Wednesday, January 24, 2007

First they came for the bloggers?

The ThunderDragon is promoting the UK Daily Pundit's e-petition to protect the blogosphere from censorship. I think that perhaps we overestimate our own importance. First, in terms of 'threat to the establishment' I'd think that Private Eye eclipses even Guido by such a distance as to make the blogosphere hardly worth the trouble of particular attention. Second, in a broader sense given that the British system is liberal enough to not "control the free flow of information, ideas and grassroots campaigns" offline why should we expect it to do so online?

Of course, the answer I'll get is that the voluntary code of conduct being proposed by the Press Complaints Commission is the start of a slippery slope towards censorship; "In November of last year the Press Complaints Commission called for a voluntary code of conduct covering blogs. This would undoubtedly be the first in a number of measures". Why exactly?

This is a particularly nebulous slippery slope because the PCC code of conduct has contributed to print journalism avoiding overly censorious government regulation by providing a less draconian means of restraint. The logic behind the argument that any call for restraint leads inexorably to control would seem to imply that the Euston manifesto was the first step towards the imprisonment of any socialist arguing for the appeasement of Islamism.

As the proposed code is voluntary it can't be enforced upon those who do not sign it. There is no reason to believe that we are more likely to get draconian control of blogging with it than without it. I might not sign up to the voluntary code but responding to it with petitions claiming free speech is fundamentally under attack is just melodramatic.


Gracchi said...

Good sane comment- one of the problems about the blogosphere (I hate that word) is how easily the abuse of free speech thing is flung around- it reminds me a little of the boy that cried wolf.

Praguetory said...

N1. Your readers may be interested in a Young Conservative poll that I am running over at my place.