a conservative heretic commenting on hypocrisy and stupidity in a world with too much of both
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Get On The Bus and I Ain’t Talking Rapid Transit!

“Think of how stupid the average person is and realize that half of them are stupider than that.”  — George Carlin

Let’s talk about stupidity. Nothing gets me more wound up than stupid people doing stupid things. Now, don’t be looking at me like I’m intolerant and being unkind. The truth is that many of us have encountered stupidity (some of us have even engaged in stupidity) and we almost all react the same way to it. It annoys the hell out of us.

For me, stupidity has nothing to do with educational level or intellectual ability. In fact, some of the stupidest people I know have MBAs (the degree of choice among the would-be elite) while some of the smartest people I know barely have a secondary school education. Stupidity is a lack of common sense and not being able to think. God help us! There are just so many folks out there who just don’t stop and think before they open their mouths or do something.

I came up to a red light at an intersection the other day and the guy in the car beside me had his index finger buried up his nose to the second knuckle. He was really into it, wiggling that finger around like he was digging for precious metals. I don’t have an issue with him picking his nose, most of us have done that at some point or other (and more than a few of us have even enjoyed it). My issue is that most of us are discreet and only pick our noses when there is nobody around. This guy was sitting there in his car digging for gold like no one could see him and I wanted to roll down my window and tell him that he was sitting behind two-way, not one-way glass.

Nowhere, however, is stupidity more prevalent than in the public sector which seems to have elevated stupidity, if not to an art form, at least to official policy. Human Rights Commissions are hotbeds of stupidity, guided more by political correctness than by common sense. Even law enforcement can function at times like it has its collective head up its collective butt.

Take the case of David Chen earlier this year.

Toronto grocer, David Chen

Mr. Chen is a Chinese green grocer in Toronto. By all accounts, he is an honest, hard-working husband and father who’s business was preyed on by the same thief more than once. The police were either unable or unwilling to do much about it so, when the thief showed up for the second time on the same day, Mr. Chen gave chase, tackled and tied the thief up and then called the police. Now, in a society where common sense prevails, Mr. Chen would have been congratulated for his action or at the very least, he would have been thanked for it. But this is Canada and Mr. Chen was subsequently arrested and charged with kidnapping. The primary witness against him? You guessed it, the thief. The prosecution made a deal to drop the shoplifting charge against the shoplifter if he would testify against Mr. Chen on the kidnapping charge. Fortunately, the court applied common sense to the situation and Mr. Chen was exonerated and released. Unfortunately, both the police officers and the prosecutor involved in this case are still working.

There are so many examples of official stupidity that it would take dozens of blogs with thousands of posts to document even a small percentage of them. There was the auditor from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) who told me once that it was his job to serve Canadians but when I asked him for specific information he advised me that he wouldn’t provide the answer because CRA doesn’t serve individual Canadians. Say what?

How do you rationalize that double-speak in your head?

Sometimes stupidity is just stupidity. It is thoughtless, sometimes dangerous behaviour that betrays a complete lack of common sense or life-skill. But that isn’t always the case, especially in government. Sometimes stupidity is an attempt to hide, cover up or just plain avoid some error in judgement or violation of practice. Sometimes officialdom will engage in stupid actions because they just can’t bring themselves to admit they were wrong.

DND taxi

Take the latest issue with Peter Mckay, the Canadian Defense Minister. It has been alleged that Mr. McKay misused a government search and rescue helicopter for personal benefit. When it was exposed, rather than stepping up and admitting it, Pete decided to try and hide behind a stupid explanation that made no sense to anyone. He wasn’t picked up from a fishing vacation and flown to another event on a government helicopter. He was engaging in a review of search and rescue techniques in between his vacation and the next event. Nobody buys that of course, it’s just plain stupid and that’s the problem with this kind of stupidity. It just makes a difficult situation worse. What annoys me is that the explanation is based on the assumption that the rest of us are as stupid as the person or people spinning the tale.

We’re in pretty bad shape when a sitting cabinet minister is so bereft of character and dignity that he has to spin a story this stupid to try and cover up his actions. If that’s the best Peter McKay and his staff can come up with for something like this, you shudder to think how effective a job they can do on the big issues.

Contrast Mr. Mckay’s actions and those of the brain trust in his office with that of the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods when the listeryosis crisis hit their company. Some of Maple Leaf’s food products became contaminated resulting in the tragic deaths of a number of people. How did he handle this? He stepped up. He pulled  all Maple Leaf Products from store shelves. He held a news conference to advise people of what happened and took responsibility for it. He held subsequent news conferences to keep the public updated, cooperated fully with food inspection agencies and paid compensation to the families of victims. The result? Maple Leaf is once again a viable and successful meat products manufacturer and the brand is trusted because of the simple honesty of its CEO.

That too is something I dislike about official stupidity. It’s just flat out dishonest.

We’re going to need a bunch of these

I have a plan though. I am taking up a collection to buy a bus, one of those big tour buses with the dark tinted windows and super graphics on the side. I’m going to hire a bus driver and park it in front of Parliament Hill. Every time I encounter a stupid person doing stupid things, I’m going to tell them to “get on the bus”. When the bus is full, we’ll have it driven far and away, way up north and the stupid people will be told to get off the bus and left there. When the empty bus returns, we’ll start all over again until we “get ‘er done.” Of course, it’s going to take a few trips to clean out the stupider politicians and government bureaucrats before we can get to the every day stupid people but it’s like cleaning the garage. No matter how long it takes, it ain’t going to get done unless you get started.

The next time you encounter a stupid person doing or saying something stupid, feel free to tell them to “Get on the bus!”

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© 2011 Maggie’s Bear
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