Falsely attributing qualities or behaviours based on an unrelated fact or feature about a person annoys me. (It took me a long time to write that sentence.) It really does. Perhaps it even fits into the 'pet peeve' category. Let me give an example:
I was at church listening to a sermon on 'non-violent protest' that was given, at least partly, because of the violent outbursts in Toronto during the G20 summit. The sermon was well thought out and well preached. The minister took care with her research and made global connections to what had happened here locally. I enjoyed it. I learned from it.
Afterwards in the church hall, I relaxed with a cup of green tea. The minister, after having shook the hands of those departing the front of the church, came to the hall for more of the 'meet and greet' that is the stuff of her job. When she came to me, I introduced myself as I am not a regular member of that church. I told her I liked her sermon and her face looked like what I imagine my face looks like when given a similar compliment.
Then I launched into a 'Show and Tell' pulling out the 'Words Hit' cards, both the LGBT and regular version of the card. I explained about the issue of the 'R' word and how we were working to eradicate the word. She said all the right things about the word, explained how it was that she came to be of the opinion that the word is the social equivalent of other hateful words used to target other minorities.
Then she said, 'I can't imagine that any intelligent person still uses that word.' I bristled but said nothing. After all, in this moment I was the preacher and I wanted the message to get across to her. She asked for the cards and I gave her some of each. She thanked me and was on her way.
Why did I bristle?
I don't like it when people attribute to 'intelligence' attributes of kindness and fair play and compassion and grace and good will. It's just eugenics in soft colours. It's assuming that those gifted with intelligence are better, purer, citizens and therefore, unspoken, is the message that the dumber you are, the coarser you are. There is a belief that those with less intelligence are those who are less likely to be citizens and more likely to be criminals.
The fact that someone doesn't use language that hurts doesn't make them intelligent, it makes them kind. The fact that someone doesn't seek out to hurt those who are vulnerable doesn't make them smart, it makes them moral. The fact that someone considers the feelings of others doesn't make them clever, it makes them compassionate. It's about action, 'I do' is more important than 'IQ'
So stop it.
Some of the nastiest people I've ever met have been full of intelligence. Some of the most devious, the most dishonest, the most vile people I've ever met had lots of letters after their name. Intelligence IS NOT THE SAME as moral. It can be, maybe often is, but there isn't a direct correlation.
I didn't say anything then, because it would have turned the discussion in a direction I didn't want to go ... and besides, I have a blog where I can rant.