Good governance

Thanks to Hannah and Will for excellent work at the weekend, and you managed to keep the agenda broad despite some attempts to railroad it. I’d be interested to hear from you both (and Brett and Lubna) about whether the experience makes you feel differently about the WHYS “community”. 

I sense a mood that we should keep this going…but should the moderators decide the topics for the rest of you ? or are you happy to go wherever it goes (i.e any topic someone just fancies ?) .

 I’m sure Ros will take this on this week, but one or two of you need to refresh your memories when it comes to the rules of the blog. When i was a lad, i was continually surprised at how other kids would vandalise facilities (youth clubs, phone boxes, sports grounds) in their own communities, spoiling it for everyone else. I trust the WHYS crowd won’t allow that to happen.

And if it came to us thinking someone should be banned from the blog (something which has never happened – individual posts have not been published, but no-one’s been banned per se), should that ultimately be decided by you ? Thoughts welcome (as if i need to ask). 

There are other reasons for the blog post title : i was struck by Kevin Rudd’s initiative in Australia to bring together a thousand members of the “great and the good”  (including Cate Blanchett) from many different walks of life to spend 2 days talking about where the country should be by 2020.

It was criticised by some as being a big endorsement for Labour policy (end of constitutional ties with Britain, tackling the federation system etc) but would you like to see something like this in your own country ?

And on a similar theme, Jeff Jarvis always writes a thought-provoking column in the Guardian newspaper on a Monday. Here’s today’s    in which he talks about companies using an online community to generate ideas for improving their businesses presumably to mutual benefit.

Nothing new there but Jeff wonders..

“I would love to see this platform for mutual engagement also taken to government. I’m not suggesting we transform parliament into an online forum. But why shouldn’t constituents share their good ideas and use the organising power of the internet to gather movements around them? ”

It’s a good point to start a discussionn on good governance and how we can come up with different or better forms of democracy. Off you go, you know you want to…




29 Responses to “Good governance”

  1. April 21, 2008 at 11:25

    I really enjoyed my time moderating this weekend and I hope it was helpful to you.

    Aside from Spam i only felt the need to delete one post and edit a few which made remarks which were a bit inappropriate. I think in comparision to last weekend the gloves came off this weekend 😀

    It has changed my perception of WHYS .
    Firstly the geunine openess of people all over the globe to invite each other to meet up or visit their country was great. Also the friendship which is developing between bloggers was great too (good example see Laura, Katarina, Lubna’s and mine comments between each other)

    Also i didn’t realise how much editing needs to be done to the average comment. Will and i were fairly relaxed about people writing essays on the blog since they were making great points, but on occasions they were too long and i certainly didn’t know where to cut them.

    Finally i realised how little to knew about some of the debates people were engaging in. Selena Xie_ming and Steve certainly went at it hammer and tongs and sometimes i genuinely had little idea what they were discussing.

    Still everyone made up in a happy way 😀

    As to banning people i think it should be something that should take the listeners into consideration. If you feel there was an individual who deserved banning, then prehaps it might be good to consult WHYS Blog regulars. Since they tend to be the ones who argue back the most frequently when a person is out of line.

    People can only learn through debate..

    Right i am off to work out how i can visit Canada, Minneapolis, Iraq and Oregon over the next year without blowing my budget or putting myself in danger 😀

  2. 2 Mark Sandell
    April 21, 2008 at 11:55

    Thanks again Hannah, much appreciated. I agree we should consult. I’m not advocating a kind of “WHYS High Court” but i don’t want to lose the spirit of WHYS. There are plenty of places where people can simply “bang on”, i don’t want this to be one of them.

    and i love the fact we’re all inviting each other to visit- if we were to have a WHYS social event, where should we host it ? Baghdad ? Cleveland ? Portland ? or Bush House ?

  3. April 21, 2008 at 12:14

    Hawaii 😀

    Although i am sure other WHYS’s would agree with me, in that if we had the opportunity to meet Lubna possibly in Iraq then it would be a very interesting experience.

