Of Censorship

A heated battle is being fought on various fronts in the KBW Blogosphere. Unfortunately the issues at hand are quickly getting lost, as personalities become the pivot rather than the issues.

An unfortunate state of affairs indeed.

From what I can gather, the facts are as follows:

  • Acolyte put up a post on his blog
  • Some people objected to the content of the blog
  • Acolyte received a mail informing him that he had been taken off the KBW aggregator due to his post
  • The KBW admin team put up a post clarifying grounds from expulsion from the aggregator
  • Acolyte denies that this was the reason for which he was expelled
  • One of the Admin put up a post further clarifying that Acolyte had not in fact been removed from KBW – he had only been removed from the aggregator

The debate now seems to be generating more heat than light, and the issues at hand seem to be getting lost in the furore.

Many of us will recall the post in question.  The subject matter was the meeting between one George Bush of The USA and one Jakaya Kikwete, of Tanzania. That Acolyte objected to their discussing Kenya’s stability, or lack thereof, was apparent.

The post drew responses from far and wide, including one or two or three from Ndesanjo Macha of Jikomboe, who correspondingly objected to Acolyte’s post.

Acolyte himself subsequently admitted that his wording was too strong. He then took down the post.

Some days later Acolyte received an email informing him that he had been removed from the aggregator forthwith. 

The email, available here, makes some statements that raise more questions than answers

One of the aims of KBW is to foster and develop a strong, positive, progressive and unified online community where issues are discussed civilly even when disagreements arise

The strong I get. The progressive I get.

But:

  1. What is a “positive community” Positive according to which criteria? Positive according to who?
  2. Why should we be “unified”? Isn’t diversity what makes a community vibrant?

There is a further post from the KBW admin to correct the impression that Acolyte had been kicked out of KBW. And then there is a post from MentalAcrobatics, the founder and an Admin member of KBW.

He put up a comment in response to some queries and it is this comment that raises some concerns with me. He says

We have never stated that being a member of KBW automatically means you will be on the aggregator. Being on the aggregator is not a right of KBW membership.

This I find puzzling. This means that

  • There are some criteria to being a KBW member. These have been outlined clearly
  • There are some additional criteria to having your blog in the aggregator. As far as I can ascertain, these have not been clarified.

If anything, the extensive excellent documentation from KenyaUnlimited claims otherwise.

This page for instance states as follows:

The KenyaUnlimited Aggregator was launched in April 2006. It displays the latest posts from KBW member blogs as they are published and is updated every hour on the hour. If you are a KBW member and your blog does not appear on the aggregator please email us

It is news to me that being a KBW member does not qualify one to be on the aggregator. I am sure I am not the only one who thinks that it is implied, especially if there is nothing saying the contrary, and especially more upon reading the excerpt above.

The question is:

  1. What are these criteria
  2. Where are these criteria
  3. Why are they not in the open, in the interests of transparency

I have no problem in maintaining control of the aggregator, or even KBW itself provided that the rules are set, the rules are clear, and the rules are in the open.

Until then it is going to be very difficult to justify Acolyte’s expulsion from the aggregator, and why this does not amount to censorship. Bloggers unite as one to defend freedom of expression in the media.

We cannot make up the rules that go along. It is not fair to the membership and it will certainly make administration of KBW even more difficult.

The same benchmark should be adhered to online.

We may not agree with each other but we must fight to the death to defend each other’s right to speak our minds.

This is not to take anything away from the KBW admin. From all accounts they have done quite the job helping bloggers set up and start blogging.

Kenyan bloggers, as bloggers and as a community stand head and shoulder above many others as a community when it comes to being dynamic and vibrant in the blogosphere.

Hats off.

P.S. And I hotly dispute Uaridi’s assertion that if there was no aggregator there is no KBW. As Mental himself has said, there was KBW before there was an aggregator. In fact, if there were no bloggers there would be no KBW for sure.

There will continue to be without one.

We must begin to differentiate the infrastructure from the community. KBW is not the infrastructure it is the people.

It is the people.

Ice Cube & DMX – Eye Of The Tiger (Remix)