An April’s Fool as a springboard

Whether an April fool or not, the El Paso incident has provoked some healthy discussion. Adam Maguire stated:

In the first negative development for blogging in Ireland, news is coming out that the El Paso Times is facing legal action for unsavory comments

I’d be of the complete opposite view. I think what happened (if it did happen) is a very good thing for Irish blogging. It isn’t negative at all just like Elton John being libeled was not a negative thing for tabloids. It might be a negative thing for bullies but not for bloggers and not for blogging.

To push for more freedoms and abilities online we need to know what our boundaries are. The (hypothetical) El Paso incident shows some of the boundaries and I think many could agree with Suzy that if you act like a dickhead then be prepared to be tackled about it. Bernard unfortunately discovered how restrictive the boundaries are even when he and many others felt he was in the right. We can work on pushing these boundaries so non-dickheads like Bernard can be afforded greater protection if groups with more money than morals want to prevent transparency.

I think it is good that bloggers can be taken to task for what they say on their blog and I also think that if we want more people to give official recognition to blogging (Christ I sound like a SFer) then like the Digital Rights Ireland libel document created for bloggers and web publishers, then perhaps us bloggers should also have a document created for those that have been hurt and damaged by comments on blogs. A guide on how to have defaming remarks removed from blogs and websites. Why should we hide this information from the general population?

I’m happy to be answerable. I think we’re not quite there yet for a blogging version of a press council or even some voluntary code or a union but I do feel that with bloggers able to take criticism and take complaints then something like this should be made available. We blog about transparency every day, we should help those that feel wronged. Or am I gone all Stockholm syndrome.

Meanwhile… That El Paso reply today reminds me of a joke about comedic timing which I can’t remember now but it goes something like:

A”Knock knock”
B”Who’s there?”
A”The most important thing about telling a joke”
B”The most important thing ab…”
A “Timing.”
B “..out telling a joke who?”

19 Responses to “An April’s Fool as a springboard”

  1. Adam says:

    Very true; I still feel that it is bad press for blogs, and more importantly a potential weapon for those opposed to blogs, I agree that in the long run accountability is something that bloggers will need to deal with in order to progress towards an accepted form of media.

    I think the most damaging thing that could happen now is that El Paso is not held accountable, if the site can escape making such dangerous comments without proof or punishment people will be forgiven for being suspicious of blogs in general.

    As for some kind of document, code or whatever, I’d support any moves towards increasing and publicising the integrity of blogs in Ireland and would love to see a day when a person in Bernards shoes could fight for what is right and not have to worry about going bankrupt.

  2. […] Damien Mulley reckons that the rule of “no publicity is bad publicity” applies in this case. I agree with Damien that blogging will not be damaged by this incident, but it is still the first seriously negative outcome of a growing Irish blogging scene and one that will either be a sign of things to come or a point of education for those writing blogs. […]

  3. In Fact, Ah says:

    Let ye who blog without sin, cast the first stone

    As Suzy correctly points out, the El Paso furore is not related to matters of free speech. We are all entitled to free speech so long as we don’t break any law while exercising this right.

    Unfortunately, she goes on to possibly committ the very c…

  4. Adam says:

    It’s not about free speech, but it is about the way laws apply to blogs, which is a bit of a grey area (or else it’s that blogs are harder to monitor and so libel slips by much more frequently). The case of Bernard is a matter of free speech though, as his freedoms were forced to retreat on the issue of money.

    As for Suzy doing the same as El Paso, I think you could get away with that as Fair Comment!

  5. Adam says:

    Didn’t realise that was a track/pingback.. whoops

  6. Colm says:

    Fair comment is based on fact. I personally don’t think it works here. Otherwise, fair comment could be used to defend any sort of rubbish.

  7. Colm says:

    I still can’t get my head around how these trackback yokes work either. Don’t think I did it right there either.

  8. Adam says:

    Well El Paso has certainly circumvented the justice system in their comments, don’t you agree?

  9. Colm says:

    Oh, I wouldn’t like to say 😉

  10. Damien says:

    “You may say that, I couldn’t possibly comment.”

  11. Adam says:

    Well from where I’m standing they made comments connecting two men to serious alleged crimes without any evidence and without any trial being conducted (That I know of); as part of this they tied this alleged crimes to a person whom would have no connection to them, even if they did indeed happen.

    I’m confident enough to say that they have ignored these peoples rights to a fair trial, defamed them in public and ignored the justice system.

  12. Bernard says:

    It is bad press for bloggers, just the same that it was bad press for the mainstream media when they reported that Liam Lawlor was killed in a carcrash with a hooker.
    At the time, the MSM stuck by their stories, and said they were right.

    When they were proven wrong, they retracted the stories, and apologised.

    If EPT does not retract and apologise (unless they can prove otherwise), AND Irish Bloggers do not denounce their story, then it will be bad press for blogs, as we (and I call myself a blogger here) will be tarred with the same brush.

    I was having a discussion about remaining anonymous with Tom Raftery in the passt, and we both came to the conclusion that the more you stay anonymous, the more you look like you have something to hide…that you are the PFY in his bedroom writing nasties about people.

    Damien says he is happy to be accountable. So am I. I would wager so is the majority of Irish blogging community.

    @adam: I wish I did have the required money to see through the high court case. This is the problem with the libel laws in Ireland.
    They are stacked in favour of the person with more money, NOT the person telling the truth.

    I hope DRI takes this as a stick to the government.


  13. Damien says:

    The Blog O’Sphere didn’t as a whole or large part go for the jugular. The most read bloggers didn’t write this. One voice in literally thousands did write this. Most people didn’t even know who El Paso was til the Times. Now we are all talking about them and linking to them. 🙂

  14. Adam says:

    That’s the very intention of El Paso, I imagine. I refuse to link to their site due to the way they have acted in recent times, but I’m sure they’ll be getting huge hit numbers all day… but that wont last.

    Bernard is right in relation to condemnation; if EPT does not retract their comments it is vital that they are not applauded, as some of their comments have moved towards. Obviously though, the cream of blogging has made it clear that these comments are not productive in any respect.

  15. Bernard says:

    Were they not in the Blog Awards?

    I’m sure they are well known(ish).

    Now they have gotten MSM coverage, it doesn’t matter they were unknown before. They have MSM coverage now, and there will be plenty of outlets more than happy to roll out EP as an example of bloggers. This, of course, would not be justified, but…

  16. Damien says:

    El Paso have previously told the Sunday Times that they would not do business/communicate with them. The commenting system seems to be buggy over there too. Some comments have disappeared it seems.

  17. I stumbled into this discussion after returning from a week’s holiday from the internet and hope that any fork in the Irish blogging community following the El Paso article in the Sunday Times is a fork with accountability on the one side of the divide. You can be anonymous and still be accountable. The salient point remains accountability for tarring by blogging (salacious comments or libelous posts). There are problems with that kind of blogging.

  18. Twenty Major says:

    Should their be a blogging code of ethics that we all abide by so as to ensure we don’t make one and other look bad?

    It’s an individual pursuit, in most cases, and like any other there are good bloggers and bad bloggers. Ruthless bloggers, bloggers who want to provoke and gain media exposure and so on. I don’t think people are foolish enough to believe that one unsavoury incident (and that’s not a view everyone holds on what El Paso did) means all bloggers are the same.

    Unless all Muslims *are* suicide bombers…

  19. Adam says:

    As a matter of interest, do the original comments made by El Paso in relation to Mrs. Maguire still exist online?

    So far all I can find on el paso is the “apology” and the letter from Ted Randall…