Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Dignity of Ignorance

Bernard: But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.

– From Yes, Minister

With all due deference to Sir Humphrey, he's wrong.

In a democracy, it is essential that the electorate has to be educated and adequately informed.  Since we still entertain the elegant fiction that our voices are heard every Election Day, we the people need to make informed decisions, not decisions based on superstition, naive supposition, or knee-jerk reactions.

But that's a terribly pre-9/11 mindset, isn't it?

After all, in the face of several studies demonstrating that repeated watching of Fox 'News' makes a person stupider, millions still get all of their information from that source.  In defending their viewing habits, people will challenge me, saying, "Where do you get your news?"

My answer is a mixture of domestic and foreign news websites, including two in German and Russian.

True, there may be a certain amount of dignity in ignorance; in the belief that the President is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Fascist, in the belief that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, in the belief that the Magic Sky Wizard can be swayed by the saccharine devotion of prayers and magic formulas, in the belief that cutting taxes on the rich make the poor wealthier, in the belief that letting rapacious men continue to play risky games with other peoples' money is the right path for the economy . . . the list goes on and on.

I have been lax, over the past twenty days, unwilling or unable to post my indignant rants at the stupidity that I see my fellow Americans indulging in.  The summer silly season has struck, two months early (probably due to global warming).

But if there is dignity in ignorance, I prefer to be as undignified as possible.


Blogger brite said...

You are a 'voice in the wilderness' of the current culture in the USA...don't stop Walt. You let me believe that not all the remnants of my once proud forefather's progeny are neither unbearably stoopid of just plain batshit crazy.

4:44 PM EDT  

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