Friday, 21 January 2005

Jeremy Zawodny points out the Blogger's Bill of Rights and gives his opinion on the matter. He doesn't like it. Neither do I. It's just another example of people making something out of nothing, and trying to avoid personal responsibility in the good name of free speech. Here's where I speak up and say why I think it's crap, too...

Now, I'm a fairly outspoken person. I've also had a tendency in the past to open my big mouth, say exactly what I think, and then go into another room to extract my foot from my esophagus. But when I stick my foot in my mouth, I am keenly aware that it's my foot, it's my mouth and it's my choice - regardless of whether or not I thought it through ahead of time. Whether or not I was correct isn't relevant. You can be correct every time, but that doesn't necessarily make you right.

People, this is all about responsibility and ownership. You want to say something? Fine, but ya gotta own it, like it or not.

Let's define a couple of terms for the purposes of the discussion:

  • Consequences: The results of something one chooses to do, or not to do. All choices have results, both good and bad. Some of those results impact the chooser, some impact others.
  • Speech: Pretty much any form of communication - collective, individual or otherwise - in a variety of forms. In this context, we'll keep it somewhat simple (since we are talking about individual weblogs) and say it's an individual's written or spoken words.

Okay so - Right up front I'll say this: There is no special, magical set of rights that bloggers can (or should) expect, not with regard to employers, husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends, coworkers, friends, family members, governments, or anyone else. The idea that blogs are somehow special or different and should be treated differently is arrogant and probably and indicator of the root of the problem - people think they are entitled to say whatever they want, however they want, with no consequences. Sorry, Charlie. Ain't happening.

  • Your right to free speech does not apply to the specific medium in which you exercise it. Speech is protected in certain circumstances, in certain locations, regardless of the form that speech takes. You have no more right to expect protection on a blog than anywhere else. Your rights are reasonable to expect, but when your exercising of your rights infringes upon the rights of another, you're crossing a line.
  • If you shoot off your mouth on your weblog, it's not an ollie-ollie-oxen-free home-base super-top-secret say-anything-I-want kind of thing. You are responsible for what you say, at the time you say it.
  • Speech is behavior. In a previous career I was always amazed at the idiots who thought if they could just get their car into the driveway, they were safe, regardless of the level of alcohol in their blood while there were on the street that got them to their driveways. It's not where you land, it's who and what you affect along the way.
  • Your speech is your speech, and with it come consequences. If you choose to say or write something on a weblog, keep in mind, it's speech in a public place and you are making a choice, and with that choice comes certain consequences. Your choices may impact others (coworkers and employers), and as a result, the very second you post your words, you choose to accept all of the consequences of that speech, regardless of whether or not you have taken the time to think about said consequences.
  • Your employer can hire and fire based on the quality of your behavior and how it impacts business, your performance, personalities, coworkers, morale, anything. You should remember this before you post on your weblog for everyone to read. And comment on. And quote. And read again. And copy/paste/email to your coworkers and your boss and his/her boss. And to end up on the Wayback Machine.

It's not about who yells the loudest or who thinks/knows they're right. What it is about is being responsible for oneself and thinking ahead about the impact of exercising one's right to free speech.

One important aspect of thinking ahead is considering the consequences and weighing the risks. Preferably before speaking. But if you don't take the time to do that, it shouldn't be (and isn't) someone else's problem.

Anyhow, that's about all I have to say about that.

Add/Read: Comments [6]
Blogging | Things that Suck
Friday, 21 January 2005 21:19:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Friday, 21 January 2005 21:49:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I agree that people should expect something to happon if they do or say something... Its really quite simple and been said once or twice befor, where Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction. On my blog I dont post my name, or my real email for that vary reason. However its also true someone can if they really, really want to find me they can, but I still dont shoot my mouth off as much as I would like to because of Sir Issac Newton and one of his most wonderfull laws.

Thats my 2 coppers.
Tuesday, 25 January 2005 14:32:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I wish I had thought this out thoroughly about, oh, a year ago. You have it exactly right, Greg. And Dave, whoever you are, that is a good way to live your life. Expect equal and opposite reaction. Thank you.

From now on, blogging without thinking won't happen. Can you recommend something for people like me who still have a hard time talking without thinking?
Tuesday, 25 January 2005 19:41:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Jill, you just keep doig what you're doing. It's great. I check my RSS reader every day to see if you have written anything new and fun to read - you're in my "A-List" folder, which is the first one I look at every time I open my RSS reader (which, by the way, is FeedDemon -
Thursday, 27 January 2005 11:11:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Oh, but you didn't read me when I was writing about Charlie's work. Naughty, naughty! I know now what NOT to do.

Thanks for the huge compliment. It means a lot coming from someone smart and interesting and who drives a big-ass honkin' truck!
Saturday, 12 February 2005 20:44:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
On one level, the "blogger's right" makes sense in the context of the 1st Amendment of the US, but on the other hand, the company has the right to protect themselves from people who could damage their image or ability to remain competitive. Most of the people who complain about getting fired from blogging aren't being fired for just's for "blabbing" on their blog! It's like any other medium...don't say anything you wouldn't want your mother to know or you wouldn't put on a public address system. Moreover, I don't understand why so many bloggers have to go on and on about work...don't they have lives outside of their jobs? or are they so tied into having their identity tied into what they do to earn their daily bread? As for me, my blog is and will remain an after 5/weekend affair only and even though my bosses and co-workers are aware of my blogging activities (I've spoken to them to see if there'd be any issues--none as long as I don't violate my CDA I signed upon employment) will NEVER have anything about work or my co-workers in it. I like my job and I want to keep it. Like I said at another site, most of aren't geting paid to blog, and the bottom line is we all need to work to survive in this world. So don't bite (or blog) the hand that feeds you, right? A little common sense goes a long way....
Thursday, 24 February 2005 13:59:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
So if I wrote something on my blog and someone took offense at it, can they make me take it off? Don't we have some sort of right in that sense (non-related to a job or anything)?
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