I disagree with what you say but will defend etc etc part 7231

Libel laws and the internet have long since needed readjusting, probably ever since Godfrey v Demon back in 1999. Since Alisher Usmanov succeeded briefly taking down Craig Murray’s site (along with others, including Boris Johnson’s) the matter’s been an ongoing hot topic on the internet.

I’d put my name to a pledge of support for Craig Murray and Tim Ireland’s campaign against Schillings, Usmanov’s lawyers. Since then, the occasional inbound link has popped up in relation to this, and there’ve been a few further examples. And then, this morning, there was the rather miserable link that came in from, erm, the Miserable Old Fart.

Essentially, it concerns some kind of political spat in Scotland I don’t know much about and, frankly, care even less about. But it’s resulted in one councillor threatening a Labour blogger with a libel action due to something she’s posted on the site, an the Miserable blogger is taking us all to task for not leaping onto our keyboards and defending her:

“All of the following blogs were willing to support bloggerheads. Was their support real? Or was it just an opportunistic way of getting a hit on Technorati?

I hope that each and everyone of them will say a word in favour of Kezia’s right to freedom of expression – but I won’t hold my breath!”

If he wants to drum up support he’s got a funny way of going about it – having a pop at everbody on the list without pausing to consider that it probably hasn’t registered on many bloggers’ radars.

Usmanov was high-profile. This is perhaps a little more regional. Judging by the comments, I wasn’t the only person who’d never heard of it. Largely because I tend to avoid politics and political spats online these days, especially if they’re miles away and have very little relevance to anything I’m interested in.

Plus, there’s a lot that’s not as clear cut here. I don’t know the background or the ins and outs. It also makes a difference if any of the papers involved have been served with libel papers. I don’t know that either. The fact it feels more like a local political spat doesn’t help either. I was turned off from politics partly because of these spats a while ago.

So, without knowing the ins and outs and background (and not really having any real inclination to want to find out more), all I’ll say is if the libel action’s been taken specifically against the blogger than that’s wrong – and she shouldn’t have had to take it down. But that’s just an ‘if’, and I’m frankly less inclined to jump on any kind of free speech bandwagon because of the way it was approached. A little bit of politeness goes a long way, especially if you’re trying to draw support to a cause that nobody’s really heard of.


3 Responses to “I disagree with what you say but will defend etc etc part 7231”

  1. 1 Alwyn pa Huw September 17, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Thanks for the link! Being a self confessed Miserable Old Fart, I accept that I don’t find it easy to do “nice” – so sorry if you are offended by my post.

    However I don’t apologise for what I was trying to say, however poorly the point came across. The Usmanov incident was sold to me as one of “defending the blogosphere” against people with the muscle and money to stop freedom of expression.

    My blog is lucky if it has 300 hits a day, but it is still MY blog, my little part of the universe in which I can say what I think about the boring subject of Welsh politics. My blog may not be important to you, but it is very important to me.

    By supporting Blogerheads I thought that I was supporting the freedom of all blogs, including other small blogs such as Kezia’s – it appears that I was mistaken!

    Your post suggests that the only time that the blogosphere must be defended is when the big guys are under attack – and bugger the others!

  2. 2 Gary Andrews September 17, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Definitely not Alwyn! If Kezia has been silenced by somebody firing off a legal letter because they don’t like what’s on there, then yes, she definitely deserves support.

    But, and I may be wrong here, this feels very much like a local political spat (and I’ve reported on enough of them in my time to lead me to give them as wide a berth as possible). I’m also less familiar with the context of this, and I’m always wary of jumping aboard a cause only to find out it’s perhaps not quite as clear cut (again, local political spats never are and there are usually a lot of axes being ground, hence a slight reluctance on my part). I’m also a little wary when the divorce (family) courts were mentioned, although I suppose if the newspapers covered it, it might have been ok re: contempt laws.

    Don’t worry, I wasn’t offended by your post, just more of the tone that suggested we were all in it to boost out traffic rankings! I focus a lot of football, hence the Usmanov case was very much on my radar – in this one I would have been completely unaware without your link, so you’ve definitely worked in making people aware of it. But, like I say, a little politeness wouldn’t have hurt 🙂

    That said, if Kezia’s been forced to remove her post through a heavy handed use of the libel, then that’s just plain wrong, and she should be able to post what she wants on her blog, free from any legal ramifications.

  1. 1 A bit more on libel and t’interweb « Gary Andrews Trackback on September 17, 2008 at 5:01 pm

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September 2008

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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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