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The Age of the Airhead

Lindsay Perigo



To paraphrase my favourite author, Ayn Rand, the world is perishing from an orgy of airheadedness. To be more precise, two types of dictatorship are destroying the world—the traditional, overtly totalitarian type (Islamo-fascism, communism) … and our own democratic type. Democracy is dictatorship by numbers. Democracy should never be confused, as it always is, with freedom. Democracy counts heads, even heads with nothing in them, and imposes the resulting abominations on all of us. Democracy is dictatorship by politicians in thrall to majorities or pluralities—and when those majorities or pluralities are stupid, you have the tyranny of stupidity. Ours is such a time. Airheadedness is everywhere. Gum-chewing, ring-tongued blobs, incapable of coherent thought or speech, infest the culture. Surly bimbos are ubiquitous. Air New Zealand makes flight attendants of them. TVNZ … well, see my letter to the editor of Wellington’s Dominion Post, who refused to publish it:
It was with incredulity that I read (“Keith Quinn? Who are you?”— DomPost, Wednesday July 4) of a TVNZ employee who may be about to axe Keith Quinn’s job … not knowing who Keith Quinn was! Then I reminded myself that this is, after all, the Age of the Airhead, and TVNZ was long ago pronounced “braindead” by some wise person whose identity eludes me. The bimbo in question works for, or rather occupies space in, the company’s Human Resources department. Such departments are another bane of our time, issuing forth great torrents of MBA-speak as empty as it is pretentious.
TVNZ attributed the airhead’s ignorance to a “generation gap.” It’s not a generation gap—it’s an intelligence, standards and knowledge gap. State television has faithfully mirrored state education in dumbing itself down, and must now cater to and employ the latter’s imbecilic progeny. To a generation that has no clue what an apostrophe is for it serves up newsreaders who emulate flight attendants, emphasising prepositions AND conjunctions AND throwing away nouns, IN a complete travesty OF how news should be read. It serves up interviewers with the fashionable Attention Deficit Disorder who cannot even listen, let alone sustain a linear train of thought. It promotes children’s hosts whose vocabulary barely extends beyond “cool” and “awesome” and whose speech is all nose and no brain, under the guise of encouraging our “national identity” (shudder). It drowns the text of its programme trailers in a cacophony of headbanging caterwauling (to which it also repairs at other times on the slightest pretext) thereby rendering the content of its own promos inaudible.
TVNZ is a morass of moronry. It should be privatised forthwith. Not that TV3 and Sky aren’t just as tacky and slavishly “mod” in their wretched obsession with screech over substance, but at least I’m not compelled to be an involuntary, disenfranchised shareholder in them. Meanwhile, to the redoubtable Keith Quinn I say—take heart! When all around you are lunatics, you’re better off out of the asylum.
Strangely, while the neo-Marxist DomPost refused to publish this, their colleagues at the Press not only published it but awarded it Letter of the Week and me a pen and some salmon!
The phenomenon of mass stupidity is now two or three generations old at least. It’s not just contemporary youngsters who can’t write or spell, for instance—their teachers, and probably many of their teachers can’t either. One solution to the problem would be to fix it. Another answer would be to entrench it. This is the option favoured by a Tauranga secondary school principal, Terry Collett, who wants conventional spelling to be replaced by text spelling, on the grounds that the former is too complicated. Thus he applauds the fact that NZQA now accepts “2b or not 2b” in exam answers (really complicated, “to be”!) while bemoaning the fact that higher marks are still awarded to those who spell “to be” correctly. Odd how the English language, easily the world’s most beautiful, has become too difficult in its spelling over recent generations only.
Mr. Collet laments, “In 1992 a Gallup poll suggested that only one in six adults can spell accommodation, business, height, necessary, separate and sincerely; 10 per cent got them all wrong. While we may be amazed by this result, in truth it could be a comment on the archaism of the spellings.”
Stand by, then, for NZQA-approved, Kiwi-pronunciation-adapted “buznus,” “hoyt,” “nesry,” “seprut,” “sunsily,” etc..
Yes, spelling will evolve—but if the evolution is driven by a politically correct agenda of accommodating and rewarding conscientious stupidity and sloppiness, the result will be a disaster, as it is in other areas of life.
The NZQA and Mr Collett should be flogged and shot as both being and spawning serial airheads, perpetrators of and accessories to aesthetic murder. And the voting age should be raised to 50 forthwith.