Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Moral Distinctions Matter in the Toews-Social Media Brouhaha

It's important to make a moral distinction between the actions of Vikileaks30 and Anonymous - the latter's actions clearly constituting an overt and hostile threat -  instead of lumping them together, as some eager journalists have, in sanctimonious indignation. The effect if not the intention of Vikileaks30's tweets was to remind Mr. Toews that whether scandalous, innocuous, or publicly verifiable, the revelation of personal information is disturbing if not downright hurtful. In effect, since you want to toews others, invade their privacy without proper oversight, this is what it's like to be toewed. Your privacy has been invaded without proper oversight. I have no moral problem with such a tactic given the context of Toews' morally repugnant assault on those who have every right to criticize C-30 as supporters of child pornographers - and I would even stretch that context to include his earlier remarks about "extremists," which were equally -  maybe more so  -morally repulsive. Many would consider both of these actions a form of sleaze. Threats like Anonymous's are another matter.

Vikileaks30's anonymity doesn't trouble me either, and indeed I find  some journalists' obsession with that factor alone puzzling, though I do see the  point of their code not to reveal anything untoward about a a given minister unless, in their judgement, it affects his performance in his ministerial duties. Still what if those revelations speak, as they do in the Toews case,  to a given minister's character? Of course they have to work with these ministers as journalists, so there is an automatic chill factor always at work, a restraint that simply doesn't apply outside the journalistic bubble. Is there something contradictory too about going to the wall to defend an anonymous source but bemoaning the anonymity of a tweeter?

And, with respect to the legitimacy of the Harper Regime reign, while it is true that under our current electoral system Harper & Co have legally gained power, that legitimate democratic power is everyday being undermined by what so many see as profound immoral behaviour.  Even the indignant journalists would agreed with that view to some extent. In this context, then, working outside the system, as Vikileaks30  has, acquires substantial moral authority. Just because indignant journalists want to play by the rules of  the current corrupt game doesn't oblige the rest of to do so.

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