Monday, November 28, 2011

I Atent Dead

I just haven't felt a whole lot like writing these last couple of weeks. Not in an "I'm depressed and miserable and sunk into my dark squalor of the soul" sort of way, just in a "writing feels too much like work and I'm taking a break" sort of way.

Then I remembered that the last time I did this, I started a blog to make myself write to a schedule so I wouldn't get into the habit of not writing. And oh yeah, this was it. So it's back to blogging, even if I don't feel like it. Today, we discuss being stupid.

Exhibit A: Governor Sam Brownback. For those of you who haven't heard, he's the governor of Kansas, and he apparently has given his staff orders to monitor Twitter and Facebook for mentions of his name. So when an 18-year-old girl on her way back from a school trip to the state capitol made a joke on Twitter about telling the governor that he "sucked", they went to the high school principal and read him the riot act. And he, being fully willing to pass the pain downward, summoned the girl in question to his office and berated her in an attempt to browbeat her into writing a letter of apology. The girl, to her infinite credit, refused.

(Well, okay, not to her infinite credit. After all, she is trying to make it a point of principle that she should be allowed to tell someone they suck so long as she meant it as a joke. Hopefully, she has learned a valuable lesson: You can never be sure that the person you're saying bad things about won't hear it. Never say anything to anyone that you'd be ashamed to say to their face.)

But the point is not about bullying, or about abuse of political power. The point is, and the reason why the governor (or, strictly speaking, his staff--he's apologized and disavowed the act, if you want to be charitable and assume he's telling the truth) was stupid, was because nobody would have heard about this if he hadn't said anything. Teenage girl saying "the governor sucks"? Tweeted to sixty people, most of whom forgot it two minutes later. Teenage girl being forced to write letter of apology to thin-skinned, tinpot dictator of a governor who has a paranoid obsession with social media? That's the kind of thing that's in the news for days, nationwide. What he did wasn't just an abuse of power, it was counter-productive.

It's like Harlan Ellison said, when talking about the man who rejected his screenplay for 'I, Robot'. "Every new director asked to see the script I wrote," Ellison said, "and he said, 'We're not making that script, he said I had the brains of an artichoke!' Which just goes to prove me right. After all, I wasn't spreading it around town."


Entertained Organizer said...

Glad to have you back. And don't worry, just give it another 20 years and the Republican Party will figure out how to game this whole "social media" thing, of course by then we'll probably all be beaming our tweets directly into each other's brains.

magidin said...

Welcome back. I believe the expression was "...cranial capacity of an artichoke", and there was a throwaway line about how, once he looked up "cranial capacity"...

Entertained Organizer said...

I can't believe I missed the Granny Weatherwax joke in the title the first time I read this.