I’ve argued for years that the average journalist is not only far less intelligent than he thinks, he is usually poorly educated as well. I’m acquainted with more than a few, and I’ve yet to meet one who could acquit himself well on anything but politics and current events. Their knowledge tends to extend primarily to subjects they’ve covered, and they have a strong inclination to assume that having heard of something is equivalent to knowing about it. Thus, I found this tidbit from Suzanne Fields’ column to be vastly amusing.
“…the Chutzpah Award for the year that just died must go to Polly Toynbee of London’s daily Guardian for an enlightened rationalization and demonization that boiled over like volcanic lava. Toynbee fell for the infamous Nigerian scam and had to find somebody to be mad at, and it couldn’t be herself. She received a letter purporting to be from a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who needed money to pay to complete her education. Toynbee was touched. She sent the child a check for 200 pounds ($356) and immediately felt warm and fuzzy for her act of charity.
Warm and fuzzy soon evaporated. A perfect copy of her signature was soon attached to a form asking her bank to transfer a thousand pounds ($1,783) to an account in a bank in Japan. A suspicious clerk at her bank stopped the transfer just in time. The Nigerian bank scam is familiar to millions, and many of the greedy and gullible have been taken in by the familiar gross e-mails that clog computer terminals with offers of breast enhancement, penis enlargement and videos promising pornographic pleasure.
Toynbee’s brush with financial disaster taught her a lesson that has eluded everyone else. She learned that the villain in the fraud is not a Nigerian scammer, but … George W. Bush. “We reap from the Third World what we sow,” she told her readers. “If some Nigerians learned lessons in capitalism from global oil companies that helped corrupt and despoil that land, it is hardly surprising they absorbed some of the Texan oil values that now rule the White House.”
Damon Runyon nailed the likes of Polly Toynbee: “Life is tough, and it’s really tough when you’re stupid.””
At least this answers Space Bunny’s question: what kind of idiot responds to this junk? Elite journalists, for one. For my favorite response to the scammers, check out this epic tale of scammers, Mighty Cthulhu and one evil-minded Lovecraft devotee, complete with color commentary.