(Guest post by Greg Forster)
The Higgy, like its recipients – including 2016 honoree Chris Christie, whom no one would blame you for not remembering – has a long tradition of existence. But while we’re glad The Higgy exists, we’re not glad its recipients do – in fact, we’re glad The Higgy exists because we’re not glad its recipients do.
Alas, Higgy winners, who seem to exist solely to plague us with their costly and frustrating PLDD nonsense, just go on and on, existing. And so do people who deserve The Higgy and have not yet received it. Thus, The Higgy marches on, never lacking for worthy contenders.
Yes, with the arrival of April Fool’s Day, it’s time once again for the William Higinbotham Inhumanitarian of the Year Award – “The Higgy.” Each year, we (dis)honor the most (un)worthy candidate from your nominations of people afflicted with PLDD (not BSDD, note the difference).
Past “winners” of The Higgy include Abraham Flexner, Alison Collins, Mark DiRocco, Kosoko Jackson, John Wiley Bryant, Plato, Chris Christie, Jonathan Gruber, Paul G. Kirk and the incomparably petty inaugural winner, Pascal Monnet.
The award is named for history’s greatest monster, William Higinbotham; as a special way of (dis)honoring Higinbotham, we have not even given him The Higgy.
Get your nominations in by April 15, Tax Day – definitely a day to discountenance petty little dictators!
To inspire you to greatness in discerning pettiness, we carry on immemorial Higgy tradition and reproduce below the text of Jay’s original post launching The Higgy. Good 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.”