I need to ask myself this question every morning. Sometimes I forget to ask it, and inevitably those are the days when I’m stupid. I forget to ask myself whether I’m stupid because I’m stupid. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing, only on those days when I’m stupid, it’s a chicken-and-eggs-are-genetically-modified-by-the-government-to-eradicate-testosterone thing.
It’s important to check whether you’re stupid, because if you are stupid, you might want to avoid certain activities, like operating heavy machinery, running for office or using social media. You might also want to avoid sporting events or using a handgun or parenting, unless you’re counterbalanced by a spouse who is not stupid. She will let you know.
You may be saying to yourself, “Why should I ask myself whether I’m stupid? I know I’m not stupid. Asking myself whether I’m stupid is stupid.” But that’s just what a stupid person would say.
Sadly, stupid people don’t always know they’re stupid, and no amount of telling them otherwise will convince them of their stupidity. In fact, telling stupid people they are stupid only aggravates their stupidity to the point where they inevitably compare what they are being stupid about to Hitler. Hitler, by the way, was not stupid, although he was certainly not much fun.
So if stupid people don’t know they’re stupid, what is the point of asking yourself whether you’re stupid? Smart question. The very asking of that question is a good indicator that you are not, in fact, stupid, but that is no guarantee. Stupidity can be quite clever.
Take me, for example. Like many people, I enjoy being stupid on occasion. After a long week of thinking, I like to wind down by maybe posting a stupid opinion about gender politics on Facebook, because I am one of those – a gender, that is. But I don’t need to be stupid. I can quit being stupid any time I want. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Statistically, however, there are a lot – I mean a lot – of stupid people. The evidence is all around us, or at very least online. Yet I look at my day-to-day life and don’t see that many stupid people, and still stupidity exists. Therefore, I have to wonder: could it be me? Could I be statistically stupid? Demographically doltish? Empirically asinine?
That’s when I need to look myself in the eye – which isn’t easy without a mirror, let me tell you – and ask myself whether, for example, I have the background and expertise to non-stupidly state an opinion about domestic terrorism. Or should I instead be limiting my comments to lesser matters, like Renée Zelwegger’s new face? Not if I frame it as a gender issue, I shouldn’t. You know who else had gender issues? Nazis!
But surely that’s the beauty of democracy, you say: the freedom to express one’s opinions – unless, of course, it’s an unpopular opinion that questions, for example, whether a soldier murdered in cold blood is a hero, in which case we have the freedom to sign a petition to fire that person for freely expressing his opinion.
But you know what they say about opinions; they’re like a day at the dog track: you lie to your boss about a dentist appointment and then spend the day losing all your money while sitting around drinking warm beer and shovelling grey hot dogs into your sorry mouth, all the while watching manic, tormented dogs you can’t help but feel pity for, even as you curse them – curse them from the depths of your corroded soul – for their failure to bring you any satisfaction, only to realize in the end that you’re not much different, you and those greyhounds. Wait, that’s not what they say about opinions at all. Stupid of me.
The problem with expressing an opinion when you’re stupid is that it attracts other stupid people like bees to honey (except that bees are being systematically killed off by Monsanto and Ebola). Civil discourse becomes muddled in stupidity. Next thing you know, all those stupid people are organizing. And that’s how the Tea Party was formed.
So when I suspect I’m stupid – and it’s easy to tell if my primary news source for that day contains the word “Buzz,” “Huffington,” “Ya,” “Hoo” or “ISIS Coming to Get You!” – I try to keep to myself. I try to avoid engaging in conversations that might end up being about gender politics (ah, who am I kidding; everything ends up being about gender politics). I try to keep my knee from jerking over complex topics. I try to stay away from open mics, television cameras and vendettas. I try to avoid young people, even when I’m not stupid, because with young people I’m always stupid. And I try not to write stupid blog posts. I’m not always successful.