Sunday, May 28, 2006

Be Afraid - Very, Very Afraid

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

I lifted this graphic off Dave Oliveria's blog Huckleberries. Dave is an associate editor with the Spokesman Review and hosts an enormously popular and informative forum. It has been banned on county computers allegedly at the direction of soon to be ex-commissioner Gus Johnson.

If there is a plausible explanation for this action the local press has yet to report it. If it is retribution for content on Huckleberries it is censorship and denial of first amendment rights. This is dangerous territory no matter what the reason. Mr. Oliveria does not dictate public opinion but the commenters who contribute to his discussions do reflect it.

As for first amendment rights - the blogger and commenters are exercising cyber speech. Mr. Oliveria is a professional journalist; under the auspices of the Spokesman Review. They are all peacefully assembling on the blog. Think about it.

The exchanges are often spirited and uncomfortable but within there is a wealth of information unavailable in breadth and depth anywhere else. The commenters are for the most part anonymous to everyone but Mr. Oliveria. We bloggers are much more likely to put our names behind our opinions; we comment on one subject at a time and the interest levels vary. The discussions on Mr. Oliveria's blog are lively and timely and reportedly engaged in by many movers and shakers in the community who's positions could be in jeopardy if their identity be known. That in itself is frighteneing to me. That one has to hide in anonymity to state ones opinion without fear of retribution. Tells you a lot about this community, doesn't it?

So Mr. Johnson, tell us what this is all about. Not your fancy dan Public Relations firm - you. Until that happens I'll be joining with my fellow bloggers in support of our friend and colleague Dave Oliveria. Maybe Stebbi will put up a code for the purple ribbon without the text when this is resolved and we can keep it on our sites permanently to remind us this happened lest it happen again.

We'd be well to remember where the neo Nazis thrived for so long; we'd be well to remember a Human Rights Institute calls Coeur d'Alene home and we'd be well to remember a county commissioner banned a blog site. Next thing you know the NSA will be confiscating our phone and computer records and our Congressmen will be hiding behind the Constitution to avoid bribery charges.

Didn't take long for something to hit my hot button did it!

1 comment:

Mel said...

Well, first, welcome back, but wow! Did someone really delete your blog?? I mean, I thought I wasn't reading properly, but now it seems you really said that...