Is A Blogger Strike The Best Way To Fight Back Against Laws Designed To Quiet Bloggers?

from the doesn't-seem-like-it dept

Last month, we wrote about a proposed law in Italy that would likely have serious chilling effects on bloggers and other independent online producers, by setting up fines for not pulling down content if someone accuses the site of defamation (not upon a court verdict, just upon accusation). In response, bloggers throughout Italy went on a “blog strike” to protest the proposed law. However, CitMediaLaw points us to a blog post raising the question of how a blog strike accomplishes that goal? If anything it would seem to do the opposite. By silencing themselves, and not talking about the issues, it keeps those issues out of the discussion for whatever period of time. Instead of silencing, why not do what the bloggers do best and talk about the problems of the law so that many more people are aware of them?

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Comments on “Is A Blogger Strike The Best Way To Fight Back Against Laws Designed To Quiet Bloggers?”

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Chargone (profile) says:

something similar was done here in New Zealand, [many sites going dark, or at least blacking out all their image content] when that silly copyright reform was proposed.

it doesn’t mean much if the government is dead set on closing things down, and suppressing blogs is a welcome side effect, but when it’s acting based on external pressures, it can sever well to draw a lot of attention. attention builds pressure. sufficient pressure form the public in one direction makes it a Lot easier for an [actually] democratic government to resist pressure i the Other direction from corporate or foreign interests.

so it doesn’t really do anything active to Fight proposed laws. it does, however, make it rather clear how big of a deal the issue is, and draw more attention, making it bigger still. not exactly Passive resistance, but not active attack, either…

again, if the goal is to suppress free speech/make money and damn the voters, it an’t going nowhere. likewise if it’s met with general apathy because the public don’t care about blogs. but the NZ one started as just that. blacked out, maybe a sign saying why, no content updates.

it not only had an effect, it Spread. to, among other things, at least one British celebrity. And, among other things got noticed here. a big success.

so, yeah. just simply not writing anything won’t do much though. gotta use it as part of a larger plan. we had some low key public protests. public protests that get more than maybe 50 odd people picketing the city council tend to make the news regardless, too. that helps. but the online thing goes a lot further to show the public opinion. it takes less effort, so more people bother to actually participate, ya know? and it all adds up.

another thought wanders across my mind now: given the nature of a lot of blogs, to anyone who follows them, Shutting Up because of something actually makes a pretty significant point.

Jerry Leichter (profile) says:

Don't look with just American eyes

In much of the world, the use of strikes to make a point is a long-established tradition. As it happens, this tradition is very strong in Italy. The basic message of any strike is: We’re here, you need our services (see how it hurts you when we don’t do our jobs?), you need to give us a place at the table. In the US, strikes are reserved almost entirely for labor negotiations – though there are celebrated examples of other uses: Consider the Birmingham bus boycott. (Actually, this displays a linguistic distinction: Strikes are over labor issues while boycotts are general political tools. There are other ways in which Birmingham wasn’t a “strike”, but we do tend to maintain that line in the US.)

The general strike – an attempt to basically shut down the economy – has been a common tactic in parts of the world for many years, but has never had much of a presence in the US, probably because we’ve never had any unions large enough to pull it off (though in the US in might well produce more anger than sympathy anyway).

Other cultures have developed other variations. Hunger strikes were a characteristic Indian form of protest against the British colonial government, and similar forms continue to be used in modern India.

It’s always a mistake to judge the meaning and effectiveness of a tactic within someone else’s culture by the standards of your own.

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