Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


October 1, 2012

STUMPTALK: Sophomorism or arrested intellectual development, part II

CROSSVILLE — One of the most annoying things about sophomorism is its cloying sense of concern about the less fortunate, which began with the civil rights movement but has now turned into debate stifling political correctness, so that many people are afraid to speak frankly about certain issues for fear of being labeled racist, sexist, homophobic, or insensitive. Oozing sophomoric concern began when misguided adults convinced many baby boomers that they were the smartest generation ever. This made them think than no other generation before theirs thought as carefully or understood as deeply as they. They believed that before their time America was a wretched place. They saw their duty as rescuing the rest of us from our dishonorable past. They demonstrated and still demonstrate this attitude using an acting technique from Constantin Stanislavski, who developed method acting, which is taught at the Actor’s Studio and which has produced actors like Marlon Brando, probably the most famous.

Using Stanislavski or Actor’s Studio methods, the typical sophomoric concern oozer affects a painful frown, under which we are supposed to discern deep feelings for the poor, the oppressed, women, minorities, redheads, or the victim du jour. Recently, the most fashionable victims are homosexuals. Concern for all these victim groups may even produce croaking voices and tears. President Bill Clinton famously bit his lip. One time in an unguarded moment he was caught on camera laughing at a funeral while talking with friends. He then discovered the cameras, after which appeared the frown, the oozing concern, and the lip biting.

Sophomoric elites also ooze concern for the environment. Their latest environmental fad is man made global warming, now called climate change because of inconvenient declines in the earth’s mean temperature. Again, as with atheists, all the smart people believe in man made global warming.

These days one finds most sophomoric thinking in the Democratic Party even though many Republicans have been affected without their knowledge. Republicans have been so intimidated by accusations of racism, sexism, and other opprobrious ‘isms that they speechify sophomorically. For example, Republicans like New Gingrich praise FDR and Martin Luther King, Jr., regularly holding forth about the virtues of FDR, especially his taking the country into World War II. As for MLK worship, Gingrichian sophomores use his name so often that someone from Mars might think they participated in King led civil rights marches.

To this list of Republican sophomore sins can be added those of the Bushes: both wars in Iraq, raising taxes with Democrats (the first Bush), the war in Afghanistan, the budget breaking prescription drug law, and most infamously, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a program that could have been begun by any number of sophomores and is criticized by Democrats only because George W. Bush created it. An interesting speculation here: if Democrats had invented NCLB and someone had objected, they would charge, “Oh, you want children to be left behind!”

Another characteristic of the sophomoric mind shines forth when they speak about ordinary people of whose ability they have little regard. Ordinary folks cannot look out for themselves and therefore need big government nannies.

And on and on, the list of sophomoric sins is endless. Sophomorism then is not a coherent or rigorously developed system of thinking but rather an example of arrested intellectual development, a shallow catechism learned first in college and then reinforced in big city wine and cheese parlors, on the pages of big city newspapers, on network television, on television dramas (Law and Order, for example) and in fashionable urban neighborhoods. And speaking of fashion, sophomorism is mostly fashion, something that characterizes “all the best people.” Unfortunately it now dominates much of American culture and is rapidly destroying it.

Text Only
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014