Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Love Op-Eds II (The One About pr0n)

Due to an occupational hazard, I treat everything that I read in the newspapers, even the serious stuff, as satire, unless shown otherwise. So, this Op-Ed came along today in the Straits Times titled "Porn? No, blogs bug me more", and I thought to myself, cool, a satire on blogs, should be interesting...
Porn? No, blogs bug me more With inaccurate and inflammatory postings on the Internet, how do we keep kids from believing everything they read? By Carl Skadian, [writing for the column] fatherhood THE past few weeks have thrown up another worry about children and the Internet, as if parents don't have enough on their hands. I'm talking about blogs. As a journalist, I'm naturally wary of blogs already, mainly because bloggers are wont to throw accuracy out the window. That's because checking facts seems to be the last thing on bloggers' minds unlike, say, mainstream publications which, for the most part, do their darnedest to make sure what they publish is accurate. [1] For bloggers, saying what they feel like saying seems to be de rigueur, consequences be damned. Now, blogs have generated much controversy, but what happened here about two weeks ago takes the cake.[2] Just in case you missed it: Three people were charged with making racist comments in their blogs. They allegedly made seditious and inflammatory remarks about Malays and Muslims. [3] In one particularly galling incident, one among the three allegedly admitted to being 'extremely racist' in one of his entries online. That just about did it for me and blogs. I'm glad the authorities hauled the trio to court. Hopefully, doing so will send a message to like-minded folk in cyberspace that they'd better start putting the brain before the mouse. As far as I'm concerned, blogs are possibly the worst things about the Internet. Sure, pornography and other stuff rightly furrow the brows of parents, but the things some bloggers say go far beyond the pale.[4] ... After news of the charges broke, some members of the blogging community made comments that seemed far from the realm of common sense to me. Here were three people charged with making inflammatory statements - in a society where being tolerant is constantly drummed into us, no less - and other bloggers were worried about what the incidents bode for freedom of speech...
I was happily reading, reading, reading until I came to [1]. Wow excellent! This guy is writing for the MSM and biting at the hand that feeds him. True, bloggers can miss a fact or two, but have we forgotten that the MSM, with its arsenal of resources to do its own fact checking, often gets it wrong? Yes! I like him already... (I was still thinking in the satirical mode.) Then I got to [2], and wonder what 'previous controversy' blogs have generated before. Oh well, it's probably some plot device to link it to...somewhere. So I reached [3], and laughed out loud. He's having some fun with this because there's really nothing 'seditious' about this incident. (The relevant parts of the Sedition Act aren't really talking about being 'seditious' in its usual sense.) Nice going... When I came to [4], I told myself... hmmm... wait a minute... something is NOT RIGHT! Is he saying that pr0n is really better than blogs?! Oh my goodness!! This whole Op-Ed is not satire! And my head nearly exploded. To Carl: Have you ever surfed pr0n before? Not in my wildest dreams can I imagine someone comparing pr0n with blogs, and actually putting pr0n on top, no less! How could this have happened?! Carrllll!!! What sort of blogs have you been reading?!! Carl goes on to talk about more serious things about racism and how he doesn't understand how anyone could use 'freedom of speech' to defend these guys, and how he has to keep his kids from believing what they read in blogs (and hopefully in the MSM too, I might add!!) The thing that bothers me more at this point in time is not just 'freedom of speech', but 'freedom of information'. To what extent do we, as bloggers, journalists and members of the public, really know what's going on? According to this (12 Sept entry), there just might be more than meets the eye. In other news, the recent 'students get censured because they 'flame' their teachers on blogs' issue is most interesting. Xiaxue's account is worth a look... And at the front page of Livejournal, there's a feature called 'It's cool to blog in school'... Update (!): Hui Chieh has done yet another superlative roundup.

4 comments:

Huichieh said...

This is unbelievable...

Tym said...

Only one four-letter word comes to mind, after reading your excerpts of Skadian's op-ed, and I think Skadian would object to it and probably request that it be excised from the language.

Are people that ignorant and, worse, that eager to flaunt that ignorance in public?

Huichieh said...

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jeffyen said...

Tym, I really don't know any more; the disconnect is just too great. I can imagine if there's some sort of conspiracy theory behind this, but I also need to entertain the idea that because of the stereotypical way that the MSM works, (as compared to the more peer-review-esque methods of blogging), it certainly is possible for a few, or even more, people who work in the industry, to totally misread the situation.

One explanation I have for this is that it's easier for a person who hasn't worked in the mass media before, see blogs for the first time, and subsequently gets it, probably almost immediately.

But for a veteran in the MSM, this realisation of the benefits and workings of blogs might need some time to sink in. From the outset, the blogging scene might seem to be messier (since it's so democratic), and so I think it takes a little more effort for a newcomer veteran to be more patient and truly understand this thing...

Then again, maybe we're just looking at everyone's favourite conspiracy theory. :)