If I may reconfigure a line from "Tommy Boy," doesn't it seem that you can actually hear civilization getting dumber?
I refer, naturally, to the Occupy Wall Street enthusiasts.
I'm struggling to criticize them properly, mainly because I can't find an intelligible principle behind their protests. Sheer pity for the walnut-crusted lunacy of these self-assured buffoons urges forbearance: Spelling out all that's moronic and contradictory in the demonstrations is a bit like writing a hard-hitting review of a kindergarten presentation of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
But compared with a 6-year-old trying to get in touch with his inner Snoopy, there's something less endearing about 20-somethings who - three years after they put Obama in office - pompously declare that all the world needs to do in order to right itself is follow their latest instructions, which might as well be in Sanskrit.
Let us contemplate a few of the choicer demands issued by some of the leisurely if confused agitators in New York and elsewhere.
* Free stuff - namely, a college education paid for by somebody else.
* A $20-per-hour minimum wage - based, I suppose, on the discovery that collegiate years squandered reading the selected gripes of Rigoberta Menchu didn't equip them with skills for employment requiring anything beyond a headset and the ability to ask, "Did anybody salt the fries yet?"
* "People before profits," a perennial non sequitur that makes as much sense as "Line dancing before egg salad."
* The criminalization of private health insurance.
* An end to fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
* The erasure of national borders.
* Immediate forgiveness of all debt, everywhere. You just took out a mortgage for that oceanfront mansion? It's yours free and clear. You borrowed $120,000 to pursue a degree in oppression studies, and now the only job you can get is teaching oppression studies? Don't fret. Somebody else will foot the bill for that four-year vacation from reality.
* An end to the death penalty. Actually, this proposal has a spooky logic: With ObamaCare knocking on the door, capital punishment will become remarkably redundant.
* The firing of any police officer who does not photograph a crime scene. OK, now the tofu brigades are just making stuff up as they go. These demands couldn't get any more disjointed if they included a call for more amazingly insightful documentaries narrated by Matt Damon. Oh wait ...
* More amazingly insightful documentaries narrated by Matt Damon.
* And my favorite: "Demand investigation into the source of secret funding for CIA occupation programs since WWII, the cover up of the trillions of dollars that aided in the collapse of the Soviet Union and may have ultimately instigated the 911 attacks as well as their cover-up."
I'd like to say something snarky about that, but in this case truth is stranger than snark. So just savor the freakish insinuation behind that last talking point: that Cold War espionage had something to do with 9/11 - and that the Soviet collapse was a bad thing.
It goes without saying that the shiftless, pampered youths making these "demands" - as if they had the leverage of a hydrogen bomb hidden in one of their grimy sleeping bags - want a bigger federal government to handle the pesky details of conjuring into existence avenue after avenue of frosted gingerbread houses and endless fields of frolicking baby unicorns.
But their wish list is so scattered that critiquing it is like nailing gravy to a fence post - and I'm not talking about thick, rich bacon gravy, but the thin, dark brown kind that brutalizes many an innocent mashed potato.
Toss in the support that the demonstrators are getting from the likes of Cuba apologist Michael Moore and former Obama administration official and self-described communist Van Jones, and you have the makings of a fiasco of AlGoreithmic proportions.
Pass the popcorn.
Reach Steve Barrett at 423-757-6329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.