Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dangers of ‘Abusing” Bloggers

This is a MASTERPIECE write-up from Susan Loone.... read every sentance!

This is a response to theSUN’s editorial “Dangers of Misusing Blogs” .

They say we are misusing blogs, well they must be experts in the game of “misuse” and “abuse” because newspapers these days are often “misused” to serve the powerful and mighty. This is VERY dangerous.

Such an article could only come about due to falling popularity of newspapers, as compared to blogs. Blogs have become the bearer of free speech, creative and investigative journalism, much to embarrassment of newspapers, who are now being perceived as nothing but state organs and propaganda machines. Many bloggers have continued to maintain their independence and their integrity, despite having to operate their blogs in their own free time, without pay and without fat bonuses.

Newspapers forget that the reason why blogs have become so relevant and popular today is because newspapers have failed to do their jobs. Newspapers had failed to present news objectively and critically, and instead are perceived to parrot only what their paymasters say. If going by the standards or definition of defamation as stated by theSUN’s editorial in its first paragraph, newspapers are liable for many defamation suits.

How many times have newspapers written about personalities in a damaging way that sometimes there is just no recourse for the victimised person, unless one has money to sue the said newspaper. Such news are broadcasted far and wide in newspapers before the facts are checked, and later it turned out to be factual errors. Apologies are hard to come by, while damage has been done.

We need not go too far. The story of the Mongolian, Altantuya Shariibuu’s murder case is an excellent one in point., where newspapers come out red face by getting many facts wrong. And if we remember correctly, the newspapers also had their field day during Anwar Ibrahim’s downfall.

TheSUN says “In short, defamation/libel can be described as words - written or spoken - tending to lower an individual or organisation in the estimation of right-thinking members of society”. In short, they mean the NST’s reputation. We need to ask, does NST have a good reputation to start with? This must be established first. With falling readership figures and several boycotts against it, since 1998, it’s reputation is at stake, to say the least.

And what about “right thinking members of society?” Who are these? UMNO politicians? Who are to decide they are right thinking in the first place? Countless of opinions have been registered from bloggers all over the world (links could be found in the Bloggers United Page), and most of them think the NSTP’s action is wrong and amount to political assasination of the two individuals. Are they not right thinking members of society?

TheSUN forgets as journalists, it needs to respect the freedom of expression and free speech. This is one of the items enshrined in Journalistic ethics. If one claims this is a democratic country, then lets exchange words, debates, information, till we arrive at some truth. If the two individuals felt they had been defamed by Jeff and Rocky, why not sue them in their personal capacity? Why hide behind a big, political institution like the NSTP? This has brought about the claim that the action is politically motivated.

With Abdullah now backing the NSTP’s action in London, one is certainly convinced that this idea was brought about by UMNO’s top leadership, whose reputation is falling apart, showing signs of crack. Don’t forget, Abdullah is planning a general election soon, and he must ensure that no newspaper or individual are brave or bold enough to speak his or her mind, or expose the truth.

Abdullah said: “laws were enforceable and bloggers must bear in mind that they could not hide or take advantage of the Internet to do something that was against the law”.
Really, it’s not for politicians to tell us what is right or wrong, as they are often the law breakers themselves, do not respect rule of law, and are the ones responsible for so many misconduct, even a primary school kid has no respect for them.

As bloggers we know we need to be responsible. That is why some of us are exposing the truth, counter checking and correcting facts by newspapers. How many newspapers turn to us or take the cue from us with regards to expose, leads and angle.

Some of us rant about what we feel and how much we hate things, especially what is happening in Malaysia these days. As public figures, politicians must swallow the bitter pill, and try to improve their lot in life to convince us they are worth supporting, or else, sorry…you can’t have our votes nor sweet words said about you in our blogs. It just doesn’t work the way you want all the time.

Yet others, including journalists, are concerned about “personal attacks” and what would happen if they were the victim. A public figure really has no choice but to be open to such attacks. Some will say, its a free country, you are welcome to sue. But is there a level playing field here? It is still disputable whether our courts are free from manipulation, and that is why a highly politicised legal suit is bound to be seen as politically motivated.

So sue if you like, but please, do not belittle our freedom to fight against defamation suits or other restrictive laws. Do not be so condescending as to say that we shouldn’t support free speech because it is not responsible. The most you can do is leave us alone.

Why is it so difficult to understand that we are not against your democratic freedom to counter-attack, whether in words or in suits. But we are against the use and abuse of corrupted and big power to silence the individual citizens who speaks out.

TheSUN’s article also assumes that readers or authors of blogs are morons - like we dont know the difference between responsible blogging and the irresponsible ones. As far as we are concerned, newspapers have been so irresponsible when it comes to sharing the news with its readers, that some of us don’t read them anymore. Most news items are mediocre, boring, and unimaginative. It does not understand the aspirations of the people, nor does it have its finger in the pulse of the nation. TheSUN’s last paragraph is completely useless: “Yes, bloggers should unite, but unite against those who misuse the blogs because they are the real threat to the future of blogging”.

The real threat to the future of blogging is repressive laws and the opportunity for institutions and its political masters to MISUSE and ABUSE such laws to cripple the individual, to cripple free speech by ripping him or her off millions of cash, in the name of libel, slander and defamation.

Truth is, if blogs are irresponsible, they can’t go far, we will just decide not to read them. Not act like a coward or a cry baby and run to the nearest lawyer and work out a defamation suit. This cry baby syndrome must stop. God, we are 50 years old, not some crawling nation with diapers.

1 comment:

WattaHack said...

Irresponsible includes having nasi kandar in OZ while Johor is flooded to 1st story high!