Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Bloggers
I was told some time ago by a Councillor that his access to my Blogsite was denied. It seems that Chris Schnurr has had the same thing happen to him if you read his BLOG today. I was also informed that another Councillor tried to get his IT group to block my emails as well.
I have still not yet received media accreditation from the City although I have received it both from the Province and the Federal Government.
I thought you might find this article of interest about Bloggers and local politics. Geeee, we in Windsor are tame by comparison. It's hilarious how the politicians, and now the media, try to smear BLOGGERS, including all of the lonely ones.
Hmmm I guess that must mean that Bloggers cannot be controlled as easily as the mainstream media in town. We are a big threat it seems. Allowing an opposite point of view must cause a problem for some.
However, just wait until next week when we BLOGGERs do our research and get our information down about the shocking water fees diversion scandal at City Hall. Is that just the tip of the ice-berg with more to come?
- Riled bloggers rant about local pols
Christina Stolarz / The Detroit News July 24, 2007
BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP -- Diane Philpot knows what people have said about her in online blogs. And, for the record, she says none of it is true.
"I've heard everything from being a lesbian to everything else," said Philpot, the Brownstown Township treasurer since 2004. She said she has never seen the offending blog entry, but was told about it by friends. She said she was also told she was accused of stealing money.
She has plenty of company -- she's among many local politicians who have suffered blasts from bloggers, ranging from their sexual orientation to their age, how much they drink, how much they weigh and their physical appearance.
The Web logs are changing the nature of municipal campaigns and are forcing office seekers to find ways to counter what many find to be scurrilous attacks from gadflies who now have a new way to express themselves.
"It's a difficult thing to be in politics in these times. You have to have a thick skin," said Charles Shaw, an Internet law attorney with Charles Regan Shaw & Associates PLC in Clinton Township. The blog posts "can transform public opinion whether right or wrong. You need to balance it and get the truth out there via a blog, campaign or a news story."
Brownstown isn't the only place where blogs have become facts of life. They're part of the political fabric in Warren and Grosse Pointe Woods, for example.
Philpot says she doesn't give the blogs a second thought because it would be a waste of time to defend herself online.
Her only hope is that her critics have the courage to sign their names. Because as much as she agrees that public participation in local government -- even online -- is a good thing, she believes the philosophy has veered off course.
"I think it's very out of hand and very inappropriate," Philpot said. "I don't think just because you're a public figure people should say lies and horrible, nasty things about you. The same decorum should apply to everyone. It's detrimental to the people who are out there trying to make a difference."
While some messages posted on blogs highlight legitimate civic issues, others veer into hurtful personal attacks that some fear could discourage grass-roots participation in local government -- especially because there are few options for fighting back against anonymity.
And the personal vitriol -- sometimes even generated from public officials to their opponents -- is only expected to continue as the Aug. 7 primary campaign draws closer.
The only other way for a public official to combat these blog messages is after they turn threatening, said Shaw, the Internet lawyer. Then it becomes a criminal matter and can be handed over to a police computer crime unit to determine who is writing the posts and where they are coming from.
Sometimes, blog moderators remove particularly nasty messages, or they don't allow such personal attacks on the sites.
But many local officials, including Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh, create their own blogs to counter cyber-lies. Steenbergh added a blog to the city's Web site in January to share his perspective on important city issues and policies.
In Grosse Pointe Woods, Councilman Pete Waldmeir started his own blog to counter the "lies, distortions, character assassination and slander from garbage-blog losers." On his site, called Grosse Pointe Woods' Truth, he dares the "gutless trash" to leave their real names.
"I call them the garbage blogs because nobody ever signs them," said Waldmeir, a former Detroit News columnist. "I wouldn't mind as long as people had guts enough to sign their names. There are laws against libel and slander, and this gives them a free ride ticket."
Waldmeir posted this week that he believes he's "unmasked" the blogger who's attacked him and other Grosse Pointe Woods city officials. And, now, that site is down.
Warren resident Henry Krzystowczyk said he likes to read the posts to try to figure out who the players are. "The blogging is a game," he said. "You have to take it with a grain of salt. I think what they're set up to do is give up misinformation, chastise and defame."
Steenbergh agrees. While he thinks blogs play an important role in allowing public participation in city government, he also says they should be used to discuss important issues.
"Once you've seen it, you know it's being used by people to further some hidden agenda," Steenbergh said. "If you're going to do something like that with interaction back and forth, you should talk about real issues and real solutions not just a bunch of gossip."
Howell school board Trustee Wendy Day said she's often targeted on other "mean-spirited" blogs. They've discussed her alcohol consumption at social events, tattooed ankle and her weight, even though she's pregnant with her fourth child, she said.
Still, Day believes blogs are an important alternative arena -- with fliers and underground newspapers -- for residents to express their opinions. But she says they don't hold any credibility because the messages are anonymous.
"We're struggling to learn how to make them effective," she said. "As an elected official, people aren't going to like what you do. But, if you hold to your ethics I believe, in the end, there's a place to find mutual respect."
You can reach Christina Stolarz at (586) 468-0343 or email@example.com.
Here are some excerpts taken from resident-generated blog sites. The Detroit News removed names of elected officials in the entries.
· "It is not 'correct' to call 'little people' a 'midget' anymore. With that said, I'd like to make an observation of XXX: A MIDGET in stature. A MIDGET of mind. A MIDGET of intestinal fortitude. A MIDGET of a politician. Make sure you put them lawnmowers on the right height for cutting (can you even reach the handles when you mow?)"
· "As I watched him (a city councilman) up close last night, he looked so old and feeble."
· "Don't forget she tried to 'Buy' votes. Ask her how she 'laid' the groundwork to get votes for council. Someone needs to check her little black book."
· "It was fun to see the mayor put his foot in his mouth Find me a 'BIGGER' bigot. I dare you."
· "The Mayor and Council remind me of the Capitol One commercials with the dirty and inept marauders tripping over themselves as they try to pillage and clobber their way to power. Thanks to FOIA, we know what's in their wallets."
· "XXX said he was confused with the city hall elevator. OK XXX you press 2 for the second floor, 3 for the third floor, NOT TO HARD, even for a 70 year old."
· "Is XXX's IQ over 70? Thought not."