Saturday, November 09, 2013

Advocacy of reasonable gun control causes an opinion writer to be silenced; a lesson for all speakers?

The story of Dick Metcalf, a figure in the hunting and rifle world, when he wrote an opinion piece (in Guns and Ammo) calling for moderate gun regulation, is telling for those who like to get published, at least by others.  The result, from pressure from advertisers, was that he was banned from a major outdoors magazine.  The tale is told by Joe Nocera in the New York Times Saturday, November 9, 2013, on p. A19 of the New York Times. The link is here
  
For me, the parable illustrates why self-broadcast and self-publishing, much protected by Section 230, has become so important.  When others pay the freight, you have to say what other people want. You have to protect their interests.  Having a family is seen as a reason others should have leverage over what you say.
    
It’s worth mentioning that book publishing (previous post) does not have protection like Section 230 or DMCA Safe Harbor for publishers (and a similar risk lives in television and mainstream movies).  As noted here before, authors actually have to indemnify publishers.  This rarely causes problems, although it sounds on the surface like it could invite frivolous lawsuits against deep-pocketed publishers which authors could be forced to pay to defend.  This definitely sounds like an area for tort reform.  But the practical paradigm is different: a lot more diligence goes into publishing a book or movie through commercial channels than in writing a tweet, blog or Facebook post. 


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