Patterico's Pontifications


Which Has Become More Irrelevant In Our Lifetime?

Filed under: Awards,Nobel Peace Prize — Justin Levine @ 1:37 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

1. The Nobel Peace Prize?

2. Time’s “Man of The Year”?

Hard choices…

But seriously, it seems that over my life time every award recognizing human achievement has diminished not only in stature, but even in the actual seriousness of the prize presenters.

It’s not just the awards over public figures on the world stage. Best Picture Oscar winners? Olympic Medal winners? Somehow these things seemed to actually signify something important in years past, even if I would have chosen differently.

Was it a mistake to ever take them seriously?

Have the quality of the winners actually diminished in the last generation? Or is it merely a matter of my own personal taste and perspective on life? Does anyone else understand what I am getting at here? Or am I just whispering in the wind?

31 Responses to “Which Has Become More Irrelevant In Our Lifetime?”

  1. Yes.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. I think you’re onto something. You’ve grown up…matured, if you will…and are able to see the fraud behind Nobel prizes to Arafat, Carter, et. al. Organizations like the Peace Prize committee, Oscars and such are largely composed of child-like people, ever-comfortable in their view that America must always be wrong while simultaneously ignoring real evil in the world. They never progress past the intellectual ability of the average 7th-grader.

    Jal (d671ab)

  3. Gore, the former vice president who lost a
    Top story on Google news

    Florida vote recount battle in the 2000 election to George W. Bush, has attracted growing support in recent days from thousands of Democratic activists who want him to enter the race.

    An organization called is one of several trying to persuade Gore to run. The group ran a full-page ad in The New York Times on Wednesday described as “an open letter to Al Gore.”

    Hazy (c36902)

  4. Bad cut and paste

    Top story on Google news
    Gore, the former vice president who lost a
    Florida vote recount battle in the 2000 election to George W. Bush, has attracted growing support in recent days from thousands of Democratic activists who want him to enter the race.

    An organization called is one of several trying to persuade Gore to run. The group ran a full-page ad in The New York Times on Wednesday described as “an open letter to Al Gore.”

    Hazy (c36902)

  5. “Seems like the Nobel Peace Prize committee continues to build a steady track record of evolving into a collective left wing circle-jerk.”

    I think you nailed it here, except I would have said socialist instead of left-wing. Same goes for “Person of the Year” – You.

    Sean (e1d31a)

  6. I like to think that Al Gore will be a tipping point, where a large number of people who previously thought the Nobel Peace Prize was serious, will now realize that it is political.

    Mike S (d3f5fd)

  7. They were supposed to recognize achievement or significance. Intead they merely demonstrate the political leanings of the award committee.

    aunursa (f365f4)

  8. I think I follow what you are saying. It is happening in most areas. High Schools now have several valedictorians, because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of to many students, and I think they bow to pressure from parents.
    Sports leagues pass out trophies for every possible achievement.
    Emmys and Oscars have had the globe award, black artist award, achievement award, etc. added.

    I think the intentions were noble but the results have been to almost discourage commitment and purpose to be the best in a field or activity. When we strive for “almost” something is lost.

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  9. As for whispering in the wind, I thought of Hendrix’s “The wind cried Mary” when I read that!

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  10. So, is Yassir Arafat’s and Jimmy Carter’s Peace prize devalued because Al Gore won, or is Al Gore’s win devalued by Arafat’s and Carter’s wins?

    JEN (d3594f)

  11. I submit the Presidential Medal of Freedom as the most irrelevant contemporary “honor”.

    Moops (444e9b)

  12. I lost my illusions on the Nobel prizes when I was asked to sign a petition for a Spanish writer for the lit prize a few years back. It turns out that for Lit, at least, it is a big popularity contest with a “it’s x languages’ turn” mentality. I used to think it really was a big deal.

    DrT (69c4b2)

  13. From powerline today:

    MOHAMED ELBARADEI (joint winner). He’s done such a nice job with Iran.

    WANGARI MAATHAI. The Kenyan ecologist peacefully teaches that the AIDS virus is a biological agent deliberately created by the Man.

    JIMMY CARTER JR., former President of the United States of America. A true cosmopolitan, he has undermined the foreign policy of his own country and vouched for the bona fides of tyrants and murderers all over the world.

    KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary General. Among other things, they have respectively served as the vehicle for, and presided over, one of the biggest scams in history.

    YASSER ARAFAT (joint winner), Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO, President of the Palestinian National Authority for his efforts to create peace in the Middle East. He was a a cold-blooded murderer both before and after receiving the award.

    RIGOBERTA MENCHU TUM, Guatemala. She is the notorious Guatmalan faker and author, sort of, of I, Rigoberta Menchu.

    THE UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPING FORCES New York, NY, U.S.A. Notwithstanding rapes and sex abuse committed by the team in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and the Congo, still doing fine work all over the world.

    Gabriel (6d7447)

  14. Are posters here complaining about the Peace Prize coz it’s always been political? Or because of its new and extra inclusive nature? Some past winners were Henry Kissinger (no commie lover), the Dalai Lama (not a big fan of communists there), Muhammad Yunus (a banker…I suppose there are socialist bankers but I’m not sure he is one), and Shirin Ebadi (a lawyer and pro-democracy activist in Iran.. maybe she could be a socialist/commie in disguise.. activists in authoritarian regimes are often conveniently labeled that way). The last three winners above would fall under the rubrik of “mission creep” I guess because they are all human rights advocates and haven’t really stopped any wars. If that is the real complaint; “prizes have less value when you start handing them out to too many people” then I suppose I can see the point. I don’t see how the Peace Prize wasn’t always political tho (remember Lech Walesa?, a trade unionist (socialist), and everyone’s baby while he was giving the soviet backed commie govt in Poland a black eye.)

    Its the not so good fit of Global Warming advocacy into the Nobel Peace Prize box that makes this prize more blatantly political than usual.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  15. What has become more irrevelent? THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE,TIME, man of the year they are both irrevelent after all TIME named GARBECHEV as MAN OF THE YEAR butt hey also name HITLER s MAN OF THE YEAR and YASIR ARAFAT got the NEBEL PEACE PRIZE and TIME is a left-wing liberal rag

    krazy kagu (484aa9)

  16. Really, I haven’t paid any attention to any of the awards like the Noble Peace prize, Oscar or Emmys for quite some time. While the Noble still seems to be relevant for some of the awards (the ones for the Sciences and Medicine, where you have to back up the nominee with data) the non-scientific ones have always had the feel of political-social engineering.

    Now, if Gore would have won the prize for Science (and isn’t one of his claims that he is fronting Scientists?) that would have shown that the Noble folks had really jumped the shark and tarnished all of the Prizes given in the future. That he won a Peace prize just shows that it’s business as usual with the Noble folks trying to make a statement. A wrong statement, but there you go, trying to use logic for a illogical process… or maybe just an irrelevant award.

    lplimac (b80551)

  17. I think that Mr Gore should be proud of winning a prize for which Stanley “Tookie” Williams was once nominated.

    Dana (3e4784)

  18. Relax. The Supreme Court has just ruled 5-4 that George W. Bush won the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  19. 5 Norwegian politicians get to make world headlines. Nice work if you can get it.

    I’ve got to have faith that for every time they mess up, they try and redeem themselves by doing a Sarkhov, Walsa or Dalai Lama.

    Techie (c003f1)

  20. As with most human endevors, what was originally designed to reward people who made signicant advances in world comity has become a system to reward whoever can best game the judging system. Likewise with Oscars, how good a job you do in making a movie is far less relevant than how good a job is done in convincing judges to vote for you. I find it a tribute to human ingenuity that people are able to decipher how the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded and get Kofi Annan and the UN a peace prize in 2001 (not talking about scams, in terms of peace look at the pre-2001 record – the greatest accomplishment was standing by while NATO handled Bosnia, wow the UN got a Peace prize for this?).

    one of many (71ce26)

  21. So who would you have given the awards to then, Justin?

    Russell (cf89ed)

  22. Any award that has previously been given to Arafat and Jimmy Carter is LESS useful than a pocket on a shirttail! The women who once worked at the Mustang Ranch have more claim to respectability than that Peace Prize now does!

