Can We/Should We Legislate For Stupidity/Foolishness/Foolhardiness/Silliness/Inanity/Folly/Senselessness/Absurdity/Idiocy/Lack of common sense?

I hate to use that word. Stupid. It’s insulting and derogatory. Suggesting someone is stupid implies that they are stupid about everything, that their intelligence can be measured completely by one thing they have said or done.

I have done some stupid things in my time and I have said some stupid things. (I’m not actually going to tell you what they are. That would just be stupid. I don’t need to be laughed at again for the same ‘crimes’.)

How did I know what I had said or done was stupid?

Well, sometimes people told me. Brothers are bastards, at times.

Sometimes, I knew, all by myself. I’m not stupid.

What did I do when I realised the error of my ways or words?

Blushed, was usually first.

Think, was next. ‘Shit, did I really just say/do that?’

Apologise, sometimes came next, depending on the circumstances.

Learning something new often happened. Checking my erroneous facts. (Should have done that in the first place).

Acquiring or adopting a new life lesson. ‘I’ll never say/do that again.’

Large doses of common sense usually prevail when we have done or said something stupid. We learn from our mistakes.

I am also stupid about a fair number of subjects. I know next to nothing about physics or chemistry or astronomy. I am sometimes fascinated by information on these subjects but I don’t really know enough to have an intelligent conversation with an expert. I would be able to ask lots of (quite possibly stupid) questions. I would be able to take on board certain facts. I might even learn something.

But I’m not overly interested in any of those subjects enough to really crave more knowledge. So, I guess you could say, I choose to remain stupid about them.

Is there a difference between chosen ignorance and stupidity?

Perhaps that depends on who is defining the two or whether they choose to see them as one and the same thing.

I do see them as interchangeable, at times. I am ignorant/stupid about given subjects.

As opposed to, I am ignorant about a subject but I’m not stupid enough to say that I know anything worthwhile knowing about it.

Intelligence levels have been measured in many ways for years. People take tests to enhance their own perception of how intelligent they are compared to the rest of society. (Or to feel totally deflated, depending on results.) Membership of Mensa is quantitative of IQ but misses so much other information. There is no qualitative judgement of a person’s variety of intelligences.

A truer definition of intelligence might be observed by studying humanity as a whole or watching individuals in action, carrying out skills that leave you stunned at a person’s ability. They may or may not score highly on an IQ test that, by definition, only measures one aspect of a person’s being.

Emotional intelligence is not taken account of. Does it take account of creative intelligence? Is there such a thing as spiritual intelligence? Or physical intelligence?

I choose to see intelligence in the skills and abilities and personalities and traits of a person.

But that doesn’t mean to say that we all cannot be stupid, at times. (I’m still not telling.)

Which brings me back to my original question. Can we, or should we, legislate for stupidity?

Our central and local government does it a lot.

It creates laws that govern everyone even while many people would not have done that deed in the first place.

Case in point. A number of years ago a ruling was passed in the city where I live that drinking alcohol in public was banned. This was meant, as you can imagine, to prevent people from swigging cider and cheap wine as they walked along public highways and byways. It did not, in fact, have the desired effect. Those people who were going to be stupid enough to become wasted in a public place still did it. They found ways to circumvent the law. They’re not that stupid.

What it did manage to achieve was another altogether different aim.

Anyone who chose to go to a public park, for instance, to picnic and share the delights of flavoursome cheeses, crusty bread and a bottle of red, was now breaking the law if they did so.

Perhaps law enforcement officers would have used their common sense and ignored the crime if they had happened upon said picnic. Perhaps not. I’ve never been brave enough to test it out.

Ahh, those previous delights of yesteryear; mulling over life and its ultimate meaning with my best friend, while we munched and squaffed of life’s little pleasures. All gone.

Now, I think that’s just stupid.

I may never want or have the opportunity to picnic in a park with my best friend again and partake of Bacchus’ fine wares.

But, I’m not selfish enough to deny others the carefree pleasures of youth and the memories those times create.

So, while Jack and Jill (apologies to real Jacks and Jills) are ‘getting wasted’ and ‘out of their heads’, a whole generation of youth, not to mention ‘auld yins’, are missing some innocent pleasures and breaking the law if they choose to flout it.

Stupid? Well, I think so.

Passing a law, such as the above, attempts to deal with one tiny aspect of a problem. It doesn’t prevent it. It doesn’t solve it.

