We Are Sheep

Three seemingly unrelated news stories caught my attention in the last 24 hours. Taken together they demonstrate that society is willing to be led wherever by whomever.

First, the British Medical Journal recommends that in addition to putting nutritional information on packaged food (calorie count, number of grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates, serving size, servings per package, etc.) the package also features the amount of exercise needed to offset the calories ingested in a serving.

Secondly, the National Weather Service will no longer issue its weather alerts in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS as it has done for over a century. The practice of using all caps was caused by early limitations on typesetting, long before computers or even typewriters. The practice is not being changed because technology permits a more conventional form of writing. Instead it’s being changed because using ALL CAPS is considered shouting in print and the NWS doesn’t want to offend anyone.

Thirdly, a college student, Shannon Workman left the Chi Omega sorority rather than face disciplinary procedures for violation of “human dignity” rules for posting a picture of herself and two sorority sisters in cutoff jeans and Chi Omega tank tops. Here’s a link to the Good Morning America segment.

The common thread in all these is our (society’s) willingness to follow the masses, being unable to think for ourselves. With the food labeling, apparently we just aren’t able to correlate calorie intake to weight gain or understand that eating has consequences that might be undesirable, so now we have to be told what the penance for overeating will be.

In the case of the NWS, no one wants to risk causing offense, no matter how inoffensive what they did was meant to be. Heaven forbid that anyone should feel as if they are being shouted at by a printed bulletin.

Finally Shannon Workman’s case is another example of political correctness gone horribly wrong. The GMA segment airs a part of the disciplinary hearing held for Ms. Workman. Another woman, a Chi Omega chapter advisor, questions her:

Q: ┬áDon’t you see that you have broken the rule on human dignity and your disrespectful attitude?

A: Um, no, not really.

It’s reminiscent of the Salem witchcraft trials or the Soviet Union’s readjustment policies where suspected witches and dissidents were given the “opportunity” to confess the errors of their ways before being punished.

In each of these cases it’s assumed that individuals are not capable of thinking and acting for themselves. Instead we have to be shown the right way, whether that is in the food we eat, whether we use proper print etiquette or what pictures of ourselves we take and post online. Conformity in all cases is a mandate of present society. Like sheep we are being led to greener pastures.

My father grew up on a sheep farm. He told me they used to put goats with the sheep because the sheep would follow the goats, who were more intelligent than the sheep. Some years ago I went on a backpacking trip where we used goats to carry our packs. After three days I realized how stupid goats are. The moral of this story is, be careful that the goats you choose to follow really know what they’re doing.