How responsible should bloggers be?

hatmanThe post about the Belgian blogger being fired from a NY bar after having criticized the Belgian Minister of Defense, made Sigrid wonder whether a blogger can just shout out about anything and whether freedom of speech comes with responsibility.

Whatever you think of a blogger, she’s human.

She’s for real.

And one day, she openly decided to share her view on life with the rest of the world knowing that that makes them vulnerable.

Now more than a billion pair of eyes can see how she gets it right, or wrong.

More than a billion different perceptions can challenge hers.

That’s a risk she is willing to take.

And it’s the most couragious and the smartest thing you can do.

Go and tell the world about how you see life. Have the world challenge your views and ideas.

Live and learn.

And if you happen to disagree with her, tell her personally.

That’s the respect you owe her for being so openly human.

That’s the respect you owe her for being superbly human.

Whatever you feel like doing: don’t try to shut her up. Don’t have others to try her shut up.

Don’t deny her the fact that she allowed the world to see how human she is prepared to be.

“Freedom of speech is not just a right but a responsibility as well. Bloggers are responsable for what they write. If you want to start writing the ‘big stories’, you better make sure you can defend your story because some of ‘the big guys’ are bound to come after you.” Sigrid writes.

I couldn’t agree and disagree more.

Of course we’re responsible for what we’re saying. But what does responsibility mean?

It means that my opinion can be challenged and if supported with facts that are undeniable that I have to accept that I was wrong.

It means you accept the fact that there will be a respons, that you accept a conversation from person to person, that you’re willing to listen and to learn.

But that kind of responsibility for the freedom of speech works both ways.

You don’t use the freedom of speech as an excuse to intimidate people who wronged you.

Responsibility also means that you respect human integrity.

If the big guys come after you with big guns then that’s anything but being responsible.

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4 thoughts on “How responsible should bloggers be?

  1. […] heel, heel, heel, heel, heel, heel, heel, heel, heel veel artikels over de laatste hot topics in […]

  2. And just to add:

    Being responsible can also mean giving people the benefit of the doubt.

    Which, and here you definitely have a point, Nathalie Lubbe Bakker didn’t and neither did I, really.

  3. Hi Sigrid,

    I’m sure thinking in advance wouldn’t have done the trick. Maybe Nathalie just couldn’t imagine that this would happen. Thinking in advance doesn’t change anything about that.

    Nathalie assumed that our Minister of Defense and his crew could take a little criticism and an elevated eyebrow for their behaviour.

    If you don’t want anyone to report what you were doing, if you don’t want anyone to be offended by your behaviour, then you as well should think before you act.

    Yet that’s the difference between Nathalie and the people she criticized. A blog is an invitation to react. If you play it by the rules then you should respect that people respond to your writings. In fact, that’s exactly what you’re after.

    Our Minister of Defense nor his crew could imagine that their act and opinions would end up being read by people of De Standaard.

    What their belief about the world reveals is that they thought they could just say about anything to anyone because they were the big guys and no one would even dare to criticize them.

    What their lack of imagination reveals is far more insulting, devastating and dangerous than what Nathalie wrote.

    Nobody should have responded to their behaviour unless they gave them permission to do so and if it was done in a way they thought was appropriate.

    Whatever Nathalie should or shouldn’t have done, fact is that people like Nathalie should be protected for represailles like the one she apparently had to deal with.

    I say “apparently” because she didn’t reveal her source yet who informed her about the phone call. And to be honest, I don’t know Nathalie either, so who am I to say whether she was wrong or right.

    And you can just as well say that by writing this post I revealed that I dislike politicians like Mr De Crem. I do. That’s a risk I’m willing to take.

  4. Sigrid says:

    I agree with you completely. I really do. But you mentioned it yourself:

    “That’s a risk she is willing to take.”

    Nathalie decided to do this and I applaud her for it. But she also payed the price for it, even in 2008 and even as a Belgian. That’s just what I was trying to point out: think before you act. When you do act, make sure it is in a way that is right for you. But don’t be surprised when people are not as honest as you are. Don’t be surprised when they stab you in the back, because that’s what people do.

    In my personal opinion, Nathalie did the right thing. I just think we should not all jump on the ‘freedom of speech!’ wagon as soon as a blogger faces severe consequences after an article. Let’s always keep taking a look at ourselves before we express our view on others. Let’s always question our methods and decide if this is the way to go. If we decide it is, then let’s collectively let the world know what we think about injustice and step up for people like Nathalie.

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