In this world which is getting more closely and closely interconnected we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like.

Social-media

Jake Mol wrote a letter to last week’s Auroran, it was printed on page 6.  If you missed it you can read it here:

V11N41P06.pdf
Download this file

Howard Doughty responded with a letter on page 4 this week that raised several of my concerns with Mol’s letter.  It is on the same page as my column this week and can be found in my recent 100 Watts post.

I found it most curious how he could state that he has been in “total support of Mrs. Morris’s actions and lawsuit from the beginning.”

Whether Mol knows many citizens that share his view is irrelevant.  The former mayor’s behavior, and especially her actions (both legal and non legal) were what caused her to be voted out of office, and by an overwhelming majority.

As for “silent acquiescence”, this is exactly what the lawsuit sought, to strategically silence the public through a SLAPP action and why the The Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened.

As much as Mol deplores what he has termed “dastardly behavior”, it is not illegal, nor is it criminal.

Our courts have ruled on anonymous postings, perhaps Mo; missed the recent ruling on the Norwich motion of your beloved former Mayor, or is just venting his blend of sour grapes.

Mol makes a huge leap with his letter that exposes how ignorant his views on free speech, media and privacy laws are:

“It is high time our courts take a dim view of such gutless below the belt behavior and these actions should be considered a criminal offense in the future in order to keep our use of these modern technologies safe.”

Read that statement again : keep our modern technologies “safe”.

This is as laughable as Clr. Gaertner’s comments last year:

“many of us don’t understand what damage can be done by anonymous comments made in the blogosphere. I think out of respect for everybody on council, everybody on staff, everybody in the community, that we need to decide what can and cannot be allowed in the new social media. Social media is a whole new territory.”

Respect for everyone on council, staff and the community is not gained by suing 3 families and trying to silence those expressing their “opinions” as they expected to under the format of one community blog.

What many, or perhaps a few, don’t understand about anonymous comments, or the blogosphere itself is how it connects people with varying viewpoints.  If you’re not mature enough to hear or engage those with diverging viewpoints , perhaps the internet is not for you.

In regards to “bringing those to justice” Christopher di Armani followed up a previous post on the latest court rulings, you can read it here:
http://christopherdiarmani.com/3163/freedom-of-speech/court-of-public-opinion-renders-vertict-in-phyllis-morris-case-guilty-of-gross-stupidity/

Here is a snippet:

Phyllis Morris fails to comprehend one critical thing.  Okay, she fails to comprehend a LOT of things, but the one that I’m most appalled by is her utter failure to comprehend that as a political person running for elected office, she is a target for people’s wrath, justified or not.  From what I’ve gathered digging into this case, she deserved the trouncing she took in the municipal election because she’d failed at the job the first time around.

People will write on their blogs about political and public figures.  It is our Right to Freedom of Speech that guarantees this will happen, even when simpering cowards like Phyllis Morris don’t like it.

Ms. Morris, if you can’t take a little harsh criticism during an election campaign, if your feelings are hurt so easily, why are you running for public office in the first place?

Anyone running for public office is placing their actions before the people and those people have every right to speak their minds about both the person and their actions.  Deal with it.

Stripping people of their Right to Freedom of Speech is what tyrants do, not honest politicians.  Tyrants are the only ones who are terrified by free people speaking about those who, like a mayor for example, can have tremendous impact on the lives of their entire community.

The Globe & Mail recently ran an article “Why faceless sniping deserves protection”, you can read it here:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/digital-culture/ivor-tossell/why-faceless-sniping-deserves-protection/article2118151/

The comments were as interesting as the article itself. 

I have selected a few that resonate:


Brent L.    1:56 PM on August 4, 2011

“Canada has plenty of politicians, bureaucrats, media barons, “institutes”, business groups and industrialists who have a history of being vindictive, petty, paranoid, narcissistic, and prone to abuse power, wealth and position to stifle opinions contrary to their own.
We are also saddled with a weak Charter that gives our right to free expression significantly less protection than does the Constitution of our neighbours. Federally, we also have a party in power that has not shown the least interest in protecting, much less strengthening, those rights.
Removing internet anonymity will merely give influential, unscrupulous people the power to hunt down and destroy those who dare to criticize them.”


