Smile Politely

Thuggery & Eugenics

It’s a slow week for the casual basketball observer. July may be the most important month in the business, but major happenings affect only those in the business. The rest of us, barring a sudden interest in Jungian philosophy, or shaving a few pounds off our fat asses, are forced to find non-news to grumble about.

I gather the biggest non-story still chafing the yokels, possibly even disrupting the Klan meetings of rural southern Indiana regards Bruce Weber’s offhand comment to a luncheon of Illini supporters: He predicted the Hoosiers will suck this year.

Bookmark this moment in Illini history, because it may be the epochal zenith of behavior which might fairly be regarded as less than perfectly gentlemanly. In the modern era, the Illini helm has been overseen by a series of mannered men — none milquetoast, all refined. It’s something we can feel proud about, if you’re into that sort of thing.

It’s nice to know that ongoing trauma has withered the Hoosiers thick skins. I’m relieved to know that they’ve become sensitive to humanity at its most elegant, evolved styling. Not so long ago, an ape roamed loose along the courtside in Bloomington — hurling objects, beating its chest in a powerful display of primal primate domination over all inferior males in its group.

There was a time when our entire species — not just athletic teams — were ruled by the strongest of its members. Kings were the big guys who could decapitate and disembowel challengers to their thrones. Knights lived well. The serfs did the daily domestic work, in exchange for protection. (To some degree, this arrangement still exists in parts of the third world.)

In these enlightened times, most of us are ruled not by the strongest, but by the smartest. (Don’t laugh, I’m not talking about him.) Yes, Mike Tyson earned millions of dollars. But he lost it all. Bill Gates still has his.

Only in sports — okay, and basic training — do we still find chest-thumping monkeys holding sway over smarter, more evolved fellows. In this video, the seemingly-evolved Michael Cooper wants — fights? brute force? — as the final response to interpersonal debate.

The monkeys are giving way to the shrewd, the calm, the well-researched. Professional sports already made the crossover. Brutes like Mike Ditka are finding it harder to compete against thinkers like Bill Walsh, or Bill Belichick. But just as humanity reaches a point where its systems of government (except for him), its supply chains, and even its professional sports are managed by smart people, we teeter on the verge of devolution.

Homo sapiens have outgrown their use.

You are dumb. Unfortunately, the idiots who come after you will be even dumber. The Intelligent Design lobby should have a field day with diminishing test scores. They’ll likely point to our devolution as clinching proof against Darwin. But of course, the problem will be that they are having babies, and we’re not.

If you are reading this piece, you are likely to have fewer children than a person who can’t read at all. Eugenics was all the rage a century ago. Now it seems the smartest, healthiest people hardly breed. Of course, the eugenicists had nannies to do the dirty work. Today, no matter how Ferberized your kid is, you’re still likely to be sticking your hands in poo.

Darwin never said it was easy. But it seems a shame to have reached this point of enlightenment, only to pass on all we’ve accomplished to the Wanton Credulous. What are they going to do with it? They don’t understand how any of it works!

It’s not the first time this has happened. Mr. Neanderthal got pretty smart just before he died off. Who knows, maybe neanderthal woke up one day and sighed a collective “what’s it really all about when you get right down to it?” And then had a vote, and chose to go the way of the Shakers.

On the topic of dying out, what became of eugenics? Smartypants dispense with this question in two words: Adolf Hitler. I can sum it up in two letters: PC. It’s considered bad form to tell people not to have babies — no matter how helpless, jobless, IQ-challenged, or chromosomally at risk they are. Even the Supreme Court eschews procreative restrictions. Of course that could change. They were once firmly pro-eugenics.

If you try to propose some system for licensing parenting, you get called lots of names. You face the opposition of some seriously monolithic religious institutions. So instead of fixing root problems like Cystic Fibrosis, endemic poverty, and being a inbred idiot — our society continues to plod along, occasionally writing alarmed letters to the editor about cars with thumpy stereos, the smell of our neighbor’s 36 non-spayed cats and coughing to death before we’re 30.

Indiana fans continue, as this moment, to call for the return of their gorilla. They forgot that knowingly hiring a non-gentleman is the very thing that got them in trouble. They want to bring back the angriest monkey in hoops — acts of physical violence, emotional abuse and verbal intimidation notwithstanding.

They are not alone in their backward-thinking.

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