Elizabeth May: You're Stupid, So Vote Green
September 15, 2008 by Paul McKeever
History teems with philosophers – still highly regarded by many – who proposed that the universe is entirely different than how it appears to human beings; that it is a chaotic flux; that time and space really do not exist; that reality is full of irresolvable contradictions. They tried to make room for mysticism in an increasingly scientific era by telling us that our sensations and perceptions of the world do not accurately describe the universe as it really exists; that our senses, in effect, lie to us. Of course, it is not reality that is rife with contradictions, but the philosophies themselves, but their authors were careful to ensure that they presented their philosophies as wordy Gordian knots, which makes them capable of passing that test of truth most highly honoured among morons and swindlers alike: if you cannot understand it, it must be true, especially if it was read in university or in church.
There are those who cling to such arbitrary philosophies as intellectual ammunition for their assertions that rationality – the strictly logical consideration of the evidence of our senses, and their logical implications – is not an effective tool for determining how one ought to live ones life, what decisions one ought to make, and how one should be governed. However, most politicians who have plans to engineer society to their liking have an almost instinctual ability to make up their own philosophy as they go, according to the expediency of the moment. They tend, therefore, to dispense with all of the pseudo-philosophical mumbojumbo offered up by Hegel and Kant, and instead simply jump to those philosophers’ ultimate conclusion: that everyone – except themselves – is stupid.
The same cannot be said the Green Party of Canada’s Elizabeth May. Specifically, she simply cannot exempt herself from her own conclusion.
On February 22, 2007, May participated on a panel on the popular TV Ontario (TVO) program “The Agenda”, hosted by Steve Paikin. The program was broadcast live, and had a studio audience. On member of the audience asked “why is there so little political will for a carbon tax?”. Hand in the air, eager to answer, May delivered the following in a tone and manner befitting a person who just wants to cut the bull; who just wants to say what she thinks everyone is thinking:
“All the other politicians are scared-to-death to mention the word ‘tax’, and I think Canadians are stupid and cannot – and I fundamentally agree with that assessment – but most politicians think that if you say that ‘we’re going to put on a carbon tax, and reduce your income tax, they don’t think they can sell it. It’s all about votes.”
I do not recall anyone saying anything about her comment back in February of 2007. Arguably, that is because the best exploding cigars are best lit at election time. On September 10th, 2008, Canada’s major television networks reversed their decision not to include the Green party leader in its televised leaders debate: by alleging that the decision makers were all sexist men and by falsely and smearing them with the false allegation that their decision was based upon the fact that she is a she, May had slandered her way into the debate. As an aside: apparently, Liz White, the leader of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada dropped the ball by not playing the sexism card: she, like several merely male political party leaders, was not invited. Anyway, that same day, a YouTuber by the name “stimpyloveseggs” (which, I am led to understand, is the YouTube.com handle of blogger Stephen Taylor) released a short video using the audio from the above-quoted TVO video clip, and the blogosphere erupted.
May speaks quickly in the clip, and some (including May) assert that what she really said was not “I think” but “they think”, as in:
“All the other politicians are scared-to-death to mention the word ‘tax’, and they think Canadians are stupid and cannot – and I fundamentally agree with that assessment – but most politicians think that if you say that ‘we’re going to put on a carbon tax, and reduce your income tax, they don’t think they can sell it. It’s all about votes.”
To verify this quote, and to decide for yourself whether she said “they think” or “I think” you can watch the TVO clip on a blog entry at the Western Standard, here. However, whether she said “I think” or “they think” matters little, because she followed up the “stupid” assessment with the words “and I fundamentally agree with that assessment”. Or, at least that is how its sounds to people who trust their senses and their intelligence.
On September 12, 2008, she was again the guest of “The Agenda”, where she was eager to explain that you should not trust your senses or your intelligence. On the September 12th show, host Steve Paikin and May replayed the 2007 clip and then had the following exchange:
Paikin: Okay, that was the exchange. Let’s just clarify here what you did and did not say.
Paikin: Because some people thought you said ‘I think the Canadian public is stupid’.
May: Which I obviously wouldn’t have ever said, and didn’t say. What I said was I said the reason that there’s no political will, is that the other political parties think that Canadians are stupid and I fundamentally disagree with that assessment. And you do as you explain, you go forward and people will accept it.
Paikin: Okay, but I thought I heard you say ‘I fundamentally agree with that assessment’.
May: No. I know it’s funny how it sounds, but I said ‘fundamentally disagree with that assessment’. So, it’s my problem of talking to fast.
Paikin: You do talk quickly.
May: I do talk quickly. But if you look at my lifetime record as uh, from my first book published in, in the late, uh, in early 1980 actually, all the way through my writings, it’s a constant plea that democracy works; that the electorate is responsible, intelligent and should be engaged; that people must shake off cynicism and apathy and get involved; and that Canadians and the voting public of every electorate, in every democracy, are far more intelligent, and far more able to accept a complicated solution than most politicians will give them credit for.
May explains that, after attending the February 22, 2007 show, she went home and, watching the rebroadcasted tape of it, said to herself “Oh! What happened there?”. On the September 12th show, she gave the following excuse:
And I remember the beginning of when I’m talking the mike wasn’t on, and then it came to me. And it ended up raising the volume on one part of my sentence and somebody else said something, so I was fundamentally disagreeing with that assessment, but turning away.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we have justification for concluding that Ms. May is lying, and does, indeed, believe that you are stupid:
- First she said that she was “fundamentally disagreeing” with what she herself had said, about Canadians being stupid. Then she changed her story and said that she was fundamentally disagreeing with something said by some other panelist. Which of her statements is false? It doesn’t matter. It cannot be both, so one of the two has to be false.
