Thursday, May 18, 2006

My blogging standards

Thomas in Paine writes:
Is there any level of blogging behavior that you feel would NOT be justified by an outcome like Kolko's being "nailed"? Is there any point at which you'd say - well, the means here DO NOT justify the ends?

If yes, I'd love to know what limits YOU set, and whether UOJ's repeated unsubstantiated accusations and attacks against community and religious leaders in other "scandals" violate those limits. If no, why is the blogworld PHILOSOPHICALLY different from the world at large of republicans and neo-con tyrants in its complete freedom to try and convict?
[A longer version of his complaint appears here]
The blog world is categorically different from the "world at large" because the blogs don't have the power to deprive people of life and liberty. We can't send Margo to jail. We can't take YTT away from him. But once the government sends you down the Gitmo hidey-hole, for example, you have no recourse: If a mistake was made, you have no way to correct it.

Margo, on the other hand, can fight fire with fire. He's welcome to start his own blog, or to send his own letter explaining why his accuser is wrong, or without credibility. He can also hire a lawyer and fight his accuser in court.

But remember an important distinction: UOJ, and the other blogs aren't the accusers. We're just megaphones. The accuser is a man named David Framowitz. He is not anonymous, and you'll notice that I didn't touch this story until he came forward.

The government has the power to deprive people of life and liberty, and with that power comes great responsibility, including the obligation to ensure the accused's guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Bloggers have no powers, save the power to force those with power to take notice. This power, too, must be used responsibly, and I don't disagree that UOJ was behaving irresponsibly when he started. The facts, however, have born him out.

What are our obligations? How do we blog responsibly? I think that before we go to war with a public figure like Margo, a blogger needs at least one witness willing to put his name on the record, or a published report, or something in the public record. If you do not have at least one of these things, you must stop short of direct accusations.

However, all is forgiven if the facts later justify your crusade.

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