While this was not the subject of any articles in the Los Angeles Times, nor is it the topic of national debate, it begs for attention.
There are a few common phrases that get more and more irritating every time I hear them. Usually they are spoken in the presence of a large group.
The first is the statement, ‘There are no stupid questions.’ Many professors and public speakers subscribe to this creed, convinced that it will motivate their listeners to ask questions as if there will be no humiliation.
But this is false.
There are always stupid questions.
Recently, I was at a UC Irvine transfer student orientation. At one stage of the event, the new students were given a chance to ask any question, which would then be answered by continuing students.
Before anyone was allowed to say anything, the woman who introduced the group of old students made sure everyone felt comfortable with themselves: ‘Don’t worry, there are no stupid questions here.’
However, at the time there were far more stupid questions in my head than useful or smart questions. ‘Why are these seats less comfortable than the ones in UC Santa Cruz lecture halls?’ ‘Why do my sandals smell like potatoes?’ ‘When is Halo 3 coming out?’
While I kept these to myself, someone was bold enough to ask what I believe most people would consider a stupid question. ‘Is tuition free of cost?’ I turned to look at the woman leading the event, the one who implied that all questions were smart and unique in their own way. Her expression seemed defeated; it was as if I could hear her thoughts: ‘Touch