Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cuckoo's Net

Earlier in the school year, senators tried to impeach our law school student government President for an email he sent to the student body regarding Israel/Palestine. A war of words erupted on the "Virtual Senate Forum," but ultimately the President was only censured.

Controversy has risen again with accusations that the President sent a directive to the Barrister's Ball Committee (aka law school prom) to ban people under 21 because one of his arch-nemesis has an underage girlfriend. This is a silly by itself, but the situation has gotten much worse as the student government senators bicker on the online senate forum. Meanwhile, the rest of the school is incredibly entertained, embarrassed, or both.

"University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." --Henry Kissinger. Though I do not agree that the stakes are completely insignificant, I agree that campus politics are vicious. Add to that technology to the equation and you get a dangerous combination. Mass emails, soapbox posts on message boards, and gchat status message wars all contribute to chaos. I fondly remember from my days in student government how the internet be used as a way to spread information, true and patently false. Did you know that I am a neo-conservative?

Moreover, little internet communities can get insane with ring leaders and people ganging up on each other. Anyone who has been in a chat room or posted on a message board can tell you that. It reminds me of one of my favorite dialogues from the West Wing...

C.J.: Oh Josh!
JOSH: Yeah?
C.J.: The Federal Page of the Washington Post just called Carol to confirm that you're the Josh Lyman who stated on an Internet website that the White House could order a GAO review on anything it wants.
JOSH: Without threatening the separation of powers is what I was saying.
C.J.: You posted on a web site?
JOSH: I was communicating with the people.
C.J.: Really?
JOSH: C.J., it's a... crazy place. It's got this dictatorial leader, who I'm sure wears a muumuu and chain smokes Parliaments.
C.J.: What did you go there for in the first place?
JOSH: It's called LemonLyman.com.
C.J.: Let me explain something to you, this is sort of my field. The people on these sites? They're the cast of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." . . . The muumuu wearing Parliament smoker? That's Nurse Ratched. When Nurse Ratched is unhappy, the patients are unhappy. You? You're McMurphy. You swoop in there with your card games and your fishing trips...
JOSH: [shrugging defensively] I didn't swoop in, I came in exactly the same way everybody else did.
C.J.: Well, now I'm telling you to open the ward room window and climb on out before they give you a pre-frontal lobotomy, and I have to smother you with a pillow.
JOSH: You're Chief Brom-
C.J.: I'm Chief Bromden, yes, at this particular moment. I'm assigning an intern from the press office to that web site. They're going to check it every night before they go home. If they discover you've been there, I'm going to shove a motherboard so far up your ass...What?
JOSH: [with a slight shrug] Well... technically, I outrank you.
C.J.: [shouting] So far up your ass!
JOSH: [quickly] Okay.

1 comment:

dreamer-of-time said...

I think politics are always vicious, because no matter the stakes, everyone wants to be in charge.