The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Is it possible to sack a politician for being stupid? I don’t mean for the odd slip of the tongue or ill-considered gaffe – I mean for actually lacking an acceptable level of intelligence.

I understand that politicians, our representatives, need to be chosen by the people. We can’t have a pure meritocracy because it’s simply impossible to ensure that the way in which merit is calculated is kept fair. Having said that, however, can we not find some better way to find those candidates we do put in front of the people?

Being a politician these days is a demanding and complex job. Not only do they bear a magnitude of responsibility unprecedented in all of human history – they are also required, more or less as the case may be, to operate a machine that appears to insert thoughts directly into the minds of staggering numbers of people. I refer, of course, to the machinery of mass media.

If a politician says something stupid in a forest and everyone hears it, does it really matter in any way whatsoever? I’m usually inclined to say no. But then my friend Tim drew my attention to a passage from an apparently widely sold book by Senator Cory Bernardi. I quote:

“Islam and the Quran are a blueprint for an idealogy that seeks to create an Islamic super-state and dominate every detail of life in an Islamic society.”

I don’t know if it’s Tim or the Senator who’s forgotten how to spell ‘ideology’, but as Tim and I were educated in the same place, I’m afraid it’s the Senator who misses out on the benefit of the doubt.

The comment above is stupid, ill-informed and almost certainly based on the best efforts of the Senator’s Lilliputian mind to understand whatever little information it has been able to process. None of this, however, presents me with any problem. The problem arises from the fact that this kind of broadcast stupidity is dangerous. At best it sits in the public mind like a boil, ready to burst into pustulent violence at the slightest heightening of social tensions. At worst, it’s deliberately inflammatory bullshit.

So this is why I wonder: Is it possible to somehow remove a person from a position of power on the grounds of intellectual incapability? Both Cory and Tony better hope that it isn’t.

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4 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Hahaaaa… great post. And unfortunately I was the one that forgot how to spell ideology. 🙂

  2. Chris says:

    Bahaha! Oh, Tim – what would the Jesuit Fathers say?

    Probably something fatuous. Anyway, 100 points for honesty 🙂

  3. David Ould says:

    Tim, out of interest what’s your observation about the way that the earliest Islamic leaders understood their mandate in regard to “creating an Islamic super-state”? Did they, like you, think the idea was a nonsense or did they set out to create one?

    • Chris says:

      David, I’m going to make the possibly erroneous assumption that you are talking to me, the author of this particular post. If you are not, I apologise.

      Firstly, leaving aside the fact that the earliest Islamic leaders lived in a world that pre-dates the commonly understood concept of a nation-state, much less a super-state, I assume that you’re referring to the creation of the Islamic Empire and the accompanying political doctrine and pointing it out as evidence that Islam is, in fact, a blueprint for the creation of an Islamic ‘super state’.

      In this period, both Christendom and the Islamic world pursued the same empire building doctrine, eventually culminating in the clashes over Outremer. As time went on, the Christian world eventually abandoned the idea that their holy books mandated a creation of a worldy ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, and mainstream Islam did pretty much the same. The doctrine, unsurprisingly, existed in both faiths, as they were both interpereting the same and/or similar source material. The doctrine of creating an Islamic superstate by re-taking the Maghreb is specifically a Radical Fundamentalist Islamist doctrine, and has little or nothing to do with the various iterations of mainstream Islam. To confound the two is either ignorant, unintelligent, or both.

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