Not schadenfreude at all...
by snolan, Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 06:46:55 AM EDT
Some have suggested that the recent discovery that both South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign were having extra-marital affairs would be schadenfreude (joy at the suffering of others), and I have to disagree. Likewise, the exposure of New York Democratic Governor Elliot Spitzer's visits with prostitutes is no cause for schadenfreude either.
There is no joy in the broken hearts and damaged relationships. No joy in the dishonesty, the deceit, the contempt, the lack of respect for their partners and voters. No joy in the hypocrisy that both of these Republicans pilloried then Democratic President Bill Clinton when he was caught having an affair in the 1990s, and now both have participated in the very same activity that they themselves claimed was reprehensible and grounds for impeachment.
I think we are being unreasonable as a society to expect everyone to lead perfect lives with no mistakes and no loves outside of the one sanctioned by some very narrow definitions founded a century ago. Monogamy is not the natural order of things, and limiting ourselves to just one love denies the fact that we love our children, all of them, even when we have more than one child. We love our parents even after we get married. We can certainly fall in love with more than one adult and be attracted to more than one person at a time; it is not a weakness as some in the media present. It is natural.
What is reprehensible are the lies about it. The lack of honesty within their families. The lack of honesty within their support staffs. The fact that they pilloried Bill Clinton for his affair and for his lack of honesty (and I agree with them on his lack of honesty), but then proceeded to do exactly the same thing they sought power trying to stamp out. Spitzer's crime was that he engaged in the same activity he ran against. Kettle; calling the pot black is perhaps a little silly.
For me, I don't really care how many consenting adults of whatever sex are cavorting with our elected leaders, so long as they are honest and open about it (so they are not vulnerable to blackmail), their partners and families are ok with it (so trust is not violated), and they are clear with their staff so that emergency contacts can be made and duties fulfilled (an affair should not interfere with the job).
Schadenfreude? No, it is very sad that our society prosecutes people for the affairs and not for lies and neglect of responsibility.