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Monday, June 2, 2014

U.S. Ambassador Sworn In Over a Kindle

Posted by on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 2:48 PM

New U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Suzi LeVine was sworn into office today on a Kindle copy of the Constitution, the Washington Post says. Here's an image:

I'm having a hard time with this. I know there are three million other more important things happening right now. But ceremonies are important, too. Ceremonies say a lot about who we are, and you shouldn't just thoughtlessly change the symbols in a ceremony without paying attention to what the change means.

The problem with being sworn in on a Kindle is that it contains any number of books. It's like being sworn in on a big stack of books (the Bible, the Da Vinci Code, 50 Shades of Grey, The Courage to Be Rich) with a Constitution placed on top of the stack. Why bother pledging at all? Hell, why not pledge on an iPhone? It's connected to the internet, after all, and the Constitution is reprinted all over the internet! Good enough, right? I'm not saying that LeVine will be a bad ambassador because of this, but the point of swearing in—that you're pledging your fealty to something sacred—seems a hell of a lot less meaningful when you're pledging to a screen that can be wiped clean at the push of a button.


Comments (19) RSS

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NotSean 1
She's not a real ambassador.
She's just a licensed seat.
Posted by NotSean on June 2, 2014 at 2:56 PM · Report this
Unregistered User 2
"seems a hell of a lot less meaningful when you're pledging to a screen that can be wiped clean at the push of a button"

or done away with at the flick of a lighter?
Posted by Unregistered User on June 2, 2014 at 2:59 PM · Report this
yelahneb 3
I feel ya, Paul, but the trappings and rituals of ceremony are what the people participating in them think/feel they are, what they need them to be. They can change radically over time, even if the original names of them remain the same.

Marriage, for instance.
Posted by yelahneb on June 2, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
Meh. It's symbolic, it's as meaningful and you want it to be, regardless of tradition. I think it's cute personally.
Posted by fancy on June 2, 2014 at 3:04 PM · Report this
rob! 5
At least we have moved beyond Genesis 24:2-4.

Helpful clarification:
...Abraham asks his servant to put his hand under his thigh? What does that mean? It sounds strange to us today, and one immediately wonders if there was some sort of cultural practice regarding swearing oaths and hands under thighs. Here, your Bible translators have taken the “high road” in translation and tried to make it as culturally acceptable as possible for the modern reader. The word translated in the NIV as “thigh”... also means the male genital region... [T]he servant was called to hold Abraham’s circumcised penis when he made this oath, just like one today would put a hand on a Bible, a physical sign of the covenant with God.
Posted by rob! on June 2, 2014 at 3:17 PM · Report this
rob! 6
...Not to say the Jesus-shouting sons of bitches won't drag us back there someday.
Posted by rob! on June 2, 2014 at 3:22 PM · Report this

Everyone can go home now.
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on June 2, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
seatackled 8
Who's that with the polka dots?
Posted by seatackled on June 2, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Fistique 9
Indeed, why pledge at all. The threat of an omnipotent God who cares if you lie is no longer particularly real or threatening to the denizens of the 21st century.

Just record it.
Posted by Fistique on June 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM · Report this
I dunno. Letting her blow up the 19th amendment to the full screen and swear her oath on a representation of that expansion of civil liberties seems pretty cool to me.
Posted by disenfranchised on June 2, 2014 at 5:38 PM · Report this
fletc3her 11
Levine will be a bad ambassador.
Posted by fletc3her on June 2, 2014 at 5:46 PM · Report this
I have more of a problem with them using a device made, marketed, and sold by a particular for profit entity for such a ceremony.
Posted by morealex on June 2, 2014 at 7:03 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 13
Pieces of paper are fragile, like bits, and can be changed or erased. The problem isn't that. It isn't that the Kindle could contain other things. Books can contain more than one thing too.

The problem is that it's just so lazy.

Any fool can call up a document on their phone or tablet and you can swear on that. To arrive on time with a real printed copy of the document takes a modicum of effort. You have to give a shit.

If the effort to get it on a Kindle is good enough, then why show up in person at all? Swear her in by email. Or by tweet.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on June 2, 2014 at 8:54 PM · Report this
@9, it's not a Bible she's swearing on, it's the Constitution. Or in this case, what is represented to be the Constitution; who knows what it is.

@13's right. It's just plain lazy. This person is getting paid to live in London and titularly, at least, represent the US. She could afford an actual hard copy of the Constitution.
Posted by sarah70 on June 2, 2014 at 9:55 PM · Report this
I agree with Paul and @13. It's a dumb gimmick.
Posted by chris in dk on June 2, 2014 at 10:13 PM · Report this
Ok so we have a tone deaf Ambassador to Switzerland. Good to know.

Good it's fucking Switzerland and there is no need to worry about it. Hope they paid over $500,000 for it.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on June 3, 2014 at 12:15 AM · Report this
Yet another thing to add to my list of "Why does anyone really give a shit about this". You folks are getting worked up over nothing. Build a bridge and get over it.
Posted by Solk512 on June 3, 2014 at 6:18 AM · Report this
lostboy 18
Oh for frel's sake, pearl clutching much?

@12, as opposed to a paper copy of the Constitution or a bible made, marketed, and sold by a for-profit entity?
Posted by lostboy on June 3, 2014 at 7:23 AM · Report this
I'm with #10

I like that she's got it open to the 19th Amendment
Posted by Lack Thereof on June 3, 2014 at 9:38 AM · Report this

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