It is time once again to (dis)honor the recipient of the William Higinbotham Inhumanitarian Award. This year we had an exceptionally strong set of nominees, perhaps because difficult times reveal the worst (as well as the best) in us.
We had four nominees to consider: Bruce Aylward, nominated by Greg, Charles Lieber, nominated by me, Nancy Gibbs, nominated by Matt, and Mark DiRocco, nominated by Jason. While they are all very (un)worthy nominees, our (dis)honoree this year is Mark DiRocco.
While Nancy Gibbs surely did a dis-service to journalism by awarding lousy reporting at the Arizona Republic, journalism is already so beaten down and discredited that it hardly needs our tap dancing on its grave. Will the last reader of the Arizona Republic please turn off the lights on their way out?
Aylward and Lieber were particularly strong contenders given their sycophancy for a murderous, oppressive regime. But that’s precisely why I decided not to choose them. While both Aylward and Lieber were excellent examples of PLDDs, their service to a BSDD made their actions too menacing for a our little award.
Especially in these troubling times I thought we needed a Higgy winner who was more familiar and less menacing. Mark DiRocco’s callous treatment of students as mere revenue units for the schools he represents by seeking to deny Pennsylvania’s children access to existing online services offered by charter schools is just the sort of edu-blob activity we are accustomed to seeing. It is like the comfort food of PLDD behavior that is exactly the kind of Higgy we need this year.
If you’ve been carbo-loading a bit too much to appreciate the comfort food metaphor, I’d suggest that DiRocco is the Goldilocks of Higgy nominees. He is neither so weak and irrelevant as a journalism professor, like Gibbs, nor so scary as servants of an authoritarian regime, like Aylward and Lieber. This year DiRocco is just right.