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Triumph Of The Swill

While I am a lifelong Star Trek fan, I never got into “Voyager.” The short answer was “Gilligan’s Island In Space.” The longer version was they had years and years of Trek history to draw from and build on, and instead in less than 30 minutes into the series they toss it all out the window and throw the ship across the galaxy, completely cut off from all that rich background.

However, I did follow it from the fringes. When Jeri Ryan joined the cast as 7 of 9 (or, as I and numerous others called her, “36 of D”), it prompted countless adolescent fantasies. Some of those were even spun by actual adolescents. It doesn’t take very long to find online fake nude pictures and raunchy adult fiction of both the character and the actor.

The soap opera that evolved around her personal life was of tangential interest. Here was the married mother dumping her politician husband for one of the guys now running Star Trek. But again, people moved on.

Now her ex was running for the United States Senate in Illinois. The couple’s divorce records were sealed, by mutual request, but that didn’t stop the Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV. They went to California and got a judge to release them, to see if there was anything germane to Jack Ryan’s run for the Senate.

It turns out there was infidelity, but it was on Jeri’s part, not Jack’s. There were no allegations of cruelty, abuse, or infidelity against Jack. However, there were some rather titillating allegations that Jack had taken Jeri to several sex clubs and had pressured her (unsuccessfully) for either sex in front of others, or for her to perform an unnamed “sex act” (I think we can all presume it was a Lewinsky) for others to observe.

This didn’t slow down the Chicago Tribune in the least. They released the papers, and they immediately hit the internet (check out The Smoking Gun if you want the dirt firsthand).

I took a look because as I like to say, with my job, I can’t afford much more than cheap thrills. And I’m sure there are at least thousands of the aforementioned adolescents (of all ages) now ecstatically picturing “7 of 9” in a sex club.

Years ago, I remember reading about a British newspaper seeking to publish candid nude photographs of a member of the Royal Family (I think it was Prince Charles). A judge ruled against them, and his words on the matter have stuck with me ever since. (I might be paraphrasing slightly here, but I’m 99% certain of the sentiment.)

“Simply because a matter is interesting to the public does not necessarily make it in the public interest.”

Well done, Chicago Tribune. You’ve sunk a man’s political career, humiliated a nationally known actress, and done God knows what to a 9-year-old boy who now has to look at his parents with entirely different eyes. Can anyone tell me what great public good was served by this private information becoming public? Other, that is, than selling more newspapers and giving countless geeks more fuel for masturbatory fantasies? Or being able to boast of taking down a Senate candidate over attempts to keep his private life private?

It’s a rare day that I can confess to indulging in adolescent fantasies (although I personally preferred Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax over Jeri Ryan’s 7 of 9), yet still feel considerably morally superior to a media conglomerate.

J.

(Note: Updated and corrected to lay the responsibility at the feet of the Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV (thanks for the tipoff, Lair), where it so richly belongs. My apologies to the Sun-Times, which didn't start this mess -- they just cheerfully leaped in with both feet once the Trib opened the door.)


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Comments (9)

...aforementioned adoles... (Below threshold)

...aforementioned adolescents (of all ages) now ecstatically picturing “7 of 9” in a sex club...

I thought about that too. Imagine being famous and having your face splashed all over bad celebrity fakes sites. Then imagine having your husband's freaky sexual preferences splashed all over legitimate news sources.

*shudder*

I guess being involved in a high-profile sci-fi show almost assumes you are a bit of a sexual freak.

Yup, no intelligent analysis from my corner. This whole thing is so weird.

I heard that WLS-TV was a p... (Below threshold)

I heard that WLS-TV was a part of the investigation. If so, would it be considered unethical for me to release dirt that others accumulated on their general manager Emily Barr?

Well, Ryan is out of the r... (Below threshold)
Peter:

Well, Ryan is out of the race, mission accomplished for the media.
Still, there's something seriously wrong about putting out allegations in a custody fight as fact. If we had actual teeth in the laws, half the divorce lawyers would be disbarred for subborning perjury.

Sorry Jay, but I still find... (Below threshold)

Sorry Jay, but I still find it incredibly hypocritical that conservatives hung on every detail of the Lewinski/Clinton affair and are yet outraged over this one. And please dont insult my intelligence by "It wasnt the sex, it was the lies under oath," thing. Becuase if that was the case, all of the DETAILS of Clinton's tryst would not have become national news.
Yeah they were different acts, but I see little difference MORALY, between cheating on your wife, therefore humiliating her, and trying to pressure your wife into being a swinger, when she does not want to.
Both Clinton and Ryan stink for doing what they did. I agree with you in the sense that I dont think it should have been made public, or become part of the political debate, but I dont think Clinton's Blowjob follies should have either.

