Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
These were words spoken by Dean Wormer to Flounder in the movie Animal House. Does it seem to you like we’re all in danger of becoming Flounder?
Now I don’t mean fat, drunk, and stupid in the literal sense. Rather
Fat in this sense:
Being full of ourselves, thinking that it’s all about us. Fat also means thinking ourselves entitled to take offense at anything, anywhere, anytime. See Freedom of Speech.
Drunk in this sense:
Drunk on the power of shaming, shunning, and cancelling. Drunk means pretending to assume moral superiority as a result of doing so. Once more, see Freedom of Speech.
Stupid in this sense:
Being willfully ignorant of history and dismissive of objective facts that contradict our “personal truths.” Stupid means refusing to be confronted with ideas that challenge our current world view. See Don’t Be An Idiot.
Fat, drunk, and stupid wasn’t a good look for Flounder, and it’s not a good look for us. Rather than living in our bubbles of personal truth and wish fulfillment, let’s grow up and interact with the world as it is, in all its complexity.
Don’t hide from new thoughts, even if they initially make you uncomfortable. Challenge yourself to engage with the marketplace of ideas. And as you do, consider the following:
- When physicists eventually determine the center of the universe, you don’t want to be surprised to find that you are not in it. (Thanks to Bernard Bailey)
- All moral panics eventually fade and cancel culture will too. History regards neither mobs nor book burners fondly, so chose your current actions accordingly.
- You cannot defeat an idea by suppressing it. You can only defeat an idea by exposing its flaws and proposing a better alternative.