Boulder city official in hot water over MySpace blog

In another example of political correctness trumping any sort of freedom of speech, of the inability to say “tacky, stupid, whatever” instead of “this is intolerable”, the City of Boulder is opening up an official investigation of Rob Smoke’s MySpace site. Rob, you see, is the Chairman of the Human Relations Commission (an appointed, not elected, position) and on his MySpace weblog he discusses sex, drugs and rock’n’ roll along with Boulder city business.
MySpace: A Place for FriendsCheck his profile out:
It’s important to recognize that, as our local paper reports, Rob writes about “his work with the commission, an all-volunteer board appointed by the City Council to investigate discrimination claims and provide advice on diversity issues.”
The most important words here are all-volunteer. Yes, Rob is part of a volunteer diversity committee, and it seems to me that the best sort of diversity committee is one that’s, well, diverse.
But apparently his fairly humorous MySpace profile that includes such gems as a tweaked Doors quote of “I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m horny, I’m stoned… and I’m a city official” doesn’t demonstrate his, um, diversity but rather crosses the line of appropriate behavior instead.

The entire complaint stems from a female MySpace user who filed a complaint with the Boulder city attorney about Smoke making a salacious comment about her. His comment about her? “My woody is chafing”.
On MySpace people can leave comments on other’s profiles, but as a freewheeling and at times very strange community, you have simple tools that let you delete the comments you don’t like (how to do just that).
Since these are so pervasive on MySpace, I figure that odds are good that the woman who filed the complaint with the city attorney has been around on MySpace long enough to get other weird and stupid comments or friend requests (and I’ve gotten some that just make me dive for the “delete” button before my kids see the screen too). MySpace is a pretty rudimentary tool, so my question is more about why is this woman harassing Rob by filing these complaints?
I mean, yes, the comment ostensibly borders on sexual harassment, but we’re talking about MySpace, a tremendously popular social networking site that thrives on the stupid, the crude, and the distasteful. Go and read Rob’s profile and blog entries and you’ll find a 50-year-old hippie who quotes Jim Morrison and thinks he’s funny.
I know nothing about him, but can’t imagine that any woman in today’s world who received a comment from Rob wouldn’t be able to read his profile (which includes comments like “I’m shy — love music; been singing and playing the trumpet for many a moon— I’m an “old boy”, but I love the beach, playing kick the can, staying up late doing something ridiculous — I don’t use drugs but I have smoked the all-purpose herb”), check out his MySpace Blog, and just chalk it up to some lonely guy being a bit of a goof and walk away.
So why hasn’t that happened here?
As a blogging advocate, I will say that I think Rob is demonstrating poor judgment sharing his committee experiences on his MySpace blog, and I do counsel people to have a distinct separation between their social and professional, but that’s just a best practice, there’s no legal issue here.
Finally, a word of advice to the City Council investigation team: lighten up. We’re Boulder, Colorado, not some rabidly conservative “red” state capital. We like our hippies, deadbeats, and counter-culture people.
Bad taste? Maybe. An issue that the Council has to waste time and energy on? Definitely not.

8 comments on “Boulder city official in hot water over MySpace blog

  1. I just checked out his site, and it’s still up. I would agree-it’s just immature and stupid. Not an issue for the poilitical realm though, unless he acts the same way there!

  2. Sorry, but even as a defender of free speech, I have to disagree. I would have no objection to his posting trashy material on his own profile, but leaving a tacky suggestion like this on someone else’s profile crosses an important line. We have to expect our public officials, and those who act in a quasi-public capacity, and get the leadership exposure which goes with it, to act in a sensible and responsible way in all their dealings, public or private.
    I would not post anything like this on another’s profile [I doubt I would even say something like this in private to someone I know well, because it strikes me as simply gross and vulgar], and if someone with as little leadership capacity or sense of propriety as myself knows to refrain, I think it reasonable to expect that sort of restraint from others.
    We can’t simply call the lowest common denominator of behaviour acceptable, even if it is not illegal — so I support the City Council on this. It is not a matter of diversity [he can be as big a bozo as he likes on his own time, so long as he does not affect others negatively], it is a matter of public behaviour. It’s that simple.

  3. You discuss at length the “my woody is chafing” comment — here are the facts — I never sent that in an email to a woman — it is posted as a caption under one of my photos on the “pics” page — someone would have to go to that page to find it and then be offended.
    just wanted to clarify that — also, it’s okay if people say that I’m “immature” or whatever — I’m not going to sit and cry about it — however, take a look at the blogs –it’s not ALL immature and/or offensive.
    I look at issues and people and my own feelings in a reasonably authentic and mature way — I think — or at least some people indicate they would agree with that assessment.

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