I do a lot of web surfing on entertainment and news sites to stay plugged into what’s going on in the world. It’s kind of a job requirement. What I’m struggling to figure out right now is what the hue and cry is all about regarding the David Letterman revelation about the extortion attempt against him.
Admittedly, at least here in the early going most of the uproar is coming from people who leave anonymous comments on sites that have news articles discussing the story, not from the stories themselves. This is not surprising. There is what’s known as an “internet tough guy” phenomenon where people, from the comfort of their easy chair or their mom’s basement, try to act verbally intimidating when posting on websites. Similarly, there is also a fair-sized contingent of people who set themselves up as “internet morality police,” decrying the actions of others from an ethical or moral perspective, all the while maintaining their anonymity behind some made up screen-name.
I suppose that this is just an opportunity for such people to feel superior to someone else. It’s sad that it is human nature to make oneself feel better by tearing another down. If you find David’s conduct reprehensible—and since you have no idea how his personal life is structured, I’m not sure how you can in good conscience come to that decision, but never mind that—wouldn’t your anger or harsh judgment of him or whatever it is better serve you if you were to turn that negativity you have toward him—again, a person you don’t really know—into instead forgiveness, or pity, or some sort of enlightenment? Maybe try counting your blessings instead of tallying someone else’s failings.
I’m not saying a lot new here, having covered this ground fairly recently in blog entries called Secrets, Volume One and My Better Judgment (which, if you missed them, you can read by clicking on their titles). These ideas to me, though, are the key to a happy life. Stop worrying about what other people are doing. Live your own life. If you are spending your time in frequent assessment of others—because this is far more often than not based in negativity—you will turn your own heart black. Why would you volunteer for that?
The guy who was the extortionist, if the early reports are to be believed, had some kind of relationship with a woman with whom Dave at some point was having a sexual relationship. Maybe the extortionist was dating her, living with her, who knows? More importantly, who cares?
The problem for this fellow—or at least one of the problems; I’m sure he’s got more—is that he became consumed with what someone else was doing, instead of just going about his own life. Whether this was out of jealousy that Dave was sleeping with someone he may have had some claim on or feelings for, or whether it was out of greed for the money that Dave has—or for some other reason entirely—is not really the issue. The problem is his focus on someone else instead of on himself. It’s the same with the people who feel the need to sit in judgment of him from behind a computer keyboard. It probably has at it’s foundation a self-directed morass of impotence, inadequacy, and loathing. They then way overcompensate and direct vitriol (or extortion, in the extreme) outward.
Dave has never been a great moralist. I don’t see the hypocrisy that others seem to. His job is to make jokes. The fact that he was having a consensual sexual relationship with a woman while he was also in a relationship with another woman (his girlfriend/now wife) doesn’t disqualify him from making light of former President Clinton’s foibles, or the South Carolina Governor’s recent dalliances. Dave has always been pretty good at making fun of himself, which is one of my prerequisites for me to consider anyone truly funny. You’ve got to be able to poke fun at your own flaws. In fact, in his statement, he denigrated himself quite nicely by saying that the news coming out that he’d had sex with some of his coworkers would be embarrassing…for the women involved.
Just for fun though, let’s for a moment accept the notion that his extracurricular activities does bar him from cracking jokes about infidelity. If that is the case, is there a statute of limitations? How long does he have to now remain faithful to his partner in order to regain that right? If I remember correctly, Dave’s gotten a number of speeding tickets, perhaps even enough to lose his license at one point. Is he not allowed to make fun of people who drive fast, either? Can he make fun of anyone for anything anymore? More importantly, what qualifies you to provide answers to those questions? He’ll make peace with himself, his family, his God if he so chooses, and be back about his life. For how long will you carry your negativity toward him, a guy who, when it comes right down to it, you know essentially nothing about?
Now, of course it’s your right to be incensed, offended, or whatever other reaction you may have to his conduct. You may elect to not watch his show. Why, though, spend any time in negativity about it? If you look at Dave’s behavior and think, “That’s not the way I’d choose to live my life,” fine ‘n’ dandy. But waste not precious time in darkening your spirit with negativity directed at him, just as you should not waste precious time reminding yourself too harshly of your own failings.