Thursday, 28 February 2008

Harry - would you have published? (Meme)

Just a thought, but how many British bloggers would have published the news about Harry serving in Afghanistan as Matt Drudge did?

We're not party to the agreement apparently concluded with the UK-based press not to publish until he returned from active service or the D-notice if there was one. So would we have held the line?

Clearly there will be different answers to that question for different bloggers. But for my part I have to confess it's a difficult one. I suppose I could cop out and say that it's not the sort of topic I cover and so I wouldn't have done so for that reason. But on a deeper basis I believe absolutely in freedom of speech and the freedom of the press and so I can see no reason why the news should not be made public. It's clearly a matter of public interest, not simply from a prurient interest but because any person who joins the armed forces should be treated equally, even if they are a Royal. Full marks to Harry on that score. He made it known that he desparately wanted to go to Iraq when his unit went and I presume he held the same view on this posting. He clearly has not asked for special treatment and earns my respect for that. I'm a republican in that I don't believe that people should earn a special position purely because of birth. (I don't think the royals should be lined up against a wall).

On the other hand, it is a fact of life that public knowledge of his presence in Afghanistan would increase the risk to him and to others serving with him. So would my desire to see freedom of the press outweigh my concern for the safety of another human being.

Clearly there will be those who believe we should not be in Afghanistan at all but I don't think anyone seriously wishes to see our troops killed in order to further that point.

After all the um-ming and ah-ing I'm probably going to conclude that I wouldn't have posted the news myself. But I wouldn't condemn anyone who did (Is that woolly liberal enough for you?)

I'm going to turn this into a meme because I am genuinely interested to know the views of others. So I tag my friend Alex Wilcock (who will write longer, but more cogently), Iain, Guido, the Burbler and James Graham


Tina Louise said...

I don't believe that the will and desire of one man should be enough to get all our press to agree to a secrecy deal with the MoD.

Just because Harry wanted to fight doesn't mean he should. We can't always have what we want and our lives and circumstances dictate what we can and can't do...he is who he is.

It is not the media who would be putting Harry or his troop mates in danger - it is Harry and his determination to have his way.

If the media can enter into an agreement to withold information from the public it sets a dangerous precedent and personally, I find it deeply concerning.

Tina Louise
Arms Against War

Ryan said...

I was thinking yesterday what would have happened if I was on "holiday" in Afganistan, had seen Harry and possiblily photographed him. With the chance to "break" the news most likely I'ld have had the picture and story on my blog within minutes. Only afterwards would I have thought about the consequences, and then realised that maybe I shouldn't have done it.