Column: Forgetting

 Nicola Adam @jabberingjourno (c)

We would all like to forget some things in our lives.

When we were at school, most of us studied history.

This information usually came in the form of a book, through the words of our teacher, by watching films and if you are a young’un, via interactivelearning technology transmitted via a whiteboard or desktop tablet. (Yes , I know..)

This information did not magically appear via history you will unamazed to hear, it was authored by someone, somewhere, who probably garnered his or her information from another dusty tome, itself put together from sources unknown and undoubtedly unverified.

The point is that history, is in the telling and interpretation – in the re-invention.

But by general rule , the more contemporaneous, the more accurate.

So in these days, of super scrutiny and lines of checking, it makes the immediate news report one of the most accurate methods of recording history.

One made of course, by journalists schooled in facts – a recording of events rather than a highly coloured retelling of information influenced by prejudice and opinion – something history books can be guilty of.

Of course these days while news is more immediate, it is also widely circulated and available online, not just via old newspapers and rolls of film.

Which is where the EU ‘Right to be forgotten’ ruling comes in.

This allows people to request ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant information’ to be taken off search engines and sites

But the question is – should history be edited? Relevance is a difficult argument – Julius Caesar is not relevant today but should hardly be removed from historical records, for example.

Should every criminal who has completed their sentence get the right to take away any recording of the fact taken off the internet?

The victim does not escape the lasting impact of a crime, after all. It can also be construed as censorship.

But where do human rights begin or end?

Reality is , it is almost impossible to remove something entirely from the web, it is generally cached or recorded somewhere.

We cannot ever entirely escape history, whether we like it or not.


First appeared in titles including Lancashire Evening Post