09 May 2011

Remember That Year The Reds Won The World Series?

Ah, good times!

(I have to make a note here right at the start: I spent all morning debating whether I should post this. It's going to be hard to rant about this while keeping it vague enough not to cause professional waves, for one. And I don't really want to offend the source of the rant, for two. But this dug around in my brain in a most unpleasant way and I have to put it out here.)

The New Republic founding editor Walter Lippmann once said, "Democracy is much too important to be left to public opinion." That is because public opinion is easily swayed and the process is easily corrupted.

Politics readily comes to mind.

So does American Idol.

Yes, it is very important that the public be engaged in social activities. It is also important to, at the same time, maintain the integrity of said social activity.

I am a strong proponent of fairness. In my life, in my dealings, I do my best to treat people fairly ... everyone on level ground. I detest an uneven playing field. Cheaters irritate the bejeezus out of me. (People who drive in the right-turn lane only to jump into the left-straight lane just to get a few cars ahead would be a great example.)

Okay, Diarist, where are you going with this?

You may or may not know that I host a weekly karaoke show in the District. Occasionally, the establishment will have a singing contest that occurs on karaoke night. When I am asked (or volunteered) to run these contests, which includes coming up with the rules to which the contest will adhere, I make them as fair as I can possibly make them while ensuring that the public will be engaged as well. It's quite a difficult balance, but I think I have (mostly) succeeded at striking that balance.

Now imagine how I must feel when I receive word that someone plans on rigging one of my competitions. Let me tell you, I do not feel well about this.

There are two things that make strong competitors what they are. First, they want to win the ultimate prize, whatever that prize may be. Second, they know without doubt that they can win without any outside help.

If you are not the least bit interested in winning the prize, please do not waste our time by competing. You're simply taking up space and oxygen that someone else actually wants. If you have any doubt that you can win this thing fairly, please do not waste our time by competing. Odds are you won't win anyway.

Look, competitions are what they are and rules are what they are. I'm not so naïve as to think that people don't school the system. I know it happens. I write my rules in a way that you can bring your friends to help ensure that you make the cut. The intentions do not in any way, shape, or form include bringing your friends to rig the whole enchilada.

I do build in fail-safes to counter-balance cheating, but they are very limited and will only be used if I have no other choice. Trust and believe ... I will use my fail-safes if forced. But I'd honestly prefer not to have to go that route. I'd honestly prefer that everyone compete fairly. Which means it's all on you.

Have you got it in you?

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