That’s a quote from Ron White, one of my favorite comics. It is also a profound truth. All around me, every day, on a near constant basis, I see people staunchly clinging to, defending, and enthusiastically proliferating their stupidity. I’m not talking about people who have a recognized mental issue, and I’m not talking about education, or even intelligence. I’m talking about the average idiot who would be genuinely shocked at the concept of “it” happening to them.
In the midst of this pervasive reality, I am more and more often hearing things along these lines: 1) “You have to protect people from their stupidity” and 2) “It’s the government’s job to protect people from their stupidity.” My immediate visceral reaction is NO!!! (By the way, stupidity includes any criminal activity, any slovenly and negligent job performance, any choice to ignore prudence and/or safety, any self damaging activity, etc., etc.)
First, it’s an impossible goal – it doesn’t matter how many rules, requirements, etc. are created – people will continue to actively pursue stupidity – every day we see more and more examples all around us of people making the most asinine choices and committing the most harmful acts. Second, the general effects of the universe slamming someone for doing something stupid are an important part of personal development – an important part that is steadfastly avoided by most people and our society in general, of course.
Here’s what the government should be doing – don’t protect people from their own stupidity, but do protect people from everyone else’s stupidity. To that end, stop rewarding bad behavior, stop cushioning people from justified effects, and enforce the rules that protect people from others. For example, if someone wants to damage themselves with whatever substances in their own homes, let them do that and let them deal with the consequences, BUT restrict them if they do those things outside of their own homes, restrict them if they impose those activities on children or any adult not making that choice, restrict them if they attempt to drive or do any work or anything else that has the slightest effect on another person while experiencing the effects of those activities, restrict them if they steal or in any way harm any other person either deliberately or through reasonably avoidable neglect. Notice I said restrict – that means keep them in a little room with a bed, a chair, a TV, and a bathroom, and feed them something nutritious – people that won’t stop harmfully affecting others should be kept away from others.
Here’s the problem … most of the people who would be needed to maintain that structure are stupid, which is why none of our structures work well for long, if at all. Plus, if someone does something stupid thereby causing themselves harm or even just discomfort, all someone has to say is “oh, that poor person” and, literally no matter what the situation, masses of people will automatically jump in with something like “that person shouldn’t have to deal with that, let’s make it all better!” and “make someone else pay for that!” Well, I could go on and on, but this piece is getting too long … more on this another time!