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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We're not hung up on stupid. We're buried in it.

The Internet was created to be a boon to human communication.  As it turned out, however, it has become prominently a medium of degradation.  It has reduced a huge portion of the population to the mentality of middle schoolers, many of whom seem to strive for mental retardation as a badge of identity.  It has scuttled standards of thought and expression that the culture of humankind developed over its history and established as the signal achievements of human civilization.  

Perhaps, the Internet's most deleterious effects have been on the news medial.  In efforts to compete with the Internet, news organizations have tried to be "interactive,"  which means they invite comments on the news stories and opinion pieces they publish.  Or they have discussion boards, which have  rapidly gone by the wayside. Newspapers found out that the comments on their news stories become the defining attitudes and characteristics through which readers perceive the medium.  The comments obliterate the work of the editing and writing professionals.  Discussion boards were largely abandoned for this reason, and many on-line news organizations take efforts to restrict and moderate the comments.  

However, the biggest influence on the news media is that interaction with the audience has changed what is regarded as news, what is presented and how it is  presented.  News web pages emphasize whatever its editors think will titillate and agitate its readers into responses, which the news organizations don't really want because the responses drag down the overall quality of the medium.  So, news organizations are caught up in serving their perceived audience, not the standards of what comprises accurate, reliable, and useful journalism. They are geared to satisfying the notions, prejudices, and fixations of their audience, not supplying information that is accurate and verfied.

The opinions most people express in forums and comment sections are not expressions of cognitive processes, of conscious thought; they are reflex reactions that are a matter of conditioning.  They are the verbal equivalents of a snake striking out in a mindless furor at anything that penetrates its space.  The comment opportunities on the Internet have legitimized ignorance, small-mindedness, and fraudulence as the currency of discussion.   The acceptance of the stupid and idiotic was apparent in the field of candidates that raged in the Republican primary for president.  Palin, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Santorum all spouted things that simply would not be tolerated in any forum where a minimal factual accuracy and competence of thought were observed. 

Stupid people, unite!
Mitt Romney has made the fact-checking organizations work overtime with his prodigious production of falsehoods.  The news media have been so cowed in fear of being accused of bias that it has treated Romney's constant verbal foolery as the occasional inanity of an otherwise intelligent.  Truly intelligent people do not  constantly utter insentient, obtuse, stupid remarks.  Stupid people do.   But the press is afraid to state the facts, even though it has made them apparent.  Mitt Romney is a posturing, witless, bumbling fool.  

But Mitt Romney is evidence of what has happened to the American people.  An example of how the people have been conditioned by the electronic media, cable television news and the Internet is the response to the Hilary Rosen business.  Rosen made a thoughtlessly stupid  comment about Ann Romney in saying that Mrs. Romney had not worked a day in her life.  What she failed to do in her ill-chosen words was what she intended to point out:  Ann Romney has never, out of necessity, had to work at a job outside the home and work as a housewife in the home at the same time.  She has never had to  face the economic and social  realities that the majority of women face in this country at this time.  Therefore,  she hardly represents experience that make her a consultant about American womanhood.  

Educated people and those in possession of a modicum of verbal competence know that Ms. Rosen made a thoughtless, careless comment.  They also know that the Romneys have in no way experienced the economic realities in which most people live.  But they listen to the incessant commentators in the media who try to inflate a stupid moment into a major national issue.  And some people flock to their keyboards to add their snake-reflexes to the verbal mix.  If people were not conditioned to accept the stupid and inane as the business of America, they would shut off their TVs and play Spider Solitaire on their computers, an activity far more productive than enduring the contrived and phony spewing of fools.

The ironies of what has happened to the American people are horrific and obscene.  A recent New York Times column warned about the dangers of nations taking action on the basis of faulty intelligence.  The ironies are that the American people are fed a constant diet of faulty and false information,  and they have become too fucking stupid to recognize it or do anything about it.  

Madville Times has done a post on how the great tradition of vacuous stupidity and ignorant presumption has invaded our educational system.  

I for one am ready to declare myself a confirmed elitist.  Like all people, I have had my stupid moments, but I reject stupidity as a constant mental diet.  We  are not going to improve education until we put competent teachers back in charge of it.  Let the fool caucus prattle on and make itself feel superior with its constant denigration and derogation of people who are actually educated, but teachers will have to stop accommodating ignorance and stupidity and addressing it as such.  People can be stupid, but we don't have to make it a national virtue.

In that regard, I am a raging elitist. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States