Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Pride and ignorance go together in today’s world

I was reading an article in the Tampa Bay Times recently about the Michael Zimmerman trial, and the main focus was on jury selection.

The challenge for attorneys today is to find a jury that can understand and process the information coming in through verbal testimony while also being mostly uninformed about the case.

The Zimmerman case is one of many that have been particularly tough because there has been a vast amount of pre-trial publicity in the news media. Everyone likes to say that the news media – especially the print media – is dying, but in the meantime the story has gone all around the world. Those of us who work in the media usually are despised and disdained, but I can live with that.

In the Tampa Bay Times story, prospective jurors seemed proud that they were ignorant, uninformed and did not read the local newspapers. Some were oblivious to occurrences in their own community, and seemed to feel that this was a point in their favor as persons.

This doesn’t just affect me personally in my career, but in the other aspects of my life. I have felt the barbs of the ignorant aimed at me because of their perception that I was acting above my station in life by pursuing intellectual goals.

Astronomy night
There was a lot of excitement, and I promised sky wonders galore to those gathered around me, watching me set up my telescope.

The C-8 that I bought in 1986 is a great instrument for amateur astronomy. With the mount I bought a couple of years ago, I can find objects automatically – once I get it aligned properly.

I like to set up during the remaining daylight time just to be sure I don’t miss anything, and we were waiting for the sky to darken when a person dropped the remark that I dread to hear: “We’re going to see Uranus tonight.”

Except the person didn’t pronounce “Uranus” the proper way, “UR-ah-nus.” He said it this way: “yur-ANUS,” or “Your anus.”

Everything became quiet for a moment, and I shot a look at the offender. Then I said, “No, sorry, the planet ‘UR-ah-nus” will not be visible until much later.”

Demonstrating one’s lack of class and education used to be a source of shame; now it’s a means of showing pride and solidarity in ignorance.

Proudly ignorant
Back when I was in the Postal Service, I met a woman who proudly declared to me, “I don’t know nuttin’ about nuttin’.” The Postal Service did not go out of its way to recruit smart or educated people, and definitely worked on ways to filter out college-educated people who might slip into management, and this was an extreme case, but there were many people in the Postal Service who had almost no interest in current events.

The fact that not only did I read newspapers but also let others know that I was attending college made me an outlier in the Postal Service. When asked if I knew that I had no advancement prospects in the Postal Service because of my position (mailhandler) and pursuit of education, I replied that was pursuing careers outside the Postal Service.

One manager was bemused by it all. Today, she’s a high-powered postal executive but back then she was just another “kick ass and take names” floor boss. She loved to brag about her lack of education, regaling everyone with the tales of her dropping out of school in the seventh grade. She was even prouder of the fact that she had flunked her worker training and got advanced into management, where she was able to lord it over those with high school degrees and college educations.

Recognizing talent when they saw it, postal management put her on the fast track.

It’s hip to be stupid
I suppose it’s just the fate of us all to be subjected to the taunts and ridicule of those who have chosen to be ignorant and oblivious.

The news media tend to address topics that many find disturbing; I’ve always felt that the truth, no matter how unsettling, was better than lies. Others prefer to throw crud at the media without any evidence. Sure, there’s celebrity reporting, which is mostly public relations junk, but there’s serious reporting about the issues of the day.

Dismissing it – and those who work to produce it – is just a sign of being ignorant, lazy and stupid.

As for me, I’m going to be well-informed even if it means taking the criticism and the ridicule.


June 18, 2013 - Posted by | Living in the modern age, The news business | , , , , , , , ,

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