How is that even a real sentence? How degraded has American civil society (sic) become that a years-old unfortunate bowel movement of a self-credentialed “journalist” is being mocked and mocked some more on Twitter? This “journalist” Charles C. Johnson has accreted himself to the University of Virginia rape dustup, mainly for the purpose of doxxing “Jackie,” the alleged victim who spoke to Rolling Stone, and his critics are mocking him for having shit on the floor as an undergraduate and he’s threatening to sue them for libel.
The proper legal gloss for “please correct your bullshit story against me about shitting on the floor, you insufferable loser” and “This never happened and if it isn’t corrected I will sue you” is The servant of God Charles joyously offers first fruits unto the trial bar. Maybe he’s a maniac who gets off on his own humiliation during discovery. Either that or he’s a fool, one for whom even Mr. T doesn’t have enough pity in his heart. If he follows through on his threat and actually files suit, opposing counsel will be deposing him about his bowel habits. This is part of a pissing match on Twitter and Deadspin. If he wants to bring a legal deposition about how he goes poop upon himself, and upon the carpet, he’s out of his fucking mind. Then the matter of truth being an affirmative defense: basically, his accusers have to swear or affirm that, yeah, that happened, and if a judge or jury believes them, Chuck’s out of luck.
That’s only one facet of the problem. Another is that Johnson’s critics think it appropriate and material to dredge up a story about how he shit on the floor in college. There is something about this mindset that is very seedy and, in the context of the digital panopticon, dangerous. Shitting on the floor of a college building is obviously really fucked up. It requires a serious failure of judgment and probably of morals, too. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be held against a person in extreme prejudice if he isn’t still doing it. A pile of shit on the floor can be cleaned up. It has to be done in department stores all the time. It’s disgusting and a bit hazardous, but it’s feasible. If all else fails, the floor manager can call Mike Rowe.
This is not the sort of incident that should follow a person around for life. How does one explain such a thing to prospective employers who frankly have no business even taking the subject into consideration in the first place but probably don’t care enough about common decency to restrain themselves? This is the kind of story that can ruin a job candidate’s chances simply because the internet allows dipshits to amplify their boorish or false beliefs to the point of instant, worldwide high fidelity. This floor-shitting story has already gone viral, and it’s on the internet to stay. Johnson cannot unring that bell.
Meanwhile, the HR prescreening panopticon is highly asymmetrical. Employers can dig up a lot more dirt on applicants than applicants can on employers. Employers are able to sweep all sorts of scandals under the rug. This was a huge problem at the CBC. Intentionally or not, it was harboring a highly-placed employee who was committing violent sex crimes under its auspices, and for twelve years the only way an applicant could hope to be apprised of this situation was to happen upon unsubstantiable rumors that Jian Ghomeshi was attacking women and the CBC was turning a blind eye. Many companies have similar, if not worse, skeletons in the closet. They harbor employees who have committed acts of moral turpitude on company time, often with utter malice and in an official capacity, and unless some employee is courageous or just plain angry enough to blow the whistle, no one who doesn’t have well-placed back-channel contacts hears a thing.
Nonetheless, job seekers, especially young ones, are bombarded with stern warnings that they’ll get into trouble with prospective employers if there are pictures online showing them in any state of intoxication or undress. What applicants are being told is that any frivolous or sexually suggestive photograph that they allow to be taken of themselves will be used against them by prospective or current employers, but, no, they still don’t have the ability to do due diligence on the same employers to determine with any confidence that they aren’t harboring staff with a history of workplace harassment, wage theft, retaliation, criminal menacing, or battery. In other words, look, kid, they’re allowed to know all about your slutty drunkenness, but you aren’t allowed to know a thing about their retention of dangerous loose cannons and psychopaths in positions of authority.
Toileting activities fall under the umbrella of intensely personal matters that should be completely excluded from consideration in the workplace because they’re irrelevant, salacious, and overbearingly prejudicial. Other matters falling under this umbrella include sexuality, sexual activity, drug use or addiction (including alcohol), and health problems. In certain unusual circumstances, it’s appropriate for employers to consider or even examine various things of this nature, but most employers have no reason to need to know anything of the sort and only try to force themselves into the loop so that they can manipulate and exploit their inferiors. If an employee does something as bizarre and disruptive as shitting on a floor at work, he can expect to be summarily fired. Most employees never do anything of the sort. This is not a real risk that they run when recruiting new hires, unless they refuse to provide employees with reasonable access to toilet facilities. If they aren’t depraved and deranged about bodily functions, their employees probably won’t be, either.
When a story about an undergraduate shitting on a floor in college follows him into his life as a graduate, a society is on a slippery slope into tyrannical censoriousness and retaliation. The intrusions don’t stop at some threshold of competence. They keep forcing their way into private and quasiprivate life until the society musters the will to demand that they cease. Any embarrassing thing that a high school or college student does today has the potential to end up on the internet. This is absolutely not to suggest that young people have slid into some pit of disrepute since the advent of the internet: they’ve been doing stupid shit and getting into embarrassing messes since the beginning of time. What’s changed is the technology. Incidents that half a dozen or a dozen people might have heard of twenty years ago can now be photographed or videotaped and instantaneously uploaded to cloud storage systems for infinite copying. Even media that aren’t tagged with traceable names can be matched to photos and voice samples using off-the-shelf facial and voice recognition programs. Any asshat with the money to buy and configure this software can automatically troll through swamps of data in search of compromising information about those he would like to do wrong.
