Common Sense – What’s On Your Plate?

grabher-license-plate

The War on Common Sense continues and, in fact, has opened up a whole new battleground – automobile licence plates.  (FYI: if you have enough money, you can choose what is printed on your automobile’s licence plate.  For example, according the BBC, in Dubai, the plate “1” sold for over ten million dollars. (That’s right – over 10 million US dollars!)  However, you have to be careful.  Let me tell you a cautionary tale.

Way back in 1990, in my country, Canada, a guy by the name of Lorne Grabher bought a “vanity plate” with his name on it – GRABHER – no space, no lower case, just GRABHER.  For the next 26 years, he drove his car around the streets with his last name in full view of the unsuspecting (and, I’m assuming, unconcerned) Canadian public.  This all came to a screaming halt in 2016 when the government received an “anonymous complaint.”  I don’t know what the complaint said, but the government shot into action, and Mr. Grabher was informed that he had to surrender his licence plate because it was a “socially unacceptable slogan.”  I can only imagine the conversation.

Grabher – “It’s not a slogan, you idiot: it’s my last name!”
Bureaucrat – “We’re the government, and we don’t care.”

Anyway, our boy, Grabher, decided he wasn’t going to surrender his last name without a fight and took the government to court.  The government, who has more taxpayer money than brains, replied with the bureaucratic equivalent of “Okay!  Bring it on!” and called in the big guns.  They retained an expert, Dr. Carrie Rentschler, Associate Professor of Feminist Media Studies at McGill University, to deliver a report on the subject.  In the report, Rentschler maintains that, among other things, the questionable license plate is an “act of violence,” “supports violence against women,” “endangers women” and implies “by the pussy.”  Strong stuff!

However, Mr. Grabher also retained an expert, Dr. Debra Soh, who has a PhD in Sexual Neuroscience from York University. In her report, Dr. Soh wrote, “Mr. Grabher’s plate is not offensive or dangerous to women by any means, and I have found no evidence to support the idea that a license plate bearing his surname would increase rates of sexual violence against women or encourage societal attitudes supportive of sexual assault.  To suggest that Mr. Grabher’s surname is ‘a statement in support of physical violence against women’ is completely unfounded”

The battle rages, and the court date, after much jockeying by both sides, is set for April, 2019.

I’m no expert either way, but this is totally nutsy!  A two-year court case over a license plate that existed for a quarter of a century before it offended anybody?  I’m pretty sure the courts have better things to do with their time, like – maybe — hearing cases of real domestic violence?  Plus, it’s the guy’s last name, for God’s sake!  Which, according to Dr. Carrie Rentschler, means his very existence “supports violence against women.”  If that’s the case, where did the guy work?  There are not a lot of companies around that want an employee whose name implies “by the pussy.”  Who were his friends?  How did he ever get a date?  “Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.  My name is “a statement in support of physical violence against women.”  Is Betty ready to go to the Prom?”  Yeah, that works!  And it goes on and on.  Given this kind of round-the -bend logic, postal workers should refuse to deliver Mr. Grabher’s mail just because it’s got his name on it.  Think about it!

Here’s the deal, folks.  Our society hasn’t lost its common sense: common sense is under attack, and we’d better start defending ourselves before it’s too late.

Under Construction!

We’re making a few changes so here’s a Golden Oldie from June 2011

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You’re Only as Stupid as the Warning Label Says You Are

Recently, while waiting for the cable guy to hook up my new HDTV, I took a moment to quit doing the man/guy thing of feigning interest in all things electronic and passed the time reading the Manufacturer’s Warnings.  It was an interesting read.  It cautioned me against doing all manner of dumb stuff to my new TV, like hitting the screen with a sharp object or operating the unit underwater.  While I can imagine going Elvis on a bad hockey result, I don’t know why anybody would want to watch the news in the pool.  How silly!

Of course, stupid product warnings have been around since the mid 1970s, when corporations started telling people their coffee was hot and not to drink the Drano.  They have accelerated since then to the point where just about anything you buy, these days, comes with a checklist of “thou shalt nots” longer than the Ten Commandants.  For example (and these are just a few simple ones)

“For external use only” – on a hair curling iron
“Caution: Do not spray in eyes” – on deodorant
“Do not use orally” – on a toilet bowl cleaning brush
“Choking Hazard: This toy is a small ball” – written in two languages on a small ball

And there are a lot more out there that get a lot more complicated.

