Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Ghost of Dummies Yet To Come- I'm Sorry, Oh Wait...

Let me preface this by saying I’m sorry. Now, that I’ve said that, let me tell you that I’m not. I am NOT sorry.
(I just wanted to get your attention)
I’m not sorry for calling people who believe they’re vampires morons. I’m not sorry for insisting the term “skeptical community” is retarded and that anybody who refers to themselves as a member of that ‘community’ is an elitist twit searching for a place to belong because they’re antisocial, confused, quasi-pedagoguery is generally frowned upon by everyone. 
Everyone is sorry. The American ideal of freedom allows anyone to hold any view you like… as long as you feel bad about it.
There’s nothing really wrong with being sorry. When one makes an error, it’s perfectly acceptable to be contrite. The problem is that constant apologetics eventually distort reality. Why is it so wrong to hurt someone’s feelings? Aren’t some hurtful things true?
Aren’t some people fat? Or gross? Or habitual losers? Or wrong? Or stupid? Or banal?
While it’s doubtful you’ll win any citizenship awards, those criticisms can be perfectly valid in certain circumstances. There are fat people. There are losers. There are idiots and all other sorts of undesirable types of people.
(For those of you into fat acceptance, you may be offended by the fat that I implied fat people are ‘undesirable’. While I am aware of your plight, I simply don’t care, so don’t waste my time and your time complaining about it. After all, every second you waste bitching at me, is a second you could spend crying in the bathroom and  eating French fries.)
The problem with that inclusive thinking is that it makes everything acceptable when it shouldn‘t be.
In my college English class we were assigned the play Hamlet to read at home and discuss in class. In the end, we ended up explicating nearly the entire play because it was virtually unanimous that Shakespeare was ‘too hard’ to understand, and his vocabulary too obscure. The fact is, college is supposed to be hard. Assignments are meant to be challenging. But when the professor observed that ¾ of the class were not able to discuss the play, the conclusion he drew was that we needed to lower the standards and devote two weeks of class time to going over the play and receiving a line by line explanation of what Shakespeare meant.
I'd like to propose an alternate conclusion- maybe the people who can’t understand college level reading should just not be in a college literature class to begin with.
In the push to get everyone into college the fact that not everyone belongs there was overlooked. But rather than say “you’re too stupid to go to college” or simply allowing these people to fail, we devote two weeks to combing through Shakespeare so that the morons in the cheap seats understand that Hamlet died at the end.
Failure in school is a Darwinian mechanism of ensuring that only people who are marginally capable of understanding abstract concepts, performing basic math functions, and showing up at an appointed time occupy future positions in which those skills will feature prominently. 
The downside is failing anatomy may mean you won’t become a doctor- but on the plus side, it means you won’t become a doctor.
Allowing people to succeed when they shouldn’t destroys the only real method of ensuring competency.
One teacher summed this philosophy up when she told our class she wouldn’t allow anyone to fail- because that wouldn’t mean they had failed the class, it would mean she had failed them.
(Isn’t that precious?)
Unfortunately, life is not an after school special. People can (and should) fail because they’re lazy, or undisciplined, or just plain dumb- and letting them succeed is not a cure for those flaws.
(In fact, dumb really can’t be cured at all)
It doesn’t stop there. My daughter has attended birthday parties with games where no one wins and everybody gets participation ribbons. Soccer games where no one keeps score and everybody gets an MVP awards. Classes that banish use of the word ‘can’t’ in some strange endeavor to part with reality by implying that anyone can do anything. Plus size beauty pageants (hey those really have a HUGE impact on the 4 people who watch them!).  And classes where you grade yourself! Add to this, the fact that it’s naughty of us to tell people who think Jesus lives in their toast that they’re delusional, or to tell people who really believe that the ghost hunters are chasing disembodied entities through the halls of condemned building that they’re naive.
In a baffling backwards turn of events, we are responding to a world that is becoming more competitive by becoming less capable of competing in any meaningful way.
(Aha! It’s adapting- only the other way! Leave it to America to innovate an old concept...)
The good news is, by the time our country becomes obsolete, no one will know what the word obsolete means, which means no one’s self esteem will be hurt.
(And isn’t that a victory in and of itself? [No!])
If no one’s self esteem is hurt, then no one will need to apologize! Like my Mom always said… societal collapse means never having to say you’re sorry.  Merry Christmas everyone!


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