There are laws being added to the statute books ad infinitum. Much against the advice and measures once advocated by Lord Palmerston. ‘A little law reform,’ was his answer.

Can we or should we legislate for stupidity?

We’re all guilty of stupidity from time to time.

Usually, common sense prevails.

I vote for common sense.

http://belsbror.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/levels-of-intelligence/

With thanks to the above post for compelling me to blog about something that’s bothered me for years.

13 thoughts on “Can We/Should We Legislate For Stupidity/Foolishness/Foolhardiness/Silliness/Inanity/Folly/Senselessness/Absurdity/Idiocy/Lack of common sense?”

  1. As the old cliché says: Ignorance is curable, stupidity is not. And yes, we are all guilty of stupidity at time and hopefully we learn from it. My issue with the common sense solution is that common sense seems to different for differ people.

    Like

    1. Thanks for commenting.
      You’re quite right. Maybe ‘common sense’ is misnamed. Or misinterpreted by choice. Or just not as common as its name suggests. But laws that sweep across the board punish everyone. Punishing a whole class for the misdemeanours of a minority always seems unfair to me. I also quite like the idea that elected representatives have some common sense and can apply it in an equitable manner. Hence, a bit of tweaking rather than a heavy hand. Perhaps if there were a test for common sense we could submit officialdom to it first and, if they scored highly enough, they could get the job. I quite like that idea. I must google it. x

      Like

  2. You have valid points in your arguments. I just want to add that it might be alright to call someone stupid if it pertains to oneself. For example, I am stupid. (oops! I am not.)
    Seriously, some people owned the habit of using this derogatory word liberally, even if the one they called is not stupid at all. We might have entered the age of political correctness but this profane word would probably stand the test of time. How sad!
    You have enlightened me about so many things about your post. Thanks. 😀

    Like

    1. I agree, it is profanity if applied to others and used with the intention of belittling and ridiculing.
      I don’t believe that there are truly stupid people and it’s insulting to anyone to be tarred with that name. As I said in my post, I choose to see the skills and aptitudes of a person as a whole rather than dismiss them as stupid because of one, or even several, actions. I have never yet met, never, any one single person I would call stupid. I do, however, believe that we all are capable of stupid choices and that officialdom is equally capable, as a collection of individuals, in passing stupid laws. Perhaps ‘that is stupid’ rather than ‘you are stupid’ might be a slightly less insulting phrase, if anyone still feels compelled to use the word. Having said that, there are so many other choices that are less offensive. And because of that, I am going to change the title of my post. x

      Like

  3. You’re quite correct with your arguments. I don’t know if it’s only me but the word ‘stupid’ is really stupid. It’s a very general term to be used like Hi and hello. I wonder where this word originated. Thanks for the lucid explanation. I learned a lot today. 😀

    Like

    1. Latin, apparently. Just checked. From stupere, to be stunned, numbed or amazed. The meaning has changed over the years to include so many other connotations. Obviously, not all for the better. Or, at least, in the way it is applied.x

      Like

  4. Enjoyed your post…as usual…love how you add humour on something very serious. As for the word Stupid, oy, it is pretty much in the same category as the R word for me..ooops, sorry, but I find it so very hurtful. Imagine that adult who tells people this regularly…well, that adult probably says it to his/her children too..those are mighty difficult tapes to erase. WI

    Like

    1. Thanks WI. People just astound me, at times.x

      Sorry, I wanted to say more here but I’m laughing ‘cos I’ve asked over the last couple of days if anyone knew what WI meant. I thought it was an acronym for something. LOL. LMAO That kind of thing. Sorry, I’m still laughing.
      My eleven year old daughter asked me what context it was being said in so I let her read your response here.
      She looked for a moment and then said, ‘Mum, the lady is Whispering Insights.’
      Now she didn’t duhh me, although she has just called me an eejit.
      Now that was stupid of me. I’ve looked and wondered for days what it could mean and it was staring me in the face at the top of every post and comment of yours.
      Blush. Sometimes I don’t see the wood for the trees.x

      Like

  5. I don’t like using the word stupid either, occasionally on myself but to myself I’m using that ironic humorous voice 😉 But laws that try to govern “stupid”? I think Forrest Gump said it best; “Stupid is as stupid does.” laws aren’t going to fix that. Not even duct tape will fix that 😉

    Like

Comments are closed.