You should be ashamed of yourself

The title of this entry is a phrase that I recall hearing numerous times, probably from a grandparent, when I was growing up. It was usually in response to me doing something that I shouldn’t have done, and it was a form of punishment that relied on my own sense of guilt for doing something that I knew was wrong. 

As adults, we learn about things as we go through life, and part of what we learn is to distinguish between things that are right and things that are wrong. We also learn that life is complex, and that sometimes the distinction between right and wrong isn’t very clear. The philosophical implications of that ambiguity are beyond me and something better left to the professionals (such as my uncle and cousin, both of whom have chaired the philosophy department at a major university). However, there are some fairly well-defined things that we all agree are wrong. One thing that we all know is wrong is cheating. Cheating can be defined as “Acting dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination”. 

Recently, the sponsors of the CQ World Wide DX contests have begun to do something that should have been done long ago. They are publicly identifying and punishing those who cheat in their contests. A recent article on the Radio-Sport blog discusses how a number of well-known contesters have been either disqualified or moved into different categories because they were caught cheating. In a very few cases, the operators involved accidentally broke the rules, but it appears now that the majority of them knew what they were doing was wrong, and didn’t expect to get caught. In the past, when such things happened, they weren’t well-publicized, and often the only way anyone ever found out was by noticing that a well-known station was missing from the final results. Even then, the contest sponsor would not comment on the reason for the disqualification. It just “happened”.

From the information published in the Radio-Sport blog, it would appear that most amateurs are pleased with CQ’s new policy of naming and publicly punishing the offenders. I am certainly among them, and I’d like to congratulate CQ for this new policy.  Just like in “real life”, if you cheat and get caught, you will have to suffer the consequences. CQ has done a good job of shaming those involved in cheating, which I think is warranted. In ham radio contests, we aren’t competing for multi-million dollar prizes, we’re competing for the right to be proud of our accomplishments. If you cheat, removing that pride is pretty much all that can be done.

I would like to encourage the ARRL and other contest sponsors to follow CQ’s lead. The technology exists today to catch cheaters, and it should be used wherever possible to do so. Quietly disqualifying someone is a disservice and an insult to the vast majority of operators who contest honestly and with integrity.

David Kozinn, K2DBK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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