Friday, July 27, 2007

Help Stamp Out Stupidity

By Gary Truitt
The word "stupid" is defined by Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia, as "the quality or condition of being stupid, or lacking intelligence , as opposed to being merely ignorant or uneducated. This quality can be attributed to both an individual or a person`s actions, words or beliefs. The term can thus also refer to poor use of judgement, or insensitivity to nuances in a person who is otherwise intelligent." This last part can be applied to Microsoft. The company that brought personal computers in to all our lives and literally runs the world with their Windows operating system has proven just how stupid smart people can be. Microsoft has donated $100,000 to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This is one of the most radical animal rights organizations in exsistance. David Martosko, director of Research for the Center for Consumer Freedom says "HSUS is basically PETA with a nicer wristwatch."While $100,000 is pocket change to a corporation like Microsoft, why they would stoop so low as to fund the reprehensible activities of this group is mystifying. Obviously, some bonehead in Seattle did not even do a Google search on this group before cutting them the check. Either that or one of the most powerful technology companies in the world has a very radical social agenda. A sobering thought, no?Speaking of scary, many of the people who cook our food are turning against it. The latest group to organize with an anti-meat, anti-agriculture agenda are the chefs. A wave of anti-agribusiness activism threatens the food and beverage industry like nothing we have seen before. "Celebrity chefs," linked to cultish guru-followers, have joined forces with "green" brigades of anti-corporate activists and organic food marketers. They are flooding consumers with bad science. They seek to generate fears about the quality of the food supply and attack the morality of producers. Restaurants that specialize in serving meat, like Morton's or Ruth Chris, are targets. Well-funded activist groups, like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), are suing food companies into submission. Kellogg's is the latest to cave to this intimidation. The cereal maker has vowed to make changes in their cereals to meet specific guidelines for calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Products that do not make the (non-science based) grade will no longer be advertised to children. This includes such favorites as Rice Krispies.This food censorship is happening in other nations, too. In the United Kingdom, the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre banned the reappearance of several 1960s British TV food ads featuring the slogan "Go to Work on an Egg." The government-backed agency justified the censorship by claiming that the old egg commercials failed to comply with modern broadcast advertising codes because they don`t "promote a varied and balanced diet." We typically think of stupidity in terms of individuals, but entire groups or populations can become stupid. In psychology, this is known as "deindividuation" in crowds and can lead to behaviors usually not displayed outside the specific social situation. The behaviors occur because individuals will conform to perceived social norms in order to "fit in" or project an impression of self as "normal". That is the real danger of groups like HSUS or CSPI. With an activist agenda and junk science, they are trying to change what has always been considered normal. Once they do that, consumers, judges, lawmakers, and the media will do all manner of stupid things. Just think, it could lead to such a thing as a major world city passing a law banning foie gras. Oh well, as Forest Gump would say, "Stupid is as stupid does."

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