Ever read something so stupid, you press the palms of your hands to your face in frustration?

Fortunately, the Internet provides. Because I feel that frustration on a near-constant basis, I’ve collected a stash of face-palm memes, and offer them as appropriate responses when stupid emerges.

This morning, before I even got halfway through my morning cuppa, I was beset upon by not just one, but two facepalm-worthy idiocies.

First, lo and behold, teaching mathematics involves oppression and a power dynamic:

Second, apparently, “Karen” is a more vicious slur than the n-word:

Yes, both are face-palm worthy examples of idiocy born of the endless one-upmanship of grievance politics, where the battle for ascendancy (as in, endless ‘I am more oppressed than you’ assertions) motivates the selfish and thirsty to come up with ever-wilder declarations. They’re not rare, either. Spend any time in the social-media political sandbox, and you’ll see them on a regular basis.

This is all born of the Internet and social media.

Not idiots. Such idiots have always existed, and they’ve always made such declarations. Cliff Clavins have always been amongst us.

For most of human history, those declarations have faded via localized mockery and dismissal. But, thanks to social media, an idiocy can travel halfway around the word before mockery catches up to it.

An old aphorism, (mis)attributed to Mark Twain, reads:

A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes.

Our idiots’ idiocies aren’t lies, though. They don’t rise to that level of, well, quality.

Fortunately, another aphorism, this one accurately sourced to physicist Wolfgang Pauli, resolves this inconsistency:

This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong.

Combined and applied to our (more than) daily helping of idiocy, these pearls of wisdom affirm that a facepalm is often the best response. In true “picture is worth a thousand words” brevity, it expresses all we usually need to express when confronted (affronted) with something that’s so stupid its creation and propagation make us weep for the future. We should mock idiocies, because ridicule is often the sharpest balloon-piercer in our arsenal. Ridicule of that which deserves it might make the idiot ponder the error of his or her ways, and it might make the next potential idiot think twice before taking the leap.

However, as we do our proper duty in this regard, we must also remember this caution:

One idiot declaring something doesn’t make it true, nor does it affirm it to be a commonly-held belief.

Some random nitwit coming up with either a “look at me, I’m the victim!” or a “look at me, I’m the white-knight for the victims I’ve deemed most worthy!” bit of folderol shouldn’t be treated as an exemplar of a political wing’s beliefs. This reality goes well beyond identity politics, of course, although identity politics does seem to be the most fertile source these days. Our level of outrage shouldn’t exceed the provenance of the idiocy.

One idiot shouldn’t raise our hackles all that much, and we should take care not to attribute to a collective the stupid words of an individual. If we fall into that trap, we exhibit the same sort of collectivist thinking that we so deplore in the partisans that beset upon lovers of liberty and individualism from all sides.

The trap is an easy one to fall into, made even easier by the identity-warriors bastardization of the word “they” into singular form. The non-gender-specific usage of the word “he” has fallen into so much disfavor that I even catch myself going the “he-she” route from time to time (as I’ve done herein, and opted not to alter). It’s so common to say “They say…” when relating one idiot’s declaration that it helps propagate the notion that it is held by an entire segment of the political spectrum.

Of course, sometimes an idiot’s words are emblematic of a school of thought, and sometimes a meme gets shared enough by people who believe its validity to actually make the single idiot’s absurdity illustrative of a collective belief.

That’s why we need many, many facepalm memes.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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