Justin Bieber (shriek!) is in a bit of hot water over his response to some questions about abortion put to him by a Rolling Stone reporter. The tweets are twitchy.
Was there really any value, beyond the publicity it has generated - and therein lies the key perhaps to such irresponsible reporting - in asking that question, or following up with such a highly-charged and confrontational question - to a 16-year-old - about rape, which he so clearly tripped over as the awkward, fumbled wording of his caveated answer suggests?
Much of the anger aimed at Bieber has pointed out how inappropriate it is that such ill-informed opinions fell from the mouth of a teenage role model, or that he would even wade into and skew the debate about such a controversial subject matter. But I can't help thinking, on this occasion, it was the question that was even more inappropriate than the answers.
Lessons in information responsibility:
- For all of us: Don’t look to 16-year-old pop stars for leadership on important, polarizing social issues.
- For all of us: Don’t punish 16-year-old pop stars for their opinions on such issues.
- For 16-year-old pop stars: Answer such questions with: “I’m a 16-year-old pop star. My opinions are still forming.”
- For journalists: Resist the urge to ask 16-year-old pop stars about today’s pressing moral issues, no matter how it might boost your magazine’s circulation.
UPDATE (01 March 2011): Rolling Stone has admitted to misquoting Bieber.