Day 23. We’re Adrift

In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On?”  When did we lose our way?  When did lying, cheating, plagiarizing and brazenly breaking the law  become the new normal?  The new standard by which we live.

It turns out that the man the whole world believed was one of our greatest athletes, used illicit performance enhancing drugs.  Year after year after year, Lance Armstrong cheated and lied his way to victory.   A famous, and revered, football coach watched, in silence, as young boys were being sexually molested right under his nose.  Time after time after time, Joe Paterno knowingly allowed the most heinous of crimes to be committed, so Penn State would continue to attract budding football stars; and big donations.  Rupert Murdoch, the founder, Chairman and CEO of the world’s second-largest media conglomerate saw nothing wrong with hacking the phones of celebrities, royalty and private citizens.  For the kind of attention-grabbing headlines that sell newspapers — regardless of whether or not they were true, and regardless of the damage it caused his victims.

Jonah Lehrer, a brilliant, successful 31-year old author fabricated Bob Dylan quotes for his latest book, “Imagine:  How Creativity Works”.  And if that’s not bad enough, his publisher is apparently thinking of re-publishing a corrected version of it.  Why?  Well, of course, I know why.  But the answer disgusts me.  Because they’ll probably sell more books and make more money than they otherwise would have — even if the original version had sold exceptionally well.  Because now it’s controversial.  It’s achieved a whole new level of fame.  It’s no longer a book.  It’s a conversation piece.

But what’s really troublesome is, if that book comes out again then we are turning our backs on the fact that the author made stuff up.  And maybe, just maybe, he made other stuff up, as well.  But he got fired from his magazine-writing jobs, so who cares.  He was publicly humiliated, so who cares.  For a minute, but never mind.  Now let’s all make some money.

And what about the CNN host and Time Magazine columnist, Fareed Zakaria, who plagiarized Jill Lepore’s essay in the New Yorker?  So boo-hoo, he got suspended for a month!  And then he got to go back to all his high-paying jobs.  And his face was red for a couple of days.  Come on.  I know he didn’t murder anyone, but the Continue reading