To paraphrase Karl Marx, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second time as farce, third as op-ed. Yes, the Post Opinions page involves some of the more farcical elements of the General Petraeus scandal — Dr. and Mrs. Tampa Socialite/30,000 pages of e-mails with a general/ whatever that shirtless guy was about for the purpose of pointing that from the inside the farce field, it’s not all that funny.
Scott and Jill Kelley write today about their experience as collateral damage in a big national scandal with e-mails that got leaked to the press and resulted in intense news media attention. It’s the humanizing phase of the scandal, in which we are reminded that people were hurt.
Which just ruins a good scandal. Washington loves doing that. There’s nothing Washington likes more than sinking its teeth into a scandal and squeezing all the fun and verve and SCANDAL from it until it becomes that wan, pale thing, the sanitized tell-all book deal. In this case we go even further, turning vile salacious gossip into a solemn urge that Congress reflect deeply on some legislation and policy proposals.
But that’s what Washington’s doing in the bunker today, folks. Clamoring for more serious discussion and fewer socialites/shirtless guys:
Whatever you think of this scandal and its principals, please don’t let that distract you from the importance of passing the Electronic Privacy Act. That she “put her own correspondence” on display doesn’t change the fact that you, me and every other citizen currently … [lack] adequate legal protection against the government spying on our electronic communications.
Compared to the contentions that the government is, in effect, reading our mail, the shenanigans of some hooligans of the press on the front lawn of a status-seeking socialite seems like a mere annoyance.
Some want to LEARN LESSONS from this scandal and resolve to behave in a more careful manner!
This teaches us several things: 1. Solve your own problems; don’t go to the authorities unless you have no other option. 2. Never write (or type) anything that you couldn’t show to your grandchildren, your priest/pastor/rabbi/imam, your wife, or a federal agent. 3. It never fails that an anecdote will distract from larger principles. The ECPA is absolutely vital and will protect everyone, but there are people who are against it because it’s been [supported] by “rich socialites.”
And — aw, man — lecture on the long-lost responsibilities of the media!
What exactly did this family actually do to deserve to have their privacy invaded? What makes people think that the people in the press have the facts correct? Innuendo and rumor has ruined far more people than truth and reality have.
While we’re at it, we might as well drain all the fun from the entire Internet. At least where “fun” is defined as “something you don’t want to explain to your kid’s friends.”
If you don’t want something public, don’t use a computer for personal conversations. If you value your privacy, don’t invite a myriad of well known persons to large public affairs, such as fundraisers, or parties. Assume that if you fail to abide by these two axioms, sooner or later, your activities will become public.
Wow. Okay, everyone out of the bunker, PostScript has some major deleting and disinviting to do.