I'm Shocked, Shocked That We Don't Have a Word for People Who Should Have Known Better

The great Claude Rains-- and the screenwriters Julius and Philip Epstein and Howard Koch-- contributed this delightful and extremely useful catchphrase to American politics:

Clear the room at once!

[An angry murmur starts among the crowd. People get up and begin to leave. Rick comes quickly up to Renault.]

How can you close me up? On what grounds?

I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!

[This display of nerve leaves Rick at a loss. The croupier comes out of the gambling room and up to Renault. He hands him a roll of bills.]

Your winnings, sir.

Oh. Thank you very much.

Renault's demonstration of "chutzpah" matches the classic example of the man who murdered both his parents, and then threw himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds he was an orphan. We also have Richard Pryor's "Who you going to believe? Me, or you lying eyes?"

Renault's protest has its uses, as when politicians discover that veterans are not served well by VA hospitals, that millions of dollars have gone AWOL in Iraq, or that one of their relatives was given a sweetheart deal or that the genetic celebrity they hired as a "researcher" is less than qualified for her post.

What I'm calling for is a new word or phrase that describes the irritation I feel when ordinary citizens express surprise and dismay when the men they elect fail to live up to their campaign promises. Lies that would not fool a child have somehow clouded the judgement of grown men and women who are trusted with a vote and heavy machinery.
But what shall we call it? What internet meme would both mock the voter who should have known better and lead them towards a better way? These are people who would buy a ticket for "Saw" and be surprised by the violence.

My first choice-- though it's not known widely enough, and too subtle to catch on-- is an exchange from "Bebop", one of Langston Hughes' "Simple" stories. Simple has just finished explaining that the rhythms of bop music are are a response to the sounds of billyclubs on folks' heads. "Your explanation depresses me," says the narrator, and Simple answers, with quiet disgust and exasperation at such naivete: "Your nonsense depresses me."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about what I tell my clients---"Inappropriate behavior". It does stop them in their tracks and make them think for a moment.
You're right --there is no single word. I tried the theasaras (sp).
Smile, Dee Ann