The media's all atwitter about Richards' epithet-filled diatribe directed at a black heckler at a comedy club. Condemnation has been pretty universal from what I've seen and heard so far. Can't argue with that. His language matched his mood. It was ugly.
I'm not going focus on dancing on the grave of his career though. What interests me about this whole thing is how technology has turned what once would have been a fart in a windstorm into a nuclear mushroom cloud.
15 years ago - heck, make that 10 - it's highly unlikely that Richards' verbal venom would have been caught on tape. Even if it had, it wouldn't have gotten national airplay except as a series of bleeps. Most likely, some few folks from the audience would have complained to the proprietor of the club and maybe fired off a letter or two to a newspaper.
The ripple effect would have been indiscernible.
Instead, a video camera, now as ubiquitous as a pack of cigarettes used to be, captures the event and within hours it's available for world-wide viewing via the internet. As a result, Richards is obliged to appear on national tv and apologize. And apologize. And apologize.
Nobody and nothing is private anymore.
I find that to be a lot scarier than a closet racist outing himself.