Was This Dense, Dumb Or Stupid? Or Not.

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

– Forrest Gump

The differences between stupid (not intelligent, having or showing a lack of ability to learn and understand things), dense (implies a thickheaded imperviousness to ideas) and dumb (applies to an exasperating obtuseness or lack of comprehension) are subtle and perhaps merely a matter of degree, but any one of them – perhaps all, if that can be – apply to one Tennessee mother in the news today.

Not to pick on the great State of Tennessee – every place has its share of nut cases – but it has the dubious distinction of having its fair share of home-grown religious fruitcakes (can’t help of thinking of the infamous Scopes Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, in which a substitute high school teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school). Nor am I implying that every religious person is stupid, dense or dumb. But maybe here’s a case in point:

This particular mother (I won’t name her, it’s not germane to this discussion, but her identity is in the news) is incensed that her daughter’s middle school has the gall to teach comparative religion (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism in 6th grade, and Islam in 7th grade) as a part of their Social Studies classes, claiming her daughter’s “personal religious [Christian] beliefs were violated” with lessons about Islam (test question included: “Islam’s holy book is?”, “List the five pillars of Islam”, “After the death of Muhammad did the Muslim Empire spread or get smaller?”)

She opted her daughter out of those classes, who was given zeroes for refusing the work. 

“Those are zeroes that we proudly took and we will not compromise,” the mother said.

But if stupid is as stupid does, then I think it was pretty stupid of her to force her daughter to fail a course.

It isn’t religious indoctrination for crying out loud, it is teaching social awareness and knowledge, and the mother could have – intelligently – used it as a teaching moment at home, discussing the material with her daughter and explaining to her daughter her reasons for preferring their own religion. But that’s a moot point as she didn’t let her daughter take the class, she therefore couldn’t have known exactly what was being taught or how, and thus couldn’t have rationally made an intelligent argument for or against.

Now, I will confess, when my boys were in school and their class was scheduled for sex-ed, I researched what was to be taught and found it lacking, and I withdrew them from the class while it was being taught. I did, however, give them the “talk” and covered everything from A (abstinence) to Z (zoophilia) and everything in between.  I explained the  legalities, societal mores and my personal beliefs. Thus ensued a rousing and ongoing discussion. The difference here, vs the woman’s daughter, is that there were no grades given in the class, thus no academic loss.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if you agree with her.

Or me.

– Bill

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