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Hungary, Russia Threaten Blog Freedom

There are no signs yet that the 2011 South Dakota Legislature will revisit the ill-conceived Blog Control Acts that died in the 2010 session. I suggest our legislators not touch any other legislation until they have a working budget in committee. But in case our representatives in Pierre do try fiddling with the First Amendment again, perhaps they should consider a couple of bad examples from across the old Iron Curtain:

  • Hungary is imposing a new media law that allows Budapest to fine media outlets for any new article the government deems too "unbalanced." Oof: impose a scheme like that, and South Dakota's whole political blogosphere would be whipped! "Irrespective of the justifications given, such media-muzzling laws are always in contradiction with the rule of law; they destroy democracy and corrupt the society," says Polish Gazeta Wyborcza editor Adam Michnik.
  • The Russians are up to Soviet-style Newspeak again, cloaking media oppression in patriotism and national security. The CIS, the loose co-op of Russia and six former Soviet states, has shut down hundreds of Web sites and promises a new and constant "information war" to fight "extremist organizations all over the world [that] widely use the Web as a means of propagandizing their delirious ideas." Wow: that sounds like the commenters Newquist and I get on KELO telling us to leave South Dakota....

One Comment

  1. David Newquist 2010.12.27

    For those who have been libeled, we need to restore the efficacy of libel laws, When they were accessible land usable, they served to protect opinion and ideas, but gave those who were damaged by false, defamatory accusations recourse and recompense..

    By the way, when a prominent blog closed down and removed all its archives, no one commented on the fact that it had often gone past expressions of opinion into outright libel on many occasions. Toward the end of its time online, it made outright libelous statements, which were rather quickly edited or removed. The main reason legal recourse was not pursued is because there was no chance of collecting damages and punitive compensation from the author. While the archives are gone, there are still records of some of the offenses. In the past, the media which printed libels was held responsible because individual authors of libels did not have the resources to pay the damages. Neither do most blog sponsors in the present day circumstance.

    At some point, the right not be defamed has to be reestablished, or we may be faced with the kind of media control being instituted in Russia and Hungary. It may mean the revival of criminal libel on the law books.

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