If by chance a team of sociologists from another planet visited earth during the past few weeks, they surely reached the conclusion that Terran civilization (such as it is) is doomed to extinction in the very near future. And as if they didn’t have any other proof available, they could have pointed to the public’s all-consuming obsession with the electronic communications and the genitalia (not necessarily in that order) of a certain elected government official from the state of New York.
I know, I know. You’ve heard more than enough about this non-story already, and you’ve heard your quota of wiener jokes, at least for a couple of months. And normally, this is the kind of non-story I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, or even a ten-INCH pole, if ya know what I mean. But any time there is such a brouhaha about something so small and insignificant (I don’t mean it that way, Congressman) – in fact, especially when there is a brouhaha about something so small and insignificant – it reveals a great deal about our alleged civilization, and it would behoove us to pause and take stock.
Lesson 1: Privacy is obsolete.
Or at least it’s an endangered species. In this age of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, anything you do or say has the potential to make you immortal. Especially if you’re a public figure.
Lesson 2: Even very intelligent people can do very stupid things.
Few would dispute the capable intellects of Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, John Edwards or even Arnold Schwarzenegger. But sometimes the brain gets muddled by an overdose of testosterone. Anthony Weiner was one of the brightest members of Congress, with a rare knack for injecting reason into a discussion and exposing the idiocies of some of his colleagues. Now, he’ll be forever remembered as just another guy who, once too often, did his thinking with his crotch.
Lesson 3: Sometimes even a habitual liar tells the truth.
Because the reports of Weiner’s shenanigans came from serial liar Andrew Breitbart, many people dismissed them at first. But even in Europe, a broken clock is right once a day. While Brietbart was incapable of being truthful about ACORN or Planned Parenthood, he came through on the topic he really, passionately cared about: a young congressman’s hot bod.
Lesson 4: Americans are terrified of sex
Except for a handful of oppressive theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Iran, there is almost nowhere where people live in such abject terror of s-e-x as the good ol’ U.S. of A. Think about it. We have a government agency that monitors TV broadcasts for signs of “indecency” and hands out fines for the same – one of the heftiest of recent memory being for the all-too-brief accidental exposure of Janet Jackson’s right hooter. This agency once decided that the word fuck is obscene only if it refers to sex, and not if merely used as an expletive. You think I’m making this up? Meanwhile, many Americans are horrified at any usage of the word at all (the mere word, mind you-heaven knows how they react to the act itself) and some may spell it as f**k so nobody will know what they’re really trying to say. When Americans talk about immorality, it’s a good bet they’re not referring to lying, cheating, stealing or even killing, but to f**king.
Lesson 5: Americans are obsessed with sex.
But despite -or perhaps in large part because of – the fear and paranoia, we just can’t get enough of it. While publicly condemning Janet Jackson’s impropriety, we privately replay the recording in slow-mo to get a better look at her starboard buoy. A Hollywood box office success without at least one sex scene is virtually unthinkable. Many people, if they eliminated the time they spend perusing pornography, could just about supply the electricity they’d need for their other Internet usage by making a battery from a potato. When people wring their hands over the latest celebrity sex scandal, there’s a part of them thinking, “damn, why couldn’t that have been me?”
Lesson 6: Americans are confused about sex.
But why bring Ms. Jackson’s mammary miracle into the picture at all? Why can’t we just appreciate it for the magnificent work of nature it is without dragging sex into the frame? Because this is Amurrca, bub, and there’s no such thing as nudity without sex, and there’s no such thing as sex without obscenity – unless of course it’s a strictly private matter between father and daughter.
Even breast-feeding – yes, breast-feeding – has been attacked by the self-appointed guardians of (other people’s) “morality”, inspiring one of my all-time favorite bumper stickers: “If breast-feeding offends you, put a blanket over your head.”
But wait. It gets even better.
Spirit Of Justice is an Art Deco statue placed in the Dept. Of Justice Building in Washington D.C. in the 1930’s. Like much classical-styled sculpture, it personifies Justice as female, and it depicts the female form, for esthetic and symbolic reasons, with a bare breast. She survived the Great Depression, she survived World War II, she survived a presidential assassination, she survived Watergate, she survived Dan Quayle, she survived Monicagate. But she didn’t survive John Ashcroft.
The second Bush in the Oval Office deemed himself on a mission from the Almighty to convert the heathen masses to his vision of Christian (sic) morality (sic), and accordingly appointed people like ultra-fundamentalist Ashcroft, who was uncomfortable being photographed in front of the less-than-fully-clothed sculpture.
Which just makes you wonder what kind of man would regard a block of metal as a potential copulatory partner. In any case, the administration spent 8000 bucks of your tax money to put a drape over the offending boob – the one on the statue, that is.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you combine fear with obsession with contrived ignorance, confusion is the inevitable product. Ours is, after all, the country that has experimented with abstinence-only sex “education”, as the result of which the term “spit baby” became popular among Texas teens who believed they’d been impregnated through oral activity.
Which brings us back to the representative with the unfortunate last name. Apparently, he didn’t commit adultery, though he may have had it on his mind. He didn’t even bare his w***er. And even if he had, that wouldn’t have constituted s*x. But in the minds of many Amurrcans, it’s all the same.
Lesson 7: Politicians are addicted to (illicit) sex.
By some counts, at least 55% of married American men and at least 45% of married American women ADMIT to having had affairs. I’d bet that the percentages of politicians are much higher – very close, in fact to 100%. There’s something about the power and prestige and money and ready availability of nookie that makes it pretty much inevitable.
Many will say that “they all do it” is not a valid defense, because the number of people doing a certain thing does not determine its moral acceptability. True enough, but on the other hand it creates a grotesquely uneven playing field if you penalize the polictician who just happens to be unlucky enough to get caught. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have bottom-feeders like Breitbart so eagerly volunteering their PR services on behalf of Weiner’s goods.
(NEXT: Sorry, but there’s more to come.)