Can people really be that stupid?

The Daily Show‘s Aasif Mandvi had an interview with a North Carolina Republican party official Don Yelton about why the state was passing new restrictive voting laws. He couldn’t seem to believe his ears at what the man was saying.

(This clip aired on October 23, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

It does not surprise me that there are people who want to rig the rules so that minorities and anyone else who might vote for the opposing party are kept out. What surprises me is that they are too dense to realize that they should keep these views to themselves. This suggests that they live in a community where such views are not shocking and can speak openly of them.

His comments were apparently too much for even the party to stomach and the man subsequently resigned his post. He now says that his comments were ‘taken out of context’ (that all-purpose excuse) by the TV show and that although he was forced to resign by the party, it was because they are ‘gutless’ and that he doesn’t want to be part of such a wimpy group anyway.


  1. Blueaussi says

    *North* Carolina, not South. Look, we have enough stupidity to live down without taking on North Carolina’s.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Regarding the title question: you haven’t spent much time in the Deep South, have you?

  3. colnago80 says

    Having lived in the Florida Panhandle for 2 1/2 years, which is really an extension of Southern Georgia, I can testify that the number of ignorant people down there is prodigious.

  4. raven says

    US census bureau community survey:

    Much like the high-income areas, the low-income areas showed an interesting geographical makeup. Nine of the 10 lowest median incomes are found in the South, as it is defined by the Census Bureau.


    Guess where most of those poor kids live? Red States, of course! A recent study put out by suggests that a vast majority of the children living in poverty come from, you guessed it, the South.

    The south is the Tea Party heartland. It also rates low in any socioeconomic statistic you look at and high in any social problem statistic you look at.

    They may not be tired of being poor, ignorant, and uneducated but the rest of the USA is getting sick of it.

    And yeah, I know, I know. Not everyone in the south is Tea Party material. I feel you pain, even out here on the west coast. I have a hard time imagining what it is like at ground zero.

  5. raven says

    The Majority of Public School Students in the Southern United States are Poor

    By Global Research News
    Global Research, October 24, 2013
    by Julianne Hing,

    In 17 U.S. states, the majority of public school students are low-income. But the poverty isn’t distributed evenly across the country, according to a new report from Southern Education Foundation. Thirteen of the states are in the South, and the other four are in the West.

    One of the great crusades of the current Tea party US House is reducing food stamps and federally subsidized school lunches.

    This will heavily impact…children, who are too young to go out and forage or work. And they simply don’t care.

  6. smrnda says

    The problem with ‘out of context’ is that sometimes, the remarks are just bigoted and offensive and the context only makes it more clear.

  7. Al Dente says

    Just remember what George Carlin said:

    Think of how stupid the average person is and realize half of them are stupider than that.

  8. ChasCPeterson says

    or what Frank Zappa said:

    Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

  9. invivoMark says

    You know, in total fairness, his comments almost certainly were taken out of context. That’s how interviews generally work – comments are edited and pared down to the bare minimum to get across a point. Sometimes it’s done honestly, sometimes it isn’t. As such, any TV interview needs to be interpreted with some salt.

    But in the case of the kinds of things this guy was saying, there are no contexts in which they are okay.

  10. colnago80 says

    There’s a difference between stupidity and ignorance. Ignorance is curable, stupidity is not. Richard Dawkins makes a distinction when he states that one who rejects the theory of evolution is either ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked (but he didn’t want to consider that).

  11. Norman Thorsen says

    I answered “Yes” before reading past the headline. An old engineering adage says build something to be fool-proof and nature will build a better fool.

  12. wtfwhateverd00d says

    That was one of the most precise explanations of the problems with these votings laws I’ve seen. And hilarious. It demonstrates how much more effective precise, understated satire is than thundering outrage in winning arguments.

    Related: Jonathan Rauch describes:

    The Case for Hate Speech
    How Anita Bryant, Jerry Falwell, and Orson Scott Card have advanced the cause of gay rights


    Lately, people have been asking me why so much has happened in America, seemingly so suddenly, to advance gay equality generally and gay marriage specifically. It’s a good question, with some obvious answers. Demographics are one: younger people who are more relaxed about homosexuality are replacing older people who harbor long-standing prejudices. Also, as more gay people come out of the closet and live and love openly, we are no longer an alien presence, a sinister underground, a threat to children; we are the family down the block.

    Those are important factors. But they don’t tell the whole story. Generational replacement doesn’t explain why people in all age groups, even the elderly, have grown more gay-friendly. Gay people have been coming out for years, but that has been a gradual process, while recent changes in public attitude have been dizzyingly fast. Something else, I believe, was decisive: we won in the realm of ideas. And our antagonists—people who spouted speech we believed was deeply offensive, from Anita Bryant to Jerry Falwell to, yes, Orson Scott Card—helped us win.

    In 2004, when I was making the talk-show rounds for my new book on gay marriage, I found myself on a Seattle radio station, debating a prominent gay-marriage opponent. After she made her case and I made mine, a caller rang in to complain to the host. “Your guest,” he said, meaning me, “is the most dangerous man in America.” Why? “Because,” said the caller, “he sounds so reasonable.”

    In hindsight, this may be the greatest compliment I have ever been paid. It is certainly among the most sincere. Despite the caller’s best efforts to shut out what I was saying, the debate he was hearing—and the contrast between me and my adversary—was working on him. I doubt he changed his mind that day, but I could tell he was thinking, almost against his will. Hannah Arendt once wrote, “Truth carries within itself an element of coercion.” The caller felt that he was in some sense being forced to see merit in what I was saying.

    Sadly, what FTB is known for, outside of your blog and maybe one or two others, is thundering outrage.

  13. lpetrich says

    raven #4, I’ve crunched the numbers on the recent shutdown, the “suicide caucus” of Republicans who advocated it and the “survival caucus” of Republicans who helped end it. Those names are from some New Yorker articles on them, which mapped where their districts are.

    Republicans from the ex-Confederate states tended to be members of the suicide caucus, while Republicans from the then-Union states tended to be members of the survival caucus. So the ex-Confederacy gets the blame for the recent shutdown.

  14. raven says

    @15 It’s worse than that. The Tea Party is just the old Confederacy with a new name.

    Xpost from today’s Ed Brayton Mississippi thread.

    Salon. com:

    The heads and public faces of the House Tea Party Caucus are….Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann and Joe Walsh of Illinois. But while there may be Tea Party sympathizers throughout the country, in the House of Representatives the Tea Party faction that has used the debt ceiling issue to plunge the nation into crisis is overwhelmingly Southern in its origins:

    Tea Party Caucus

    South 39 (63%

    Northeast 1 (2%)

    Midwest 12 (19%)

    West 10 (16%)

    The ugly open secret is that the Tea Party is mostly the old Confederacy with a new sheet over it. 63% are from the South with the rest scattered, mostly in rural areas of the midwest and west.

    The Civil War ended 148 years ago. They haven’t been able to move on though.

  15. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Can people really be that stupid?


    Believe it or not, the answer to that is always yes.

    And Yebus da nonexistent do I wish it weren t so. But ’tis.

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