Just about any Blogger, or citizen with a website of any kind for that matter, interested in politics and issues in their local community has links to city and county websites that interest them and may be related to their interests (Think BikeBloggers collecting links to local and state laws, and other websites of Officaldom., for instance.), as well as even their local, county and state reps, to make it convenient for them and their readers to check them out at their leisure.
Look at my sidebar here on this blog, for instance: I'm going to be adding more, from all across the county, in the weeks ahead, related to my interests in books, hiking, farmers markets, and other stuff.
But what happens if those they link to and maybe even blog about take issue with their views, even their activism?
In a free society where information is available online, on websites accessable to the public, one would think there would be no problem.
Welcome to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where a woman who often gets cranky about the town mayor was ordered by the city to remove a city website link from one of her own websites.
Unbelievable!… ORDERED to remove that link?
The Sheboygan Press posted the story recently and it got Warner Todd Huston, over at Stop the ACLU, thinking about the abuse of power indulged in by this small Wisconsin town.
One comment to the newspaper story posted the following:
From Bitlaw: On Website Linking
-- excerpt ---
"Hence, there would appear to be no legal means for preventing someone from including a link in one page to another. Unfortunately, life is never that simple. In certain situations, links can be used in a way that may violate copyright, defamation, or unfair competition laws. With a little care and planning, the problems described below can be easily avoided."
-- end excerpt --
The links on her site are posted in such a manner that they do not seem to violate the general legal parameters discussed by bitlaw.
It seems unlikely that Sheboygan could prevail in court on this issue.
It appears that many other websites also link to the police website.
There is no way this city has the resources to search them all out and try to force them to stop, too.
And when, like Stop the ACLU, the whole Blogosphere, Left, Right and inbetween, shares links such as these...
The officious Sheyboygan Police are here.
Give a shout out and a Sieg Heil to Mayor Juan Perez here
Perez’ henchman, attorney Stephen G. McLean, can be visited here.
...and politely takes issue in Blog stories, helpfully providing links to where interested readers can find publically available info on how to politely express their own opinions to the overly eager Censors of Sheboygan?
Will they spend the valuable tax dollars of their citizens in a misguided attempt to make everyone go away and leave them to police their residents the way they see fit?
When you have millions of bloggers, worldwide, expressing their opinions on everything under the sun, sharing links to officials, and companies, and agencies who have information about their activities on publically accessable websites and who readily provide ways for concerned people to politely communicate with them, then there is no way short of shutting down the Internet to completely stop the sharing of information.
Even China, Iran, and other totalitarian nations, despite their best efforts, understand this simple truth.