  4. 4 VictorK
    April 21, 2008 at 13:16

    Re Good Governance I: a tried and tested system of government is always better than a speculative one that promises never so many improvements. The only justification for changing some aspect of a workable system is that it fails in ways that can’t be put up with any longer. The internet as a tool of government doesn’t make a lot of sense, since politics and administration are practical disciplines that can only be mastered by experience. Unless the public is going to be allowed to vote electronically to restore the death penalty or expel groups of unpopular immigrants or racial minorities (which is where this kind of irresponsible populism ends up, and the kind of rabid policies that experienced polticians in Britain have always resisted, despite their popularity) people in countries like Britain and Australia would be better off making minor improvements to a system that works instead of introducing radical innovations whose consequences could be disastrous. Why do our Western liberals never see these things coming? Enoch Powell would have loved this idea of internet populism which, if it had been available in his day, would have led to a powerful ‘movement’ (do Gguardian journalists know any history?) that would have swept him into No. 10 and Britain’s black and brown population out of the country (which was his platform and the source of his popularity). Let’s not make a fetish of democracy.

    Re Good Governance II: the moderators for the Blank Page should select topics for discussion from suggestions offered and also be able to contribute topics of their own. Ideas should be invited from the start of the week and the moderators should make and state their selection by Friday. That way the weekend can be entirely devoted to discussion.

    No reasonable person minds WHYS having rules, or even banning/suspending contributors, but they do want (a) consistency and (b) transparency. One of Ros’s Commandments, for example, is about relevance. But WHYS still allows posts that are nothing of the kind. Asking If Mbeki is a disgrace to Africa doesn’t justify a post asking ‘What about Bush’ and then attacking him over Iraq (a recent example). Enforce the rules that are already in place and people will be more likely to respect them.

    And are there covert rules in place, too? I heard a BBC executive on your News 24 programme explain how the Corporation had a policy of not mentioning race or religion in stories when they ‘were not considered relevant.’ This is something that many listeners had figured out for themselves a long time ago (what other explanation could there have been for euphemistic references in BBC news reports to ‘disaffected youths’ rioting in France and Denmark, even though everybody knew exactly who they were?). The actual policy seems to be, in fact, never to mention minority races or religions (contrasting with the recent post on WHYS accusing all whites of having got to where they are by ‘lying and cheating.’ My perfectly respectful response – at least I thought – to that wasn’t published). Presumably the same policy – no mention of minority races or religions when considered ‘inappropriate’ – also applies to WHYS (I think I’ve experienced it a few times), even though it was never one of Ros’s Commandments.

    I think that if you want to avoid vandalism on the blog you need to be upfront about what is and isn’t permitted and should supplement Ros’s Rules with the BBC’s unofficial rules so people know what they should be avoiding, and should make the rules as unsubjective as possible so bloggers will know whether their posts are liable to be caught by them and can re-draft accordingly, and moderators can apply the rules in question consistently.

    If someone is to be banned or suspended (which should also be an option) why should listeners be consulted in anyway? The penalty would – presumably – be for having violated, perhaps consistently, one of Ros’s Rules. What more would be required than to enforce it? Democracy and internet canvassing have no place here, either.

    The internet and e-democracy might be useful in two ways, though. Once we have a fuller set of Ros’s Rules, would it be possible when a post is declined for publication, or a poster suspended/banned, to inform the offender which
    rule(s) he(‘s) violated? I know from experience that it’s not always clear what the moderator could have taken exception to, though they clearly didn’t like something about the comment I’d made, even when I’d been doing my best to respect all of Ros’s Rules. I’d also like to hear from bloggers about what additions they’d like to see made to Ros’s Commandments (we might even end up with 10 in total). To kick things off: Rule #5: No attacks on ethnic/racial groups as such. Rule #6: no monomaniac comments (i.e. a blogger who approaches every topic by making the same obsessive comment from his single-issue view of the world).

