ON THE WATER
NEELS BLOM: Washington Post mohair story pulls wool over readers’ eyes
When the Washington Post elevated Peta’s investigator to reporter, the rigours of journalistic ethics started applying
The oddest part of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) is the inclusion in its name of the word ethical, a concept without which the dichotomy of good and evil cannot be apprehended. Odd — and brave — because it declares ethics, the assessment of right and wrong conduct, as its defining principle and one by which it must fall or flourish. Peta agitates against cruelty to animals by humans, arguing that the suffering of animals is unnecessary and avoidable in the exploitation of animal products. This, it says, is achievable by following a set of absolute (as opposed to habitual) rules in human interaction with animals. Journalists share the sentiment. The assessment of right and wrong conduct is arguably also its primary occupation and perhaps the greatest source of misery for the perpetrators of the craft. Yet, despite the temptation to avoid applying their code of conduct for the sake of expedience, budgetary constraints or any number of the p...