Thursday, June 09, 2011

Culture Shock 06.09.11: Sexting mishaps not just for teens

Not since the late Sen. Ted Stevens described the Internet as "a series of tubes," has a sitting congressman's misunderstanding of how the Internet works provided comedians — and lowly columnists like me — with so much material.

Oh, Anthony Weiner, where have you been all my life?

It's one thing for a politician to get caught up in an embarrassing sex scandal. It can even be a good career move. Exhibit A: former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. As attorney general, he crusaded against prostitution. Four years later, he resigned the governorship after he was unmasked as Client 9 in a high-profile prostitution sting.

Did that keep Spitzer down? No way. You can watch him weeknights on CNN, which has got to be a better gig than dealing with the New York State Assembly day in, day out, especially now that he no longer has to share his time slot with former co-host Kathleen Parker.

But it's another thing to get caught in a sex scandal usually associated with teenagers.

That's just what Rep. Weiner has done.

He denied it to the bitter end. He now says it was a misguided joke.

But the fact is, Rep. Weiner's accidental public tweeting of a crotch shot of his own crotch, now public for all to see, is just the sort of thing adults have been warning kids about ever since cellphone cameras made it easy for teens to take their own — how to put it? — "self-portraits" and share them with friends.

You never know, for example, when a girlfriend might turn on you. But it'll probably happen after you cheat on her with her best friend. And then the ex will send that compromising picture of you not wearing pants to all of her friends, who now also hate you because you're a two-timing jerk. And the next thing you know, pictures of your junk are all over campus.

(No, this is not a personal story. We didn't have cellphones when I was in school. And the only embarrassing pictures of me in the public domain are the ones my "friends" have posted on Facebook, in which I always seem to be holding a bottle of PBR. People could easily get the wrong idea. They might think I'm an alcoholic or, worse still, a hipster.)

So, basically, Rep. Weiner didn't quite know how Twitter worked, and now what has been seen can't be unseen.

As it turns out, a couple of years ago, when psychologists and other people with too much time on their hands were fretting about teenagers ruining their college and job prospects by "sexting" naked pictures of themselves to each other, they should have been worried about the nation's lawmakers doing the same thing.

A hypocrisy-laden prostitution scandal is an adult scandal. That's what we expect of the alleged adults we elect to office. But a sexting scandal is a juvenile scandal.

How do you explain that to the wife?

UPDATE: Last week, I complained that DC Comics' forthcoming revamp of all of its superhero titles would probably mean the end of one of the company's few consistently good books, Grant Morrison's "Batman, Inc."

This week, DC announced that "Batman, Inc." will return next year. How this fits with DC's stated plans I can't guess, but I'll take all the good news I can.

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