Friday, January 09, 2009

What to think about the Quadrant Hoax/Fraud/Prank

According to media ethical commentators, it is just another one of those irregular verbs: I set up a hoax, you are the victim of a fraud, everyone has a good laugh.

But I feel profoundly uncomfortable about the story revealed with a gleeful "Gotcha!" on the front cover of yesterday's edition of The Age.

Martin Luther, in his Small Catechism, defined the eighth commandment like this:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What does this mean?

We must fear and love God, so that we will not deceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruining our neighbor's reputation, but will defend him, say good things about him, and see the best side of everything he does.
By those standards, I think that the hoax/fraud/prank (whatever you call it) was certainly a transgression against this commandment.

Today there was a related story about an artistic toddler. Again, someone was deceived - and yet the "deception" seems innocent enough - just parents with an over exaggerated idea of their child's abilities.

Perhaps in this case, though, it was the art dealer who actually deceived himself by his own expectations that the artist was an adult? Certainly there was a smidgeon or more of that in the former case too, where the Quadrant editor should have done his editorial homework.

So: what do you think about these two stories? What's your ethical judgement of the cases?


At Friday, January 09, 2009 5:01:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

Rudd writing about Bonhoffer is now a long way away. I have approached the said Prime Bureaurcrat re the persecution of Christians in india and sent him the same report on persecution that i sent you Schutz. Guess what -Silence is deafening.Not a single response from him.

At Friday, January 09, 2009 9:10:00 am , Anonymous R J Stove said...

Surely the Prime Ministerial piece on Bonhoeffer was published in The Monthly, not in Quadrant? If I'm wrong I'm open to correction on this score, but as far as I know Kevin Rudd has never appeared in Quadrant's pages even once.

At Friday, January 09, 2009 9:51:00 am , Anonymous Clara said...

I don't disagree that the methods might be unethical but how does this differ from the Angry Penguins hoax perpetrated by Quadrant founding editor James McAuley and Harold Stewart?

They set out to show that modern poetry was bunk and their submission by the fictitious Ern Malley. Their method for writing the modern poetry was very clever, but a deliberate hoax. That this event still rattles the left is evidenced by the fact that some literary critics have tried to suggest that Ern Malley's poetry had literary merit! (This is an interesting parallel to the artwork by the toddler also referred to in your piece).

That Windschuttle is editor of Quadrant makes it even more of a coup for the left-liberal intelligensia. Quadrant/Windschuttle should have seen it coming.

Don't get me wrong, I am an avid fan of McAuley's poetry and hymns.

At Friday, January 09, 2009 8:43:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

Read THE AGE front cover today and there is a profile on the 'hoaxer". I agree with Louise that modern art is rubbish,and THE AGE is carrying on like a fawning reprobate over this issue.


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