Litlets

November 11, 2009

Link of the Random Interval of Time (LotRIoT), 11-11-2009: Threatened Voices

Threatened Voices: Tracking suppression of online free speech
(http://threatened.globalvoicesonline.org/)

This site describes itself as “A collaborative mapping project to build a database of bloggers who have been threatened, arrested or killed for speaking out online and to draw attention to the campaigns to free them.” The front page is an interactive world map of bloggers facing threats — or those for whom it’s already too late. The default view is by country (the USA has 2), but you can also filter by status, including “under arrest,” “released,” “threatened,” “deceased” and “unknown.” The map has its glitches. When I selected “Unknown,” Tanzanian blogger Malecela Peter Lusinde showed up in Texas.

The American bloggers are Elliott Madison, charged with hindering prosecution for using Twitter to help G20 protestors avoid police, and Elisha Strom, apparently arrested for publishing the address of a police officer.

When you view the page for a specific blogger, in addition to basic info and links to the blogger’s site and any help-the-blogger campaign site, you’ll see a related newsfeed from “trusted websites.” Like the map, this feed is a little flaky. Stories supposedly related to Elliott Madison show up because they mention Madison Square Garden, president James Madison, or musician Liam Madison.

The profiled bloggers aren’t always people I admire or agree with, but that’s the point of free speech: it’s for all sorts of speech, for all sorts of people. Agreeable speech doesn’t need protection.

In some cases, I might agree that the blogging/tweeting in question broke a just law; but those are the fringe cases the forces of censorship love to present as typical, and it’s easy enough to ignore them. Overall, I salute the work and goals of Threatened Voices.

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