Thursday, 4 September 2008
Freedom of Speech?
Consternation and controversy in police blogland today. Inspector Gadget whose blog I read regularly seems to be in some kind of trouble in relation to his blog. He has received lots of supportive messages from his loyal readership, who value his commentary on the frustrations of life as a police inspector in the face of the obstacles he perceives lie in the path of the police as they try to do their job of preventing crime and/or catching culprits.
The reason I read police blogs is that day by day in prison I meet offenders but I don't meet their victims (or their victims' families where the victims are dead). Many times crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol. In sobriety, in jail, the offender seems quite innocuous. Whilst I am fully committed, as a Christian, to loving these guys, I am not at all obliged to see them as nice in order to love them. I am committed to avoiding colluding or being manipulated. And so I do find that reading police blogs helps me always to remember that these guys, nice as they seem, and nice as they sometimes are in Prisonworld, have done very horrible things and there are victims. Police sometimes see the crime happening and usually see the victim. They provide me with the balance I need. That's my simple and basic reason for reading these blogs but in the process I learn a lot, and I sincerely hope Inspector Gadget isn't silenced. We need the prophetic voice in society speaking out the truth fearlessly. I'm pretty sure the Old Testament prophets would have used the internet if it was around then!
The police blogs I read don't name members of the public - either offenders or victims - and they don't even identify in which region they are based.
I, too, take seriously that I am a public servant, taking the queen's shilling. That's why I blog anonymously, and don't even name the prisons I work in. I could write a far more interesting (and juicy) blog if I recounted the stories prisoners tell me about their lives and crimes, but I recognise that would be highly unethical. So I keep things very general, even though I recognise they are less interesting that way.
Meanwhile, I hope that Inspector Gadget and all the rest of us aren't stopped from blogging about our work, and being HONEST. Blog on, I say!