Scandal – Scandals – Scandalous

What a delicious way to start the month, I thought. Scandal. Steamy affairs, illicit liasons in five-star hotels where there’s more than just a chocolate on your pillow, naughty goings on between “nice” people.

Then I thought – no. Not that sort of scandal. How about this sort of scandal? When the government lies to its citizens about their privacy, when phone calls, tweets, blog posts – yes even blog posts – almost any and every utterance is recorded, monitored, filed and catalogued. Isn’t that a scandal?

Or is it the potential early release of a man who betrayed this country, selling our secrets to an ally, who in turn first used the illgotten intelligence to carry out its own missions and strikes, and then passed that intelligence onto the then Soviet Union. That to me is a scandal.

But then so is the hushing up of medical problems for many of our soldiers who served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield and whose exposure to chemical agents has rendered many of their children deformed, and/or with disfiguring birth defects. That’s also a scandal.

Dictionaries define scandal as:

1. a disgraceful action or event: his negligence was a scandal

2. censure or outrage arising from an action or event

3. a person whose conduct causes reproach or disgrace

4. malicious talk, esp gossip about the private lives of other people

5. scandal law – a libellous action or statement

I wish the word was used more selectively. Birth defects and deformities due to the wilful and wanton exposure of our troops to harmful chemicals – is a scandal (see definition 1) – Britney Spears’ underwear malfunction is not.

The indiscrimminate monitoring of our enail, phone calls, conversations and communications by government agencies both at home and overseas – without our agreement and without our knowledge – THAT is a scandal. When Lindsey Lohan’s credit cards are declined in New York, it’s not.

So having ascertained what is/is not a scandal – or even scandalous – let’s take a look at some real honest to goodness scandals – revisit some oldies but goodies, and maybe take a peek at some you may not have heard of yet.

April is the cruelest month, wrote T.S. Eliot in The Waste Land, and looking at scandal may be one reason why that’s still true.

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