Weinergate, women and a secularized society

DISGRACED: Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) could no longer dodge questions about congressional internet security when more scurrilous photographs surfaced that clearly identified his Twitter hacker to be Weiner himself. (John Minchillo, AP Photo)

DISGRACED: Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) could no longer dodge questions about congressional internet security when more scurrilous photographs surfaced that clearly identified his Twitter hacker to be Weiner himself. (John Minchillo, AP Photo)

OHATCHEE, Al. June 15, 2011 — Last week, I happened to be running errands on a military post when the nearest TV displayed Fox News Channel announcing that Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was about to make a statement concerning his rumored online affairs at any moment.

The next thing I knew, Andrew Breitbart approached the empty podium. Yes, Andrew “that-fool-lying-punk-fake-journalist” Breitbart, who happened to get all the facts straight in this outrageous scandal while (if I’m not mistaken) recovering from the brink of pneumonia and intending to be on Memorial Day vacation.

He was promptly rewarded by some with the slanderous accusation of being the Twitter “hacker” that Representative Weiner flippantly referred to.

To make a long story short, Weiner – who has been a representative from New York since I lived there as a little girl – could no longer dodge questions about congressional internet security when more scurrilous photographs surfaced that clearly identified the “hacker” to be Weiner himself.

Thus, the 46-year-old congressman who has not yet reached his first wedding anniversary tearfully confessed that his adulterous internet flings (and subsequent deception about it) were “destructive”.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” said Weiner, as he took responsibility for the crazy photos that were sent to various women across the country, most of whom he had met on Facebook.

While watching coverage of this scandal, it appears to me that old school journalists have made some misconceptions about the use of online social networking. There is nothing inappropriate about a member of Congress or political candidate following a young constituent, supporter or media contributor on Twitter or Facebook. For instance, I am followed unobtrusively by Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor, Thaddeus McCotter, Joe Miller and Dale Peterson, among others. That is merely using a social network for what it is – a network. Twitter is a great way to observe the public’s reaction to various breaking news stories and policy issues.

The line between inappropriate relationships in a network is as clear on the internet as it is off the internet. Weiner crossed it with no qualms whatsoever, and then unconvincingly lied about it to cover up his indiscretion. He would have done well to consider the divine admonition that his ancestors received through Moses: Be sure your sin will find you out.

Perhaps Weiner was taking cues from Machiavelli instead. To the Renaissance political theorist, it was completely possible and advisable to separate public morality from private morality. Essentially, Machiavelli’s warning was that all subjects are immoral and yet admire morality, so a ruler out of necessity must disregard morality in private while maintaining a public façade of righteousness. (What do you think happens to the messengers who blow his cover?)…

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