"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" -- Isaac Asimov
The Overlord had the distinct pleasure (about as pleasurable as having nine-penny nails driven through my scrotum) of attending a "Graduation Party" this weekend past. The celebration was two-fold, for there were two graduates -- one had just completed high school, the other had just completed a four year degree at a visual arts school and was headed for Grad School.
I shall not bore you with the mundane details. As far as backyard parties involving family and close friends go it was unremarkable. I would go as far as to say that it's general unremarkable-ness (is that even a word?) was, in fact, remarkable, for whenever I begin to muse upon the banality of some of the activities that human beings will undertake in the effort to record "milestones" in one's life, our efforts always seem to result in mere repetition of the mundane.
There's always a backyard; there's always someone at the barbecue; there's always kids in the pool; there's always cold beer on a hot day.
Big, fuckin' whoop.
Not to imply that any of that is unpleasant or unwelcome, but that it all ceases to be memorable when you've been there and done that 1,001 times. What usually makes these events memorable are the happenstances in which the "milestone celebration" fades to becomes mere backdrop, while a series of mini-dramas unfolds.The more-memorable ones go something like this:
Aunt Betty got drunk, was singing show tunes, and fell in the pool. Whereupon her wig fell off.
Cousin Bill, who weighs 380 pounds, got drunk, tried skateboarding, broke his collarbone, and the paramedics dropped him trying to stuff his fat ass in the ambulance.
Uncle Bob took over barbecue duties for five minutes and started the Biggest Grease Fire Suburbia Has Ever Seen, losing an eyebrow in the process.
People remember stuff like that. They don't remember yet another backyard barbecue that after a week, you can't even recall who was there, unless you looked at the photographs.
But this is neither here nor there, for there is another reason for this dissertation.
And that is the Utter Dumbfuck of the Recent College Graduate.
Prior to arrival at the Grande Fete, Mrs. Overlord (who did not accompany me, as she was under the weather) implored me, as she often does, not to engage in anything that even had the merest scent of an intellectual offering. She does this often. In fact, she does it every time we leave the house.
This is because The Galactic Master suffers from an acute disease called "pointoutotherpeoplesstupid-itis" in which I am unable, upon hearing or witnessing an incredible display of unmitigated fucktard, to refrain from performing the equivalent of an Olympic floor-exercise routine and then pointing a finger at the guilty party and screaming "DUMBFUCK!".
I'm told, repeatedly, that doing so is a social faux pas. I'm told that it is bad form to tell stupid people, to their faces, how stupid they truly are. I'm told it is rude, arrogant, presumptuous, pompous, and annoying...to other people. Mrs. Overlord has tried, almost in vain, to train me to restrain myself, to control the compulsion to correct, to be didactic, to be brutally frank and direct. An inability to do so, she says, may strike others as a sign of my own insecurity, and no one will like me for it.
And no one will invite us to anything, anymore. (hint...your family...hint...).
Because I love Mrs. Overlord, I let her have her say, pretend to listen, attempt to convince her that her concerns have been heard, accepted, and I will exercise all due caution, and then do as I please, anyway.
Because who the fuck wants to go to yet another suburban barbecue without fireworks, dancing girls, a good street fight, or the ability to watch someone else act the fool?
Where's the fun in that?
The disease is easily triggered, unfortunately. It is consequence, not of insecurity, but rather training. I grew up in a ruthless business environment, going straight from teenager to adult without an intermediate phase of housebreaking in an expensive Day Care Center with a Football Team. On Wall Street, especially in IT, one did not have the luxury of making mistakes; too much money was at stake. One did not have the luxury of having their mistakes chalked up to inexperience, and excused: you got fired. In that sort of competitive environment, one does not get the chance to sit back and take a leisurely view towards career advancement: the smart people got recognized immediately, were rewarded well for it, and if you wanted your's, you had to go for it. Everyday was a fight to prove you were smarter than the other guy, because if you didn't, he got the job you wanted, he got the raise you wanted, he got the everything you wanted.
Second place, intellectually, in that sort of meat grinder merely means "First Loser".
So, I can't help myself. I do, sometimes, try. I often fail.
So, here I am, without the anchor provided by my Significant Other, who can be counted upon to kick me under the table, or to whisper "shut the fuck up" in my ear, surrounded by a passel of recent college grads all laboring under the mistaken impression that they wuz smart because diploma.
I tried not to engage, but I couldn't stop myself.
I'm trotting out a new approach, which is to play a sort of Devil's Advocate, rather than just coming out and screaming MORON!, providing on-the-spot correction. Maybe, I tell myself, if you lead the ignorant douchebags to an epiphany they might believe they got there themselves, and so, take less offense.
What better testing ground than a "party" with alcohol and recent "college grads"?
