Don’t Mess With The Lincoln Memorial

In a world of senseless violence, ethnic wars, random kidnappings, and suicide bombings, why get angry about some green paint splashed on a statue — particularly when the paint can be cleaned and the statue returned to its former glory?

But the vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial does make me angry.  I hope they catch the twisted person who did this, and I hope they make him pay.

The Lincoln Memorial, like the rest of the National Mall, says a lot about America.  Lincoln was one of our greatest Presidents, and one of our greatest Americans, period.  His story tells a lot about this country, and his perseverance through the awful bloodshed of the Civil War does, too.  Most Americans have seen the Lincoln Memorial, on fifth grade trips to the Nation’s Capital or on family visits there, and it is an awesome temple to the American Idea — noble and grand, humbling and moving, with Lincoln’s careful words carved on the walls and his craggy, wise head looking down upon us.  We leave the Lincoln Memorial, and we feel good.

So why in the world would some idiot splash paint on Lincoln’s statue?

And while we are figuring out the answer to that question, let’s also answer this question:  how could the vandal do this and get away?  I hate to suggest even more surveillance cameras in this country, but the Lincoln Memorial needs to be protected.  Now that this pointless act has occurred, we don’t want to give terrorists any ideas.

Hack Moves

When I was in college, my roommate Graydon and I often referred to someone who behaved inappropriately as a “hack,” or to an ill-advised decision as a “hack move.”  I thought about that phrase when I read the latest story about computer hackers, this time in connection with hacking efforts directed against Twitter and Facebook.  The hackers mounted “denial of service” attacks that were simply designed to disrupt access to those popular websites.

I don’t quite get why hackers engage in such hack behavior.  Some hacking is clearly self-interested criminal activity — like that involved in stealing personal information to accomplish identity theft or credit card fraud — but most hacking seems to be mindless vandalism, akin to spray-painted graffiti on park walls, smashed streetlights, and broken glass bottles on sidewalks.  I suppose every vandal gets some kind of thrill from engaging in petty criminal behavior without being caught.  Maybe there also is a fleeting feeling of power in destroying something, or a sense of revenge against society by an outcast, or the ability to boast of an illicit act to the limited circle the hacker is trying to impress.  In any case, it seems like a computer hacker would have to be an unhappy person.  Why else would anyone want to do something that achieves no purpose other than to prevent people from using a website that they think is a lot of fun?