Death Threats vs Democracy

August 17, 2009

Many bloggers and their readers have hailed the advent of the citizen-blog as ushering in a new era of unprecedented freedom of speech, unbridled dialogue between communities and a more vibrant democracy.

While the old-media world may not offer these powerful (and perhaps utopian) visions of a new digital democracy, surely the limits that have developed over time to restrict the freedoms of the old media should not be totally discarded.

You cannot publish an article in a newspaper, inciting hatred, voicing obscenity, or threatening the well being of another person.

I would argue that most reasonable people would not be inclined to do such things, nor would consider such things effective catalysts for political discussion.

The question is, should blogs follow in the path of their predecessors or be an unruly exception?

This article demonstrates a troubling incident whereby a disgruntled Chicago man after a court trial wrote on his blog:

“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions.”

The next day, Turner posted photographs of the appellate judges and a map showing the Chicago courthouse where they work.

I do not agree with the tight regulation of everything that is posted online, but at the same time with significant social tensions at play in Australia, I speculate unregulated blogging could lead to a plethora of problems and exacerbate conflicts between competing social groups.

What are your thoughts on blog-censorship?