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08/22/2007 Archived Entry: "Uncommon common sense"
HOW OFTEN HAS THIS HAPPENED TO YOU? You make a statement that expresses plain old, garden-variety common sense -- only to have your listener gape as if you've uttered madness. Or heresy. Or some wild concept that would never have occurred to that person in a million years.
That happened to a friend of mine the other day. Commenting on a book about sex scandals in an exclusive private prep school, he observed, "Well, why wouldn't these kids be doing this when we've been drenching the whole culture in sex for the last 40 years?"
The person he was speaking with had never considered the connection.
Conversations like these seem to be the lot of political contrarians:
"Well, why wouldn't poor women have babies without stable fathers, since the government pays them to?"
"Iraq never threatened the United States."
"The more laws you pass, the more criminals you create."
"But ... that's nonsense!"
I could understand it if we were really saying something odd, something requiring investigation. I could "get" The Gape, for instance, if my friend had said, "Well, why wouldn't these kids be having wild sex when they're being pushed into early sexual maturity by artificial hormones and other environmental influences?" (a claim not proven).
But it's mystifying -- and sad -- to receive The Gape when you're merely stating the obvious. Every Gape is a reminder of how different we really are from those around us. Gapery has led my friend to coin a slogan (which I've urged him to use at the tagline of his new blog): "Common sense is the least common of all the senses."
Posted by Claire @ 04:17 PM CST