While on vacation last week I sent an e-mail to the gang at the office. Toward the end, I added a line saying, in an attempt at inside-the-industry whimsy, that that day I had seen Michelangelo’s David but that I accidentally leaned against it and sent it crashing, causing a leg to be broken. The people of Florence, I added, were somewhat angry at me and that we might have to offer them a free ad.
Later in the week I read about the latest e-mail controversy in New Orleans and that made me wonder, what if I was a public office holder and some political jackal who was out to destroy me would post my comments on a Web site? How would the enemy want my comments to be interpreted?
Maybe my words could be seen as anti-enlightenment, because Michelangelo was the ultimate Renaissance figure. My comments, the politically obsessed might argue, hearkened for a return to the dark ages.
Or, maybe my comments were intended to be anti-David and pro-Goliath who, my critics would say, is a symbol of big industry and corporate greed.
Or, maybe I was being anti-Florence. Back in the days of warring political states Florence had powerful enemies in towns, including Pisa and Sienna, that it had conquered. Certainly my message revealed pro-Sienna sentiments.
Or, since David is depicted in the statue as being famously nude, might I have been making a statement for Puritanism?
Or, maybe I was striking a long overdo blow on behalf of Leonardo da Vinci. He and Michelangelo were contemporaries in Florence but did not get along. Could I have been the instrument of da Vinci’s revenge?
According to the legislature, and the courts, e-mail sent via public facilities are public property and the public has the right to know what has been written. What the public also needs to know is that you cannot fairly judge people by their e-mails. The computer is a whole new way of communicating that allows random, chatty, off-the-cuff statements to flow, sometime frivolously, quite often as a way to testing ideas. E-mails are seldom a reflection of a person’s full position on any issue.
I find the whole e-mail controversy to be asinine. I miss the days of hearing about building better levees, fighting crime and improving education. The political thugs need to go away.
As my friend David would say, there are bigger battles to be fought.
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