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When does honest/reasonable debate become prurient and mawkish rubbernecking - where's the line?

(44 Posts)
WideWebWitch Sun 09-Sep-07 01:06:30

I know where MY line is but clearly, from recent threads, plenty of people don't.

While I have no control over what is said on this thread (obv), I think it's worth discussing the difference between the two, i.e. hard news/fact and opinion/speculation and where the lines lie.

I do realise that behind this a very serious and awful, tragic thing has occurred. And all of us, presumably, would rather not be even thinking about it, let alone disccusing it. so this is supposed to be about how we discuss these things rather than about what supposedly did or didn't happen.

escape Sun 09-Sep-07 01:14:35

TBH, the only way to discuss these things in a manner to which we personally would prefer, is just that, personally.
tOnline forums can attract any body who wihes to post, peope whom in real life, we a) wouldn't neccessarily discuss anything with anyway and b0 don't have the experience, eveidence or intelligence to do so. We'd avoid these people in real life, wouldn't we?
shouldn't they just be , well, ignored?

UCM Sun 09-Sep-07 01:15:02

WWW, it is the nature of people to discuss whatever is on their minds.

Whether they do it it nicely or disgustingly??

Because this website is somewhere that some women can literally unfold and go 'whoahhhh..... some me time', it's possibly going to upset some people as this may be their first commumnications with anyone else for that day. Not all mums have time to read the daily mail.

MrsMarvel Sun 09-Sep-07 01:15:11

I completely understand where you're coming from www. I always find myself reading between lines. When I read newspapers I really only believe what has been put in quotation marks. I have also learned that many people on mnet know many things and i have learnt a lot from them. It is up to us not to accept blindly what other people say / write. This news story is full of speculation precisely because no-one has the answer, not even the police.

I also think that underneath all the questioning, speculating, tittletattle, is a deepseated concern that "that could have happened to me". And I think I'm one of those people.

PS - did you see mnetters were quoted in the Grauniad today? The world is watching...

UCM Sun 09-Sep-07 01:15:56

Whoa - I was not suggesting for one moment, that you are a DM reader.

escape Sun 09-Sep-07 01:16:11

for what its worth, Sky News is the journalistic equivalent of an open forum. no eveidence whatsoever parading as 'news'
it is vile to watch.

McEdam Sun 09-Sep-07 01:16:21

Very good question, WWW, too late for any pertinent thoughts, though.

WideWebWitch Sun 09-Sep-07 01:17:06

UCM/everyone, I'm not criticisng, I'm just interested. This isn't meant to be a scrap, honest!

turquoise Sun 09-Sep-07 01:19:51

It is an attitude that seems to have been brought about by the reality/celeb obsessed media where everybody's life is now a soap opera, and no situation, whether tragic or banal, is off limits for speculation or gossip.

UCM Sun 09-Sep-07 01:23:33

I didn't for one minute think that you were. I have not been privvy to most of what has gone on in the last few days because I simply didn't have access to MN. If I had, no doubt I would have been right up there with the best of em!

People are desparate to discuss this; every person I have spoken to recently.


But, I know that personally, my MN is somewhere that I come and let off steam, enjoy company and rant if I want to, but joke if I want to as well. I come on here after too many wines and talk utter bollox.

But people know that, and thank God, forgive me.

escape Sun 09-Sep-07 01:23:45

turquoise - you are quite right.
THey was a couple behind the reporter on sky news yesterday laughing and joking, in the next shot the man with her was getting his digital camera ready.
were they tourists who had taken time out from their 'holiday' to go stand outside aportugese police station - i could try, but I will never understand these people.

suzywong Sun 09-Sep-07 01:25:35

I've just finished reading a) The Observer and b) The News of The World online - for balanced reports - and I came on MN to see what was going on.

I cant' be arsed to even look for the thread in active convos that I know is there about MMc so I come here to get a low-down of what the temperature on MN, all branches, is.

I wonder if Madamez has been apologised to? IIRC she was leaped on from a great height for positing a similar theory to thatof the Portuguese police.


Or is does this thread refere to a scrap about fabric softener?

escape Sun 09-Sep-07 01:28:47

But this is an online forum where anyone can post any thoughts on any issue/opinion (within the law of course) MadameZ can say anything she likes, and people are allowed to disagree with her
i don't even know what was said btw, knowing Mz, I might have agreed, but, my point is - How can people , any of us, get worked up about total starngers opinions - on any topics??
You can't police peoples 'credentials' before they post.

MrsMarvel Sun 09-Sep-07 01:34:16

exactly escape. There's absolutely no point in trying to sabotage posts. If you don't want people to talk about something, go somewhere else! I just ignore people when they try to do that. It's bs.

UCM Sun 09-Sep-07 01:34:51

WWW I should have added a big huge grin to that post and I didn't, so here is my smile

escape Sun 09-Sep-07 01:38:39

I suppose my answer to the Op is ; resonable debate becomes mawkish etc when ill informed (on wahtever level) people are allowed to contribute, and in open forum, they are.

