It’s particularly sad when someone you look up to falls from their pedestal.
Many of us in the Open Access world remember Ian Gibson (UK MP) and his campaign to push for OA through the offices of the Houses of Parliament. See, for example the BMC interview (http://www.biomedcentral.com/openaccess/archive/?page=features&issue=19).
Now Ian Gibson is one of the Mps most implicated in the unethical use of expenses (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5364319/MPs-expenses-cover-up-of-Ian-Gibson-and-his-daughters-cut-price-flat-deal.html). You can read the sorry story for yourself.
Yes, MPs say, it was within the rules. But I expect Mps to act on ethical as well as legal principles. When Gibson criticised publishers, they were “within the rules”. But he wanted to change the rules. The lack of ethical principles leaves us stunned and more so for those who we saw being driven by ethical motives.
We are simply bewildered. We all know that politicians can be corrupt, lazy, scheming, etc. But we like (and need) to believe that most are honest and hardworking. We expect them to look out for perils ahead and to alert us. We expect them to indicate when others overstep the bounds of reasonable action. Now we can’t.
The only good thing that can come out of this is a radicalisation of democracy. Greater legitimisation of individual action – and it’s here that the Net is so important. Let’s not throw the chance away.