Periodically things come along that remind us of how deficient many of those we put in places of authority are when it comes to common sense. So it's worth pointing them out.
Take for instance the school authorities in Senatobia, Miss., who are either certifiably stupid or still harboring the vestiges of insipient racism in a state among the historically most notorious for such behavior or both. They often go hand in hand.
At the beginning of the local high school graduation ceremonies recently, the parents and relatives and friends of the honorees were asked to hold their applause until all the young men and women had been handed their diplomas. If you have ever attended a high school graduation anywhere in the nation, you understand that trying to enforce that edict is in itself preposterous.CartoonDavies' latest cartoon: Nassau's got mailCommentSubmit your letterReader essaysGet published in Newsday
Proud parents and siblings traditionally demonstrate their joy by clapping, whistling or shouting when their son or daughter is called on to receive his or her diploma. It's a moment of joy that only a moron would attempt to stifle. And it makes what is often a dry, frequently tedious process tolerable. Last year alone I sat through several waiting anxiously to express my own pride at grandchildren, usually in the way just described. I will continue to do so.
But then my grads are not from Mississippi nor am I nor are they African American and, therefore, I have nothing to fear from authorities for my legitimate exuberance.
Several black families, however, did not restrain their enthusiasm in Senatobia by shouting hooray or calling out the name of their young graduate spontaneously, prompting the superintendent of the city schools, Jay Foster, in conjunction with local police to swear out warrants for their arrests. They now face the costs of defending themselves and the possibility of $500 fines.
At this juncture it would be fair to question at the very least the fitness to serve of those in charge of the city's school system and perhaps even take a look at their motives. With the nation's public education system facing perhaps the most difficult future in its history, is there really room for those who have no more common sense than this.
While the next example doesn't exactly fall under the lack of common sense, it certainly reaches new heights of corporate audacity by one of the world's most revered family entertainers and most likely a number of other major companies who are less visible.
A group of valued (well, at least the work they performed was) employees at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., found themselves summoned to a meeting where many expected to be rewarded for keeping things on track in the big theme park. Instead the 250 employees were told in October they would be laid off . but only after they had spent three months training immigrants from India who had received temporary work visas reserved for skilled technical workers.
There are any number of other companies who are taking advantage of what are called H-1B immigrant workers. The H-1B plan was to provide U.S. companies with employees who have highly developed computer or science abilities when American workers with those skills can't be found.
But the critics contend that the guidelines aren't being followed and that the real motive is money. The immigrant workers are paid as much as 49 percent less than Americans, according to the New York Times. So it is no wonder that the outsourcing beat goes on as Congress argues (as it always does when the legislation it adopts has loopholes that produce unintended consequences) over how to fix the mess.
Quite obviously the American workers who without fanfare kept things buzzing for the millions who flocked through the gates have the talents necessary to do the job or the company wouldn't have asked them to stay on long enough to bring their replacements up to snuff.
Disney contended it actually was creating some new positions so there was no decline in employee numbers. Tell that to those who lost their jobs. Should we not describe the attempt to justify its actions as just plain "Mickey Mouse"? Meanwhile, the assault on common sense with accompanying stupidity and examples of audaciously questionable behavior will continue. Stay tuned for the next episode, it can't be far off.
Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers.