Ignorance is ignorance. It's never bliss. Whether you're with your honey, or driving a nice ride, living in affluence or, in the latest case, being a member of the Dallas Cowboys, it is simply never, ever a good idea to become conspicuous for being clueless. Naturally, most of us have better things to do with our time than to develop the insatiable need to tell this to Dez Bryant. But since his evident stupidity seems to be a bit contagious, perhaps it's time to tell it like it is.
Bryant's not an idiot. He just appears to be one. And if he continues to behave the way he reportedly behaved at the NorthPark Center mall in Dallas this past weekend, that stigma will be the kind of permanent fixture on his profile destined to cost him big-time dollars, and possibly his burgeoning career with the Cowboys.
And rightfully so.
You do not get into arguments with a police officer. Especially when it appears that police officer actually had a point and, quite honestly, you don't. While we're still unsure as to whether it may have been a crime for Bryant or his friends to be walking around a public mall with their pants hanging below their backsides, being asked to pull his pants up doesn't fall under the category of "profiling."
There would be no need to even address subjects like this, of course, had it not been for Bryant getting flagged with a criminal trespass warning by off-duty officers after exposing his underwear and buttocks to patrons at the mall over the weekend, according to police.
But now we need to address it because Bryant, essentially, asked us to by getting into yet another incident at a public mall.
"The outcome could have been avoided if the parties involved had simply complied with instructions given by the involved officers," Dallas Police said via a statement.
The statement almost comes across as sounding sensitive toward what was not Bryant's first incident at the mall where police said he had previously been involved in a "major disturbance" at a restaurant involving a woman, a parking violation and also cutting a line in a store. Perhaps, however, it's time that we leave sensitivity out of the equation.
Nobody wants to see someone walking around in their drawers in a mall. Since when does education need to be provided on this issue?
Two-year-olds kick their legs up for their parents to put their pants on over their diapers. Kids learn to pull up their pants before they can speak in full sentences. Children can't go out in public without being dressed, yet suddenly grown adults don't know the difference?
Dez Bryant's latest foray wasn't a venture into lawlessness, just continued prancing toward rebelliousness and belligerence. There's no excuse for it so there shouldn't be any explanation for it, either. But since he tried, the rest of us might as well stop avoiding doing so ourselves.
"It really wasn't me in the wrong," Bryant told ESPNDallas.com, evidently, diming out his boys.
What Bryant doesn't realize is that by saying so, he's basically acknowledging they were wrong. Which means he knew it was the wrong thing to do. Which explains why he's distancing himself.
So much for justifying his mouthing off to law-enforcement officials.
What there is absolutely no justification for is Bryant, his boys or anyone else wearing their pants below their backsides. Nobody needed President Barack Obama to say so over a year ago. We all knew it anyway.
This need to create fashion statements, using prison garb, tendencies, etc., to do it, is not just an act of stupidity but futility.
Is it going to get you a job? Will it help you ingratiate yourself in a world filled with adults? The ones you work with or will be working for someday, if you're lucky?
As an African-American -- who's fully aware this fashion abomination isn't confined solely to my community, by the way -- time and time again we hear about youngsters from our community complaining about stereotypes, racism, bigotry and the like. Yet, rarely do we ever sit around and say: "Maybe it's not that at all. Maybe it's just me."
In a society in which more than 15 million folks are unemployed, in which the unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent, in which businesses are laying off everyone from grandmothers to teenagers, while turning away others who are qualified for hire, the nerve of us to think it was really bad to have a younger generation providing yet the latest rationale for being typecast by the clothes they wear.
Now we have a member of the Dallas Cowboys, pocketing more than $8 million in guaranteed salary, acting the fool, asking officers, "What the [expletive] are you stopping me, like I stole something?"
The officer could've easily answered by saying, "Your dignity is what you've stolen," but we all know law-enforcement officials have enough on their collective plates.
The responsibility of pointing out Bryant's ignorance belongs to the rest of us. Assuming we care enough to simply do the right thing and spare a generation more self-inflicted wounds.
Clearly, Bryant doesn't know any better as of yet. Or worse, he simply doesn't care.
Stephen A. Smith is a featured ESPN.com columnist.