This scenario may sound extreme, but people of this moral caliber are heavily concentrated in HR positions and in various types of espionage and opposition research where they can credibly misrepresent officiousness and voyeurism as due diligence. Many of them are adept at hacking into private networks, too. The moment some unethical or paranoid party with money offers a justification to plow through other people’s private lives, these fuckwads show up to tender a bid. Justifications for intrusions into private lives are a dime a dozen in the United States, especially in the corporate workplace, so there’s no shortage of work for these cretins.
Once the principle is established that it’s acceptable to intrude into the private lives of, say, job applicants, there is no lower bound on the intrusions. The moment an organization accepts a policy interest in voyeurism, it falls down the rabbit hole, with only the sick imaginations of its officious investigators limiting the probes in scope.
To get an idea of the possibilities, take a look at the garbage that passes for “news” in the celebrity tabloids. The paparazzi already have a hawk eye out for opportunities to critique the bodily functions of famous people, especially famous women. And of course there’s a class of famous women who pander to this salacious interest, but their fame is of a sort that makes it advantageous, to go about in public “accidentally” letting their breasts pop out of their bikini tops, licking hammers, and being poked in the butt with foam fingers.
If we were merely a vulgar and rude country, this would be all right. The problem is that we’re also a capricious, salacious, and hypocritical country. Twerking to “Blurred Lines” is resonant precisely because it’s scandalous. Young people end up imitating these vulgarians in their pursuit of their own very local fame, doing things like keg stands and body shots, which by their own objective demerits are a bit disordered but by no means morally unhinged. Activities like these don’t really affect anyone who chooses not to attend rowdy parties. Some of these kids have weird, unhealthy relationships to alcohol and sexuality. So what? It’s after-hours nonsense. It doesn’t automatically affect their academic or professional lives. It’s none of HR’s business, and it’s none of the Dean of Women’s business. If they’re that fascinated by rowdy party games, they can hang out at bars where that kind of thing might be on the agenda or try to score invitations to parties with the cool cats.
It’s a nice thought. The Anglo-American world is simply not that decorous. What really drives these intrusions into other people’s business isn’t hedonic fascination but psychosexual resentment. These are people who want to level society down, not up. They promulgate repressive moral codes that they don’t even really support in their own hearts, then try to martyr their inferiors for violating them. They aren’t really against binge drinking. If they were, they’d look at the average kegger or power hour as an unappealing spectacle of gluttony featuring revolting beer and rotgut hard liquor. People who have rudimentary good taste in alcohol only put up with the garbage on tap at these events for the companionship. They aren’t really against crass displays of sexuality. If they were, they’d be bemused by the bar top antics of topless amateur women at trashy bars in Pensacola, not secretly aroused. Gee, I really don’t get what you get out of shaking your tits in front of strangers when you aren’t even a stripper, and it’s really too bad that you had to go to Pensacola. Look at all these women who get fired by long-term employers when they’re exposed as former porn actresses or strippers. OMG, there’s this video of you sucking these guys’ cocks! Think of the children! Yeah, and if the HR manager were caught making his own video of the fired employee engaging in the same sex acts, FBI agents would bust down his door and bumrush his pervy ass on an arrest warrant for wiretapping.
Nobody invites these officious creeps over for a sneaky peek. Pursuing functionally the same invasions of privacy outside their usual bullshit investigative auspices would earn them a state-sponsored sleepaway adventure at a facility of the sheriff’s choice. Instead, they’re just due diligence private enterprise something. Like Jian Ghomeshi, they enjoy running a good hate fuck now and then. Unlike Jian Ghomeshi, they rarely have the honesty to say as much. They resent anyone who is well-adjusted and doesn’t give a shit about their prurient interest in their hedonic lives. That kind of attitude kills their juju. They have no power over people who can’t be manipulated by selective, gaslit shame.
Moral busybodies in HR play into the rotten caprice of the mob, giving it a legitimacy that it should never enjoy. There’s a disturbing sequence in I am Charlotte Simmons in which Charlotte loses her virginity in a nonconsensual act of coitus initiated and completed over her repeated explicit objections, a scene that Tom Wolfe oddly does not at any point refer to as rape or assault, and then, when she returns to campus, she discovers that her crypto-date rapist, the big man on campus Hoyt Thorpe, has gotten word out all over campus that she put out for him all over the weekend and passed out bleeding all over the bed. Charlotte overhears one of her erstwhile friends asking another one, “Was it her period?….But you just don’t do that.” “That,” of course, was bleeding on a hotel bed on account of some combination of menstruation and a rough deflowering.
These friends of hers, by the way, are both women, and they’re making fun of her for vaginal bleeding. There are people who think like that. There was a similar dynamic at play in the Rehteah Parsons case in Canada, where a teenage girl who was photographed vomiting in the course of an apparent gang rape was successfully smeared by her rapists as a slut.
Obviously, shitting on the floor is a new frontier in a world of pedestrian menstrual stains. But a society that shows neither discretion nor mercy about such things needs to be seized by its moral betters and reformed by force. First they came for the floor shitters, and I said nothing because I had never shit on the floor. Yet. There but for the grace of God go all of us.
He who is without sin, let him cast the first turd.