Being a strong advocate of free speech, I have been following this discussion with great interest. Blogs are relatively new in the public arena, and I wasn't quite sure how our guarantee of freedom of speech related to blogs. So I did some online searching and found quite a bit of information about the topic. Google or Ask "freedom of speech blog issues" and you'll find out all you need to know, and more. I can summarize my research for you by saying that anything posted on a blog is subject to the same liability concerns as any other publication or notice made generally available and in turn receives the same freedom of speech and press protections. Defamation is one of the main legal liability issues, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. One might assume that is the issue that most concerns the candidate Kris Kiser and his campaign manager, Rick Sutton with respect to Marla Stevens' post, "Kiser revisited, or a real "Word" to the wise", posted April 27, 2006, on bilerico.
Given we live in a highly litigious society, I'm not at all surprised that bilerico was immediately threatened with a lawsuit if the post by Marla Stevens wasn't taken down. Bil Browning, owner of bilerico, did the right thing in taking the post down, even if he (and I and probably most of you) find it an odious solution to the threat from the Kiser campaign. I would assume the Kiser contingent is pursuing Ms Stevens for some sort of financial remuneration over this same issue.
I read Marla's original post on this topic. I have read other blogs responding to this same issue, as I'm sure most of you have. I consider Bil and Jerame good, trusted friends of mine who have been caught up in a fuss not of their making. I find the infringement on freedom of speech, as well as an attack on a small, privately hosted blog, infuriating. While I sometimes disagree with Marla, I have yet to find her analysis of situations or her research on subjects lacking in passion, clarity or depth and she is certainly always entertaining. We Hoosiers are lucky to have her continued interest in our larger community, as we're lucky to have blogs such as bilerico on which to debate issues and concerns.
I readily admit that I am a strong supporter of Representative Julia Carson. She was our true friend when few others were. We are lucky to have the Congresswoman and I would take umbrage with anyone who might post gossip and innuendoes about her. In that respect, I can understand the Kiser campaign wanting Marla's post taken down. The Congresswoman used her considerable political power to make certain Indianapolis passed the updated Human Rights Ordinance at the end of 2005. She has helped grow our friendships with my very supportive state representative Greg Porter and with other elected Democrats in the state.
I will accept the fact that under pressure Bil had to pull the post. I would welcome Mr. Kiser to become part of the fabric of the LGBT community in Indianapolis, to help us with our battles and bring about successes, to run for an office he can win, and I would urge him to accept the value of blogs in today's very rapidly changing world.