OXFORD — Forrest Gump, quoting his mother, was right: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
The fictional Gump, in the unlikely event you never saw the 1994 hit movie starring Tom Hanks as a slow-witted Southern boy who shows up and prevails in historical events of his generation, popularized the term which can have different meanings.
According to the online Urban Dictionary, “it means that an intelligent person who does stupid things is still stupid. You are what you do.”
Another online source, The Free Dictionary, says it means that “one’s actions indicate one’s level of stupidity (or intelligence).”
No question. Whether we are intelligent or not, we all do stupid things at some time or another.
I know I have, and a lot of my stupid mistakes over the years have shown up in the newspaper.
But those mistakes — getting a name or a fact wrong or misinterpreting something — was not deliberate.
As an editor, I often had to answer for mistakes of other employees of the newspaper: Like the time in McComb many years ago when someone in the Enterprise-Journal composing room crossed up the picture of a man and a horse on the same page and had the man’s profile under the caption, “At stud, $50.”
We caught the error a few hundred copies into the press run, stopped the press, corrected the error and tried to keep the bad copies out of circulation.
As luck would have it, though, the man who had purchased both advertisements — one that was to carry his own picture advertising his business and the other the services of his horse — either heard about the mix-up or saw one of the papers.
I dreaded seeing him come in the front door of the office the next day, but to all of our relief he took it in good humor and wanted some copies of the papers with the mistaken identities. We willingly obliged.
The Daily Journal of Tupelo runs a regular list of reports filed with the Tupelo police and the Lee County sheriff’s office under the heading “Crime Reports.”
It is unusual in that it apparently omits little to nothing about what is reported, although no names are included. That must be to protect the stupid.
A couple of examples in one of last week’s issues:
“A Mitchell Road woman said her ex-boyfriend indirectly threatened her through social media. He said he was going to slap her when he saw her.”
In another report, also from Mitchell Road, a “woman said a man reached out to her on Facebook about a job. He said if she sent him money, she would get more in return. She sent him $356 through Walmart Paypal. After sending the money, he has not contacted her and will not answer her calls.”
Folks need to be careful about what they put on and believe on Facebook. It can be a trap for the stupid.
It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference in stupid and bad manners, especially when it comes to streets and parking lots.
A dry-cleaning business I visited the other day has room for three vehicles to parallel park in front. As I arrived, a full-sized pickup truck was horizontally parked across parts of all three spaces. I had to park some 30 or 40 yards away from the front of the building — not a bad walk but inconvenient, as I was carrying several items of clothing.
The driver of the truck was leaving by the time I got to the front door of the cleaners. I resisted the urge to say something to him. These days you never know who’s packing a gun in Mississippi and it’s stupid to start a needless argument with someone who is stupid, discourteous or both.
As the political season heats up in Mississippi for this year’s statewide elections and also nationally for the 2020 presidential race, candidates at all levels are, as usual, making outrageous statements.
Some of them sound downright stupid.
But the politicians making those stupid promises probably aren’t as stupid as those of us who believe them.
Dunagin, who lives in Oxford, is a retired longtime Mississippi newspaperman.