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To read comments to this article, go here
Ethics
Friday, May 13 2005 @ 11:40 AM EDT

LinuxWorld's James Turner has posted the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, and spells out specifically all the ways he sees Maureen O'Gara's smear attack on me to have violated them. [Update: It was here: http://turner.linuxworld.com/index.cfm?d=12&m=5&y=2005 but it no longer resolves.] He left one off the list, at least: She never contacted me before running the story to ask if her facts were true or false. That is a very basic requirement.

You can read the Code of Ethics in full here. Here is one of my favorite parts currently:

Journalists should: Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.

All I ever did to Ms. O'Gara was point out errors in her articles. And I'll tell you another thing. Before I did that, I wrote to her on several occasions, privately offering corrections and telling her she could contact me any time and I'd gladly help her to get her facts straight. She never bothered to even answer my emails.

Also, Turner and Dan Lyons of Forbes had a conversation, which Turner has memorialized on his blog. According to Mr. Turner's account, Mr. Lyons is defending what Miss O'Gara wrote and has decided to pick up the baton and attack Groklaw next. What a surprise.

Regarding my anonymity, according to Lyons, there is none such. I worked for OSRM and announced it publicly on Groklaw. Anyone in the world was able to contact me there in any normal fashion they chose. It's obvious I am a real person. This is a red herring.

If I am anonymous and not a real person, why did Mr. Lyons quote me in the first attack article he wrote about Groklaw? You remember. The one where he told the world I lived in White Plains. I'll tell you now the rest of the story. When he interviewed me for that story, he asked me where I lived and I wouldn't tell him and I asked him to avoid saying where I lived, because, as I told him, I was concerned about stalking. I thought we agreed on that. Anyway, I didn't live in White Plains, so he had his facts wrong, but the point is, he tried to out me too, just so he could put out the innuendo that I was located near IBM, as if that meant something, despite what I told him. I answered that false accusation here.

I saw from that experience that the SCO gang's hatred for me is apparently so extreme they don't care what happens to me or if I am endangered by them. When that article came out, I decided I'd never again do a telephone interview, and I never have. It's not that I am trying to be mysterious. It's that I found out that there are some journalists who will do you real harm just for a headline or to please someone with an axe to grind against you. Linus told me if you do interviews by email, you have more control, of yourself and what you say and of the result.

I am also a normal person, and I work from home now. No normal person wants their home address or phone number plastered on the Internet while they know they are being stalked and they have concerns about their safety. If you knew the Mob was after you, for example, would you put up your picture on your website, your home address and your phone number? I know SCO means to harm me. They've been attacking my reputation for a long time now, including repeating the false information from Dan Lyons that I supposedly lived in White Plains, trying to imply the same false association with IBM that he started. I just don't know to what degree they will take it. But do you see what I mean that the attacks on me are coordinated?

Regarding my allegedly calling Miss O'Gara a Nazi, according to Mr. Lyons in the Turner piece, that is not true. I never did. However, Miss O'Gara did compare me to a serial killer on the run. Here is the simile that Mr. Lyons is misrepresenting:

"And everybody on the dark side attacks Groklaw these days, including Ms. O'Gara, not just Daniel Wallace. I'm starting to figure out it's coordinated, not random. They seem to just pass the baton around, taking turns like Nazi interrogators in World War II beating prisoners, so none of them ever got tired but the victim never got a moment's relief, not that it helped them win the war. [Note it's a simile, a limited simile, to a technique of a group attacking a single individual by turns, not comparing anyone to Nazis, just to a technique they were famous for.]"

I added the clarification note, after Dan Lyons contacted me by email, trying to twist what I said, as is his wont. I think it isn't that he misunderstands. It's that he is like a buzzard hunched on a tree limb, always on the alert for anything he can swoop down and attack me for. He clearly has a pro-SCO, anti-IBM, anti-Linux bias which shines through everything he writes, and he should reread the Code of Ethics, methinks. He should also put down the Yellow Journalism baton. It's unseemly. And if Forbes allows him to continue, they are responsible, not just Mr. Lyons.

An eagerness to blame the Linux community can cause false accusations to be lodged that later have to be retracted. There is a kind of apology from Sys-con here. Lots of reactions to all this, including one of my favorites here. Sys-con wishes me the best in all my endeavors. Thank you. But please tell me, what shall we say to the elderly woman, who is not a public figure and has no involvement with the running of Groklaw at all (neither of the individuals in the article have anything to do with running Groklaw), who had her home address, with pictures of the house and one showing the number on the mailbox, posted on the Internet for any criminal or loonie to find, thanks to Miss O'Gara's failure to abide by the Code of Ethics? How do we make her whole? Will Sys-con or Miss O'Gara pay for the bodyguard? For the medical expenses that stemmed from the situation? And if that elderly heart gives out under the stress, then what will they do for her? It isn't just the Journalists' Code of Ethics that was violated:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

"Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

"Article 17
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks....
Countries which have Signed but not yet Ratified this document...
United States of America"

The conscience of the whole world condemns such behavior. And when Sys-Con and Ms. O'Gara violated all of the above, the whole world was revolted.

Except for the dark side, as I call them. They still don't understand, judging from the conversation Mr. Lyons had with Mr. Turner, why the entire world condemns such thuggery so strongly they put it in writing in treaties and codes of ethics, so that conscienceless, empathy-starved people will know where the line is that the rest of us, humans with a heart, have drawn in the sand.


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