04 November 2009


Ding dong the drug dealer done got dumped. Carlos "NOW I Follow Orders" Chardón, so-called education secretary of Our Island, finally fired the Federal Affairs Director William "Double D" Ubiñas (the "Double D" is for drug dealer and drunk driver.) Some so-called journalists are asking why he was fired; the only question worth asking was why he was ever placed there in the first place.

With the local (mis)education department on the Fed's shit list and local standardized test results so bad they are abominable, even the firing of a convicted drug dealer has the patina of progress. We are failing Our children by having the suckiest education system this side of Hoover sales school; We are failing them by electing--and tolerating--mealy-mouthed pegheads like Our (non)governor and his obese-atriopore of a (mis)education secretary.

Which leads Me directly (in My mind, at least) to the tempest-in-a-teacup that is forming around the notion that the hog farm of a (non)administration misled by Luis "The Larva" Fortuño is about to slap legislation onto the books that is supposedly aimed at bloggers.

Hey, blogueros, chill. Don't be so eager to reveal your desperate needs for legitimization and attention. The bill--as drafted--is aimed at you in the same way the Sun is aimed at you. (Clarification: the Sun isn't aimed at you. Like I said, chill.)

Here's My translation of the pertinent portion of the drafted text, as posted in a local blog, basically a paragraph from a 12-page bill, that has blogueros shuddering with the idea that Terminator 3 is about to be unleashed on their asses:

[CHAPTER 4: Crimes Against A Person and Privacy]

Section 1. -- Damage via Electronic Media

Any person who attacks the moral standing of another person with defamation, insults, written or in images, photomontages in electronic media or by way of the Internet, will incur a fourth grade misdemeanor and will be sanctioned with punishment of prison not exceeding six (6) months or a fine not exceeding five thousand ($5,000) dollars. An additional charge will be incurred for any who falsify, alter or modify real images, but that have been obtained or captured by illegal means or that have been published without due authorization of the affected party.

Now compare that to the following definitions of libel:

Definition of libel 3: Defamation of an individual or individuals in a published work, with malice aforethought. In litigation, the falsity of the libelous statements or representations, as well the intention of malice, has to be proved for there to be libel. In addition, financial damages to the parties so libeled must be incurred as a result of the material in question for there to be an assessment of the amount of damages to be awarded to a claimant. This is contrasted to slander, which is defamation through the spoken word.

Definition of libel 4: Libel per se describes statements, which are widely understood to be harmful to a person's reputation. For example, referring to an individual as an alcoholic or criminal, or any description, which would lower the reputation of that individual in the eyes of others. These words are harmful and libelous.

Definition of libel 5: A written, printed, or pictorial statement that unjustly defames someone publicly. Prosecution of libel as a punishable offense puts some measure of restriction on freedom of the press under the First Amendment.

Definition of libel 6: To defame, or expose to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule, by a writing, picture, sign, to lampoon. A tort consisting of false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person.

Definition of libel 7: To publish in print writing or pictures, broadcast through radio, television or film something that is false about someone else which would cause harm to that person or his/her reputation by bringing the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn, or contempt of others. Libel is defamation, which is written, or broadcast and is distinguishable from slander, which is oral defamation.

Definition of libel 8: A malicious publication expressed either in print or in writing, or by pictures, effigies, or other signs, tending to expose another to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Such publication is indictable at common law.

Did you notice a trend there? Is the "electronic Armageddon" version making blogueros go wee-wee in their pants substantially different in content and intent from the other definitions presented?

No. It simply specifies that libel extends to electronic media as well as traditional media.

Whoop-dee-doo. All this is the closing of a loophole that is about a decade behind the times. And the bill is actually addressing electronic crimes of many types, from fraud to data destruction to broadband theft, a sweeping redefinition that takes into account technology that most of the people voting on this bill don't use, don't really understand and don't know what it means.

What is disturbing is that those of Us who do are largely behaving like Chicken Little rather than using Our natural superior and (usually) effortless intelligence to recognize this bill for what it is: a copied patchwork "solution."

Silver lining? At least the Fools are trying to think about technology. And in this case, take a look at what the U.S. of part of A. Senate is rolling out for bloggers. Line up over here to bet on the over/under in years it will take for Our Fools to catch up. I'm in at 3.5.

So, blogueros, pop a Valium or something. The libel laws haven't changed, only now the medium you spend your time with will have to officially play by the rules other media do. If you think that's a problem, then you're de facto supporting lying and deception as "standards."  If to do what We do requires that as a standard, then I'm outta here.

But because it doesn't, because I can stand by everything I write without any--any--hint of anxiety concerning the breaking of any law, I can blog as long as I want on anything I want.

And so should you. Once you calm down.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


The Insider said...

Is it called the "Anti-Jenius" sub-section of the bill? :)

I suppose a risk, Gil, is that their "interpretation" may be far more sweeping than yours (or mine).

A legal threat not well understood by bloggers may certainly lessen the level of their commentary.

Let's imagine for a moment that Miguel Cotto starts pulling punches in his match with Manny Pacquiao... not good.

How about:

"The Jenius Guide to Safe and Unrestrained Blogging in PR"


GCSchmidt said...

Insider, their interpretation could be wider, but it is still delimited by the laws on the books that state that libel must be a false statement, intended to harm. Sticking to the truth is always a good rule of thumb, whether one is talking about a fired-on-his-ass convicted drug dealer or wishy-washy wannabe governors.