07 January 2008

Bananaman! Ever alert for the call to action!

I'd some good news earlier from NMRBoy -- not directly relevant to us, rather something encouraging on another front.

Do you remember me talking a few weeks ago about Tom Robinson's brilliant 'One Banana Short of a Republic' website? No? Well, the guts of the story is that a professor at Canada's University of Lethbridge became embroiled in a dispute with the University, with the University tangling him in a web of bureaucratic nonsense while its own officers casually disregarded its own rules. Robinson's eventual response to this -- after eighteen months -- was to post all formal communications between himself and the University on his website. The University blustered and fined him two months' salary, but he held the line, and -- as NMRBoy informed me earlier -- reported a while back that the University had dropped all charges against him.

I doubt that game's quite over just yet, as it seems these matters tend to have more than a whiff of Kafka and of Jarndyce v Jarndyce about them, but it surely looks as though it's being played by Robinson's rules now. Robinson's rules, I suspect, shall merely be those that his University purports to abide by.

I like Robinson's strategy. Sure, it's a nuclear option, a desperate gambit, the sort of thing that should only be done if every legitimate recourse has failed, but if you're forced into a corner and have nothing to lose, why not go public, even if that'll involve pulling down the temple upon yourself? I realise that there are people who'd argue that websites like Robinson's are themselves one-sided, but even if that's true -- and with Jim Linville, I'm sure Robinson's isn't -- they don't have to be.

After all, if you've really been spectacularly screwed by an Institution and its Myrmidons, if rules and laws have been trampled on, and and if you've got a mountain of evidence proving wrongdoing on a massive scale, then why shouldn't you publish everything? After all, bullying and victimisation take place behind closed doors. Perhaps the best thing to do is to open them.

In fact, if it's a publicly-owned institution that's screwing you, then there's probably an obligation to do just that; it'd be a matter of public concern, wouldn't it?

As it happens, I think Robinson's site was too mild. While the idea was brilliant and the name was inspired, he could have done a hell of a lot more, notably optimising it so that whenever anyone did an online search for any of the wrongdoers it would invariably lead them to his site...

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