    Gayle Miller (aa26f3)

  23. al gore won the peace prize and you don’t like it. boo hoo.

    assistant devil's advocate (537e47)

  24. Russel –

    I wouldn’t have given an award this year. The ‘no winner’ option is something that has been done in the past.

    Justin Levine (eb387b)

  25. al gore won the peace prize and you don’t like it. boo hoo.

    Oh, no, I think it’s great. Gore is going to announce his candidacy and it will be better than Godzilla (Hillary) vs. The Smog Monster (Big Al).

    dave (dcf56d)

  26. The folks that select the Nobel Peace Prize winner must have been smoking reindeer turds when they came up with this decision. What has algore done to advance Peace? He is only slightly less divisive than Hillary. Michael Moore is the current odds on favorite for next year’s award.

    JD (864bd2)

  27. It’s not just the awards over public figures on the world stage. Best Picture Oscar winners? Olympic Medal winners? Somehow these things seemed to actually signify something important in years past…

    Home run king Barry Bonds, multiple gold medalist Marion Jones… It is not the prize, but who is allowed to compete, and how they are judged to win that has diminished the ‘contest.’ The rules are manipulated, or ignored, so that the favorite son/daughter wins.

    I’m always amused when SI does their Sport/Not Sport question, because invariable, the respondents miss a crucial distinction between games, races, and judged competitions. Game sponsors, such as MLB, diminish the significance of the records when they chose to ignore the fact that many of their athletes are using performance enhancing drugs – same with race organizers, such as Olympic track, or the Tour de France.

    Judged competitions are an entirely different beast however. Here, the honor of the competition is entirely dependent upon the ability (integrity?) of the judges to apply subjective standards equitably. That is not to say the judges of games or races miss calls or are subjective in the interpretation of the rules, roughing the passer (NFL) or interference (MLB – see last nights Rockies-DBacks game). But unlike judged competitions, we know the rules going in. In judged competitions, such as Olympic Pair Ice Skating, or the Nobel Peace Prize, the rules are entirely subjected to the judges’ whims.

    We hope they will remain impartial. When they are not, and if the organizers are concerned with the integrity of the competition, you see hard sanctions imposed upon unscrupulous judges. But in the case of Times “Person of the Year” and Nobel’s “Peace Prize Recipient”, what you have is a body of judges that are so consumed with their own self-righteousness that they utterly reject the idea that they are prejudiced. After all, they know what’s best for the masses of unwashed.

    And their awards have lost all meaning.

    bains (edeafc)

  28. C’mon, President Carter, and Al Gore??? The Nobel Peace Prize is about as relevant as the Mad TV awards! Not to slight the Mad TV awards.

    Ed O'Shea (56a0a8)

  29. Moops # 11:

    I submit the Presidential Medal of Freedom as the most irrelevant contemporary “honor”.

    I would second that.

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  30. TEDDY ROOSEVELT was the first american president to win the nobel peace prize more deserving. TALK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK

    krazy kagu (9b4d22)

  31. Maybe this is just about growing up. As you grow up, you see the human hands and the human motivations of others more and more. You see the “fingerprints” if you will, of whatever hang ups different people have.

    In particular, in the case of the peace prize, it all appeals better to naivete than experience. When you are little, and naive, you are more likely to think that peace is acheived by just being nice to people, or some naive shit like that. As you grow older, you recognize that Ted Roosevelt’s big stick is more useful. So the peace prize is likely to give its awards to a man like Neville Chamberlain, when we all know that the man made a massive and costly war more likely, not less. Yes, a little ass-kicking, circa 1936 would have been “war” but its long-term results could have avoided a much larger one. Mature people, then, see that kind of foresight as “peaceful” rather than warlike.

    So look at today. Saddam Hussein openly declared his desire to be the Arabic Hitler. When he invaded Kuwait, he was following from the Hitler handbook: invade little countries, be a slow, creeping problem, and by the time anyone wakes up to the danger, you have half-swallowed the opposition. Few people know, for instance, that Saddam was getting ready to invade Saudi next.

    But this time, the President, Bush Sr. was on to him. He stopped him at “Munich” rather than hoping he could be appeased. But do you think anyone from the Nobel Committee ever considered Bush Sr. for the award? Of course not.

    A.W. (412f50)

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