The Speculist: Jeremy Irons Is a Nitwit


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Jeremy Irons Is a Nitwit

I realize the headline violates our rule against personal attacks. But I just have to make an exception in the case of Mr. Irons, who has achieved a level of asininity rare even for a movie star making comments on global issues.

Before we delve into the really asinine stuff, let me highlight one area of agreement:

In a film on the website, Irons declares: “People around the world suffer hunger — 1 billion. Now that’s bad, worse than bad, that’s crazy! We’ve got to get mad. I want you to get mad. I want you to get up right now, stick your head out of the window and yell, ‘I’m mad as hell’.”

Okay, setting aside the very tired reference to a 35-year-old movie (that he wasn't even in), I agree that we should be appalled about the number of hungry people in the world. And I am completely behind programs aimed at getting food to the hungry, or better yet, putting food-production capability into the hands of the hungry. Then we get this:

Irons, who owns seven houses, including a pink castle in Co Cork, Ireland, believes a new economic vision is needed in the wake of the global financial crisis. “We are facing an economic revolution,” he said. “I don’t think things can ever be the same again. The next generation will have to think laterally and find ways to cope with this.”

Here's some lateral thinking. Jeremy, I will listen to what you have to say about the need for an economic revolution after you go sell six of your seven houses and give the proceeds to feed the hungry. That would prove that you're serious about revolution, and not just some reeking hypocrite who thinks it's okay to personally benefit from a system that you condemn because you're an "artist."

But it gets much worse.

“One always returns to the fact that there are just too many of us, the population continues to rise and it’s unsustainable,” he said in an interview with The Sunday Times. “I think we have to find ways where we’re not having to scrap our effluent junk and are a really sustainable planet.”

Natural systems of selfregulation may stop population growth, he said: “I suspect there’ll be a very big outbreak of something because the world always takes care of itself.”

The 61-year-old actor went on to speculate that either disease or war, “probably disease”, could become nature’s way of halving the population.

Have you ever noticed how the people who call for there to be "less of us" never seem to think that they are part of the problem? If there are too many people on the planet, what are you doing here still taking up space and using resources?

Anyhow, it seems that Irons is worried that a billion people are hungry, but he nods approvingly at scenarios wherein more than three billion people get wiped out by disease or natural disaster. Anyone who thinks that having half the population of the planet die is a "solution" to anything is a moral cretin of unspeakable proportions. However, I doubt that he actually believes this. He just hasn't thought through what he's saying.

So I'll stick with with my initial diagnosis: nitwit.


Obviously I agree that halving the population directly is wrong. Do you think people having [two or fewer] children as a means to population control is also wrong? China has created a 1 child per family rule - is that also immoral?

The opposite extreme is to have as many children as possible because, you know, one in a million will be a genius who will find a clever solution to feed the other 999,999 could-have-been that it took to find the one. I think that plan is equally immoral.

On a slightly different tack, are you opposed to GM food that has the potential to feed 10x the number of people per acre because it's "unnatural"? I compare the potential negative health impact of GM foods against the proven negative impact of heavily manufactured food (HFCS, et al.) and it seems to me that the benefit of feeding people today outweighs the risk that we might need to solve a GM food induced problem tomorrow.

Perhaps Mr.Nitwit is simply infected with a particularly misguided population downsizing meme. We privileged USians may have access to all we care to eat; what we lack is appreciation for what makes that true.

Mike --

I think using birth control to manage population growth is a sane and moral thing to do. It should be voluntary, however. The Chinese policy is understandable, but -- in my view -- still wrong.

I think that fantasizing about nature rising up to smite humanity and knocking off a few billion of us is creepy and deranged.

I agree with your reasoning on GM foods.

How far can creepy and deranged go before it is stopped by more powerful external forces?

If I don't take a sick day then stand a little too close in your cube at work am I perpetrating an act of biological warfare? If I infect you (and others) with an absurd meme, should I be held accountable for any eventual shift in group-think?

Is the point that nitwits are only dangerous en masse? How many like-minded nitwits does it take to become dangerous? sorry if that sounds like a cynical koan. :)

Phil, it would be an interesting project for the Speculist to do some research and find out just how long through history people have been calling for population control to stave off impending doom. Malthus comes to mind, but I'm willing to bet the sentiment is as old as humanity. A history of linear thinking and not realizing how technology changes the game continually.

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