The Phoenix paper recently published a Letter to the Editor from a very concerned fellow. You could just see his furrowed brow and feel his hand-wringing angst regarding the idiots who fall over the edge at the Grand Canyon. The writer felt that the rest of us should pay for barriers that would mar the beauty and grandeur of the place but would keep morons from falling in while they take their selfies.

I’d like to (ever so tenderly) suggest to this gentle soul that this is a perfect example of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

In the last 50 years or so, we’ve somehow come to believe that we can and should be protected (by the government in most cases) from ourselves. That maybe if we make enough laws and erect enough barriers, nobody will ever again have to take responsibility for their own poor decisions. Our lives are filled with warning labels, reminder tones, caution lights, alarm bells and all manner of danger signs, most telling us things that we used to rely on common sense to bring to our attention. Yes indeed, that table saw can and will cut off a hand if you lay it out there, and if you take a power cord into the hot tub to charge your laptop, you’ll be the one getting the charge. Do we really require red plastic 4x6 inch labels to point this out?

If we actually do depend on all of those red plastic labels, what does it say about the people we’ve become? Nothing good, I’d posit.

Whether it’s a warning label on a power tool or a barrier at a scenic overlook, it’s pathetic that we’re such dithering dunces that we can’t feel safe and protected without them.

In the first place, the people who most require being protected from themselves are the ones least likely to read and heed warnings. Secondly, each of us, through our taxes and elevated prices, pay for every single cautionary or protective device and sticker out there. Third and most important is the basic fact that, by requiring and funding all of those safety measures we’re circumnavigating one of nature’s most basic laws.

Survival of the fittest is a maxim that dictates exactly what it says. If you’re past the age of having your parents watch over and instruct you and you’re so darn dumb that you can’t stay away from the edge of the abyss or out of the lion habitat, then I don’t think that we need your contributions to the gene pool. From man’s beginning, plenty of us have shot from the womb as simpletons and too many of the slow among us have always reproduced. Is it really necessary that we promote the multiplication of fools by cosseting them?

Darwin thought that the individuals best adapted to their environments are more likely to survive and reproduce. Well, stupidity isn’t among desirable traits for either survival or reproduction. Let’s not encourage it.

Leslie Baker lives in Linden.

Leslie Baker lives in Linden.

(3) comments


In reality, Leslie, most of the warnings and barriers are in place at the instructions of lawyers, not those seeking to protect us from ourselves.


By saving us from 'ourselves' is it possible that she meant 'and the people we elect to enact the laws that make attorneys rich'?

che guevara

There is no doubt that the human race is getting dumber and dumber in direct proportion to the advances in technology which are getting " smarter " and " smarter " . Some years back Hollywood made a film called just that , Dumb and Dumber , with Jim Carrey , and many - many more years ago there was a television series called Get Smart , which starred Don Adams ( and my boyhood heartthrob Barbara Feldon ) . Think they were trying to tell you something ? You bet . We now have a society where a majority of people across all age cohorts walks around with their heads down staring at a glowing screen and / or a smart phone protruding from their hinds . Technology is the modern day sorcery which has cast a spell upon the multitudes by way of an array of technological apparatus which they increasingly rely upon at the continued expense of their dwindling common sense . Reading books and maps for example has practically been replaced with GPS , map quest and laptop data always at one's fingertips . And as a result , increasingly more people are losing their ability to develop a sense of direction and terrestrial aplomb , along with the ability to retain knowledge and information , all of which would have spelled death and disaster in earlier times . Just image most people today trying to undertake an expedition such as Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery without their electronic gadgetry or any significant tolerance for discomfort and deprivation . As a species we are in many ways devolving , and runaway technology is to blame .

In any case Leslie , your editorial is still an indictment of not only how stupid people have become , but also an illustration as to how litigious a society we have degenerated into thanks to the predatory legal profession . This is the basis of Ron's comment , as no one wishes to be on the wrong end of a lawsuit , thus the proliferation of caution signs and warning labels - all of which are not at all designed to protect you , but rather protect the manufacturer or the entity the individual is immersed in at the given time .

Some years back there was a story about an individual who ordered a container of coffee from a McDonalds or some such fast food joint , and who spilled the hot coffee on his lap . This individual and his predatory lawyer then sued McDonalds for some ridiculous sum of money , and won the case . As a result , all coffee containers in these fast food places have since had warnings printed on the containers cautioning customers that the contents are hot in an attempt to avoid another such frivolous lawsuit . Perhaps this bloke should have spilled another hot container of coffee , or three , on his lap and done his part to assist the human species by rendering himself incapable of producing more congenitally stupid offspring . Then again , the radiation from the cell phones and the laptops will accomplish that . And yet , strangely enough there are no warning labels on those dangerous devices . And yet , if one chooses to enjoy an alcoholic beverage , or three , with a meal such as I do , or a tobacco product after meals , such as I do , you are constantly warned of the dangers lurking as these are printed on the packaging and / or vessel . If there were any desire by these corporations or the government to save us from ourselves then they would not produce these goods at all in the first place . The failure of the Prohibition era proved that demand can never be squelched .

I would finally suggest that the knuckleheads that you eluded to and their excessive tendencies to procreate , thus perpetuating the down - breeding of the human race , are the antithesis of Social Darwinism . More so , it was the dynamics of Darwinism which brought humans out of the caves and elevated the human condition to a standard of living and a level of enlightenment never before imagined . Taking a good hard look at where society is headed , it may well be that we are at the apogee of the sine wave and on the precipice of yet another cyclical downturn .

Thanks for this evening's exercise Leslie .

PS : I did read your message in another editorial , the one on cops . Thank you for your thoughts , and tell Tizne that I still remember the stories from his summer adventures book he had loaned me years back . The story Easy Money , and the story with the rattlesnakes immediately come to mind . Hope that you both are well .

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.