At some level, I understand the human capacity for stupidity, but for some reason I am still amazed at the levels to which people will sink in not only being stupid but defending their stupidity. Some examples:
I mentioned the other day the three Mormon missionaries who mocked and vandalized a Catholic shrine and, confident in their right to be stupid, posted the evidence on photobucket. But it takes another level of stupidity entirely to minimize what they did. The LDS church itself has, rightly, apologized and disciplined the missionaries involved. Apparently the rank and file did not get the memo as to the appropriate response. Among some apologists, the party line is that there’s no evidence that these missionaries broke the law, so what’s the big deal? I heard a soundbite from a talk radio guy (Bob Lounsbury, I believe) who said (and I’m quoting from memory), “Can anyone tell me what law they broke?” And here’s an amateur apologist on the MAD board: “The problem with prosecution is that there seems to be no evidence of vandalizing. Just holding a head of a statue isn’t vandalizism [sic] ….nor is the other sick stuff they did. The article mentioned nothing else. That head has a very clean straight cut….how in the world would someone be able to do that without a tool? I wonder if that head wasn’t already in that condition.” Apparently, no felony, no problem. She does admit that what they did was sick, but her righteous indignation loses its punch the second she says that outrage against the missionaries’ actions is “just one more episode of As the World Turns when it comes to the double standards against Mormons.” I guess I hold to a simple rule: I disapprove of bad behavior, no matter who does it.
Also this morning I caught Geraldine Ferraro’s rather combative appearance on “Good Morning America.” Poor Diane Sawyer could hardly a get a word in edgewise (she looked like she was afraid Ms. Ferraro was going to beat the crap out of her). Ferraro, an officer in Hillary Clinton’s campaign organization, made the brilliant assertion that Barack Obama would not be in the position he is in were he not black. This of course explains the successful candidacies of Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes, right? Cooler heads in the campaign office worked quickly to distance themselves from Ferraro’s stupid remark. But not Ferraro. She jumped all over Diane Sawyer and expressed her outrage that anyone would call her a racist. She actually said that she meant it as a compliment: since Obama had no experience and no demonstrable skills, what else could it be but his blackness to explain his success? She finished by saying that the Obama campaign and black Americans ought to be thanking her(!) for speaking the truth.
It takes a special kind of person to be that blissfully unaware of themselves. But such displays of excellence in stupidity remind me that perhaps I’m capable of the same kind of rationalizing. I’ve done it before; I used to be a Mormon.
And since I’m always harping on bad prose, here’s some prose I quite like. I’m somewhere to the right of John McCain generally, but I do read a lot on both sides of the political spectrum. This piece, The Fall of the American Consumer, is the best-written example of sheer pessimism I’ve read in a long time. Enjoy.