Archive for March, 2008

The Spitzer Effect

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

You’d have to be completely detached from the news (and late night TV) to not know that Eliot Spitzer, former Governor of New York, traded in his reputation, job and possibly marriage for a night with a $4000 prostitute. One can’t help but wonder how anyone could be so incredibly stupid.

How indeed?

Whenever I hear adults criticize teens for doing stupid things (as they often do), I’m always mindful of the Clinton’s and Spitzer’s of the world – proof of the “Dilbert Principle”, that we are all idiots sometimes.

Politicians seem particularly skilled at making huge mistakes, so much so that I hereby introduce a new word: Spitzerian, or to Spitzer – to do something so incredibly stupid that the entire nation is in awe over how someone so intelligent can be so dumb (synonymous with Clintonian, Foleyan and insert name of favorite scandal ridden politician here).

Psychologists come up with all kinds of fancy reasons why people do these things. But, not being a psychologist, I believe it’s just that we human being are stupid sometimes, and do things without thinking of the consequences, or assume we are somehow immune to those consequences. The truth is, we do it all the time. Mostly it’s little things: overeating, not exercising enough, cheating just a bit on our homework, procrastinating, etc.. Most of us avoid the big mistakes, if only because we can’t afford $4000 prostitutes.

I’ve seen BBYO members do some stupid things. I think the difference though is that in many cases they do stupid things because they don’t actually know the consequences (as compared to just not thinking about them).

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The Gauntlet is Thrown (and daintily picked up)

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

PastBBGBoardMember, in her recent comment, posted some very strong criticisms regarding this site and some of the comments members have posted. There are two in particular that I wish to address, both because I’ve heard them before and because they go to the very heart of the debate.

First, regarding IBoard she states: “If you don’t agree with how they are working, you should tell THEM, PERSONALLY- because in the end that is the only way that they can adjust their work ethic to best suit you

And second regarding me she states: “you are an advisor for this organization, and I find it pretty unprofessional for you to be conducting yourself on here in the manner that you are

The first of these comments raises a question of such enormous significance that it inspired this post. To understand the significance, let me ask you this: If you are unhappy with what your congressman does, what is appropriate action? To contact him or her directly – absolutely. But is it offensive to write a letter to the editor? Is it offensive to lead a protest march? After all, you did “elect them to office, saying that you wanted them to represent you to the best of their ability, but you trusted them to use their best judgment on how to handle every unique situation they encounter” (to quote PastBBGBoardMember). Does your vote mean you have abandoned your right to critique and debate the congressman’s action in public?

Assuming you have passed high school civics, or read a newspaper (especially in this election season), I think you’ll agree that the answer is no. Public and open discourse is at the heart of any Democracy. It is no accident that the first amendment is the first amendment. Freedom of speech is the fundamental basis of any Democracy.

So, the question at hand is this: Is BBYO a democracy or not?    (more…)