shush.jpgWhat is gossip? Is blogging gossip? Is discussion of celebrity weirdness gossip? What are gossip’s defining qualities?

OK, I admit that there’s a substantial element of self-promotion to this post. This Tuesday night, I’m facilitating “Gossip on the Internet: A Sin or Just a Sign of the Times?” at the Ideas Cafe at the Skirball Center on the Upper East Side. (It’s $10–which includes wine, cheese, coffee and various other snacks–but if you email me, I’ll get you comped. See “Plus, for you, a bargain” below.)

But seriously, folks–you’re actively engaged in blogculture, perhaps even reading Gawker, Defamer and other self-described gossip blogs. You regularly participate in our critical discussions of various topics, often attacking the opinions of others (because attacks on others themselves would never happen here at Jewlicious)–at some point, does that cross over into the realm of gossip? And is gossip only gossip if it’s about people who are good? What if we said that Hitler’s mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries? Would that be gossip? And does it matter whether or not it’s true?

If you’re in NYC and are free, come on by to the Ideas Cafe (more detailed info–including a SPECIAL OFFER–below). But if you’re not, feel free to discuss here.

A descriptive paragraph to entice you: Our sense of right and wrong tells us gossip – however pervasive – is wrong, but restraint is hard. In the age of the Internet it’s next to impossible. With the most powerful, ever-expanding grapevine in human history at our keyboarded fingertips, gossip is both easier and more viral. Anonymity removes accountability. But where is the blurry line between the useful and the malicious? How do we decide what’s true and what’s hearsay, what’s harmless and what’s slander? What ethics apply? And should celebrities, who choose to live in the public eye, be treated differently from the rest of us? Join us to discuss these and other questions at Ideas Café, a Tuesday evening salon in a Jewish environment open to all voices.

Plus, for you a bargain: There’s a $10 entrance fee–which includes wine, cheese, coffee and various other snacks–which you can have waived by being on the magic list. To be on the magic list, email me by Tuesday morning, and your entrance will amazingly be comped! Ta-da!

WHAT Ideas Café – a weekly salon for open discussions of issues of the day – will consider the guilty pleasure of “Gossip on the Internet” and explore whether it’s a “sin” or just a sign of the times – and what rules and ethics should apply.
WHEN 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 24, 2006
WHERE Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning. Enter at 10 East 66th Street (Nearest subway stop: #6, East 68th St.)
COST $10 at the door ($5 for Skirball Center students).
NOTE For information and weekly topics visit or call (212) 507-9580. The Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning – a unique New York City educational facility in its fifth year – offers a wide range of programs and courses exploring what it means to be a human being and Jewish in the 21st century.

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Esther Kustanowitz

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