Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let's Talk about Freedom of Speech

Here we are,  yet again,  dealing with a hot debate over some one's Right to be talking/writing about what is on their mind.

There was a news story on the Today Show today, that caught my attention.

First there was a website that was titled that is supposed to be removed due to a ruling by a judge's order that contains the following instructions. (the reason, I say "supposed" is I am still able to find the web site that is the subject at hand and read it.)
Father shall take down that website and shall never on any public media make any reference to the mother at all, nor any reference to the relationship between mother and children, nor any reference to his children other than “happy birthday” or other significant school events.

Why then, is it that today I see both the mother and the father talking on the Today Show?  Isn't that considered public media?  I am confused and dare I say CONFLICTED.

While, I agree this isn't the nicest, friendliest divorce on record, it is causing a bit of a conundrum as far as our right to free speech. One might even say "Sure this is mean spirited on the part of Anthony Morelli in describing his ex, Allison Morelli."

She’s on the precipice of 40 and probably looks all 50-years of it. Imagine if you will, Jabba The Hut, with less personality. She spends her time ... drinking her days away bemoaning her victim status, when she isn’t stuffing the children with fast food, buying them toys, or pushing them towards the TV or computer.

 There are a few facts associated with  this case that push and pull me as to whether this ex-husband has the RIGHT to have his blog.  Mind you, I am not talking about if he is using good judgement in writing the blog. I am strictly asking whether he should have the RIGHT to write an anonymous web site on the subject of his ex-wife.  (it was anonymous until they went public with this fight and starting showing up on programs like the Today Show)  After reading several pages of the original blog and then reading the new site which is clearly there are several  ways to look at this.

Ex-husband's point of view
The ex-husband is saying he started the site to chronicle is frustrations over his divorce and give a platform for others that were in similar circumstances. 

Here is an excerpt from a press release as it appears on the new web site:

The site is intended to help people in similar situations. I always felt like no one really knew or quite understood the level of chaos that existed in my life, and the website was a way to express it without burdening others with such horror or having to explain and re-explain myself. I felt that it was a way for me to tell the truth of my experiences but to no one in particular.

If, indeed, the reason for starting the site was to set up a forum for others that share this type of experience, then it was successful with readership at over 200,000 a month.

Anthony Morelli is appealing to a higher court to decide if he is allowed to continue his blog.

Ex-wife's point of view
She feels victimized that he is saying things about her that are inflammatory and hurtful to both her and her children.  While the blog itself remains anonymous, she says she found it while searching the web looking for other divorce cases involving disputes over orthodontia.  She recognized excerpts from some of their email exchanges.

The judge's point of view
She ordered the website to be shut down and wants the parents to behave like adults.  She restricts their behavior to the extent that the warring spouses vitriol is to be removed from public exposure. The judge said in a statement (according to Matt Lauer) that the blog had "inaccurate, denigrating and belittling comments" about Allison and "it's not just venting that I have read on these pages but it amounts to outright  cruelty"...

Matt Lauer's point of view while on the Today Show talking with Starr Jones

After Matt Lauer reads the above quote from the judge,  he says "has this judge ever gone on other blogs...THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE ALL ABOUT.   (This is a direct quote and I taped it on my IPhone for posterity. Excuse me, Mr. Lauer did you just use the word ALL in reference to bloggers being inaccurate, denigrating, and belittling...oh and let's not forget cruel?)

Then Star Jones says "There would be no other reason to have a blog and that is what the Constitution actually protects.  The Constitution protects your right to be an unmitigated jerk."  (Again, I had to record that for future reference, as I may never know when I may want to have my rights to be an unmitigated jerk protected.  Really, Star?  Is this the  ONLY  reason I would need a blog.)

I wait a minute...I AM OFFENDED.  All bloggers are cruel?? Surely that can't be accurate.  Later in the conversation he goes back to bagging on bloggers. He reiterates that blogs are "half the time inaccurate, mostly denigrating and belittling"

Then Star Jones interjects "and vulgar and all of the things that makes us say what happened to shame in this country?"  (OK, now I am vulgar and shameful)

My point of view

Depending on the source, there is an estimated 450 Million English speaking blogs on the Internet.  You can type about any subject into Google and find blogs on the subject.  I typed the phrase "I hate my wife". Yes, there are blogs with that title and variations of it.  I typed in "I hate my husband".  Again, there are blogs with variations of that, as well.  There are general hate blogs.  You can send in comments about any and all of the things you hate.  Here is my point...sure there are hateful sites out there.  If it was truly against the law to be hateful there would need to be A LOT more judges to hand out orders similar to the one handed out to ex-husband of psycho ex-wife.

Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water here.  Out of those nearly half of a million blogs aren't there also  blogs about love, religion, travel, and art?  What about all the mommy blogs? You name any subject and there are sure to be a blog about it.

Hey, Matt Lauer and Star Jones...yes, I am talking to you!!! What about the Today Show and MSNBC blogs.  Are they mostly inaccurate, hateful, denigrating, and let's not forget cruel?

Not everything written in a blog is accurate, fair, truthful, honest, ethical or any other quality that we would  or could respect the author for having put forth. 
BUT Matt and Star....not all of us are vulgar and cruel.  Not all of us intend to belittle or defame.

I don't know if starting a web site for the sake of airing your dirty laundry is a wise move but I  also, don't know where you draw the line on someone's right to write about it if they choose.

What are your thoughts my bloggee friends? 

The Good for the Day...Freedom of Speech

The Bad for the  Day  .... Not having the Right of Free Speech

The Weird for the Day.... Matt Lauer and Star Jones evaluating what inspires bloggers to start blogs.


bodaciousboomer said...

