Hearing Voices Around The Globe
turbotodd 100000388Y Visits (2493)
Man, talk about major cha-
First, it was Jay Leno leaving "The Tonight Show" after 17 years (I still remember the hoopla about when he took over after Johnny Carson left! Could that really have been 17 years ago? Pre-Internet??)
Then there was the announcement today about General Motor's bankruptcy.
What's good for GM apparently wasn't good for America after all.
Then there was the upset in the fourth round of the French Open, with number one seed Rafael Nadal being ousted by Sweden's Robin Soderling.
All is not right with the world.
However, I do want to congratulate Steve Stricker for winning the Crowne Plaza Colonial Invitational golf tournament in nearby Fort Worth, Texas, yesterday.
True golfers know Fort Worth is sacred golf ground, with the Colonial and surrounding courses having been Ben Hogan's stomping ground (not to mention Byron Nelson!)
They also know the Colonial course ain't for the faint of heart, with a demanding track, tight fairways and tough up and downs, so congrats are very much in order to Mr. Stricker for getting his first win there.
On the Internets news front, and in not necessarily related but also Texas news, Ars Technica covers Texas blogger Lyndal Harrington's trip to a Texas jail.
Harrington allegedly said some not so nice things about Anna Nicole Smith's mother, and in a resulting defamation suit, ignored a court order to turn her PC over as evidence.
Failure to do so meant Harrington had to go directly to jail, do not pass "Go," do not collect $200.
You can peruse the Ars Technica post here, but the sound byte that most struck me was that the number of blogger arrests around the world had "tripled since 2006."
Blogging has moved into the mainstream faster than many might have expected, but in the process it has also become a key vehicle for whistleblowing, political commentary, and other important contributions to the sociopolitical realm.
In those countries where the collective is held to be in more esteem than the individual, those dissenting voices in the blogosphere have the potential to become the voice of the silent minority.
Unfortunately, the same avenue also provides a mechanism for identifying and arresting those dissenting voices before the full weight of their words can be known.
Interestingly, a quick glance at the World Information Access Project's data on arrested bloggers reveals that an overwhelming majority fall into the category of blog "organizers" or "social protesters."
They are followed shortly after by those posting comments about political figures and public policy.
As a blogger myself, I certainly don't want to find myself sitting in a jail cell anytime soon.
But I also don't want to see an important and emerging avenue for those dissenting voices become blockaded or stifled, especially when truth is being spoken to power.
Over the last five years, the WIA reports that the average prison time for "citizen journalists" was fifteen months.
From where I sit, fifteen minutes is too long, which is why the defense of someone even as seemingly innocuous and pedestrian as Lyndal Harrington is warranted.
If not, that fifteen months could turn into fifteen years and worse, and all because the opportunity to communicate via the blogosphere was limited by the confine of geographical borders instead of the marketplace of ideas.
Certainly, legitimate defamation suits should be given their day in court, regardless of media source: blog, newspaper, etc.
But in our efforts to ensure that the wheels of justice move effectively into the social mediasphere, we should also work to minimize the chilling effect that overadjudication could bring to the table when this unleashing of liberated voices around the globe has only just begun to be heard.