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April 12, 2005
'The Man On The Ship'

Rondi Adamson writes in tomorrow's Christian Science Monitor about Adscam and the publication ban in the Internet age, and notes the futility of the practice in today's context:

A Canadian publication ban and an American blogger clashed last week. The court-ordered ban did not survive the impact. The blogger was overwhelmed with visitors.

And what had been Canada's own private scandal - so private Canadians had been prevented from hearing about it in full - fast traveled the borderless blogosphere.

Publication bans prevent anyone from publishing or broadcasting evidence given or motions made during the course of a trial. Publication bans are not common in Canada, but when imposed they are meant to ensure that a jury pool, or a sitting jury, is not tainted. (One can be forgiven for wondering what the point of jury selection is, if a judge can't feel confident those selected are unable to look solely at evidence presented.) In this instance, however, the ban was imposed on a public inquiry into possible government fraud and conspiracy, involving taxpayer dollars. The word "counterintuitive" comes to mind.

The Canadian blogger Angry in the Great White North tipped me off to this article, and he gets a prominent (and well-deserved) mention by Adamson. After noting that many Canadian bloggers avoided linking to CQ -- for completely understandable reasons, I should add -- she points to Angry as one of the few who baldly promoted the posts I wrote on the Brault testimony:

Canadian networks and newspapers found themselves tiptoeing through this new minefield, trying to report about the blog without mentioning blog names or web addresses. One television network removed a story that contained the blog's name from their website. The Globe and Mail mentioned Morrissey, but not his blog, by name. While some Canadian bloggers defied the ban, mainstream media appeared to lack similar moxie. Coming days after details of the rape, torture, and murder of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi were revealed (she was arrested and murdered in Iran in 2003, for taking photographs of a demonstration), such gyrations seemed feeble.

One Canadian blogger who linked to Captain's Quarters, Angry in the Great White North, says he did so because he does not want his children growing up in a country "where public testimony can be known by government officials and by the media, but by no one else."

The truth is that while Angry and some other Canadians did link me, they and a number of other Canadian bloggers wrote me constantly, giving me background and links to further explain Adscam to American audiences as well as the Canadians. Rondi Adamson's article tells the most public part of the story, and does it well, but not the whole story. Still, Adamson gives the correct analysis: blogs have formed a front line of defense for free speech and citizen activism, holding public servants accountable where earlier silence or apathy may have won instead. The ability of the blogosphere to swarm to a story or an event not only promotes the information, but hones it, gives it greater resources, and allows for quick dissemination of extensive data.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 12, 2005 9:06 PM

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Tracked on April 13, 2005 5:04 AM

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