I didn't like Matt Lauer before I read this. The man doesn't live in the real world. (I imagine he has a personal wiper.) I think it's hilarious that a man who is so over the top vain is going bald. Poor baby.

Cheryl P. said...

I am liking him less and less as the years go by. I think his ego has grown considerably since the early days of his career. Yesterday when he started talking about blogs/bloggers he kept empasizing the words like "cruel" with such disgust as if bloggers where the scum of society. Can we be any worse than the journalists?

Bob S said...

Love your post. I abandoned anything Matt Lauer has to say years ago, but I marvel that he continues to have such a following. All the "elite" media types just cannot accept that the "unwashed" get information from no-nothing bloggers. After all, it was bloggers that said "wait a minute" on the memos CBS heralded as true. How dare they question the veracity of Dan Rather. So, of course, bloggers are something to be vilified. You all just undermine the "true" news sources. Perhaps incorrectly, but I truly believe that Matt, and others, would like to see all blogging sites shut down.

As far as the blog in question, however, it is tough to measure where freedom of speech leaves off and character assignation begins. I only looked at a couple of pages of his blog (via archive), but it is clear that he would have difficulty meeting the qualifications of a "gentleman". It would appear his wife has problems, but she does not deserve this treatment. I, for one, won't be donating to his legal defense.

bodaciousboomer said...

No, no way. There are of course bloggers who pride themselves in bringing the "sensational news" to the world. And if it's not sensational enough, then perhaps they'll just give it a tweak. However, that's no different than the mainstream media does the same thing from time to time with judicious editing.

meleahrebeccah said...

"Hey, Matt Lauer and Star Jones...yes, I am talking to you!!! What about the Today Show and MSNBC blogs. Are they mostly inaccurate, hateful, denigrating, and let's not forget cruel?"


Cheryl P. said...

I am in complete agreement on both your points. Matt Lauer can consider us as not being worthy to have a voice but he and his ilk sensationalize their reporting to the degree it becomes just another soap opera/reality show.

As far as the husband/wife caught up in Divorce Wars...they are both just a big HOT MESS. He can say that his motivation was to document his problems and allow a forum for others. I say Bulls***. It was to badmouth his ex. Since the site actually belongs to his girlfriend, you can be fairly certain that a lot of what they have posted is pure anomosity. (I think I didn't articulate that as clear as I should have as I was off on a tangent of "his right to say what he wanted in a blog" within the confines of his remaining anonymous. Again...while it is his right, doesn't mean he should. It is clear he is NO gentleman.

BUT my point of the judge telling ex-husband that he can't have his blog is a form of censorship. I remain somewhat conflicted by the judge's actions.

I am seething over Matt Lauer saying ALL blogs are created for the purpose of belitting, spreading inaccuracies, and Star weighing in with the word "vulgar".

Cheryl P. said...

Hi Meleah, I hate being lumped into some form of stereotype. The minute he got to the ALL BLOGS are .... I was seeing red. He obviously didn't see your scooter post. Nothing cruel, hateful...just cute and fun.

Aleta said...

When I told my husband I wanted to start a blog, he said, "Why? You know people only do that to VENT."

My blog isn't about venting, it's about sharing and most of the sharing is good stuff :) So, yeah, I don't consider myself to be a cruel blogger.

meleahrebeccah said...


Cheryl P. said...

I really don't remember what prompted me to try blogging. I think that I had read some and found them interesting and thought I had some fun stories to share. I will say that I have used blogging to vent. (obviously since this one with Matt Lauer stereotyping bloggers as cruel and bitter has me venting)

I can make fun of or even rant some but I don't think that generally I am as Star Jones said an unmitigated jerk. I try to be kind to those that are kind. I am not a mean spirited person but I do have a lack of tolerance for people that are mean, dishonest or rude.

Junebug said...

Oh, you know me, I'm a blogger so I have to have some type of opinion about this.

A. If the jerk ex-husband wants to blog about his wife and he does not use his name, her name, their kids names or other identifying markers, then he can do it. It is immature, nonconstructive and boorish but he has the right to his opinion. Personally I don't feel ex's with kids should EVER say anything bad about their ex in a way their children could ever find/hear/read.

B. ML and SJ are unmitigated jerks! So I guess it takes some to know some. Yes, there are cruel bloggers out there - Perez Hilton- I'm talking to you. But we are not all cruel! That is ridiculous and I believe slanderous. Our professional media has become completely biased(whichever side they have chosen) and IMHO extremely cruel to anyone they feel disagrees with them. Our world is revolving around the fight hate with hate concept. It is terrifying.

C. I don't write anything on my blog I wouldn't say directly to that person. EVER! It is my ethical code. Tons of people don't have ethics, however, they can still write and speak whatever they want.

Freedom isn't about you always getting your way. Freedom is about saying "I don't like your opinion" to someone and then walking away and allowing that person to continue shouting their own differing opinion. A blog is a person's opinion plain and simple.

Disagree with me? Fine go ahead and disagree with me. I'll just sue your butt. (I'm being sarcastic here in case anyone doesn't know me.)

Cheryl P. said...

I totally agree. From a bloggers perspective, I think he should have the right to write a blog but that isn't to say he isn't a immature, ass in doing so.

I thought ML and SJ's handling of the subject blogs was totally inept. They don't have any idea of what they are talking about. Sure there are bad bloggers but out of nearly a half a million blogs there is some incredible talent out there on all kinds of subject matter.