It is hard to find words to describe the despicable act of Dustin Dominiak, who wrote an odious kiss-and-tell piece entitled “I Had a One Night Stand With Christine O’Donnell.”
O’Donnell, the odd-ball, unqualified Republican candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat in Delaware, hardly possess the kind of potential for civilization-destroying evil that might support an argument for doing anything short of assassination to stop her ascent to power. Her candidacy is toast; she has become a political punch line, and has earned it. She has thoroughly proven her own unfitness to serve with a series of dumb comments, embarrassing campaign moments, and a ridiculous ad campaign. Still, she is a human being, and unlike another self-immolating Tea Party favorite, New York’s gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino, she seems to be a pretty nice one.
There can be no justification for Dominiak’s essay, which describes the kind of awkward social interaction between singles that must go on a million times any day of the week. Nobody in the story does anything that is illegal, dishonest, shocking or revolting. The purpose of the piece is to make O’Donnell look foolish, and to embarrass her for 100% personal conduct with no relevance to her fitness for the Senate, integrity, or honesty. She did nothing to harm Dominiak, other than to refuse his request for sex after an evening of heavy necking. The Horror. If the story was about anyone other than a famous person, no newspaper would publish it. If O’Donnell’s career eventually warranted a biography, the incident wouldn’t justify a footnote.
So why? What ethical links in Dominiak’s brain don’t work? He didn’t even have the courage and sense of accountability to attach his name to the article (thank you, Smoking Gun, for ferreting out his identity.). It is gratuitously mean, a breach of trust (even the small amount of trust we all invest in casual personal relationships, that our every move and word in an encounter will not be distorted and placed on a billboard for all to criticize); an act of spite and vengeance, an effort to deface a woman’s reputation and strip her of whatever little dignity she might have left after a full-fledged assault by her foes in the political ring and the media. It is the act, in short, of a cowardly and cruel jerk.
But it is more than that. His conduct raises the fear that in the Twitter and Facebook-obsessed, wired culture that is hardening around us, there will be nothing we will do in any aspect of our lives that can be accompanied with a reasonable expectation that it will not be used against us, exposed to the world by the inconsiderate, the attention-seeking, the desperate, the rude, or the mean. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in that world. In my life, I have had plenty of bad moments that would send me to a cave if they were exposed on-line. Luckily, all of those friends, lovers, colleagues, acquaintances and less who witnessed or participated in my gaffes, goofs, and botches recognized that they shouldn’t use my worst moments to humiliate me in public, because they have bad moments too. Dominiak’s rotten-to-the-core behavior posits that they were wrong to apply the Golden Rule in exactly the way it was intended.
For this reason, he should not escape appropriate consequences for the betrayal, which, naturally, was published by the awful gossip site, Gawker. I am going to do my part by henceforth describing all uses of mass electronic media to punish people for private slights as “dominiaks,” and the act as “dominiaking.”
When it’s hard to find the right words, sometimes you have to make up a new one.