Nacken       9:48 PM on August 3, 2011

“I’m from a small town and know something about how it can be. If the sniping and complaints are anonymous then people will put less credence in them than complaints with a name signed. But unmasking the anonymous complaints would simply expand the feud–and it sounds like a nasty little feud going on there. I agree with the court. The court doesn’t need to be involved in what is essentially a private argument.”

People’s Front of Judea       7:53 PM on August 3, 2011

“Apparently in this case, the alleged defamation was hard to find if in fact it existed at all. I checked out the blog in question – it seems that the comments ran towards the “Morris is a crappy mayor” variety. That’s merely opinion- not defamation. The ex-mayor apparently went so far as to present some blog posts to the police as “threatening violence” – the absence of police action suggests they thought otherwise. It also seems odd that the former mayor claims that the anonymous “attacks” cost her the election yet she launched the lawsuit BEFORE the election which fostered the feeling among some, including the civil liberties folks, that it was a strategic SLAPP suit – meant to stifle the opposition. Ironically, local scuttlebutt has it that more than a few Aurorans voted against Morris because of the lawsuit – not because of anti-Morris blog comments.”


Decliningmarket          4:12 AM on August 10, 2011

“The laws against defamation originated in Europe in the Middle Ages. The ruling class feared that the poor would rise up if speakers pointed out how the poor were being unjustly treated and exploited by the rich and powerful.

The laws against slander and libel were effective tools for silencing dissent, and protecting the wealth and power of the nobility and other members of the privileged elite.

The laws against defamation still serve that purpose. Only the very wealthy can afford to launch a defamation lawsuit. Just the threat of such a lawsuit is enough to silence critics – such as environmentalists, critics of real estate development etc – because the cost of merely defending such a lawsuit would result in financial ruin.

Also, it is very difficult – if not impossibly expensive – to prove a truthful comment. That is because the other party has possession of the facts, and under Canada’s antiquated laws, it is the defendant who must prove truth.

Canada’s defamation laws should be abolished. If a comment is untrue, your remedy is to speak up and provide the facts. Reasonable people will believe you and your reputation will be restored. For financial reasons, that is the only remedy available to 99.9% of the population in any event. So let’s level the playing field for everyone – get rid of laws against libel and slander. The right to free speech and to reply is sufficient protection.”

What also seems to escape the grasp of these borderline Luddites (Morris, Mol, Gaertner & company) is that they actually believe that if the courts waive their gavels magically that ISPs would hand over identities of anonymous posters, and that they would actually get real names.

Proving that technology is always one step ahead of these knuckle dragging types projects like Tor ( https://www.torproject.org/ ) illustrate how .I.P tracking is not a conclusive method of determining a site’s visitor or contributor’s identity.

And then there’s the question what happens when an I.P. address is returned to a public institution perhaps a Library, internet cafe or just a public wireless network?  What then?

Back in 1993 John Gilmore was quoted in Time Magazine as saying “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

Tying to enforce it through technology or legal means is both a selfish and fruitless effort.

A better use of everyone’s time, especially in a community setting of a town with close to 60,000 residents would be to understand and embrace the technology and strive for ways to strengthen the community as a whole, not selfishly protect or uphold the reputation of a select few, or even one.

In recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought Bertrand Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.  

It is easy to see why, when viewing a 1959 interview with the BBC he delivered a message to the future.  You can watch the entire clip here:

Until MorMac is awarded with a similar prize, or Mol can communicate something equally profound, I think they all need to take a big step back from their keyboards, and take a good look at the digital world they inhabit.

Perhaps then they will realize that it’s hard to type anything of substance if you’re not willing to take the sock puppet off first.

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