Wednesday, 23 February 2011

While I was sleeping

There was an incident in the middle of the night that has upset me a great deal. A link to a file sharing site where the Bailey manuscript could be downloaded by anybody was posted in the comments section.

I made it clear that I had the manuscript but had decided not to quote from it. There's a vast difference between a printed, warehoused book (Going Rogue, American by Heart) and a draft manuscript without a publisher.

It doesn't matter to me that the manuscript had gone viral. I had decided not to take part in the dissemination of it. Am I a traitor to the cause of bringing Sarah Palin down? Would my stance have prevented, say, Watergate? No. Palingates is not The Washington Post and in the case of this manuscript, it had already been sent to all major media outlets before I was sent a copy of it. I didn't sit on explosive information and keep it all to myself out of cowardice or fear of legal implications.

Palingates is a minor blog and it wouldn't have made any difference whether I referred to the manuscript or not. I simply decided not to become embroiled in something with many ramifications, involving a number of people and which is potentially divisive. The blogosphere has been very busy discussing who leaked it, was it right, was it wrong, fingers were pointed at various people, etc, etc. The whole saga has been played out elsewhere and I limited myself to presenting another aspect of it in the post that contained the Andree McLeod's ethics complaint.

The readers gave their opinions, came up with theories about what was really going on and I didn't interfere in the discussions, adding only some minor points to clarify certain things.

Today I had to do something that pains me very much. I banned the person who posted the link to the full manuscript. As you well know, I'm a great proponent of free speech and completely averse to censorship. Trolls come and go, some stay. Fine. But I draw the line at sabotage. Posting something that goes against my very clear position in an unmoderated forum when it was clear that I would be fast asleep is not acceptable. I thank the readers who understood what was happening and alerted me to it.

Whilst I don't believe my word to be gospel and don't expect readers to agree with me on everything (far from it), I have certain expectations, such as a degree of respect for my principles. It is my blog and the tone I try to set is based on mutual respect.

I hope this clarifies any confusion about my position and I also wish to apologize for any inconvenience this incident may have caused to the authors of the manuscript, which is theirs to disseminate or not.