Monday, June 26, 2006

Italian Blogger Censored; Reporters Without Borders Defends

Many times since I began blogging last December I’ve been asked why I blog, what point I see in it, where’s the value. And to me the answer has pretty much been the same: it’s a way to express my views, uncensored, and allow others to challenge those views and sometimes even refine them. To me, freedom of speech is essential in a free society, but blogging represents a way to have your free speech heard, and promotes dialog with other people utilizing their freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who want to limit that free speech.  News has been spreading rapidly of an Italian blogger, name Roberto Mancini, who was sued for defamation of character relating to multiple posts on a blog people presume is his blog. And while there may be a big pond between Mancini and me, the threat to the blogosphere, which I have come to love, can be felt even here.

The case has many oddities. First, it has not been proved yet that Mancini is the author of the blog, though when they raided his home they found materials associated with the blog. Additionally, the comments which Mancini were sued over were not his own posts, but the comments made by readers of his blog.

But perhaps odder, when Mancini lost his court case last month, it was not because he or his readers had actually defamed the four people who filed the suit, as none of the accusations have been proved false to date.  Instead, it appears he’s been convicted of using bad language on his blog, and of allowing bad language to be posted by commenters.

"The columns by-lined General Sukhov are certainly written in an extreme style, but the complainants were not able to show they were untrue,” the press freedom organisation said.

“It looks like the blogger is being punished for his bad language and not because he posted false information, which is unacceptable. He was found responsible for comments posted on his blog by some of his readers, a decision which goes against European jurisprudence.”

“This verdict could well have a negative effect on the Italian blogosphere, in pushing people running a blog into wrongly censoring messages posted by visitors,” said Reporters Without Borders.

Friday, the above mentioned group, Reporters Without Borders, picked up Mancini’s case, arguing that the nearly $17,000 fine was unjust and would irreparably damage the Italian blogosphere.  I for one don’t doubt it, though I think it damages the blogosphere in general. To me, censorship is censorship, and it goes against all the blogosphere stands for. If we begin to censor blogs, we strip away the free speech of writers like you and me, and that cannot be tolerated. Hats off to RWB for picking up the case!

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Posted by Scottage at 10:19 AM / | |