Archive for March 12, 2008

Why do they do it?

DeeTeeFrom DeeTee:  Lemmings jump off the cliff to their death…

Authors continue to fabricate their “autobiographies” when, most likely, it’s just a matter of time until they are caught…

Mighty politicians continue to huff and puff against crime — and sexual orientation — while committing the same acts that they decry.

I can’t speak for the lemmings, but I would like to try to tie together some of the recent liar/hypocrite phenomena, and offer my own (likely over-simplistic) explanation…

In the Chicago Tribune, March 10, excellent writer Julia Keller wrote a thought-provoking column:  “Why they lie:  Is it desperation? Panic? Hubris? Recklessness? Stupidity? Literary larceny is now an easy act to follow”  (you may need to log in to the Trib to read this). 

Ms. Keller writes of the recent slew of authors who have either fabricated their stories and or/plagiarized others’ words — in a time where anyone, anywhere, can pretty much verify anything on the Internet.   She quotes Nancy Nall:  “‘How in the world did [a particular author] think she’d get away with this?'”  To me, that’s at least as interesting as WHY anyone would try. 

Same goes for the politicians.  The “whys” are often boring, or at least predictable:  Pressure.  Feelings of inadequacy.  Needing excitement or variety.  Feeling all-powerful and deserving.  Blah, blah, blah.

But how did they think they would get away with it?  James Frey, Misha Defonesca, Margaret B. Jones, Tim Goeglein (see Ms. Keller’s article):   well, they did get away with it — at least for a while.  But, for example, the author of “Love and Consequences,” Margaret B. Jones, was turned in by her own sister.  From the Los Angeles Times:

“”Jones” is actually Margaret Seltzer. Instead of being a half-white, half-Native American who grew up in a foster home and once sold drugs for the Bloods street gang, she is a white woman who was raised with her biological family in Sherman Oaks and graduated from Campbell Hall, an exclusive private school in the San Fernando Valley.”

I’m sorry, but did she not think her family would read her book?  Did she not think people would recognize her?  Why didn’t she simply call her work a novel instead of a memoir?  Perhaps this smacks of immense hubris; perhaps it’s as simple as stupidity (more on that in a minute).

Now let’s switch to Political Scandal du Jour, “Client #9,” Eliot Spitzer. who just resigned as NY Governor.

When I first heard that Spitzer was involved with a “prostitution ring” — as so many headlines put it — I thought they meant he was, like, a pimp or something.   Then I understood that he had sex with a prostitute.  OK, bad, but not any of my business, I thought (at first)…

Then I read how he was always so tough on crime, and how he had been doing this for years, and that he may have spent over $40,000 on prostitutes in…. a year or so?  And I thought:  Resign, you fool!

There he was with his beautiful wife at his side, apologizing and resigning.  I thought:  did he really think he wouldn’t be caught?  If you’re a public figure — especially with a healthy share of enemies — especially when you are known for being HARD ON CRIME — then you shouldn’t commit public crimes!

If you’re a religious zealot politician, then maybe you shouldn’t proposition male pages!  If you’re a man of the cloth, sworn to uphold G-d’s word, maybe you shouldn’t rape your under-age flock!  If you’re a public figure known for your anti-gay stance, maybe you shouldn’t be seeking same-sex sex in public restrooms!

Isn’t this part of Common Sense 101?  Don’t they still require public figures to take this course?  Actually, aren’t people supposed to learn this before they become public figures?

So, my over-simplified theory, or at least question:  Have we as a species actually de-evolved to such a point where we are just plain stupid?  Could that be why so many public figures do so many hypocritical, illegal, immoral things without seemingly worrying about getting caught?  I.e., it’s not that they think they are above the law… it’s just that they haven’t taken the time to think things through.

Any ideas on this?

March 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm 2 comments


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