Saturday, June 11, 2011

No sex please, we want politics

Well, maybe I'm the exception here. I'm as entertained as anyone by public figures making idiots out of themselves, but is there any sound theory of democracy that requires marital fidelity of our representatives? What exactly would we gain by removing all sexual misbehaviour from the democratic institutions? Are over-sexed politicians really more likely to lie to the people than the chaste (Italians: compare Andreotti and Berlusconi. Who is more honest?)? This is just a huge distraction from the issues that actually matter to people, and we really shouldn't pretend otherwise.

Weiner didn't sexually assault, or even meet, the women involved here. He didn't pay for sex, or have sex, with any of them. They were not minors. Neither does it appear that they were at all unhappy about what he was tweeting. It's embarrassing in the extreme, and his wife could well feel cheated (virtually) and humiliated, but all in all it's hardly in the Clinton/Gingrich league. Having said that, knowing not to use an open messaging service like Twitter to send reserved information to one person is a sign of serious foolishness, which maybe should disqualify Weiner from public office.

But overall, there is a serious problem here, in that new social media are recording ever greater amounts of information about what we do, think or say, and preserving it for ever. So the search for sexual scandal is going to intensify, and the democratic process - and indeed society in general - is unlikely to benefit.