A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“Time kills all deals” (10/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/22)
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Entry from September 03, 2014
“What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care”

Many voters often do not show up to the polls, and political commentators wonder if the voters were ignorant of the candidates and the issues or if the voters were just apathetic. A popular joke is:

Q: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy/indifference?
A: I don’t know and I don’t care.


The joke has been cited in print since at least 1976.


17 May 1976, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Monday Moanin’” by Bill Rhodes Weaver, pg. A11, col. 2:
The professor recalled part of a speech: “The speaker asked, ‘What is the difference between ignorance and apathy?’

“The answer was: ‘I don’t know and I don’t care!’”

7 September 1977, San Diego (CA) Union, Don Freeman column (TV-Radio Editor), pg. B-5, col. 2:
I have one more line from “Laugh-In” here in my notebook. Someone asked: “What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?” The reply: “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

6 November 1978, State-Times (New Orleans, LA), “Should We Deplore Voter Apathy?” by Patrick J. Buchanan, pg. 2-A, col. 2:
WASHINGTON—A Southern solon tells the story of approaching, gingerly, an elderly constituent to inquire whether the recent low turnouts were due to voter ignorance of voter apathy.

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” came the retort.

22 March 1979, Hutchinson (KS) News, “More sour notes” by William Safire, pg. 4, col. 5:
Languajoke
When asked, “Is sloppiness in speech caused by irnorance or apathy?” an English teacher replied: “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Google News Archive
20 March 1982, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), “JCG This Week” by John Goolrick, pg. 6, col. 2:
That thought reminds me of an old joke.

First person: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy.

Second person: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Google Books
Creative Writing: For People Who Can’t Not Write
By Kathryn Ann Lindskoo
Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books
1989
Pg. 125:
What’s the difference between ignorance and indifference?
I don’t know and I don’t care.

Google Groups: alt.quotations
Some favorite quotes
Paul J Lucas
1/11/94
From article <1994Jan11....@lclark.edu>, by (Scott Steele):
>
> This one has described my life recently…
>
> “I don’t know. I don’t care. And it doesn’t make any difference.”
>
> Jack Kerouac
That reminds me of:

Q: What’s the difference between ignorance and indifference?
A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Google Books
The Speaker’s Quote Book:
Over 4,500 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions

By Roy B. Zuck
Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications
1997
Pg. 210:
A pastor announced his topic for his sermon as “Ignorance and Indifference.” A person in the congregation saw that in the bulletin and leaned to his neighbor and said, “What does that mean?”

He answered, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Twitter
Grace Franki
‏@philosophotter
Government apathy and ignorance: I don’t know and I don’t care. Hewson hitting the nail on the head. #FODI
9:01 PM - 29 Aug 2014

Artvoice
Democrats: Vote Teachout / Hochul September 9th
by Alan Bedenko (@BuffaloPundit) - posted 6:27 am, September 3, 2014
(...)
As the old joke goes, ‘what’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? I don’t know and I don’t care’. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, September 03, 2014 • Permalink