Results of recent law suits has changed the blogosphere

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When I started Crux of the Matter in January of 2006, political blog wars were every day occurrences and, in my opinion, it was what made writing and reading blogs so much fun. Finally, average people had a place to go to vent and to read about stuff that the mainstream media didn’t write about.

For conservatives, it was truly empowering because, not only was it the first time we could read about what was going on in the federal and provincial conservative parties, we realized we were not alone in our views.

Think Ottawa, December 2008. There was the attempted government take over by the Liberals, NDP and Bloc — just a few weeks after an election campaign where they said repeatedly that they weren’t going to try to form a coalition government.

The blogosphere erupted. Liberals and NDP were in favour. Conservatives were outraged. Up to that point, the first past the post party won, whether it was a majority or a minority. Their leader became the PM.

In fact, to this day, the Liberal and NDP Parties have not been able to erase the image of the three opposition leaders shaking hands. Talk about arrogance! If ever actions speak louder than words meant anything, it was that handshake. It said loud and clear: “The voters have made a mistake!”

Now, think about it. Had that coup d’etat (and that is what it was no matter how technically legal it was) been before the Internet, they might have been successful because most of the mainstream media was in favour — anything to get rid of the Conservatives.

But all those millions of Canadians who were not in favour had a place to go to let it be known they were opposed. In fact, I can remember putting up a post with a template letter and the Governor General’s email address to let her know Canadians were not amused.

Normally, at that time, I had between 400 and 600 visitors a day.  During that two-week period, it was between 2000 and 3000. And, I was only one conservative-oriented blog. Multiple that by all the Blogging Tories at that time.

So, when Prime Minister Harper visited the GG (Michaelle Jean) and she agreed to prorogue parliament, she knew how Canadian voters felt about three parties trying to undo an election result they didn’t like.

However, times have changed since then. Twitter and Facebook have taken away both bloggers and readers because you can get your point across in only 140 characters. Plus, over time, cold water has been thrown on blogs as a result of law suits related to libelous posts and comments.

Yet, I would have to say that last week’s results of the Warman versus Fournier case has dampened things even further. Here, for example, is Daniel Dickin’s post on that case, as well as Dr. Dawg’s — meaning all bloggers, no matter what their political affiliation, will now have to be extremely cautious as to what they and their commenters write and how quickly they remove offending comments (updated H/T Daniel Dickin).

The crux of the matter is, then, that from now on my comment feature will be on full moderation and, for approval to happen, commenters will have to be careful what they say, defend what they say using links to sources and, never ever, use ad hominem descriptions.

Bummer I know, but that’s the blogosphere’s new reality.

16 thoughts on “Results of recent law suits has changed the blogosphere

  1. And one of the reasons I got out of blogging altogether. Who needs the potential grief hanging over their heads forever!

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  2. Al — that’s too bad. I have just finished some time out from political blogging (doing book reviews, etc) and only now realize the whole legal quagmire has adversely affected free speech in general.

    What was the name of your blog? Or, would that give away your identity? You decide.

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  3. I think most reasonable people will give you an opportunity to delete an offensive link or comment before taking legal action. I’ve had a few run-ins with some journalists and decided to respect their concerns before things escalated.

    What I find more of a nuisance is the infighting that sometimes develops with regular commenters. That really tries my patience.

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  4. Ah yes, Joanne, infighting. I’ve been caught in the middle of that type of situations more times than I want to remember.

    Last night, just before I turned off my computer I checked my comments. Someone with the handle “G” had left an earlier comment which caused my eyebrows to raise but didn’t set off any warning bells. He had mentioned the bias in the justice system but didn’t mention any names. At shut down I noticed he or she had left a new comment. It actually named Supreme Court Justices and how they were biased, etc. It was strange because my post said nothing about bias in the courts or justices — just Elections Canada and the Ottawa Citizen and I didn’t mention any names. Was the commenter being deliberately provocative? I don’t know. But, I had no choice but to send it to trash. The thing is it was on my site for over four hours.

    How can we be that glued to our computers? The latest law suit findings said bloggers had to remove offending comments quickly. How quick is quickly?

    Whatever. The whole recent case has put a severe chill on the political blogosphere. And, I just came back!!! Oh well, I’ll just make sure to defend what I say and use alleged a lot. 😉

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  5. Ah, Al, I think I know. LOL I see an explanation as to why your site was dark for a year back in early July. Understand completely. But, you will be missed. Take care.

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  6. The results of the case were indeed disappointing imo and I take my hat off to those of you that continue the allowance of fun and intellectual debate. However……they can regress so enforced moderation is now a necessary defense for our favorite blog owners.

    I wonder how so many people get away with such offensive statements from the other side though? I believe it’s because despite their offensive nature, we believe in free speech AND have developed a much, much thicker skin.

    Thank you for continuing Sandy…..Joanne.. and for all you do! I too think I know who the blog owner ‘Al’ is and also miss that person if it’s who I think it is!

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  7. this Canada. the level of stupid is approaching critical mass. don’t speak, don’t write, don’t criticize. to heck with that, I will say what I want, where I want and if anyone tries to shut me up there will be far worse consequences than going to some mickey mouse court.

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  8. morri –For an example of how there is now a legal chill on us bloggers, read my post about donating to the Ezra defence fund. I was afraid to link to Ezra’s original post because bloggers have been sued for a link to a site where there were allegedly libelous comments. So, I had to tell people how to Google the site where to donate. I am not even sure if that was “safe.” It’s crazy that a handful of anti-free-speechers could do that. But, hey, the latest fine was $42,000!! I don’t have that kind of money, let alone what the Fourniers’ own legal costs are going to be.

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