Dear academics: There actually IS such a thing as a stupid question

By Jonathon Van Maren

Since the election, we’ve seen the mainstream press exhibit every imaginable reaction, from paroxysms of rage and grief to contemplation and soul-searching. Will Rahn, for example, had this to say over at CBS News:

 Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.

And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.

It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing. There’s been some sympathy from the press, sure: the dispatches from “heroin country” that read like reports from colonial administrators checking in on the natives. But much of that starts from the assumption that Trump voters are backward, and that it’s our duty to catalogue and ultimately reverse that backwardness. What can we do to get these people to stop worshiping their false god and accept our gospel?

Such soul-searching, of course, was extremely limited. Over at, they announced that there was “no such thing as a good Trump voter.” The Young(ish) Turks lost their minds over the legions of unwashed racists, sexists, and homophobes that had stormed the Capitol. I heard three consecutive panels and interviewees on public radio that featured only academics (who had gotten everything wrong to begin with) explain to a grieving host the sheer insidiousness of the multi-phobia-ed demon-herd that had been allowed to take over the country from their wasteland in the Wheat Basket.

It is the presence of academics from various utterly meaningless stagnant ponds of study that is most humorous. Not only do most normal people not care what the postmodern feminists and the Queer Theory Oppression evangelists have to say, most normal people do not even speak their language.

Let me give you an example. This headline—from the New York Times, no less—caught my eye sometime ago: “Is it O.K. To Find Sexual Satisfaction Outside Your Marriage?” Now, this is the sort of thing that disproves the old adage that there is “no such thing as a stupid question.” But apparently, some befuddled woman who did not feel like her husband was living up to the standards of the Cosmo Magazines we all presume she reads felt it such a complex brain-twister that she needed to consult an ethicist as America’s one-time most prestigious newspaper.

But that’s beside the point. It was the first comment on the article, “liked” by 33 people, that made me laugh out loud.

“YES,” responded Miz Carina Dm, “Marriage, romance & monogamy are tropes of capitalism &rampant consumerist notions of affect as individual projects. Those of us who choose to subvert those stifling paradigms stemming from Christian & fundamentalist interpretations of family structures are often shunned or shamed while the experience of family & community, affection & solidarity & love go beyond individual and blood relations. Relationship anarchy, polyamory & polyfidelity are progressive pan-amorous ways & channels of living love in deep practical & philosophically rooted a poltix of anti-oppressive relationship doing & dynamics. As kinship structure evolve & morph into many rhizomatic shoots, I hold that my individual & social responsibility as a lover is to live & love amidst & through feelings of a moral choice & stance built on trust & honesty of lived & constantly evolving relations of caring.”

Yes. That was a real comment. And yes, you need to have a lot of university courses under your belt in order to sound that idiotic. (Polyfidelity? Huh?) Grammar fiends have nothing on Miz Dm—she rounds up words at gunpoint, forces them into sentences, and holds those hostage in paragraphs.

These are the sorts of academics who are being brought onto talk shows to ruminate on the under-evolved nature of the Working American, the sort of rube so unsophisticated he may never have thought to write to the New York Times to ask whether cheating is ethical, or realized that he could enjoy progressive pan-amorous relationship structures philosophically rooted in the politix of anti-oppressive relationship dynamics rather than the monosyllabic monogamy he finds himself resigned to.

The funniest part is that these social justice warriors truly believe that such babble helps people understand their world. They truly believe that they are doing the world a service. They remind me of a certain person referred to by C.S. Lewis: “She’s the sort of woman who lives for others—you can tell the others by their hunted expression.”

One thought on “Dear academics: There actually IS such a thing as a stupid question

  1. John says:

    Jonathon this is brilliant. I don’t know where you find the time to read all of the drivel out there but I am sure glad you do. Thank you.

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