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How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Bruce Madison

No. 90

People suck...I know you are, but what am I?

November 4, 1996

During this Silly Season, which mercifully ends tomorrow, I have received quite a bit of email commenting on politics, philosophy, religion and other trivia. One refrain that regularly pops up and rears its ugly head at these times is the notion that people are stupid, people are gullible, people are foolish...in short PEOPLE SUCK!

Now, the first thing that always occurs to me when someone confronts me with this nugget of knowledge is just exactly what is the author, if not a person? Is he an alien from a distant planet, come to Earth to illuminate our lives with galactic wisdom? Perhaps he is a mutant superman, tormented by the inadequacies of the common man and doomed to continually remind us of our deficiencies? Or, maybe he just hasn't looked in the philosophical mirror lately, afraid to discover his own defects?

Now, the purveyors of this blatant nonsense are almost always men, a testament, I guess, to the power of testosterone over reason. So please excuse the absence of my usually cautious politically correct "he/she" pronoun in this case. Now, I have touched on a slightly different view of this phenomenon earlier in the column Stupid is as stupid does. where I comment on the tendency of the media to characterize the Unabomber as a "genius" gone bad. This is the flip side of the "people are stupid" coin, right? "People" are dumb bunnies, but ignorant bigoted moronic shitheads like Theodore Kaczinski, because they studied mathematics at Harvard, are "brilliant" (BUT, misguided, you see...).

So it is with those who look through the dim filter of their own fevered intellects and conclude that "people," really OTHER people than themselves, are irredeemably dense and dim-witted. This conclusion is ALWAYS based upon the fact that these same people do not agree with the amazingly astute, brilliant beyond characterization, way ahead of their time thoughts of the writers of such claptrap. During Silly Season, the examples of the shortcomings of the electorate are summed up in the strange and wondrous reasons that people have for voting the way they do. This implies that the writer himself is careful, studious, well informed and responsible in the extreme when he casts his ballot. AS IF!

The Jesus guy is reputed to have said, "Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone." in reference to a lynching in progress in olden times. In the spirit of complete disclosure, let me outline my own personal voting "algorithm" (a fancy mathematical term for a procedure), the way in which I personally arrive at my decisions as to who will rule the land.

  1. In the case where I have actually studied the candidates, examined their stands on the issues and carefully weighed the various aspects of their character, experience and philosophy, I cast my vote for whoever is, in my humble opinion, the best of the lot. This is why, for example, I will vote for Harry Browne tomorrow.
  2. If I personally know the candidate and he/she is a friend, I will vote for him/her despite any considerations of character, experience or philosophy.
  3. If I know nothing about any of the candidates, I vote for the woman, if there is only one on the ballot, or eenie-meenie-mynie-moe one of the women if there are more.
  4. If none of the above, I vote for the Scandinavian on the ballot (Hey, I am voting in Minnesota, after all!).
  5. Finally, lacking any of the foregoing, I leave that ballot position blank.
Now, before you condemn me as a just another mindless voter, examine your own motivations. Is YOUR voting algorithm really more rational than mine? Do you actually know all there is to know about those persons running for Park Commissioner in the 18th District (wherever THAT is!)? Do YOU always leave your ballot empty when you are uninformed? Again I exclaim "AS IF!"

When I was but a child, I was told by some school counselor that I had a "genius" IQ, that I was more intelligent than 99.9% of all people. My reaction then, as now, has always been the same. If I am so fucking smart, what must it be like to be stupid? In other words, gentle readers, if you are among those who insist that people suck, that democracy can never work, PLEASE, PLEASE do NOT include me among the exceptions you draw for the favored elite who pass your test of competency. I assure you that I am one of those retarded individuals who, like Winston Churchill, believe that democracy is a terrible system...except compared to all the rest. I KNOW that I am stupid. I KNOW that I can not take credit for nor depend upon the collected knowledge of all of humanity to make my personal decisions, but must rely instead on that dim bulb perched upon my very own shoulders. But, I am really, really glad that I have the collected experience and knowledge of the rest of you boobs bal ancing my shortsighted and ill considered decisions at the ballot box. Individually, we fuck up all the time. Collectively...well, just MAYBE, sooner or later, we can work it out.

Talk to you later...

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