Joe and the Devil

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, you did us all a great service. You spoke to power, you questioned your leaders, and in the finest traditions of a democracy you stood up and put it to ‘em.

Because of this brave act I now know how much you made in 2006, that you are divorced, you wouldn't have been all that affected by Obama's tax plan, you're not a papered plumber in Ohio, and you're 34. You can thank the media for this, personally I never cared. But for standing up and speaking to power your private life has been plastered all over the United States.

Gone is the discussion over Progressive Taxes. Gone is the discussion of Obama's policies and what they really mean for an economy and culture like America's. Gone is the discussion of how Obama's philosophy applies to American reality.

Joe, your story isn't sad because of you, it's sad because the best Republican Party strategists trying to get McCain elected were trumped by a 34 year old plumber who asked a simple question.

And it's really sad when a regular, private citizen exercising his right to question his leaders is rewarded by having his private life barfed up all over the MSM, his integrity and honour made the issue instead of the policy of the would be ruler.

I do not care how much you made in 2006. I do not care that you aren't papered in Ohio. I do not care, and can't even imagine the relevance, that you are divorced.  You scared the American media, who are (almost) totally in the Obama camp, so they went out and got all the information they could, sent it press and violated your right to privacy. If there is no legal violation, certainly there is one in spirit.

I wouldn't be surprised, and would totally understand, if you never wanted to question another politician in your life. The media decided to make you the issue, even though the issue you raised with Obama is the one that directly relates to them and the country.

Joe, do you know what is really scary about your story? It's that the media doesn't understand the damage it's doing to itself by pillorying citizens who question their leaders. If the people are too scared to stand up and question their politicians for fear of having their private lives exposed all over the media then the people will stop questioning and we're one step closer to complete political apathy - glassy eyed citizens blindly accepting what the government - or any power structure - says.

In such a world, even if the media does do its job and exposes a corrupt government, would we even care? They helped turn us into docile subjects and in the process diminished all value they used to bring to our culture.

But wait! How did this come about? It came from the institution we have relied on to help us question those who hold the power. Albert Brook's character in Broadcast News gives a speech about how ‘The Devil' will come to us in small steps, eroding our values slowly, meticulously. Joe, your story is a perfect representation of that metaphor. By creating a climate of fear those who would speak to power won't, and our shared value of questioning our rulers will be diminished.  ‘The Devil' is that much closer to his goal, and all thanks to the media. 

Their error is self destructive. The media is supposed to be an institution we rely on. The more they contribute to a process that makes private citizens scared to question their leaders, the more destruction they do to their own foundations.  

I propose a complete ban on reporting any citizen's private information unless that information is relevant to a crime or breach of public trust. (I'm sure a lawyer could word that better.)  We must feel protected from the media, we must feel that questioning power doesn't expose us to personal risk; especially from the one institution we have always relied on to help us question power.  America's fundamental rights include privacy and free speech, for the millions of Joes out there; this ‘Devil' must be thwarted. 
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