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Watching idiots is a national pastime

From the 3 Stooges to Honey Boo Boo, the antics of the cerebrally challenged hold a certain lure for most Americans. Through snubbing fictional lunacy or the latest reality TV offerings, even staid intellectuals occasionally feel the impulse to celebrate the come-uppance of a fool who shamelessly parades his or her folly. Some professors refer to these celebrations as a “seminar.”

To the unbridled glee of a billion spectators, the internet provides the video-recorded opiate for these ever more addicted masses. Who is the latest viral buffoon? Meet 18 year-old Penelope. Appearing in a Miami courtroom for Xanax possession, her constant hair fondling, fidgety facial expressions and untimely giddiness leads the judge to question if she is on drugs. Theatrically reacting as if he had propositioned her, she claims sobriety. When dismissed, Penelope lightheartedly leans towards the obviously Hispanic judge to say “adios” in her own elusive accent.

Then odd turned to bizarre as His Honor summons her back to double bail to $10,000. Penelope’s dismay overrides what tiny portion of prefrontal cortex is functioning and imprudently stimulates the simultaneous ascension of her middle finger and utterance of the “f” word. The judge patiently beckons her and sentences her to 30 days in jail for contempt of court.

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Penelope’s subsequent court appearance certainly lacked the entertainment value of the first and will prove a poor sequel in terms of YouTube hits. Presumably she learned her lessons – don’t play in court and don’t mess with the judge. But few of us prove as inclined to witness the lessons learned as we are to gawk at the schooling process.  Watching some prissy, silly dope-head, who likens her jewelry to rapper Rick Ross’s, get taught how to behave compensates for having to deal with her capricious ilk in traffic, or at the club, in the ladies’ room, and even in class. We laugh in the comforting notion that justice is occasionally served to morons.

But what happens when we are the morons? What happens when some judge doubles our bail because he didn’t like our “goodbye?” Should we suffer in jail instead of four weeks of class because we tell someone off? Judges must maintain order, but under what perverted interpretation of the founding fathers’ words did members of the lowest branch of government reach such exalted heights that they should arbitrarily rob someone of their liberty over an insult?

Forget the annoying Penelope. Think of the jerk who spills beer on everyone at parties and cheats his way into law school. Seven years after graduation, his name on the ballot for State Court judge proves a % point more familiar because of the number of his yard signs. 8 months later, you stand innocent before his hungover majesty, as he ignores your attorney and responds to your protests by jailing you for a week.

So until we rein in our men and women in the black robes, judge not lest ye be judged.