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Monday, April 20, 2009

If Ray Lam had read my blog three months ago he wouldn't be in this mess today

As most people know by now the BC NDP candidate for Vancouver-False Creek Ray Lam has quit the provincial election race after he foolishly posted a picture on his Facebook page showing his hand on a female friend's breast while he grins at the camera. Another picture is even more risque - showing a man and a woman grabbing at his underwear and taking a peek inside.

Lam has not only resigned as a candidate for the BC NDP but now many are calling for him to resign his position as planning commissioner for the City of Vancouver.

If Lam had read my article The Crotch Shot Hypothesis and the Politics of Hypocrisy, which I posted back on Janaury 7th of this year, he wouldn't be in this mess today.

In that prescient column I wrote the following:

"The paradox of the Internet is that with various social networking sites and Wikipedia it is a great way to keep in touch with distant friends and to quickly gather information. The problem is that none of this information ever goes away. Thus any ill thought out statement or embarrassing photo that is posted to the internet will always be there.

A colleague of mine has come up with a hypothesis. She gives it a much ruder title but for her sake and yours, I will refer to it as “the crotch shot hypothesis.” Her hypothesis is that by the year 2040 everyone in the world under the age of 65 will have an incriminating photo of themselves posted somewhere on the internet.

That brings us to an interesting democratic dilemma. In a democracy we elect people that represent us. They are not saints but people with the same foibles, miscues and embarrassing moments as the rest of us. Having worked as a political consultant for the better part of twenty years I can certainly tell you that candidates at both the provincial and federal level face a much higher level of scrutiny than they did when I first started out.

As we have seen here in Canada, this trend towards bland colourless politicians is creating increased public disenchantment with politics and declining voter turnout. The real problem is not just the Internet but our own hypocrisy as voters. Perhaps in the future when everyone has dirt on everyone else then politics will lose its all too tiresome hypocritical and moralistic tone."

Evidently we are not there yet. Lam acknowledged that the pictures he posted had been a distraction to his campaign and an embarrassment to his leader Carole James, and presumably at least a few of his friends.

So the lesson here is folks do not run for political office without first deleting all tawdry photos and inappropriate comments from the internet. And voters get used to seeing an ever more bland, uncontroversial and uninspiring breed of political candidate to vote for in the future. That is unless or until we get over our collective hypocrisy.

Please note this story is also posted at under the catchy title "Don't run for office in your underwear"

For more on this story click here.

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