Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Blogosphere Tidbits...

.:You Keep On Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means:.

I’m alarmed and amused at the same time by people I see who seem to like throwing words around maybe because it sounds so good to them, or intimidating, or even profound.

In reality, it just makes them look terribly silly.

A check can only “bounce” when you take it to the bank and there are insufficient funds from the account you’re drawing the check from.

A woman can only be a “chauvinist” if she thinks men are inferior to women, not when she is taking offense to something she is perfectly well within her rights to take offense to.

A person can only be a “backstabber” when the person he’s supposedly backstabbing has no idea that he speaks that way about her. The minute she does, he could be “rude” or even “tactless”, but a “backstabber”, he is not.

A person can only be an “airhead” if he’s an idiot. If you can eff up even the shortest of sentences, if even the slowest of my Korean students understand something as simple as subject-verb agreement better than you, then you lose the ascendancy to call anyone an “airhead”.

Lastly, a "friend" is not someone who will side with you even when you're wrong. In fact, if there's one person you want to tell you what's wrong with you, it should be a "friend", since they'd do it because they care about you and aren't just out to get you.

Pardon me if I scoff at people who like throwing around words, big or small, whose meanings they don’t even fully grasp. It makes them look especially ridiculous.

.:The Next Time Someone Tells You “It’s My Blog, I Write What I Want...”:.

... show them this article.

I’m especially struck by the line: “Defamation is defamation no matter whether it is written on paper or on a blog.” Truer words have never been said, and that’s precisely why I’ve been, for the most part, avoiding hurling epithets at people on a whim, especially people who are not public individuals. Libel is something a lot of bloggers have been guilty of, but what boggles the mind is that just because nobody’s willing to enforce the law, we all continue to write with impunity.

Why is this? Is this the truth to the adage that even the most righteous man would become evil if nobody saw him?

I find this trend alarming, truth be told. It’s okay to do something wrong, so long as we don’t get caught is the kind of morality that you can expect from a kid, but not from fully-grown adults who should know that being a good person doesn’t end once you step out of the classroom or the office. What makes this even worse is the way we try to weasel our way out of it when we get caught. Hey, look. You made your bed. Lie in it. Since there’s no way I can condemn wrongdoing itself without condemning myself in turn, let me instead take a long, harsh look at the lack of responsibility we seem to be having for our own actions.

While I read that article, I saw how the commenter was acting shocked she got sued. Newsflash: ignorance of the law? Not an excuse. We keep on forgetting our manners just because we’re online, and we even have the audacity to call out people for taking offense to how we conduct ourselves. I’m almost inclined to believe that hackers are more responsible once they get caught. They’re not going to play dumb, and they know more likely than not, that what they’re doing is wrong. Considering that the laws on free speech in America are incredibly more lenient than they are here, that she has managed to find herself sued for defamation should be a message to us over here, where name-calling is not included under “protected speech” the way it is in America (That’s how Penn and Teller get away with their expose show, “Bull$4!7.”).

I’m a very pluralistic-minded person. I excuse most kinds of behaviour, even ill behaviour, so long as the person is willing to take responsibility for the consequences of their behaviour. For example, I respect the grumpy old man who is prepared to be isolated from the rest of the world due to his actions. What I don’t have much regard for are people who act the way they do then are surprised when they receive backlash for it.

I’m reminded strongly of Juned’s talk last I-Blog 5. When someone breaks taboo, there will be consequences. Ostracization, censure, even gossip are all side effects, and those ones are mild in contrast to jail time and fines and a civil liability.

We are still responsible for what we write, whether it’s on a blog or on a newspaper. Don’t assume action won’t be taken on you just because you’re a blogger, especially not if you actually want bloggers to be recognized as valid opinion leaders. If they are, then the converse must be true: they must be held responsible for their words, given the power their words possess.

.:However, This Is Just Overkill...:.

The Right Of Reply Bill currently covers bloggers, cellular phones, and I-Pods.

That is just the height of insanity right there.

What? If I texted Maro that “this government sucks big-time,” do I have to text Maro the reply the government deems fit for me to publish, like maybe, “this government sucks only small-time?”

First of all, the right of reply is already inherent in blogging. It’s called the comments section. It’s called the ability to write another blog. Forcing bloggers to publish a counterpoint to their own opinion is just ridiculous and impractical when anyone can make their own blog and then write their own counterpoint. To say that bloggers need to devote their own space to a reply to an opinion they publish is counterproductive to the nature of internet. So long as the blogger is not well within libellous grounds, then his speech should still remain as protected speech.

Cellphones and I-Pods, on the other hand, are mainly modes of private communication or in the case of the I-Pod, private listening, not public dissemination. The Right Of Reply Bill in its current wording covers these devices too, and the sheer absurdity of the bill on this matter alone is so glaring I don’t even have to make a joke about it.

I am not a lawyer, so don’t take my very basic understanding of libel law as the Gospel, but I think that in this case, it doesn’t take a lawyer to see that the entire concept of the Right Of Reply Bill is flawed and oppressive to free speech. This is especially when you consider that mass media’s space costs a lot of money. Being obligated to publish a reply with the same prominence and the same time would hurt these publishers and broadcasters in the long run.

Some politicians went as far as to say that this will solve the problem of journalists getting killed, since offended parties now have the right to reply on the same space they were lambasted. Why are we not just cracking down on journalist killings instead?!? This is non-sequitur reasoning at its finest. Why would people stop killing journalists who annoy them just because they can respond now? It just doesn’t follow.

As a former media practitioner, as a blogger, as a person who has a cellular phone, this is a law that we shouldn’t allow to see the light of day. Why do we blackmail the media into decriminalizing libel if and only if they accept the Right Of Reply Bill? If anything, while I’m not a fan of the limitations on free speech we have right now, the status quo is infinitely preferable to the alternative, where a lot of time will be wasted on counterpoints, and as such, curb the media’s desire to report anything that could be perceived as worth reacting to by the parties concerned.

If nobody’s willing to report for fear of expending airtime at their own expense, or text messages at their own expense in the worst-case scenario, why would anyone ever want to express a contrary opinion, period?

I disagree with a lot of things and topics and issues. But one thing I will always maintain is that I will defend a person’s right to stand by these things, topics, and issues. This Right Of Reply Bill inherently discourages that by forcing people to air out both sides of the story, whether or not they are journalists. We don’t need toothless commentary, or wussified discussions on issues. We need people who are willing to call it like it is, and in the event they are wrong, they will be made to pay in the proper avenue. To force them to put on kid gloves the way the Right Of Reply Bill does is a grave insult to free speech.

I can only hope that this travesty will not come to pass.

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