Hung out to dry

There’ll be nothing about politics in this post, I swear. Lacking that, however, I’ll encourage you to check this great fashion report from Vanity Fair, inviting you to have a good laugh at a dictator’s expense.

A British twitter-friend, who’s also a civil servant directed my attention to a media horror story from the UK, which I haven’t heard mentioned in Denmark. A female civil servant (not known to me) is an eager blogger and tweeter and generally very active on the web. She blogs and tweets about her life, as most of us do, and she hasn’t made a big secret of either her name or her place of work. She doesn’t work with sensitive material and she doesn’t mention specifics anyway. What she did do though, was mention how hard it is for every civil servant to face the enormous cuts into the heart of every public service in the UK and how nervous many people in public employment now are to lose their jobs. She would also tweet about it when she’d occasionally had a drink too many at the pub, but nothing gory, just stuff like “Oh my, I’m afraid this will lead to a hang-over tomorrow”.

One of British press’ most dreadful papers, the Daily Mail, employs some really mean-spirited people. One of them must have been bored out of his mind, because he started to follow politicians’ followers to see if he could catch on to something. And through a Labour politician’s wife he found our civil servant. And decided that she was a Most Irresponsible and Despicable Human Being Not Worthy of Consideration, which is why he decided to publish her full name, picture and some very selective quotes in the paper together with a lot of filth about what a horrid person she was and that she was undeserving of being publicly employed.

As you can imagine, this all but ruined the woman. Thank God that she has such a cool-headed boss because she has NOT been fired, but her life has been absolute hell ever since with hundreds and hundreds of letters, phone calls, e-mails, blog comments and tweets saying every kind of horrible thing imaginable to her.

This has of course led to a discussion across platforms about our right to privacy in a digital age. Some people have argued that she has to live with the consequences of being open-mouthed in open fora. Others that she shouldn’t have been exposed like that because she simply isn’t “newsworthy”. I agree with both, actually. Because you must stand by everything you say on the web except for private (really private) forums and in e-mails. On the other hand, if you say a lot, it’s a bit like with the monkey which will eventually write the collected works of Shakespeare. Pieced together you can always create filth. But the fact that you can piece together anybody’s words in “new and interesting ways” doesn’t make them newsworthy.

In my opinion, the most balanced comment on the whole thing is here. Her own comments and reflections can be found by clicking the link to her blog above where she also links to the dreadful article.

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