But I feel profoundly uncomfortable about the story revealed with a gleeful “Gotcha!” on the front cover of yesterday’s edition of The Age.
Martin Luther, in his Small Catechism, defined the eighth commandment like this:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
What does this mean?
We must fear and love God, so that we will not deceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruining our neighbor’s reputation, but will defend him, say good things about him, and see the best side of everything he does.
By those standards, I think that the hoax/fraud/prank (whatever you call it) was certainly a transgression against this commandment.
Today there was a related story about an artistic toddler. Again, someone was deceived – and yet the “deception” seems innocent enough – just parents with an over exaggerated idea of their child’s abilities.
Perhaps in this case, though, it was the art dealer who actually deceived himself by his own expectations that the artist was an adult? Certainly there was a smidgeon or more of that in the former case too, where the Quadrant editor should have done his editorial homework.
So: what do you think about these two stories? What’s your ethical judgement of the cases?