In another example of political correctness trumping any sort of freedom of speech, of the inability to say “tacky, stupid, whatever” instead of “this is intolerable”, the City of Boulder is opening up an official investigation of Rob Smoke’s MySpace site. Rob, you see, is the Chairman of the Human Relations Commission (an appointed, not elected, position) and on his MySpace weblog he discusses sex, drugs and rock’n’ roll along with Boulder city business.
Check his profile out: www.myspace.com/monkeyjuice2000
It’s important to recognize that, as our local paper reports, Rob writes about “his work with the commission, an all-volunteer board appointed by the City Council to investigate discrimination claims and provide advice on diversity issues.”
The most important words here are all-volunteer. Yes, Rob is part of a volunteer diversity committee, and it seems to me that the best sort of diversity committee is one that’s, well, diverse.
But apparently his fairly humorous MySpace profile that includes such gems as a tweaked Doors quote of “I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m horny, I’m stoned… and I’m a city official” doesn’t demonstrate his, um, diversity but rather crosses the line of appropriate behavior instead.
The entire complaint stems from a female MySpace user who filed a complaint with the Boulder city attorney about Smoke making a salacious comment about her. His comment about her? “My woody is chafing”.
On MySpace people can leave comments on other’s profiles, but as a freewheeling and at times very strange community, you have simple tools that let you delete the comments you don’t like (how to do just that).
Since these are so pervasive on MySpace, I figure that odds are good that the woman who filed the complaint with the city attorney has been around on MySpace long enough to get other weird and stupid comments or friend requests (and I’ve gotten some that just make me dive for the “delete” button before my kids see the screen too). MySpace is a pretty rudimentary tool, so my question is more about why is this woman harassing Rob by filing these complaints?
I mean, yes, the comment ostensibly borders on sexual harassment, but we’re talking about MySpace, a tremendously popular social networking site that thrives on the stupid, the crude, and the distasteful. Go and read Rob’s profile and blog entries and you’ll find a 50-year-old hippie who quotes Jim Morrison and thinks he’s funny.
I know nothing about him, but can’t imagine that any woman in today’s world who received a comment from Rob wouldn’t be able to read his profile (which includes comments like “I’m shy — love music; been singing and playing the trumpet for many a moon— I’m an “old boy”, but I love the beach, playing kick the can, staying up late doing something ridiculous — I don’t use drugs but I have smoked the all-purpose herb”), check out his MySpace Blog, and just chalk it up to some lonely guy being a bit of a goof and walk away.
So why hasn’t that happened here?
As a blogging advocate, I will say that I think Rob is demonstrating poor judgment sharing his committee experiences on his MySpace blog, and I do counsel people to have a distinct separation between their social and professional, but that’s just a best practice, there’s no legal issue here.
Finally, a word of advice to the City Council investigation team: lighten up. We’re Boulder, Colorado, not some rabidly conservative “red” state capital. We like our hippies, deadbeats, and counter-culture people.
Bad taste? Maybe. An issue that the Council has to waste time and energy on? Definitely not.