Tuesday’s Quote #15 – on willful ignorance…

“I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it”

— Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell was a well-titled, eccentric, British poet and literary critic, who died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 77 in 1964. Fewer words ring more true for me these days.

When I look at the news, and see that so many people absolutely refuse to let established facts disrupt their belief system, I get very frustrated. And I get frightened – what the hell are we leaving our children and grandchildren?

When ‘news’ broadcasts continue to treat climate science as debatable. Or refuse to distinguish climate from weather. When legislators continue to argue evolution as only a ‘theory’ because no one wants to acknowledge the scientific definition of a theory. Nor have they apparently heard of antibiotic resistant bacteria – or how it got that way. Strange that I was raised Roman Catholic, in Cathoic schools, and somehow, I learned Genesis, and I learned evolutionary biology – the two really don’t have to be contradictory.

When the US Supreme Court rules that a Corporation can act based on its, scientifically inaccurate, medial views, and what that means for it from a religious perspective – it has not only declared that corporate entities are people, but that they can hold religious views as well, and don’t need to be too concerned with facts – we may have carried Corporate Citizenship to a dangerous new extreme.

And anti-vaccination proponents still manage to get news time. Parental rights? I (almost) respectfully disagree – public health needs really do win out here. Don’t want a flu shot, don’t get one. But measles, polio, rubella? The risks to your children, and especially to other people, is simply too great to choose to disregard. Societies exist for the support of all members. It’s why they form, and how they flourish. There is zero scientific basis for the anti-vaccination rhetoric out there – but there are still too many, well-meaning, affluent, and well-educated, people out there that refuse to be swayed by any facts that they are presented with (since facts themselves are apparently part of a larger conspiracy benefitting big pharma). And an alarming number of people who have no qualms at all about voicing their lack of concern for other people. Then move into a completely closed community and never travel outside of it, or let anyone else in. The world is too small for you to be that narcissistic. Or stupid.

When politicians have the incomprehensible audacity to require that doctors perform transvaginal ultrasounds on pregnant women seeking terminations – in spite of the fact the there is absolutely no medical reason. And don’t seem to be embarrassed by asking a doctor, in a public hearing, whether a woman could swallow a remote camera to test a pregnancy? Sorry, folks – the fact that the reproductive system is NOT a part of the digestive system is something most children learn in elementary school science class. Enough people voted for these people that they are responsible for making the laws that you will have to follow. Good luck with that.

When Cliven Bundy can be hailed as a hero for threatening an armed uprising to defend his refusal to either pay for grazing on federal land or to stop grazing on federal land, but the landowners in Nebraska had to go to court to stop Trans-Canada from taking their land for the Keystone Pipeline – which is a private enterprise benefiting none of the landowners – they were reviled as obstructionist.

When Sarah Palin, who has frequently made little sense in the last few years, can deliver an astonishingly incoherent speech, raise an equally astonishing amount of money from it, and express shock that anyone think she wouldn’t be a serious contender for the White House? Maybe we should be worried that she might be. Who the hell are these people giving her money and encouraging her, anyway?

Stupid seems to be in these days. And we’re damn proud of it. So proud that we will continue to elect people at the local, state, and national levels, that seem to be under the impression that refusing to adjust an opinion in the face of opposing facts is a sign of weakness.  And we are making our voting decisions based largely on well-funded fear-mongering that is using our own prejudices, and legitimate fears, to keep us focused on single, tightly drawn wedge issues, so that we don’t get distracted by any other issues, or facts.  I’m reminded of Spiro Agnew and the disdain for the ‘effete intellectuals’ – why confuse anything with facts?

And the photo? – An endless highway shot seemed quite appropriate to accompany my rant. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan:

“I’m walking down that long lonesome road, babe. Where I’m bound, I can’t tell.”

Okay, well, driving, on I40 East near Gallup, NM, in August 2013, but you get the point…

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