12 February 2012

It's still a free world, is it?

The world has had barely a few days since the (temporary) demise of SOPA and PIPA, but it appears that vigilance couldn't be relaxed even for a minute. Another attack on Internet freedoms is rising its homely head, albeit in a smaller way - in state of Maine.

In Maine a rich lawyer who ran for governor in 2010 is challenging that right. He was offended and annoyed by a site called "The Cutler Files". The site dedicated itself to educating its readers about what Elliot Cutler got up to his long legal career. This was not made up of smears or rants against Cutler, it was merely a collection of links and quotes of press about the man.

Elliot Cutler is not Maine's governor, Paul LePage is the governor. Cutler lost by less than 1% to LePage and blames the Cutler files for his loss. This bitterness has led him to go after those behind the blog with all his might.
The establishment is seemingly united against the blogger, with the following argument:
As a practical matter, allowing any individual or organization — let alone a paid political consultant, working for an opposing candidate in the same election — to anonymously advocate for or against a candidate would undermine the commission's ability to enforce Maine's campaign finance laws," the commission's filing says.
Strange that, denying a person his rights to free speech because it will "undermine" the commission ability to calculate the financial impact of the blogger on the election. Common sense would say... but let's leave the common sense alone, there still is that darn first amendment. And whatever a person writes in his blog in his own free time shouldn't be anyone's business - unless the contents are clearly and provably libelous, of course.

Apparently some powers-that-be in Maine don't think much of the first amendment, trying to find ways, no matter how ridiculous, to stifle bloggers, still being seen as some unruly and dangerous phenomenon by many. It looks like the non-Internet generation has to leave the scene completely (I am being gentle here) for such attempts to cease forever, and maybe even then...

There is another dimension to this story, barely mentioned in the linked Blog Critics piece: the attitude of the established press to the case described here. This is what is said on the subject:
Much of the Maine press is fully behind Cutler.
If true (I don't read the Maine press myself), this is another instance of that prevailing instinctive animosity that the mainstream media displays toward the blogger's world. Especially when the blogger succeeds to unearth and to focus the public attention on facts that the mainstream media itself brought up at different times and for some reason conveniently forgot to do the same when it was really needed - e.g. at the election time.

Makes me see red - in more senses than one... hope it does the same to you.

More by one of the creators of "The Cutler Files"


bieneinparadise said...

It might be a free world still, but probably not for very long. We are relying on the First Amendment to allow us to blog. I believe this has become an issue when bloggers not only dig up materials on public figures, but speak up and when they see something appears either incorrect or unfair. We feel this is our Constitutional right.
However, by doing that, the issue or person being discussed suddenly has no place to hide his or her "peccadillos" for want of a better word.
What was secret now becomes public, and if correct, can throw a monkey-wrench into well-laid and financed plans.
I believe that this is one of the reasons Google is changing it's privacy policy and will eventually hope to deter comments and slurs regarding political campaigners.
Some time back something called the Fairness Doctrine was discussed and proposed that both political parties should have access to equal time in the media. We all know this was not successful. Since then, bloggers have not only multiplied, but have become much more vocal in how they feel about certain things.
Their voices are beginning to distress certain political figures and if the media will not address certain issues, then they will most assuredly be addressed by bloggers!
I can see where Mr. Cutler is very upset by the amount of blog press he got, no matter what the Maine Media claimed.
We currently have a U.S. Supreme Court which is leaning toward something called a "Living Constitution" which means the ideas of our Founding Fathers are going to be tanked. Scary.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

 Scary indeed. I hope the freedom of speech prevails eventually. If not, there is no telling what might happen.