Copycense was incensed by the idea of journal publishing being compared to slavery, a claim made by Richard Smith, a member of the board of directors at the US Public Library of Science in a public speech recently. Their response was to condemn the reference.
The increasingly dark, dire imagery used to characterize issues within the digital content debate too often goes far beyond framing, spin, or public relations. Language like this is grossly unprofessional and personally indecent. Nothing in this debate is nearly as urgent or serious as terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, or slavery, and the people who insist on perpetuating this language should be censured. Enough is enough.
I have to say that this condemnation speaks loudly for much of the writing and creative license with words I find on many blogs today. Freedom of speech isn’t permission to just say anything and everything you want to say. Sure, you can say whatever you want, but there are consequences you must live with if others don’t like what you say, or the law disagrees with your right to say it.
The United States is living in a time when freedom of speech is persecuted from every angle by the government. It’s okay to be for the President or for the troupes, but let’s pound you into the ground if you are against the war. If you are against the war, you must be against the President. You are definitely against the troupes. They seem to forget that you can be for many things and against many things, and the connections do not have to connect.
There are now huge file cabinets filled with rules and regulations on what you can say, how you can say it, where you can say it, and if you can even open your mouth with the intension to say something in the United States. In some parts of the world it is worse. There is only a piece of paper with one sentence on it that sets the rules: If you say anything publicly about the government without permission, you will die.
Consider the case of a blog post by Yang, a Chinese man fighting the Chinese government and courts to prevent his property from demolition for a shopping mall. His post was shut down after a huge flood of attention, though it’s still unclear as to who or what turned off the blog light switch. China has a long history of turning off that which they don’t want in the light.
Blogs offer an opportunity to let your voice be heard. To ring out with every comment, opinion, advice, lecture, pontification, and babble you want, as long as the rules of your country, Internet Provider, web host, discussion group provider, discussion group moderator, blog owner, and all the other little admirals that control the blogosphere allow you.
Do you feel any of the “freedom of speech” restrictions when you blog? Are you blogging at risk of confrontation, imprisonment, or other personal risks? Do you really believe blogging gives you the right to say any thing, any time, in any way, without repercussions?
For your consideration, here are some references to help you learn more about the risks many bloggers around the world take to let their blogging voices be heard, along with the risks that come with blogging to everyone who blogs.
- From the Electronic Frontier Foundation Blogger Rights Handbooks and Guides:
- Reporters Without Borders – Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents
- US Constitution: The First Amendment
- Inc.com’s The Top 10 Things You Should Know Before You Blog
- How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)
- C|Net’s Guide To Workplace Blogging
- Zillow Blog – Avoiding Legal Pitfalls in Blogging
- US Law: What Is Libel?
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.