1. It is entirely unacceptable to question the character and judgement of a politician (let’s call him the leader of the opposition) by mentioning things from his past, for instance: meetings he had, platforms he shared, positions he took on big issues. To point out, for instance, that said politician had consorted with murderous anti-Semites is to play the game of the ‘right-wing’ gutter press and to indulge in an outdated, adversarial brand of politics. No matter that these events are a matter of public record; by mentioning them, you are pandering to a reactionary mentality, indulging in what is little more than sordid character assassination. The ‘new’ politics isn’t meant to be about that.
2. It is, however, entirely acceptable to share, delight in and draw conclusions from an unsubstantiated accusation made by one man about another (let’s call him the prime-minister). No evidence exists to back up this accusation (which was ‘gathered’ from an anonymous third party) and there is no record of the politician concerned ever having been a member of the so-called ‘secret’ society with the allegedly bizarre initiation ceremony. In sharing this ‘news’, one can also freely infer that it constitutes irrefutable proof that the country is run by a sinister cabal of shape-shifting lizards who all went to the same public schools and all joined the same secret societies. No matter that several members of the ‘secret’ society concerned have come forward to state that nothing of the sort has ever been part of their initiation ceremony. But of course they would say that, because they’re all part of the sinister cabal of shape-shifting lizards who went to the same public schools and all joined the same secret societies.
I’m quite comfortable with politicians being criticised for stuff that we know they’ve actually done, whether that stuff is at the level of drunken student pranks or at the level of consorting with the odd terrorist; it’s all fair game as far as I’m concerned. I am, however, rather less comfortable with the notion that it’s fine to damn someone with an allegation quoted second hand from a single anonymous source just because you don’t like that person or his politics.
I’m beginning to see that, in order to really blend in with the social network commentariat, I’ll need to adapt my perspective, because a single set of standards isn’t going to be enough.