Friday, August 21, 2015

Ashley Madison: How Not to Cheat

A lot of people have had a lot to say about the leak of Ashley Madison data. Usually, we think of hackers as freedom-loving young people who favor transparency and openness in all things great and small. Certainly, we expect that all of today’s young people have an insouciant non-judgmental attitude toward all things sexual.

Yet, by leaking the Ashley Madison user information one group of hackers has struck out against… adultery. Apparently, they are seriously offended that a certain number of Americans have been trying to cheat on their spouses. And could find no easier way than to sign up for a cheater website. In truth, the vast majority of AM users are male. And, of course, we do not know how much of it was fantasy and how much of it became action.

What does it all mean?

I thought you’d never ask.

According to Jennifer Weiner, it shows that Americans are not very smart about cheating. This should come as no real surprise. The home of the scarlet letter has never looked very kindly on adultery. After all, this is not France, where adultery is a way of life.

And yet, given the sexual revolution and women’s liberation, men feel compelled to try to cheat. But, Weiner suggests, they are not being very smart about it. If you, as I, believe that Fifty Shades of Gray is amateurish decadence, Ashley Madison is amateurish adultery. Among the dumber cheaters are government officials. Tell me you are surprised!

Naturally, this leads Weiner to reflect on the state of today’s America and the state of the American government.

Like Donald Trump, Weiner is calling for a return to American greatness. Read her indictment of what we and our great nation have become:

America. We used to bestride the world like a colossus, a leader among nations, smarter, faster, braver, more forward-thinking than our rivals. Once, we were great, inventive and nimble, always pressing fearlessly ahead in the name of progress. Eradicating polio, inventing the airplane, the chicken nugget, the music video. Going to the moon.

But now? We’re a nation of losers, mouth-breathing, couch-potato, hands-down-our-pants dolts. We’re an embarrassment, and in the wake of Tuesday’s revelation, we should all be sent to our rooms with no electronics.

How great can we be, Weiner continues, when government officials are not even smart enough to create anonymous emails accounts. In principle, these are all American citizens:

But what it’s really revealed isn’t Ashley Madison’s shortcomings so much as those of our friends, our neighbors and our government officials — who, unlike our friends and neighbors, are paid by you and me. How, I ask you, can a country be great when its government workers aren’t smart enough to scurry over to the anonymous embrace of Hotmail and Yahoo when they want to cheat?

Of course, she is arguing against big government. But she is also noting that government workers are not the best and the brightest. Since they are not beholden to the judgment of the marketplace they have apparently become complacent and, in Weiner’s word, echoing a Trump mantra, stupid:

In the wake of Tuesday’s revelation that up to 15,000 of Ashley Madison’s would-be philanderers might work for the United States government or military, I want to add yet another: “You are a government employee and you were too stupid to create a new email account when you registered on a website for cheaters.”

I know, I know, a number of the government accounts are probably fakes. Many nongovernment people also reportedly used their work emails and actual names on the site, including, evidently, a number of folks who toil at the Vatican, where I am pretty sure there are rules against this sort of thing. I’ll let the pope handle those sinners. I’ll let others debate the morality of infidelity and enjoy the spectacle of profit-mongering divorce lawyers gleefully capitalizing on the debacle.

She continues:

Right now, I don’t care about cheaters in general. I care about the ones whose lifestyles I’m funding. According to The Washington Post, the capital has the highest rate of membership for the site of any American city. A number of those caught up in the hack work at the Department of Justice and — #irony — the National Security Agency.

Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that D.C. is full of cheaters, but why, oh why, did it have to be full of stupid cheaters, cheaters too lazy and incurious to go to before they cheated? We’re talking minimal effort here, people. Five minutes, a couple of security questions, a password that isn’t PASSWORD and you’, or, and France isn’t laughing at us anymore.

So let’s make America great again. Let’s not be a nation of Quiet Car flouters, failed peanut butter smugglers and idiot nonmonogamists.

If you’re going to cheat, cheat smart.

Hats off to Weiner for capturing the spirit of the times. And for providing us with a fine piece of comic writing. It doesn’t happen every day.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Maybe I'm not picking up on the satire -- I know nothing of Jennifer Weiner -- but I find it troubling that government officials who get into trouble are characterized as "too stupid" because they don't have an email alias. It's like we're saying that being a clever liar/cheat is what we expect of our sophisticated, clever public servants. Hillary and her key subordinates intentionally operated above the law as Secretary of State. She's shown herself to be a liar and cheat... again. I wonder if 40% of the country would vote for her if she robbed a bank. If a Republican Secretary of State did what Hillary did, the news media would be talking about nothing else. The law doesn't apply to the Clintons, just David Petreaus, who is the nexus of adultery, confidential information, and political intrigue (as are the Clintons). Petraeus faced significant consequences, but we've come to find Hillary an amusement because she operates outside the law. And she's running for POTUS, and her key qualification is that she's a woman. We get the government we deserve.

Sam L. said...

Gmail? I should trust Google? I think not.

priss rules said...

"Apparently, they are seriously offended that a certain number of Americans have been trying to cheat on their spouses."

Hackers just like to make trouble. It's for laughs.

I must say this tickles me to death. Not a hacker though.