Hi folks, for a while there I was, well, totally disembodied and cast off into the perilous wasteland of the nether regions of blogmark, only to stand in the shade and watch as my whole online life was inexorably deleted. Who says the electrosphere isn’t dirty, and perilous to boot. (excuse the pun). Anyway it would seem I’m back, or at least one version of me…
All it took was a telephone call to one Matthew Buckland, praise be he, since nobody else at the M&G seemed to care if I disappeared or not. The least being the person who caused all the trouble, one person who cannot be named.
I doubt whether one could ever misconstrue my thoughts about the man as “hate speech” but I guess someone must have agreed with a silly letter to the editor of the M&G Online. Which brings me to this disclaimer:
“The Mail & Guardian Online does not moderate this free blog service, so the content herein is the sole responsibility of the individuals who create it.”
[In other words, legal writs should be directed to the person or persons concerned, responsible for the posting, not the hosts of the material which BTW is licensed under a creative commons licence. I guess this means we are all in incredibly fuzzy legal territory, with all sorts of issues raised about exactly who licences what…from whom, and what all this means to my blog and its hosts, the M&G Online? Anyway to whit, the disclaimer, if one can really call it that, (shouldn’t it be more prominently displayed?.
“We at the Mail & Guardian Online encourage free speech. However,
bloggers are requested to keep their writing free of hate speech,
racism, sexism or other offensive practices. Bloggers should refrain from posting any material that markets or advertises any business, product or service. Blogs that do not adhere to the requests above, will be expressly removed without notice. “
“Please report inappropriate postings to firstname.lastname@example.org”
For a while there, the “without notice” part had me groaning, and I guess I am lucky to have access to my material again (wish there was an easier way to back up), and like most of you, I’m not getting paid for generating publicity like this…
The gist of the unnamable person’s complaint, which I am sure we will all hear more about in the future, seems to be an allegation of “defamation”, which one must say, in the light of the Suresh Roberts case, is very unlikely to ever succeed in a court of law, but will have a chilling effect on debate in this forum. (Willem, you could have just sent me an email, or responded online via a posting!!!)
Also one must bear in mind that the only constraints on freedom of speech are in article 16, and I very much doubt if calling anybody a “spy” amounts to hate speech.
Like most hacks, I prefer to see the issues at stake, as those of credibility vs truth and falsehood. If you get it wrong, you get it wrong, and nobody is 100% right. If you get it wrong most of the time, then the power and influence of ones words diminishes.
But really, in the world of opinion, there is really nothing stopping the occasional fib, except of course, the fact that outright lying will weigh heavily on ones conscience and leads to bad karma from you audience, readers, friends etc.
So in the interests of fairness, I am willing to retract some, but not all of my words — this unnameable person was not, I repeat, was not a spy working for Boss or the NIA, (the evidence is anecdotal) he was merely an apartheid agent, employed by military intelligence to achieve its very own nefarious propaganda purposes, and all those unexploded mortars and mines in Angola were Xmas presents left there by Santa. Judging by the man’s online CV, he still draws a mean salary from the military and earns a substantial amount of money from our security & intelligence industry. Need one say more? I’m hoping I will not get sued over this, and the editor of M&G online will wake up and publish my full response to a rather banal episode in our country’s history and obviously, a bad day for blogging.
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