“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

WARNING: This blog is longer than my longest blongs, but the information that it contains needs to be read by anyone who cares about freedom of speech.

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Images of Freedom of Speech by L. Liwag

“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” ~ Charles de Montesquieu

Outing Mudflats: Doogan is a DoDo

I just found out from visiting one of my regular sites, WillPen’s World, that something truly incredible has happened to one of my favorite blogs: Mudflats (http://www.themudflats.net). I’m sure that many of you probably read Mudflats as it is a very well-written, informative political blog. In fact, Mudflats was voted best political blog of 2008, and I helped to put it there, me along with thousands of other faithful readers.

However, I recently learned of something very dismaying: Representative Mike Doogan of Anchorage, Alaska has gone out of his way to out the writer of Mudflats. That’s right, he spent his time finding out the real name of the author so that he could out her.

Here is what Doogan had to say in outing this blogger:

Anonymous Blogger Anonymous No More

The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name. So I was interested to learn that the woman who writes the blog is Anchorage resident Jeanne _____.*

Best wishes,

Apparently, all of this ill-conceived, pompous drivel was a result of  Doogan’s unhappiness with the Mudflats post on the politician’s rude e-mails to his constituents and took it upon himself to find out the real identity of the popular blog’s moderator. How very mature of him.

“If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.” ~ Dee Hock

As Dawn Teo reveals in her post on HuffingtonPost.com about Doogan’s actions, ” He had saved up all of the emails from constituents on the Troopergate issue, and in December he responded to all of them at once, CC’ing a list of about thirty perfect strangers together in one email, telling them,

Are you people nuts? You send me—and everybody else in the legislature, from the looks of things—Spam and then lecture me on email etiquette—as if there were such a thing? Here’s an etiquette suggestion: Abandon your phony names, do your own thinking and don’t expect everybody to share your obsessions.

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Rep. Doogan: "Are you people nuts?"

Yes America, this is how an elected official actually responded to concerned constituents. I know that I would be supporting and campaigning for someone who addressed me in this fashion. Apparently, Doogan doesn’t care about being re-elected, or at least, that is how it appears. But what really torqued Doogan out of shape was when AKMuckRaker of Mudflats posted an entry in which Doogan’s rudeness is made public for all to see; in addition, the moderator (whose name I will not use out of respect for her desire for privacy, even though she has been outed), took Doogan to task for his lack of etiquette in e-mail.

Even though Mudflats was completely within its rights to voice opinions anonymously under the guise of AKMuckRaker, Doogan’s vanity got the best of him, and he made it his quest to find out the moderator’s name, even e-mailing people to try to get them to identify her. Of course, no loyal reader would reveal such information.

Obviously, Representative Doogan does not know his history. Consider the anonymous authors of The Federalist Papers—Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, who published their 85 letters using the name “Plubius.” Or how about Thomas Paine’s anonymously published Common Sense, or for that matter all of the work that Benjamin Franklin published under the pseudonym Silence Dogood. We’re talking about the nation’s founding fathers and favorite citizens. Doogan, in his self-righteous justification for outing the blog author, forgot one of the most important lessons of U.S. history: Opposing political views are what made this country.

“The framers [of the Constitution] knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.” ~ Hugo Black

What Doogan did not count on was the support that Mudflats enjoys nationwide, nor did he stop to consider that bloggers are a very steadfast and loyal group. We look out for our own as we realize that if something like this can happen to one blog, it can happen to all blogs. Bloggers come from all walks of life, countries near and far, different religious and political backgrounds, but we all realize that being able to write about issues that concern us is a precious right, one that we will not cede without a fight. 

As a former journalist, Doogan should have had better sense than to make public the name of someone who deliberately chose to remain anonymous. In fact, what Doogan did could be considered illegal as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court:

As JJEagleHawk pointed out in Daily KOS:

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that “an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning additions or omissions to the content of the publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.” In a concurring decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote “we should determine whether the phrase ‘freedom of speech, or of the press,’ as originally understood, protected anonymous political leafleting. I believe that it did.” Please note that, in this same decision, Justice Stevens also said that anonymous speech protects “unpopular individuals from retaliation—and their ideas from suppression—at the hand of an intolerant society.”

A lawyer who contacted Daily KOS made this very insightful point:

This is a violation of federal law and of the state common law right to privacy. The fact that he did it on state time and in his capacity is what is called “state action” for a section 1983 civil rights claim. The Mudflats blogger, who was absolutely entitled to comment on matters of public interest and equally entitled to do so anonymously, has a significant lawsuit against this clown . . . In addition to awarding damages, they also award attorneys’ fees. That is the only way to stop this sort of abuse of public position.

