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Letter from the Editor

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As recently as two weeks ago, Democratic New York congressman Anthony Weiner was known for glibly spouting off on camera — on the floor of the House, as a reliably liberal foil on Fox News, and on his pal Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Now, Weiner has joined the long list of male idiots who thought that the Internet was a great place to sexy-text or post lewd pictures of themselves.

Do these people not watch the news? Did they not read about what happened to Tiger Woods? Or Brett Favre? Or any number of other notables who couldn't keep their bratwurst to themselves? Weiner even had the recent example of fellow New York congressman Christopher Lee, who was forced to resign in February for sending sexy pictures of himself to women via email.

The lesson should be clear to all by now: If you text it, if you Tweet it, if you email it, it's not "private." It can show up somewhere, sometime, when you least expect it. And if you're famous, the odds that you will be outed are raised exponentially. Heck, with the powers the government now has through the "Patriot Act," there's a good chance some bureaucrat with an ax to grind is keeping an eye on your communications, just hoping for such an opportunity. One leak to an opposing blogger or media outlet, and you're toast — a Letterman punchline. And if your name happens to be Weiner, well, so much the worse for you, pal.

As has been pointed out several times in the past week, Twitter has terms of service that read as follows: "By submitting, posting, or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)." In other words, everything you Tweet belongs to Twitter, so don't be stupid. Texts, emails, and chatroom comments never die, either.

So now, Weiner joins the gaggle of embarrassed men who have had to do the march of shame — in front of cameras in public and with their pissed-off and humiliated wives and family at home. Sexual hubris remains the eternal Achilles heel of powerful men in both parties. Maybe they can start a support group: Friends of Weiner.

Or, as one Flyer online commentor wrote: "Let this be a warning to all congressmen named Johnson."

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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