2006-05-25

Nerd Pride

At Daily Kos is a scary story about a Christian Youth revival meeting in the US with severe Nuremberg rally overtones but what really struck me was this girl:


In the context one has to assume that she actually does not like Satan and that she thinks calling him a "nerd" is a real good put-down. Obviously the T-shirt is a mass-produced item, so it is not a case of one confused person having had a brainwave thinking she came up with the most witty slogan imaginable... Well, it probably is, but apparently enough other people have thought it was witty enough to make it worth the effort to produce the T-shirt. (Assuming for the moment it is not a person with great talent for irony who has been putting on these youngsters.)
As a nerd I don't know whether to feel insulted or proud, but I am reminded of Linda Branagan's experience with her BSD daemon T-shirt while in Texas.

So, anti-intellectualism. I could brush it off with it being typical of specifically Protestant Christians or USAmericans, but I remember standing watching* a May Day demonstration some years back when my eye was caught by an obviously home-made banner saying UT MED AKADEMIKERNA ("Expel the academics"), carried by some venerable older men. I had a child in a buggy with me at the time, so I didn't rush up to them to angrily point out that I had a university degree and where exactly did they intend to deport me? The back of their banner indicated that they would initially be content with the government being purged of its university-educated members. Not that there were that many of them at the time... As I never spoke to these gentlemen I can only guess at their arguments, but I think I have heard them elsewhere:
  • Academics are not working-class and are too well-paid to understand the needs of Real People. Well, with computer science degrees being in vogue I have to my surprise now ended up above the nation-average salary, but both my parents worked on the line when they first got to Sweden, so I'll claim my working-class heritage, thank you very much. Furthermore, if two-thirds of the Swedish population are not working class, don't they deserve representation as well?
  • Professional politicians are bad, since they have lost connection with the Real World. Even Tage Danielsson, whom I otherwise hold in high regard, indicated as much in his song Ge mig hellre en glad amatör ("I'd rather have a happy amateur"). This extends beyond politicians, for some reason there is a common idea that an ignorant person magically will do better than a well-educated person in the latter's area of education. Thus the reason for sites such as Quackwatch, Bad Science, Bad Astronomy and many others, who fight an uneven battle against those who gull people out of their money and lives by being able to claim they are "counter-establishment", "don't know what's impossible" and so on. Strangely enough, the one area where this idea does not hold is in sports. I have heard nobody say "Well, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is just a part of the football establishment and has a vested interest in the requirement that the ball has to be kicked with the feet, I think he should be replaced with my cousin whose spirit guide has told him one should touch the ball as little as possible in order to win." Strange, isn't it?



*Occasionally I've attempted to take part in May Day demonstrations, but once there I don't feel good about marching and chanting with the crowd. I probably see too many sides of every issue to function well in politics. I should have the motto: "I doubt, I think", whatever that works out to in Latin—Dubito, cogito?

1 comment:

thnidu said...

"Nerd" was originally an insult. (Jargon File definition and history)