Warning: Extreme elitist misanthropic opinion follows.
I watched the latest “Real Time with Bill Maher” the other day, and he decried the intelligence of the American people as unable to do the right thing when voting, citing as one of his examples the fact that most people (according to USA Today) believe in angels, particularly interceding “guardian angels.” This news was immediately below the article on the economic collapse. He may also at one point mentioned the fact that Bush got 49 and 50% of the popular vote the last two elections as an example of the lack of intelligence in the U.S.
That stayed in the back of my mind for a while. Then the other day I had to sit in the emergency waiting room and had the privilege of sitting near an 18-year-old mother of what looked like a 1 year old, with her husband/boyfriend/whatever and his friend. She didn’t in general seem very bright, the boyfriend seemed a bit dim, and the friend was a dead ringer for “Larry the Cable Guy”. Including the god-awful voice. Next to them was another teen mom who was only slightly more with it. When we moved to the next waiting room, there was a, what I would peg as a 16-year-old, who wasn’t too shy about expressing her “embarrassment” (yeah) at being a “what’s it called, when someone has sex and, like, isn’t married or something? Oh, yeah, a for-ni-ca-tor. Now I bet they’re all thinking I’m a for-ni-ca-tor” she said as she patted her flat bare tummy. It was very surreal.
Now, let me stop for a second and correct what I’m sure is an understandable misreading of where I’m going with this. My story isn’t done, but it would look like I’m about to equate teen pregnancy with lack of intelligence. I’m not. Anyone old enough to be capable of sex with an IQ of 50 to 150 can get pregnant as a teen. Teens have sex, it’s what our bodies evolved to do regardless of intelligence. We may not like it (I’d prefer if my own daughter abstained until, say, 32…) but it’s a fact of life. Where intelligence would have any role in this is in how the adults in society approach the subject: Either pretend it won’t happen and teach abstinence only despite the facts, or accept it may happen and teach the realistic dangers of sex and appropriate birth control. But, this isn’t what this post is about, although it’s slightly related. I just wanted to clear up that my thoughts on American intelligence only coincidentally was sparked by being around pregnant or child-n-tow teens who happened to be dim bulbs irrespective of their state of parenthood.
So, this later girl and her mother are talking to another waiting room patient who I pegged as what this girl would likely be like in 40 years: not a very sharp tack but experienced, yet without having learned from it. And somehow they get to talking about the girl’s boyfriend sleeping in the same bed…but they don’t have sex. Of course the other woman commented, “Riiiight!” with the girl responding “It’s true! But, it wasn’t an “It’s true!” with the subtext of “You must believe my claim of chastity!” but rather “…and it sucks!” My read of her subtext was confirmed by the mom saying, “Oh, it’s true, they don’t…and she’s very frustrated about it.”
Buhwah?! Yep, you read right and I heard right. The mom was sympathetic to the 15, 16-year-old daughter’s pain at not having sex because of her boyfriend’s “respect issues.” This is obviously a woman who has no idea what a parent is supposed to do and evidently believes the best way to parent is to be your child’s “best friend.” Well, my droogs, I’m certainly not the first person to express “bullshit” at that idea and present as Exhibit A the f–ed up state of American culture as proof that we have way too many parents out there who are doing a piss-poor job of parenting. Why is it we’re one of the most modern, richest, advanced countries, and we have a higher drug addiction rate, higher crime, teen pregnancy, belief in Creationism and literal Biblical interpretation, lowest math and science scores than any other modern Western nation? We have a culture of intellectually retarded people raised by idiots who are now raising their own idiots in a tradition of pride in idiocy.
At risk of sounding like a curmudgeony stand-up comic, the “perfect America” never existed and “Leave it to Beaver” never existed, but there WAS a time when a kid got in trouble at school they got in equal or more trouble at home. A premium was placed on getting education. On learning. Today if a kid gets in trouble at school, the parent will be “all up in da principal’s face” defending their kid’s right to be a slacker delinquent.
We have a media culture that panders to mindless entertainment and shies away from anything challenging. “News” that believes all sides must get equal time, even if that means giving flat-earthers as much validity as legitimate scientists. “News” programs that encourage belief that a frakkin’ bug on a camera lens is a ghost or angel without a whisper of skepticism or encouraging people to actually think.
We have a society in which any sign of intelligence is derided as “elitism” and we make fun of it like the school bully who deals with his latent insecurity about being dumb by beating on the smart kids. We have a bully culture that thrives on war and violence, responds only to fear, and mistrusts intellectuals or education.
Well I for one am sick of it. I’m tired of “who would you rather have a beer with/watch football with?” as a poll question when discussing who to vote for. No one asks “Who would you rather have defining the scientific agenda for the country?” or “Who do you think has the ability to use statesmanship in the complex and delicate balances of world relations?” We seem to be a country of “American Idol” addicted weeble-wobbles with a media culture that has no interest in doing anything other than feed the demand for more idiots playing to the idiots and an education system that has no teeth or ability to make any significant difference. We live in a country in a world that demands intelligent, thoughtful, reasoned leadership and representation. Our very existence as a country depends on it.
I think it’s time we suspend the idea of “everyone has the right to vote” in favor of “you must be this intelligent to vote” criteria. It’s a somewhat fascist idea, but if we don’t stop voting on “values” and “beer buddy” benchmarks and start voting into offices people who are capable and bright, we’re doomed. The school bully tends to grow up and become an insurance or car salesman or real estate agent; the picked-on nerd runs the internet and controls the systems we all depend on. Well, it’s graduation time and America is becoming a car salesman and the smarter countries will before long own and control us. I don’t know, maybe we derve it. We get the President we deserve, they say. Maybe we’re getting the status in the world we deserve as well.