There is a collective idea that we have these stupid warnings because our society is under siege from bloodsucking lawyers who will do anything to initiate lawsuits.  This is not true.  Yes, our society is under siege from bloodsucking lawyers (this, by the way, is a general comment, not directed at any particular bloodsucking lawyer.)  However, we have stupid warnings on products because people are stupid.  I’m not talking about high profile Darwin Award stupidity; just everyday ordinary incredible acts of Dumb and Dumber.  You know for a fact that there’s some fool out there who will give the aforementioned small ball to a two year old and wonder how in the hell he got it in his mouth.  And this is not unusual behaviour.  People on bicycles, weave in and out of traffic, wearing nothing more than shorts, an iPod and a helmet, as if the helmet were a shield of invulnerability.  I’ve seen a guy staple up outdoor electric lights while they are plugged in.  People who are driving, race red lights while eating pizza, attach Ikea furniture to their roofs with twine and I’m not even going to mention texting the spouse to see what to pick up for dinner.

Get them out of their cars and they don’t get any smarter.  Recently, a family was doing some spring gardening, using a device called the Weed Wand.  The Weed Wand is an advertised alternative to the chemical warfare we’ve been using (and most cities have been banning, thank God) to control weeds.  What it is, is a snout attached to a handheld propane tank that shoots flames directly at the weeds and kills them by cremation.  (I’m not making this up; this is a real product.)  Guess what?  They set the house on fire!  These are ordinary people, but their actions do beg the question: who buys a flamethrower — even a small one — to tidy up the driveway?  When asked about it, the guy said, “In my opinion, it’s not a safe product, and we certainly weren’t using it in a reckless fashion…. I don’t think products like that should be on the market.”

IT’S A FLAMETHROWER!

The problem is our society is basically benevolent.  We have eliminated most of the dangerous elements in our world and control as many of the hazardous ones as possible.  However, in our zeal to make a risk-free society, we’ve created a couple of generations of people who think this is the natural order of things.  They believe the world is a safe place.  They wander around as if nothing on this good green earth is ever going to hurt them.  Then, when something does, they think there’s been a malfunction somewhere.  I’ll grant you that they might not be as stupid as I think they are but they sure act like it.

The reason corporations put all those idiot warnings on their products is — sure as hell — somebody somewhere is going to find a way to poke themselves in the eye, lob off a finger or operate the unit underwater and electrocute themselves.  Then they’ll scream bloody murder that the manufacturer didn’t warn them about the dangers and run for the lawyers.  Sometimes, I wonder if our well regulated society has beaten the self preservation gene out of our species.  I’m not saying we should return to the days of dog-eat-dog/devil take the hindmost, but every once in a while, just a touch of common sense wouldn’t hurt.

The Death Of Common Sense

common senseIt is with great sadness that I must announce the death of Common Sense.  Even though Common Sense had suffered from a debilitating illness for many years, few, if any of us, realized it was terminal — until it was too late.  Early reports say that it was not one massive act of utter Stupidity that killed Common Sense but years of petty Ignorance that simply destroyed Common Sense’s will to live.  Common Sense was predeceased by its lifelong partner, Pragmatism, and is survived by its children, Reason and Logic, who have vowed to continue their parents’ work.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time.

There is no clear record of the birth of Common Sense, but there are numerous documented examples of its accomplishments throughout human history.  Unfortunately, despite these many accolades, these days, Common Sense’s abilities and achievements are largely ignored.  And while it’s true some older people still remember Common Sense, it’s difficult for most people to imagine that Common Sense once practically ruled the world and had many devoted followers.  Sadly, those days are gone — perhaps forever.

Clearly, however, not everyone is saddened by this tragedy.  Politically Correct immediately took to Social Media to celebrate the demise of their greatest foe.

“Fry in Hell, Common Sense!”

“We totally reject the so-called ‘Common Sense Approach’ to problem solving.  Solutions do nothing to promote awareness of the issues.”

“Ding Dong! Descartes is Dead.
Ideology cut off his head.
Ding Dong! Rene Descartes is dead.”

Very uncool to use the ‘D’ word — and completely insensitive to people who have experienced (or will eventually experience) loss when friends or family pass.”

“Common Sense was an antiquated relic of the Eurocentric Enlightenment that has no place in our contemporary, ideologically diverse world.”

“Although we do not support Stupidity and Ignorance, we do recognize their legitimate struggle to reshape the narrative away from Common Sense’s solution-based agenda.”

“Aristotle was a misogynist, a xenophobic racist and probably a slave owner, and we call on all educators and pedagogues to stand together and erase his name from the curriculum.  We also call on all institutions of higher learning to remove his likeness or graven image from their physical environment.

“Reason & Logic — u r next!”

As yet, no funeral arrangements have been made, but it was Common Sense’s dying wish to be buried alongside Humour, Satire and Irony, childhood friends who were brutally murdered during the Culture Wars of the 1990s.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that mourners turn off Twitter and Facebook for A Moment of Cyber-Silence in memory of Common Sense’s ability to elevate the conversation beyond Internet trolling.

Rest In Peace, Common Sense.  You will be missed.