A politician’s arrogance or ignorance


Here’s an extraordinary tale from Robin Wauters of a prominent politician’s cavalier attitude to public funds and contempt for people’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 it’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 it’s the ignorance.

Or maybe he’s right, as one Belgian blogger illustrates with tongue heavily in cheek:

Anyway, Robin Wauters’ 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 you’ll see the opportunities in there rather than the threats.

All I’d add for Mr De Crem is that old English saying: people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

(Photo credit: Bart Claeys via TechCrunch)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. HoratioNelson

    Hi Neville,

    Check out my thoughts if you're interested… I comment this as a blogger, a citizen and a PR professional…

    Watch this story, will be picked up by national TV.. I already have been interviewed on national radio this morning about the topic and can feel the interest of MSM rising… .

    This will maybe bring clarity in some almost non existent legislation and define the "rules" of the Belgian blogosphere…

  2. Serge Cornelus

    Hi Neville

    Yes, there has been a lot to do about our dear minister's 'performances' of the past week. And you're right: It does only illustrate his ignorance AND his arrogance. The difference between you and us Belgians is that we already knew for some time about the existence of these characteristics. I'd better leave it at that now; I should be careful what I write: being in higher education, I am a civil servant, so who knows what phone calls might be made when Crembo finds out about my involvement in this dangerous phenomenon. :-}



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