Friday, August 1, 2008

The Criminal Attorney and the Blogger: You Call that Evidence?

The blogosphere is the wild west of journalism. Anyone can have a blog. Barriers to entry are almost nonexistent. There is no editor to do any kind of quality control. This is good and bad.

It's good because it allows an unfettered exchange of ideas. It can be bad because it's easy to unfairly focus negative attention on a cause, a person, or a group, making allegations that sully reputations. If no other evidence to the contrary is out there, the negative information end up defining a cause, a person or a group.

In the balance between freedom of speech and reputation, freedom of speech trumps in the US- unlike for example, in the UK. Therefore, legal recourse is very hard.

The other day a friend of mine involved in a high- profile case told me that his lawyer approached him with a stack of printouts from a blogger's site. This blogger is known for being a rabid Islamophobe and a zealous Zionist to the right of Ariel Sharon. She has no credibility and her mental fitness is seriously questioned. She stoops to the level of calling our governor Granholm a name, "Granho," our US attorney/Judge Steve Murphy, "Abu Porno." She also had a picture of well- known journalist digitally enhanced with human excrement on the journalist head because he crossed her. Not a civilized discourse from a learned human being.

Still this learned attorney, who is rightly well- respected and experienced, made the grave mistake of facing his client with that blogger's pile of garbage- columns from her blog- to argue for the weakness of his client's case.

This attorney is deservedly well -respected. But he could be in the client's situation with his integrity and reputation sullied by a blogger and having no recourse to deal with it since our law making protecting the reputation of public figures very difficult. He should have known better- way better.

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