Thursday, June 15, 2006

Free Speech in the Digital Age

A comment I left on in relation to the USMC caving to CAIR concerning Hadji Girl.

I think that it's time that we find a solution to the confusion between formal and informal speech caused by new technologies. Well, not so new but we still haven't adjusted.

Everything can be recorded with riddiculous ease and kept forever and distributed world wide. That isn't going to change anytime soon. Those of us who have participated on usenet news have a written history that goes back for years and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has set things to electrons that would make it difficult to win public office... in fact, I remember writing once "well, here goes my chances of ever getting elected to anything." (Though I forget what I said afterward) And while some of us were early adopters of the evils of the internets (*who* decided that was plural?) my children's generation practically lives in the electrons.

MySpace anyone?


The difference between informal and formal speech is no longer related to what is recorded and distributed or how widely. The speech given by a President (for instance, the President of Iran) in a formal setting is no more easily availble to every person in the world as is the song sung by an individual enlisted Marine. In an earlier time the presidential speech would be recorded by journalists and the song, even if recorded, would only be seen by a handful of people on home-movie night.

Common sense insists that the speech by whathisface in Iran and the speech by an enlisted Marine are not the same.

Are we going to figure this out or do we have to wait until my kids are adults and the absolute preponderance of damning electronic records finally forces people to adopt a social convention of ignoring what is obviously informal speech?


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