I want to make this observation: it does not matter what the topic of conversation is, put any three or four 20-somethings who went to the same school together, and give them a topic to discuss, and they have not so much a discussion as a Circle Jerk of mutual admiration, an orgy of "everyone gets a trophy", a veritable Mardi Gras of convivial backslapping for regurgitating even the most inane mental vomit. As I've said, the subject does not matter:
The Orange Hitler.
Global Warming/Global Cooling/Climate Change/Why It Doesn't Snow in Zimbabwe (imperialism, natch!).
Why Socialism is preferable to Capitalism, why Democracy is preferable to Constitutional Republicanism.
Who is more "woke" than whom.
Feminism and Man Hatred.
It all sounds exactly the same. Jane agrees with Sally, who agrees with Colin (who is currently identifying as a pre-menstrual giraffe), who agrees with Trevor, who agrees with Olivia (who must be agreed with because she's the only black person here, because racist) , who agrees with Taylor (because gay), who agrees with Angelica, who agreed with Professor ______ in ________ Studies.
Is it possible to have any sort of meaningful discussion about any topic with such homogeneity of thought? Is it possible to engage in debate when you HAVE to agree on every point because to do otherwise might make someone feel "unsafe"?
My answer is FUCK NO!, but it was cute to watch them try.
If I tried a little Devil's Advocacy, to stir the pot a bit (without being rude, although with today's shifting standards, it's no longer possible to know at any given moment what is considered as such), I discovered something else that was indicative of the Hive Mind, and it made me both laugh and want to vomit.
They all have the same methods of argument.
1) If you should disagree, then you're a racist/sexist/homophobe/White Supremacist/Fascist. The fact that these kids cannot understand these terms, except to define them according to their personal feelings, makes it difficult to engage. They are not speaking the same language you are. In fact, they're not speaking any language at all; they are recycling buzzwords in the fashion they've been trained to spew them in. Ask them to explain what fascism is, and they can't -- they just know it when they (have been told) to see it. They cannot, for example, explain the differences in ideology between three of the more-famous fascist states in history of Franco's Spain, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. Wasn't that, like, the War of 1812, or something?
2) There is a tendency to dismiss that which they cannot understand without making any effort to understand it. It is as if, by training, they have been conditioned to recognize the exact point at which their own inner retard is about to be exposed, and then deflect, change the subject, dismiss you out of hand, call you a name, refuse to listen to another word. Their minds are closed, despite all the chatter about being open-minded. They wish to avoid embarrassment more than they wish to perhaps learn.
3) There is something inherently dangerous in people who are historically and culturally ignorant, who have a deep sense of entitlement (because Elite -- Get over yourself: it was Visual Arts, not Medical School -- because diploma) who believe they have the right to tell everyone else how to live, think, eat, vote, and who believe that reality doesn't really exist, if you just wish it away hard enough. "Socialism works", they tell you, until you point out it's failures, and then they tell you "that wasn't Socialism". "Affirmative Action is necessary to erase years of racism", they say; point out that it's just racism in another form, and a condescending form, at that, and you'll hear that only white males can be racist. Ask them if this includes themselves, and they'll tell you they're all "woke".
4) If you should disagree, the smarter ones trot out the old Liberal tactic of splitting babies in an underhanded way; if you are Objectively For/Against X, then you must be Subjectively For/Against Y.
For example, if you're Objectively against Abortion on Demand, then you must be Subjectively against Women's Rights. If you are Objectively For Tax Cuts, the you are Subjectively Against the Poor.
This is, of course, nonsense. Point this out, and give them an example of the hole in this line of reasoning, and you've been brainwashed by Fox News. Ask what Cable News network the person who accused you of this watches, and he'll tell you he doesn't watch news or read newspapers because it's all lies. Point out that if you Objectively won't read newspapers or watch TV news then you're Subjectively in favor of ignorance, and suddenly, and conveniently, the stupid bastard can't understand his own method of argument.
5) If there's a dispute about a fact, we consult Alexa or Siri. Always. Whatever either of those throws up first, HAS to be the correct answer. If it's on the internet, it has to be true. That's, like, the law.
6) Every argument you're winning devolves, very quickly, into a series of "Yeah, but what about...?" digressions which get further and further away from the original topic. Point out that we've wandered off the reservation (use the actual words "wandered off the reservation", be accused of being a racist who wants Indigenous People O' Color put in concentration camps), hear the words "I...just...can't....deal", watch their eyebrows twitch and the heavy mouth-breathing commence, as the panic attack begins in earnest.
It's a good thing I only stayed an hour and a half.
With any luck I won't be invited back, as I did not wish to go in the first place.
You see, there is a method, sometimes, in my madness.