  5. 5 Mark Sandell
    April 21, 2008 at 13:26

    Right, am happy for other suggestions for more commandments, but one of the existing rules is ” keep the comments concise” and the above one isn’t, but we’ve still published it.
    Oh, and for the record, we don’t have any “unofficial rules”. Full stop.

  6. 6 Katharina in Ghent
    April 21, 2008 at 13:28

    I just wanted to congratulate Hannah and Will for their good work last weekend, also Lubna and Brett the weekend before. Hannah tried to come up with a few topics in the beginning of the weekend, but I don’t think that any of them actually took off. I think it is better to just lett the ball roll and see where it ends, it’s more interesting that way.

    Love you all!

  7. 7 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 14:02

    If, as stated, the purpose of WHYS is to sound the concerns of a World audience,

    how would that be compatible with setting an agenda?

    Also, ways of thinking and reacting, cultural norms, differ greatly.

    These considerations argue for a minimum of direction and control- until the point where the users of the blog are handicapped.

    Breakthroughs can only come from innovation, the creative and contrarian- the informed clash of ideas.

    If the other purpose of WHYS is to ring up a “hit score”, perhaps
    well-behaved, “feel-good” stroking among participants would have more join in exchanging greetings.

  8. 8 Brett
    April 21, 2008 at 14:08

    I’d be interested to hear from you both (and Brett and Lubna) about whether the experience makes you feel differently about the WHYS “community”.

    Good afternoon! I am a bit sad that I missed out on WHYS for the latter half of the week and the weekend 😦 I was on vacation with the only internet access going through my cell.

    I felt differently about the WHYS community. It brought me closer to the participants which take an active roll in the daily blog. It also opened the forum for a leisurely debate and discussion on topics. It was one where people arent fervently trying to get in their opinions and points as fast as possible before the programme is over. We had the weekend to talk about whatever we wanted and see the conversation become a little more fluid, able to morph and go in whatever direction it takes us. I love the weekday blog, but the weekend one seems to fill a little niche for some relaxed discussion time.

    I sense a mood that we should keep this going…but should the moderators decide the topics for the rest of you ?

    I was happy suggesting topics I was interested in, but wouldn’t want people to be forced to talk about something they had no interest in. Given that the weekend participation is less than the weekday participation, it would be nice if, to encourage discussion on the weekends, we go with whatever discussions or news stories which come up and seem popular amongst the participants.

    And if it came to us thinking someone should be banned from the blog (something which has never happened – individual posts have not been published, but no-one’s been banned per se), should that ultimately be decided by you ?

    Absolutely not, it should be up to the sole discretion of WHYS to ban someone or not. I am more than happy to voice my opinion and I think it is important if people are having issues with a poster that WHYS is notified and the matter is openly discussed. I would not feel comfortable however, taking part in the banning of someone. This is of course unless they are blatantly using the site for firestarting or contributing absolutely nothing useful to the conversations, only instigating problems and whatnot.

    Again, I was thrilled to moderate the blank page and would love to do so again should BBC need me to. I think it’s a wonderful idea and opportunity for WHYSers to get further involved and go on for 7 days instead of 5 🙂

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  9. April 21, 2008 at 14:22

    Hi Precious Mark. 1st of all CONGRATULATIONS to both lovely Hannah and good Will for such a supermarvellous blank page no.3 which is in my opinion not blank at all :-). Still, I do have a few reservations about some of the comments that were published during this weekend. I have noticed comments which are too long, comments in which there was personal attacks, comments to which the concept of a “friendly discussion” doesn’t apply at all. The concept of a reasonable and a logical arguement is that you’d be able to see the wrong everywhere, even within your own self. But I can say with a complete confidence that over all Blank Page no.3 was really supermarvellous and so classy. I’m really soooooo proud to say that I do consider so many WHYSayers to be good friends of mine, and some of them have also become personal friends of mine. And lovely Hannah, I assure you and all good WHYSayers that Al Karradah district is the place to go if you guys wanna come and visit Baghdad. Evidences ?! Ask every BBC correspondent who has ever worked in Baghdad, and they’ll all confirm what I said :-). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  10. April 21, 2008 at 14:50

    About the moderation, I think that one should create a few more pages, like e.g., blank page 3.1, blank page 3.2 etc. and move discussions that go in a certain direction to an appropriate subpage. On the main page you only keep the title of the posting, say that it has been moved and give the link.

