Yesterday, I drew attention to a posting by one of our fellow Lib Dem bloggers, indicating my concern as to the implied homophobia of his comments about the new Labour cabinet.
A number of you commented, indicating that I was not alone in my view. Indeed, some of you posted comments on Irfan's original posting, advising him that, at the very least, the language used was unwise. It was apparent that he had also drawn some highly inappropriate and unsavoury anonymous comments.
However, it is his view at the time of writing that he is perfectly within his rights to bring the matter to the attention of others. And, of course, he is right. On the other hand, he is providing a platform for homophobia of a sort most heinous, and worst of all, doing it under a Liberal Democrat banner. This is unacceptable and, it might be argued, behaviour likely to bring the Party into disrepute. Indeed, Julian Harris has uncovered another comment which might be deemed to be in conflict with the tenets of liberal democracy.
"What can be done?", I hear you ask. At this time, there is no mechanism to remove offensive material from the Aggregator unless an individual chooses to self-police. However, as a collective, we should have the right to exclaim, "Not in my name". Access to the aggregator generates a significant percentage of traffic to our blogs, and loss of that access will hurt, especially those of us who set some store in the level of our readership.
So here's a proposal. If someone is offensive, it should be the right of a self-defined community to punish that individual in an open and transparent manner. We should encourage rehabilitation and penance, as well as restorative justice. However, we should not allow a free-for-all, whereby the acts of an individual imperil our collective reputation.
So, my friends, I come to a question? Do we believe in obliging individuals to accept responsibility for their actions and in defending the rights of others to take offence? Or do we prefer to just disengage from a debate about proper behaviour?