Originally created 01/18/98

Clinton-Jones saga draws steam on the Web



Regardless of what happens in the courtroom, Paula Jones' sexual-harassment suit against President Clinton has the Web in a whirl.

Judging from a number of pages on the Internet, most people believe Jones deserves her day in court. Little lavender ribbons, symbols of support for the Paula Jones Legal Fund, have popped up in the unlikeliest places:

The home page of Baseball Heaven, a rotisserie-league site, uses the ribbon to point participants to Paula Jones' legal-expense fund.

Robb T. Koether, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Hampden-Sydney College, attached a lavender ribbon to one of his online math assignments. "I think she deserves a chance to press her case," Koether says from his office on the Virginia college's campus. "Even though Bill Clinton is president, he shouldn't be allowed to duck this case until he's out of office."

Mike Smith's Politically Incorrect Sing-Along Page sports a pale purple loop. Smith works for ORBCOMM, a Dulles, Va.-based satellite company. He's also an aspiring satirist. To that end, he's posted several song parodies penned for the occasion. The sharpest is sung to the tune of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride."

I think I'm gonna be sad, I think it's today, yeah,

The girl that's driving me mad, Ain't going away.

She wants a piece of my hide,

She wants a piece of my hide,

She wants a piece of my hide, and she don't care.

She said that meeting with me, had caused her distress, yeah,

For she would never be free, until I confess.

You get the drift.

"I can't pass judgment on who said what," says Smith. "Pretty much the same people who supported Anita Hill have turned their backs on Paula Jones. I don't think Jones has been treated fairly."

Carolyn C. Gargaro agrees. A Web site designer for a New Jersey Internet service provider, Gargaro dreamed up the Support Paula Jones Lavender Ribbon Campaign last summer. Her pages lead you to the official Paula Jones Legal Fund and to Camille Paglia's pro-Jones rant in the January issue of Salon.

Gargaro's not the first to use a ribbon. More than 140 Web sites employ the color-coded symbols. Online, ribbons are used to show support of just about everything -- from awareness of prostate cancer, to keeping Hanson off of TV, to remembering victims of church bombings, to kicking nitwits off the Net.

There's even a "No More Ribbons Campaign Against Campaigns." Such is the leveling effect of the Web.

But for some reason, there is little balance in the Paula Jones affair. In fact, there's a surprising paucity of support for Clinton on the Internet. The official White House site lists his administration's accomplishments, but makes no mention of the Jones suit. Jokes about Clinton and Jones can be found all over the Internet. Washingtonpost.com, Court TV and other online publications maintain files on the controversy.

But visitors to the Web will mostly find Jones advocates and Clinton detractors.

Why is that? Perhaps the Web really is living up to one of its promises, a chance to lash out at big government and large media companies. "There's no other place where you can voice your opinion so publicly," Gargaro explains. "The Internet is a great place for the common person to reach a lot of people."