Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: “Everyone understands English if you speak it slowly enough.” –B.J. Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H

“There’s a very stupid part of the brain that thinks anything it’s learned must be known by everyone else. This same part thinks all observations and judgments it has passed must be known and held as true, in explicitly or in secret, by everyone else. Maybe they’re in denial over our truths, but they know. I call this the ‘Hunnicutt Effect,’ after a fictional character that made fun of the phenomena by indulging in it for a moment. The effect is highly active in teenagers and Philosophy majors. The teenager will pass judgment, belittle those who go against the judgment, change the judgment unannounced to anyone, and then belittle those new trespassers who more than likely agreed with him yesterday. It is up to you to have realized when their favorite TV shows have gone stale.

“But the teenager is merely the hyperbolic model for the Hunnicutt Effect. All people perform this idiocy, as though there is a psychic network that would update each human being of the absolutist opinions of all the others each time they change. This American soldier speaks English slowly thinking the Middle Easterner knows the language but is dimwitted. That Physics major scoffs at you for not recognizing the third law of thermodynamics. It’s probably an unobserved contributor to a lot of traffic accidents – you knew she was going to turn there even if her blinker wasn’t on, didn’t you?

“It comes from the normally unconscious selfish belief that the world really is here for you, and everybody’s been following you all the time, merely pretending otherwise, even though they all that you know that they know. It’s the force at work when a 9th grader tells his teacher that she knows what he meant even if his essay on World War 2 was unclear (and it was). It’s the force at work when two debaters perpetually condescend at each other. It’s why I can’t watch most debates in the first place – because even if I had the opportunity to follow these people’s lives all the time, I’d decline.”

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