Solid gold from Joe Hildebrand in TheTele.


Joe Hildebrand

It is a sad cosmic inevitability that the human race will eventually be wiped out by something or other. Perhaps we will destroy the planet, perhaps we will be hit by an asteroid, perhaps, if we’re lucky, we will survive long enough to see the sun turn supernova and consume us all.

However it would be a shame if, when humanity shuffles away, the cause of death read simply: “Stupidity.”

Sadly, amid all the sorrow and loss that occurred this week, it appears that even in times of national tragedy stupidity is still very much alive and well.

Indeed, it is an abiding feature of stupidity that it has no off position. In other words, when you’re stupid you’re too stupid to stop being stupid.

And so it is with a heavy heart that I recall some of the responses to the horror that played out in Sydney this week:

The reality: A gunman wearing a jihadist bandanna seizes hostages in Martin Place and forces them to display a jihadist flag.

The police response: Immediately launch a counter-terrorism operation.

The idiot’s response: Immediately launch a debate about whether it should be referred to as “terrorism”.

The reality: The gunman employs a method, location and symbolism identical to that employed and advocated by Islamic State.

The Telegraph’s response: A special edition of the newspaper saying an Islamic State operative had launched an attack in Sydney.

The idiot’s response: Abuse the newspaper for linking the gunman to Islamic State.

The reality: The gunman is found to have declared himself a follower of Islamic State and demands an official Islamic State flag.

The authorities’ response: Prepare for a potentially deadly outcome.

The idiot’s response: Start a hashtag.

The reality: The gunman executes two hostages.

The community’s response: A massive outpouring of shock and grief.

The idiot’s response: Accuse the media of overreacting.

The reality: The gunman has a history of violent, abusive and delusional behaviour.

The Prime Minister’s response: To say he was mentally unstable.

The idiot’s response: To say the PM is unfairly stigmatising mentally ill people.

There is no doubt all the goodwill in the world within many of these people. When you feel powerless over things you can’t control you lash out at the things you can. Like the poor kid who gets bullied at school and then yells at his mum, it’s easier to have a go at the cops, the media, the PM or an imagined racist backlash because that you can deal with. That, at least, won’t kill you.

Yet we see in these reactions that troubling human instinct to blame everyone when something goes wrong except the actual wrongdoer.

And if there is anything more worrying than evil itself it’s the people who don’t know it when they see it.

Because the really scary thing about the most truly stupid people isn’t that they’re stupid, it’s that they think they’re the smart ones – the righteous few who know the real truth when everyone else is wrong.

Just like the stupid bastard who started all this in the first place.