Dear Dr. Physiks:Last week, the Orange Unified School District's Board of Trustees voted 7-0 to bar a gay-straight alliance club that would promote understanding and tolerance among high school students. In my estimation, this wasn't just stupid; it was really stupid—a kind of stupidity that is hard for me to grasp—and it got me to wondering: Are there different levels of stupidity, and if there are, where would the Orange board rank?
Baffled in Brea
Dear Baffled: Your question is perceptive and quite timely, though let me begin by adding that the forces on both sides of this issue are missing the point, which is ALL CLUBS ARE GAY. 4-H, AV, Key, Letterman, National Honors Society—especially National Honors Society. Trust me: I'm a scientist.
But to your main point:yes, your suspicion is correct. The Orange board is operating at a very sophisticated level of stupidity, a level that goes well beyond your garden-variety stupidity into a realm we physicists call Very Extremely Stupid, or VE2. To reach such a level of stupidity, a person or group must accumulate a staggering amount of lack of knowledge, perception and wisdom. In purely scientific terms, stupidity (S) appears in the form of particles of ignorance (PIs) riding atop electrons, muons, neutrinos and quarks (which make up all matter). These PIs collide with some or all of the prevailing social forces (PSFs) in the form of particles like photons, W and Z bosons, and gluons. Under the right circumstances—like those in effect on the evening of Dec. 7 in the Orange School Board meeting room—ignorance meets opportunity in an exchange of force carriers. We physicists have a joke to describe this phenomenon of collision between PIs and PSFs: "ignorance meets bliss." It's really funny, you see.
We believe this underlies the process of "ignorance accumulation"—and hey, it also produces its own gravity!
To put that in layman's terms, imagine two trains waiting in the same station. One carries 200 passengers and will travel nonstop to its southern destination 100 miles away at an average speed of 80 miles per hour. The other carries 400 passengers and will make two stops before reaching its western destination 75 miles away at an average speed of 120 mph. Now, allowing for the fact that the northern train will move along a predominantly downhill route and that the western train offers full dinner service, the VE2 is the guy who steps in front of the western train as it leaves the station in an attempt to stop it from going to homosexual mecca San Francisco and is smashed to bits, his guts and bones hanging off the train until they can be blasted off by train personnel equipped with high-powered firehoses. This is stupid, since the train is going to Decatur.
Put another way, imagine VE2 stupidity like this: if you gathered all the books a VE2 had not read and stacked them one atop the other on a completely flat surface with no wind, stacking every one of those books in descending size, the VE2 is the one who would announce, "I don't need to read any of those books—all I need is the Bible." Until you remind him that he has never actually read the Bible, only cribbed a dozen or so passages that he pulls out at school-board meetings. And he says, "Oh, yeah." And you say, "Hey, why don't you start reading the Bible now? Look, there's one at the bottom of this stack. Go ahead, pull it out." And he asks, "What do you think I am, stupid?" And he walks away and propositions a prostitute, which is stupid because this tall stack of books has become a big tourist attraction and a lot of people see him proposition the prostitute and the prostitute is a man and it's his dad.
Or consider this. If you were to harness as energy the amount of stupidity coming off the Orange board, you would have enough raw energy to power a city the size of Eugene, Oregon, for three months. Actually, you'd be able to power it for a year, but after three months, the VE2 would claim that electricity is part of the gay agenda and gather signatures for a ballot initiative seeking to outlaw all parts of that agenda, including public education and the minimum wage. When the proposition is voted in by a 3-to-1 margin, resulting in ill-educated, poorly paid hordes who wreak havoc upon society, only then will the VE2 finally place responsibility for the chaos where it belongs: immigrants.
Or try this easy home experiment: gather from your utility closet the harshest cleansers and pesticides in your house. Place those items one by one into a lined plastic receptacle, taking care not to spill or crack them and checking that the screw tops are fastened tightly. Explain to everyone that you are doing this because harsh cleansers and pesticides eventually find their way into our oceans and you believe we should leave the world a better place for our children. The VE2 is the one who will agree with you but add that he doesn't believe in leaving the world a better place for our children's children because he doesn't believe children should be having sex.
In any case, it's important to keep a cool head and an eye on history. In the early 19th century, the world lived predominantly in darkness. That is until 1831, when Michael Faraday found that electricity can be made to flow in a coil of wire by moving that coil in the magnetic field between the poles of a U-shaped magnet.
"I don't believe in evolution."
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"God said it, I believe it, that settles it."
"Oh, you're thinking of Darwin. I'm talking about Faraday."
"Same difference. I'm refusing the sign of the Beast."
Very good, my friend. And I'm refusing to get that upset about the flap in Orange. After all, you don't have to be a total stupid idiot to be an Orange Unified School District trustee. You also have to be hateful.