:: Tuesday, 5 April 2005 ::
O, Who cares If You Are American?
Bin reading the blog (as my mother refers to the collective world of bloggy goodness - kinda like The Borg from Star Trek, eh? Cool) about Ed from Captain's Quarters and his insistence on publishing in camera testimary from a hearing in Canada having something incendiary to do with the Canadian gumment or something. .
Note: Orunnav a lot to say about the Canadian gumment and shall leave that to fantabulous folks like Colby Cosh and Damian Penny to cover.
Anyhoo, so there is Ed publishing testimony that is not intended to be published - that a Canadian court has ordered should not be published - which he knows, or if he did not know that fact, he should have recognised sensitive and confidential info when he got it as any sentient being would.
His attitude is that info he has gotten which he knows to be confidential to particular court proceedings is not subject to the slightest respect by him. Nooo.
He is a American.
American have bill of rights.
"I believe in free speech" says Ed.
Translation: I never think that other countries might have laws and even if I did it would never occur to me to respect them. I am American. The sun follows me wherever I go. And my laws trump everything.
I believe Ed should be sued straight up for breach of confidence, never mind the contempt of court stuff.
That is my opinion. It is a fair one honestly held and I am sticking to it.
This is one occasion when I reckon the MSM is quite right about bloggers being cowboys with no editorial checking. There is a reason the testimony is not in the MSM papers. Because responsible Americans respect their partners in the North enough to respect their contempt law. And not because of some culture of secrecy, for those kneejerk jerks who wanna write to me about this, but because there can be liability for disclosing what is apparent overt confidential information which is for the consumption of a limited audience only, and quite legally so.
Wretchard has a nice analysis about this from a bit of a different perspective and you can get your links from there. I am certainly not about to applaud Ed for his actions.
Imagine if he ever decided a closed Senate hearing in Oz warranted some attention.
I'll wager he would happily shit all over Australian law as well.
"I believe in free speech".
It never ceases to amaze me how insular American thinking is about the world.
It is the only thing that I am afraid of when it comes to the innernut and all that.
That childlike US law about speech will be adopted through sheer force of numbers of users, to the detriment of superior laws elsewhere related to confidentiality, contempt and defamation.
Yes, I do think our laws are superior.
Natch I do.
I know some Oz journos smart under defamation laws, but that is usually cos they get things wrong or they do not have real evidence to support their gossip or they do not know how to write or they do not unnerstan the laws and think they cannot publish when they can.
Right now I am reading "The Know-it-all" about the US bloke who tries reading the whole Encylopaedia Brittanica. As a study of the insular American mindset I do not think Studs Terkel could have come up with anything better if he had interviewed tens of thousands of Mercans. Just one example but you get my drft, yeah? It really is pervasive.
Do not get me wrong.
I like America. I got loads of time for Americans. The ones that respect other folks. There's a heap of them. Heaps of goodness.
I have no time at all for Americans who imagine their Bill of Rights (a beautiful but veggie-like document that sets out certain inalienable rights) is somehow more important than other laws, who have no respect at all for the well-developed laws of their national peers, colleagues and allies.
Oz is for sure as free and fabulous as the States and we have never needed to write out our rights, mostly cos when we framed our consitution we had not gone through a war for independence like the States.
I know why the States has its Bill of Rights. I recognise its wonderful expression in the original form.
I do not respect it as a component of Oz law.
And I imagine rather a lot of Canadians would feel similarly.
The Canadian thing goes to contempt and confidentiality.
Oz has had experience of this American self-centredness before in relation to defamation law and I was never happier than when Dow Jones, US imbeciles, defamed a Melbourne man in a limited on-line publication made to subscribers in Melbourne. Dow Jones tried the whole 'free speech' guff and the whole 'but my server is in the US' rubbish.
The court said - and rightly sooo - wanna play in the international publishing pond? Learn a bit about the laws where you publish.
The MSM has done this for decades.
The hell with Ed. He has no respect.
UPDATE: Wanna do a update so as to be clear. The whole 'a free press must know the workings of gumment in order to avoid tyranny' and blah blah blah thing is so pathetic. We are talking about Canada here. Okay? Not Iran. Have a read of the quote on Damian's site (link above to get you there) and see how very UN the hysterics all sound, all of a sudden, as if Canada is a gulag. Good Lord.
Closed testimony is perfectly legal, has been for centuries, and if the press wants to ignore the law it can - weigh up the pros and the cons and go for it if you think you're so hard. Sheesh.
Or you might try seeking a change to laws to through legislation - that is what you elect folks for. Sheesh again.
The squealing on principle makes me wanna puke.
UPDATE II: Wanna get this down too. Thanks to Google, a US invention, finding every bloggy publisher of the confidential info is sooo easy. Do a google search, set up all the addresses in a Microsoft Word thing where the addresses go in automatically - you know, Mail Merge - nip down the registry with your filing fee and sue away to your heart's content.
That easy. My point is a simple one - have a little respect for the laws where you publish. When you run a blog, you are publishing wherever your blog is read. Do not imagine the 'oh my server is elsewhere' argument will mean anything to a judge on a bench who can barely type his own name onto a keyboard. And do not be alarmed about all this because jurisdictionally speaking, there is not a lot of risk if you show any care at all.
Like defamation - rememba, it is the actual reputation that has to be injured, not the one that the victim thinks he has. That is another benefit of Google - bloggers are rarely alone in the hurling abuse and ridicule and contempt stakes. And before anyone mentions Galloway to me, The Telegraph should have stuck with assertions of sycophancy to Saddam instead they went the extra mile and asserted plainly that Galloway made money out of his sycophancy. They could not prove it. Youse an me can write Galloway is a sychophant to Saddam all we like - it cannot hurt his reputation because it actually IS his reputation. But even a reputation as a disgusting sychophant to Saddam can be injured if we try to shoehorn in unproveable assertions of making money outta that sychophancy too.
Ya just gotta think a bit is all.
UPDATE III: Oh this is great. Glenn Reynolds law professor and gentleman, apparently, has just called the Attorney-General of Canmada a horse's arse for the simple reason that Canadian contempt law might have some application in the profligate abuse being carried out by Ed at Captain's Quarters.
Niice. Wonder what he would call Oz Att-Gen Amanda Vanstone - a fat slag probably - if she ever dared ponder the application of Oz law to a US blogger who acted in contempt of it.
This is what it comes to - otherwise respectable American legal scholar sees absolutely nothing wrong with shitting on Canadian law from the American side of the border.
And, just to be completely disrespectful, he points to other failings in Canadian legal activity as if that is a reason for Canada to give the US a free pass to shit on Canadian law. The last refuge of the empty argument, that - pointing up another issue as a way of getting out of the issue at hand.
I cannot express how fucking disappointed I am in Glenn's post headline and the attitude I reckon he is expressing.
UPDATE IV: I wrote this ages ago and it is the same observation about respect. Weird to read old stuff.
Enuff already with this topic.....but jeez, it makes my blood boil...
:: WB 4:03 pm [link+] ::