One HUGE difference, David.... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

One HUGE difference, David. What the Ryans did was strictly between them in a (relatively) private place, on their own time. What Clinton did was, by laws he himself signed, arguably sexual harassment of the grossest sort (based on the power imbalance between an intern and the Chief Executve of the Executive branch of the government), done on OUR time, and done IN the Oval Office. That's what makes it our business.

Had Clinton conducted his "relationship" with Ms. Lewinski's mouth and tongue outside regular office hours and outside the office, and she were not employed by him (even as an intern), that would have been different entirely. But he didnt.

Ronald Reagan never took his coat off in the Oval Office. George W. Bush is following that example. Bill Clinton read it as the "Oral Orifice" and couldn't keep his pants up in it. I think that's all need be said.

You're all wet, David. The... (Below threshold)

You're all wet, David. The fact that all the details of Clinton's sexcapades is inevitable. If information is available, it will be disseminated. That's the nature of modern media, Republicans or no.

The Ryan story is a perfect example of this. This story appears to be almost entirely media driven, not politically driven.

Also, as for the sex aspect of this, if you really think there's no difference between repeatedly cheating on your spouse, and making sexual requests of your spouse that she declines, well, then I guess that's between you and your wife.

On the other hand -- and this is partially addressed to Peter, too -- it seems highly likely that the allegations against Ryan are mostly true. He issued a pretty Clintonian denial back at the time of the divorce, and has been kind of weaseling around the issue ever since by claiming, "I addressed this a long time ago," when he really hasn't. For the record, Jeri Ryan (who supports her ex) still maintains that her charges were true. Jack has kind of danced around the issue without really addressing it.

If so, ironically, this actually does make the case quite similar to Clinton's, because there is an argument that Jack Ryan lied under oath in his filings in the divorce case. That's getting lost in much of the awful media coverage.

As for Republicans being hypocritical about this, they're not. Actually, the early polls about this, and virtually all of the letters to the editors in the Illinois papers (by about a 10-to-1 margin), think that this sex scandal shouldn't affect Ryan's race. What did him in, though, was that he apparently lied to party leaders. When this divorce file issue first surfaced months ago, Ryan went to all of them (Edgar, Topinka, Hastert, etc.) and asured them that there was nothing even potentially embarassing in his files, and that the only secret stuff in the files pertained to details about his special-needs son. That was a lie. The party leaders felt betrayed (legitimately so), and that's why they've abandoned Ryan.

I think I said, that both a... (Below threshold)

I think I said, that both acts were pretty disgusting, and pressuring your wife to have sex in swing clubs may not be illegal, but in my eyes it is equally or worse on the morality scale than having consensual sex with someone, nonwithstanding the effects on Clintons own marriage which was JUST as private as the relationship issues the Ryans obviously suffered.

David, you are deliberately... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

David, you are deliberately trying to steer the argument by using inaccurate and misleading language, and I'm calling you on it. Nowhere in the divorce documents, based on news reports, did it say that Ryan "pressured" his wife to have sex in swing clubs. He tried to make that happen, but when she resisted, he backed off.

And the fact that you find Ryan's actions, even as you portrayed them, as "worse on the morality scale" than having adulterous sex indicates that you don't share my morals on the subject, at least.

Hmmmm Boyd my friend, I thi... (Below threshold)

Hmmmm Boyd my friend, I think you are misunderstanding my words. I said equal or worse, a strictly subjective standard I will admit. But the pressuring part you are DEAD wrong on. The reports indicated that AFTER Ryan promised his wife that he would not do the sex club thing again, he took her to a club in Paris and tried again. But there is a bigger point here in my mind, and that is that Sex is sex. Its natural most of us do it. I would not eliminate Ryan for his kinkiness, and I thought the whole thing with Clinton bordered on ridiculous. I said at the time and I will say it again, the only person who could fire Clinton for what he did was Hillary. She didnt, so why should I give a rats a**.
As for Ryan, apparently 7of9 DID fire him. So that part of his life is behind him. I think it was cowardly of him to lie about what happened, and likewise I think it was cowardly of Clinton. Personally I would have said "Its none of your damned business."
We are not going to agree on this one, but I thought I owed you at least an answer.




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