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Are we facing the Dark Ages II?

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Kurt Vonnegut famously said, “Future generations will look back on TV as the lead in the water pipes that slowly drove the Romans mad.” Before this statement, back in 1940, Lee de Forest, “the father of modern radio,” sent an open letter to the National Association of Broadcasters in which he demanded, “What have you done with my child, the radio broadcast? You have debased this child, dressed him in rags of ragtime, tatters of jive and boogie woogie.”

In the early 1950s, de Forest again wrote a stinging letter, this time to Bob Hope, after he watched a Bob Hope Christmas military special, wherein he accused Mr. Hope of lewd choreography and base skits in defiance of the intention of his invention.

If only Mr. Vonnegut and Mr. de Forest could see us now.

I am coming to the conclusion that our fear of the future is not an atmosphere out of control, but a general population of lost and dullard intelligence. We are looking more and more like the 11th and 12th centuries than the 21st century as declared by our calendars.

It is not only television that is driving us mad, but also the 1,000 other channels of tripe being delivered to us daily through all sorts of media to our pot-soaked nostrils and our fentanyl-clogged lifeless veins. Our big city teachers’ unions have lost all sense of responsibility to teach. Many of our educators have become political tools.

We have dullard rich kids whose parents put them through jokes of institutions of higher learning solely because they have enough money to buy token degrees. We have a friend who calls such offspring “trustifarians.” They have their inheritance and better hope they don’t blow it all before they die, for they have no marketable skills nor energy to earn a living on their own.

We just elected a politician in New York who freely admits that his resume is made up, a total fiction. We have gambling everywhere and lawyers on billboards and in all of media telling us “We deserve a big settlement.” All of this fosters a something-for-nothing attitude.

Rich, poor, ruling class or otherwise, we are turning out offspring in droves that are untaught, unwilling to learn and unwilling to work. However, they are willing to lie to gain benefits for themselves.

The last Dark Age era was preceded by some very smart people – Aristotle, Euclid and others. There was even Jesus Christ himself. Despite these advantages, the known world slipped into a stupor that lasted for centuries.

Can it happen again? I think so.

First world countries, due to modern power-driven efficiencies, have become so rich that we can afford to be lazy and numb. We are talking about giving folks a wage whether they work or not. We are talking about giving certain groups of people reparations solely because they possess the DNA of formerly disenfranchised generations. We could not entertain such ideas if we were poor.

In Dark Ages I, the bright bastions of intelligence were in the monasteries and convents. They may be the repositories of the spark of intelligence again, but I am not so sure.

I am thoroughly convinced that all the media, internet and cloud storage will not be such repositories. What is the ratio of people who know how to build, connect and maintain iPhones to those that use them? I suspect it is something like one to 10 million or worse.

Perhaps my dad was right in the early 1960s when he threw out the television and said, “No kids of mine are going to sit around and watch a talking horse ('Mr. Ed') in a plywood box.”

Prescience. Much worse has arrived.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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