Tue Apr 5/05
Blogospheric disturbance 

Here is Blogger K___'s take on the publication ban:

…this is Canada's "Watergate", writ large — but in this case the blogosphere is playing the role of both "Deep Throat" and the Washington Post, and in the case of Canadian sites — doing so with the threat of legal action over our heads.

Here's a like-minded blogger in a comment thread on Blogger K___'s site:

I've mentioned the site, the blogger's name and linked to the offending url numerous times. Illegal? So was the Boston Tea Party.

An American blogger responds:

K___, your courage in upholding truth is marvellous! And K____ S______'s  comment about the Boston Tea Party is right on. We had our revolution (also illegal), but gained our freedom thereby. Seems Canada may have to find true freedom by the same means: rebelling against those in their own midst who would limit the freedoms of the masses to benefit the few.

Look, I don't want to start a whole thing here, but certain Canadian bloggers (whom, you will notice, I am referring to in fulsome accordance with Justice Gomery's ban) are starting to wallow somewhat in their own reputations. I mean, Watergate? The Boston Tea Party? It's a publication ban, for heaven's sake, the kind that's imposed in all sorts of trials: Air India, Hells Angels, Garth Drabinsky, and dozens and dozens of others. Gomery's has vastly greater significance, obviously, but the principle of discriminatory access to information is the same in all the other cases, and the blogospheric reaction thereto has been muted-to-non-existent. Invoking the War of Independence is just nutty.

If this is the Canadian blogosphere's First Big Break, as it's being widely cast, then the Canadian blogosphere's First Big Break will go down in history a complete gimme, tee-ball journalism, scoop by judicial decree — which decree these triumphalist bloggers are standing on line to shit all over, I might add. Indeed, the jubilant esprit-de-corps is based entirely on the violation (or flirtation with violation) of Canadian law, which the demon mainstream media obviously won't do. Is it useful? Sure, I'm reading it, and happy to have the information. Is it ethical? Only if you think Gomery's bog-standard publication ban is an infringement of our rights as unjust and/or provocative as, say, the Townshend Acts. That's a post I'd love to read.

If bloggers are disobeying the ban on the basis of pure and true libertarian principle, then more power to them. If they are disobeying it as a way of boosting readership — and it's bloody hard to think otherwise when you see how many are quoting, if not graphing, their numbers — then I'll have no sympathy whatsoever if they get busted. "It seems clear," wrote 'nBob' in a comment thread to something I won't be linking to just now, "that those who link to that blog [providing the testimony] — as well as the blog itself — are nothing more than rabid partisan hit whores." Apart from my qualification above, I agree.

Honestly, to my eye, things are backsliding. Some of Canada's best known bloggers, who have decried the culture of impunity that infects the mainstream media until they can decry it no more, are now installed in partisan echo chambers like the Shotgun. They post glib, biased material that would make Newsmax blush and expect to get away with it — and, puffed up by cheerleaders with names like "Cheesehead Ken" and challenged by basically no one, they do get away with it. Now one of them is comparing herself and her brothers and sisters in arms to Woodward and Bernstein.

Gomery's ban was stupid, and I agree entirely that too many people know what Brault said for it not to be public domain. But if Canadian bloggers end up being martyrs for this, their cause won't have been freedom of information, but slightly quicker freedom of information. That's not all that much to crow about, in my opinion, not to mention that their actions are as likely to drive future Justice Gomerys in camera as they are to drive them out in the open. Mostly, though, I think they just need to get over themselves.

[UPDATE Wed Apr 6/05: We have a new grand champion self-aggrandizing quote, from Blogger D_____ (emphasis not mine):

I finally and completely understand why Canada has not produced a Dr. King or a Henry David Thoreau. Every blogger up here has only one decision to make: will you fight for liberty? ... The threat to charge those of us who published certain links, such as the second post in a series about Jean Brault's testimony before the Gomery Inquiry - The Martin Connection, must be met with only one response: Bring. It. On. I mean it. Let's drop the gloves once and for all and get some earnest debate up here about liberty and inherent human rights.

"Proportion," commented my friend Sean via IM, "is dead." Long live proportion.]