“I can remember when Democrats believed that it was the duty of America to fight for freedom over tyranny.” ~ Zell Miller

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Doogan: "Who me?"

By the way, did Democrat Doogan use his state office and state computer in his search for vengeance? Was it on the time of the citizens of Anchorage that Doogan chose to behave like a schoolyard bully? How did he obtain this information? Did he use his political connections?

Important things that should make the people who elected this man to office might want to consider. And consider they are. I have read many blogs posts reacting to Doogan’s petty antics in which they promise to vote for anyone but Doogan and to offer monetary support to anyone willing to take on Doogan in the 2010 election. Count me in on that pool; I’ll add Doogan to Michele Bachman as people I will help to defeat even though they do not represent my state.

Fortunately, the support for Mudflats’ moderator has been very vocal and has not been limited to small-time bloggers. For example, Scout Finch on Daily KOS had this to say:

Whatever your reasoning, you’ve certainly caught our attention. And if you think we are going to scuttle back into the shadows and let this pass, you’ve got another thing coming. Your petty, vindictive, unprofessional, unethical, and perhaps even illegal actions are certain to come back to haunt you.

But one of the responses that really speaks to the heart of the matter is by DemFromCT in The Patrick Henry Press News:

I’m sure Alaskans can appreciate your focus on outing a blogger who is most known for exposing the hypocrisy, questionable ethics, and corruption of Alaskan officials. I’m sure they appreciate your focus on warring with bloggers instead of taking on the difficult economic and social issues Alaskans find themselves faced with this winter, including those who can’t afford to heat their homes. But, instead, here you are — gloating about your efforts to ruin somebody’s life.

For her part, the moderator of Mudflats was been extremely professional and considered in her response, especially considering that she is not the professional writer and Doogan was. Here is a sample of Mudflats’ comments in regards to the whole situation:

I was a bit surprised to see my real name, as you can imagine.  But after the initial surprise wore off, it really hit me.  This is an elected State Representative, of my own political party, who has decided that it’s not OK for me to control the information about my identity; that it’s not OK to express my opinion on my own blog without shouting from the rooftops who I am.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” ~ C. S. Lewis

I know that I am a bit late in joining the game, but I’ve never let that stop me before. What Representative Mike Doogan of Alaska did is reprehensible, but at the same time, it shows exactly how insecure he is.

I have enjoyed visiting Mudflats ever since I began blogging last year. During the election, it was the one source to which I turned to find out what was really  going on with the Governator. This blog has been an incredible resource, both through its moderator and through the comment threads. What Doogan did was unconscionable, not because we now know the author’s name as she should be proud of what she has created here, but because a politician should not have the time to go searching for a blogger’s identity.

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Michael Doogan: Man of the People As Long As They Agree With Him

Politicians should be working on fixing this country, fixing their states. The economy is in the crapper, Doogan. Your ignoramus of a governor is going to refuse money from the Federal government without considering how much Alaska needs this support. As for yourself, look at your state and tell me that the time you spent in outing an intelligent, well-versed, source of news for thousands of people is more important than the bigger issues facing your constituents and all Americans right now.

Doogan, your priorities are incredibly out of whack. Oh, and about 2010? I wouldn’t count on it if I were you. Unfortunately for you and those of your ilk, bloggers have a very long reach, which too many politicians tend to forget.

See these other blogs for more information about Doogan:

http://www.themudflats.net/2009/03/27/in-exposing-the-identity-of-mudflats-rep-mike-doogan-exposes-himself/

http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2009/03/mike-doogan-outs-mudflats.html

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/28/714126/-Response-to-Rep.-Mike-Doogan

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/3/28/714053/-Open-Letter-to-Alaskan-Rep-Mike-Doogan

http://patrickhenrypress.info/?p=586150

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawn-teo/famed-anonymous-anti-pali_b_180313.html

Where Reality and Television Intersect at the Line of Pain and Heartbreak

Stumbling Upon Two Posts That Won’t Let Me Go

Watching Death in South Africa

One of the things that I really like about blogging communities is that when the blogs are flashing by on the screen, you can come across some real gems. In fact, that’s how I’ve met all of my regular correspondent with whom I check in daily. But there was one blog that stopped me in my tracks, literally. And I backtracked to the original post, which came from a blog called “Letting Go.” 

The female speaker on this site has many entries about her recovering battle with alcoholism and her so far successful sobriety, as well as her travels. But the one particular post that caught my attention was called called “The Plague Years” ( http://louisey.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/the-plague-years/).

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Mourning in Zimbabwe

This post is incredibly stark in its depiction of the reality of AIDS in Africa, while at the same time being very moving in how the author shares with readers her own experiences amid all of this devastation.

