Monday, December 19, 2005

Rethinking My Illness

Some weeks ago, I wrote this - "I Feel Sick!"

Emotions then, were running high, as emotions are wont to do at such times. It would not, therefore, be completely truthful to state that my article was entirely free from all emotional bias.

In the past few weeks, though, I have had plenty of time to ponder upon the matter in a more detached and less personal manner. My feelings on some of the issues involved remain unchanged, and I guess they never will change. But on a few matters, I now feel quite differently from what I felt then.

Let me start by saying that I don't think it was fair for me to blame IIPM the way I did initially. Gaurav wrote some things against them, and they threatened to take legal action against it. Fair enough. Anyone who chooses to endorse the cause of free speech cannot in the same breath deny the right to sue, for it is just as fundamental a right. To do so would be sheer hypocrisy.

They also threatened to bring his employer, IBM, into the picture. Many bloggers felt, both at the time as well as now, that this was wrong on their part. Well, the word 'wrong' has two connotations - legally wrong and ethically wrong.

Was their bringing IBM into the picture legally wrong? No. If they wish to implicate IBM in the matter, then that is their right. If IBM has nothing to do with the case, then the court will decide that. Anyone in a free society has a right to accuse anyone else. It is upto the legal system of that society to decide how much weight there is to the accusation. Hence, IIPM wasn't 'legally' wrong in doing this.

Was it ethically wrong? Ethics, unlike legality, are a matter of relativity. Ethics are, again unlike legality, not constant. What is ethical for you may not be ethical for me and vice versa. Hence when one speaks of ethics, one is only speaking in the frame of reference of the ethics of a particular person or group of people. Everyone's ethics need not, and will not, be the same. So, at the very most we could say that IIPM was ethically wrong according to us and our set of ethics. But an ethical wrongdoing is no crime.

IIPM expressed their desire to burn their Lenovo laptops in front of IBM's Delhi office. Again, the right to peaceful protest - a fundamental right. And while burning laptops might not be as peaceful as Mahatma Gandhi's fasts, it certainly cannot come under the category of violent protests either. Referee's call - no foul.

Regarding the veracity of the claims made by IIPM in their newspaper advertisements, I have no knowledge. I am not sure of the legal bearing on the publishing of false information in an advertisement, and whether legal action can be taken against it or not.

Rashmi Bansal was, apparently, manhandled by certain individuals for the statements she had made about IIPM's mendacious attitude toward advertising. This, if true, is certainly one of the things that I would hold against IIPM. For it is no longer in the realm of ethics, but instead legality.

I am not trying to either defend or blame any party involved in this unpleasant brouhaha. I am just stating my thoughts on the matter, now that they've had ample time to settle down and wipe themselves clear of any emotional stains they might have had. I didn't think much of IIPM earlier and I don't think much of them now either. I have always liked Gaurav's blog and I still continue to follow it regularly. None of that has changed. All I want to say, is that legality and ethics are very different, and that the latter has purely personal significance.


Anonymous said...

KT said...

You don't get it, do you?

1. Nobody was contesting IIPM's right to take legal recourse. Nobody 'denied IIPM the right to sue' as you put it. Get your facts right. Read this carefully if you haven't done it before:
especially this part Then she got a legal notice from them. All fair so far. They have a right to go to court, and they need not have worried if the facts were on their side. But were they?

2. Let me understand this. You are trying to say that whatever IIPM did was legally and morally right (atleast it wasn't wrong). It just happens that most people think this is wrong. Would you like the college principal to make you cut your hair by calling up your parents? Keeping that aside, I don't think you got the crux of the IIPM controversy. Now, if you have followed the whole controvery regarding IIPM, you will see that the main point of contention with bloggers was IIPM's fake advertisements. As many bloggers have uncovered the dirty truth behind IIPM using 'easily verifiable facts', it is clear that IIPM is in the wrong. There are a lot of legal implications here.

Sorry for the rather harsh tone of this comment.

Arnold said...

kt - i read the post you've mentioned, and it doesn't change anything i have said in my post.

sure, the comments on rashmi's original post were vile and repugnant, but even then they aren't legally wrong. just some idiots shooting off their mouths.

and about your second point,
1. i wouldn't mind if the principal did what you suggested [in fact if u rmbr it already hppnd to me except it was prabhu and mali stead of the princi]. my parents would refuse to come for such nonsense and that would be the end of that.
2. i made it quite clear that i am not making any statements or claims about either the correctness or falsehood of any of their advertisements. i have only glanced at a couple of them infact. how true they are is for the court to decide. some people feel they are untrue and say so, iipm sues - where exactly is your problem again?

Salil said...

Ok, here's an analogy. You have a fight with someone in your college. That someone then goes to beat up your family members.

Forget about legalities as this example is rather extreme - but talk about ethics in this case.

You dont want someone to drag your family or employer in a fight you had with that someone.

Arnold said...

salil - since u speak of forgetting legalities and looking only at ethics, u have to rmbr wht i said about ethics not being universal and thus cant be spoken of in tht respect...

thus while *I* might not find his bringing my parents into the picture ethically correct, it's quite possible tht he might feel otherwise.. and i cant do anything about tht.