It’s not just Tallbloke who’s in the firing line; you are too.
Tallbloke’s fighting fund has been set up and people are generously donating whatever they can afford. This post at his place gives the current situation and how you can contribute to it. You don’t have to read very hard between the lines to see how difficult the last few days have been on him and his family. People are being very supportive of him and angry at the way he’s been treated, and quite rightly so.
There are a number of basic democratic freedoms at risk here as well as some potentially large impacts on how the blogosphere will evolve.
I have not seen nor can I imagine what just cause lay behind the search and seizure warrant being issued and used to violate his home. He had cooperated fully with the police at the time of Climategate 1 (CG1) and there was no reason to suppose he wouldn’t cooperate with them over Climategate 2 (CG2).
The argument I’ve seen advanced in some circles, that it’s okay to ransack someone’s home just so you can be sure they did nothing wrong, is completely fallacious. Without “just cause”, that’s the approach used by the Stazi and Gestapo. Whose home is next? Your home? Just so you can be “eliminated” from an enquiry? Did they really need six detectives trampling all over his home? They knew precisely the shock that would cause. If they were really there to look for the leaker’s electronic fingerprint on Tallbloke’s computers, why did they only take two of the twenty computers in his house? The basis on which that search warrant was granted needs to be looked at very hard.
The presumption of innocence, without just cause to the contrary, is the basis of all law.
Not only has he and his family had to contend with a home invasion but his good name has been bandied around scurrilously and in my personal judgement, libelously in a number of articles on the internet. This aspect of the affair now looks as if it might be heading for resolution in courts of law, so there’s only so much one can comment about it with prejudicing that process. I will say that going to law about anything is a long and tiresome process. Should Tallbloke decide to proceed on any of the possible avenues of litigation open to him, he’ll be taking on an arduous task for us all, in which case we’ll all owe him a debt.
If a comment added to your blog can result in you being raided by law enforcement, then we all know what’ll happen; we’ll still have blogs but no comments will be allowed. No blogger would have any other choice. Indirectly, it’s not just the bloggers who are threatened by such oppressive actions but the commenters too.
Personally, while I think the topic posted by a blogger is important, it’s only half the story. It’s the discussion of it and any thoughts arising, as expressed by the comments on it, which are so often the food for thought. A blogosphere with all commenting disabled, would be a very sad development both for the blogosphere and democracy in general.
Ultimately, this has real implications about shutting you up too.
If you haven’t already done so, please make a donation for a person who’s fighting that solitary battle against faceless authority, which is, in my judgement, abusing its power over an ordinary citizen. What’s more, Tallbloke is not just additionally fighting to clear his good name but also to protect your right to comment.
UPDATED 20 Dec 2011 :
Congratulations to Tallbloke, his legal team and all the people around the world who rallied to his side. Mr. Laden has suitably and publically amended his offending blog, so it no longer reads like a piece of what some people might well think of as extremely libelous and therefore extremely expensive prose. If you’re a connoisseur of grovelling, it’s a tad awkward but his command of English is certainly not up to the fine standard of say, Mr. Shahan’s, who, some might say, managed to wiggle out of a smaller but similarly thorny potential problem.
If Tallbloke should decide to accept such a complete and humiliating capitulation on Mr. Laden’s part, then to my mind, that would only appear to leave the problem of getting some answers about why his house was searched by six detectives from three different police forces for nearly four hours. Should he and his legal team decide to pursue that, I can only wish them similar success.
One person, with the courage to stand up against oppression, can win. Thank you for reminding us of that, Tallbloke and your good lady.
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