Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Leaks and Insults

Today a member of my congregation made an insulting comment about another member of my church. Actually they didn't but for the sake of this little essay imagine they did. Ready? Thank you.

Now clearly it was my duty as a minister of the gospel of truth to take that insult, which had not been directed towards the other person, and deliver it to make sure it was understood, digested and caused some harm.

Clearly? Well no. If I had done that it would have been my reputation that was damaged, not either of the other two. And rightly so.

I found it frustrating during the General Election campaign when Gordon Brown was caught unawares calling a lifelong Labour supporter a bigot. She wasn't insulted personally at the time but once journalists had run through the crowd, caught her and delivered the insult to her personally, and then told the world, she was a bit upset. The rest is history and was probably the final nail in the coffin of the Brown Government. Well done journalists.

Yesterday an MP was foolish enough accidentally to allow a photographer, using a camera with a very good zoom lens focused through the window of a private car, to see a projection of one possible unemployment consequence of the spending cuts announced today.

We are led to believe that details of many of these cuts had been leaked to the press, deliberately, in advance.

I am pig sick of this. Will one newspaper, any one, dare to cramp its own style by saying that in future if documents come into its possession by a deliberate and orchestrated leak it will name its source. Will a newspaper furthermore respect the privacy of document-holding MPs and not try to see things they are not supposed to see. Publishing a document (shame on The Guardian amongst others) which has been accessed by taking advantage of a guard drop, is not far removed from stealing a laptop off a car seat because the owner was stupid enough to leave it on view. The opportunist thief argues that they are doing society a favour by reminding everyone to lock things. They would do society a bigger favour by allowing us to leave things unlocked without worry. The opportunist photographer argues that the public interest is served by knowing what MPs are keeping from us. Surely the public interest is served by MPs not having to spend so much time being elusive. Some documents are allowed to be confidential. The photographed document did not disclose a felony or a lie, or a cover-up. It was simply a piece of research of one possible result of one policy not-yet-announced.

I have been around the block a bit and am a realist. Things will only become more transparent if we say we don't like the mist. We don't have to tell everyone who has insulted them. We can let an insult die. We don't have to be interested in leaked documents. We can say, make it official or clear off. We don't have to sneak up on officialdom and search though its bins to see if it has been acting inappropriately. We can ask questions. If we don't like the answers we can vote for someone else.

I like the idea of open government. I have to remember that the governed have as much of a part to play in that as the governors.

No members of Trendlewood Church were harmed in the writing of this piece.


Emlyn W said...

Couldn't agree more. The whole area is riddled with hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

ST is obviously not a journalist!!!

St said...

No. You can tell that by the description of my work on the sidebar. I also use no exclamation marks if I can help it and style myself St online not ST. Three mistakes in six words. Is anonymous a journalist?