Hey, who you callin’ stupid?
Boy, we’re losing our tempers these days, aren’t we?I mean, we’ve got sheriff’s deputies getting into fist fights in bars. We’ve got lawyers slapping restraining orders on cancer patients. We’ve even got the vice president of these United States using language on the floor of the U.S. Senate that I can’t reprint in this family newspaper.I don’t want to get overly dramatic, but, gosh, this sets a bad example for the kids. Can’t we all count to 10 or do our deep breathing exercises or sing a chorus of “Kumbayah” or something?It’s all so unnecessary.More than that, worse than that, it’s all so stupid.Let’s start with the amusing little episode of the sheriff’s deputy in a bar fight. Everyone knows the story by now, right? The deputy walks into a bar and manages to rather grossly insult a couple of women. A guy who’s with the women flies into a rage. The deputy (who’s off duty) punches the guy in the mouth.End of story. Beginning of legal proceedings.Now, let’s count the stupidities.One: What is a deputy doing insulting women in a bar? We keep hearing that the deputy was there having dinner with his wife in the adjoining restaurant. Is that what we do? Go out to dinner with our wives and take a quick break to duck into the bar and insult women? Stupid!Two: The guy who was with the ladies – what made him so crazy? Sure, the deputy insulted them, but he didn’t touch them. He didn’t scream obscenities at them. It was unacceptable behavior for a “peace officer,” but in the general context of the Aspen bar scene, it wasn’t that bad. The guy who was defending the ladies’ honor actually only managed to demonstrate that those ladies were hanging out with a violent jerk who can’t control his temper. Stupid!Three: The deputy – the “peace officer” – is supposed to be a trained professional who knows how to handle high-stress, high-stakes situations. Lawmen are supposed to break up fights. They’re supposed to know how to calm down angry drunks. They’re supposed to have it under control – that’s why we let them carry guns. But when someone starts screaming at this deputy, the only thing he can think to do is punch the guy in the mouth. Stupid!But, you know what, at least these were two big, strong, reasonably young guys. Let’s talk about the lawyer and the cancer patient.In this case, we’ve got a high-priced lawyer who’s representing a developer who wants to evict the cancer patient from his home.The cancer patient, not incidentally, is a well-known, longtime writer of vitriolic letters to the editors of the local papers. At a hearing that was part of the eviction process, the letter writer (I hate to keep referring to him as the “cancer patient”) made a semi-incomprehensible statement that the lawyer took as a direct threat that the next time he stepped off the curb without looking both ways, the letter writer was going to run him over.So the lawyer went to court and got a restraining order that bars the letter writer from coming with 100 yards of the lawyer.Stupidity One: The letter writer has spent decades writing semicomprehensible, semisavage attacks on anyone who crosses him. Why start taking him seriously now? Stupid!Stupidity Two: As a follow-up to Stupidity One, why would two lawyers and a judge spend time pretending they can figure out what the heck this guy really meant anyway? I’ve read his letters. I’ve edited his letters. I’ve published his letters. I’ve never had any idea what he’s talking about. Was he making a threat or describing a hallucination? Who knows? Stupid!Stupidity Three: If you think someone’s going to run you over with his car, what’s the point of a restraining order? Particularly one that says he has to stay 100 yards away? All that means is that he’s got 100 yards to get up to speed before he hits you. And if he’s planning on killing you, is a restraining order really going to make him think twice? Stupid!And then there’s the vice president of the danged United States spouting obscenities in a spat with a senator on the floor of the Senate.We give sheriff’s deputies guns, so we think they ought to be able to control their tempers and behave. We give this man an arsenal that could blow up the entire planet, we give him control over the most powerful Army in the history of mankind and he can’t even control his language.Imagine if he’d been in the bar with that deputy. He probably would have called in an air strike and leveled half the town. Imagine if he thought someone had threatened to run him over. Folks, we’re talking Armageddon.Stupidity One … Ah hell, don’t get me started.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold amounts of suffering and disruption, and we’ll probably tell those stories for the rest of our lives.