Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Archive for the ‘Committee to Protect Bloggers’ Category

The Committe to Protect Bloggers Has Found a New Leader

In Committee to Protect Bloggers on August 10, 2009 at 6:53 pm

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I am very relieved to be able to tell you that the CPB has found a person I believe to be a capable new leader in Andrew Ford Lyons. Andrew has the decency, self-respect and common sense to be from the Pacific Northwest and the sense of adventure to live and work in this “United Kingdom” we hear so much about. Andrew has a background in web design (the new CPB site is sharp) and activism. Despite the latter, I believe he is the guy for the job. (You can read my farewell post on the redesigned site.)

Andrew is adding a focus on technological tools of use to bloggers in dangerous countries, as well as on building out from “blogger” to “social media user.”

My reservations regarding Andrew – I would have reservations about anyone talking over something I’ve spent four and a half years on, something I made out of whole cloth, something that has been imitated more and more as the years go buy and the threats to bloggers increase instead of decline – are about the nature of the beast. I have written elsewhere, in a post called “The Me Speech Movement,” on the reality of free speech campaigning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bad News

In Committee to Protect Bloggers, Employment, Personal on May 19, 2009 at 12:39 am

[Re-posted from CPB.]

I have some very bad news. I was laid off at the end of January but always thought I would find new work. That has not happened. I am now face-to-face with the reality that if I do not spend every single waking minute in the pursuit of a new job we will wind up living on the street. I wish that were a poetic exageration. It is not.

As much concern as I have for people I don’t know, far and away my most important commitment is to my wife and our family. The Committee to Protect Bloggers, this blog, all the rest of it, is of distinctly secondary importance. From now until after I am re-employed, I cannot spend a single second on anything but my search for employment. I should have realized this before but “thinking positively” can sometimes function as simple delusion. Today things happened that brought it all home.

I hope that this hiatus on my part is temporary.

Committee to Protect Bloggers: Changing of the Guard

In Committee to Protect Bloggers on December 21, 2008 at 2:14 am

Victor Ngeny

As of this date, I am handing the reins of the Committee to Protect Bloggers over to our current Associate Editor, Victor Ngeny. For the next month, Victor’s will be the only voice you hear on the CPB site. I have been at this, with one break, for four years. I think it is time to hand it off to someone who sees it with new eyes, but manages it with experience. Victor is the guy for that.

To find out more about your new editor, check out Victor’s introductory post. I’ve been very happy about his energy, intelligence, empathy and writing talent in the last few months. With my being American and Victor being Kenyan, it’s also nice that we’ve succeeded in ensuring that the editorial voice is as international as the subjects it covers.

Say hello to Victor and send him your tips if you hear anything the global blogsophere should know.

Cross-posted from CPB

Flood the Jail with Mail

In Committee to Protect Bloggers, Egypt, Free Kareem, Free speech, Kareem on April 4, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Committee to Protect Bloggers and FreeKareem are doing an analogue letter-writing campaign for Kareem, the imprisoned Egyptian blogger. Read about Flood the Jail with Mail.

Listen to Esra’a and I on PRI’s The World radio show. (Clicking will launch the player.)

PRI’s The World & Their Tech Podcast

In Committee to Protect Bloggers on March 16, 2008 at 2:42 am

I was featured on The World Tech Podcast. It’s the podcast for Public Radio International’s program The World, which I’ve been on before. It’s an occasional conversation about global free speech and bloggers. I’ll be speaking to Clark again this coming week. We’ve got a very exciting campaign coming up over at Committee to Protect Bloggers. That’s one of the things I’ll discuss with him.

The Me Speech Movement

In Blogging, Censorship, Committee to Protect Bloggers on August 28, 2007 at 7:19 pm

The cheerleading surrounding the transformative power of the new communications technologies, or “Web 2.0,” is masking an unacknowledged reality: The majority of men and women using them wish for free speech to extend only as far as themselves and no further. Blogging, podcasting, file sharing: all of it, they believe, should be in service to their specific ideologies and sensibilities and should be denied to others. Despite the rosy glow of the possibilities of the new technology, the same old countervailing forces are at work. In fact, the trend is against individual liberties. Governments and their supporters worldwide describe free speech as a right when it pertains to their supporters and no right whatsoever when the speaker has an opinion counter to the government’s or to the “sensitivities of a community.”

One example of this was my dealings as the director of the Committee to Protect Bloggers with bloggers and blog-readers in Malaysia over the issue of racist speech on two blogs and a bulletin board. I was asked over and over, “You don’t believe in free speech about anything, do you? Not about any topic at all? You must have limits when free speech goes against social values.” No, I don’t have limits, not in the sense that I believe government should step to end speech, regardless of the topic. No, I really do believe anyone should be able to say anything about Mohammad they wish—and yes, against Jesus, or Moses, or America, even against apple pie—without being arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed by, or with the connivance of, a government.