- First she said that the problem was that she speaks too fast, and that that made us all hear “fundamentally agree” when she actually said “fundamentally disagree”. Then she switched to some nonsense about her microphone being off at the beginning of a sentence. Which one? It doesn’t really matter because:
- it is clear to anyone with normal hearing and intelligence that her microphone was not off at the beginning of her sentence about Canadians being “stupid” and was not off at the beginning of her sentence about fundamentally (dis)agreeing with “that assessment”; and
- even had the microphone been off at the beginning of a sentence, the meaning of the relevant sentence would not have been changed. The sentence about Canadians being stupid began with: “All the other politicians are scared-to-death to mention the word tax”. Even had the microphone been off for that beginning part of the sentence, she makes no allegation that the middle of the sentence – where she says that “…I/they think Canadians are stupid and cannot – and I fundamentally agree with that assessment…” – was somehow affected by microphone volume levels. Of course, the beginning of the sentence is not only perfectly audible, but occurs well before the “stupid” comment and the “fundamentally agree” comment. It is simply not credible that the microphone made us hear what she did not say.
Anyway, if there remains any doubt about the foregoing analysis, it luckily does not matter. Leaving aside May’s theory that some deus ex machina combination of a motor mouth and alleged microphone volume changes conspired to make the sentence fragment “and I fundamentally agree with” sound like “and I fundamentally disagree with”, let us follow May’s suggestion and let her prior writings stand as testament to what she really thinks about the intelligence of her fellow Canadians.
In October of 2005, May gave a speech titled “Can Civilization Survive Climate Change?” (until very recently – perhaps as recently as the commencement of the election – it was available on the Green Party of Canada web site). The speech began with a quote from Bertrand Russell:
Ever since Adam ate the apple, man has refrained from no folly of which he was capable. The end.
The meaning of the passage, at least to the extent that it is compatible with May’s speech, is that man’s rational faculty allows him to change his surroundings, but that reason does not confer upon man the ability to know a smart course of action from a stupid one, such that man’s stupidity knows no bounds. In other words: man is stupid when he bases his decisions upon the results of his own rational conclusions. Shorter still: to think is to be stupid. Shortest: man is stupid.
In the speech, May effectively states that humanity is not important:
To gain some perspective on humanity’s importance, if you place the 3.8 billion year span along a time line one kilometer long, humanity (homo sapiens — the self-proclaimed smart species) make our appearance 2 centimetres from the end.
First, note the “self-proclaimed” bit. Such redundancy – who but man could “proclaim” anything at all? – implies it is written and said with the emotional equivalent of a sneer or a rolling of the eyes. Clearly, “self-proclaimed” is intended to imply that man’s evaluation of his intelligence is based not upon any objective criteria, but upon a delusion of grandeur.
Second, judging the importance of man by the duration of his existence is a bit like saying that the space shuttle is less important than syphilis, because the latter has been around for longer. And it leaves unanswered the two key questions that make such evaluations meaningful: important to whom, and for what purpose? Presumably, May does not mean that man is not important to man, and I do not believe that May thinks value to be separable from valuer or from the valuer’s purpose. Clearly, she means that man is relatively unimportant to nature.
Without entering into a full-scale debate about metaphysics and epistemology, let me just point out the obvious. The word “nature” refers to the universe; to “everything”. “Everything” – all existents referred to collectively – is not an entity: it lacks identity, epistemologically-speaking. “Everything” is not distinguishable from “nothing” because “nothing” is that which does not exist (query whether the world would be better off without the word or concept “nothing”). Existence is identity, consciousness is identification. Nature, lacking identity, lacks consciousness. Such being the case, nothing is important or unimportant to nature, and nature does not identify anything as being important or unimportant to itself.
In her speech, May paints a picture of humans as evil entities. She mentioned two books, explaining that “Both chronicle the self-destructive tendencies of the amazing primate known as ‘man.'”
May laments that, since the commencement of the industrial revolution, humans have “…taken the life-giving, life-creating, life-nurturing systems of Planet Earth and pushed them into reverse.” In other words: the time-saving, standard-of-living improving inventions that result from human rationality are contrary to nature, and are life-taking, life-destroying, life-murdering systems of man.
Making it clear that she believes the Garden of Eden actually to have existed – she refers, straight-faced, to the “location of the Garden of Eden” – she concludes her speech with a hope that “we can re-write Russell’s History of the World to say that humanity rejected folly and that we returned to the Garden”. May is telling us that she hopes we can come to realize that it is wrong for man to seek knowledge of the world around him and to modify the world to suit his needs or wants; that she hopes we can, instead, live off of whatever God’s Earth provides naturally to man; that she hopes we are smart enough to dispense with pride and reason, and hold ignorance as a virtue.
In her speech, May, an anti-abortion Christian theist, is implicitly speaking of man’s relative unimportance to a supernatural being, and is regarding all of “creation” as being important to that being. Man, in her view, is an abomination at odds with the rest of God’s creation; the animal that must learn that thinking for himself earned man a one way ticket out of paradise on Earth; the animal that must learn to stop thinking, and to start living at one with the rest of creation, according to God’s plan.
Taken to its logical conclusion, May’s message is a demand for an anti-human atrocity: a return to hunter-gatherer living, and the short life spans and smaller populations it implies. Her belief, founded not on reason but on faith, is that the fruit of rationality – knowledge – leads us always to sin, so we must outlaw productive thought and action, return to a state of naked ignorance, and have a supernatural being provide for us when, where, how, and to the extent that he wants to.
In the end, it matters little whether May said Canadians are stupid. May’s beliefs about man’s nature make it clear that she believes that Canadians – in fact, all humans – are stupid; stupid, because they think. And, clearly, she believes that stupid people should vote Green.