I posted this on my Graduate Library and Information Sciences course site for the Change Management course I teach online for the University of Illinois. It sparked quite a discussion so I offer it here on a non-password protected site. I thought I would bring it forward for additional consideration.
This article from the Austin-American Statesman describes the “difficult decision” Edwards had to make when it was revealed that two bloggers he hired had previously posted offensive material on their blogs. It certainly raises a lot of questions and points for discussion that the article never raises, namely, how much control should a candidate exert over a staffer’s speech? Or conversely, can we as voters separate a candidate from the speech of his/her staff? Are there unique limits to free speech in this circumstance?
“He (Edwards) said that no one on his campaign would be allowed to use such intolerant language, even if intended as satire.” Do we praise him for holding them to high standards? Or do we criticize him for controlling speech?
“He also said that he would not allow his campaign to be hijacked by religious conservatives who had pointed out the bloggers’ most provocative comments and demanded their removal.” Do we praise him for taking control of his campaign? Or do we criticize for squelching debate?
“Both frequently used sexually explicit profanity to describe their ideological opponents.” Does the use of this kind of language change the debate?
“”This is all being made up as we go along,” said Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network, which tries to serve as a bridge between traditional politics and the Wild West world of the Internet. “It is difficult to apply the old ways campaigns were run in late 20th century to this new wide-open citizen-led politics.”” It certainly is. So what is the role of information specialist in this ever evolving, Wild West world?