Monday, November 17, 2003

Freedom Of Speech For Grown-ups

Just as the right to vote gives you the right to put your own name on the ballot and not someone else's. So freedom of speech does not give you the right to impersonate someone else, and then misrepresent their opinions. It saddens me (though it no longer surprises me) to see the grave difficulty some partisans have in grasping this simple fact, and to witness the logical and moral gymnastics some immature people will indulge in to try and give 'aid and comfort' to the most ardent anti-free speech activities, simply because they perceive the perpetrator to be "on their side".

What follows is a post I produced on the comments section on Sam's blog to try and clunk a few cluttered heads together. It won't work of course because to them I, by working in support of Riverbend, have become "the enemy". But if this campaign is destined to absorb some of the nasty and prejudiced criticism that would otherwise go her way from certain quarters then so be it.

To Sam's Comments
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth...

a) Troy set up the riverSbendblog in September with the specific intention of impersonating Riverbend who he despises ("a bitch on the rag"), misrepresenting her opinions, and thus to undermine her voice. He set with the clear agenda of distorting the freedom of speech rights of a newly liberated Iraqi.

b) He stole and plagiarised graphics from many sources to bolster his fake blog, and he continues to do so. It is basically devoid of editorial content and continues to exist on the cyber-squatting domain

c) In promoting it Troy adopted fake identities including impersonated another individual, whilst simultaneously subjecting that individual's email account to denial of service attacks.

d) People of standing who have learned of Troy's nature have without exception condemned his actions and sought to distance themselves from him. Entities who have taken positive action to express their disdain for his methods include Art For A Change, Save the Children, Leon Sparx, Wendy McElroy of Fox News, and Centcom/the CPA itself. Troy's site has been decried across the web, by everyone with any standing.

e) Sam like anyone else has the right to choose who he offers the tacit endorsement of a link on his blog. And he has a right to make a knowledgable decision about who he is linking to. My instinct on seeing Sam's site linking to the riverSbend smearblog was similar to that if I happened to see my neighbour had hired a known sex offender to babysit his children. I asked "Do you realise who you are associating with here?!" At the time clearly he did not. But now that he does he has made the same decision as everyone else of integrity and shunned Troy and the riverSbendblog.

f) This scenario is no more an infringement of Troy's freedom of speech than is the fact that the Save the Children website doesn't offer Nambla a link an infringement of Nambla's, or the fact that Fox News doesn't link to Al-Jazeera an infringement of theirs.

g) Any reader with a strong stomach who thinks poor Troy is getting a raw deal here, by not having decent people stand by him and say they think that trying to steal the web identity of a political adversary is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, has it within their power to go to and set up their own blog. There they can link to Troy, to Nambla, to Al Qaeda, to Aaron Carter or to any other entity shunned by respectable and responsible society, which they feel has been unfairly excluded.

h) If they do that and thus make the public statement that these entities are fine by them, then society in turn is entitled to draw further conclusions. Society judges people by those with whom they choose to associate, and if you choose to associate with and condone liars and cheats, society will make a judgement that you may share their values. That is why Sam is perfectly entitled to disassociate himself from Troy and ...and why anyone who wants to offer Troy their support should consider how that will make them appear to others, and whether that is how they would want to be perceived.

P.S. Cherice would be advised to look more closely at Troy's link to the "Original Riverbend". It does *not* link to the Iraqi blogger Riverbend and is another intentional dig at her. He is still cybersquatting on domains purposely chosen to help his campaign of undermining her message.