by David Sisler

It is an oft-repeated line in Forrest Gump, one of my all-time favorite movies. Someone asks Forrest, “Are you stupid?” and he replies, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Reading the newspaper reveals a lot of stupidity. It would make Forrest Gump proud. Or ashamed.


Simon Stertzer, a cardiovascular surgeon at Stanford University, receives today’s first SIASD award. In September, Mathis Winkler, writing in the Las Vegas Sun, told us that the good doctor purchased the Palomino Club, an all-nude dancing club, “to pay for research at the university and in the private sector.”

Dr. Stertzer uses money from his business investments to pay for scientific work. “Whatever will provide cash flow” will do, he said, ignoring raised eyebrows in the gambling Mecca and the medical community. “The fact is that the club is legal. It was a real estate investment,” he said.

Well, a one sentence story on yesterday’s page 2 indicates Dr. Stertzer may have gotten the message: “A respected cardiovascular surgeon from Stanford University who purchased three Las Vegas strip clubs to finance his medical research says bad publicity over the move has persuaded him to sell the establishments.”

There seems to have been no thought about his moral position, just bad publicity. Well, Doctor, stupid is as stupid does.


The Wall Street Journal is the source for our second award. For more than two years, Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner has been noticing an increase in syphilis among homosexual men in San Francisco. Seven of the 29 cases he studied were in men who met in an America Online chat room.

In an attempt to control the new outbreak (29 cases in 1999, 47 in 2000, 93 in the first nine months of this year) Dr. Klausner asked AOL to post warnings in its homosexual-related chat rooms. AOL declined.

Reporter Julia Angwin notes that Act Up San Francisco, an AIDS activist organization, supports AOL. They put out a press release late last month urging America Online to “resist pressure from government health officials” to post health advisories online, calling those efforts the “bigoted brainchild” of Dr. Klausner.

“We feel that Dr. Klausner is invading gay men's privacy,” said Todd Swindell, a spokesman for Act Up San Francisco.

An attempt to save lives, and stop the spread of disease is invading their privacy? Stupid is, as stupid does!


Next, we turn to the sports page, where it is obvious that baseball owners are clueless.

In recent days baseball’s moguls voted to dump two franchises which were not producing enough money. The cost to save this money may be more than the money saved, but no matter. Their minds were made up. They did not wish to be confused with the facts (and did you notice, the spiraling salaries they pay players received very little mention).

The folks who bankroll the Atlanta Braves have had their share of questionable player deals over the years, but on Wednesday, they proved once again, SIASD.

The Braves have re-signed their center fielder, Andruw Jones, to a six-year contract worth $75 million. Before this year, Andruw’s batting average went up every year since he joined the Braves in 1996, and his strikeout totals decreased every year since 1997. Mr. Jones really knows how to do impress the baseball money bags. In his contract year, he reported to camp overweight and saw his batting average drop 52 points and his strikeouts increase 40 percent. Even with that performance drop, he managed to match some of last year’s statistics, but as "a decade of excellence" ended short of the Fall Classic once again, Braves fans must wonder about what might have been.

You want to impress your employer so that he gives you a raise, so you produce less this year than you did the year before, and your boss still gives you a raise. Ah, but the potential is there, you say. Not for my money.

Feel free to book mark this column and at the end of the 2002 campaign tell me “I told you so,” if Andruw Jones’ last crusade produces baseball's Holy Grail, and smears egg on my face.

If there is a 2002 campaign, that is. No matter that baseball just produced the best World Series in years (even if the Pirates weren’t in it). No matter that revenue is up and attendance is up. These ninnies – owners and players – are likely to produce a strike over contraction and the new collective bargaining agreement, and wipe out the entire season. Like Forrest says.


The Richmond County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Department receives the next SIASD Award, with a dishonorable mention to Richmond County State Court Judge David Watkins.

On May 19, Kilian L. Palmer struck an 8-year-old girl, Laura Jean Chrisco, with his car, killing her.

Eight days before the fatal crash, Mr. Palmer collided with an ambulance, and the fact that he was on probation did not show up. “Mr. Palmer was on probation for marijuana possession and had the drug in his system when his car struck Laura Jean,” Sylvia Cooper writes for The Augusta Chronicle. At the time of the accident which killed a little girl, the probation violation still went unnoticed. During the next three months, Mr. Palmer received three more traffic tickets and failed to report to court for any of them.

It was not until Laura Jean’s parents received the toxicology report on Mr. Palmer, indicating the presence of marijuana in his blood, that a warrant was issued for his arrest. The warrant was issued on August 15 but was not executed until October 24 when Mr. Chrisco called the sheriff’s office and insisted that Mr. Palmer be picked up.

If the dead girl’s parents had not pushed the point, no warrant would ever have been issued. If the dead girl’s parents had not insisted, Mr. Palmer may never have been picked up.

And when Mr. Palmer faced Judge Watkins, he received, for taking a young girl’s life, while driving under the influence of an illegal substance, the staggering sentence of five months and 12 days in prison! Oh, he does get 4 years probation when he gets out. Now, let’s see, when he gets out of prison he will be on probation for breaking probation.

Stupid is as stupid does.


I yield the floor to Ann Landers for the final award.

“Need a Love Life in Utah” wrote to Abigail Van Buren’s twin sister and described her relationship with a man she is dating. Ms. Need has been divorced for two years and wants to know if it will be okay to bring her new squeeze home for a sleep over. The catch is Ms. Need’s 16-year-old daughter, Renee.

Ms. Need, says, “I don’t want to give her the impression that it’s OK for teen-agers to have sex.”

Ann responds that it is “not appropriate to have a male overnight guest when there is a teen-ager in the house. Plan overnighters or weekends away whenever Renee has overnight plans of her own.”

I am not sure whether to give the SIASD award to “Need a Love Life in Utah” or Ms. Landers.

The advice of Robert Burns has been forgotten here. What is to keep Renee from stumbling in on the best laid plans of Mom and her boyfriend? Oops!

And what happened to keeping your clothes on until after the preacher says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife?” After all, that is what the Bible teaches, but in 2001, Ann Landers seems to carry more weight than the Lord God Almighty. And that is stupid, indeed.

We’ll make this one a double award. Stupid is, as stupid does.


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