In announcing the William Higinbotham Inhumanitarian of the Year Award, I established the following criteria for selecting dis-honorees:
“The Higgy” will not identify the worst person in the world, just as “The Al” does not recognize the best. Instead, “The Higgy” will highlight individuals whose arrogant delusions of shaping the world to meet their own will outweigh the positive qualities they possess.
Frankly, I had in mind those suffering from Petty Little Dictator Disorder (PLDD) more than those with BSDD (Big Scary Dictator Disorder). BSDD folks obviously worsen the human condition with their blood-thirsty and brutally oppressive ways. But almost everyone can recognize BSDD folks and an opposition to them forms naturally and immediately. BSDD is awful and frightening ( it is Big and Scary), but it is also relatively rare.
The more common and insidious threat to the human condition comes from PLDD folks as they sit around in their offices or bars or cafes dreaming about how everyone else’s lives should be organized and what should be done with everyone else’s money. Unlike those with BSDD, the PLDDers are facilitated in their disorder by the righteous (and self-deluding) conviction that everything they are doing is actually for the benefit of others.
The alphabet soup of DC-based think tanks and advocacy groups are filled with PLDD, but we couldn’t just give the Higgy to all of them. We aren’t Time Magazine (and as the recipient of the 2006 Time Magazine Man of the Year honor, I intend the magazine no disrespect). Instead, we have to name an individual who has worsened the human condition through the arrogant delusion of shaping the world to meet his or her own will.
This year’s recipient of the William Higinbotham Inhumanitarian Award is Pascal Monnet. Monnet is what the alphabet-soup PLDDers look like if they actually succeed in gaining power. Once their dreams of lording over others have been realized, rather than fixing the world, as they had imagined back in their cubicle days, successful PLDDers like Monnet just want to make sure that others don’t displace their position by fixing it on their own. In the end we learn that it was all really about control, not repairing the world.
Greg also had an excellent nomination, David Sarnoff. But Sarnoff didn’t have delusions of shaping the world; he actually did shape the world, at least for a while. He might be closer to a BSDDer than a PLDDer. And my nomination of Louis Michael Seidman fell short because Seidman only provides the rationale for the PLDD of others. Matt’s nominee, Pascal Monnet, more closely captures the essence of the Higgy because of his petty dictatorial impulses to block a group of artists from doing his job better than he could by fixing the clock in the Pantheon.
Anyone who could block a group of super-hero-looking artists like the UX members pictured below certainly has to be cast in the role of the villain.