We're all Bloggerheads now - part two

I hadn't really heard of Alisher Usamnov until today; I'd seen his name mentioned on a couple of blogs, but he was barely on the radar. I suspect the same was true for quite a lot of Arsenal fans - perhaps heard a bit about him, maybe read about him on a blog, nothing more.

His SLAPP against Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads has backfired spectacularly. MediaGuardian has picked it up and Boris Johnson's site is down, too. With no disrespect to Bob Piper (whose politics I vastly prefer to Johnson's and whose site has also gone down), the prospective Tory candidate for Mayor of London is pretty high profile. I'm sure this will make the Evening Standard, which will alert Londoners straightaway to Usmanov's, ahem, position regarding free speech.

Mr Eugenides sums things up well:
I don't give a shit about this character, or Arsenal FC (no offence to any Gooners out there); nor do I share all or even most of Tim Ireland or Craig Murray's politics. But that's far from the point. If you can be silenced for calling a businessman a crook, then you can be silenced for calling a politician a crook, too. Then it's everyone's problem.
(emphasis added).

Bloggers also react because it immediately affects them; while I don't want to diminish the importance of what Usamnov has done, I wish as many people would support the Iraqi interpreters.

I hope that this will raise awareness of SLAPPs, as the case of the McLibel Two did. However, I rather doubt that it will prevent Usamnov from gaining the blocking stake in Arsenal that he desires unless pressure is put on existing shareholders not to sell to him because of his contempt for freedom of speech.


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