Over the past few days bloggers have been drawing their readers' attention to some disturbing events regarding blogging in Britain. I first read about it at Ellee's but since then many of my blogging peers, among them Mr Eugenides, Westminster Wisdom, Tom Paine, Grendel, The Wardman Wire and Imagined Community have written clearly, passionately and eloquently about the shutting down of some British blogs because they dared to criticise a rich and influential man. Please note that those are only blogs that I have personally read with regard to the matter: Chicken Yoghurt has the full list of bloggers who are out there fighting. Ministry of Truth has an excellent analysis and explanation of British libel laws.
As I understand the sequence of events, Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, made some allegations about Alisher Usmanov, who wants to buy a blocking stake in Arsenal Football Club, on his site. Mr Usmanov then contacted Murray's internet provider, who shut down the site. Tim Ireland's site, which linked to these accusations, was shut down by his web host as well. Other blogs have also been affected and I understand that some Arsenal supporters who have criticised Mr Usmanov on their sites have also been contacted by his solicitors.
As many of my readers know, I hate sport and I do not care who owns a football club; I can't even imagine why anyone would want to own one! But I do care about freedom of speech and if you enjoy blogs - and I assume that you do as you are reading this one - then I urge you, if you are in the UK, to write to your MP regarding this matter. If you are elsewhere, then do monitor the situation where you are, as if this can happen in Britain it could happen anywhere. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty", said John Philpot Curran in 1790.