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Sympathy for the Sympathizer

From the Scrapbook.

Aug 13, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 44 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Unfortunately, our knowledge of Lochte’s love life doesn’t end there. “My last Olympics, I had a girlfriend—big mistake,” Lochte told ESPN magazine, after regaling his interviewer with details of the Dionysiac goings-on in the Olympic Village. “Now I’m single, so London should be really good. I’m excited.” Aside from his caddish attitude, Lochte has a fondness for gaudy fashion and the gem-encrusted mouthpieces favored by rappers known as “grills.” He also recently told NBC’s Ryan Seacrest that he relieves himself in the pools he swims in. It seems the 28-year-old swimmer is not a day over 13 mentally. Still, our grumbling won’t take away from Lochte’s achievements, and we’re guessing that the warnings from his own mother won’t put a dent in Lochte’s London social calendar.

What’s really illuminating about all this is the comparative treatment of Lochte and the athletes that actually do aspire to a higher moral -standard. Earlier this year, AshleyMadison.com—an online dating site that claims to be the “most recognized name in infidelity”—offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could prove they had slept with devout Christian NFL star Tim Tebow. And then there was the furor over hurdler Lolo Jones, who revealed in the runup to the Olympics that she was a virgin. “I’ve seen celebs get teased less for releasing a sex tape,” she said of the mocking coverage.

The final word on all of this belongs to Dr. Ruth Westheimer, whose career as an Israeli sniper turned psychosexual therapist seems to be a giant Freudian metaphor. Perhaps that gives her some credibility to sort out the Lochte family values: “In Jewish tradition making a match is a mitzvah, a blessing. Mom being wingman for 1 nite stands, not so much,” she wrote on her Twitter feed.

 

 Carnegie Spins in His Grave

That most venerable of American institutions, the public library, has a number of lofty aims: safeguarding and transmitting culture, building an educated populace, providing access to knowledge to all citizens regardless of their material circumstances. The library is also, The Scrapbook is sad to note, where a disconcerting number of citizens go for a rather lower purpose: looking at Internet porn. 

Indeed, in recent years, an increasing number of librarygoers nationwide have complained that they (and their children) have been exposed to people viewing obscene material on the computers in their local branches. But fear not—the San Francisco public library system has a solution! 

No, no, nothing sensible; the library won’t be blocking any websites or booting patrons who are caught looking at smut. (This is the Bay Area we’re talking about, after all.) Instead, San Francisco’s library system has installed “privacy screens” on 18 public computers in its main branch at Civic Center Plaza, so that patrons can view their porn in peace. This is a test run for what could soon become a citywide policy. (And you can just bet that Portland and other progressive locales won’t be far behind.) San Francisco librarian Luis Herrera explains, “We’re always looking for any kind of elegant solution that strikes a balance between the right to privacy and folks that want to use the library for any other intended purpose.”

Well, elegant isn’t the word The Scrapbook would have used, but then we’re not a librarian. As others have noted, it’s becoming less and less clear these days what the purpose of the public library is. Is it a storehouse of enlightenment, or a warehouse for the indigent? A beacon of cultivation and learning, or just another decaying institution, contributing to the pornification of public spaces? San Francisco has now made its position clear.

Inscribed at the entrance to the Library of Thebes was the simple yet powerful phrase, “Medicine for the soul.” We suggest that the San Francisco libraries install a different inscription at their entrances: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

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