I don't have a whole lot of time this morning. Well, not the amount of time I usually have, since I have to be in court by nine. I did want to address a couple things this morning while I do have some time, though, and both have to do with objectivity.
A couple of days ago I posted a link to this whole FTC business. I didn't say much about it, but it's definitely a concerning little piece of government. Read what Janet Reid has to say about it, and then check out the Wired article on the issue. And if you've got a couple hours and a lot of aspirin, read the Official FTC PDF on the rules. Apparently if you receive anything for free and then review it on your private 'citizen' blog, and don't mention that you received it for free, you could be subject to FTC scrutiny and fines.
Like getting a book from an author, which you then read and love and want to tell your blog buddies about. As if the only reason you would be giving the author a good review is because they gave you that book. As if objectivity were impossible in the face of such an extravagant gift.
Of course, according to what I understand of the rules, remuneration doesn't have to be in the form of a freebie. If you're associated or have some type of relationship with the person who wrote the book, and you give them a good review, you have to disclose that, too. Good will and friendship is payment, too, doncha know. Problem is, when I read a book by a person I've got a relationship with - however minimal - it doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to give that person a good review. More often that not, I do, but it's not because I like the person. It's because I like their books.
Anyway, the FTC has stepped in it. Not to mention the government taking just one more little piece of American freedom in the name of protecting it's rube-like citizens. One commenter at Janet Reid's post said something about complying with the rules is no big deal. Of course it isn't a big deal to say where you got the product you reviewed. That isn't the point. It's the principle of the thing.
I admit to not always being the most objective person on the planet. I try, but sometimes I fail. Which brings us around to the second thing I wanted to talk about: Jury duty.
I thought about this off and on since I made the call that told me the court case was actually going to happen and that my presence was needed there this morning. I live in a small town inside a county with a small populous. Everyone knows everyone else in one way or another. (Think 'Six Degress of Kevin Bacon' but more rural.) While I don't get out much and don't circulate amongst the who's who of this place, I know who they are, and frankly, I don't always like the things they do. We have some petty and small minded people in this town. We have drunkards and druggies and petty criminals. What I'm going to have to steel myself against today is Guilt By Association.
Part of being a juror is holding fast to objectivity. Regardless of how I may feel about Barney Assinine and his brood, I can't let myself feel anything regarding anyone with the last name of Assinine. (Because frankly, I think everyone is related to everyone else here - unless they're like me and were raised out of state.) Each person is an individual, and what one person may or may not have done to me and mine isn't cause for damning the whole lot of them.
I'll let you know how I make out.
Have a great day and wish me luck. I think I might need it.