Friday, October 16, 2009

BLOGS: Andrew Bolt's tabloid excuses ...

Excuses, excuses. Andrew Bolt is full of them. And after reading this entry on his blog, I'm convinced Bolt is full of it.

Bolt has a serious dilemna.

I now face a moral dilemma. My intention has been to allow on this blog a discussion that is as free as possible - freer, in fact, than you will find on virtually any other blog. Even my worst critics, several of whom post here almost every day, will concede that I have enabled just that.

(At least they will until they are banned!)

And the debate has also at times degenerated into nasty slanging matches, particularly when overworked moderators, flooded by as many as 12,000 comments in a week, have let through things we did not properly read or consider.

Why didn't you properly read them? Doesn't your moderation policy say that you will read them? Aren't you legally obliged to read them now that you have made a representation to this effect?

... suggestions are being made that by allowing a platform that includes in the crowd of thousands a few cranks - students? leftists trying to cause michief? nutters?- that perhaps the ABC should think twice before inviting me on. Silly, I know, but I suspect this is not an issue that will go away. And then there’s the real risk that one day we’ll slip up and allow on a comment that will get us sued, with me dragged into it once more as the man who “allowed” this all to happen.

Andrew, you know full well the identity of many of those defamatory, offensive and racist leaving comments on your blog.

But maybe I'm being harsh. Maybe I should consider the moral dimension to all this.

So as you can see, against my duty, as I perhaps arrogantly perceive it, to allow as free a discussion as possible, there is my ego and my self-interest in protecting my reputation. I should also admit that taking off the comments function should free up more than 10 hours of every choked week. What’s more, reading and checking those comments that I can get to can eat at my optimisim as well as my time. You should see the stuff we must delete - or, rather, you shouldn’t.

We don't need to read what you delete, Andrew. What you allow through is worse than bad. Readers can read this long litany of examples and judge for themselves.

Bolt has no more excuses left. There is no real moral dilemma. There is the law. Bolt must obey the law, just like the rest of us. Bolt must follow his own moderation charter. He must not publish material that is racist, sexist, homophobic etc. He must not breach anti-vilification laws, and he must not publish comments that breach such laws.

So what if he must moderate 12,000 comments a week. He works for News Limited. He works for a multi-billion dollar enterprise. And such an enterprise and its employees must obey the law just like the rest of us. There's no moral dilemma involved in the Rule of Law.

If Bolt continues to make excuses and continues to rebuff the law, there could well be consequences, both for him and his employers. It's as simple as that.

1 comment:

clarencegirl said...

Right on, Irf!