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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Column: The Idiot Brigade

You might think, before coming to a moderately-to-highly selective campus such as UC Davis, that the student body is going to consist of like-minded, generally intelligent individuals. Yet here I am, writing in silent obscurity behind my war-torn Toshiba, surrounded by dudes discussing an extracurricular short film they’re making about gay samurai warriors. The wardrobe of the video, from what I gather, centers around the extensive use of rainbow motifs and quips involving katanas and anuses making conversational cameos. The skit in question stops short of a romance scene, however. Whoa, now: that would overstep the boundaries of basic discretion.

I feel compelled to add a quick disclaimer for my readership: this is not all about LGBT politics. Also, don’t see it as a crusade for boundless diplomacy and equal love for everyone — if you’ve read me before, you know I’ve already established that as an impossibility. In fact, this column isn’t pro-anything; it’s anti-idiot.

I shouldn’t have to be so wary in a facility of higher education, but experiences like this have come to teach me that if a university can’t provide sanctuary from stupidity, then nowhere can. I know the GPAs and SAT/ACT scores required to gain admission don’t exactly double as character bios, but you’d think they would reflect, to a certain extent, the caliber of a person’s general intelligence. On the contrary, I have learned that a college environment is to students as alcohol is to Mel Gibson: put the two together and the true colors flow freely.

To take this tirade off the “respect gay people!” track it started on, let’s segue into the trending topic of all the protesting that’s going on throughout Davis right now. If you haven’t seen the masses storming Mrak Hall, or driven past the handfuls pitching their tents in Central Park, or if the term “the 1%” still means nothing to you, then, by all means, stop reading and go experience the outside world. You have my blessing.

At this point you might be wondering what exactly the tie-in between the strikers and the good people of paragraph uno is. Don’t worry, I’m getting to that.

When it comes to said protesters, I’ve found that for every well-informed, economically/politically inclined picketer, there’s another whose knowledge on the matter is limited to robotically memorized statistics; for every protester who offers a valid justification of their anger, there’s the barnacle tagging along behind them, offering a simple “well, a lot of people don’t have money.”

More times than I can (or care to) count, I’ve encountered impassioned dissenters, waving signs with catchy rallying mottos written on them, who go deer-in-the-headlights when asked about their reasons for protesting or about possible solutions for our country’s/school system’s economic problems.

I would say — and the wording here is optimistic — that I’m not exactly a political/economical aficionado, but I know well enough to shut my mouth when the only answers I can offer to back up my opinions are on the same level as “there’s children dying in Africa” or “Yudof makes too much money.”

The point I’m trying to get across as pedantically as possible (I’m a busy man with a word quota to fulfill — deal with it) is that you have to walk before you can run. In the words of my conversely politically and economically-minded brother, don’t make a stand if your only reason for doing so is seeking this generation’s answer to the Vietnam protests. If you understand something and believe in it wholeheartedly, then by all means join the crowd; I’m sure there are at least one in two among the rest who are just like you.

Otherwise, though, don’t get swept up in the furor of something just because the opportunity presents itself. Don’t be the one asking to have your voice heard and then not knowing what to say. Don’t be the idiot who stands around in a Technicolor kimono and thinks for a second that he knows anything about being gay, or being a samurai for that matter.

When all is said and done — when the picket signs or the video cameras are stowed — you’re only going to end up sitting around and wondering what it was that you really accomplished. Then again, maybe you’ll find yourself caught in the same room as an eavesdropping columnist and unwittingly become his inspiration for the week — then you’ll have really achieved something.

DYLAN GALLAGHER insists that any/all attempts to spark political discussions at dylaaaaan@gmail.com be accompanied by compliments and Red Lobster gift certificates.


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