CYBERSPACE—Microsoft PowerPoint presentations involving porn, inadvertent or not, have swarmed the newswires of late, and one can’t help but wonder what the heck is going on. Just this past week, the popular presentation program was mentioned in the story involving Senator Charles Grassley and his war against alleged illicit porn at the National Science Foundation, and it was also the centerpiece in a story about a high school blood drive talk gone wrong. PowerPoint porn is nothing new, though.
A quick Google search turns up earlier instances of public demonstrations that went embarrassingly awry when an explicit slide or two was inserted into an otherwise appropriate presentation. One in particular, in 2007, was actually caught on tape.
The real story here has to do with attention, or a lack thereof. It’s safe to assume, for instance, that combining sexually explicit images in with a demo for 400 high school students on the social benefits of donating blood is a mistake.
That, of course, is what happened earlier this week at Norwin High School, in Irwin, Pa., when images of gay porn appeared on a “giant screen” at the beginning of a presentation on the importance of donating blood, “triggering awkward laughter” before the flash drive being used could be pulled from the computer.
The story is still cycling through the upper and lower colon of the media, with the anticipated upshot that police are looking into filing charges and some parents are telling news crews that they are outraged and the perp should be prosecuted. Can anyone doubt that some warped Tea Party candidate will use it in some demented way in a campaign television ad?
The hapless Central Blood Bank employee, who no doubt wishes he had never been dispatched to that school in the first place, has already paid a price for his presumed ineptitude, and has been suspended indefinitely, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Central Blood Bank, a non-profit, also sent a letter to Norwin students and parents apologizing profusely for a lapse they said violated ethical standards.
"This employee's actions violated our policy to conduct all operations in an ethical manner," the statement said. "We do not condone these actions and will not tolerate this type of behavior from our employees."
The question remains, however, what sort of behavior will they not tolerate: the fact that one of their employees made a mistake, or the fact that he has gay porn on a flash drive? Or are they summarily throwing the poor sap under the bus? It sounds suspiciously like the latter, unfortunately.
What is also sort of amazing is the extent to which everyone is falling all over themselves regarding an incident that could truly have happened to anyone. We are a harried society, pulled in a million directions, and mistakes happen.
"We've never had a problem in the past," said school superintendent William Kerr. "We find it quite unacceptable and inappropriate, and safeguards will be taken into consideration in the future."
That sounds reasonable in and of itself, but the school also sent letters to parents promising to take "every measure we can to ensure that the investigation is carried out with the utmost fidelity."
In other words, string the bum up. For making a mistake and forgetting that some sexual images were sharing space on his flash drive, and a group of 17-year-olds caught a glimpse of some gay sex—as if they haven’t been surfing porn sites for years already!
Why couldn’t they have just said that they will be more diligent in screening media in the future, and not go to the punishment place? Is it just another example of America’s war on sex?
In the other recent story involving Senator Grassley’s attempt to purge a huge bureaucracy of even a hint of sex, the reported use of PowerPoint by employees seeking to find a way around network filters, if true, smacks of rebellion and not ineptitude.
Indeed, as has been indicated, the actual instances of people taking up federal and network time surfing for porn at the NSF, though certainly a less than desirable use of taxpayer dollars, was so minute—1 percent of the agency's 3,500 employees—that it’s any wonder more of them don’t go out of their way to circumvent the multimillion-dollar filters employed to keep them on the straight and narrow, just out of spite.