News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Making the world safe for stupidity

If there is one place that one might expect a bright ray of intelligence to break through the benighting smog that covers America, one would expect it in a discussion of education.  Actually, the subject of education seems to turn the fog into an impenetrable darkness that a laser can't penetrate.  

Governor Daugaard's proposals to reform and improve education in South Dakota are evidence of what is wrong in education, not what can improve it, but they incited a storm of ignorance driven by the winds out of the stupid.  

Cory Heidelberger at Madville Times posted that the Governor's proposal on merit pay seemed to receive some reserve from the head of the educational bureaucracy in Pierre.  What ensues is a long series of comments which suggest that what South Dakota--and by implication the rest of the country--needs is a total revision of the education system so that what we now call special education becomes the norm and what is now mainstream education is limited to those students who show a glimmer of intelligence. Some of the commenters, who happen to be involved in education, try to bring elements of fact and empirical-based reasoning into the discussion, but they are drowned out by those with differing illusions and delusions and the discussion turns into a cacophony of name-calling and insults.  A sign of those in need of special education and custodial care is that they cannot engage with other people in ways that focus on objects that they can see in common.  Instead, they conjure up their favorite phantasies and excitedly engage in masturbatory frenzies during which the objective world is lost in the excitement of getting off.  The current wisdom is that such outbreaks cannot be prevented, so those who are  engaged in the stimulation of their erectile little egos are advised to go their rooms and stimulate themselves in private where no one else has to witness the obscene sessions of self-absorption. 

Mr. Heidelberger's blog contains a supreme irony.  In the post just preceding the one on Governor Daugaard's plan and the apparent reception of it by the Secretary of Education, Cory has a post lauding politicians using blogs to address issues and clarify their stances.  Cory, who is currently teaching high school French, L.K another teacher in communications and language arts, believe, as I do, that discussion is worthy and essential part of democracy and sharing opinions and information is a requisite.  But then, my work as an editor and teacher of writing kicks in and I note, as I have about the comments at Madville Times, that freedom of speech does not make all speech valuable.  There is some speech that is pernicious and destructive of any positive impulses.  Good discussion that is based upon actual facts and competent reasoning is like a good wine or single malt Scotch.  But it takes only a few drops of piss to turn the nectar into a lethal, contaminated potion.  Freedom of speech is necessarily accompanied by a free exercise of knowledge and reason, if it is to be of any value.  Some commenters who turn blogs into stupid exchanges of ejaculatory spatter protest that they are being censored and their freedom of expression is being denied them if their efforts are deleted.   Blog editors have the right, constitutionally, and the obligation, professionally, to keep the focus of their lenses free from spatter and let the light of well-informed and well-chosen language shine on the foggy areas of human endeavor.  One cannot discuss facts with those who dwell in their phantasies or reason with those incapable of it.  Where engagement is impossible it is wrong to engage.  It is appropriate for the health of the language and the democracy to tell those who produce only spatter to go to their rooms when they feel that urge.  

At some point, the misinformation and intellectual failures on which Governor Daugaard's recommendations on education are based will have to be discussed where the substance of the discussion is kept free from those who think they are contributing to the world by relieving themselves on it.  


caheidelberger said...

I'm trying, David, I'm really trying!

larry kurtz said...


LK said...

Your comment about fine wine and urine caused me to recall this Ray Bradbury short story,+and+One+for+the+Road!%22&source=bl&ots=rF8agA88yr&sig=SkXhcoVaNpw_j-1gqpeBSXWv78c&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wEMTT9W-MsTq2AW00bmECg&sqi=2&ved=0CEIQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=%22One%20for%20His%20Lordship%2C%20and%20One%20for%20the%20Road!%22&f=false

David Newquist said...

Nothing like a couple of good trickster stories to clear the mind.

lee woo said...

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. See the link below for more info.


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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States