Does Anyone Hear a Rattling Noise?
The Economist today has an interesting article on the front page claiming "Everybody Does It".
The "It" in this case is make foolish or embarrassing remarks via e-mail, social netwroking sites, or, gawdelpus, on blogs.
The Economist says that the approaching era of online politics is likely to herald a new sort of Bowdlerism, because as the sub-head states: "Everybody has a skeleton."
Only the very blandest, most media-savvy and controlled people, who have never uttered a controversial sentence in their lives, will be deemed fit to hold public office.Or perhaps this is pessimistic?
Maybe the days of "Shock! Scandal!" will die out as we realize that human failings tend to be common among humans. Already, sex scandals are not what they used to be. Think not? Consider Rudy Giuliani. How many prior presidential candidates do you know of with admitted extramarital affairs? Of course, Eliot Spitzer had to resign for the same sort of act.
Perhaps, instead of irrational self-censorship we're slowly drifitng perforce into a new era of openness: Maybe clergymen and politicos will feel free to say "I'm queer, and I like being that way." Maybe matrons will be able to voice a preference for being spanked. Maybe two men or women who love each other will be accepted without question as homosexuality loses its shock value relative to the myriad other peculiar sexual preferences of human beings which will slowly become more and more visible?
Maybe we'll finally be able to distinguish between a true "youthful indiscretion" and a major warning flag?
Because perhaps the real question here is about the lessons learned from the past? How do our words and actions of yesterday stack up against those of today?
After all, as a young adult I was racist and xenophobic. But I reasoned my way out of it. And I think that in my case, having my former thoughts on this blog might be a good reminder.
However, if in the new era the past might be forgiveable, or at least understandable, what if the indiscreet person shows no remorse, or no change? What if they continue to claim personal privilege beyond reason? What if they refuse to acknowledge the sordid facts of their histories? Well, I'd say it might not be that bad a deal for anyone. After all, Mel Gibson is still making movies. And Britney has another album out. And Bush has yet to be impeached.
So why not open the floodgates? Acknowledge that our personal histories are bigger than a seven-second sound bite? Tell people that they can no longer vote based on whether they'd buy a used car from this photo and that from now on they need to do some homework? Admit that we are layered folks?
Censorship or frank, free, expression? Which way do you think we'll break? Not tomorrow but, say, twenty years from now?
Me, I think we'll go for the latter. It's so much easier to decide who to vote for if you know about his/her past and the lessons he/she drew from it.
Labels: Arguments, Celebration, Corruption, Creative Aquisitions Dept., Disturbing, Heroes, Justice?, Memory, Names, panoptica, Politics, Power, Psychology, Responsibility, Stupidity, the art of the blog