There’s an interesting debate proceeding on a post by Jason Wilson at gatewatching on Katherine Wilson’s hoaxing of Keith Windschuttle and Quadrant [previous LP posts here]. I think there’s some useful clarification of some of the ethical issues in the thread, and it also goes to my contention that the bloggers v. journos frame really should be put to bed. In the process, I think some of the gaps in current academic research about blogs and blogging are being highlighted, which hopefully will be a useful (if unintended) contribution from the whole exercise.
Meanwhile, John Quiggin looks at Windschuttle’s political trajectory.
In that vein, it’s worth noting that the culture wars have largely been fought between ex-lefties and – in the Australian context – liberals masquerading as “the left”. I don’t think David Marr and Robert Manne actually are “the Australian left” in any meaningful way, and I think it’s significant that Manne comes from a background as a cold warrior. What all this implies is that the targets and the terms of culture wars debates have always been both illusory and disconnected from political reality. There’s also a certain style of debating and argument which is usually ad hominem, full of rhetorical trickery and dedicated to sniffing out secret or hidden allegiances. For a range of reasons, I think Wilson has written herself into this script. I also think that this whole episode should demonstrate just how irrelevant and fundamentally pointless the culture wars are.
I’m of the view too that Crikey editor Jonathan Green is right that there’s something awry with Wilson’s approach to “activist journalism”. While the word “ethics” has been tossed around with gay abandon in all these conversations, I think there are significant questions about the politics of the hoax – its motivations, target and efficacy – which have been glossed over by all the side taking and point scoring. Some relevant questions could also be asked about whether journalism and activism go together.
Elsewhere: More from Margaret Simons.
Update: New post with more links around the ethical issues here.