Hereâ€™s an extraordinary tale from Robin Wauters of a prominent politicianâ€™s cavalier attitude to public funds and contempt for peopleâ€™s opinions.
As described by Robin, the story is about Belgian Minister of Defence Pieter De Crem, pictured above, whose recent junket to New York for a meeting at the UN that never actually happened involved a visit to a Belgian bar, barmaid Nathalie with a critical blog post, subsequent alleged pressure to fire the barmaid, commentary from Belgian bloggers and media alike, questions asked in the Belgian Parliament, culminating in this statement from Minister De Crem:
I want to take this opportunity and use this non-event to signal a dangerous phenomenon in our society. We live in a time where everybody is free to publish whatever he or she wants on blogs at will without taking any responsibility. This exceeds mud-slinging. Together with you, other Parliament members and the government I find that itâ€™s nearly impossible to defend yourself against this. Everyone of you is a potential victim. I would like to ask you to take a moment and think about this.
Oh, the arrogance! Or maybe itâ€™s the ignorance.
Or maybe heâ€™s right, as one Belgian blogger illustrates with tongue heavily in cheek:
Anyway, Robin Wautersâ€™ conclusion is as good a riposte to Mr De Crem as any:
People, and especially politicians representing them, need to wake up and smell the coffee. The world is changing, and blogging is now a big part of it, with all of its good sides as well as its bad ones. Live and learn. The sooner you get the hang of social media, the more youâ€™ll see the opportunities in there rather than the threats.
All Iâ€™d add for Mr De Crem is that old English saying: people who live in glass houses shouldnâ€™t throw stones.
(Photo credit: Bart Claeys via TechCrunch)