Regarding the responsibility of linkage…

10/28/2002

An excerpt from an e-mail I sent yesterday – partially adapted for publishing on plasticbag.org- explaining why I think we need a campaigning or protest tool in excess of the simple publishing of opinions – perhaps along the lines of my proposed inbound link strategy…

Basically, I’m trying to work out if there is some kind of direct action or demonstration that one can do within the blogosphere other than simply express one’s opinions. I’m looking for another approach because of this double-bind: if you link to a person with extreme views in order to debunk them, then to an extent you’re actually promoting them – you’re sending traffic to them, you’re giving their views a certain legitimacy. But if you don’t link to them, and you don’t publically talk about them, then aren’t you like the man who lets evil flourish through his inaction? What’s the right thing to do?

I’m certainly not trying to set up rules of governance of the internet or regulate it – I’m just suggesting that if free speech is the only political tool at our disposal, then we’ll inevitably end up with people having to shout more and more loudly in order to be heard at all. The ambient volume therefore just escalates and drowns out more nuanced, less absolutist or dogmatic attitudes. It should be possible to express ones dissent (or horror) with some kind of silence, sit-in or direct action – something maybe a bit like the Beatles returning their MBE’s to Buckingham Palace…

Obviously this is not to say that the specific tactics I suggested are necessarily appropriate or the right way to go, but I think the motivation behind the idea is a good one, and I’d be interested in anyone else’s suggestions…