  11. 11 Laura in Minneapolis
    April 21, 2008 at 15:27

    In terms of people making personal attacks and whatnot, part of me is concerned for obvious reasons, part of me not. These kind of statements tend to moderate themselves, for as i’ve said before, as soon as you make a ridiculous statement against someone or a group of people, they completely stop listening to you.

    I think most of us have stopped listening to those who make personal attacks. I have a personal thought that the attackers simply like to, as the kids say, start sh**. (Er… yes, I am one of those “kids”…)

    Also, i’d have to agree with Hannah. Sometimes I have no idea what is being discussed, and i sort of stop reading skip over it- especially the longggg comments. That’s speaking to my own lacking knowledge of subject matter, and not their commentary though :). In those cases, i just like to read what more brilliant people are saying.

    In terms of kicking people off… i think that should be WHYS decision only… lets not turn this into an episode of Survivor.

    Mark- don’t lose hope, and remember all the good WHYS is doing (see my posts on blank page 3).

    Laura in Minneapolis

  12. 12 Mark Sandell
    April 21, 2008 at 15:46

    Thanks Lubna and Brett- and all- (particularly Laura) for good comments on this issue. We are moving towards a point where no-one here will be able to pre-empt comments or stop them from being published, until after the fact. It’ll be about our trusting you to moderate yourselves,and you trusting each other.That’s why what we’re all learning now is important.
    Again Laura, i take your point about turning it into an episode of “Survivor” but it was a suggestion , in the interests of transparency, to let the “community” decide these matters. I suppose at some stage we have to take some responsibility on WHYS so maybe that’s a top idea.
    thanks again.

  13. 13 selena
    April 21, 2008 at 16:10

    Firstly let me thank Mark and Ros for getting us this far in a new venture. In my view, left to its own devices WHYS can only grow into something new and different.

    That is not to say that it wouldn’t be good if the page took a turn down the well-worn path of control. It is simply saying that we have a chance to peek through news doors and realize there is nothing to fear from frank and open (and sometimes off topic) discussions.

    What do we have to fear? We are just people trying to live a life in the best way we know how. We will disagree and we will get our feelings hurt as we will hurt others without meaning to hurt. But when all is said and done, we are no better than and no worse than our neighbors. That seems to me to be the Christian message, which gets lost in the shuffle.

    The Internet will change the world. It is a new frontier. Are we adventurers or will we turn back when times get tough? Only time will tell!

    Thank you all for the experience!

    Lubna, Brett, Hannah and Will you have cut away the first brush on the road to change. Thanks!

  14. 14 steve
    April 21, 2008 at 16:12

    I find it comical that it’s called a “personal attack” when one responds to comments like “The second indoctrination is not as extensive, but prevalent among the Orthodox and the Israeli leadership: that gentiles are as animals without souls. Therefore, although they may be “killed”, they cannot be “murdered”.”

    Telling someone who is taking their cues from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion they are spouting rubbish like that would only be accurate.

    Imagine if rubbish like that would spouted about other groups? Would it get a pass? He’s allowed to says jews don’t view gentiles as humans, hence anything goes….

    Other coments like “I ashamed of what the English and the Jews have done” are supposed to go unchallenged? Please..

  15. April 21, 2008 at 16:19

    I should point out that during the weekend both Will and i reminded people to remain civil, for the most part they were. There were a few instances when i cut out peoples too hurtful comments but sometimes this was difficult to do without loosing the evident passion the person felt for the argument.

    I do quite like the idea of Blank page 3 .1 3.2 etc so that there is an outlet for less serious discussions. Part of WHYS is building a community and to have the opportunity to discuss lighter issues seperate from the heavy debates would be useful to that purpose.

