Don’t Be a Statistic

True story: I came up to an elevator bank in the civil courthouse in Los Angeles last week and saw that the Up button had already been pressed. A fit-looking man, perhaps around 30, with short, wavy salt-and-pepper hair was waiting there. An elevator, clearly going up, arrived and we both got on.

I pressed the button for the eighth floor.

He pressed the button for the first floor.

The elevator, not surprisingly, went up. When we got to the eighth floor, the man peeked out and said, “Where is this?”

I said, trying to be helpful, “The elevator was going up.”

The response to this was: “You mean the first floor was below the floor I was on?”

Apparently, he thought the first floor was above the fourth floor. This was particularly confounding because as far as I know, the courthouse does not have a basement. If there is one, the elevators don’t go there. So he couldn’t have thought he was traveling up from a cellar (or perhaps an outer ring of Hades).

I bring this up because this column is scheduled to appear on the day before the midterm elections. A man who doesn’t know the difference between up and down is, probably, eligible to vote. Why is this a good thing?

I know I’m a horrible snob, but it sure seems like an awful lot of people shouldn’t be qualified to decide what’s best for the country. Come on, admit it: You know I’m right. Think of all the clueless people you know whose vote counts as much as yours. It’s scary, isn’t it?

This is why I’ve never quite understood why people insist that everyone should vote in elections. Do we really want all those people voting? And what if you’ve made a perfectly valid conscious decision not to give a crap? You have a right not to give a crap.

I’m not in favor of the current forms of voter suppression — but I am in favor of suppression if the right people are suppressed. Instead of targeting minorities, couldn’t we target the uninformed?

Instead of requiring perfectly matched voter registration and identification cards or street addresses, why not require passing a current events exam? You don’t get to vote unless you correctly identify which candidate claims to stand for what, can accurately describe the purpose of each elected office, and, in a brief essay, can offer a factual basis for opinions on significant issues of the day.

I’d give extra votes to people with high scores. We need voters who know which way is up.

Two days after the elevator incident, I visited the rest room at a coffee shop and was confronted by this sign:

The very first qualification for voting should be a showing that you have not lost your cellphone in a toilet. This is where necessary voter suppression must begin.

Now, admittedly, there could be multiple interpretations of this sign. For one thing, it could be fake news. After all, is a bathroom wall the most reliable source of news and information? Maybe it is, but that’s open to debate.

But, assuming the statement about cell phone droppage is true, there are still questions. Is it one person who has dropped 7 million phones, 7 million people who have dropped one phone each, or something in between? That makes a big difference in terms of how you feel about the country’s population.

And whose fault is this? Have cellphone manufacturers intentionally made them too slippery so that they can sell replacements? Has social media become so shocking that people on toilets are startled into dropping their phones? Have millions of people not been properly toilet trained?

The bottom line (so to speak) is that the sign is woefully inadequate. The author of this sign should not be allowed to vote until he or she can provide proper documentation.

Real fake news. I don’t normally accuse The New York Times of spreading fake news, but there was a pretty glaring example of it the other day in a story that begins by telling us that Oprah Winfrey has been campaigning for a gubernatorial candidate in Georgia.

Then came this: “Not to be outdone, Ms. Abrams’s Republican rival, Brian Kemp, barnstormed the state on Thursday with Vice President Mike Pence.”

Not to be outdone?

He was definitely outdone.

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