That weighty tome Wikipedia tells me that an idiot is a mentally deficient person, or someone who acts in a self-defeating or significantly counterproductive way.
That’s a strong word. A word never to be used lightly. A word I use to describe politicians or so called authority figures who should know better. The English politican who created the fuel crisis he was trying to avoid by telling people to stockpile fuel at home is an idiot. The woman who suffered severe burns by transferring fuel from one container to another, in her kitchen, where there was a lit flame, may have been foolish, or misled, or simply worried, but she thought she was following advice.
I tried to find an excerpt from 30 Rock where Liz Lemon realises that she is being idiotic- we can all reflect on our behaviour and see where it’s unhelpful. That didn’t work, so I’ll show you someone else sometimes described as an idiot. (Apologies if needed US folks; know that I’m being critical of the individual and not the institution.)
But do you know what’s really idiotic?
A paid swimming coach telling a fearless, friendly, highly motivated 5 year old who couldn’t physically do what she was asked that she was an idiot.
Now that is shocking, dangerous, counterproductive and self defeating. The child’s parents have to deal with her shock, dismay and disappointment. They have to make their anger and outrage known to the relevant authorities. They have to work out a different way of teaching their children swimming techniques.
That swimming coach put her job, and the reputation of the employer, on the line by using highly inappropriate language and displaying an attitude that should never belong to anyone responsible for supporting and encouraging children.
More fool her. What an idiot.