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You Can't Fix Stupid

“You can’t fix stupid.”

I’ve heard that a lot in my media bubble.

People who believe that JFK, Jr. is going to rise from the grave to lead them?


People who believe that Democrats are running a child sex ring out of a pizza place in D.C.?


Alex Jones? Really?


The return of backstreet abortions, the rise of Nazis in the US, cults about business success and weight loss and the baby Jesus?

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

We live in a time where Americans can’t even agree on or even define our most basic values.

· 61 percent of Americans believe Facebook has free speech obligations under the First Amendment.

· Only 35 percent of Americans knew that a senator’s term is six years.

· 44 percent of Americans couldn’t name the three branches of government.

· Most depressingly, 49 percent of Americans believe it is unconstitutional to arrest the perpetrators of the January 6 insurrection.

That’s some your-mama-knew-her-cousin-too-well kind of stupid.

About a third of our citizens voted with this level of ignorance and misunderstanding in favor of a cartoon president who, himself, did not understand basic constitutional rights. And he gave us three of the lying five justices who are voting to overturn Roe, despite having testified under oath that Roe is settled law.

Ever has truth been a stranger to justice.

Galileo Galilei, the famous Renaissance astronomer, artist, and mathematician, was tried by the Catholic Church for heresy. His crime? He asserted that the Earth moves around the sun, that the Earth was not the center of the universe, as was Church doctrine at the time. Galileo was forced to recant this opinion to avoid torture and imprisonment by the Church.

Stupid almost cost us one of the greatest geniuses of the Western world, and yet here we are, nearly five hundred years later with people insisting that the earth is flat. This is stupid for the ages.

The church that muzzled Galileo has so many modern analogues, from QAnon to CPAC to the anti-abortion movement, as well as—well, so many of today’s churches. As great a mind as Galileo’s couldn’t fix that kind of stupid, so what chance do we have?

I like the romantic, and probably fanciful, coda to the story of Galileo’s persecution. He is said to have muttered at his trial or written on his house wall, “yet it moves,” meaning that despite the Church’s insistence, he knew that the Earth moves around the sun, and no doctrine could change that fact.

To avoid persecution, Galileo had no choice but to spout establishment propaganda, but he knew the truth in his heart: the Earth moves around the sun. Perhaps that’s the best we can do in this ignorant time: keep the truth in our hearts, because stupid is coming for us all, and you just can’t fix it.


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