Admit it. You love it. If you didn't, we wouldn't have so much of it.
I suppose it's human nature. We love to learn the church organist is getting tuned by her local minister. Or that two workers in our office, each of whom is supposed to be happily married to someone else, disappear for long lunches with each other. Why, we're a regular bunch of little busybuddies, aren't we? Did you know that such and such a candidate for state office may have had an affair? Did you hear that Candidate B was broke? We love those whisper campaigns.
I'm no exception.
A few years ago, however, I saw just how damaging a whisper campaign can be, especially in the workplace. This crisis involved the personal hygiene of a part time title searcher, which was constantly discussed behind the victim's back. The fellow was poor and wore old and tattered clothing, rumpled by constant bus trips and daily walks from the bus stop to the courthouse. He couldn't afford the luxury of a climate controlled SUV. Understandably, he was shy, especially around the women who make up the majority of title searchers.
I didn't speak up for this guy. I usually went along with the latest outrage, whether it was a torn shirt or musty aroma.
One day, matters reached the boiling point when an eagle-eyed searcher spotted a bug crawling on this guy's hair. The alarm bells rang.
"Lice!" The word went out. "That dirty shitball has lice, and he's going to infect us all!"
They had previously complained to his boss. They even wanted the Recorder of Deeds to ask this dude to leave. Finally, they came to me, the nastiest person in the courthouse. I would do something. And I did. I noticed that the louse crawling on this guy's head was just a small leaf cutter that fell from a tree. I was ashamed of myself and told other searchers they should be ashamed, too. After a few unpleasant and very quiet days, these ladies eventually changed their behavior and started being nice to this fellow, who in turn slowly opened up.
And guess what? The guy was a frickin' genius, one of the smartest fellows I've ever met, although unfortunately a conservative. He has since returned to school, and will probably end up a professor in some major university where ladybugs and leafcutters can crawl all over him once he has tenure.
So I don't care for whisper campaigns in the workplace. I don't like it in politics, either. Unfortunately, as election day draws nigh, the blogosphere is increasingly polluted with damaging rumors and innuendo about candidates for state office from the Lehigh Valley. It's very easy to do on the Internet, especially since much of it is anonymous. It's also irresponsible. In some instances, it's downright defamatory.
I love salacious details about a pol's personal life as much as anyone, but anonymous bloggers and whisperers usually lack details to back up their lurid claims. No names. What we get instead are unsubstantiated charges followed by pious condemnations. "Politician A allegedly had an affair with B, although it was never proven." "Politician C is allegedly a wife beater, although I can't prove it." "Politician D picks his nose and eats it, according to unconfirmed sources."
It's really hard to know what's going on in someone's personal life because it is, well, personal.
And when you come right down to it, what goes on in someone's personal life usually has little relevance to his or her fitness for office, with the possible exception of sex with farm animals. (I'm partial to chickens). Whether someone is divorced or has financial difficulties should not be a campaign issue, not even in the Lehigh Valley. Maybe our new AAA baseball team should be called the Lehigh Valley Puritans.
Didn't we just go through this on a national level not too long ago? I admit I was fascinated by that semen stain on Monica's blue dress, but don't think it had much to do with Clinton's presidency.
Don't we have enough real issues to discuss? Let's stick to them and leave the gossip to network news. This is the kind of crap that turns voters off, and it increases voter apathy.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to find out why my head is so itchy lately.