Title: Idiot America
Rating: 2 Stars
My lovely wife bought this for me for Christmas because it sounds like something that Chuck Thompson would write. Although predominantly a travel writer, Chuck does write like an angry but yet amusing liberal crank.
Idiot America is definitely in that style, but the humor is significantly more heavy-handed than Chuck, thus less engaging. It’s the classic dichotomy of the left thinking that everyone on the right are mooing morons while the right thinking that everyone on the left are evil. This certain furthers that divide, which is the main reason that I downgraded it on GoodReads.
It was written in 2008, so it was dated but a couple of the chapters were a good reference back to incidents that had receded in my mind.
I’d forgotten exactly how insane the Mary Schiavo case was. In a hospice, where so many people were dying and preparing to die and the staff was doing everything in their power to make the transition as peaceful as possible, they were under siege. News vans were outside and protesters were outside 24×7. They had to hire full time off-duty police for security.
In the meantime, people with absolutely no involvement with the family were throwing their opinions in regarding her quality of life and how brain dead she really was. The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, a doctor for fuck’s sake, was making a diagnosis via a heavily edited video of her. The Congress, I shit you not, issued a subpoena for a brain dead woman to appear before it.
As totally predictable, the autopsy performed after her death revealed a heavily atrophied brain and she received such excellent care that not even one bed sore on her body could be found.
The second case that I’d forgotten about was the Dover school board. This was the case where a suit was filed to force Intelligent Design to be taught as part of the science curriculum. It’s bad enough that a city actually thought that it’d be a good idea to elect board members who think that religion should co-exist within a science class in the year 2004. Teach the controversy.
I remember they had a Republican judge and people were concerned that this might be the wormhole that would allow this. The book quotes extensive from Judge Jones, who thankfully enough was a rational, serious jurist who proceeds to demolish their attempts to disguise the religious nature of ID.
What makes it kind of sad for the city is that they had ID lawyers who told them that they would do this at no cost to them. What they did not explain is that often the losing side has to pay the court expenses of the other side, so that town, thinking it was getting a free ride, actually got to foot the bill.
Favorite quote from one of Dover’s ministers: “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture”.
Other chapters discuss climate change and the tragedy of the War in Iraq.
In other parts of the book, he hearkens back to Ignatius Donnelly, he of Atlantis fame, as a ‘good’ example of an American crank. His thesis is that, primarily due to ubiquitous mass media, we’ve allowed cranks, those Americans who have a fringe part to play in the canvas of American discourse, now have a very profitable front and center role. With that is a loss of analysis / reasoning capabilities to broad swaths of the country.