Welcome to Stupidville

(Alternate Title: What It Means When I say “Have A Good Day” and Exit The Debate.)

I don’t know if stupid people are becoming more plentiful or I’m just getting better at spotting them.  I suspect it’s a little of both.

I’m not talking about legitimate differences of opinion here, but sheer stupidity that cannot be overcome in the course of a normal conversation or two.  For example, I recently had the following conversation on Facebook (paraphrased) about the expiration of the Bush tax cuts:

Stupidville Resident:  We shouldn’t cut checks to the wealthy.  We had a great economy under Clinton with the higher tax rate.

Me: We’re talking about keeping existing tax rates, which will let people keep more of their *own* money.  No one is being “cut a check.”  The great economy under Clinton was the result of the internet bubble.  Note that when the bubble burst, in the last few months of his presidency, the economy began to tank, even though those tax rates were still in effect.

Stupidville Resident:  Yes, but you have to admit we had a great economy with those higher tax rates.  So writing checks to the wealthy is wrong.

Double Face Palm

I abandoned the conversation at that point.  I’d spent enough time in Stupidville.

While some Stupidville residents are barely educated and barely literate, many of them have college degrees from Stupdiville U, or an equally prestigious university.  Believing in Keynesian economics, for instance, requires a level of stupidity that can only be achieved through rigorous training.  On the flip side, if someone uses the phrase “academic elites,” with its implication that all of academia is stupid and an education is evil, you’re also dealing with a Stupidville resident.  Smarternized people might use the term “ivory tower intellectual,” but only to refer to a specific person, not the broad spectrum of educators.

Some Stupidville residents are very accomplished at hiding their residency, so you can waste a great deal of time before realizing they’re idiots.  Which, of course, can make you feel like an idiot.  One way to avoid this is by adding the Stupid Detector module to your Bullshit Meter.  The Stupid Detector is triggered by the use of specific phrases.

Here is a (woefully incomplete) list of phrases that indicate the speaker is too stupid to bother with.  Please note that like all finely tuned instruments, the Stupid Detector does have a margin of error. It must be regularly tweaked, updated, and of course, personalized.  There is a slight possibility that someone using one of these phrases isn’t really stupid.  If they use two of three of them, though, it’s very unlikely your stupid meter is malfunctioning.

Pro Abortion – I picked up Sarah Palin’s book and opened to a random page.  The first thing I read was something about the Pro Abortion movement.  It was also the last thing I read.

Faux News – This was somewhat clever and funny the first time it was used, several years ago, but now, a billion and a half uses later, it’s both stupid and trite.  Most of the people who use it insist that only Fox is biased.  All the other news organizations are completely unbiased, and harbingers of The Truth.

Evolution is Only a Theory – This has been explained literally billions of times on the internet, so there is no excuse for this level of ignorance.  The same goes with the argument that the second law of thermodynamics defies evolution.

Teabaggers – See Faux News, although the billionth use of this occurred about 36 hours after it was first uttered.

The U.S. is a Christian Nation – History is very, very clear on this subject.  It’s clear in the founding documents.  It’s clear in the voluminous writings of the founding fathers.  It’s explicitly clear in the Treaty of Tripoli.  Anyone who claims we were founded as a Christian Nation is unforgivably ignorant.

Level Playing Field – Tyrants are incapable of processing facts that contradict their agenda, and this is one of their favorite phrases. Since the field isn’t level it is up to them to level it, and dammit, they’re going to level it no matter how many people are hurt in the process.  Stupidville residents who are fond of this phrase also use variations of “for the children” extensively.

Playing the Race Card – Whenever you are wining an argument with a far-lefty, which is pitifully easy to do when debating economics, eventually they’ll call you a racist.  This gives them an easy out. Racists are bad people, so they paste that label on you in a pitiful attempt to derail the conversation.   I despise this tactic so much I made a special page to deal with it.

Fair Share – Always used to justify confiscating more money from people who have committed the unforgivable sin of having more than someone else. Someone else’s fair share is always much, much higher than that of the person using the phrase.

The _____ Agenda – Individuals have agendas.  Organizations have agendas.  But this phrase is used to claim that huge swaths of people have just one goal in mind.  It is the setup for a straw man argument.

Take, for example, “The secular progressive agenda.”  There is no connection between secularism (atheism, in this context) and progressivism (socialism).  The political bent of atheists is spread out across the left and the right in a slightly lopsided bell curve that is a bit heaver on the left.    The term “secular progressives” is simply a way to say “godless communists” without sounding like some old fart in a nursing home.

Or “The gay agenda.” This is usually used by a Stupidville residents who are afraid that once homosexuality becomes acceptable, the next step will be to make it mandatory.  Or perhaps they’re afraid they’ll be forced to stop dressing conservatively and forced to dress fabulously.  Whatever their fear, it’s stupid.

Denier – Automatically using this phrase to smear anyone who has any skepticism about AGW, even those who think it’s real but question its extent and/or the EOTWAWKI scenarios the hard-core true believers subscribe to, is stupid.  It’s also condescending and snarky, but it would be hypocritical for me to complain about that.

Historically the word was only used to describe holocaust deniers. Applying it to AGW critics was a conscious decision to lump them in with wannabe Nazis.  It can be traced to a 2007 column by Ellen Goodman, where she said, “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future. ” She typed that from the villa she maintains in Stupidville, the only place where you can deny the future.

Agree to Disagree – Context is important with this one.  It’s perfectly rational to agree to disagree on matters of opinion or things that haven’t been settled yet.  But anyone who says this when presented with facts (“we’ll just have to agree to disagree on evolution,” for instance) is a waste of your time.

