(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Yes, that glorious time of year has come once again – it’s time to post or send in your nominations for the William Higinbotham Inhumanitarian of the Year award. As the notorious younger twin to JPGB’s prestigious Al Copeland Humanitarian of the Year award, “The Higgy” recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of petty crapulence.
The award is named for history’s greatest monster, William Higinbotham.
Nominate someone who worsens the human condition in a way that meets the judges’ criteria for the award:
Higinbotham’s failing was in mistaking self-righteous proclamations for actually making people’s lives better in a way that video games really do improve the human condition. So “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.
This year we’re inaugurating a new tradition of launching The Higgy on April 1. It’s a very fitting practice, given the emphasis in the judges’ comments last year on the role of foolishness in evaluating the merits of a nominee. The ideal Higgy nominee is not just someone who makes the world worse, but who has “arrogant delusions” that “self-righteous proclamations” improve the world. But don’t worry, the ancient custom – established by our forefathers in a distant age now lost to history – of announcing the winner on the only appropriate day (April 15) shall not change.
Last year saw a spirited competition that made the judges proud. I nominated David Sarnoff, who ruined the lives of the inventors of television and FM radio. Jay nominated Louis Michael Seidman, who provided spurious legitimization that helps officeholders get away with disobeying the supreme law of the land in the pursuit of their selfish ends. But Matt’s nomination of the winner, Pascal Monnet, surpassed all our fondest expectations for The Higgy. As Matt relates:
UX is a clandestine group of Parisians who make use of the underground tunnels to break into museums in order to restore neglected pieces of art. Pascal Monnet is a museum administrator who did everything in his power to shut them down…The group invests their time, effort and money into restoration projects neglected by the state, and even gives pointers to museum administrators regarding the flaws in their security. Armed with a map of the underground tunnel networks beneath Paris, UX members set up workshops in order to conduct late night restoration projects. In 2006, they decided to fix a large clock within the Pantheon…After fixing the clock, UX notified the administration of the Pantheon, whereupon the story started to go wrong…[Bernard] Jeannot’s then-deputy, Pascal Monnet, is now the Pantheon’s director, and [on top of Jeannot’s huge lawsuit] he has gone so far as to hire a clockmaker to restore the clock to its previous condition by resabotaging it. But the clockmaker refused to do more than disengage a part—the escape wheel, the very part that had been sabotaged the first time. UX slipped in shortly thereafter to take the wheel into its own possession, for safekeeping, in the hope that someday a more enlightened administration will welcome its return.
In the face of such Higinbothamesque behavior, the mind simply boggles. But does Monnet stand alone, or are there more Higgy-worthy scoundrels out there awaiting our discovery? Dear readers, it’s up to you to bring further vile offenders to light so we can dishonor them!