Our grandfathers died on the beaches of Normandy to preserve our American way of life, and all its inherent rights and privileges. It is because of their sacrifice that we not only live in a world free of Nazi genocide, but that we have an Internet where we can see acts of intimacy between barnyard animals of consenting age and 37-year-old women dressed as schoolgirls licking oversized lollipops and doing things with golf balls and lengths of surgical tubing that violate not only the laws of decency but those of physics as well.
I once worked in an environment where I engaged in pornography, but it was with the official sanction of my employers (“…resave them as medium-res .jpgs and put them into four different folders. Boobs only in one folder, cooter in one folder, boobs and cooter together in another, but girl-on-girl gets its own folder no matter how much boob and cooter is showing.”) If I wanted to check my personal email, though, I had to do that on my break.
I honor the sacrifice of our greatest generation, because I feel lucky to live in a world where I can sit at my desk at work and watch the prime-time anchor from the Santa Fe market doing a wet t-shirt keg stand eight years ago at a Northern Arizona University fraternity Luau Weekend, or archived video of Tonya Harding with a pool of semen in her palm on her wedding night. That is freedom, my friends.
With great freedom, though, comes great responsibility, and the appreciation of consequences–and boundaries. I may be able to entertain my prurient curiosities from my cubicle, but that doesn’t mean that I should, and it doesn’t mean I should use my employer’s bandwidth to search for the Tommy Lee-Pamela Anderson video just because I was reading the Motley Crue bio on the train on the way into work that morning, or do a Google search on the etymology of the slang word “douchenozzle” just because it popped into my head for some reason during the tedium of my job. Never mind that they don’t want you doing that on their time, but they certainly don’t want a client or senior exec coming into the office and spying you in your workstation marveling at a particularly scatalogical German leather video.
It gets even dicier if you’re accessing proprietary information to indulge your curiosity. Say you work in a bank. You’re naturally interested in why your town’s mayor took a $3,000 ATM withdrawal on a Friday afternoon. Of course you’d want to take a peek and see if this was a regular pattern, or if maybe there was an occasional check or debit for a place over on that side of town called Club Spartacus. It seems harmless enough, but you’re crossing the line. It’s no one’s business but the mayor’s if he likes being spanked with a car antenna by 24-year-old male model with the stage name of Ramses.
I’ve gone down that road exactly once in my now-former position at the purchasing help desk of a national day care center company. Call it my dirty, suspicious mind at work, but I couldn’t help but be morbidly curious why a grown woman supervising small children would call indignant that she wasn’t able to order shaving cream from the company’s e-commerce site, so I had to look closer at her order history. It was by all appearances innocent, but I still couldn’t help but think that this was the stuff of future McMartin-style recovered memory therapy sessions of the children she is currently charged with watching.
Some State Department contract employees found themselves in a much-stickier wicket this week. It started yesterday when it was disclosed that persons on three occasions had peered into the passport activity of one Barack Hussein Obama, who just happens to be running for President Of The United States. This dominated the news last night as the probes started to determine who was responsible and what they were after. There was much made about the dates of the inquiries: “January 9 was just six days after the Iowa caucus. February 12 was exactly one week before the Wisconsin primary, and March 14 was ten days after the Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio, and Vermont contests, and it was revealed less than a week after the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy erupted. What about that?”
I’d be inclined to call “that” the byproduct of a slow news day and some poor few bastards at a stultifying job. But the money train was rolling up to speed today, and it was reported that two of the contract employees who were fired for accessing Obama’s files were employed by a company called Stanley, Inc., whose CEO has some tenuous connection to Blackwater.
All due respect to Randy Rhoads and Daily Kos, but if this is opposition research, the persons involved should be fired for incompetence. You’re investigating the passport history of a man who for the last many years hasn’t been able to visit a grocery store without attracting a media presence. What in God’s name are you expecting to find? The thought that an under-the-radar trip to Teheran or Kabul might have occurred without any media attention is on its face absurd.
This is all smoke and fire signifying nothing. As much as I want to suspect an ops research conspiracy, I’m wont to come back to someone who hates their job and wants to look for some porn during the course of their miserable job. You want a passport scandal? Tell me that Barack Obama flew to see Celine Dion perform in Belgium, and I’ll take the side of anyone who questions his judgment.