Saturday, 1 May 2010

Odone vs Harris

I have been led by Dolphinarium's posts about it in the direction of Cristina Odone's attack on Nick Clegg/Evan Harris in her Telegraph blog. Evan Harris' own response to Cristina Odone's article appears among the comments at April 19th 2010 11.16 am. Whilst it appears eminently reasonable, it somewhat disguises a deliberately secularist intent that is a feature of Liberal Democrat policies. A language of "not privileging" religion, of "neutrality" towards religion is in fact hiding a hostility that seeks to remove religion from the life of the country. And an aside on the theme among the comments that Evan Harris is "rational and scientific" - please recognise that so are many of those who would oppose his views on abortion and euthanasia.

Dolphinarium's first observations about Cristina's post, and the subsequent comments, is here. If I have understood Dolphinarium's drift, it is to point out to Cristina that this wonderful world of the ether is not quite the gentle, sedate field where polite rules of conversation hold sway. "Welcome to the blogosphere, Cristina". Where I might not quite agree with Dolphinarium is in her penultimate paragraph:
Yes, it's very different to the sedate world of the traditional dead-tree press where the commentariat spoke from on high to their forlock-tugging readers. The brave new world of the internet allows anybody with an opinion and a a modem to bellow through a virtual foghorn. It's loud, it's brash and a profoundly democratic medium. That's its beauty.
I have added the italics - yes, the internet does allow anybody with an opinion and a modem to announce their views (though for those of us with small readerships we might not be bellowing through the virtual foghorn as much as we would like to think). And, yes, regardless of whether it appears on a blog or in the comment column of a print newspaper, there is a question of literary/political genre to be borne in mind when evaluating a piece of writing such as that by Cristina Odone. Her post does definitely fall within a certain style of writing, and she should perhaps have expected response within the same genre. But I do still think there is a question to be asked: at what point does complete freedom to express an opinion stop being democratic? To get a bit philosophical: the facility that is there in the blogosphere to express an opinion is profoundly democratic, but that facility is there to be exercised in a democratic way - it is not a freedom that is licence, but a freedom that is directed towards a good. At what point do we begin to misuse that democratic facility? Dolphinarium and I debated a not dissimilar question in the comments on one of her posts against a certain far right party - can't find that post at the moment to link to it.

Dolphinarium has her own fisk of one of the comments to Cristina Odone's post here, which is well worth reading to put them into context.

2 comments:

Rita said...

I'd argue that there is nothing democratic about the blogosphere. Democracy requires consensus.

Surely the blogosphere is profoundly anarchic and none the worse for that.

Francis said...

Are democracy and anarchy mutually exclusive? Anarchists might argue that it is the truest form of democracy.