    @lubna I unfortunatly have no idea where al karada district is (other than in bagdad) nore how i would ever get to iraq in the first place… unfortunatly our meeting may have to wait until i have the opportunity to be a foriegn correspondent for the BBC 😀 xxxx keep safe xxx

  16. 16 viola anderson
    April 21, 2008 at 16:20

    I thoroughly enjoyed the week-end’s blank page and am becoming fascinated by the dynamic happening among the posters and the different personalities and intellects.

    If there was ever a place for long, reasoned arguments for or against an issue I would say the blank page is it. VictorK’s longer comments are always worth reading and I learned a valuable point from Steve this weekend. Overall, I thought it was excellent.

    Was it just my perception or were the African and Middle Eastern areas not as active as usual? I’d hate to see this evolve into only a small, select group offering their personal insights.

    It would be good if topics were selected in advance. If someone offers a suggestion for a topic that is never selected, well, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say. Speak up!

    I would not be in favor of banning anyone. Usually a gentle reminder about the purpose and rules of WHYS is sufficient.

  17. 17 Dennis Young, Jr.
    April 21, 2008 at 16:43

    Good Governance:

    i loved the world have your say page and we the “customers” of the blank page should be respectful of it. and take very good care of it……

  18. 18 Mark Sandell
    April 21, 2008 at 16:46

    Viola, and Selena- nice one.
    Steve- you’re looking at the banning issue- does anyone want to answer him ? (and please, if we can avoid long diatribes and quotes from previous debates that might help)- is there a “threshold” here ?
    Or shall i shut up and leave it to you next week ?

  19. April 21, 2008 at 17:01

    @Viola you were right people from Africa and the middle east were bit quieter this weekend, possibly as a result of the topics discussed.

    Sorry mark just to clarify your last post do you mean that Steve is facing a ban? or do you mean that you want his perspective?

  20. 20 selena
    April 21, 2008 at 17:02

    Dear, dear Steve,

    Would you mid telling me what you think constitutes a personal attack?

    The two examples you mentioned do not seem to illustrate personal attacks. To me, speaking about the actions of a group are not personal, unless we take it personally because of deep-seated issues within our own psyche.

    To me a personal attack is calling someone crazy (or worse) for expressing a point of view.

    But perhaps I am wrong in my belief. Can you tell me why I should not feel ashamed for things my ancestors have done? To me, it is simply a case of, if I don’t feel shame for the wrong-doings of my group, my group will continue to do wrong, with my blessing, albeit a silent blessing.

    I like talking to you, Steve. You are helping me to see a side of issues that I normally would not see.

  21. 21 Xie_Ming
    April 21, 2008 at 17:24

    If WHYS truly wants to have a World audience and credence therefrom, it must be willing to present controversial issues.

    This, of course means overcoming personal and national prejudices.

    It also means being willing to face an standard storm of protest.
    (see today’ page 3 entry).

    I am able and willing to use Israeli sources to illustrate all points, including this one:

    “The second indoctrination is not as extensive, but prevalent among the Orthodox and the Israeli leadership: that gentiles are as animals without souls. Therefore, although they may be “killed”, they cannot be “murdered”.”

    [Does anyone know of ANY Israeli who has spent more than three months in jail for killing a Palestinian, under any circumstances?]

  22. 22 steve
    April 21, 2008 at 17:25

    @ Selena

    Thanks, it has been interesting for me too. I don’t think it makes sense to feel shame for what your ancestors have done because you had no control over it.

    An example would be slavery in the US. I’m a caucasian. Some caucasians had slaves in the US until 1865 (only a small minority could afford to have slaves, the vast vast majority did not have slaves) should I be ashamed of my race for something I didn’t do, let alone my familiy not having even come to the USA until the 1890s?? I mean, I really had nothing to do with it, neither did my family. So should I feel ashamed of my race for some members of it having slaves? No, it doesn’t make sense to me.

    Should Germans forever be ashamed of what the nazis did to the Jews? Yes, but should they be ashamed of being German? No. Ashamed of what the Nazis did, but not be ashamed of who they are for what some of them did. And that was much more recent than slavery..

