Monday, July 25, 2011

The Dumb Leading the Dumb

Here's what gets me.

Every so often (and sometimes even every day), I will read something in the newspaper that indicates to me that people all over the world are just getting dumber than a chicken with its head cut off.

Now, some of you might question how I know just how dumb and/or smart a chicken with its head cut off is, seeing as how hardly anyone today even gets to see a live chicken anymore, with or without its top fitting.

The answer is simple. When I was a boy, many's the time my family would drive to Como, Texas, to visit my grandparents on their farm, and every Sunday I would watch Grandma go out back to fetch Sunday dinner.

She would select a particularly plump hen from the coop, which shows you that chickens aren't exactly Rhodes scholars even with their heads on, because surely they would have suspected something after all those Sundays of watching their relatives disappear one by one.

Then Grandma would take that flightless wonder back toward the house, and she would stand firmly with her stumpy legs apart and fling that hen by the neck around and around her own head until the bird and its noggin were separated with a snap.

So, would that suspicious chicken rush back to the safety of its coop, as any intelligent creature would do? It would not. It would flap and flutter around the back yard like a--well--like a chicken with its head cut off, allowing Grandma to pick it up and put it out of its misery in the frying pan. Now, that is dumb.

But I digress. What did I read once that leads me to believe that people all over the world are just getting dumber than Sunday dinner, you ask? I'll tell you.

A judge in Louisiana threw out a lawsuit against Hollywood director Oliver Stone on First Amendment grounds that claimed his 1994 movie Natural Born Killers led to a young couple's bloody crime rampage.

What's dumb about that, you ask? That's not the dumb part. That's the smart part. The dumb part was that the lawsuit was filed in the first place against the makers of the movie by the family of a Louisiana store clerk who was shot and paralyzed in a rampage by a girl and her boyfriend in an apparent copy-cat series of crimes. (In case you haven't seen this bloody, violent, satirical work of art, a girl and her boyfriend go on a bloody--yes--rampage, but are caught in the all's well that end's well.)

Now, we don't know if the grieving family just happened to be greedy and thought they could make some easy money off the tragedy of their store-clerk relative or if they were just dumber than a--here it comes again--a chicken with all its parts save one. But if you are so dumb as to be influenced to copy-cat the deeds of a movie you see or a book you read or a TV show you stare at and not consider the right and wrong or the good and bad or the likely consequences of your duplicate actions, then you should never see or read or watch Moby-Dick, or you just might find yourself in a rowboat out on the ocean searching for a white sperm whale.

However, if you are a tall lanky man with a scar down your face and into your beard and with only one leg attached to you, you might be forgiven, especially if you lost that leg by somebody's sweet little grandmother grabbing that limb and flinging you around and around her head until it separated from the rest of your body and you went running away as best you could like a--are you ready for this one?--a one-legged sailor.

If you are not a etc. etc. etc., then you are just dumb, because if you could pay attention to the end of the movie or the novel or the TV broadcast, you would have known that Captain Ahab dies.

And anyone who copy-cats a protagonist in a tragic event that ends in the protagonist's death is either dumber than a--one more time--decapitated chanticleer or one leg short of a crazy, whale-obsessed, seagoing madman.

Did Elizabethans run around killing their stepfathers after seeing a performance of Hamlet? No.

Do deer run amuck after watching Bambi? No.

But apparently we do.

I rest my case.