Sunday 29 November 2009

Dog and Cheese

There's no doubt about what's most exercised the Scottish blogosphere this week.

So far I've spotted these:

Advanced Media Watch

Andrew Reeves

Fraser Macpherson

Joan Mc Alpine

SNP Tactical Voting

The Grumpy Spindoctor


Planet Politics

Yapping Yousuf


Dark Lochnagar


and, I'm guessing here:

Scunnert Nation.

This week's episode is on the front page of today's Scotland on Sunday:

THE SNP was last night embroiled in a scandal after an aide to the Constitution Minister used the internet to smear political rivals by posting scurrilous allegations about their private lives.

Mark MacLachlan, 46, has been forced to quit as Michael Russell's office manager after he used his blog and other electronic communications to spread abusive and defamatory messages about senior Labour and Tory figures.

And last week another nationalist blog closed down.

Joan McAlpine asks some good questions that go beyond the "smeargate" angle:

The whole row throws up some very interesting questions about mainstream media v bloggers. Is it reasonable to expect bloggers to play by the same rules as professional commentators? Are bloggers doing what journalists used to do, and should still be doing: getting up the noses of the powerful? Or do they use their anonymity to defame and offend in a way which is unacceptable?
I'd say yes, yes, and they shouldn't.

Of course we bloggers have to accept that we are subject to the same laws as are the mainstream. The fact that we should all enjoy total freedom of speech is another matter for another time.

And yes, bloggers are increasingly doing what the mainstream is failing to do. The exposure of the global warming scam is a good example. And I personally would be very much poorer if I'd taken investment advice from the regular press instead of reading good blogs and books written by those bloggers.

On the anonymity question, I am more ambivalent. I post under my real name - there really is a David Farrer. But (without defending defamation) I can see why others may not wish to go down that route. Especially here in Scotland.

And what's so different about Scotland, you might ask.

Until 2002 I'd spent the whole of my adult life in London. One of the first things that I was told when I came here is that "Edinburgh is a small place." And it's true. So is probably everywhere else outside London. What you quickly learn here is that everyone really does seem to know everyone else, especially in business/professional/media/political circles. The question is: how does that affect bloggers?

I think that it means that we should concentrate on ideology and not personalities. I find it quite healthy that folk with very different ideas can have a good argument over a pint or two without coming to blows. Such behaviour is necessary in a smaller city. Of course, it helps that we libertarians have the correct ideas and that the others don't...

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