Nathanial Garrod

Elected Official Scandals

I am a semi-regular reader of “Whatever.” “Whatever” is a blog by Hugo nominated writer John Scalzi. Recently, he wrote about a scandal involving NY Congressman Christopher Lee.

Mr. Lee, a Republican-party Representative and family mad born in Eastern New York is an advocate for teen internet safety. Yet somehow, he missed the message that you should take your own advice. He posted a personal ad on Craigslist, and ended up corresponding with a woman with whom he sent a picture of himself shirtless, taken in a mirror with a cell phone camera. This begs the question “really?!” It also broadens ones view; we have learned that young women are not the only individuals exploiting what has become known as “MySpace angles.”

Now I’ll grant the fact that I’m sure this kind of activity has gone on in the past. Unfaithful men (and women) are not a new thing. Just like I’m sure George Washington himself uttered a few choice four-letter words. Come on, you can’t imagine our first president dropping the so-called “F-bomb?” While the behavior Mr. Lee exhibited is not new – and please note I am not justifying this behavior, just acknowledging that it happens – the way that we communicate in the 21st century is. Because of the trace-ability of our communication, the choices that individuals make and the things that individuals do become more public.

We write on each others Facebook walls, send text messages,  and post pictures on Flickr or Photobucket. Blogging and Tumblr-ing about things that have happened at school or with friends is normal. E-Mails are sent back and forth by professionals and children. Friendships begin and end on the internet. Fights start. People feel like they can reveal their “true feelings” to a “select group” of people. Then their best friends find out about that issue and gets mad. Not that I’ve ever dealt with that.

This new form of communication is excellent, but it requires individuals to be judicious. The crazy thing about the situation with Mr. Lee is that he very apparently knew better. Yet he still made the decision he did. Being a public representative, he has a lot of influence and authority, even with individuals whom he does not represent. I think his decisions demonstrate the exexcution of poor personal values, and a lack of adherence to American ethics.

Yet I do not think that because of a poor set of choices that do not represent or bring pride to a set of constituents, he should be put in a position where resigning is his best option. I think he should be required to finish his term. Maybe after that he decides to to continue. Whatever. But he should finish his term at the very least. That seems like the most responsible decision. Stepping down shows weakness and lack of commitment to the position that he held. He has become a political joke. “Remember when that one guy got caught on Craigslist? What a loser.” Instead, it would be “Remember that one guy got caught on Craigslist, and then learned from his lesson and continued his term to do really incredible things based on what he learned from his poor choices?”

What are your thoughts? Please feel free to share in the comments.

One Comment on “Elected Official Scandals

  1. alynnblack
    February 11, 2011

    Those who live in glass houses should not be quick to throw stones. That’s the phrase that came to mind reading this. Yes, he screwed up. But we all screw up, some just more publicly than others. I would want to be treated with grace and mercy, so I intend to treat Mr. Lee that way.

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