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Village idiots

Modern village idiots enjoy worldwide audiences and receive exorbitant payment for being themselves in the media.


by Paul J.Balles

idiots deserve a voice too

In a distant past, one summer holiday included island hopping in the Aegean Sea. The island of Limnos provided one of the most unusual holiday experiences.


On the first night there, a strange thing happened: an odd man, who seemed to be uttering gibberish made his way around the restaurant tables.


A waiter explained that this was the village idiot.


Some of the locals later expressed embarrassment that their island had such a friendly but imposing idiot.


Generally, a village idiot is a person locally known for ignorance or stupidity, but also as a silly or nonsensical person. The term is further used as a stereotype of the mentally disabled.


As early as Byzantine times, the village idiot was treated as an acceptable form of deranged individual. The Limnos idiot fitted that reality perfectly.


A few authors have used “idiot” characters in novels, plays and poetry. Among the most famous are Edmond in Shakespeare’s King Lear, Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Wordsworth’s “The Idiot Boy”, and Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.


Perhaps the most famous reference to a literary idiot comes when Shakespeare’s Macbeth says:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Modern village idiots enjoy worldwide audiences and receive exorbitant payment for being themselves in the media.


Rush Limbaugh draws at least 15 million listeners a week. Limbaugh has been a “birther”, questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, like a number of other idiots “full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”


According to Forbes magazine, Limbaugh earns $54 million a year. Numerous writers and media commentators have dubbed Limbaugh an idiot.


Often public figures, whether in government or the media, show all the qualities associated with idiocy: ignorant, stupid, nonsensical or deranged.


Forbes says that Donald Trump, New York’s real estate baron who had considered running for the US presidency, earns $50 million annually.  He looks and acts deranged in public.


During several interviews, Trump announced that America spent so much invading Iraq that America deserves Iraq’s oil.  Since America conquered Iraq, he claimed, they should keep it.


Trump blandly refers to OPEC as an illegal monopoly.  He says he wants to tell OPEC “Hey fellas, yur gonna toe the line or yur gonna have big problems.” Trump acts like a threatening village idiot.

2% "critical mass"

Trump has been a voice for the American tea party movement of mostly white racists who follow their chosen village idiots, like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck of Fox News.


Other possible village idiot candidates for the US presidency are the past speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.


Gingrich has a widespread reputation for acting deranged as a draft dodger, adulterer, hypocritical voice for family values and several bank scandals. Candidate for president?


Then there’s the ignorant Southern reverend who organized a burning of the Quran. He reflects a mentality that veers a long way from the harmless village idiots.


The notorious Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones planned a protest outside the Islamic Centre of America in Dearborn, Michigan, home of the largest Muslim population in America.


Perhaps this is the way of the modern world. The ignorance and stupidity of the silly or nonsensical person who was a threat to no one has revolved to repugnant negative idiots.


It seems that we have returned to Byzantine times, when the village idiot was treated as an acceptable form of deranged individual.


One individual said that several of the people I mentioned couldn’t possibly be idiots because they were wealthy, powerful, had large followings or sold many books. Wealth, power and popularity never precluded anyone from being an idiot.


In the world village, it’s difficult to beat wealthy Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, rich and powerful Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund or ignorant potential presidential hopeful Sarah Palin as candidates for the village idiot crown.

2011 Copyright @ Paul Balles

View the original article at Veterans Today

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