Recently during my morning commute, I saw a bumper sticker ahead of me that read, “My Dog is smarter than your honor student.” Aside from the interesting capitalization (why capitalize “dog” over “honor student”?), I started to wonder what it was about American society that drives people to affix hard-to-remove stickers on their primary modes of transportation declaring their belligerent attitudes towards honor students.
I’m not so much interested in why people brag about their children being honor students; parents bragging about their children is nothing new (especially if your parents are Asian like mine). What’s much more interesting is the cottage industry that has sprung up around the dismissal of honor student achievements (by comparing them to dogs) or downright threatening honor students (such as the bumper sticker that reads “My kid can beat up your honor student”). It’s understandable if someone grows annoyed at the constant bragging of peoples’ honor students (though think of the last time you actually saw an unironic declaration of pride for their child’s honor student status as a bumper sticker – I can’t remember either). Maybe they say a flippant remark or make fun of them to their friends. But something drives a person to pay money to buy a bumper sticker and then take time to actually put it on the bumper of their car because they hate honor students so much. This is a significant amount of effort to declare one’s opinion about honor students. And certainly it says something about our society when such a cottage industry can exist (and thrive).
Social critics in the United States often accuse our society of having a strong anti-intellectualism streak. Do these bumper stickers prove them right?