ScrumbleopdeBeestie Sun 09-Sep-07 06:12:16

It is very hard. I know yesterday I felt for some reason an urge to spill what was spinning round in my own head...just really because like UCM says, I am someone who hadn't actually spoken to anyone IRL, about anything let alone something that was as important as this case.
I was feeling shocked at the possibilities and wanted to know if anyone else felt similarly. Just a bit of talking therapy I suppose.
Otherwise it would have been bothering me much more. It can help to share, and a lot of us seem to be feeling very upset or shocked or in some cases, angry that we may have been misled by the whole malarkey.
Nobody knows and speculation isn't really helpful but I tend to obsess about stuff i can't alter IRL as well, because it is a distraction from the ultimate real feelings of horror that I might otherwise have to face.

I think those who speculate are trying to control things. At least in their own minds. And sharing that process sometimes feels more healthy to the individual than bottling it all up...possibly. Possibly it ought to be self-censored like any other sort of prurient gossip.

But I am guilty of it to a degree and only now I've partaken do I feel the whole debate was rather sickly.

ScrumbleopdeBeestie Sun 09-Sep-07 06:17:36

Btw for what it is worth, though it obviously offended some,I really don't think anyone on that thread intended any harm to anyone. I know it got nasty later and very worked up, that was thankfully after I'd gone, but what upset me the most on it was the anger BETWEEN mumsnetters about it. people getting shouty and horrid because they disagreed.
That was awful to witness. Really upsetting.

Nightynight Sun 09-Sep-07 06:54:02

I think it is normal to talk about tragedies and things that are in the news, and even to speculate within boundaries.

The problem is, that most of these conversation disappear on the wind. Conversations on mumsnet unfortunately dont. When you see it written down, it has a whole different impact.


(As an aside, I hate and loathe the word "mawkish" which is an eighteenth century word that was resurrected in the late nineties by courtiers, to sneer at people who were upset when Diana died. )

emptyandlost Sun 09-Sep-07 09:23:13

There's no simple answer to the OP's question. But I suppose as a general rule, it's when the debate is centred on specifics, and named individuals, rather than hypothetical situations. Personally I cannot begin to understand the recent threads on the latest developments in Portugal. I can't for the life of me see why anyone who doesn't know the people concerned would WANT to begin posting their opinions. I agree that this kind of behaviour is a symptom of our present day culture, where the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred, where it seems nothing is off limits and there is no such thing as a private life. It worries me hugely that our children are growing up in a society that thinks its acceptable to behave like this.

kkgirl Sun 09-Sep-07 09:44:13

I suggest that instead of all this arguing and bickering over items in the news, people concentrate their energies on trying to improve the world.
Every day there is more news about young men being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, more gun and knife crimes, involving horrendous cases where young children are being killed. Also children being abducted and abused both by paedophiles and sometimes even their own families.

If we all spent our time trying to do something about some of these issues it would be time better spent, than wasting our lives bickering on here.

Or we could even spend quality time with our own children!!!!!!!

Either way with the case we are "not" discussing here, an awful tragedy has happened, and god forbid any of us being in that situation.

WideWebWitch Sun 09-Sep-07 10:06:00

Er I was using the word mawkish before Diana died.

ggglimpopo Sun 09-Sep-07 10:27:19

I don't know the answer to this WWW. I over-empathise with the case, it came five months to the day after my daughter and Madeleine McCann and I share a birthday which is nothing really but was very poignant on the day, with all the balloons and whatever, and Mile for Maude co incidentally on the same day. I was in Paris and the headlines were everywhere. It screams at us from every corner and is impossible to avoid. The speculation is rife and as parents it is normal to "put yourself in their place" and for me it is only to real.

But I don't know where you draw the line. It is French dinner party conversation. I heard it on the news whilst in Greece recently. The whole world is talking about the family. Including mumsnet.

WideWebWitch Sun 09-Sep-07 10:29:32

Oh ggg xxx
It's really got to all of us I think, the horror of it.

wannaBe Sun 09-Sep-07 10:31:27

I think that in certain cases, people are more likely to speculate due to the nature of the case and the coverage of the case. When Mmc went missing there was a huge outpouring of sympathy for the family, and no-one was allowed to voice any opinion that went against the family in any way. Even those that dared to suggest that it is wrong to leave three small children unattended were jumped on and told they should be ashamed of themselves for daring to think any negative thoughts of someone who was clearly grieving the loss of a child.

But now the focus of the investigation has turned, and there has been an indication that what we thought were grieving parents perhaps had a hand in the situation themselves. And some people are angry. Angry that they might have sent around emails/put up posters/even contributed to a fighting fund. Angry that they were told it was their opinions that were shameful and that they didn’t have a right to those opinions. And some who might not have contributed to discussion at all may now feel that they can come on and actually voice their opinion because it’s no longer considered beyond the relms of possibility.

Is speculating wrong? Very probably. But the reality is that this case has been speculated about from the start, but imo people feel uncomfortable when it’s the family that is being speculated about, and yet the threads were full of posts about how Madeleine might have been watched/been taken over the border/may have been hidden/may be frightened… and the list goes on. Is that kind of speculation not as bad then?

The fact of the matter is that the family encouraged the media attention. Yes they did so to hopefully help find Madeleine, but reality is that when you encourage the media into your life, it’s not only the good bits they’re interested in, when it goes bad the media will still be there to publish it.

People feel they have a right to discuss this case because it’s been everywhere for the past 4 months. Pictures/interviews/updates which weren’t actually updates. The family wanted it discussed, and now that things have gone bad and they are under suspicion it’s impossible to stop people discussing that too.

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