Stupid is as stupid does...

For those of you unfamiliar with the comings and goings of Britain’s Royal Buffoons, you should know that a former Royal employee, who is claiming that she was passed over for promotion due to sexual discrimination, is suing our dear Prince of Wales. In the media fracas that inevitably followed, a memo was leaked from the Prince’s office, which made his feelings on the matter quite clear:

What is wrong with people now? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities? This is to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of a child-centered system which admits no failure. People seem to think they can all be pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary work or having natural ability. This is the result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially engineered to contradict the lessons of history.

It’s not very often that I agree with Prince Charles - after all, this is a man who talks to his houseplants, but in general I think his clumsily expressed sentiment to be a good one. The Prince has, of course, been guillotined in the mainstream press for what seemed to many an elitist put-down, but more serious commentators have adopted a less hysterical interpretation. Andrew Sullivan, writing in The New Republic (subscription required) had this to say:

And this, of course, cuts to the chase of the meritocratic project. The inequalities of ability are far more crushing than the inequalities of a rigid class system. And the great mixed blessing of a democracy in which everyone has a chance at success is that inequality of results seems crueler and starker. It cannot be blamed away.
Sullivan’s comment is interesting to me because I think it explains how, in the middle of the Information Age, the fundamentalist right and their champion, Dubya, have been able to enjoy so much success. It had never occurred to me before how hard it must be to be stupid in a world that values information, and the ability to interpret it, above all else. It’s no wonder these people are pissed off; especially when, as Sullivan says, “It cannot be blamed away.” That these phillistines, in a desperate search for validation, have retreated into theologies that celebrate ignorance, and voted ignorant people into office should come as no surprise. They have no place in the modern world, they know it, and so they’re fighting desperately to change it.

Unfortunately for us, there seem to be an awful lot of stupid people: 59 million or so just in the United States alone.

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