Thursday, August 28, 2008

Free speech on the internet - an issue for trade unionists

Blogging is fairly new. It may prove useful for trade unionists.

When I started blogging it occurred to me that, although I thought what I was doing – in reporting back on my role as a member of the UNISON NEC – was precisely what I should be doing, nevertheless there might be criticism. Therefore I set out a justification for what I was doing.

This blog does not set out to annoy or upset people (and to the extent that it may do so that is a consequence of their sensitivity rather more than the intentions of the blogger). However, anyone who uses the internet to communicate has an interest in protecting this means of communication.

Therefore I was alarmed to hear about the attack upon the blog “Harry’s Place” – the reasons for this attack (upon a blog with which I rarely agree) do not matter. What is alarming is that a political criticism of a blog can be used so easily to close down the blog, however temporarily. This is very similar to the attack which was made on Labourstart for supporting the Fremantle workers.

I have been one of those on the receiving end of some of the most scurrilous anonymous attacks, plainly written by insiders too cowardly to stand up and put their names to their criticisms. I wouldn’t seek to close such blogs – supporting free speech has to include supporting people who speak what you believe to be ill-informed nonsense. (Although I do note that they closed themselves down – presumably feeling that this would best protect their careers within our Union…)

Harrys Place generally publishes (IMHO)(as we say on t’intraweb) the sort of reactionary nonsense of which Nick Cohen would be proud. But they have the right to do so and they ought not to be silenced. Just answered.

In the mean time trade unionists need the freedom to express our views using all available technologies, even including blogs!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jon, Once again you speak the truth. Well done! I couldn't agree with you more! You have always stood up for free speech and people's right to express their opinion - whether we agree with their opinions or not. I wish more people in this world were like you. You should head our union - because you keep it real, you are fair and you tell it as it is. The idiots who use their power to close down/stop others from freedom of speech are a disgrace to democracy and everthing this country stands for.
It has been my privilege to work with you in the past - and I am so glad I know you. Carry on saying it as it is! Onward Comrade!

from WB