14.4.05

An ethical conundrum for the Internet age

If someone's very public blog carries what appears to be his/her bona fide views that just happen to be racist, immature and twenty other kinds of wrong ---

If said writer is in a position of potential influence over people's lives, where such smallness of mind could undermine the very good that others in that position usually seek to achieve ---

If I'm feeling particular incensed and repulsed at said writer's apparent smallness of mind because we happen to be linked loosely, through a painful twist of fate, to the same social network ---

And if I'm also hamstrung by a certain distaste for tattletaling (I have a very weird conscience) ---

What do you do? What do you do?

15 Comments:

At 4/15/2005 1:32 am , Blogger Agagooga said...

The witch hunt is already well under way

 
At 4/15/2005 1:56 am , Anonymous nilsinelabore said...

In fact, SPUG had picked it up and it is circulating well in the cyberspace.

http://www.spug.net/showthread.php?t=69628&page=1&pp=15

 
At 4/15/2005 10:43 am , Blogger Terz said...

Damn. There's more than one? The SPUG one wasn't the One.

 
At 4/15/2005 4:23 pm , Blogger TaLieSin said...

Erm... let's say one knows the chap, and is friends with him even... what do you do then??

 
At 4/15/2005 8:39 pm , Blogger angeli said...

funny how anti-racism the spug forum users are while making jibes at 302...

 
At 4/15/2005 9:46 pm , Blogger jeffyen said...

This is certainly a tricky ethical dilemma. The blog is supposed to be password protected, it's a private blog. It got hacked by some hacker. Right now, the site's mirrored by some third party.

I reckon evidence on the blog isn't 'admissible in court' because it's obtained through 'illegal' means, 'by right'. But 'by left', the guy could be in trouble, if the mainstream press leaks this and PSC is forced to 'do something'.

I think the problem on the Net is that once the barrier of security is breached, nothing's really private anymore in a very short period of time. One can argue that the onus of maintaining required privacy lies with the blog owner himself. He puts his stuff up at his own risk.

On the other hand, it can also be argued that the person who has made the effort to create a password obviously don't want others to peep, and that wish should be respected.

In the ideal world, I'd probably prefer the second argument to prevail...

Probably the only mistake he did was to express his ideas which is probably shared by everyone, to a greater or less extent.

Oh, and I happen to be the forum moderator at SPUG, too many ethical questions, too little time. The golden rule and 'drawing on the sand' are probably appropriate at this point in time, Tym...

 
At 4/15/2005 11:20 pm , Blogger TaLieSin said...

Last I checked, the guy has taken down everything and apologized. I think we should forgive and forget, there's one lesson learnt and I don't think he'll repeat it again.

In other words, no more finger-pointing, name-calling and gleeful seizing of the opportunity to lampoon PSC scholars. You can diss them in enough other ways already. =P

 
At 4/17/2005 9:33 am , Anonymous nilsinelabore said...

Now it is printed in the papers.

http://singaporeangle.blogspot.com/2005/04/storm-over-cz-breaks-on-print-media.html

Guess he has to do a lot of damage control measures.

 
At 4/17/2005 5:10 pm , Blogger Tym said...

I don't log on for 3 days, and so much has happened.

TaLieSin --- If the guy was my friend, I would have such a screaming match with him. I'm not saying we should all turn into politically correct blogs with all the flavour of SAF hard tack, but comments on a racial issue ought to be more closely scrutinised before being published. And if they are published, then the writer's got to live with whatever consequences he brings down upon himself.

Jeffrey --- Indeed, points to ponder. I get what you're saying about password-protected sites, but I've heard so many cases of such protected sites going wrong that I figure: if you can't live with it going public, don't put it on the web, period.

 
At 4/18/2005 11:21 am , Blogger Huichieh said...

Trackback: From a Singapore Angle, "Anatomy of a blogospheric event"

What have we learned? What ought we have done better? What does it portent for the Singapore Blogosphere? While chewing on these questions, I made a list of all the bloggers who posted on the event...

 
At 4/18/2005 4:39 pm , Blogger TaLieSin said...

Regarding the offender's defence of "not being in my own persona":

I'd say that in the internet world, multiple personae are hardly big news. I wouldn't be surprised to find that people had different personas for different MUDs / MMORPGs for example. And blogging merely seems to contribute to the phenomenon, because a blog is a construct that hardly reflects the complex reality of who the person is in real life. It may be that the offender's blog merely represents the childish, facetious side of his personality that we know we all have. C'mon, admit it, you do. =P

I should not be surprised, i repeat, because blogs have purposes. Blogs have audiences. Blogs are artifacts, as much as "reality TV" shows are. The idea that you can judge the "reality" of a person by his blog seems quite unfair to me.

 
At 4/19/2005 12:37 am , Blogger Tym said...

Loy --- Thanks for the Trackback. Nice work there, cataloguing everything. Wish I had the time and dedication ...

TaLieSin --- I confess I'm not clear on the legalities of the issue, but my rudimentary layperson's understanding is that anything written and published on the web can be held to standards of accuracy, libel, etc. just like any writing in print.

Websites to do with imaginary personas (e.g. I have a few pages for my old PernM** characters) carry disclaimers indicating that the characters depicted are fictional and based on So-and-So's copyright. Without such a disclaimer, the author of the website is assumed to be writing a straight piece --- although of course it could carry elements of unreality, e.g. satire. (I'm not expressing myself very clearly, sorry.) I find the persona argument weak because without a big disclaimer saying something along the lines of, "I, the author, refuse to take a sliver of responsibility for the views published therein" (and I'm not sure what kind of null-and-void'ing effect that might have in legal terms), the implicit assumption is that the writer is responsible for what he publishes on the web.

I keep going back to my point that writers have got to be able to live with whatever they publish on the web. If there's the slightest mote of doubt, don't publish it. No one's forcing you to keep a blog.

 
At 4/19/2005 4:21 pm , Blogger TaLieSin said...

I reckon many people can't live with the remarks that they made in their locked/private LJ posts (for instance) being made public - but they want to keep the blogs, not out of coercion, but because they need someplace to let loose, rant agrily with lotsa vulgarities, or just tell their close friends how crappy their day was.

Should they then be denied of this option because of the risks of exposure? I'm not convinced.

Also, when I talked about blogs having purposes and audiences, i meant that a critical reading of the offender's blog would suggest that its purpose was to serve as a highly personal, highly biased, stream-of-consciousness type series of takes on his private life, shared with close friends for their amusement. It's hardly Mein Kampf or public sphere material...

 
At 4/21/2005 2:08 am , Blogger Tym said...

TaLieSin --- I disagree, but I haven't had the time to type a proper response to your points. Look me up over the summer and we'll continue the discussion, 'k?

 
At 4/26/2005 7:20 am , Blogger Huichieh said...

PSC has officially reprimanded the scholar.

 

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