Speaking of People We Want Social-Distance from, Let’s Do the Higgy!

William Higginbotham

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

It’s that foolish time of year again! And we’ve had a bumper crop of bad behavior in just the past couple months, so I can’t think of a better moment to launch the 2020 season of the William Higinbotham Inhumanitarian of the Year Award! There hasn’t been this big and competitive a field in years.

There are plenty of good options, so don’t be shy. Remember that The Higgy has a shorter season than The Al, launching on April Fool’s and closing on Tax Day, so you only have two weeks. With so many fools to choose from, you’ll want to get your nomination in early before someone else takes it!

Remember, although we are now living through a festival of foolish behavior, your nominations are not limited to recent or Coronavirus-related instances of idiocy. Feel free to let your fancy flow far and wide when fetching feasible fools to nominate for this distinguished award.

And please do remember that we are looking for PLDD, not BSDD. (Here is your field spotter’s guide to knowing the difference.) So kindly shelve your nominations for the bloodthirsty communist dictators who ordered doctors to stop testing and destroy their lab samples, announced that human transmission of the virus was impossible when in fact they knew it was already happening, murdered a series of people who tried to tell the world the truth, quietly stocked up on vital medical supplies while telling the world there was no threat, used their iron control of the WHO to reinforce their deadly lies, and sold defective tests and masks to nation after nation after nation.

(If you’re behind on all this, start here. Unless you think “it couldn’t happen here,” in which case start here. Or if you think it’s not worth clicking the links because even communists can’t possibly be that evil, start here.)

To guide your selection process, I’ll carry on immemorial Higgy tradition and reproduce the text of Jay’s original post launching the Higgy award.

Get your nominations in by Tax Day, and happy hunting!


As someone who was recognized in 2006 as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, I know a lot about the importance of awards highlighting people of significant accomplishment. Here on JPGB we have the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award, but I’ve noticed that “The Al” only recognizes people of positive accomplishment.  As Time Magazine has understood in naming Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Ayatullah Khomeini as Persons of the Year, accomplishments can be negative as well as positive.

(Then again, Time has also recognized some amazing individuals as Person of the Year, including Endangered Earth, The Computer, Twenty-Five and Under, and The Peacemakers, so I’m not sure we should be paying so much attention to what a soon-to-be-defunct magazine does.  But that’s a topic for another day when we want to talk about how schools are more likely to be named after manatees than George Washington.)

Where were we?  Oh yes.  It is important to recognize negative as well as positive accomplishment.  So I introduce “The Higgy,” an award named after William Higinbotham, as the mirror award to our well-established “Al.”

Just as Al Copeland was not without serious flaws as a person, William Higinbotham was not without his virtues.  Higinbotham did, after all  develop the first video game.  But Higinbotham dismissed the importance of that accomplishment and instead chose to be an arrogant jerk by claiming that his true accomplishment was in helping found the Federation of American Scientists and working for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.  I highly doubt that the Federation or Higinbotham did a single thing that actually advanced nonproliferation, but they sure were smug about it…

I suspect that Al Copeland, by contrast, understood that he was a royal jerk.  And he also understood that developing a chain of spicy chicken restaurants really does improve the human condition.  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.

We will invite nominations for “The Higgy” in late March and will announce the winner, appropriately enough, on April 15.  Thanks to Greg for his suggestions in developing “The Higgy.”

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