Thursday, September 16, 2010

Advice from George Carlin

I’d like to propose International Ignore the Idiots Days. We could do one on Halloween---a day on which we already dismiss scary ugly things, putting them their proper perspective. Or, what about next Tuesday…or every weekday?

On International Ignore the Idiots Days we could all act in concert turning our attention away from the bad-acting hate-mongering fringe wherever it is, knowing what it is; or better said, what it is not. It is not us. The fringe represents only itself, the frayed edges of a society, not the mainstream.

George Carlin once said, way back when he was giving his comic newscasts: “A man barricaded himself in his house today. Nobody really gives a [damn].” (I cleaned it up a little bit for George.)

It’s an idea worth pursuing: The man had to come out eventually, didn’t he? Or not. Either way, why must we watch? Our watching doesn’t help, of that I’m sure.

What if we didn’t pay so much attention to the fringe folks who insist on such ill-advised and unhealthy displays?

What if we hit the power button and went to black screen when the next Terry Jones’s face appears? What if we quit listening to Laura Schlesinger’s “advice” to her callers, or Sarah Palin’s unfortunate and misguided recommendations to “reload”?

We could employ child psychology to treat infantile thinking: Ignore bad behavior and it goes away.

Would the world be a better place? I think it might. These idiotic things would be more proportional, at least. Their fifteen minutes in the klieg lights wouldn’t attain the seemingly immortal lifetime of a news story with legs, walking around creating negativity to feed ill will.

Terry Jones, the would-be Quran burner, has retreated from his plans to burn a book he seems not to have read. Maybe the spotlight helped persuade him to do so. On the other hand, if he and his band of thirty (that’s right thirty) parishioners had burned their books in their own backyard without NBC’s Today Show watching, would we be any worse off for the act?

The pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center (easily the most misleading name for an establishment on record) says he accomplished his goal of showing the world that Islam has a radical element.

This, of course, is not breaking news. We all kind of knew that. What he inadvertently did was to demonstrate to the world that Christianity also has its radical element, though most of us knew that as well. We also have our gun totin’, book burnin’ yea hoos. Yippee.

Thanks to Mr. Jones, another slice of slander about the people of the United States is served up worldwide for any other fringe group who’d like to take it and exploit it to their radical ends. No doubt his photo in front of his “International Burn the Koran Day” banner will provide fuel for such radicals in other arenas to build more hatred and fear of the U.S., of us.

The damage such elements can inflict in a short time and on an enormous scale is astounding. The flames of hate and ignorance burn more brightly thanks to the Terry Joneses of the world. Two have already died in Afghanistan during a protest of his proposed bonfire. Shouts of “Down with America” accompany news videos of the US flag aflame with a picture of Jones along side.

Too bad. Damage done. Those in the world who want to believe Mr. Jones is representative of you and me now have “proof.” His words and actions are the sealing wax on their mind sets. Living down a reputation, deserved or not, can take a lifetime.

But we can start.

The media aren’t going to help us so we’ll have to be strong. Next time that white mustachioed visage appears, we can switch the channel to “American Idol,” or “The Apprentice,” or any other reality TV---just not that reality. Bye - bye interest, bye – bye Jones.

While we’re at it, maybe we can ignore people who cut in front of us in traffic without waving “thank you.” I’m going to try not to notice. And kids in saggy pants? That won’t bother me at all.

The Fellowship of the IIID (International Ignore the Idiots Days) won’t have dues, or meetings, or newsletters, or headquarters. We won’t elect officers since George Carlin’s not around. We will be grassroots on the down low. The only way anyone could spot us would be by the smiles on our faces and the brains in our heads.

Tuesday? Will that work for you?