Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What Do You Think About This?

There is a thought provoking article, Salisbury mayor: Malicious blogs endangering city, that I want to get everybody's take on. This is the text of the article:

SALISBURY — In her final State of the City address, Salisbury Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman warned residents of what she sees as a great danger to the city: malicious bloggers.
Tilghman said in her address Thursday that over the last five years, the presence of a small group of suspicious, mean-spirited people focused on the negative has grown, endangering the city's vitality.

Tilghman says some people are avoiding serving their city because it's not worth chancing the scorn of bloggers. But Tilghman says they need to stand up for the city.

Tilghman's final day in office is April 19, but she says she plans to remain active in the city. She says she plans to give a less formal farewell address before leaving office.

Now I don't know the political convictions of this Mayor and feel they are irrelevant. Further, I do not know what the "malicious bloggers" are saying.

Without giving my opinion, I want to see what everyone else thinks. This is a relevant point for us as bloggers.

What is the line bloggers should not cross? In other words, what is malicious? Is malicious something that is in the eye of the beholder?

Some in the MSM have argued that the growing influence of bloggers is not a good thing. They argue that there is no standards, no code of conduct, no limits. A curious argument by an industry that is so heavily biased and pushes their political agendas with abandon. But, never the less, how important to an open an honest government is blogging?

Is it possible that blogging is what the framers of the Constitution envisioned when they set forth freedom of the press? Is it possible that a vast array of individual and diverse writers is the purest form of freedom of the press?

Finally, does freedom of speech and freedom of the press negate this entire argument? Is the real test of freedom of speech accepting speech we do not agree with?

Share your thoughts.


Larry T. Durham said...

So the mayor is suffering from a raging case of blogophobia, hey?

I believe in freedom of speech, but if you're gonna "speak", then you you should be able to back up what you're saying or at the very least explain your position. As for what constitutes "malicious", I'm pretty much an "anything goes" kind of guy. However, threats, or unwarranted profanity in a personal manner seems "out of bounds". If you can't have a little class, then you probably ought to just shut up.

But then there are people like Pelosi, Frank, Obama, etc, at al, that conjure up malicious thoughts in me with ease. So, if I'm thinking it, I'm liable to say it.

Brooke said...

Dissent will not be tolerated in any form, period.

Really, I'm surprised that they haven't clamped down on blogs before now... Probably because they enjoyed the leftards having a hay day on Bush. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it ain't so fun.

Bags said...

Ridiculous. Blogging is freedom of speech in its pure form. Instead of having to stand on a soap box on the street corner, people can now voice their opinions in great open forums.

The key thing everyone needs to remember is that most blogs are just that - opinions. I truly hope all bloggers back up their points with facts but freedom of speech suggests we don’t have to. Maybe every so often we should remind our readers that our blog is simply our opinion or interpretation.

shoprat said...

Two things. You cannot knowingly lie and you cannot give information that will endanger innocent Americans or American troops, or aid criminals. Other than that the 1st Amendment trumps all else.

Mustang said...

It isn't the speech that the mayor approves of that enjoys First Amendment protection; it is the speech she doesn't approve of.

My gut reaction? Another idiot end product of Benjamin Spock.

mksviews said...

One just needs to understand that the blogosphere is not regulated and cannot be. You can get all sorts of kooks out there spouting all sorts of crap. Trying to regulate it is like chasing your tail, you can't do it without curtailing free speech.

Flavor Country said...

Free Speech all the way, that being said what you a posting does not even have to be fact based. I would not do this myself, however it is a blog, it is not part of MSM, it has no responsibility.

If you want to say God is a woman who has six arms and legs and say you have proof somewhere, you have the right to do so, and I'm sure you will have some people who believe you. Of course no one outside of the crazies no one will take you serious ever.

But the serious bloggers who have large following to where MSM is picking up their stories, there is a line you cross at some point where you have a responsibility to report factual info from credited sources.

Blogs are the future and their power is growing at a very fast rate. Soon it will just be MSM sites and blogs, and no more papers and mags will dwindle down too.

Chuck said...

