Eric Goldman blogged yesterday on "why Wikipedia will fail". This the same day Wikipedia's plans to start policing its content more aggressively was widely publicized in the wake of some quack editing biographies to reflect the death of prominent politicians. The reports of their deaths were greatly exaggerated...borrowing for a moment from Mark Twain. The Dozier Internet Law blog entry on Wikipedia and Section 230 yesterday pointed out the admirable intent and the inherent risks involved. It's a good example of why the immunity provisions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act need to be changed.
So the response from the other side, through Eric Goldman, a law professor and one of the group of online legal warriors intent on trying to protect netizens so they can say whatever they want, when they want, where they want, seemingly without regard to how uncivil, inappropriate, defamatory and damaging the comments might be, is unfortunately not unexpected. This type of attack journalism comes with the support of a small ring of lawyers online who try to protect free speech by constantly attacking the speech of those who disagree. The irony does not escape us at Dozier Internet Law .
Wikipedia wants to edit. A more civil environment is a noble cause, to be sure. Instead of debating the issue of Section 230's application and how it prevents self policing and self regulation by those legitimately concerned about creating a more civil online society, attack journalism 101 begins.
These free speech expansionists, under the guise of "legal scholars", know that as major players in the online world begin to realize the wayward nature of online scofflaws and the need to do something about it, like amend Section 230 to empower self governance, the dialogue moves to a place they don't want to be. Sanity will eventually be restored once this path is pursued, and their constituencies will lose. In the name of free speech, they say, if you disagree with our position, we will not respond.
Except to attack the speaker...put into question the viability of a business that dares to offend their notions of how the web should be governed. Come on, can't you come up with something a bit more original? Free speechers are all for free speech, until they don't agree with it. Then they abandon the notion of engaging robustly in the "marketplace of ideas", and go on the attack.