creators.com opinion web
Conservative Opinion General Opinion
Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
18 Sep 2014
A Rough Month in America for Women

Mark Sanford's heralded engagement to Maria Belen Chapur is apparently over. The rep from South Carolina … Read More.

16 Sep 2014
How Not to Get Your Country Back

The tea party mantra, "I want my country back," resonates with many. The racial undertones can be ugly (as … Read More.

9 Sep 2014
Casinos Just Aren't the Answer

The video for the Bruce Springsteen song "Atlantic City" opens with a scene of the grand Marlborough-Blenheim … Read More.

Mr. Weiner, Put up That Wall!

Comment

A New York Democrat has joined what had been a largely Republican caucus of congressmen committing sexually inappropriate online behavior. A picture of Rep. Anthony Weiner's crotch (in underwear) appeared on a Twitter stream sent to a Seattle college student. At first, Weiner said that the photo might not be him and insisted he didn't send it. "My system was hacked," he complained.

"There are — I have photographs," the six-term congressman told CNN. "I don't know what photographs are out there in the world of me."

And why wouldn't he, if he had any sense of self-preservation? Nothing online is absolutely safe from prying eyes. There's no protection on Facebook. E-mail can be hacked. And the dude on the laptop two tables away at Starbucks may be following your lunch-hour banking activities.

Furthermore, hackers have become a serious threat to American defenses. For example, cybercriminals penetrated the systems of Lockheed Martin, maker of sophisticated weaponry. The Pentagon now calls such invasions "acts of war." Shouldn't lawmakers overseeing national security at least know how to protect their own?

Only people on Weiner's Twitter Team are authorized to Tweet in his name. So the bottom line here is that (a) Weiner hadn't properly vetted his people and/or (b) he took and put online compromising images of himself. With his confession, (b) is the apparent answer.

As any owner of a soft-top convertible understands, whatever's inside is community property. And the same goes for any image or comment placed online. Sure, we accept some risks in banking, gossiping and joking via the Internet. But if there's something you absolutely don't want to get out of the corral, you don't launch it into cyberspace.

One recalls an Italian journalist's observation during an epidemic of burglaries after Italy's "economic miracle" in the post-World War II years. Thinking a new secure age had dawned, Italians started building open modern buildings, a departure from their traditional fortress-like architecture. Thieves punched through the glass and helped themselves.

What were we thinking, the Italian writer asked, putting sliding glass doors on our houses?

There were reasons why the Renaissance princes lived behind thick stone walls and narrow windows, even as they controlled their own armies. For privacy, Spaniards built courtyards in the middle of their houses, Victorians drew heavy drapes at sundown, and English villagers planted high hedges. The online world is invisible, however, so we are far less sure how much outsiders can see.

Google is today's digital prince, yet hackers infiltrated its email service. Sony, no tech slouch, suffered a security breach that temporarily closed down its PlayStation Network.

Even high school kids know not to put drunken party pictures of themselves on Facebook, lest a potential employer get the wrong (or perhaps the right) idea about them. That politicians in Washington don't have the sophistication to keep their personal lives entirely offline is more troubling than the behavior itself. It makes you wonder whether they know anything about the world we live in.

Centuries before the first laptop, love letters got people in trouble. But physical evidence was so much easier to keep under lock and key than the electronic kind. Passwords and other supposed security barriers are really just sliding glass doors.

Blame it on arrogance, sloppiness or bad luck: Weiner's story offers a primer on why you shouldn't put secrets online. Bring back walls — the kind you hurt your fist on.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
I read this today, the day after Rep Weiner revealed that he did this himself, and Laughed so hard I almost hacked my own twitter account!
Comment: #1
Posted by: CReiser
Tue Jun 7, 2011 12:34 PM
A college student?
This isn't a 14yr-old virgin girl prodigy is it?
Why don't you say" a 21yr-old single woman" like she is.....who had participated in something of a flirtation with him on her own accord.

I'd really like to see your essay abou tRepublican US Senator David Vitter who is actually a confessed (when caught) sexual deviant criminal who voted to impeach and remove Clinton while he was being DC's best little adulterous ho-master (sorry no picture just action) and selling himself as the family-values man.

He just got re-elected...and nobody's troubling him to resign or saying a word about it.

Is this what they call a double-standard in the political/journalist world?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Oracle
Tue Jun 7, 2011 11:24 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Froma Harrop
Sep. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 22 Sep 2014
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 20 Sep 2014
Ted Rall
Ted RallUpdated 19 Sep 2014

20 Oct 2009 Social Security: Every Politician's Toy?

23 Jan 2014 Marriage Matters, in France and in Texas

20 Dec 2012 Online and in Your Face