Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, February 10, 1999

Taking away an
idiot’s toy is no cure

TRY to idiot-proof the world and the world will just come up with better idiots.

Don't get your Dockers in a knot. I didn't make that up. I just like it. And, it applies to today's subject: Idiots and the Things They Do.

One of life's frustrating truths is that you can't get rid of idiots. (Uproot one and two more pop up, like dandelions.) But you can stop them from doing idiotic things. Or, at least slow the flow so that the rest of us (if you are reading this, ipso facto, you are not an idiot) can enjoy life.

When someone does something to bother normal people, the proper thing to do is to stop the behavior. You do this by gently requesting the idiot stop doing whatever idiotic thing he is doing, ordering the person to stop the idiotic behavior (if you have the power to do so), pounding the idiot to a pulp (if the idiot is smaller than you and unarmed) or calling a cop if the idiot seems capable of beating you to a pulp.

You don't outlaw whatever implement the idiot is using to bother you. Idiots are resourceful and, apparently, on the cutting edge of technology. If you outlaw one implement, they'll find another, more obnoxious implement with which to express their idiocy.

The current implement of choice is a laser-light gizmo which idiots use to reach out and touch everything in sight.

I watched a couple of these idiots at a mall recently. They were sitting in McDonalds watching girls of their relative age walk past. One of the idiots had a pin-light laser which he used to grope and sexually harass the girls technologically. Of course, the girls didn't know it. They were unaware of the little dot of red sliding over their bodies, pausing on their private parts, dancing around on their backsides. The idiots thought this was great fun and assumed, I suppose, that because they weren't actually running their hands all over some girl's body in public against her will that what they were doing was acceptable.

Other idiots have shot the red dot at people's eyes, causing minor injury. Others cause the annoying red dot to jump around on movie theater walls. Others pester small animals. All of these uses, except possibly the last one, are improper.

Predictably, the state Legislature, ever willing to take its nose from the grindstone to waste time on silly matters, is now discussing regulating the sale and use of laser pointers. The state school board, 11 of the nicest people you'll ever meet, likewise feels a need to specifically ban lasers from schools.

Their hearts are in the right places. Unfortunately, their mind muscles may not be.

To revisit one of the first rules of idiocy: Outlaw one obnoxious implement used by idiots and they'll find another, more obnoxious implement.

The problem is not the laser. The problem is behavior. If school kids suddenly started poking each other with wooden yardsticks, the solution to the problem would not be to ban the sale, use or possession of wooden yardsticks. If you did that, the next day they would be poking each other with plastic rulers.

A laser pointer is really just a technologically advanced stick. If some student is bothering other students with a laser, you make them stop it and if they don't, you take it away from them. You don't need the school board for that. You just need a teacher who will not put up with such malarkey.

If you ban the sale of lasers, some other stupid thing will be invented for use by idiots. We have laws against harassment and being a nuisance. Enforce those until scientists come up with a cure for idiocy, which won't be soon.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or

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