    I don’t see why England should be any more “ashamed” than any other nation. All nations have a sad past. Even Sweden had an Empire, even Sweden would invade nations. Should swedes be ashamed for Invading Russia? For settling Delaware and probably mistreating the native americans? If so, for how long?

    With this shame argument, it really should be one of those let he without sin cast the first stone. All groups have done bad things.

  23. 23 Mark Sandell
    April 21, 2008 at 17:31

    No, Hannah (and Steve), i wasn’t saying Steve faced being banned- that he was “facing” or looking at or addressing the issue of how or why people should be banned.
    Sorry for not being clearer.

  24. 24 Will Rhodes
    April 21, 2008 at 20:08

    I have been waiting for a few more people to post on here before I added my 2 cents.

    Again, firstly, I would like to thank those who have said it was a positive experience for them to be on the blog over the weekend with Hannah and I.

    As you may know – or not as the case may be – I have my own blog and utilized what I have learned on there, here.

    I let comments go through because I wanted people, who are from all around the world, discuss things as they saw fit. Yes, I did once, I think, mention that people should show some respect or something like that – and people did. Not that I was surprised by that.

    I don’t mind the length of a post – I read all of Victors, and he seems to be the longest, no disrespect there, Victor. He uses an eloquent argument – and if you do read his posts you do see a lot of thought that has gone into them.

    To the banning issue – this I feel so strongly about I cannot put it into words ideally. This is the internet and there should be a freedom on here that no one feels ostracised! if you go down that route you kill what you want to say – censorship is not, in any way, the way forward! Applying rules – yes, banning from the discussion, certainly not! We are all adults and can deal with internet trolls and flamers if we have to.

    Did moderating bring me closer to the community?

    I feel it did, I also think that it is a growing community as as such needs to mature. We are the first among many and as such, and as the months go by, we will be looked up to by newcomers as to how to act etc.

    Deciding topics: Interesting as the whole thing flushed out over the weekend. Hannah put forward things that were well worth discussing – but, as always, the teacher was out of the room (Ros and Mark + others) so the pupils decided where they wanted to go. Perfectly natural.

    I do think that the moderators start off the conversations, whether it will stay on topic all the time we would have to see – personally I don’t think it would, or ever will. Being totally rigid would make me, for one, seek out another less totalitarian blog or group.

    Well, that my 2 cents worth.

    And thanks to WHYS for allowing me to help out over the weekend – if you should want me to help out again, you have my email address. 🙂

  25. April 21, 2008 at 20:31

    Thanks Mark 😀

    I wouldnt want steve to be banned he made the weekend very interesting 😀

  26. 26 Thomas Murray
    April 21, 2008 at 20:55

    I’m with Mr. Sandell.

    I would go so far as to advocate editing for language (since this a public site), and for choosing who to post based on etiquette and pertinence — but not for “misspelling” and language use — in order to keep breathing as a living language, English needs to be kept fluid, and non-native bloggers particularly need to have their say.

    But nastiness tends to crop up in the best of sites. There is a popular hour TV drama in the states called “LOST.” It’s so popular that ABC, its producing company, put on a website called “LOST Theories” (yeah, even as a 54-year-old man I joined the discussion board, avid as I am about the show). No sooner did ABC start the site, it was filled with about 300 posts a day, half of them nonsense, harassment, hatespeech and obscenities.

    It got so bad, the ABC administrator in Burbank posted an ominous warning stating if posts couldn’t use more propriety, they’d shut the site down. Which they did about six weeks later. So I feel it’s better to edit for content than let a website become a sewer.

    Oh, in my comment about how to solve the world’s food shortage, I was having a bad day.

    One quick fix is to ban all bio-fuels except sugar, which is nutritionally non-essential. Even sawgrass (one proposed fuel source) takes up valuable farmland that could be used to grow food crops.