Woke up this morning and thought about having to go to two funerals later today, both of them for young people who died of AIDS. It is not a certainty that the funerals will take place because the municipality still has to organise workers to dig the graves. The graveyard has overflowed the old fenced area and extended down the hillside, hot rocky ground that is not easy to dig. Every day of the week there are burials and it is mostly children who die because their little bodies are too malnourished to fight the opportunistic illnesses.

There are times when I feel this plague will never end. I have been going to funerals here and in Zimbabwe, in Kenya and Botswana and Mozambique since 1985, more than 20 years, and sometimes I feel I will keep watching these premature and unnecessary deaths until I myself am ready for the grave.

The society in which we live shapes us for better or for worse. The material conditions of our lives shape our values and sense of community and altruism, and limit or enlarge the possibilities open to us. Unrelieved poverty opens the door to plagues such as cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis and AIDS. If we have no africsaidspicretrovirals because the government does not want to believe AIDS really exists, thousands are condemned to death. If we have no AA or Alanon because nobody will admit he or she is alcoholic or battling to live with an alcoholic spouse, the struggle to stay sober is that much harder. If it is taboo to speak about AIDS or alcoholism so that there is no education in schools or on the television or radio, the lethal ignorance continues unabated. The discourses around shame and secrecy are the hardest to tackle.

All around me on this bright lovely morning there are birds singing, church bells tolling, childrens’ voices on the playing fields across the road — and all I can hear is the deafening silence of a conspiracy to prevent anyone from speaking the truth. It is forbidden to speak about sexuality in Xhosa, especially if you are a woman. The churches outlaw the use of condoms. And the death rate keeps soaring.

Here are some facts just about one of the countries involved in this epidemic: Zimbabwe is the third largest HIV/AIDS burden in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to an AIDS fact sheet distributed in 2005 by the Kaiser Foundation. That means that almost 2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and at least 120,000 of them are children. Young women between the ages of 15 to 25 make up about 77 percent of the infected population, and the projected life expectancy for females ranges from 30 to 34.

In a January 2008 article The Boston Globe cited the following statistics:

  • An April report by WHO and two other UN agencies said only 6 percent of children in need of treatment were getting it.
  • The government reports that more than 2,200 Zimbabweans die every week of AIDS complications.
  • According to the World Health Organization, 321,000 people need antiretroviral medicines, or ARVs, and only 91,000 have access to them.

As If That Wasn’t Enough To Hurt Your Heart

Thanks to another blogger with whom I have recently begun to correspond, I am now obsessed with watching “West Wing”  YouTube videos of memorable scenes. For example, from one of the earlier seasons, there is the episode called “Excelsis Deo” in which Toby is moved by the plight of a decorated homeless veteran who died wearing a coat that Toby had donated to charity. The coat still had Toby’s business card in it, so he was informed of the man’s death. The episode ends with the Dire Straits’ song “Brothers in Arms” playing in the background, the White House staff being serenaded to Christmas Carols by a children’s choir, and Toby in Arlington Cemetery with a full honor guard.

Okay. They could have stopped with just the full honor guard. That by itself is enough to give me goosebumps at anytime. Thank god they didn’t put me through the bugler’s “Taps.” I did have to make it through the folding of the flag and presentation on bended knee to the family member. Yes, I am crying openly by now. The link to this particular scene is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfOfUtkbiHQ.

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From "The West Wing," Episode: 20 Hours in America

But wait, I’m not finished. There’s Leo’s funeral. Enough said on that one. Or, there is the famous mood episode called “The Two Cathedrals Press Conference,” in which President Bartlett is asked if he is going to run again; that’s a classic for the staging alone. All of Bartlett’s team fall into line behind their President, and the scene is a shot of just the men from the thighs down.

But the single best scene from any episode of “West Wing,” the scene that embodies the best of Aaron Sorkin’s writing for his tenure on the show, the scene that I dare you to watch and not be moved by, comes from the epiode  “20 Hours in America.” In it, President Bartlett delivers one of the best speeches to be heard ever—not just television speeches, not just pretend president speeches, but best speeches ever. The rhetoric in it burns.

Just a taste (but without the video, it’s like reading Obama’s speeches rather than hearing them):

“The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.”

(I don’t even want to think of how badly W. would have mangled this. How do you type visually shuddering?)

And I so want to put the link in here, but I don’t know if that would be stealing from Willpen’s World (http://willpen.wordpress.com/) since she just ran the YouTube link on her site. So go to her site and watch the video there, and be sure to let her know that I sent you. It’s worth the hop and skip to see this. Trust me.

So, now that I have completely ruined your day and evening with truth and near truth, and the power of words to hold the human heart, let me close. There will be more later. Peace.