It’s not very PC to say so, but stupid people are, unfortunately, all around us. I know. I spend more time with them than most, especially during The Exam Season. I hold my throbbing head in my hands and reflect on the fact that they might have gained more marks if the paper had been written in Serbo-Croat and I sometimes experience a momentary pang of guilt because nobody got the easy question on radioactive decay right. Stupid people are those for whom the formation of words is little more than a maxillofacial contortion which produces farmyard noises, in fact, they speak only to draw attention to themselves. As an educator – the word is rather loose, I admit – my task is to attempt to make the sounds that come out, either out loud or on paper, carry some semblance of meaning.
There’s a distinct racial bias to how one feels about stupid people and it’s all too easy for a Brit like myself to conjure a mental image of the Irish, for example, and ascribe quite unjustifiably low IQ’s to them, based purely on geographical proximity. For example, how unfair it would be to laugh at the following…
A man was on a walking holiday in Ireland. Irish hospitality being legendary, he knocked on a cottage door to ask for something to drink. The lady of the house invited him in and served him a bowl of soup by the fire. There was a piglet running around the kitchen, bounding up to the visitor and paying him a great deal of attention. The visitor commented that he had never seen such a friendly pig. Putting down her pipe, the housewife replied: “Ah, he’s not that friendly. That’s his bowl you’re using.”
Even the Americans, known for their egalitarian and non-judgmental outlook, seem, strangely, to have a blind spot for those from Indiana to whom similarly unfair aspersions in respect of their quantity of grey matter are frequently cast. Put simply, Indianans are thought to be stupid, with the notable exception of the current Vice President of the United States, for whom different arrangements apply. We can all empathise with these people…
Sandra Schmidt from Valparaiso, inadvertently tore off two pages from her yearly calendar, thus experiencing a mild frisson as she realized what it meant to live in the future.
Carpenter Karl Gartung from Galveston was pleased to find a pocket in his carpenter’s pants just the right size for a copy of ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’. His work colleagues teased him because he told them he was born in Texas.
Nearing the end of a heated game of Monopoly, Taylor Davis stopped short of purchasing his fourth railroad, realising that nobody really takes cross-country trains these days. Taylor was born in Russiaville, of mixed parentage.
Were this level of awareness present in my students, the scripts that I shall actually be able to read would be full, replete with meaning, and would doubtless make an old man very happy.
I didn’t know there was a place called Warsaw – “the orthpaedic manufacturing capital of the world” – right there in Indiana. Strange. I was convinced it was elsewhere….