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home : blogs_old : off the cuff May 22, 2015

Off the Cuff
By Chris A. Porter
WNI Web Developer and PVtrib.com webmaster shares his perspective on technology, local and national politics, and life in the Quad-city area.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Common sense: extinct, or on its way there?

 Chris A. Porter

Courtesy photo

Back in my younger days, I used a sort of 'barometer' that aided me in deciphering right from wrong (I was far from an angel, so I'm sure I utilized this almost constantly). I would use it tirelessly, and it made huge impacts upon structuring my choices in certain situations, making the difference between getting a pat on the back and getting a kick to my posterior-regions crystal clear.

That 'barometer' is the same bit of knowledge my parents who passed it on to me still tend to rely on currently. I know I base most of my decisions on it. Some call it 'street smarts.' Others refer to it as simply 'experience.' I'm keen to calling it the old school self-descriptive 'common sense.'

Common sense has kept me out of countless jams (many without my knowing, I'm sure). Perhaps it has even gotten me into a few too, so who knows? But I believe the pros have far outweighed the cons so far...

What is common sense? Well, to be a bit literal about it, Wikipedia, the online repository of user-submitted information, factoids and sources for everything under the sun defines it as something "most people would consider prudent and of sound judgment, without reliance on esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what they see as knowledge held by people 'in common'". This is a definition coming from a source that I feel embodies the true spirit of the phrase completely. It's a pretty good one, and I think many of its 10,000+ daily visitors would be inclined to agree.

So, why do I feel the use of this very basic 'knowledge' is in rapid decline these days? It's a perplexing conundrum, to say the very least. With the incredible breakthroughs in technology achieved over these past few decades, we as a society would seem to have an endless stream of educational information at our fingertips, thus allowing us to become "smarter" collectively - yet, results still seem inconclusive.

There always seems to be a plethora of news stories that fall from the cracks of our ever-runneth-over cup of media resources that seem to defy the boundaries of logic, much less common sense. Sadly, these types of stories aren't limited to only one specific subject or demographic. They are found everywhere everyday, and they are ones that make you groan aloud, bury your face into your hands or silently shake your head in disbelief. Sometimes a staggering lack of common sense can make for stories truly stranger than fiction. Here's a few from this week:


'Young Marine' Faces Expulsion For Replica Rifles

As many of us already know, over the past few years, in the aftermath of many frivolous and legitimate lawsuits filed by parents and students alike against school districts around the country for a variance of reasons, most have answered by imposing strict 'no tolerance' policies. This is an unfortunate side effect of our ever-growing societal litigiousness that I feel does more harm than good in the attempts to make our country's youth into contributing, well-rounded, responsible adults.

Take Marie Morrow above (link). She seems to be a responsible, intelligent high school student and member of the Douglas County Young Marines. She spins practice rifles for their drill team. In a perhaps unthinking decision, she left a few of her practice rifles in open view of the back seat of her car while attending school. Now, I can understand the possible fear and fervor at first instance from the few unsuspecting students who witnessed and reported said 'rifles' to school officials. But when the fact that they were not real firearms, but mock rifles made of wood and duct tape to resemble a real rifle came to light, the district handed out a mandatory expulsion of the student anyway, due to no tolerance policies and state law. So now this student is facing expulsion for having the equivalent lethal force of a few blocks of wood in her vehicle during school hours. Yeah, this makes sense (not). I wonder if the baseball team would receive the same penalty for leaving bats in their cars? I somehow doubt it. The hopeful news is that state lawmakers are looking to add some "common sense" to the statute.

Law Enforcement

Williamsport officer shoots self after firearms training

Patrolman Sidney Gable was taken to Williamsport Hospital after shooting himself in the left hand while cleaning his apparently loaded .45-caliber service revolver. I'll say it again: cleaning his apparently loaded service revolver. Look, I'm no LEO, but it would seem that checking *any* firearm before cleaning it to make sure none of those round thingies that go bang are left inside would be some sort of standard procedure... But what would I know, I'm just a guy with an intact left hand.

Your Guess is as good as mine

Teen charged in attempted carjacking of Dallas officer

I'm at a loss for words, here, folks. Apparently, 18-Year-old John Lewis Johnson REALLY needed a car on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 3rd. After unsuccessfully attempting to carjack three victims prior, Mr. Johnson set his sights on a fourth. The fourth victim? None other than Dallas Police Sergeant Charles Young. In a marked cruiser. With the emergency lights on!

Yep, Mr. Johnson proceeded to throw open the cruiser's passenger door and demanded the officer's weapon and vehicle. The sergeant responded by grabbing the perp's arm. The perp yanked free from Sgt. Young's grip, ran and was apprehended just a short distance later. *sigh* Umm, Mr. Johnson? You can forget common sense - you're just simply doing *everything* wrong at this point. I'm rather shocked people like this can remember to breathe after they awaken each morning. God have mercy on your soul, sir...

Well, there you have it. This is just a sampling from an endless supply of common-sense impaired stories we tend to read about on a daily basis. Is this trait collectively going the way of the dodo, or are we just seeing an increase in frequency as news resources become more and more abundant? Either way, let's hear what you think. Feel free to send me any links to stories you feel are severely lacking in common sense, and perhaps I will make this a lighthearted ongoing segment.

I look forward to your feedback.

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