I don’t know when it was that we, as a nation, completely lost our minds, but I feel the need to begin by blaming what was once called The Learning Channel, dear old TLC.

What was once a channel with programming about interesting health issues and the occasional home redesign show now regularly features all sorts of oddities (and, no, I don’t mean the Sarah Palin reality show.)

There are the almost-always morbidly obese women on “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant,” who thought their forthcoming offspring was just an exceptionally large, painful bowel movement.

There’s “Little People, Big World,” which I always thought was meant to make people feel sympathetic to the plight of dwarves, but I generally come away from that show thinking that the dwarf dad is really a jerk – regardless of his height.

Then, there’s the most terrifying of them all, the show that makes me worry about how far ‘round the bend we’ve gone as a people: “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

The show, which attracted more ratings than Mitt Romney’s RNC speech and tied Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC, features  seven-year-old self-proclaimed “beauty queen” Alana, a somewhat chubby child who is prone to spout instantly sickening and captivating catch-phrases like “You better redneckognize” and “A dolla makes me holla, honey boo boo.”

What is cute for eight seconds becomes horrifying over eight episodes.

This behavior is not only rewarded, but supported by Alana’s family, a truly bizarre cast of characters that makes those nice backwoods people from “Deliverance” seem downright folksy and Mayberryesque.

Family game night can include the staple of “Guess Whose Breath,” where a family member is blindfolded and the others breathe in their face until they can guess who it is by the olfactory clues.

This is just the base level of crazy that goes on the ratings flagship “Honey Boo Boo,” where there is no such word as shame.

Why is that a good thing?

Isn’t some shame a necessary thing to keep you from doing ridiculously impulsive and stupid things?

And, I suppose, most importantly: when did sheer ignorance become a valid point of view?

The spotlight of fame has become a beacon for infamy, as “reality television” has truly only shown us the seedy underbelly of what we’ve become as a society.

We cheapen the institution of marriage by shows like “The Bachelor,” “Joe Millionaire,” or the grandfather of them all, “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?” We encourage backstabbing and sneakiness as necessary human traits in shows like “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.” We even encourage the voyeurism and lack of privacy our age is known for in shows like “Big Brother” and “Glass House.”

I’m not yet sure what the “Honey Boo Boo” means for us and our society in these perilous times, but, just in case, we should at least “redneckognize” the problem is here, and it ain’t leavin’ any time soon.