Where I live, in the U.S., for years the current (now past, Bush) Administration has consistently rolled back free speech guarantees and civil liberties. And its actions have been supported, either actively or passively, by the overwhelming majority of Americans, citizens and politicians both; this in a country whose identity, in large part, depends on its dedication to political and civil liberties.

Technology is pushing more and more toward enabling speech and amplifying audience. The mass of men, lead by (or leading) their governments, is pushing back. The U.S., the U.K., Australia, China, Iran, Malaysia, Bahrain, Egypt, Zimbabwe and many more are all engaged in some form of curtailment of speech with government power as its instrument. No technology can triumph over the collective will of the people.

I am pessimistic. I think too much cheerleading about this technology has in part led to dissembling and to outright self-deception. I do not have a solution to this problem other than, first, to acknowledge that the problem exists. Most of the bloggers around the world reading this, blinded by faith in the new technology which they are using and drunk on self-regard, will not want to admit it. They will state, categorically, that their political opponents or religious competitors are guilty of it in spades, but that they are not, have never been, never could be.

Unfortunately, 20-year-old kids still keep getting sentenced to state-sanctioned beatings and citizens still keep getting imprisoned extrajudicially, tortured and even killed.

So, what’s to be done about it? Holding hands and “creatively visualizing” a sea-change in the this ego-driven, tribal way of living? Or, alternatively, perhaps we can bomb the evil out of the world? Neither of those approaches has worked out too well so far.

I have only one concrete action I can recommend as a partial corrective to this: Actively disseminate the maximum amount of information on how to express unpopular ideas without being apprehended by misguided authorities. Provide this material especially to those with whom you do not agree. It’s that simple.

Tools and sites like BlogSafer are a start.

The Committee has agitated for fundamentalist Muslim, anti-U.S. Iraqis; for secular Egyptians critical of Islam; for racist anti-Islamic Malaysians; for left-wing Frenchmen and many others. We made a point of pride in defending people who have fallen afoul of governmental power regardless of whether or not we agreed with them; and we provided them, as much as we could, with information and strategies for avoiding the inappropriate attentions of their governments, their employers and the “decent people” surrounding them who would strip the skin from their backs because they indulge in any of a dizzying host of constantly shifting un-orthodoxies.

Regardless of the rah-rah for tech, the vast majority of governments, citizens and societies are against free speech and against the sharing of information that offends its political, social or religious sensibilities, and they have repeatedly proven themselves willing to encourage the improper use of government power to punish those who offend them. These people are in Iraq, Egypt, Iran and China—and they are reading this post right now.

Mirror photo from Geograph

Committee to Protect Bloggers Reactivated

In Committee to Protect Bloggers on August 22, 2007 at 10:44 pm

The Committee to Protect Bloggers is back. I’m focusing on making it more strictly a clearinghouse for information on threatened bloggers and threats to bloggers. Subscribe to the feed and I’ll try to keep you up-to-date on horrible happenings around the world.

CPB Has a Host

In Committee to Protect Bloggers on August 22, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Thanks to the Teen Titans at Free Kareem, the Committee to Protect Bloggers has a host. Esra’a and her ilk are the ultimate in “disruptive” free speech organizations and we’re lucky to be in such good company. When the site’s up and the domain’s defined, I’ll post it here.

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Need a Free Nonprofit Blog Host

In Blogging, Committee to Protect Bloggers, Free speech, Human rights, Threatened bloggers on August 22, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Because I is a idiot, I was considering reawakening the beast that is, or rather was, the Committee to Protect Bloggers. To do this, I need a free blog host. OK, they’re common enough. But since my techno-eyes are always bigger than my techno-stomach, I need a host that would also be available for constant bugging. Civiblog hosted us last time, and they are great. But since it’s student-run and volunteer, I was rarely able to get my questions answered in any kind of a timely fashion.

Do you know of such an outfit that would fit my demanding bill? If not, do you know of someone who would be dumb enough to set up say a WP blog on their own server and then be a techno-Lovejoy to my techno-Flanders? If so, leave a comment or email me at curthopkins/at/gmail.com or committeetoprotectbloggers/at/gmail.com.

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CPB Archive Goes the Way of the Great Auk

In Committee to Protect Bloggers on August 6, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Dr. Mike, who ran a kind of blog farm under WordPress, has suddenly realized what a pain in the ass that was and folded shop. So, the Committee to Protect Bloggers Archive is no more. (Formerly at this URL: http://ctblog.daria.be/.)

There have been so many new arrests, I’m not sure how valuable it was anyway. Thanks to Mike for the temporary reprieve from the merciless winds of time against which even zeros and ones and blips and beeps are no anti-Oxymandial.