Larry, agreed. As far as politicians, they have different rules and no class

Brooke, there actually has been some grumbling about applying the fairness doctrine to the internet, insane talk, but talk

Bags, agreed. Blogs are effectively the letters to the editor for the internet. The choice is to the reader as to whether they want to trust/believe what is written

Shoprat, true. I think the limit is breaking the law, libel, pedophilia, national security, etc

Mustang, good point. Talking about curbing free speech is beyond irony.

MK, right, for every "Obama is an idiot" blog there is a "Bush is an idiot" blog. It's what makes this fun and interesting.

Flavor, I agree with all except the notion that the MSM operates under any responsibility :-)
Good points though. I believe that because of ethics you have a responsibility to be as accurate as possible and back it up. With this said, I do not think it should be mandated by law or decree.

Papa Frank said...

This is a great post, Chuck. As bloggers we are the true watchers of the world around us. We give others our opinions and our views of our experiences from day to day. We are players on a stage. A stage that we create ourselves and that we govern by the rules that we make for ourselves. Sometimes we are serious. Sometimes we are angry. Sometimes we are joking. Sometimes we are vindictive. In the end, and much like an old baseball card, our blogs are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Our pay is the time others spend with us and the hearts and imaginations that our readers extend towards us. In that sense blogs are the very essence of democracy in that each reader has the ability to voice their opinion in a very tangible way. They can interject their own views and the mood of the blog will inevitably be the view of the majority who lurk there. To silence blogs is to silence opinions and to command rule over thought itself. The only reason to silence a blog is thought control. The media has been corrupted beyond any resemblance of an unbiased observer. As bloggers we fully admit our bias and speak freely. Whether that's worth anything or not is up to our readers and them alone.

Chuck said...

PF, well said, I cannot add a thing

LomaAlta said...

If not for bloggers, all would be lost.
Freedom of the press is in grave daner in America, almost lost to a one sided MSM.

Bloggers, truth, duty, and freedom of the press.

DaBlade said...

Papa Frank says that a "blog will inevitably be the view of the majority who lurk there". That being the case, you have some bright lurkers Chuck! I agree with the opinion that the blogosphere is like the wild west. We have a right to express our opinions and everybody else has a right to ignore it if they choose. Most bloggers are not professional news gatherers. Blogs accentuate "the press", but woe if they eventually replace it.

Chuck said...

LomaAlta, excellant point. We are a defense against the liberal bias in the MSM

DaBlade, agreed

Z said...

Shoprat's right. As long as no one knowingly lies or endangers anybody, I'd have thought the only people who'd hate bloggers would be liberals.
Did anybody hear anybody complaining about the blogosphere or calling for the shut-down of Air America radio during the Bush administration and the really awful things they were saying?

Is it a GENE or something? Conservatives understand people have the right to talk and dissent and liberals don't? Not to turn it into a left/right thing, but aren't I right about the last 8 years?

We don't know the persuasion of the mayor of Salisbury, but it sure would be fascinating to find out!

Chuck, I removed my Red Envelope Day post and it comes up again at noon, LA time...wanted more conversation about the Richardson helmet thing....thanks for having commented. (just so you know, if you come back!)xx

kevin said...

Politicians hate free speech. That's why it's so important.

Miss T.C. Shore said...

I agree with most of the comments posted thus far. This is free speech in its purest form. The framers of the Constitution wanted the average American to be able to express his political viewpoint without fear of reprisal from the government.

This ability had been nearly lost in the 20th century. Large newspapers, then Radio and finally television became the primary (only?) forums for being able to reach large numbers of people with political viewpoints. With the advent of the internet, the "average joe" is, once again, able to get his opinion out to others.

With this freedom comes a certain level of responsibility. We owe it to ourselves, our communities and our fellow citizens to post that which is helpful, truthful, and not malicious.

Criticism, of course, if often viewed as hurtful or malicious if you are the one being criticized. This is where it becomes tricky.

Nonetheless, as long as the blogger is expression an opinion that can be backed by fact and/or by an ideological point of view, it is valid. This, of course, is different than a call to action that includes violence or some other types of destructive blogging.