Lowest Commonn Moron

July 2003


Why are we always treating people like idiots, when we know how much people live down to others' expectations for them?

There are several common trends out there in the big bad world that I find intolerable. One of the worst is the "lowest common denominator" theory of human relations. I hate it when things get dumbed down. It usually turns something that wasn't half bad into something worthless.

Being treated like an idiot is offensive. People generally perform to expectation and if you expect other people to be idiots... I happened to see part of an advertisement for an exercise product on TV this morning. The announcer made this claim: "You do twice as much work with one effortless motion." Doesn't anybody edit the scripts for these spots? I had the idea that the whole point of an exercise machine was to provide a convenient venue for effort. What possible benefit could there be in effortless exercise? Effortless fitness I could see as an ultimate goal, but effort is required to get to that goal.

Schools begin the process of accustoming us to being treated as morons. Small children are treated like idiots. Medium-sized children are treated practically the same and big children are treated like dangerous dolts. This is the only country on earth where a collection of three male children on a street corner is treated as gang violence waiting to happen. There is something to be said for the scariness of teenage boys out of control, but many people take these normal, old fart feelings to excess.

We take the same idiot expectations into the workplace. We're told by every warning label that we're mentally deficient. When we go to the grocery store, we have to pass a sign that warns us with cheerful seriousness that the floor may be wet if it has been raining.

I wonder why we put up with it? School is probably responsible. For more than twelve years, we're treated like inconvenient morons by legions of people who would have been better dental assistants than teachers. We learn to tolerate crap, wherein the chief value of state education lies. And speaking of lies, we're taught a belly full of them, too. We learn to accept that people lie and cheat us out of the best years of our youth, sentenced to long dreary months of monotony. I wonder what kind of people would result from a society that honestly expected the best of every individual?

Recently I have been told that I am probably a crook by a store; that I am almost certainly a liar by another store. I get told every day on television that I'm probably sick and certainly overweight. It's a wonder that we have any self-esteem left, since the expectations we experience around us are so low. Whatever happened to the good old "prove the bastards wrong" mentality that went along with being a Yankee? We used to have it. Where did it go?

I think we should all have a therapeutic "get stuffed" month. I nominate August. When someone tells you, their customer, that you are wrong -- go tell them to put it where the moon don't shine. When someone treats you like an idiot, refuse to act like one. Expect everyone to be the best of the best and don't let them get off easy. If there is anything that education should have taught us over the last 40 years, it ought to be that you only get excellence when you demand it.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.