Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fiji: hunting the bloggers

Since the December 5 coup, the Fijian blogosphere has sprouted a network of bloggers opposed to the military regime. One of them - Fijian Black, of Good Men (And Women) Doing Something - is currently promoting a silent protest against the coup, the form of a "day of inaction" on May 1st. It may not amount to anything - these sorts of protests usually don't - but even such minor signs of opposition are intolerable in the military's eyes, and so now they are trying to hunt down the pseudonymous blogger, presumably so they can subject them to the same treatment meted out to their other critics.

When a regime suppresses dissent, it is generally a sign that they do not believe they can win the argument on its own merits. When they're reaching as far down the pecking order as anonymous bloggers, then its clear that they have no arguments other than brute force. The Fijian military's actions speak to its own fundamental illegitimacy.


When a regime suppresses dissent, it is generally a sign that they do not believe they can win the argument on its own merits.

I couldn't agree with you more ... so what do you think of this: Move to block emissions 'swindle' DVD?

For those who don't know, the story is about climate scientists trying to gag the producers of the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/26/2007 05:32:00 PM

Duncan, there's two difference. First, a bunch of scientists going to court is slightly different to a bunch of murderous thugs hunting someone down. Secondly, at least one of those scientists is doing so because the DVD misrepresents his views.

So how does a blogger arguing for freedom and democracy differ from a propaganda piece arguing for corporations right to wipe out human life? I was hoping that was obvious.

Posted by Moz : 4/26/2007 05:44:00 PM


One of the 246 signatories is claiming he has been misrepresented - and he's certainly entitled to his day in court.

But what about the remaining 245? They're attempting to gag a dissenting opinion, nothing more.

So how does a blogger arguing for freedom and democracy differ from a propaganda piece arguing for corporations right to wipe out human life?

Even if you were correct in your assessment of the behaviours of both parties - you're still arguing in favour of the use of force to silence dissenting ideas. That's not exactly a liberal position to hold, is it?

Is it your assertion that freedom of speech only applies to ideas with which you agree?

Posted by Anonymous : 4/26/2007 05:58:00 PM

ah duncan, where's the use of force here? If it's not with the situation of the Fijian bloggers then I'm confused.

Posted by Span : 4/26/2007 07:35:00 PM


Through the use of the courts.

When you petition the court, you are asking them to use force - legally - on your behalf.

In this case, that would be to force the people producing the DVD to censor their product.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that the use of force by the courts (through the Police, bailiffs, etc.) is wrong. It's right that the court be able to force defaulters to pay, criminals to serve time, etc. etc.

Both parties in this case are using force to silence critics, instead of addressing their arguments.

Both are contemptible - although those attempting to silence the global warming skeptics have the potential to harm the entire population of the planet, not just those of a single country.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/27/2007 12:13:00 PM

Duncan, the force being used by the courts is open to contest - there will be arguments of fact and law, there will be an impartial decision-maker. The force being used by the Fijian govt to silence critics has no such check or balance upon it. How you can conflate the two is beyond me.

Posted by Span : 4/27/2007 09:59:00 PM

The climate scientists are using legal force to silence their critics; the Fijian regime is using illegal force.

The fundamental similarity is that both are using force to silence their critics, rather than debate them in the marketplace of ideas. If they're right, why are they so afraid of their critics?

Posted by Anonymous : 4/30/2007 12:21:00 PM

But the move to block the DVD is to be debated - in the courts. And I imagine that if the DVD makers were prepared to remove the offending bit then the rest of the stuff wouldn't be blocked at all. Of course, they could have just not put it in in such a dishonest manner in the first place...

Isn't it typical that a post about the suppression of dissent in a poor brown neighbour of ours has turned into a debate about whether well-off scientists on the other side of the world should be taking each other to court. Sad.

Posted by Span : 4/30/2007 03:12:00 PM


You are misrepresenting the actions of the climate scientists.

One scientist is claiming he was misrepresented. He is entitled to have his day in court on those grounds. However, the remaining two hundred and forty five have not been personally misrepresented - they are merely attempting to gag those speaking out & disagreeing with them.

The reason I raised this issue on this thread was to point out the hypocrisy of those (correctly) criticising Fiji, and yet supporting those seeking to gag The Great Global Warming Swindle producers.

The issue is the same in both cases: freedom of speech.

As for the issue being debated in the courts - since when did the courts of a free country have the right to decide what evidence & arguments may be presented to the public by other members of the public?

If you're happy for the courts to rule on this case, why not challenge religious arguments, political arguments, etc. in court? In fact, why not skip all of this, and have anyone submit their publications for Government review before publication? Do you not see where all of this ends? :-(

<deep breath>

Again, I ask: if the climate scientists (or the Fijian coup leaders) are so confident of their argument, why suppress counter-arguments?

Posted by Anonymous : 4/30/2007 05:22:00 PM

Sorry Duncan, I misunderstood about the role of the 245 others, I somehow decided that they were the others on the DVD or at least on the side of releasing it. Fair cop, my bad. Not deliberate though on my part.

Posted by Span : 4/30/2007 05:43:00 PM