Damn the bloggers! Ban them!

So it begins! Apparently police want to “ban” blogs that are breaching the no-publication court order regarding alleged arsonist Brendan Sokaluk:

Victoria Police want to ban messages being posted on internet blogs about accused firebug Brendan Sokaluk.

The publication of Sokaluk’s street address and his image has been banned by a court but members of the public have been freely publishing those details on the internet.
Police move to ban blogs on accused firebug The Age 17 February 2009

If it’s illegal then prosecutions may be in order. Imagine trying to ban individual blog posts. Like chasing the winds. Perhaps Senator Stephen Conroy’s office might have some ideas on how we might deal with rogue bloggers. Add them to the ACMA list perhaps?

Kevin Rennie

Advertisements

19 Responses

  1. This is a tough one, the freedom of individual expression versus the right to a fair trial. Some of the stuff being written on some blogs is pretty scary, and there are plenty out there determined to ignore court orders in their efforts to ensure the correct process is not followed. I had a look at the accused Myspace page yesterday before it was shut down and I think it’s safe to say that the guy is no intellectual giant, and may well have his mental problems. As well as that, a defendant barrister may well already have a case that her client cannot be afforded a fair trial. I am no fan of the cops, particularly those in Gippsland, but they are entitled, I think, to try to ensure that their work in seeking justice in this instance is not undermined by vigilantes looking for their 15 minutes on a weblog.

  2. You are spot on James. How to obtain a fair trial/an unbiased jury when opinions acurate and otherwise are splashed all over the net.

    So far, this person is accused but not proven guilty. And there are certainly many examples of the wrong person being arrested and charged.

    And you have it. If so many opinions are in the public domain then a lawyer has a legitimate argument that his/her client cannot receive a fair trial.

    Derryn Hinch comes to mind. He didn’t care whether the pedophile was let off the hook because of his blathering.

  3. Strange isn’t it…

    …that the people who really want see this guy found guilty are doing everything they can to ensure he is allowed to walk free…

    …ignorance is bliss…

    …see what I mean about “common sense” as Mark Twain said – “…it ain’t so common…”

  4. I agree about the need to have a fair trial but this problem is hardly confined to the blogosphere. The MSM certainly don’t help eg alleged becomes accused. The law has yet to catch up with the net in particular or with globalisation in general.

    Incidentally why have the police decided to pursue and allow to be public the charge of possessing child pornography when this is sure to prejudice his trial on the arson charges. Mind you there are probably plenty of people who think the two things are connected. That’s part of the problem with the kind of publicity at present.

  5. Kevin,

    My first take on the two charges was a bit like the old Mafia charges in the 1930-50s – if you can’t get ’em for murder, charge with tax fraud….etc

    That said if he was chraged with an offence he was charged with an offence…

    …I’ve always had a problem with “accused” people having their names released…mud alwaays sticks as far as some people in our community are concerned – ask any male teacher who has been falsely acused by a student…

  6. Very obviously the general publics have not a clue about the law. They do not know that the venting can prejudice the case. I suspect that if someone sat down with these people and asked the question: Do you know what you are doing? Do you know that by your actions you are prejudicing the case which might allow a guilty person to be let off?

    Agreed Kevin, the additional charge of child pornography is a strange one. Obviously the accused’s lawyers will argue that this issue is to be dealt with separately and that by making public all charges that one will have prejudiced the other. That is, a pornographer who lights fires or an arsonist who is into pornography.

  7. Kevin, the police don’t get to judge whether a charge should or should not be made public. If he was in possession of child pornography, he should be charged with that offense.

    As to the fair trial stuff, I’m not sure that the MSM are the ones publishing suppressed details, if they were, the police would be able to charge them. That they are being published through blogs leaves the accused’s family in danger of retribution from the vigilantes, so I guess it’s an issue of safety as much as anything else.

  8. One other thing on this, last week I sat in front of the TV applauding enthusiastically when the PM and others described the unknown, unidentified, even not as yet criminally determined (in that we didn’t and stil don’t know the extent to which arson was the cause of fires) as “mass murderers”. Having settled down a bit, I think this was particularly ill advised. And I can only hope that it was a spur of the moment thing.

  9. James

    Correct on both points. Emotive responses are the stuff of the 10 second grab and MSM sensationalism. Last night’s MediaWatch is worth a look on that score. Heaven help the privacy of those who have committed no offense except being newsworthy.

  10. James of North Melbourne:

    “think this was particularly ill advised”

    Can only agree. Leave these matters to the courts and other relevant authorities. Just like the Henson case.

    It’s called the ‘seperation of powers’ and is fundamental to our form of democracy.

    BTW there is a good legal discussion here.

    http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2009/02/publication-with-prejudice/

  11. “Last night’s MediaWatch is worth a look on that score. Heaven help the privacy of those who have committed no offense except being newsworthy.”

    renniek, was a valuablel MediaWatch episode for sure….fancy that reporter for Ch. 9 traipsing all over a suffering families property & having a sticky beak thru the window. Outrageous! Anything to get a story eh?

