American Ignorance

One of the more amusing things about the internet age is how all of us have become instant experts on really complicated issues virtually overnight. Most of us don’t know shit about anything but that doesn’t stop any of us from taking to the internet to weigh in on the finer points of, say, Senate parliamentary rules, or the intricacies of healthcare policy, or “what the Founders wanted.” Never mind that people write PhD dissertations on some of this stuff, but now Joe and Jane America are suddenly experts and have no qualms telling everyone else how wrong (or right) they are.

And yes, myself included.

That’s all well and good but if you’ve ever been involved in any local issues you realize that most Americans, regardless of economic status or educational background, are idiots. This is something I have seen first-hand at several neighborhood meetings over the past few years, as our neighborhood battles zoning issues and development pressure.

Folks, we are clueless about the basics of American civics. This shit should be common sense and yet, people just want to get their way and really don’t seem to care about things like, well, laws.

What’s even more ironic is that 9 times out of 10 it’s me, the progressive-liberal-ex-hippie-Commie-Socialisticky-anti-American-terrorist-appeaser who has to explain to the conservative-Republican-Tea-Party-red-blooded-true-Merkin-Patriot How Things Work. For example:

• Yesterday I had to explain to a physician that no, buying an ad in a newspaper is not a free speech issue and yes, a newspaper publisher has the right to refuse an advertisement without it being a violation of your Constitutional rights. No one has a constitutional right to buy a newspaper ad.

• A year ago I sat in a community meeting and was dumbfounded to hear a far-right patriotic Tea Party neighbor ask our councilman — I shit you not — why the city can’t prevent the local university from buying up houses in our neighborhood.

People, this neighbor has so many flags, bald eagles and Americana tchotchkes on their property that their house practically screams the Star-Spangled Banner. Every election their yard advertises support for the most far-right, Tea Party candidates to crawl out from under the conservative rock. And yet they want Metro government to tell people who they can and cannot sell their homes to? Seriously?

• Last week I had to explain to a neighbor why you can’t demand Metro government deny construction permits to a property owner when the zoning says they can build the horrible thing they want to build.

I mean look, I know “all politics is local,” but these are basic, common sense things. Just, you know, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Pretend you’re the one wanting to build something or buy a house or sell a house or whatever. Do you want the city telling you what you can do?

It just amazes me that we live in an era when our national discourse is swayed by average citizens acting like experts on the most complicated shit imaginable, yet I go to local zoning meetings and find out these same people are fucking idiots.

No wonder our country is so messed up.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “American Ignorance

  1. GregH

    Human beings are every bit (and more) creatures of emotion as they are creatures of logic. We decide what we FEEL, and then come up with the logical reasons to support it (if we are very lucky). Unfortunately, some people only know what they feel and know it’s right.

  2. I think the overarching aspiration of democracy is that idiots and geniuses will average each other out at a passing grade. Apparently, though, this was a statistical optimism based on a failure to understand how powerfully the idiots reinforce and excite each other.

  3. And yet they want Metro government to tell people who they can and cannot sell their homes to?

    Well, right wingers were perfectly happy with the government enforcing restrictive covenants that kept Those People out of their neighborhoods, so it’s not surprising that they want to do something similar now.

    • Yeah that’s true, they don’t want any Blahs as neighbors. I know right-wingers take the cake where cognitive dissonance is concerned but honestly ….

      • I don’t know how much of it is cognitive dissonance and how much is simple dishonesty about their motivation. They want what they want, and their stated political positions are either rationalizations or cover stories to give their ideas a patina of respectability.

  4. yutsano

    It’s real simple, sweetie: People. Iz. Dumb. That phrase gets me through many a rough day talking to idiot taxpayers.

  5. Did you ever hear the saying “A man with one watch always knows what time it is, but a man with two watches is never sure?”

    The internet is like a man with a million watches.

  6. Southern Beale:

    I was going to bring it up but you already did. “University” in this case means SWB*.

    I had a guy tell me yesterday that everybody he knows is calling ACA, “Brosurance”, ‘cuz it’s like ONLY for THEM. One of the things that remains durable with racist pieces-of-shit, despite mountains of contrary evidence is the meme that everybody getting gummint assistance is, y’know, BLACK!!
    Meantime all I’m hearing on any news channel that’s on in a bar I’m studying in is that the ACA website is never going to work–JUST LIKE THOSE SHIFTLESS MUSLOMERICANS THAT HE’S SIGNIN’ UP!!!

    * Studying While Black

  7. OzarkHillbilly

    Damn, I didn’t think you saw me.

  8. Anniemouse

    People Iz Dumb. I’m home from work guzzling camomile tea to calm down after a dreadful day of dealing with an idiot who wanted our webteam to post pictures of Jesus Christ (he’s ramping up early for Christmas) on our “pretty pictures to download” section of our corporate, in-house site, and at one point melted down over the fact that we have in our “Holiday” section a graphic that says “Feliz Navidad”, which is persecution of his Christian faith. You can’t make this level of stupid up.