Ends, not the means

Simple questions that I'm sure all here have grappled with before. What happens when bloggers post lies, whether knowingly or not? What happens when they post rumours, whether knowingly or not? What happens when they post unsubstantiated assumptions, whether knowingly or not? What happens when they call others names?

(Those questions, in a self-perceived descending order of severity).

I ask because in my months doing this blogging thing, I've seen all those things happen, and I'm sure you have. In some cases, I've tried to point them out to the person concerned. In some of those cases, the person concerned has taken no action. (I've also, it must be said, done some of this myself and had it pointed out to me; I believe I've tried to make amends).

Faced with stuff like this, what is a famously self-correcting, checked and balanced, blogosphere to do? Some of those who generate lies or mong rumours -- and not just among bloggers -- remain popular and respected commenters nevertheless, so clearly they don't give much of a damn for being correct, being corrected, or making corrections. (It also must be said, though, that many do give such a damn). Clearly that self-correcting mechanism isn't doing all that it must.

Reminds me of Harshad Mehta, whose underhanded doings in the stock scam eventually mattered very little: partly because he never paid for his misdeeds, but also because he became a greatly respected columnist on matters financial. Reminds me of the Lalus and Modis, who frequently point to their electoral triumphs as the real proof of their innocence of the accusations against them. Reminds me of Pavan Varma, who in his book Being Indian: The Truth about why the 21st Century will be India's, writes of the "moral relativism" of us Indians, of how our "understanding of right and wrong is far more related to efficacy than to absolutist notions of morality." (Aside: you need to read the book to understand why these are not the usual hand-wringing lamentations about India).

In other words, if I've got where I want to get (or am getting there), the hell with the ethics. Nobody really gives a damn anyway, and people are still flocking to listen to me, so why should I correct myself?

So much for self-correcting mechanisms. Right?
strong stuff, D but it is a my-blog-is-my-space-and-I-will-write-what-I-think-without-thinking space... you can always cry foul later and talk about free speech being shackled - and you will find supporters... did you read Jon Stock in the week on responsibile blogging?
- and Abi here - be sure to read the comments on this one

Substitute "bloggers" with "newspapers". And I don't see much of a difference. I think we should deal with both in a similar vein.

And what is the "self-correcting, checked and balanced, blogosphere to do"? Surprising you ask, because the answer is your post. You've pointed out the error. Flagged it. That's what self correction does. On occasion bloggers have exposed plagiarism, untruths and much more.

An assumption you've made is that readers of blogs take everything at face value. I don't think that's true. With the proliferation of blogs and alternative media, everybody's checking everyone else. This freedom itself provides great opportunities to "out" liars and cheats.

And what happens when an outed liar cares two hoots about the truth and continues lying? At the very least, those of us who know he was lying don't read him anymore. Some who have read our exposé also stop reading the liar. Slowly ripples spread.
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