Brit twit wants to regulate conversation

See updates, below.*

The head of the UK’s Press Complaints Commission — which is an oddity to my American free-speech, First Amendment, independent sensibilities — wants there to be a voluntary code of conduct for bloggers.

What’s the appropriate British word for that? Bollocks, I believe.

Here’s someone else who doesn’t understand what blogs are. They are people talking. Do you suggest you should regulate the speech of people over the phone and set up a complaints commission to deal with that? Or on the street? Or in bed? It’s conversation, fool. Believe it or not, bloggers don’t want to be newspapers. They want to talk. That’s not controllable and that is precisely why it has exploded and why the deposed controllers in media and regulation are so scared of it. But codes and commissions are not the answer. Listening is. If you don’t like what you hear, click away and reply because you can now, without having to go through a commission to do so.

: The Times of London sums up blog reaction to this foolishness over there in its fine comment blog, concluding:

But in the end sanity triumphs and truth outs. The blogworld doesn’t need codes of conduct and regulation because human societies, when free, have a natural tendency to what a clever Austrian called spontaneous order. It would be hilarious though for the State to give regulation a go, just to watch the mauling and the quickest u-turn in history.

: * LATER CLARIFICATION: I heard from Tim Toulmin, head of the PCC, who said that the BBC story didn’t represent him properly. When I emailed him what I was saying — that blogs, like other conversations, can’t be regulated — he agreed.

: * AND MORE: Toulmin objects to the headline. I recant it. He says in email: “If I had said what I was originally
reported to have said I’d agree with it.” But he did not. So he is not a twit.

  • Rob

    If a blog is really just speech, like conversation on the street corner or in bed, then it seems unreasonable to ask the courts to protect anonymous sources.

    Are bloggers asking to have it both ways?

  • beloml

    Jeff, you’re talking about a dying nanny state. OF COURSE they want to regulate the speech of people over the phone, on the street, in bed, etc.

  • This is just sad. Big Brother is trying to grow…

  • Actually the correct response is…


  • Ethan

    Stop the presses! Jeff Jarvis thinks that the British are trying to REGULATE conversation!

    Or, uh, wait…Jeff, have you ever heard of etiquette? Manners? That kind of thing? You know, voluntary codes of conduct for conversation?

    If anything, you prove that it pays to be a moron in this country.

    And, please, if you’re going to delete me, don’t do it because it’s your “house” or something like that. After all, you wouldn’t want to regulate conversation now, would you?

  • Well, Ethan, there is no code of conduct for my dealing with my neighbors. I need no regulation for that. Do you? Perhaps you do, calling people morons. Bloody rude, eh? Delete you? No, I leave you there in all your regulatory glory.

  • Folks, relax. The PCC is not a state institution. It’s the UK newspaper industry’s self-regulatory mechanism.

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  • DVH

    “The PCC is not a state institution. It’s the UK newspaper industry’s self-regulatory mechanism.”

    This is correct. And it’s interesting that a body funded by the newspapers should be seeking to regulate one of its new competitors…

  • Ethan

    To Jeff: what? English, please.

  • Ethan, you’ll understand when you’re older.

  • Ethan

    Yes, I’ll have to lose a few more brain cells before I understand the logic here.

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  • good morning.