brazen meeting with the Wall Street fat cats to get his talking points in order.
What, does he think we’re all stupid?
Well, that’s kinda the point. The liars and obfuscators in Congress count on our stupidity. And that’s not just The Republican Way, it’s The American Way.
The good news is that we can recover from stupidity. It doesn’t have to be fatal. But it takes, first, an admission that we are stupid, and that the entire country has become unmanageable because of it. And then we have to reject the coddling, and stop coddling each other.
After that, we begin the long hard climb out of the hole our stupidity as dug for us.
I know, it sounds terrifying. Thinking for ourselves, actually reading things and understanding them rather than depending on the familiar lying faces on what was once affectionately called the “boob tube” (and not because it featured women’s breasts).
But we can do it, I know we can. Just take the first step.