Likelihood of Success

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The electron trail

Posted by Ron Coleman on January 26, 2008

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is in trouble:

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Friday that her office would investigate reports that Kilpatrick and Chief of Staff Christine Beatty exchanged romantic text messages in 2002 and 2003, despite testifying in a trial last summer that they did not have a physical relationship then.The Detroit Free Press examined about 14,000 text messages on Beatty’s city-issued pager from those years that indicate the two had been intimate during that period. They reveal the two carried on a flirty, sometimes sexually explicit dialogue about where to meet and how to conceal their numerous trysts.

The Free Press did not explain exactly how it obtained the messages. The newspaper said it cross-referenced the messages with the mayor’s private calendar and credit card records to verify events in some of the notes.

The ether betrays its secrets freely. Professionally speaking, it’s downright astonishing — and somewhat depressing — to see what people will punch into their cellphones and email accounts. It is a testament to great emotional desperation, the banal electronic background hum of hurting human souls. Interestingly, there’s a “literature” on the Internet that suggests that lovestruck, broken-hearted, and on-the-make men write more pathetic extended emails than women.

The question is, do these electronic devices really facilitate illicit relationships, i.e., allow ones to happen that otherwise would not? Or are we just getting better records of what was going on all along?

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7 Responses to “The electron trail”

  1. Fern said

    t is a testament to great emotional desperation, the banal electronic background hum of hurting human souls.

    Or total lack of control of their physical urges and extreme arrogance that they’ll never get caught.

    The question is, do these electronic devices really facilitate illicit relationships, i.e., allow ones to happen that otherwise would not?

    I think they cater to people with little self-control. In the past, if you couldn’t punch in every base thought into an electronic device and send it off immediately, the person who was considering something inappropriate had time to cool off and collect themselves. Now, people want instant gratification in every aspect of their life. They don’t want to wait and contemplate and see how things turn out. They want what they want and they want it right now. Blackberries and cell phones and email facilitate instant gratification.

  2. Fern, I think we agree on the first point, but I am suggesting that a person who cannot control his physical urges is going to experience spiritual pain. As I alluded to in the post, I have seen some emails brought to me by clients or prospective clients (recently in the context of wrongful termination or harassment cases) that are painful to read for more than one reason. It’s not always so clear, by the way, that the longing exhibited in these emails is really physical — even if that ends up being bound up into picture.

    As to your second point, it seems that you are right. Not only was there a cooling off period, but casual and innocent encounters were less likely to be roped into electronic relationships. You had to “get a phone number” or have regular in person contact to establish a connection. Still as intuitively correct as this seems, I wonder if there is any statistical information suggesting that a larger percentage of married people are involved in illicit relationships now than before.

  3. Ara said

    I’ve been in Detroit the last few days while this story broke wide open. I’m shocked (but not surprised) that Kilpatrick and Beatty neglected the text trail that lead to these revelations.

  4. David said

    “It is a testament to great emotional desperation, the banal electronic background hum of hurting human souls.”

    Unbelievably perfect prose.

  5. Okay, David, I was going to ban you for starting up like that, but then I remembered you’re a lawyer so no one will take your characterizations of good ‘ritin’ seriously.

  6. Jack said

    “It is a testament to great emotional desperation, the banal electronic background hum of hurting human souls.”

    If I rub my head really fast then I build up a pretty good charge in cold weather. I’m not sure it has any long term effects though. Maybe we need a study though, cause I’m not 100% sure.

    “The question is, do these electronic devices really facilitate illicit relationships, I.e., allow ones to happen that otherwise would not?”

    I think it depends a lot on what speed they are running, and what kind of battery they are carrying. Electronic devices that facilitate illicit relationships aren’t always monitored like they should be.

    But I can see how such devices could lead to sexually explicit dialogue. Once again I think it pretty much depends on what setting was used. Then again different people have different tolerances I guess, so that’s no guarantee of nothing necessarily.

  7. I think you have to say they do, do that.

    I’m not addressing the dirty parts of your comments, though, Jack!

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