08.10.11 10:55 PM ET
Christine O’Donnell Gets Punked
Before you ask, yes, the majestically failed Delaware Senate candidate has written a book—or rather a Serious Policy Book, subtitled “Let’s Do What It Takes to Make America Great Again,” due out Tuesday, Aug. 16. But what catches the eye on her Amazon page are the other products recommended for those interested in O’Donnell’s book.
In a nod to her statements condemning masturbation, there’s Getting Off: A Woman's Guide to Masturbation and the Hello Kitty Vibrator Massager Masturbator—New From Japan. Her pro-abstinence stand is acknowledged with the special, unrated version of the hit movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin (although the haters should note that she’s actually 41). And in case she changes her mind about being a witch, there’s the indispensable volume Summoning Spirits for Money. The recommended products may not be viewable in all browsers, but a full list—including some even bawdier selections—is here. Troublemaker has also been given such tags as “keeping America stupid,” “grafter,” “nut job,” and “witches.”
What’s going on? It looks like O’Donnell has been the victim of cybervandalism. Amazon said the recommended products are user generated, much like reader reviews. The company doesn’t make a habit of policing them except to ensure they meet the site’s basic terms and conditions—avoiding profanity or promoting illegal behavior. It doesn’t appear the products that have been tagged cross that line, but it would be up to customers to complain. A spokeswoman said she didn’t have any information on whether similar acts of sabotage were common, and a request for O’Donnell’s comment, submitted through her book’s publisher, was not immediately returned.
O’Donnell is hardly the first politician to fall prey to cybervandalism. In fact, her case is far milder than the infamous Google bomb that Dan Savage unleashed on Rick Santorum. In that case, the gay sex-advice columnist launched a campaign to attach an extremely unflattering scatological meaning to the then-Pennsylvania senator’s name in retaliation for his likening of gay sex to bestiality. The label stuck, and a search for “santorum” delivers the neologism first. A recent string of attacks by hackers—most notable Lulz Security—has defaced Web pages belonging to media outlets, government agencies, and corporations in addition to stealing proprietary information, passwords, and the like. And Sarah Palin had her email hacked by a Tennessee college student who was sent to jail for his misdeeds.
In this case, it’s impossible to determine who the culprits are or what their motivation is, although “mocking Christine O’Donnell” seems like a pretty safe bet. Luckily for them, their victim can’t cast any nasty spells on her persecutors. On the other hand, some cybervandalism sure beats earlier penalties for suspected witches.