Most of those who can read this may be wondering what this fuss over Turkish court decision to ban access to WP is all about. And for those who can’t reach, it might be a case of “if a tree fell in the forest and nobody heard it, did it really fall” conundrum. Let me explain: About 3-4 days ago when I tried to access my blog I was greeted with this announcement on the screen:
“Bu siteye erisim mahkeme karariyla engellenmistir.
T.C. Fatih 2.Asliye Hukuk Mahkemesi 2007/195 Nolu Karari geregi bu siteye erisim engellenmistir.
Access to this site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2007/195 of T.C. Fatih 2.Civil Court of First Instance.
I was taken aback but only a bit. I was well aware that I was in Turkey and had learned to never say never or “this can’t be”. Moreover, I was threatened with a legal suit in the past for a posting that apparently ruffled some feathers, and having heard of cases decided against the defendant without even bothering to inform him of the complaint or inviting him to the court, I surmised it was my turn this time.
To my pleasant surprise, it was revealed later on that the “condemned” party was not I per se. My relief turned into an inferiority complex on behalf of my country however, when I found out that the access to WP who provides blogging opportunity for over a million people around the world was blocked all over Turkey. I had the same feeling when access to U-Tube was suspended for a video originating from Greece insulting Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. The word “ostrich syndrome” would fail to accurately describe this level ignorance and stupidity. This incidences of “burning the blanket to get rid of a flea” in a country where the guardians of the regime claim to be guided by Ataturk’s maxim “the most genuine guide is knowledge” belies description.
I do not know of the logic the court employed for I have not read the opinion, if one was offered, but the enforcement of the decree is reminds me of the US carpet bombing of whole villages in Viet Nam, Afghanistan or Iraq because they heard gun shots from that direction or the like. Let us assume that there are a few or a number of bad apples among the hundreds of thousands in the WP blogging community, who engage in dissemination of child pornography, other illegal activities or worse yet “disrespect to Ataturk” or views that are deemed to be “reactionary” (code word for Islamic) by the Holy State. Is burning the whole virtual neighborhood for these bad apples the way to deal with it?
It was revealed later on that the court action was the result of a complaint filed by Adnan Oktar who uses the pseudonym Harun Yahya in his creationist publications. His complaint was on the grounds of slander and defamation by Edip Yuksel who has been attacking him on and off the net on religion and science issues. As part of his crusade, Mr. Yuksel apparently set up several blogs in the wordpress with names containing Harun Yahya and encouraging others to do the same. I do have certain views vis-a vis the evolution-creation issue; and even published a couple of articles here dealing with the matter but that is besides the point. The principles to be upheld here are:
1) The freedom of dissemination of ideas and information
2) The individuality of the guilt -if any committed-, opposition to collective punishment
As a mentioned above, there could be cases where a publication can be prevented for public good or to protect an individual’s rights. Thus, actions to this effect can be taken by the state or private entities providing such service such as WP on their own volition. In doing so however, both state and the non-governmental entities must exercise utmost care to not throw the baby with the bath-water, as done here. I take my blogging seriously, as I am sure many others do. Only through this, I am able to share my views on a variety of issues ranging from animal rights, to Turkey’s democratization, religion and politics. All the parties contributed to this result should rethink whether the interests served and the values upheld by this ban outweigh the damage done by preventing thousands of bloggers like myself reaching its readership and even more importantly denying the public right to reach this wealth of alternative information.