I used to have what I considered a fairly good list of Stupidity Indicators. Paying money for homoeopathy, believing something was true because it was in The Sun, insisting that Angels by Robbie Williams was the most moving and beautiful song ever recorded, all those were fairly high on the list. Doing any of those things were likely to make you a person I wouldn't terribly want to be friends with. You'd have to have some outstanding other qualities to compensate.
But this week, I'm thinking of recalibrating that index, as this week has scored nearly as high in terms of blatant, unashamed mass stupidity than the week Diana forgot to do up her seatbelt. I'm not even sure what order to put these demonstrations of fuckwittedness in, except to say that no one who's bought into any of them is someone I'd be able to keep as a friend, on Facebook or in the flesh. Eeny meeny miney moron, let's start with B for Bulger.
If you 'shared' that photo on Facebook, you are not just stupid, you are malevolently, dangerously stupid. What you did was horrible. There are, apparently, at least two photographs going the rounds. Of different people. They can't all be Jon Venables or Robert Thompson, and it's quite likely that none of them are. This means that at least two, if not more, individual men of a certain age who may be secular saints, innocent even of overstaying on a parking meter, are now identifiable to deranged vigilante mouthbreathers and knuckledraggers and in danger of being assaulted or killed on the grounds that they are 'child killers'.
In an interesting aside, the story of the traumatized paediatrician so often mentioned when less-stupid people worry about mob hysteria is itself massively exaggerated. But that's probably because it's neater and more cartoonish than exploring the cases of individuals attacked, killed or driven to suicide after being mistakenly identified as child-abusers. Or, indeed, the Maxine Carrs, victims of a preposterous hate campaign against a woman whose only actual crime was to tell a lie.
You might just want to hate Heather Frost, a cancer patient who looks after her grandchildren, along with her own younger children, so her adult children can work. But she dyes her hair, you see, and has 11 children,has had sex with more than one man in her lifetime, and is being rehoused in one of a number of properties being built according to green energy specifications - a house that suits her needs and frees up a couple of other council houses for other families. Branding her a 'dole queen' and revelling in the chance to bring out your inner misogynist might distract you from the real housing crisis, which came about due to a combination of selling off and not replacing the stock of council homes, and the frenzied speculation of buy-to-let which fucked the private rental market by filling it with greedy speculators who couldn't cope with being landlords. Nothing like digging up a highly unusual situation ie a very large family and using it to insist that the poor should be punished for poverty, rather than addressing issues such large corporations not only dodging tax but paying slave wages and stropping that the poor 'won't work'.
Perhaps the last stupidity Red Flag is the least worrying in that it's a matter of opinions being aired and condemned, though the number of people who wield a lot of power but aren't even capable of reading an article before screaming for the author of said article to be punished is scary. Actually, it's perhaps the scariest stupidity indicator of the lot because of who has tested positive for utter, utter stupidity on the issue.
Yes, this is Hilary Mantel VS Kate Windsor. Here's the actual piece. An intelligent and compassionate essay on royalty, media and myth-making that has been turned into Jealous Fat Cow Attacks Goddess by people who wield a lot of actual power but can't be bothered to fact-check. What does that say to you about how much the likes of David Cameron and Ed Milliband can be trusted to know what they are talking about?
So the next time you are getting your undies in a bundle about something someone told you in the pub or shared on Facebook or pointed out to you in the newspaper, before you pass it on, why not actually look into what you're passing on? And think about it a little? Because having your friends point and laugh at you for being a gullible fuckwit might only be the beginnin.