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Equal time party, brought to you by the Council of Europe

Samizdata reports that the Council of Europe is proposing to regulate content on the internet - including the content of blogs.

The all-but-final proposal draft says that Internet news organizations, individual Web sites, moderated mailing lists and even Web logs (or "blogs"), must offer a "right of reply" to those who have been criticized by a person or organization.

An excerpt: "The reply should be made publicly available in a prominent place for a period of time (that) is at least equal to the period of time during which the contested information was publicly available, but, in any case, no less than for 24 hours."

In the spirit of unity with the squenched voices of Europe, and in keeping with Samizdata's suggestion that those who feel slighted by them go open up their own blog and rant about it, I hereby offer those I have offended or critcized to come forth and reply in kind.

Ted Rall, Mark Morford, Susan Sarandon, Bill O'Reilly, Hillary Clinton, anyone from Indymedia, ANSWER, PETA or ELF, Mark Savage, Roger Clemens, and a slew of other people, famous and not and any bloggers I may have criticized, made death threats to or otherwise insulted, I invite you to come on by to my "Equal Time Party" today and throw your best right back at me.

Of course, I don't expect to hear from anyone except perhaps the few anonymous trolls that I may have verbally insulted, but it's the thought that counts. Either way, we can either show the Council of Europe how silly their idea is and how it will never work, or we can show that yes, the people did want equal time and came by to state their case, but it ended up in volley of curse words and mail bombs and hacked websites and they should have let well enough alone.

You've got 24 hours to reply to anything I may have said about you. That doesn't go for you, Bill, because you've had your equal time already.


Well, I'd love to reply or complain, but first you'll have to say something nasty and salacious about me.... ;0)

Damn you, Michele! I want extra equal time. More than the equal time the others get.

It's not faaaiiiirrrrrr!!!!

That's what "comments" are for. Just rename the "comments" link to "Right of Reply Zone."

Rachel Lucas has a great post on this: http://www.rachellucas.com/archives/000662.html#000662

Oh, yeah... and while I know she wasn't directly responding to this European nonsense, Andrea Harris' post is absolutely on point: http://www.spleenville.com/journal/archives/003878.php

And who will provide equal time for the spiteful bile I might spew here in these comments? Hmmm? Surely, by this EU law I will be required to create a web site where equal time responses to my bile may be posted which implies I will not be allowed to participate in comments unless I provide my own blog! Are these EU niks to clever by half? What a clever way to squelch dissent! If you cannot afford to maintain a web site then you are not allowed to have an opinion!

Heh. Thanks! I find it interesting how it is self-named "liberals" who are all about how wrong it is for me to prevent them from using my own website as a forum for their complaints, even when they have their own sites! I'm sure that my trolls would love some sort of "right to reply" law to be enacted so I couldn't prevent them from leaving their mudpies all over my comments. Typical bullies, they run and hide behind teacher when anyone fights back.

Do these rukes apply to IndyMedia or the Democratic Underground sites? Or, are they immune, being that they aren't 'blogs'.

I guess it depends on what your definition of 'blog' is.

Before you get all up in arms about this, maybe someone is recognising that the definition of "media" is changing. For some time now, the traditional media (print, radio and television) have in some countries been required to provide a "right of reply" to people who believe they have been unfairly treated by the publisher / broadcaster.

Is this the beginning of the recognition that much of what is now on the Internet is taking over from traditional media outlets as the major source of news and opinion? For online media outlets, why should the Intenet version of CNN / NY Times / whatever be subject to any less stringent public interest and probity requirements as their traditional version?

Now, one could argue that individual web sites (of which web logs are just one variant) are not media publications in the traditional sense. But lets say I published my personal journals in print. I then become subject to the standard print laws of libel. So why is publishing something on the net any different?

I see good and bad in this - but at least lawmakers are starting to realise that the net is "just another way of expressing one's opinions and views". Today's bloggers are just the 21st century version of the 18th century pamphleteers.

Heh. I'll make the bastards rhyme for their equal time.

As soon as I figure out how to set up comments, that is.

As a particular blog accrues a substantial number of unique readers, say 5000 a day, it should be the inalienable right of the subject of its venom to have a "right of reply" and post a rebuttle. Anything to the contrary would be against the tenets of human decency and kindness to strangers of the virtual kind, and this issue should not require a court order to settle or enforce. With the print media, the expense of a rebuttle lies in the reduction of the real estate that a right of reply would displace on the daily or weekly papyrus. With the broadcast media, any minute or minutes provisioned for a right of reply pre-empts a commercial or cuts-and-pastes over a portion of Homer Simpson and these minutes can not in the history of the day be recouped thereafter. In comparison, similar expenses are negligible on a webblog site. The only way I see to comfortably duck under the right-of-reply question is to set up a private membership where the rant can fall under a protected umbrella of the club's charter of by-laws such that the criticisms expressed by the blogger, the owner of the site, is implied as the opinion of the quorum of the collective. If someone, with a readership of 5000 junkies and perverts and stalkers, posted something negative about Michele on his Fcuk U All blog site, Michele has a right to reply if she felt that the criticism was unwarranted. Posting a rebuttle on A Small Victory, by itself, would not insure that the same readers of the negative screed would be in the same town to also read her rebuke, since the habits of the blogoshere is diverse. It is not necessary to post Michele's reply on the offensive website, itself. But directly under the relevant post, the article of contention, should be a right-of-reply icon, in the immediate vicinity of the comments and link buttons. Clicking the reply button will then take an interested party directly to A Small Victory and specifically to her response, which will eliminate bogus right-of-replies entries and impostors to abound and be seamlessly in tune with the protocols of the Web. The right of reply does not carry with it the right to take up space or be a houseguest on somebody else's web page. As for the "right" of a grievous party to have a right of reply, itself, it is simply an option of dignity in contrast to an inhospitable planet of cyberspace. But that's just one bloggee's personal opinion, on one day in June.

Far be it from me to stand in the way of a debate but you're not entirely correct. The draft resolution from the CoE only says that you must offer a right of reply if you make factual statements about someone and they dispute the truth of those factual statements. The 'reply' must be limited to a correction of those factual statements.

So you can call someone a wanker with impunity but if you say that they robbed a bank they should be able to reply and say "No, I didn't - I was robbing a grocery store at the time".

Anyway, the resolution is only a recommendation so it doesn't have to be enacted in law. It is an amendment to an earlier resolution that hasn't been enacted by Britain despite being nearly 30 years old.