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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Loshon Hora Guidelines for Blogging

Gil points us to a response by Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir on Loshon Hora.
This was the question he was asked:
Blogs provide an open forum for readers' comments. Is the blogger responsible for encouraging slander and other irresponsible contributions?
An excerpt from his response:
...neighbors, friends, and co-workers are not suitable topics of discussion on blogs.

However, we have to make a suitable exception in the case of public figures or aspects of a person's life which are intentionally opened to the public. When someone runs for public office, he surely expects, even wants, others to openly discuss his qualifications for office, whether positive or negative. Likewise, if someone makes a public speech or publishes something it is fair to assume that he is willing to have his ideas weighed in the "court of public opinion", with its self-appointed lawyers for defense and prosecution alike. Any serious scholar is grateful for the insights gleaned from critics.

...Blogs are not an appropriate forum for mentioning the virtues and foibles of unassuming people we encounter in everyday life. These people don't seek our praise and are justifiably mortified to be criticized in the public square of cyberspace. However, public figures must, and generally do, reconcile themselves to the fact that their message will be lacking in consistency and impact if they don't open it to public debate. Bloggers may generally assume that these individuals are willing to be discussed on blogs as long as basic standards of journalistic ethics are maintained, including attribution of facts, right to make a reply, and so on.
Bottom line: If it feels like Loshon Hora, it probably is Loshon Hora. But I've found that out the hard way in the course of my blogging.


Blogger Ezzie said...

Interesting post... something we all must keep in mind. What about other bloggers' opinions? As they are public, does that make them 'fair game'? Does their pseudo-anonymous identities make a difference? Seems like we could write an entire sefer on the guidelines... Guess we'll have to use common sense! :)

10:30 AM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

big time hat tip to you orthomom i am proud of you.

yo ezzie they do it is written by the chofetz chaim.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

lol rebba shlita... i meant that on blogs the CC's guidelines become a little blurrier...

12:31 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

next ezzie i will post about the issur of public affection on the Jblogsphere (even if she is your wife)

6:00 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

BTW get ready for more ORANGE see

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lashon hara is lashon hara no matter how we do it. And it applies to blogging to.

If we feel the need to imform people about something, we should first learn the rules of how to imform in a constructive way.

Ps, you can get lessons by email.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

lol... public affection?! the photographer made us do it with 30 friends and family sitting right there! it was more 'holding on for dear uncomfortable life' at that point... (i mean come on, we were married like 30 minutes!)

6:37 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

If we feel the need to imform people about something, we should first learn the rules of how to imform in a constructive way.

Ps, you can get lessons by email.

Um, anon, are you trying to send me a secret message? If you're trying to point out that I've been guilty in the past of Loshon Hora in blogging, no need to be so cryptic about it - I just owned up to it in this post.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Mike Koplow said...

Hear hear, OrthoMom. I think your bottom line is exactly correct--if it feels like L"H, it probably is. In other words, if you're thinking "gee, I wonder if this is OK," you should assume it isn't.

I find that using my real name helps (although others may disagree and find me just as malicious under this name). Everyone finds anonymous attacks contemptible, including such nonanonymous attackers as the YayhooKid or whatever.

11:08 AM  
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