Capitalist Pig/Exploiting The Workers – Yes, there are some piggy capitalists, and yes, some workers are exploited.  But Stupidville residents apply this phrase to all workers and all employers.  If the employer pays $10/hour and earns $11/hour on his employees work, he’s a pig and they are exploited.  If he pays $100/hr and he earns $101/hour he’s still a pig and they’re still being exploited.  You’ve got to wonder how people this stupid manage to support themselves.  Or dress themselves.

I have an IQ of {a fantasy number} – Everyone who brags about their IQ on line is an idiot.  I’ve never seen an exception to this rule. Not once.

Multiple Exclamation Points – There is an inverse correlation between intelligence and the number of exclamation points used in a single message.  The formula is simple: Assume a base IQ of 100, then subtract five points for every double exclamation point, ten for each triple one, and all the rest of them for a sentence ending with more than three.

Admiration for Michael Moore – He’s been so thoroughly discredited, so often, that only the very very stupid can remain fans.

If You Don’t Like It, Leave The Country – This used to be exclusive to far-right idiots, but now it’s becoming common among far-left idiots as well.

Telling Libertarians to move to Somalia – Always the sign of a far left idiot.  If you don’t know the difference between libertarianism and anarchy, there’s this thing called Google…

Ideally, the best way to deal with The Stupid is to just discontinue the conversation – either ignore them, or say “have a good day” and move on.  I’m trying to do this more myself, but my baser nature usually gets the better of me.  Sometimes it’s just too much fun to poke these village idiots with a stick.  The key is to know you’re doing that, and not waste your time seriously trying to convince them to change their residence.  That doesn’t work, because they really like living in Stupidville. It’s comfortable, and all their friends are there.

Note: A slightly different version of this post is available as a podcast.

Quick Link: http://bit.ly/f7wSNZ

11 Comment(s)

  1. We are just going to have to Agree to Disagree on this, because I saw on Faux news that those with a Pro Abortion Agenda are trying to level the playing field between the capitalist pigs and the exploited workers so that everyone gets their fair share. The Teabaggers just want everyone to realize that the U.S. is a Christian Nation and that Evolution is Only a Theory. Umm. you Denier.

    Yuck.. I have to wash my hands after typing all that BS, even in jest.

    John | Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. “Teabaggers”

    I’d just like to point out that the tea party movement were the ones who started calling themselves teabaggers.

    brS | Dec 18, 2010 | Reply

  3. Fine and funny post. “That doesn’t work, because they really like living in Stupidville. It’s comfortable, and all their friends are there.” That really says it all, doesn’t it?

    Not so fast on the evolution thing, however. Although evolution itself is a no-brainer, based on the fossil record, Darwin’s explanation of it is hardly settled science. We still have a lot to learn.

    Glen L. | Dec 19, 2010 | Reply

  4. Can we please include the evil counterpart of Faux News, “Lamestream Media”?

    And you’re right, Glen, Darwin didn’t have it all worked out. That’s why we’ve had *151 years* of research and publication since then. Try reading something more recent than “Origin” to see where we’re at now.

    Ashley | Dec 29, 2010 | Reply

  5. Absolutely, Ashley. That one comes from Bernie Goldberg, who did a good thing with his first book, Bias, but hasn’t had anything new to say since then. Unlike “Faux News” it wasn’t even clever the first time and now other stupid people repeat it endlessly.

    (Quick clarification: I don’t think Bernie is stupid. Just tiresome.)

    Dave Hitt | Dec 29, 2010 | Reply

  6. Bernie had great points to raise back in 2000 or so. Unfortunately, he’s been making the same point ever since, merely repackaging it yearly for another printing.

    Are we perhaps in agreement that Sarah Palin is, if not mayor, at least on the town council of Stupidville? She’s pretty much a master of the idiotic catchphrase used ad nauseum.

    Ashley | Dec 29, 2010 | Reply

  7. Sarah is an idiot savant. She is absolutely brilliant when it comes to public relations and getting her face everywhere, and good at nothing else at all.

    Anyone who can champion abstinence education while holding her bastard grandchild is a first class Supidville resident. I’d suggest she be made mayor, but she’d probably quit halfway through her term.

    Hittman | Dec 30, 2010 | Reply

  8. A personal favorite of mine is __________gate. Usage is easy. Just take a key word from any scandal and add the suffix “gate”. Eventually people will get lazy and we’ll start seeing “Scandalgate” on TV news graphics.

    Zachary | Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

  9. I think that’s more lazy than stupid. My favorite was a decade or so ago, when all the evangelists were having various scandals, and they were referred to as “PearlyGate.” That was it, the culmination of the phrase, and it should have been retired at that moment.

    Hittman | Dec 31, 2010 | Reply

  10. Sometimes I say “Let’s agree to disagree” when there has been a several-hours-long-ass argument with a person I love but who is also an idiot (My late mother-in-law who felt that gay people were mentally ill, as an example). I’m getting tired of talking, and it is a polite way of saying, “Shut up right now or I’m going to break this chair over your head!”

    Laura Ross | Feb 4, 2011 | Reply

  11. Context is important, Laura. You’re not using it as an escape valve because you’ve been backed into a corner, but as an escape valve to end a conversation with a Stupidville resident.

    You and I disagree on a great many things, but in all our conversations I’ve never seen any evidence you were a resident of Stupidville. But we both spend too much time debating with people who are. And we probably will continue to.

    Dave Hitt | Feb 14, 2011 | Reply

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