Thursday, June 15, 2006

More fun With Derek Stevens, "Blogger Fodder"

You may remember a couple of weeks back Carla noted the curious story of the Bend Council candidate who returned from an interview (presumably to boost his candidacy) to note to his Internet friends what a "total hottie" she was, and posting her picture.

Maybe it's because I'm a guy, or I have spent time in forums (sort of) like the one Stevens participates in--or maybe it's just a moral failing of mine, but beyond being a bit childish and creepy, I'm not sure it's a disqualification from office per se. There's so much posturing and assumption of personae, not to mention groupthink and oneupsmanship, to make a final correlation between disrespectful comments on a chat board, and inappropriate personal makeup to be an effective local politician. We did have a President who couldn't resist getting blown in the most precious oval of office space we have, after all, and a fair number of us are pining for that inconsequentialism right now.

When we started getting traffic from the forum in question, I headed over to see what sparked things. Stevens has reappeared as "Politico," and is keeping the faithful updated on his newfound infamy:
the portland oregonian, the salem sentinal or what ever it is called, and someone told me some other paper picked up the story... the blogs, though I don't bother with them, nor have I seen them, are running wild with this story.. curse you GMF... look what you have made me become....fodder for the bloggers!.and I pissed off a guy who called me to ask me if I could defend my actions and statements. I said that perhaps my stupid comment was born of my knuckle dragging, neanderthal construction roots... he took that not as a personal comment about myself, but an insult to all of the people he has known in the labour movement...oh well...
OK, he's admitting what he said was stupid, but that's pretty obvious by now.

But there's two things that bother me about all of this, that go beyond getting a council candidate being turned on by someone who is paid to be a hottie, and bragging about it to his Internet friends. First of all, the one thing I haven't seen (and maybe it can be pointed out to me) is where Stevens apologizes to the woman who was, after all, simply doing her job--and him a favor, by giving him airtime to listen to himself talk. Maybe once your picture is posted at your work's website, and being seen by people is part of your job, you no longer get the privacy of not having your picture passed around on chat boards. But the point behind it was to minimize her professional capacity and focus on her screamingly hot body--and now that she's part of the story, she deserves having respect restored. So I support the fact that Stevens has removed her picture, and the posts in question.

Which brings me to the other thing that bothers me: not only did he remove THOSE posts, he removed ALL of them from the forum's archives, with the help of the moderators. I think that's pretty damn cowardly at a minimum, and when I reflect on that impulse translated into the political arena, I think of things like covering up the fact that you leaked the name of someone's wife to the media to get back at her husband--if you hide the evidence, it's like you never said it!

Obviously I'm not equating Derek Stevens to Karl Rove (oh yeah, nevermind, he's--cough--innocent), but I feel the whiplash of severe cognitive dissonance when I imagine this guy purging all of his semi-infantile thoughts, and then posting about defending his free speech rights and finishing every post with this quotation:
Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power.
Frederick Douglass, In famous plea for free speech in Boston 1860
American abolitionist, author, orator (1817-1895)
Your right wasn't taken away, dude--you talked shit and then decided you'd rather not be held to account for it. And with an attitude like that, all I can think is that this is how drunk driving convictions and AWOL stints in the National Guard just disappear from the accumulated knowledge.