Wissot: Ignorance is the real threat to public safety
I’m flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet across the country in a commercial jet. Two things make me happy: First, I will be getting to my destination in a matter of hours, not days, as was true before flying replaced driving as a means to getting somewhere fast. Second, the people in the cockpit know everything about how to fly a plane safely that I don’t. Ignorance may be bliss, but not where extreme competence is necessary to insure the safety of others.
Elitism is often confused with snobbism. They are different. A snob is someone who thinks he is better than someone else for erroneous reasons. People who are elite have earned their elite status; they deserve to be called elite. Snobs haven’t. Having more money than someone else doesn’t make you better; it just makes you richer. Having more education than someone else doesn’t make you smarter; it only means you have diplomas and degrees that they don’t.
We need elites in this world to serve our needs. Competence matters when we hire someone to perform a skill that we don’t have. Just as I don’t want Joe the plumber running the country, I don’t want Joe Biden repairing my plumbing.
Elitism is a matter of demarcated differences that are part of a continuum. There are amateur and professional elites. Many of you may be elite skiers at an amateur level. But you probably don’t ski as well as Mikaela Shiffrin. If you do, please don’t buy your Epic Pass for the coming ski season. No, no, no. Get online and book passage to Europe for the winter so you can join the World Cup tour.
I am writing this column to clarify some inflammatory remarks I made in a previous column. I said in that column with provocative intent that some people “are too stupid to know how stupid they really are.”
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Not surprisingly, I received many angry emails calling me an elitist snob who was ridiculing Trump voters. I richly deserved their ire. I was treating a hornet’s nest as if it were a piñata at a birthday party.
For the record, I wish I was elite. I’m not. I don’t do anything in life at an elite level including, as you can obviously tell, writing columns. I hate snobbery. Given the choice of being called a snob or a slob, a prig or a pig, all I can say is oink, oink.
When I referred to people in the column as “too stupid to fix,” it wasn’t because they voted for Trump. I believe that many Trump voters knew he was deranged, but voted for him anyway because they agreed with his political positions.
I don’t think someone is stupid because they are opposed to abortion, gay marriage, liberal Supreme Court justices, raising taxes, gun control, federal subsidies for clean energy, unrestricted border crossings, or any of the other cultural issues embraced by conservatives. These are value differences, not differences in knowledge or intelligence.
The people who I vilified for their stupidity are the ones whose heads are filled with gibberish, gobbledygook, poppycock and live in an alternative reality based on alternative facts. Stupid is what you call anyone who thought an alternative to getting vaccinated was to take ivermectin, a medicine used to deworm livestock. The FDA felt compelled to remind these nitwits: “You are not a horse.”
Afghanistan has the Taliban. America has QAnon. If the QAnon groupies lived in the time of the Salem witch trials, they’d be calling for the burning of witches. The line between imbecility and insanity is a thin one. Both the Taliban and QAnon represent mental madness at its finest.
The Taliban imposed restrictions on women prohibiting them from wearing high heels because “men were not meant to hear women’s footsteps” and discouraging them from speaking too loudly “in case they were heard.”
Crazy? Yes, of course. But any crazier then parents in parts of this country, including Eagle County, who are fighting for the right to send their children to school unmasked in the midst of a virulent variant of COVID-19 that is putting kids on hospital ventilators?
Before QAnon existed, their future clientele was exposed to the disinformation disease by three super spreaders spoon feeding mush to morons on Fox News: Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Watching them nightly was equivalent to enjoying a steady diet of stories in the National Enquirer about two-headed babies and the 90-year-old woman who got pregnant.
Disseminating disinformation is a greater threat to public safety than Islamic terrorism. Since 9/11, 190 Americans have been killed in jihadi-inspired terrorist attacks. We will never know how many countless Americans died needlessly from COVID-19 because they were given disinformation on air and online, belittling the importance of getting vaccinated.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at email@example.com.