Intellect, Insult and Common Sense

Why is everyone so keen to take offence these days? An anonymous mother from Plymouth has told the media that she was subjected to a Facebook tirade for calling the guy who tumbles down the chimney at this time of the year, Father Christmas.

Apparently this is insulting because it is not ‘gender neutral’ like the American name Santa Clause. Well I am sorry. I have always called him Father Christmas and while I continue to believe in him, will always do so.

Even more startling in the newspapers today was a piece on a leading academic and psychotherapist, Dr Sonja Falck who wants the calling of anyone a nerd or smarty-pants made a hate crime and dealt with by law. She tells the media that such ‘divisive and humiliating’ anti-IQ insults can have negative effects that last a lifetime and she wants people with the highest IQs in the country, who make up just two per cent of the population, to be protected by the same hate crime laws as ethnic, religious and sexual minority groups. 

She is herself obviously highly intelligent and a member of Mensa but I fear she must be losing her marbles a little. She also wants the ‘insults’ braniac, know-it-all, smart-arse’, dweeb and brain box to be covered by hate crime legislation.   

She clams victims of anti-IQ slurs often experience the same level of distress and isolation as other minority groups at the receiving end of verbal abuse. Extending legislation to include these words would, she claims, help stamp out the victimisation of more than one million Britons with an IQ score of 132 or over – in other words, members of Mensa.

Dr Falck has just launched a new book called ‘Extreme Intelligence’, a study of discrimination against those with especially high IQs. I don’t think I will be investing in it I’m afraid.

She said: “The N-word was common parlance in the UK until at least the 1960s. Other insulting slurs about age, disability, religion and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently. Society at the time turned a blind eye to their impact by passing them off as harmless banter and it is only with the benefit of hindsight and academic research that we realise how wrong we were.

‘The same can be said about anti-IQ words like nerd, brainbox, geek, egg-head, dweeb and smarty-pants. Slurs such as these will continue to be used unabated at the expense of the brightest members of society unless and until legislative action is taken.”

Oh come on. When anyone gets the better of me or hits me with a sharp retort, my own immediate reaction is to call them ‘smarty pants’ or the more vulgar alternative and I do it with a smile. Besides, haven’t the new government got enough on their collective plates not to have to worry about this politically correct drivel? I don’t like the taste of most vegetables but if I say so, will I offend millions of vegetarians and vegans and thereby commit yet another hate crime? Where on earth is this nonsense going to end I wonder?

Yet Dr Falck, who lectures at a London university and also runs a highly respected Harley Street psychotherapy practice, says the legislation must be widened to include anti-IQ slurs, which she describes as hate crime’s ‘last taboo.’

No Doctor; someone else just like you will think of something else to be mortally offended by and we will all end up scared witless about expressing our own sincerely held views.

I have never had my IQ tested and don’t suppose it is very high but surely a little bit of common sense is preferable to being a ruddy genius who can’t cope with life. We all get perceived insults thrown at us through much of our lives and to my mind, it ought to make us stronger and better able to cope. If Dr Falck is serious about this, she might try imagining what it was like to attend boarding school at a very young age with choir boy looks and a name like Lemon.

Yet I can only smile when I think back on my feelings then and don’t believe the insults and bullying did me anything but good.

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