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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Freedom To Post

May 25, 2006

My suspicion is that there's a portion -- not all, but a portion -- of you who roll your eyes when I get on one of my kicks about the Bill of Rights and individual freedoms. Enough already, Lou. We know you're a Libertarian. But there's a very tight correlation between what I say and what I do.

There's a woman in Philadelphia who lost her job earlier this month because of her blog. I read about it on the hilarious (which had been recommended to me by a friend who used to live in DC), though this story is anything but funny. Jessa (the girl who lost her job) was, without warning, fired from her place of employment because of her website. To the best of my knowledge, her former employer (the Academy of Natural Sciences, a musem in Philadelphia) had no written policy regarding weblogs. She didn't write about the museum by name. But apparently someone dropped the dime on her, and in turn ANS dropped the ax on her.

For me, I've had a website since August 1995, and I've kept an online commentary going since April 2000. I don't hide behind a pseudonym. I have various websites, from which I make a bit of money on the side. But beyond that, this particular site is a forum from which I can speak out to the world, report on news as I see it, and give my opinion on whatever I wish, all in real time. It's a wonderful, amazing thing.

Any trend toward squelching people from being able to speak out like this disgusts me. Sure, a business can require you to keep confidential matters quiet. That's understandable. But to create an atmosphere of fear and trepedation, like the Museum has done, about weblogging in general? That, in my estimation, is a breach of the freedom of the press defended for us all (in the United States) by the First Amendment.

Of course, I don't have real courage. Dissenters in Iran who face arrest for speaking out, or possible torture/death in China or North Korea... those people have real courage. I just have a computer, a website, and the desire to write.

In one of the stupidest things I've read this week, the Associated Press today reports: "The football committee of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports, is adopting a score management policy that will suspend coaches whose teams win by more than 50 points."

So if Swole-Up High (Connecticut branch) is up 49-0 on Punymeyer in the fourth quarter and a guy for Swole-Up breaks a tackle and races into the open field, is he supposed to just take a knee? Take it from me, someone who played in some garbage time high school football, when you finally get a chance to get in there, you want to actually do something of note. It shouldn't be something where you have to be in fear of scoring, lest you face punishment from your coach.

Shouldn't this be settled within the coaching ranks? For example, if some maverick asshole of a coach wants to break the single-game scoring record, he gets dealt with when a superior team faces his and embarrasses his squad in turn. Remember, this isn't like in Division I-A football, where the football championship isn't decided on the field, so there's no excuse for running up the score intentionally. But if your third stringers are outperforming the other team, sometimes you're going to have games that end 56-3 or 57-6 or whatever. These things happen.

Do I understand the intent? Sure. But I think they're going about it the wrong way.

I found this on Monday night: a picture of Barry Bonds with Michael Bolton. The great kicker is the question of if it's Larry King in the middle, a la Evil Bert (which instantly made me think back to the WTSP newsroom and the summer of 2001.) I'd be remiss to leave out that Evil Bert spawned its own international controversy just a few months after that, to the point where the original site's creator took the Evil Bert site down. It was, to be sure, a sign of the international power of the internet that existed even in 2001.

A movie I finally saw over the weekend was Following, directed by Christopher Nolen, the same person who directed Memento (and Batman Begins -- I didn't realize he directed that film until I looked on his entry just now.) Following was scored by David Julyan, the same person who did the music for Memento (and you can tell, since the music captures the mood in just about as effective a way.) I'd heard that Following was an "alright" movie, so I went into it with medium expectations.

I was blown away. To me, it was an excellent film. When I discovered that it was shot on a shoestring budget on weekends (all of the actors had "regular" jobs), I was even more amazed. Blockbuster has it (or at least the one near me in Alabaster does), so if you get the chance to rent it, I give it a strong recommendation.

Taylor Hicks won American Idol last night, and the local FOX affiliate spent its entire 9 PM newscast covering it. There was what looked to be a large turnout of people in Birmingham who came out to show their support for him. The fact that a guy with gray hair won is hilarious.

I know that the FOX affiliate covered it because I flipped over to check during commercial breaks of the two-hour finale of Lost. What a great episode. No spoilers here, but the cliff-hanger was great, they provided enough info to answer questions that had existed since the inception of the show. But, like any good story, the answers opened up a whole new bag of questions. What are the answers to those? We'll just have to tune in next season to find out. And that's the whole idea, isn't it?

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