It may come as no surprise to you that my name is not Kenny and Stan's name is not Stan. I bring this up as a corollary to Stan's post on the Iranian blogger Kianoosh Sanjari.
Back in 2000 I bought myself a domain with my own name in it. I had no intentions of starting blogging; it just happened. I started a journal with a monthly update primarily to serve as a summary of life for my estranged daughter in England, for when she was old enough to comprehend what had actually happened during the turbulent few months that led to her mother and I parting company. Unfortunately, I was spending a lot of time traveling at the time so had hours of tedium in hotel rooms across Europe, the US and Asia, so blogging became a way of spending some time doing something vaguely constructive. I look at it as a kind of diary, a medium to rip the mick and a method of reminding myself of my state of mind at any given time. As a reader, you won't necessarily pick up on the "tells" but as me, I do.
The problem came when I had my blog referenced in a meeting at work. If you googled my real name, I came up top of the list and there was my soul for all to see. A very uncomfortable position to be in.
At that point I moved domains, erased any references to my real name and my wife's name and banned search engines. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. A couple of my friends, Stan and R know where my blog is and who I am but I had hoped my craftiness had been sufficient to keep prying eyes away from it. Not so. Not a few weeks ago, again my blog was cited in a meeting at work. Even after all my efforts to conceal my real identity.
We tread a fine line as bloggers. I try not to say anything specific about work because that is not what my blog is about at all. If I wanted to do that, I'd go into PR and do it properly. I quite like my job although I do worry about how well suited I am to it, which just adds to the stress of a sub-optimal existence with few constants. The ever-present precedent of Dooce in the home of the free and the land of the brave is a constant reminder that free is a subjective term.
That said, I have not been invited to spend time at Her Majesty's pleasure for lampooning the donkey Michael Owen or criticizing our government, monarchy or press. The fact is though that free speech is relative. We may be permitted to speak freely, but it's a permission that stretches only as far as acceptable norms go. What I write on my blog does not affect my work. I rarely, if ever visit that site while I am at work (bar the occasional lunchtime rant when something in the world is ticking me off or amusing me).
To be hiked off by the powers that be for documenting your life and observations is intolerable and I hope you will all join me in emailing the list of people Stan has and demanding to know whether this blameless blogger is in good health and being treated with the dignity he deserves.
Being slightly to the right of Stan politically, I am outraged by regimes that operate such overt oppression. When George W President gave his Axis of Evil speech, I lifted my meagre frame from my recliner and clapped. It may be a long and unpalletable battle, but for the sake of future generations, we cannot allow such tyranny to persist in the modern age. Not four hundred years ago, our countries were operating along those lines. Thankfully, the weight of common sense corrected our values. All we can hope is that the weight of the biggots' common sense kicks in.
And that Mr Sanjari is released as soon as possible.