    I covered an energy conference for my father in 1979. My father, an ex-Air Force pilot and college professor in electrical engineering, was heavy into solar energy and alternative fuels. But most of the papers presented at that Columbus, Ohio-based conference were about ethanol, enthusiastically received in Ohio as it is a HUGE corn growing state. (One presenter was a modern moonshiner, believe or not, who kept saying, “I don’t care what you put in your tank, I just want to make moonshine!”)

    Long story short, the conference made me extraordinarily depressed.

    The entire 70s was a decade of shortages, and even then the thought of turning our foodstuffs into motor fuel so we Marie Antoinettes can drive our fat behemoths a half-mile down the road to the Piggly-Wiggly for soda and potato chips, while the third world scavenges garbage dumps for scraps of food, or commits mass murder with machetes and clubs to effect their own sorry form of population control…even then the thought of it made me ashamed.

    I still feel that way.

    So what alternative fuel do I advocate? Oxygen peroxide.

    –A survivor of last Friday’s earthquake, which woke me up at 5:35 am. The creaking floorboards in my apartment barely concealed rumble outside. The minute I could formulate the thought — “Hey. This is an earthquake. Should I be worried?” — it was over. Regards. Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  27. 27 selena
    April 21, 2008 at 23:25


    It is alright not to feel shame for what our ancestors did, as long as we don’t sweep what they did/are doing under the carpet. You are quite right! We had no control over it. But we do have control over what people do, in our name, today.

    Shame is a double-edge sword. I feel I must acknowledge my shame. But I mustn’t let shame paralyze me into inaction when it comes to today’s sins.

    The Germans should never forget what the Nazis did to the Jews. The Jews won’t let them forget. I wont let them forget! And I think it is important that no one ever forgets.

    But what is more important is never to let such things happen again. That is where we are all falling down on the job. It has happened and is happening and will continue to happen, unless we understand our own role in the devaluing of humans. So, when the Jews say “Never again!” I echo the chorus, “Never again!”

    My part in the chorus is for the disadvantaged who are never represented when we think of those who are suffering. I am always, first and foremost, for the underdog.

    You are right again in saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!” We are all with sin… every last one of us. In order to stop the sin, we have to point out hypocrisy. It is hypocrisy that is the silent killer.

  28. 28 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    April 22, 2008 at 17:27

    Hi WHYS!

    As I am among those who, from time to time, send long entries, I am a little concerned that there is a move afoot to limit the amount which could be said, especially if the topic is one that obviously requires explanation. I think for instance of those discussions about whether skin colour defines us and the roles of women as they pertain to politics, which often stir up alot of deep emotions in some respondents.

    What is interesting to me about these discussions is that they move from a premise of a common understanding, which when we start talking proves to be not-so-common! Indeed, it is often the case that subjects like these are not always as “easy” and hence, require careful explanations of meanings and intended usages of certain terms in context.

    Plus, there is the additional issue of whether the editing of certain posts might not remove the most central pieces in such discussions. Of course, I am mindful that it is not always easy for editors to read through all of the essays which are sometimes written.

    However, if we could ask that entries are kept to the point and do not seek to cause offence – in other words, if we keep the comments at a certain level, notwithstanding what is being said, then, that should be sufficient as far as I am concerned. That would mean where there are long entries, interest is maintained in terms of the pointedness of the arguments made and the efforts to keep the language as balanced and respectful, as possible.

    It would be a real pity if we had to start removing people for “bad behaviour”, as I am sure we are all adults and can self regulate, as the need arises. Surely, we will disagree but that does not have to mean we cannot still have a civilised discussion based on respect…I hope!

    After all, I am one of two editors for this weekend’s Blank Page! Any tips and suggestions from others who have gone before us?

  29. April 22, 2008 at 18:57

    African nations today are in dire need of good governance and democracy but the West seems to be a contributing factor in inhibiting our progress. I still find it hard to comprehend why nations like the US and UK who profess to be beacons of democaracy are zeroing in on Mugabe’s records in Zimbabwe while they are giving a blind eye to Paul Biya in Cameroon. Crazy!

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