It seems that my selection as ‘Blogger of the Week’ has triggered a bout of name calling from all sides of the debate about anonymity and blogging...By the way I am happy to have been chosen as a blogger of the week and I am happy that it has triggered the debate that it has!
Seeing it was this selection that started this off I want to add my “two bobs worth” to the argument!
I think that if people choose to blog anonymously then that is their right. I believe the ability to write anonymously is part of the free speech rights that we should all enjoy! However, it is a legal fact that free speech is not absolute nor is it free from limitations. It is these limitations that one must consider and an argument on point here relates to hate speech but here in lies the problem of anonymous writing and blogging — how do we as a free and democratic community hold those people accountable for their hate speech when we do not know who they are.
So in this regard there is some value in the arguments (the arguments themselves not necessarily in the manner in which they may have been made — but to each his own on this frint!) advanced. To this end I would have characterized my concerns with anonymous blogging not as cowardice but rather having the ‘courage’ of your convictions to enter into public debate and be exposed to the full glare of public scrutiny for the opinions that one holds.
Once again to each their own!
What is not in dispute here is the right to blog anonymously but rather how do we as a community hold those responsible who cross the line from simple inoffensive personal musings into areas where vilification, defamation, slander, and liable reside?
I appreciate that some people will trot out the reason that anonymity is critical because their topics of choice are sensitive and that they employ a lot of people or are responsible for their livelihoods and if this is your justification for remaining anonymous, then so be it! The Indonesian legal system has some really serious problems but it is not all gloom and doom on the fair trial front!
This argument considered has me thinking that I too am responsible for a lot of people’s livelihoods, mine included, but in that sense I am replaceable! My bosses might have a difficult time in finding someone but I am sure they could and would if they were required to. If the government or some other ‘big brother’ agency comes after me and boots me out of Indonesia after an inherently unfair trial because I am white, then as Ned Kelly is reported to have said “such is life”!
I am sure that the censorship police would have ways and means of uncovering my blogging identity even if I was publishing anonymously. There must be mechanisms in place that allow investigators to terrorise ISPs or whoever else keeps blogging data that would see me tracked from here to wherever.
Although when push comes to shove I think I would give a pretty good account of myself in an Indonesian court and my case (and hopefully the stars align in such a way that this hypothetical case never eventuates) might open the door to greater freedoms of speech in this developing democracy that is Indonesia. Maybe this would be enough to convince bloggers that threat of deportation or other negative impacts from holding certain opinions to reveal themselves in all their glory, so to speak!
But in any event what I do professionally can be done exclusively online so if the worst case scenario was every to happen then I could conceivably base myself just off Indonesia’s shores until such time as normality was restored!