Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spartacus? Eh?

Despite the fact that I disagree with Owen Barder (blog currently down) on almost everything, and have attacked him quite viciously in the past, I do actually owe him a large favour.

However, that is not the reason why I am—belatedly—highlighting Timmmy's post about The Daily Mail's attack on him. It is because of the wider implications for we bloggers.

About 83 billion bloggers have commented on this topic—using the, to me, mildly incomprehensible epithet of I'm Spartacus (I've never seen it)—but I particularly liked Gary Andrews' post on this, not least because he says some very nice things about your humble Devil.
And again, any blogger or note, or not noticed at all could be subject to this treatment. It’ll further serve to drive a wedge between blogs and the media, bloggers and non-bloggers, will lead to further self-censorship [5], and the loss from the internet of engaging, entertaining and thoughtful writers, both actual and potential. So the MoS aren’t just doing a thoroughly unpleasant job on one individual, they’re continuing a course of action that could have serious ramifications for freedom of speech and thought in what is technically an uncensored medium [6].

Fair enough if you’ve posted something idiotic online that deserves a good bit of ridicule, then you’ve only got yourself to blame. No sympathy there. But if you’re Barder, then its difficult to see what more you could have done, except not blog. And that would be denying him one of his basic Human Rights, the right to free speech.

Well, that pretty much sums up the position. Is it be inevitable that, as blogs become more recognised in the MSM, we will start to see more of these hatchet jobs? If the MSM do see us as a threat—which I think that Comment and Opinion writers, at the very least, must do—then I think that we will.

There have been a number of articles deriding blogs, especially over the last year, but there had been relatively few launched at blog personalities themselves. These seem to have become more common, with the awful, bigoted Melissa Kite in the vanguard*. The beast, hunted down and cornered, has now turned at bay and started to attack; blogs are no longer merely laughable, they are beginning to challenge the MSM in some important areas.

Having said that, Owen Barder was a fairly inoffensive blogger, and seems a strange target to go for: there are far juicier targets out here in the Fifth Estate.

Still, the opening salvoes have been fired and I think that we can expect more.

* Note to Melissa: the comments on the blog are written by visitors, not the Blogger himself. For those of us that operate an open, free speech policy, some are always going to be unsuitable. And if you write bitchy, sexist articles then you can expect people to leave bitchy, sexist comments about you.

Had anyone ever heard of you before, they would have done it anyway, Melissa, in pubs and coffee-houses. It just that, on the internet, it's written down.

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