It’s no secret that some people don’t like “the blogs”. Assemblyman Jerry Green is one of them. Council President Bridget Rivers and Councilwoman Gloria Taylor are two more.
Bernice Paglia reported that at last week’s City Council meeting, Rivers suggested that something be done with the blogs or, as Councilwoman Gloria Taylor put it, “the situation with the blogs.” “We have to come up with legislation to stop these blogs from doing what they are doing,” explained Rivers.
Doing what? Free self expression?
Of all the benefits brought forth by the internet, perhaps my favorite has been the ability to people to create and distribute their own content.
For me, this realization happened when I was tenth grader in early 2002, the post 9/11 era. I began to read far left journals like Black Commentator. I’d never seen this sort of publication before, and not only could I read it – I could participate by sending emails to the authors and participating in discussion.
Over the past fifteen years, we’ve had the slow, impending loss of traditional local media, which is sad, no doubt. Not every city is blessed with Bernice Paglia, who volunteers to cover City Council, Planning Board, PMUA, Zoning Board, and other meetings, as newspapers used to do.
But the internet has begun to open up the spread of information, and expand human networks. No big budget needed. No printing press. No copy machine. No letters to the editors of large, corporate owned news outlets that end up on the cutting room floor.
Through sites like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Tumbler, and Soundcloud, the internet has given so many a voice they lacked. These avenues for self-expression continue to expand.
I guess that threatens some. When I began Plainfield View two years ago, I quickly learned the negative connotation mere mention of the “new blog” produces in Plainfield’s political leadership circles. Free expression makes any power structure uncomfortable.
Council President Rivers, I won’t even take your desire to legislate the blogs seriously. We all know you know you can’t do that, and that the same laws apply to bloggers that apply to anyone else.
My problem is that you’d even want to legislate against “the blogs” if you could.
That’s not to say that you can’t have issues with the blogosphere. When I thought Plainfield’s blogs could use my my voice I turned on my computer and started my own.
Since then, I too have had my own fair share of problems with “the blogs”. Dan Damon attacked me, as I knew he would. I came back at him. It wasn’t the first time we’d clashed. Old Doc challenged me too, though much more respectfully. I responded to the Doctor. We all have the right to disagree, and to challenge.
Much of the friction isn’t from bloggers. With each expression of my local political opinion (representing only a fraction of my posts) malcontents crawl out the woodwork on Facebook and elsewhere. They’ve even criticized me when I’ve failed to photograph certain events. My apologies for working and leading an active life.
It is what it is, though. Swat, swat. Un-friend, un-friend. Anonymous comment rejected. It’s an unpleasant matter of course at this point, like taking out the kitchen garbage.
Though it was a bit less routine when an enraged, well-known community member showed up at a fellow School Board member’s house after I posted about irregular election results.
Still, the biggest backlash I’ve gotten for expressing myself has been from Assemblyman Jerry Green. He was so offended by a cartoon that mocked his street fighting incident that he threatened to take legal action.
Only months after he implied that I could get a good job in Trenton by becoming his political ally, his lawyers sent me a cease and desist order to take down the cartoon, and any mention of “I Run This”. He even had a flunky sign a bogus affidavit (explanation here).
First it backfired. And then I came back at him a few times with humor.
“The blogs” bother you, Council President Rivers? They’ve bothered me, too, but not half as much as all the backlash that comes with honest self expression. Either way, in the absence of an actual crime the only recourse to what people say is firing back yourself.
That doesn’t have to be through your own blog. I’m sure Bernice will post any comment that you make. You certainly knew how to make a statement to the Courier News about Dan Damon last April.
In fact, I remember you congratulating Sharon Robinson-Briggs on her then-new blog at a Special Council meeting in May of 2014. She’d definitely let you write her seventh post.
Whatever you do, don’t lump all “the blogs” together. Say who you mean and mean who you say. If it’s Dan Damon, say Dan Damon.
But if you’re going to paint everyone with the same, broad brush, I might as well play the part and give you something to be mad about.