Last week, I started contributing a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. However, now that I’m in it weekly, I give the paper a week.  This was my first article and is reprinted here with permission.

NEEDED: A COURSE
IN COMMON SENSE

Posted 11/17/2011I watch a fair amount of news and a LOT of sports. So often the past several days, those two worlds have collided. The mash-up of those two worlds causes me a fair amount of discomfort. It’s like having your friends from work meet your wife’s friends from high school. Those two worlds were never intended to mix and often have unanticipated consequences.

Even more than that, when these two worlds collide, it seems to highlight the stupidity rooted in both worlds. Let’s take the Penn State issues for example. While we are still finding out the gut-wrenching details surrounding Jerry Sandusky’s alleged transgressions, we also find ourselves indignant at the inactions of the people around him. “They just don’t seem to have any common sense,” my wife explained to me.

Well, is it possible that these folks just didn’t know what to do? Remember the movie “A Christmas Story” when Flick’s friends abandoned him while his tongue was cemented to a frozen flag pole. “The bell rang!” Ralphie and his buddies took off for the schoolhouse. The kids didn’t know better. They only knew that when the bell rings, you go in the school house. That trumps what common sense would instruct you to get help for your friend.

Did the football staff at Penn State honestly think that just telling your supervisor was the correct action to take after seeing or hearing what they saw or heard about in the shower?

I tend to think more cynically, but maybe these coaches honestly thought that if they see a transgression, just shoot an e-mail to your boss and your role in the situation is washed away. You’ve always got a copy of it in your “Sent Items” in case you need a quick CYA.

Does the world need a “Common Sense School”? Maybe a class at the community college? It’s long been established that kids don’t go through school getting skills to help them manage their money, balance a checkbook or learn simple homemaking skills. Do we need to add a category for “common sense?”

My parents did a good job of teaching me some of these rules which include:

  • If you see a traffic accident, stop and make sure people are okay, call 911 if needed.
  • If it seems wrong, it probably is wrong.
  • Think before you speak.
  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

And some new ones for a new age:

  • Don’t let your kids on Facebook account until they’re 13 and monitor where they go WHENEVER they’re online.
  • When you’re standing around people in a public area, don’t talk on a cell phone loudly. The guy waiting in line at Price Chopper doesn’t want to hear about your fight with your girlfriend.
  • Call a cab or use a DD on Friday night.
  • If it’s raining, make sure to wear your rubbers. (Yes, a couple meanings for that one.)
  • There is no rich Prince in Nigeria who needs your help with a million dollars.
  • Assume that EVERYTHING you say on the Internet will get back to whomever you intended not to see it.

And now, thanks to Penn State, unfortunately, we need to add:

  • If you see or hear of a rape, call 9-1-1.

It’s a shame that some folks don’t seem to know that one yet.

(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his website ramblingmorons.com)