My highly scientific methods prove a direct link between the Boston Herald and stupidity

It's always been pretty obvious that the Boston Herald makes people stupider; a quick glance at it, and one can ascertain that terms such as "thug," "shut-in," and "invalid" are appropriate ways to refer to human beings, and that it's reasonable to report that someone was "murdered with a _____ last night," when there has not yet been a criminal charge, let alone a cause of death determined.

Now I'm starting to think that one doesn't even have to read this thing to reap its effects; mere possession of the thing makes people stupid. In the past couple of weeks, the number of people selling the thing by blocking traffic and/or walking around in intersections and dodging cars seems to have soared. Just yesterday, I saw: 1) one person jumping out in front of cars exiting the Dunkin Donuts in the Alewife rotary trying to sell Heralds, 2) one person on Melnea Cass Blvd darting around in traffic trying to sell them, and 3) one person with a bin of Heralds set up on the median of Columbus Ave at Mass Ave actually making a few sales to passing motorists but doing so while the light was green so as to cause the handful of cars in the left-turn lane to miss three green arrows while others were stopped buying Heralds.


timlav said...

Hi Eeka,
I've been reading your blog for awhile and admit that I agree with you on many things, except for language use. We've said our piece about this in the past, but I'm wondering if you contradict yourself in this post by bristling against the use of the word thug, while embracing the word stupid. As the spouse of a special needs teacher, stupid, retarded and other such terms are equally shaming as thug or junkie. I endeavor to avoid certain insensitivities in my speech and writing, but I call them as I see them and I remain as consistent as possible. You may consider the action you cite as being stupid (meaning lacking common sense) but your post indicates the people themselves are stupid.

eeka said...

It's a good point. I did clearly mean the term in a snarky sort of way, and I do hope that I made it clear that all I observed was a pattern of people stepping into traffic and blocking traffic.

I do think there's a distinction between saying that someone is demonstrating stupidity (and yeah, I'm referring to a lack of common sense and an attitude that it's OK to block traffic for no good reason) and using a noun to label the whole person, such as saying he's "an idiot" or something along those lines.

I find "retarded" a lot more offensive, since it's very close to a proper clinical term ("person with mental retardation"), so I consider it a disability slur when it's used basically to mean "negative."

There are more descriptive ways I could have discussed his behavior, sure. I could have called it unsafe or inconsiderate without judging it.

I guess tough that I don't see "stupid" as being quite in the same light as using a disability or other slur. I think it's something we all get called from time to time. There isn't an actual group of people whom the term "stupid" describes, so I don't see it as a slur in that way. I do find it more hurtful when I hear it used to describe a kid who actually has issues, particularly if it's coming from a parent or a teacher, than if I hear someone at work say something like "oh, my boss is being stupid..." where we know the person's actual competence isn't really what's being discussed. It's an interesting point though; the people I observed didn't seem from casual observation to actually be people from an oppressed group, which I think played into my decision to discuss them sarcastically as annoyances, rather than to discuss them as people for whose safety I was concerned. I surely wouldn't have used the term if the people had presented as having mental illness or cognitive impairments. I guess I have somewhat of a mindset that it's acceptable to snark on people who seem to be of sound mind who are for whatever reason doing stupid things, while I wouldn't do so if my impression were that the people were doing so because of a cognitive impairment or lack of judgment. It probably wasn't clear in the post, but they came off to me more as entitled people who thought the world should stop because of their need to sell the paper. Maybe I really shouldn't make fun of people behaving in an entitled way either. In any case, you bring up good points and you made me think.

Anonymous said...

why do you only mention the herald? the same homeless guys sell the globe too. are you calling the globe readers stupid? they generally sell the herald, globe, and a NY paper. i know that a good liberal such as yourself would NEVER say anything disparaging about the globe.

Ron Newman said...

Selling papers in traffic is a Boston tradition. Thirty years ago they would have been selling the Phoenix and its then-competitor, the Real Paper.

Ron Newman said...

So I guess you won't want to see this exhibit, then. I happened upon its opening reception last night while walking to the T from work. Actually a pretty cool set of photos.

eeka said...

Anonymous, the people I observed were only selling the Herald. They had small stacks of only Heralds, were wearing Herald apons, and were yelling about having Heralds.

They also didn't present as being obviously homeless or having major psychiatric disabilities. I didn't refer to them anywhere as "homeless guys," as you do, and I didn't get the impression that they were.

As I said in my comment to timlav, I would have been more sensitive to them if I'd thought they were people who were having trouble with safety skills because of a disability. Given that I work with a lot of people for whom that's an issue, I can usually pick up signs that this is what's going on. In the situations I described, I inferred that the people were individuals with adequate safety skills who were doing something stupid.

And sure, there are a lot of stupid Globe readers. You're the one throwing people into boxes, not me.