    N’

  12. The worst possible outcome is for this bloke to be set free without facing any charges. I think there might be a sizeable mob waiting for him.

  13. James I think that the difference is – prior to catching a culprit of course everyone has emotional things to work through.

    However, once a person is taken into custody as a suspect then obviously politicians cannot make comment.

    And so it is, neither Rudd nor Turnbull have made a comment since this person has been taken into custody. Both know that if they make a statement then it could prejudice the case.

  14. Min, I’m talking a perfect world, much as you were when talking about cricketers visiting. I am sure, well I certainly hope, that Kevin Rudd and all others who said it, regrets the use of the inflammatory term, “mass murderers”.

  15. James, yes I thought so. You are a bit of a giveaway..someone who just wants things to be better and bettera.

    I cannot object to the term ‘mass murderers’ because this is what they are.

    However, now that someone is up on charges then obviously things must follow as closely as possible, the rule of law. Rudd and Turnbull have done this.

  16. renniek, was a valuablel MediaWatch episode for sure….fancy that reporter for Ch. 9 traipsing all over a suffering families property & having a sticky beak thru the window. Outrageous! Anything to get a story eh?
    N’

    What I do have a problem with is the family of the accused being put through all the media attention.

    Now the perpetrator’s address is known, are any of the family safe from the vigilantes?
    The parents, wife, children etc have committed no crime, yet they are hounded as if they are guilty. It is wrong to place so much guilt and shame upon other people in the family whose only crime is to be related to the offender.

  17. I can see some options that can be used by both sides of the courts on this one. The judge is going to be a crucial pick here.

    Not only did the actions of this man kill people, he is also found with child porn. If the allegations are proved Justice better be served up.

    Eitherway we are going to see the worst of human nature. Emotions and law dont mix.

  18. “The parents, wife, children etc have committed no crime, yet they are hounded as if they are guilty. It is wrong to place so much guilt and shame upon other people in the family whose only crime is to be related to the offender.”

    I couldn’t agree more kittylitter.

    “Eitherway we are going to see the worst of human nature. Emotions and law dont mix.”

    Sometimes this is true aquanut. Particularly when radio jocks, corporate newspapers & news internet sites, irresponsible mainstream journos & attention seeking talking heads…& sh*t stirrers on social networking sites deliberately go out of their way to create mayhem, panic & anger. The audiences are ignorant to fall for it…in the long run it’s about the bottom dollar…a hook into their media & the advertising that earns them bucks. It’s a SHAM. Not justice.

    No different than the hysterical 9/11 coverage. And look at where that took our countries. Some people never learn.

    There are political & media-related Agent provocateurs everywhere…& puppets on a string.

    It’s about time some were exposed for their antics…remember the delivery of anti-Islamic pamphlets before the last Federal election?

    BE NO LONGER EYES WIDE SHUT

    N’

  19. For a start, charge the Attention Seeking ignorant little Witch who started it all, Yvette Langstaff! “I’m doing it for the godd of the Fire Victims so they have somewhere to place the blame.” What a load of rot. After getting the gossip from a “freind” who lived, according to Media reports, a couple of doors away from the Accused she rushed off to Facebook and started her disgusting little online Lynch Mob with no thought for what consequences her action have.
    And whats worse, she got paid for her Media interveiws and bragged about it to her Facebook Groupies. When asked by some people how she could reconcile in her mind, profiting from the Fire Victims she said ” You’re just jealous because you didn’t think of it first. (thats a cleaned up, Literate version.) When asked did she realise there was a suppresion order in place she shreiked back, ” F@## OFF! I can do what ever I Wanna!”. nice. Langstaff said in the media that she didn’t condone the hate messages but behind the scenes she was stirring it up and actively shouting down anyone calling for calm. Hypocrite
    What I found ironically amusing was a report from one of her Facebook group admins that@ the end, Yvette Langstaff was raging, cussing, crying and moaning about the “Harrasment” and “Invasion of Privacy” and “It wasn’t FAIR!” and ” I DONT DESEVRE IT!” when people got ahold of HER phone number and email and started rimging HER all night and emailing HER. LMAO
    GEE! Perhaps now she knows now how the accused’s Mother, Father, Family feels. And ESPECIALLY that poor girl, Alexandra who dated him for 9 weeks a year and half ago. Alexandra has never done anything to anybody. She’s an unassuming young woman who had the misfortune to date someone now Accused of a crime. According to reports because of Langstaff the Media she’s been spat on, harrased and threatened. So have family members, friends and people with similar names. I Hope the Police charge her Bogan butt to the fullest extent of the law and any money she made from the media interveiws is seized under the proceeds of crime act and donated to the Fire Victims. Maybe then she’ll think twice before pullign another stunt. Then again she’ll probaby cry that she’s a “poor single muvver.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: