What we are seeing in the wake of Hager’s “Dirty Politics”, is the devaluation of ethics.
It is an obligation, Hager insists, that a light be shone on the emails of blogger Cameron Slater, published in a wholly selective and most potentially damaging way to the targets that he and the hacker intensely disliked. Never mind they were illegally obtained..not the slightest ethical consideration.
The motivation was revenge or retribution, not unlike the rationale for the foundation and participation in this election of the Internet Party (Although the motivation for this is possibly worse - the founder’s best chance of avoiding extradition for alleged illegal activities). But I digress.
At almost every turn those keenest to seize on and use Slater’s illegally obtained emails for political purposes are those with the most acutely tuned ethics as evidenced by their strenuous opposition to the GCSB legislation.
The only conclusion that you can draw is that they think it is alright for one private citizen to obtain illegally and publish private emails for their own benefit, but it is not okay for the State to pass legislation with the aim of setting up a system that may help protect us from the actions of terrorists and those who might visit their illegal actions upon us.
This is defended on the basis of superior ethics.
However, the corollary of all this is that we should privatise the activities of the GCSB, as seemingly it would be okay for a ‘private citizen’ to operate surveillance activities and ‘leak’ any concerns.
This morning we heard on National Radio Phil Goff defending his claims that several years ago he was not briefed by the head of the SIS. As it transpires, the SIS has an altogether different recollection of the briefing. Goff now claims a superior ethical position… and has decried the ethics of those who sought to highlight the understanding of the SIS.
The media talk a lot about ethics – as they abide by them. Yet, not long ago we saw the ethics of the media’s illegal phone hacking exposed in the UK. Their motivation was public interest (but in truth it was about outperforming their competitors).
It seems to me that for many of us ethics now have no value, and the actions of individuals can be contorted to justify any convenient position or action. This in my view is the dirtiest thing about the current political controversy… Ethics have become whatever you like to make them, and if it is a stick to beat your political opponent, so much the more ethical you are.